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5/3/1 BBB Beefcake Programming?

Last week I asked in the BLS section what program I should be doing after a LP program and a lot of people recommended 531. I’ve tried it in the past but didn’t feel ready for it after doing the workouts. Meanwhile I read through the e-books and it left me confused to say the least. On the other hand, I’ve done 2 workouts and I must say that I have a totally different feeling about the workouts now, as if I’m at the right point in my training career to start the program. Wendler recommends to try certain templates and see which one you like best.

The one that caught my eye was BBB (beefcake in particular), but that’s where the confusion starts. There’s about 10 different templates over the 4 books. I like the simplicity b/c I train at home and have limited equipment (rack, bb, pulley, dips handles and some dumbbells), but I’m not sure which template to pick. It’s generally recommended to not do the amraps for bbb and focus on the assistance work. Yet I see a lot of people say that the 5x10 work at 40-60% is a bit light (reason being is that for muscle growth it’s been well established that you should train close to failure which 5x10 at those percentages doesn’t do) and Wendler put out a bunch of other options in the forever book. On the other hand 5x10 fits into the philosophy of submax training.

Therefore… For DL/SQ I was thinking about doing FSL 5x5 since there seems to be a discrepancy between upper and lower body lifts on how high the % for assistance can be (5x10 even with 60%, let alone FSL, seems daunting). On SQ and DL I mainly want to ingrain good technique and up my strength, I also think it’s already a good amount of volume to atleast get some muscle growth out of it. On the upper body lifts my goals are shifted more towards hypertrophy. Either I do the 5x10 assistance at 60% (I tried bench 5x10 at 60% and found that with a slightly wider grip b/c I normally bench with a closer grip and a pause on the chest it’s actually a challenging weight by the last 2 sets) or I do FSL amraps. How many amraps are recommended? For the other assistance I’m keeping 5x10 rows for good posture after bench/ohp, 5x15-20 face pulls on lower days and I want to work my way up to 50-100 chins/dips as I’m currently not able to perform that amount of volume. Regarding that: I find it more logical to put these on my upper days, as they might impair my bench/ohp when I do them on lower days as prescribed. Thoughts?

I’m also keeping the 531+ sets for now. Might shift to 351+, but if recovery takes a hit I’ll don’t do the amraps.

Wendler has answered most of this here:

I always suggest you try a few different templates for a few cycles each to see how you respond to each. Don’t be afraid to mix and match for different lifts, as long as you’re sticking to the principles of the program. For example, I know that BBB with plus sets always progresses my Bench. I also know that would be a disaster for my deadlift, which I prefer to train much more minimally.

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That’s what I’m thinking too. For squat/DL I can’t really see myself doing 10 rep sets (I can’t speed through reps like some people even with an empty bar) and I’ve noticed better results staying away from failure on those because of how run down I feel if do train (close) to failure on them. I think a FSL 5x5 can be really hard if you slow the lift down a bit and not just try to get the weight up for the sake of hitting reps/numbers.

Upper body lifts seem to be a bit different. I can handle a lot more volume, I can train closer to failure and recover just as well. FSL amrap/rest-pause (bit of a Paul Carter influence) seems like a fun thing to do for example on bench/ohp or maybe an incline bench after ohp with FSL weight of your flat bench. Then some bodyweight stuff like dips and chins for a certain amount of reps and call it a workout.

Wendler has a Rest Pause template on this site that might be worth checking out.

Otherwise, doing your BBB sets “Malcolm X” style is something Wendler has written about. I’ve tried it a few times but not enough to have any concrete opinions on it.

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“Standardise before you optimise”

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Thanks for the tip, this looks awesome and Wendler even states that “The workouts can be done in a very barebones training facility, i.e., this is tailor made for the garage lifter. I didn’t want to require a machine or special piece of equipment to do the program, mostly because I don’t have access to them!”

The article says to not apply this to lower body lifts, as per my thinking. Now I think of it, if you apply the principles of the books… Everything becomes self-explanatory.


I’ve yet to meet the lifter who could push themselves to true failure on squats and deadlifts regularly.

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