T Nation

Progress and Questions After 3 Cycles


I’ve completed 3 cycles of 5/3/1 with BBB. I’ve tried to follow the program exactly as Jim wrote it (2nd edition eBook) though in some cycles I’ve needed more than 7 days to get through a week’s worth of work and recovery. My bodyweight started around 189 and is now about 192. I’m 36yo and 5/11 with 2 years of Crossfit before switching to 5/3/1.

Based on the 1RM max formula, I’ve posted solid gains:
Press - up 20 to 124
Deadlift - up 94 to 360
Bench - up 39 to 183
Squat - up 56 to 285

Speed through cycles: I need 8-9 days to complete the work and feel like I’m ready to go for each workout. Do I push myself to get it down to 7 days, or keep making progress at the slower pace? Given Jim’s mantra of “Progressing Slowly” I think I should stick with what I’ve been doing but hoping for feedback.

Hanging leg raises: I’m getting my feet higher on more reps each week, but cannot do toes to bar the way he shows them in the book for more than 1-2 reps in the first set. Since I’m making progress, should I keep at it or is there a more effective option?

Pullups: I’m using the weight assistance machine at the gym for these - each week I’ve done more and more sets with less and less assistance. Since I’m making progress, should I keep at it or is there a more effective option?

Acronyms: What does FSL mean? What are PROs? Yeah, I tried to google these but it just takes me to articles that use them but don’t explain them.


Looks like you are making good progress! A few thoughts.

Make sure you are hitting your main lifts (bench, squat, dl, press) ideally at least once per week. Where I find I start getting delayed is when I add in too much assistance work. So my suggestion would be to consider dialing back the intensity or volume of assistance work if it is preventing you from being consistent with the big lifts. Some people stick to lifting 2x per week and they hit 2 of the big lifts during each work session. As you can imagine that doens’t leave a lot of energy or time to go crazy with the assistance work.

With the pullups Jim recommends using the lat pulldown machine if you can’t do pull up reps. Your option of using the weighed pull up machine is probably accomplishing the same thing so it’s probably fine. For hanging leg raises I’d say do the full reps and run as many sets as necessary to hit your goal total. If you are toast and can’t do any more you may want to focus on the ab wheel rollouts for the remaining reps as Jim suggests using the ab wheel as one of the assistance exercises for the squat and dl days.

FSL and PRO are templates from the 5/3/1 Beyond book. They are based on the 5/3/1 philosophy but have been adapted for people with different end goals. I like FSL because it allows you lift heavy - within the overall 5/3/1 philosophy - but also works in a decent amount of volume to help spur hypertrophy.


Not Jim but if it helps:

You answered your own question. I’d only add that if you’re finding it hard to get through it in seven days (I’m guessing on, on, off, on, on, off, off?) you might be under eating. That’s sort of indicated by only being three lbs heavier after three cycles. BBB really does need a LOT of food, I’d say 3000 calories per day as a minimum.

Probably up to you as long as you’re doing some kind of ab work. The book lists various options.

Probably best to keep at it. Pull-ups are awesome if you can do them, so IMO if you’re finding a way that gets you there and it’s working don’t change it until it isn’t.

FSL: First Set Last. Very, very good option after BBB. I prefer multiple sets but others prefer the AMRAP option.

Pros I think is just an abbreviation of progression. So 5s Pro has you doing the same percentages as usual but you always do five reps no matter what week it is, and you don’t do plus sets.


FSL is not to be done with BBB. It is an entirely different program. Do NOT DO THEM IN THE SAME WORKOUT.

I really wish someone would show me where I said to do FSL ALONG WITH BBB. It’s so amazingly, painfully simple. I literally tell people EXACTLY WHAT TO DO.


Hey Jim…in my post I just asked what FSL is because I keep seeing references to it. If you have any thoughts on the questions I posted I’d be grateful…whole point of my post is to make sure I continue making progress with the program. Thanks!


Perfectly acceptable to hit the main lifts less than once a week. Jim has talked many times about using a 10 day template or even how lots of people have great success alternating squats and deads every other week.