What Kind of Accessory Work for Pyramid Sets?

Hi I have been combing 531 bodybuilding template with pyramid sets… I feel pretty burnt out after doing the pyramid and find it difficult to complete bodybuilding accessories. And the next day I am sore af and I haven’t gotten sore since I was like a beginner lifter so I know I am screwing this up somehow. I am beating prs from my first cycle so I feel like I am getting stronger but this feels like way too much

Should I limit the accessories to maybe 2 sets only?

Does anyone know what Jim suggests because the book only has like 1 page on pyramids that I could find?

Btw this kind of reminds me of Dorian Yates HIT training so I feel like it might work well for bodybuilding goals even if i take out some volume from accessories

That’s because you aren’t doing the program. Follow the program!


Thanks for the response Jim but I am confused now because I thought I was following the program sorry

So is pyramid training it’s own template? Not so much something I should add to another program?

If I really like doing pyramid sets should I just ditch the assistant work?

Assuming you’re running the program from Jim’s Blog that says “5/3/1 and Bodybuilding”, there are no pyramid sets there. You’re supposed to do the minimum reps for the mainwork. Might be able to get away with 5s pro.

If you are pushing the assistance work, you’re gonna need to throttle back on the main.


I feel like if I put all my effort into my pyramid sets it would be plenty of work and all I would really need to do. And it would probably be a great workout, but Is that how pyramids are supposed to be used?

Then do that. No one here is telling you not to do something except everyone including the author. At the end of the day, you’re going to do what you want to do. No one is going to follow you everyday and make sure you don’t or do what the tell you here.


Then do it and find out. Jim’s given his recommendation, you’re not going to get a more qualified answer on 5/3/1 programming so all that’s left to do is decide whether to listen.

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I think I’m just going to do this
-4 days a week

  • fsl multiple sets (instead of pyramiding)
  • joker sets only on good days
  • pull ups in between benching and pressing (stopping far before failure on pull ups)
    -Then pick 2 isolation movements to do at the end only 2 or 3 sets each max
    (upper accessories could be bicep, tricep, or deltoid)
    (Lower accessories would just be calves and abs)

I don’t think this would really be over doing things but idk I feel like it sticks to the basics so what could really go wrong I guess.

Feel free to let me know if anyone thinks something about this plan is dumb

Lol I was never expecting the man himself to actually give me advice. Jim has been like a role model to me for years now if he says something I’m listening. Only reason I really modified things in the first place was because I dont have a leg press anymore then it all spiralled into something dumb

Are you doing 531 pyramid from beyond page 12 or have you merged different templates together?

I was adding the page 12 template to the bodybuilding template from Jim’s blog.

For some reason I thought pyramid sets where something you can add to any routine for extra volume. I didn’t know the pyramid was a template itself

You’re never adding extra volume with these programs; you’re managing the volume. When main work is light, this means supplemental is heavy. When supplemental is light, main work and assistance can be heavier. It has to balance, as that’s how you allow yourself to recover, which, in turn, is how you get bigger and stronger.


I feel that you’re overthinking things. So, if you want to use FSL sets (5 sets of 5) as supplements after main lift, you can get away with 75-100 reps in the push/pull/lower(core) assistance categories. Whether you do them between your barbell sets (as you suggest) or at the end is up to you.

You haven’t said how you will do the main 531 sets. Are you going for “plus” sets on the heaviest set, or sticking to 5’s PRO? I also wouldn’t do any jokers.

As has been pointed out, what you can’t do is go extra hard on the main sets (AMRAP, jokers), do lots of volume on the supplement (BBB, or 5x10), and add a large volume of assistance work. This has to balance, and that is why there are leaders and anchors, and why some templates have more/less assistance/supplement work than others.

It seems like you’re still at the stage where you should find a template and follow it exactly as written. Once you get a feel for 531 and how you are progressing/feeling, then you can make small alterations that still will work and allow you to make progress/recover.

It is good to know I can do 75 to 100 reps to assistance work.

I’m keeping 531 the original plus set

I knew I was screwing up that’s why I stopped and reconsidered. My main goal was to get a better understanding of pyramiding and fsl… Now I know you don’t just add them into templates.

I’m not planning to do shitloads of assistance either.
-My goal was to do more volume with the main lifts.
-I was switching over from training 2 days a week to 4 and give a whole day to a lift. Bodybuilding templates kind of laid that out easily for me and then I added pyramids to that thinking no big deal

Now the plan is I’m basically going to do BBB 3 month challenge template but instead of 5x10 I’ll do fsl so I’m not so sore and I can do still do my job and lift shit at work lol.
I’m pretty sure Jim says somewhere that you can replace BBB with fsl for this reason

I believe this should really work out fine now

So plus sets and 5 x 5 FSL with 75-100 reps of 2/3 assistance exercises? Sounds pretty solid to me.

Just don’t call it the BBB 3 month challenge because it bears absolutely no resemblance at all to that.

Yup exactly. “Modified” bbb 3 month challenge. Jk that was just the simplest way I could think of explaining it. Feeling pretty confident on this plan now thanks

Just keep an eye on your recovery. In your original post you mentioned it was an issue so make sure you’re proactive in addressing it and scaling back the work if you find there’s nothing you can do to recover appropriately.

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