T Nation

How to Balance PR Sets, Jokers & FSL Work?


Mr. Wendler,

I recently read Beyond 5/3/1 and really got a great feel of how to train. I’ve began using less than 5 reps to ramp up into my work sets and feel really ready to push the weight by the time it comes. I also have began giving myself more time between sets, and my bar speed has thanked me.

Anyways, the biggest take away I had was the balance you have to have in your training. You have to +/- what you’re doing with your training and that’s where my question for you comes.

You say if you’re goal is to get stronger (which mine is), you need PR sets, jokers, and FSL work.

For someone newer to lifting like me, wanting to add a ton of strength, I doubt pushing a PR set, adding jokers and then working down to FSL work for a couple sets would be the most efficient way for me to train. Especially, all at once.

What’s the best way for me to utilize and balance PR sets, Jokers and FSL work as a beginner wanting to add as much strength/size as possible?

Thanks Mr. Wendler for this forum and being open for questions. Your expertise is appreciated.


The scope of this question is not for this forum - way too much shit involved. This question is extensively answered in the book I’m working on now. It is a huge book which will help you learn how to program all facets of a good, balanced training program.

I’ve listed numerous examples of programming on this forum, albeit abbreviated. Until then, just wait until the book is out as it will answer every question about how to program based on goals and abilities.


If you just follow a simple template (FSL or triumvirate for example) until the book is out, you will get stronger.

The principals don’t change.


Heck, you can get strong with just 5/3/1 alone.


Just my understanding of 531, but I thought joker sets were for when you’ve hit your PR set and feel really good to give you a way to hit some heavier reps without going overboard (which is why you only ever go up to your training max). Then you’d do your FSL set after. Most days you just do your 531 sets and FSL.

I’ve been doing 531 for a short time with BBB and I’ve done joker sets one only, because that was the only day after my PR set I felt like I was going that well I wanted to work up. All the other days I’ve just been doing my PR set and then BBB.


I find this program fascinating. And what you said makes the best sense to me. If you get your PR sets, THEN I can get a set or two of more weight (up to TM), and then go back down to FSL work.


Understood. Looking forward to the next book!


That’s it. I think your Joker sets are meant to be the same reps as your 531 sets (5, 3 or 1) but once you can’t hit the numbers you can keep on with singles.