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Boring But Big, First Set Last and Jokers?

Been running Boring but big for a couple of months, decided to read the book again just to see if I missed anything and noticed that, the Boring but big template ( 5 x 10 @ 50% on assistance lifts ) is separate to things such as first set last and joker sets

I’ve been running first set last for 3 sets of 8 at the end along with joker sets, but also doing the 5x10 squats after deadlifts for example.

Is there a reason they aren’t actually put together? Like when I progress will this become too much and I should stick with one or the other or are other people finding it okay to mingle these

Where the hell did you read this? Because it’s not writren in any book I’ve writren.

Do the program - not your ego. If you can’t make progress, your diet and mental approach sucks.


Lol. Not one to mince words that’s for sure! Love it. :open_mouth:

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And why not? He wrote s book that a third grader would understand and most think that TM is the same as dick size, that every template is suppose to be done at once and that there is no way you will get stronger unless you do curls every work out…

Hell, some even think that the principale changes with their moods…

I would also like to know where he read what he read.


There was no sarcasm in my post. I like the way he writes. Plain and simple.

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Directly in the book, when it says 5/3/1 variations, it talks about how you can stick with boring but big with the 5x10 assistance lifts, or pick an alternative like first set last , “Plus, it doesn’t give the lifter the
insane muscle soreness of the Boring But Big” is a quote directly from this part, so yeah it does seem like they are seperate.

Thank you for proving my point?!?!

What you wrote up there and what you read are worlds apart.

Good luck with your training.

I thought they were the same thing, the book says do the assistance lifts ( boring but big ), or instead do first set last, or a number of other options . I was merely asking if it’s cool to do them together since later on in the book it says first set last and jokers should always be incorporated, it’s why I got confused :slight_smile: - if it’s worded wrong I apologise it has been a long week but this is what I meant


Short answer: no

Forget jokers. Most people can’t program them correctly.


What they said.

I think the book (Beyond) says FSL is an option alternative to BBB, which doesn’t make you as sore.

The bit about joker sets I always understood to be a way to take advantage of those days where you feel amazing and the weights move like they’re 20 lbs lighter. So, I never program them. If I feel awesome, I hit some joker sets. If I don’t, I train as normal.

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Yeah I thought the jokers are just, when you feel great. And I assumed at first that first set last was different to Boring but big, but literally five pages afterwards it said you should always incorporate first set last in to your training which is why I put them together, it is a bit unclear so I don’t know where the ‘if you can’t make progress’ argument came from o.o

FSL is different to BBB.

BBB came out with the first edition. It’s an assistance template. You do 5x10 main or opposite lift, then 5x10 assistance.

FSL (I understand) came out in Beyond 531. It isn’t an assistance template. It’s a way of adding in volume on your main lift - I’m not sure if there is a way to do opposite lift FSL, because it’s First Set Last. My understanding is that you add assistance after your FSL sets. I go with two, maybe three exercises at most.

The majority of Beyond is just that: beyond 531. Same principles, all using the same system, but not the basic 531 from the original book which set out the principles and some assistance templates (BBB, Triumvirate, Periodisation Bible, etc).

For what it’s worth, I’ve found FSL to be amazing, and for assistance I use the Triumvirate template as a basis: think hard and pick the two most effective assistance exercises. For fiddly stuff like calves I superset them with my FSL sets. I also chuck in things between warm up sets like pull aparts. It’s surprising how much you can put between sets without compromising the sets themselves.


Also, I’m not sure which book you’ve got because I don’t remember anything in it ever saying you should always do FSL.

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Thanks for a proper answer that’s all I needed!

It was just this paragraph “In fact, I believe in the Joker Sets and the First Set Last so much that I believe
it should be a standard part of the 5/3/1 program” in the book that made me think it should always be done but it could easily be misunderstanding it.

Yeah there’s been no harm in so far me doing First set last then the boring but big on opposite days, but I have found my muscles all stay very fatigued for any other assistance exercises so I think i’ll drop the BBB and stick with the FSL for a while and just do shoulder assistance on bench day etc. It was just looking at it and seeing that FSL wasn’t an assistance template I wasn’t sure wether BBB could be run alongside it since the book stated that FSL doesn’t give muscle soreness like BBB does

Thanks again man!

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Any time. I think the comment about FSL and jokers refer to Jim Wendler feeling that at that time, they were the best iteration of 531. Because he is constantly working with people it seems like 531 evolves based on how Jim observes various permutations to work in practice.

You could just do the original, basic 531 with one of the assistance templates and you’d still get good results. It’s just that FSL with jokers is better in most cases.

Also, I believe that Jim Wendler himself has said that BBB is better suited to being used easier on, because as you get stronger it can quickly become too much. I only ran two cycles before I switched to FSL.

Just personally, I think it’s a good idea to run an original 531 template first, especially if you aren’t training with someone who’s been using 531 for a while. That way, you get a feel for 531 - especially the plus sets - without having to think too much. BBB is great for that. Once you’ve got a handle on it, all the material in Beyond makes a lot more sense so you’re better able to apply it.

It took me around five or six cycles to really figure out how I could lay my 531 out to suit me best. It worked well from cycle one, but now it’s set out exactly how I like it.

To be honest, though, that applies only to assistance. If you go in and attack your plus sets with a vengeance, you’ll get plenty out of 531 already without needing to really think too much about what assistance you’re going to do.


Nice! Again thanks, it’s great when someone actually gives a decent answer

I’ll stick with the standard BBB and jokers for this cycle and then try FSL next cycle then, speaking to someone else who said they added FSL on top of it they said they could barely manage 3 x 10 afterwards so I think what you’re saying is right !

I’ll just keep testing it out and changing it then ^^ Thanks again!

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My pleasure.

I haven’t been around quite as long as some of the others so my patience is more elastic. For such a simple program 531 gets misinterpreted and butchered so often it can be hard to pick someone honestly trying to figure something out from someone who’s just an idiot.

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This is a vastly different statement than saying they should always be done. Thay might be where the confusion is.

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Yeah I can imagine! People at my gym use it but so differently i just wanted to figure out the truth ^^

Yeah that’s the way I took it, this may be an across the pond language barrier

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