T Nation

'Original' 531 vs Beyond


I am just about to start training again after a couple of years on lifting ‘sabbatical’ and planning to run 531. Used the original with success (BBB@50% and Triumvirate) years ago and loved going after rep records. My comeback plan was to do 2nd edition 531 and 50%BBB and some aerobic base stuff- moving (swim, jog, cycle,) at 140-150bpm for half an hour a couple of times a week.

Then I opened Pandora’s box brought Beyond to see how Wendler had developed his master piece. Whilst it all makes sense it appears a bit more complex to set up and allot less simple to plug my maxes into an excel and have next 5 months or training? Will my progress by substantially hindered if I simply stick to my plan in comparison to what I might expect if I try and get my head round the newer improvements- Pro 5’s (advised for beginners), FSL etc?

Any advice would be appreciated


In fact it’s really simple.

I used an excel sheet found on the internet that I updated every cycle.
You have all the percentages and you just have to follow it.

I did 531 + FSL and sometimes Joker Sets when I was feeling good.
I did FSL Paused squats and bench which I think really helped me


You won’t be hindered by doing the original plan at all. It worked then and it works now, just cause he’s developed some new ideas it doesn’t take that away. Doing BBB is still exactly the same anyway with the only difference to it being the 6 week cycle. Which I do prefer but if you liked deloading every 4th wekk thats fine too.

For simplicity’s sake:

  • Try doing the 6 week cycle.Looks like this:
    Original 531: 5’s wk, 3’s wk, 1 wk, deload. (Up TM and repeat)
    6 week cycle: 5’s wk, 3’s wk, 1 wk, (Up TM and repeat), deload
  • If you want to do BBB it’s the same, but there are a couple of variations in the book that progress the %
  • If you want to do Triumvirate assistance, look at adding First Set Last

Don’t worry about the rest.


The best advise I can give you is to stick with one program variation until you stall, then change up the supplemental lifts or accessories as necessary. You can stick with something like the original for several cycles, stall, go back 2-3 cycles and keep pushing through until that no longer works. If you’re bored then I guess you can chance things up. What Jim has said, “when in doubt, do FSL 5x5.” You could do 5/3/1+ or 5’s progression with FSL 5x5. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.



then this:

then this: (yes,skip1.3)

Works amazing.


Thanks for your thoughts guys. Based on this advice I’ll plough on with what I had planned and then begin to play about with the beyond stuff when I begin to stall.


Out of curiosity, why skip 1.3?


Personally I think to hit to hit your training max for a PR set and then do jokers creates too much room for error and you need to be very experienced and disciplined with yourself to not screw up. Also Jim seems to be recommending against jokers lately