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How Do I Program the Pyramid or FSL Scheme Relative to Supplemental Work?

I’m a newbie lifter. I have been lifting for about 5 months now, I started off with a generic full body 3 day split, then I moved onto the 4 day PHUL from M&S and now I’d like to try the 5/3/1 in a similar 4 day upper/lower manner. I started at 40kg bench press, 50kg squat and 57.5 kg deadlift as 1RMs, my current 1RMs are about 60 kg for bench, 70kg for squat, 90 kg for deadlift and 35 kg for OHP.
I got the 5/3/1 Beyond book and read all of the theory behind 5/3/1, FSL, Pyramid, Joker sets etc. like 3 times, but I got lost in the programming of the Pyramid and FSL schemes. Can someone help me with this, please? Or do I have to buy the Forever book to understand it?
My idea of the final split was like this:

Bench press 5/3/1 Pyramid
4 sets pullups
3 - 4 sets side lateral raises
3 sets underhand lat pulldown
3-4 sets barbell curl
3-4 sets skullcrusher

Squat 5/3/1 Pyramid
5 sets Romanian deadlift
3-4 sets single leg calf raise
3-4 sets seated calf
3 sets toes to bar (abs)

OHP 5/3/1 Pyramid
4 sets bent over row
3 sets incline DB bench press
3 sets pullups/pulldowns
3-4 sets biceps
3-4 sets triceps

Deadlift 5/3/1 Pyramid
4 sets Front squat
4 sets reverse lunge
3-4 sets single leg calf raise
3-4 sets seated calf raise
3 sets toes to bar (abs)

I’ve been running a very similar split (just without the 5/3/1 stuff) for 2 months now and I am very happy with it, I do exercises what I enjoy and at optimal intensity for me.
Sorry if I’m just a moron, I didn’t expect lifting to be this complicated.
Thanks for any help

I might be wrong, but I think FSL and Pyramid counts as supplemental work. If this is your first time with 5/3/1, you are probably best off with a basic template for the first couple of cycles. Here is an example of a basic template you can do for two cycles:

Workout A:
Bench: 5/3/1
Bench: 5x5 @ FSL
Row (BB or DB): 5x10

Workout B:
Squat: 5/3/1
Squat: 5x5 @ FSL
Back Raises or GHR: 5x10

Workout C:
Press: 5/3/1
Press: 5x5 @ FSL
Chin ups or Pull ups: 5 sets

Workout D:
DL: 5/3/1
DL: 5x5 @ FSL
Ab work: 5 sets

After two cycles with this you could run the BBB program in the Beyond book where you over several cycles goes from 5x10 to 5x5, 5x3 and where you end up at 5x1 @ 100%. After that you might try the 28 Week challenge where you get to try out alot of the ad ons found in Beyond. In the end it’s your body, so you have to decide how you want to do it, and this is just my suggestions if you want to run 5/3/1 4 times a week.

Also the most important thing about 5/3/1 is the principles it’s buildt around: Start too light, progress slowly, base your training around big compounds, break PR’s, and train with balance.

Good luck!


Thanks, I will probably run it as you listed it or go for the BBB, I’ll have to give it a proper read. Also, can I replace the GHRs with RDLs? I don’t have the machine available. Thanks for the advice.

Can you do Back raises? If not, you can do leg curls. This template is roughly the BBB template from the 1st edition book with FSL instead of BBB. In that template he suggest leg curls after Squat.

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Btw, congrats with the progress so far @nwbdave

Ok, I will do those then. Also yeah, the progress is awesome, being able to lift more feels even better and more rewarding than muscle gains.

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Forget jokers etc. Do triumvirate or BBB (from book not challenge), still the best start for newbs. -you need to build basic strength and just focus on hitting rep PRS on the top set, everything else is secondary. 6 months down the line can do a Beyond template.

Do not, you’ll just muddle yourself by the sound of things.

If reeeealy want to read more for clarity, read the original book(2nd edition) articles from here like below …



I’m running bbb 3 month. But with no reloads and I’m enjoying it. Starting cycle three tomorrow. Ought to be interesting

You could get the Forever book and commit to using the Beginner Prep School program for 6 months. By the end of the 6 months, you’ll understand the program well enough and be strong enough to move on to one of the more advanced programs.

How exactly should I load the back work and other accessories (lunges, GHRs)? I read in some part of the Beyond that I am free to do whatever I want with those sets (work up, down, etc.)


Depends on the assistence exercise. For DB Row you can for instance start with a weight you know you will be able to complete the 5 sets x 10 reps with zero problem. From there you can try to add 5 pounds/2.5kg per DB per Cycle. On BW exercises you have to base it on what you can do. If you can’t do 10 reps on Chin ups for example, you do 5 per set if you are able to do that, and you try to add a rep per set per Cycle. Again start too light and progress slowly.

Example of DB Row progression:
Cycle 1: 5x10 x 10kg per arm
Cycle 2: 5x10 x 12.5kg per arm.
Cycle 3: 5x10 x 15kg per arm.

Example of Chin up progression:
Cycle 1: 5x5
Cycle 2: 5x6
Cycle 3: 5x7

These are just examples, you might be able to start with higher/lower reps or lighter/heavier weights.


RampantBadger. Do you recommend hitting rep prs for those beginners are in their 60s or would you recommend 5Pros. I thought I read somewhere where high reps on the main lifts were not recommended for older lifters.

If in 60s I would say just do minimum reps for deadlift/limit at say 6 reps max. IMO high rep deads no bueno for older guys.
Squat play it by ear -eg if hips feeling beat up just do minimum reps that workout.
Bench and military rep out just stop when they become a grind. High reps is actually going to be easier on shoulders etc here

Once you really ‘get’ the system can give 5spro a go

Awesome, thanks for the detailed guide.
Also, what goal reps should I be hitting on the 531 sets? I read somewhere in the beyond that Jim recommends 10, 8 and 5. Or should I do just some reps over the min number?
My spreadsheet also has this thing where it calculates how I’m getting stronger over time based on these reps, it’s called “Wendler percentages”.

You have a couple of options depending on your abilities and mentality. If your form on the big four is dialed in and you are of the aggressive type, you could go for Amrap (As many reps as possible) on the last set. This means you stop the set when form breaks down or the bar speed slows down. If you are a bit more of the sensible type, you might go for 10,8,6 as Wendler suggest in Beyond. If you are even more sensible, you can strive for 5 reps the first time you do a weight, and when you encounter that same weight again, you strive to do one more rep than last time. This also depends on the particular lift. A true Amrap set on the upperbody lifts are more forgiving than a true Amrap on the lowerbody lifts.

I suggest you also make a log in the training log section. That way we can follow your progress, and you can get help to adjust when needed by members of this forum.

I still feel like the triumvirate is still one of the best programs. For a beginner and intermediate. I personally go back to it often. Main lifts, supplemental, assistance, simple.

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