5/3/1 BBB Beefcake 5s Malcolm X Method Experiment

Hey folks,

Last week this time I got bit with the idea of running the 5s week of BBB Beefcake using the “Malcolm X Method”

For those unfamiliar with such an approach, “Malcolm X” refers to “by any means necessary” regarding how one gets to 50 reps. Rather than 5 sets of 10, one simply gets the 50 reps in.

My intention was to still abide by the instruction of accomplishing all 50 reps in under 20 minutes, as that seemed core to BBB Beefcake.

Here are the videos of all 4 days, in the order performed: Deadlift, Squat, Press and Bench

I wanted to share some thoughts, perspectives, and ideas regarding this approach for those that would be interested in doing the same.

  • The schedule shook out with me deadlifting on Friday, Squatting on Monday, Pressing on Tuesday and Benching on Thursday. I like having my squat and deadlift far apart like that vs the traditional approach of alternating upper and lower body days. In between the press and bench day was a prowler and strongman day. In between the deadlift and squat day were some workouts I’ll post video of later. Tomorrow (Friday) I start the 1s week for deadlift.

  • Careful observers will note that I found other ways to make these training days more difficult ON top of of just Malcolm X. I used an axle for deadlifting, which is stiffer than a barbell, forces a deficit to pull from, and lacks rotating sleeves. Even with straps, deadlifting with an axle is just brutal. I used that same axle for the press workout, with me cleaning each rep from the floor as well. I counted the cleans as the required rows for BBB Beefcake, but even still, taking every rep from the floor is just brutal. For bench, I’m pausing every single rep and using the axle. Squats is the only day where I’m not doing anything too nutty, although I DO find squatting with a buffalo bar harder than with a barbell. But, consequently, my squat day was the fastest of all the others because of how vanilla it was.

  • For the main work on this training cycle, I just work worked up to whatever the topset weight was and did reps until it was uncomfortable. Not PR sets, not 5s pro, not 3s pro, not minimal reps: just get some reps in with heavy work and focus on the supplemental work.

  • All training was done at 0400, semi-fasted, running purely off a serving of Surge Workout Fuel

  • I ended every single workout with a 10+ minute conditioning workout, which would absolutely fall into the realm of “hard conditioning” per 5/3/1. On the deadlift day, I did 12 minutes of KB swings, alternating between a 24, 20 and 40kg bell every 15 reps, in order to continue to reinforce the hinge motor pattern. On the squat day I did 5 minutes of Dan John’s Armor Building Complex w/24kg kettlebells (more details on that in a later bullet) along with another 8 minutes of swings with a buy-in of 1 ABC. After the press day, I did a 15 minute workout I call “Lost in Translation”, which is 3 axle clean and push presses (clean each rep) followed by 7 burpee chins for as many rounds as possible

I like that workout on the press day because it allows even more volume of overhead work with some push press practice. And on the bench day I did 400 bodyweight dips w/2 Barbell Bear Complexes (clean into front squat thruster into back squat thruster) with 95lbs

Another fantastic way to get in a ton of upper body assistance

  • On the Saturday between deadlift and squats, I did a workout I dub “Monument to Non-Existence”, which has start with 15x225 front squats, then transition immediately to 20x225 squats, 25x225 Safety Squat Bar Squats, 30x225 deadlifts and 35x225 high handle trap bar lifts
  • I also did a morning workout of 5 minutes of Dan John’s “Armor Building Complex” using 24kg kettlebells and 15 minutes of various kettlebell swings and bodyweight exercises. The Complex is 2 KB cleans, 1 press overhead and 3 KB front squats
  • On the above, I do that 5 minute workout every day, and did so through out this program. I average around 22-26 ABCs in those 5 minutes depending on what kind of day I’m having.

  • On the Sunday between deads and squats, I did a morning workout of 5 minutes of ABCs w/24kg bells and then a 15 minute circuit of burpee chins and various other bodyweight work, with a few more 1 minute rounds of ABCs just to mix things up, along with a 10 minute EMOM afternoon workout of 2 Stone of Steels to shoulder followed by 8 double kettlebell front squats w/24kg bells

  • For the prowler workout, I took my prowler out to a parking lot with a LONG stretch of road, loaded up 90lbs on it and brought along a 100lb keg

  • The workout was high handle push the prowler, run back to the keg at the starting point, load it onto the tailgate of my truck, bearhug carry it to the prowler, backwards drag the prowler (I had a pulling strap attached to it) back to start, run back to the keg, press it overhead for 1 rep and then front carry it back to the start. After 40 minutes of that, I went straight into 3 minutes of loading the keg onto the tailgate (total of 30 reps), drove home (3 minute drive) and immediately hit a 5 minute workout of the ABCs and then various bodyweight exercises for 15 minutes.

  • Needless to say, I ate like a champ during this time, because I needed to recover. Here are some of the meals I put



Meal eaten before bed

I can go into specific details on those meals if need be, but it’s a lot of grassfed beef, pasture raised eggs/egg whites, avocados, nut butters/sunflower seed butters and avocados. I keep fats on the higher side and eat few carbs

  • In general, this was a fantastic deviation to undertake on the 5s week, and something I’ll absolutely continue to make use of in the future, with this program and possibly other 5/3/1 programs as well. Jim is always tinkering and coming up with ideas, and it’s been awesome to put some of them to use.

  • More than happy to discuss and field any questions.


Your work capacity is incredible. Do you ever find yourself overtraining? At times on 5/3/1 I will hit 3-4 PRs in a week, and then feel awful on the weekend—like my life is going downhill and I have nothing to live for. I’ve noticed it more than once. Maybe I am psyching up too much for the PR and frying my CNS. Food, sleep and work stress are all good, and I don’t think those are factors.

Appreciate the kind words dude. I’ve overtrained once in my life, and it took a LOT of neglect to get there. I don’t experience that with this. Big part of it is the “eating like a champ thing”, but regarding this

I NEVER psyche myself up for training. The opposite: I try to approach training as calm as possible. I actually will set aside 1 minute before I do some of these intense workouts to feel sorry for myself. I call it “mourning my losses”. I acknowledge how much it’s going to suck and then go do it. But I NEVER psyche myself up, because it can lead pretty quickly to overreaching, and I want to improve my ability to perform at my BASE level rather than at a maxed out/amped up level.


This statement made me think of dbz.

This seems like a VERY logical way to handle BBB. I think I’ll approach it this way in the future. Thanks for the great idea!

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Interesting that you do Deadlift, Squat, Press, Bench, in that order.

Over time I actually adopted a similar kind of approach (Squat + DL span around though). People have tried to tell me before, “nah man, you gotta do it upper/lower” but it never got me as excited for the gym as how I have them focused now.

Maybe it’s because i’m not super strong, but pressing just 48hrs before a bench workout does not seem to affect bench day in the slightest. Because the loads used for OHP are usually so much lower than the other compounds recovery does not seem to be an issue at all. I feel this strongly enough that I even added 7-8 singles at the end of my first workout of the week - I mentioned this here before but it nails in my form so much that the singles actually get easier in the same workout.

@tlgains That show was pretty influential to me.

@davemccright For sure dude! I definitely larned a lot from this, and think it’s got some wings.

@cdep89 Well, I mean, keep in mind I’m doing like 400 front squats between my last deadlift workout and my squat workout, along with that Monoument Workout, and I’m doing presses and cleans everyday too, and a jillion other things. I don’t really care if something is going to impat the future workout: just so long as I can DO the future workout. I don’t live so I can train my best: I train so I can PERFORM my best when the time comes to do so. So if my training performance gets compromised, that’s fine, so long as my performance outside of training keeps getting better.


I love it!!

That pre-bed meal looks amazing

I did one “50 reps in as few sets as possible” squat day on the second 5’s week of my last BBBB run. My legs were sore for a week… it felt very deepwater-esque

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Thanks all around dude! Absent all the extra conditioning work I know I’d be mega sore. I still deal with hamstring cramps after these days.

That pre-bed meal has been, and continues to be, an evolution in process. It started as a protein bar, haha. Before that, it was a bunch of veggies, and it’s because I had some BAD eating habits. I was trying to “be full” before bed, but wasn’t actually eating anything with beneficial nutrients. The protein bar moved in the right direction, but ultimately I knew I needed slow digesting protein and fats.

One of my favorite Deep Water meals for that was a combination of cottage cheese, avocados and powdered peanut butter, so I brought that back into the rotation. Then came the eggs, meat, vegetables, nuts n more, etc. And I just keep adding or taking away depending on goals.


Good thing to remember, especially as I’m in my mid-40s now. I enjoyed God is a Beast and running Hepburn method for a while on front squat and OHP, because of the lack of PR sets. I’ll get back into 5/3/1 after I finish Thib’s Bodybuilder/Athlete program. I really like that program’s focus on explosiveness, plus learning hang snatches and high pulls on that program have been good for hypertrophy.

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As an update, 5s week rolled around again. Did Squat this morning and got in a 10lb and 1 rep PR on the opening salvo

Also beat the previous time by around 20 seconds.

Showing some awesome progression on this training cycle, BUT, if you were to ONLY look at my main work, it’d look like a complete failure. I keep dropping weight and reps there. WHICH, is an important reminder to remember what Dan John said: “The goal is to keep the goal the goal”. I am DEMOLISHING my supplemental work, my body and appetite are growing uncontrollably, and I’m on my way to my goals.

I AM dealing with a muscle tear at the moment, which limits my deadlifting

Been doing a lot of SSB good mornings on deadlift days as a work around, and getting in reps where I can.

This workout in particular included my usual brand of insanity as far as assistance and conditioning goes

And the weekend included probably the hardest workout I’ve had in quite a while, which beat the hell out of me

So yeah…Beefcake is still awesome, as is running the Malcolm X method.


Here’s how to do a full 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake bench workout in 27 minutes

Shook out to

  • 1 warm up set

  • 3 sets of main work (5s progression of 196lb, 226 and 256)

  • Malcolm X method supplemental (50 reps of 196 pause bench by any means necessary) in 10:15

  • 50 burpee chins (calling that assistance AND conditioning)

  • 20 standing ab wheels

  • 50 pull aparts

  • 25 pushdowns

I got the supplemental, assistance AND conditioning working done in 20:12, meeting Jim’s 20 minute standard.

These workouts DON’T need to take a long time if you don’t want them to.


Absolute unit. I’m going to give this a go VERY soon! Can’t believe you’re just fighting through a Tricep treat like that! ( I hope to not emulate that part lol)

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May I ask why SSB instead of regular good mornings? Do you find SSB has more of a carry over to deadlifting?

Excited for you @davemccright ! Let me know how it goes.

@hustlinghat93 I find the SSB more good morning friendly in general. Easier to control, less tendency to rolll up the back, easier to wigggle under for suspended work.


I actually healed up enough to get in the deadlift workout this week, so that’s pretty awesome, and caps off another 5s week of the Malcolm X method. I am absolutely sold on this as a way forward.