T Nation

531/Joker Sets/Boring But Big


#1

Hey,

I just wanna make sure what im doing is what u recommend, i bought beyond531 book and after interpreting it, this is what i do basically:

  • 531-sets (always go for a PR on last 531 set)

  • Joker sets (increase load 10% until its too much, usually 2sets, increase 5% more and do 1s until its too much, usually 2 sets)

  • 5x10 @ 50% of TM of the opposite exercise

  • 5x10 latwork (im not sure how much % i should use here, but i try not to go to heavy), on the other hand i kinda feel that i might lack heavy work for back/lats except for deadlift?

edit; i aim to never go to failure


#2

You can do the same exercise for the BBB work if you prefer.

Jokers every 6 weeks is a good starting point

Doing pull ups for lat work for 50 reps works well. You can really play with the variables - hang at the bottom, squeeze at the top, try increasing density. It takes the “how heavy?” aspect out. Just keep it interesting, have a goal, and make it challenging (but not soul destroying). Similarly, rowing movements.


#3

[quote]tsantos wrote:
You can do the same exercise for the BBB work if you prefer.

Jokers every 6 weeks is a good starting point

Doing pull ups for lat work for 50 reps works well. You can really play with the variables - hang at the bottom, squeeze at the top, try increasing density. It takes the “how heavy?” aspect out. Just keep it interesting, have a goal, and make it challenging (but not soul destroying). Similarly, rowing movements.
[/quote]

So you would say that doing jokers every time i hit the gym is overkill and probably bad even for CNS maybe :o?


#4

[quote]box4m wrote:
So you would say that doing jokers every time i hit the gym is overkill and probably bad even for CNS maybe :o?[/quote]

Absolutely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. Jokers are to be used on those very rare days when the weights are flying up like they’re made of polystyrene.

I also do pull-ups every session, using small sets in-between the “big 4” exercises. You’ll find you can easily rack up 100+ pull-ups in a session without even noticing.


#5

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]box4m wrote:
So you would say that doing jokers every time i hit the gym is overkill and probably bad even for CNS maybe :o?[/quote]

Absolutely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. Jokers are to be used on those very rare days when the weights are flying up like they’re made of polystyrene.
[/quote]

Are you sure about this? In Beyond 5/3/1, Jim talks about using jokers for a six week cycle, not after a six week cycle. He also provides an table of “each week with Joker sets” showing %TM/Reps for 5/3/1 plus a few Jokers after the base sets for all 3 weeks.

-philip


#6

[quote]philski wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]box4m wrote:
So you would say that doing jokers every time i hit the gym is overkill and probably bad even for CNS maybe :o?[/quote]

Absolutely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. Jokers are to be used on those very rare days when the weights are flying up like they’re made of polystyrene.
[/quote]

Are you sure about this? In Beyond 5/3/1, Jim talks about using jokers for a six week cycle, not after a six week cycle. He also provides an table of “each week with Joker sets” showing %TM/Reps for 5/3/1 plus a few Jokers after the base sets for all 3 weeks.

-philip[/quote]

He does, but if you’re asking if it’s too much prehaps now isn’t the time to try. Get a good idea of how hard you can push things, then implement Jokers gradually. You’re free enough to use your best judgement in what gets you stronger. If you find your lifts sky rocket without adding them, why add them?


#7

I’m not the OP. I’ve been doing 5/3/1 for over three years (currently on training cycle #39)

I’ve been using Jokers+FSL every training session for four cycles now, with limited accessory work.

I really like it in combination with 5/3.

-philip


#8

In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.


#9

Here’s where I think most people fuck this shit up…

From what I’ve picked out of Jim’s writing over the last few years he generally breaks things down into three specific focuses… strength, mass, or conditioning. The general idea is that when focusing on strength the intensity increases while the volume and conditioning decrease, and when focusing on mass the volume increases while the intensity and conditioning decrease. When focusing on conditioning the conditioning obviously increases while the intensity and volume of weightlifting decrease.

BBB is all about building mass through volume. In the original book Jim specifically tells people to back off the intensity by eliminating the extra reps on the final set. Instead, everyone pushed for extra reps anyway and now that Beyond is out they also stack Jokers on top of it before doing another 50 back off reps. The idea with BBB is to build mass by training like a bodybuilder, yet people want to pile on the intensity like they’re a powerlifter who’s perpetually 6 weeks out from competition.

The drawback to this (IMO) is that it detracts from what comes next. Once you’ve spent a few/several months building your muscle using BBB you want to use that new muscle to develop more strength. This is where you should be piling on the intensity by crushing the PR set and hitting some heavy ass singles/Jokers. By the end of a couple months of this your joints will be angry and you should feel perpeturally uncomfortable yet have some solid PRs to brag about, so you 5/3 deload and let your body heal by spending few months working back up by doing some more BBB and gaining even more mass.

My best results have happened when I took the easy stuff easy and made the hard stuff really fucking hard. That middle zone where I tried to accomplish everything all at once has only resulted in mediocre gains in performance because I’m too fatigued to push the intensity and too burnt out to push the assistance. Unfortunately I didn’t really realize what’s happening at the time because I lacked the experience to know any better… I just assumed I was supposed to feel that way and took comfort in my mediocre progress.

IMO… YMMV.


Difficulties with Recovering from Training
#10

[quote]some_dude wrote:
Here’s where I think most people fuck this shit up…

That middle zone where I tried to accomplish everything all at once has only resulted in mediocre gains in performance because I’m too fatigued to push the intensity and too burnt out to push the assistance.

[/quote]

Wow, what a revelation. This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Jokers + BBB (@60% no less!). For the next 6 weeks I will scrap jokers & focus on BBB. Thanks for the insightful reply.


#11

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.
[/quote]

I guess I haven’t read anything more recent than Beyond 5/3/1.

I like the combination of 5/3, jokers and FSL, which I’ve been doing for 4 months now with minimal accessory work (chins superset with main lifts). For instance I went back 3 on deadlifts this month and easily banged out 10 reps during the first week, felt like I had more in me so I put another 10% on the bar for a few reps, and another 10% on the bar for a grinder, then did FSL. Bench is up for a reset this month and there’s not a whole lot in me after 5/3/1 day so I didn’t do a joker.

It felt like me jokers+FSL were a nice easy implementation of autoregulation.


#12

[quote]philski wrote:

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.
[/quote]

I guess I haven’t read anything more recent than Beyond 5/3/1.

I like the combination of 5/3, jokers and FSL, which I’ve been doing for 4 months now with minimal accessory work (chins superset with main lifts). For instance I went back 3 on deadlifts this month and easily banged out 10 reps during the first week, felt like I had more in me so I put another 10% on the bar for a few reps, and another 10% on the bar for a grinder, then did FSL. Bench is up for a reset this month and there’s not a whole lot in me after 5/3/1 day so I didn’t do a joker.

It felt like me jokers+FSL were a nice easy implementation of autoregulation.

[/quote]

It is, but it’s not.

The way I’m coming to see it is to think about your ‘total capacity’ that day. Either way you describe - deadlift with 10% jokers up to a grinder, bench without jokers cos you’re already out of gas - you’re using all of the capacity you have, going to 100% every single day. Some days that means jokers, some days it doesn’t, but either way, THAT DAY it means 100%. And that’s not 5/3/1.

Simply put, overusing/abusing jokers negates the benefits of the TM. With the TM, you’re edging slowly towards the top but never getting there. That little margin allows both bad days AND progress. Hitting the top every time is missing the point.

This is the first time in ages where I’m doing basically bog standard original 5/3/1 (SVR setup) and I’ve smashed rep PRs in all lifts, cos that’s where I’m putting the focus. No doing all of everything all the time, just working on the big set, and a down set if the week calls for it. I’ve farted about with this and that and the other, getting caught in a joker cul de sac; coming back to the original 5/3/1 is the first time I really feel like I’m progressing. Feeling like I could do more (but not) is a HUGE part of that. Read, TM.

It’s ‘nice’ that just when I come to this semi-revelation, I pop into this thread and see Jim saying he wishes he’d kept his mouth shut about jokers. I dunno about that, but reading Beyond 5/3/1 again the ‘these should always be in your program’ bit is at odds with most stuff I’ve read on Jim’s forum and here, since.


#13

[quote]Bob_Macc wrote:

[quote]philski wrote:

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.
[/quote]

I guess I haven’t read anything more recent than Beyond 5/3/1.

I like the combination of 5/3, jokers and FSL, which I’ve been doing for 4 months now with minimal accessory work (chins superset with main lifts). For instance I went back 3 on deadlifts this month and easily banged out 10 reps during the first week, felt like I had more in me so I put another 10% on the bar for a few reps, and another 10% on the bar for a grinder, then did FSL. Bench is up for a reset this month and there’s not a whole lot in me after 5/3/1 day so I didn’t do a joker.

It felt like me jokers+FSL were a nice easy implementation of autoregulation.

[/quote]

It is, but it’s not.

The way I’m coming to see it is to think about your ‘total capacity’ that day. Either way you describe - deadlift with 10% jokers up to a grinder, bench without jokers cos you’re already out of gas - you’re using all of the capacity you have, going to 100% every single day. Some days that means jokers, some days it doesn’t, but either way, THAT DAY it means 100%. And that’s not 5/3/1.

Simply put, overusing/abusing jokers negates the benefits of the TM. With the TM, you’re edging slowly towards the top but never getting there. That little margin allows both bad days AND progress. Hitting the top every time is missing the point.

This is the first time in ages where I’m doing basically bog standard original 5/3/1 (SVR setup) and I’ve smashed rep PRs in all lifts, cos that’s where I’m putting the focus. No doing all of everything all the time, just working on the big set, and a down set if the week calls for it. I’ve farted about with this and that and the other, getting caught in a joker cul de sac; coming back to the original 5/3/1 is the first time I really feel like I’m progressing. Feeling like I could do more (but not) is a HUGE part of that. Read, TM.

It’s ‘nice’ that just when I come to this semi-revelation, I pop into this thread and see Jim saying he wishes he’d kept his mouth shut about jokers. I dunno about that, but reading Beyond 5/3/1 again the ‘these should always be in your program’ bit is at odds with most stuff I’ve read on Jim’s forum and here, since.

[/quote]

Regarding your last comment there, you kinda have to take what Jim says with a grain of salt because he does contradict himself a lot. All I can say about that is that he’s truly mastered the art of internet marketing.


#14

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.
[/quote]
So are you no longer endorsing never peak again?

Do you currently train powerlifters? Do you have them do lifer as well? Or something else?


#15

Im getting so confused its crazy really :stuck_out_tongue:

I have made posts before where i complain and ask for help since i basically never set PRs, im kinda stuck on the same weights i was 5years ago, give or take.
I really like this idea behind 531 and thats the way i like to train, not like the “gym expert” who does his 5day splits, i dont like it.

Im kinda leaning towards that im giving too much every workout like someone said in here, going 100% every workout.
Less is probably more in my case, but its damn hard to see where that line goes, ive been trying soo many different ways.

Im thinking that i have again made the mistake since ive been doing as my first post says, jokers every workout and hitting basically 1rm competition max (i guess thats what its called, i dont compete).

As i also said in my post im doing BBB with “reverse” exercises which i like.
So if its 531 BENCHday, i do PRESS 5x10 @ 50% of TM and then some latwork.
Ive decreased the amount of bicep/tricep exercises to almost 0, and overall decreased the amount of work i do every day, since i train every musclegroup basically 2days/week with this.

I do ONLY 5x10 @ 50% of TM tho for the opposite exercise so that shouldnt be too much.

Anyway im ranting and i dont know what i wanna say really, i just want some mass and strength and i think 531 or similar programs have a good theory/enjoy behind them, so i wanna make them work.

edit: my idea is basically to have one heavy day where i do 531 and then another day where i do the same exercise (BBB) but with low weights, so i wont get overtrained.
But what do i know


#16

[quote]Bob_Macc wrote:

[quote]philski wrote:

[quote]Jim Wendler wrote:
In general, we rarely use Joker sets. Especially with BBB. We reserve Jokers for other cycles.

We usually plan training of the lifters/athletes for 36 weeks. Those that use BBB (very few) NEVER use Jokers: we always use 5’s PRO. if you’ve read any of the recent programming I’ve done in past year, you’d see Jokers are rarely used. Honestly, I wish I would have kept my mouth shut about them.
[/quote]

I guess I haven’t read anything more recent than Beyond 5/3/1.

I like the combination of 5/3, jokers and FSL, which I’ve been doing for 4 months now with minimal accessory work (chins superset with main lifts). For instance I went back 3 on deadlifts this month and easily banged out 10 reps during the first week, felt like I had more in me so I put another 10% on the bar for a few reps, and another 10% on the bar for a grinder, then did FSL. Bench is up for a reset this month and there’s not a whole lot in me after 5/3/1 day so I didn’t do a joker.

It felt like me jokers+FSL were a nice easy implementation of autoregulation.

[/quote]

It is, but it’s not.

The way I’m coming to see it is to think about your ‘total capacity’ that day. Either way you describe - deadlift with 10% jokers up to a grinder, bench without jokers cos you’re already out of gas - you’re using all of the capacity you have, going to 100% every single day. Some days that means jokers, some days it doesn’t, but either way, THAT DAY it means 100%. And that’s not 5/3/1.

Simply put, overusing/abusing jokers negates the benefits of the TM. With the TM, you’re edging slowly towards the top but never getting there. That little margin allows both bad days AND progress. Hitting the top every time is missing the point.

This is the first time in ages where I’m doing basically bog standard original 5/3/1 (SVR setup) and I’ve smashed rep PRs in all lifts, cos that’s where I’m putting the focus. No doing all of everything all the time, just working on the big set, and a down set if the week calls for it. I’ve farted about with this and that and the other, getting caught in a joker cul de sac; coming back to the original 5/3/1 is the first time I really feel like I’m progressing. Feeling like I could do more (but not) is a HUGE part of that. Read, TM.

It’s ‘nice’ that just when I come to this semi-revelation, I pop into this thread and see Jim saying he wishes he’d kept his mouth shut about jokers. I dunno about that, but reading Beyond 5/3/1 again the ‘these should always be in your program’ bit is at odds with most stuff I’ve read on Jim’s forum and here, since.
[/quote]

You mentioned “the original 531 book and SVR” and that you smashed records etc.
Im just thinking if the new book explains it the same way.
Do you have Beyond 531? It sounded like it in the post.

If so on page 30 of the pdf there is “5/3/1 SVR Training”, does that add up to what youve been doing?

Thanks


#17

[quote]
Wow, what a revelation. This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Jokers + BBB (@60% no less!). For the next 6 weeks I will scrap jokers & focus on BBB. Thanks for the insightful reply.[/quote]

You say its exactly what youve been doing, have you also been doing the reverse thing im talking about?
I mean when you do BBB 5x10 sets, are you doing them on the same exercise as 531 that very day?
And are you training 4 days a week or 3 days a week or gym,off,gym,off,gym,off,gym,off etc?


#18

[quote]box4m wrote:

[quote]
Wow, what a revelation. This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Jokers + BBB (@60% no less!). For the next 6 weeks I will scrap jokers & focus on BBB. Thanks for the insightful reply.[/quote]

You say its exactly what youve been doing, have you also been doing the reverse thing im talking about?
I mean when you do BBB 5x10 sets, are you doing them on the same exercise as 531 that very day?
And are you training 4 days a week or 3 days a week or gym,off,gym,off,gym,off,gym,off etc?[/quote]

I do alternating assistance. e.g. 531 Squat, BBB Deadlift.

I’ve been doing BBB @ 60% of my TM.

I go 2 days on, 1 day off. So I average more than 4 times a week. It’s now my deload week and I’m very welcoming. My body needs a rest.

Now I will do 2 cycles without any Jokers and BBB @ 50-60%.


#19

[quote]jampot1 wrote:

[quote]box4m wrote:

[quote]
Wow, what a revelation. This is exactly what I’ve been doing. Jokers + BBB (@60% no less!). For the next 6 weeks I will scrap jokers & focus on BBB. Thanks for the insightful reply.[/quote]

You say its exactly what youve been doing, have you also been doing the reverse thing im talking about?
I mean when you do BBB 5x10 sets, are you doing them on the same exercise as 531 that very day?
And are you training 4 days a week or 3 days a week or gym,off,gym,off,gym,off,gym,off etc?[/quote]

I do alternating assistance. e.g. 531 Squat, BBB Deadlift.

I’ve been doing BBB @ 60% of my TM.

I go 2 days on, 1 day off. So I average more than 4 times a week. It’s now my deload week and I’m very welcoming. My body needs a rest.

Now I will do 2 cycles without any Jokers and BBB @ 50-60%.[/quote]

Yeah im thinking the same, not gonna do jokers for awhile (only if i feel like hulk one time), and im thinking that doing BBB at 50 or even 40% is good because then you get one heavy workout (531) and one not so heavy and not so demanding, which probably is good for CNS, but i dont know.

Im also taking saturday/sunday off.
What are your/and others thoughts about First set last on BBB routine, like:

I do 531 bench, i do 2-4 sets FSL with maybe 5-8 reps, THEN go to BBB with alternate exercise, like press.

Maybe this is too much


#20

Just do the damn program. 5/3/1, BBB, 1 accessory. You can “reverse” BBB", start light on BBB (30-40%) and work your way up and even pyramide down your BBB set if you want. All explained in the book. FSL and Jokers are not anywhere near that template. All BBB weights from your TM.

5 years… are you kidding me…It has nothing to do with the program, it`s you!

You really can`t see that 5/3/1, BBB, Jokers or FSL and accessory is too much?

It’s the most popular template because it works. As is.