The Jim Wendler FSL Program | The Ultimate Guide!


Jim Wendler Grip Training

Are you curious about the Jim Wendler FSL program?

Do you wonder how the creator of the 5/3/1 program uses the First Set Last template to build size and strength?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use Jim Wendler’s FSL template to take your training to the next level!

Introduction

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular strength coaches in the world today.

He is famous for inventing the 5/3/1 training program, which he describes as “the simplest and most effective way to build raw strength.”

Jim says one of the strengths of his program is that it is extremely customizable. He has many different training templates that you can choose from, including Krypteia, The Triumvirate, and Boring But Big.

However, one of his absolute favorite 5/3/1 templates is called FSL, or First Set Last!

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Jim Wendler FSL

FSL is an advanced version of 5/3/1 where you perform 3 heavy sets on your primary barbell exercise, followed by 5 sets of 5 reps on the same exercise with a lighter weight.

Jim Wendler calls this FSL, or “First Set Last” because you use the same weight for your first set AND your 5 back-off sets at the end.

For example, here are what your training percentages might look like for an FSL workout:

Sample FSL Training Percentages:

  • Set #1: 65% x 5 reps
  • Set #2: 75% x 5 reps
  • Set #3: 85% x 5+ reps
  • FSL Sets: 65% x 5 sets x 5 reps

Jim says the FSL template is actually somewhat similar to his popular “Boring But Big” template.

The main difference is you are performing 5 sets of 5 reps for your back-off sets, rather than 5 sets of 10 reps like you would with the original boring but big template.

Jim Wendler says FSL is a unique template, and you should ONLY perform sets of 5 reps for your primary barbell exercises.

Unlike the original 5/3/1 program, there is no 3’s week or 5/3/1 week. Instead, you perform sets of 5 reps for each week – even your lighter deload week.

For example, here are what the first 3 weeks of your next FSL cycle might look like:

The FSL Training Cycle

Week 1 Training Percentages

  • 65% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 reps, 85% x 5 reps, 65% x 5 sets of 5 reps

Week 2 Training Percentages

  • 70% x 5 reps, 80% x 5 reps, 90% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 sets of 5 reps

Week 3 Training Percentages

  • 75% x 5 reps, 85% x 5 reps, 95% x 5 reps, 75% x 5 sets of 5 reps

As you can see, the training percentages increase for three weeks in a row.

Unlike the original 5/3/1 training program, you do NOT use 90% of your 1-rep max as your training max with this program. Instead, you are using 85% of your 1-rep max as your training max.

Jim says one of the keys when using this template is to keep your bar speed as fast as possible. This is extremely important – especially in the early weeks, when the training percentages are relatively lower.

“When training the main lifts, make sure your bar speed is VERY GOOD.

This particular program is not about max effort lifting, but rather getting stronger and in better condition.”

Now let’s look at some sample FSL workouts. Check it out:

Standard FSL Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Glute ham raise, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: 45 degree back extension, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler performing the squat:

Standard FSL Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Weighted push ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

For inspiration, here is a video of Jim Wendler performing the bench press:

These workouts are loosely based on FSL and the Triumvirate template, where you perform 2 major assistance exercises per workout.

If you want to learn more about Jim Wendler’s favorite assistance work templates to use with FSL, then make sure you pick up a copy of his new book “5/3/1 Forever.” 

Jim Wendler likes FSL so much, that he used it in his extremely popular Krypteia program. Krypteia can be thought of as a “minimalist” program. You only perform 2 workouts per week, but Jim thinks you can still make excellent progress using this system if you push yourself hard enough.

Jim is talking from experience here – he was training just 2 days per week when he hit an all-time deadlift PR with 710 pounds!

Here is the Krypteia template, as outlined in Jim’s blog. Check it out:

Krypteia Template – Week 1

Monday

  • Squat
  • Upper Body Assistance Work

Thursday

  • Bench Press
  • Lower Body Assistance Work

Krypteia Template – Week 2

Monday

  • Deadlift
  • Upper Body Assistance Work

Thursday

  • Overhead Press
  • Lower Body Assistance Work

As you can see, the Krypteia template uses 2 full body workouts per week. You perform your major barbell exercise using the FSL strategy, and then you perform 2 assistance exercises for the OPPOSITE half of your body.

For example, on your squat workout you would perform assistance work for your upper body.

This template allows you to hit each body part twice per week, which is very high considering you are only training twice per week!

Here are some sample Krytpeia workouts that you can try:

Sample Krytpeia Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Weighted push ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Chin ups / pull ups, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

Sample Krytpeia Bench Press Workout

  • Exercise #1: Bench press, 65% x 5, 75% x 5, 85% x 5, 65% x 5 x 5
  • Exercise #2: Dumbbell squats, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Romanian deadlift, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

There is very little public information on FSL, so if you really want to make the most of this training strategy then make sure you pick up a copy of “5/3/1 Forever.” 

Conclusion | The Jim Wendler FSL Program!

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular strength coaches in the world today, and it’s easy to see why.

He invented dozens of different training templates that you can use with his 5/3/1 program to maximize your results.

Based on feedback from thousands of lifters, one of Jim’s more effective templates is called FSL, or First Set Last. This template is so effective that Jim used it in his 2 days per week Krypteia program!

If you are looking for a new 5/3/1 program to accelerate your gains, then you have to give FSL a shot.

It may be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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