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Add Cardio or Not?

Started this program today. Trying to work my way down to 10%bf before starting 5/3/1 BBB, as several articles recommended. I am currently somewhere between 13-15%, or so i think. This program doesn’t mention any cardio, but i am wondering if some sprints on off days and some low intensity walking after lifting would okay? Thoughts?

Comically enough, none of them by the guy that wrote 5/3/1 BBB.

Cardio is a great thing to do. You should do it.


Too much cardio (especially for beginners) is not the best. In my experience, beginners often favor steady state cardio machines, and lots of isolation movements.

No cardio is also not a good choice. I would recommend you do ~20 minutes of steady state cardio 2-3 times a week. And do 1-2 ~15 minute sessions of sprints, HIIT, etc… a week. These take away from your recovery if you overdo it, so be careful.

Also, walking is great. If you can get in longer walks, hikes, leisurely bike rides, etc… you can replace some or all of your steady state cardio.

not sure if this is a dig at me or not. No, i didn’t see Wendler say to be 10% before starting BBB, but i’ve seen several other guys on the sight recommend getting to around 10% before starting a mass phase. i’m not big by any standards, 5’11" 169, been lifting for almost exactly a year now. Just trying to do everything “right”.

thanks. this is almost exactly what i had been doing. 5-10 sprints on TTr and two miles of incline walking on MWF.

It’s not. I don’t know you; why would I dig at you?

Try following the advice of 1 author, rather than trying to match a bunch of authors against each other. The latter makes things difficult, because without the necessary context or overarching understanding of the methodlogy, you’ll find far more disagreements than agreements.


that’s a good point about following the advice of one author. what’s your personal opinion on the idea of getting to around 10% before starting BBB?

Yes it would be ok. I highly recommend it.

Bodyfat % numbers are such a ridiculous metric that people get WAY too wound up about. For starters, people won’t actually get a reliable test done, but instead rely on eyeballing it, as though they “know” what 10% looks like. This ignores the fact hat you store fat between your organs (visceral fat) which will impact the percentage of bodyfat you have. Two people can “look” like the same bodyfat and still have different levels.

But say you DO get a reliable test done; those tests STILL have margins of error as well. Somewhere in the 2-3% even on reliable tests. So now you’re waiting until you hit a VERY specific number on a test that cannot necessarily give you that number, and for what?

My approach has always been the same; if you want to be bigger, eat more. If you want to be smaller, eat less. You don’t need someone’s permission to pursue those goals.

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i definitely understand that view. it isn’t so much that i care about getting to specific number. I just wanted to be lean enough when i start the BBB program that i reap the supposed benefits of being pretty lean before starting a mass phase (more likely to gain lean mass and less fat, from what i have read). Maybe that is dumb. it sounds kinda dumb after typing it out. it isn’t like im currently fat, so maybe i am worrying too much about the little details.

With all the jumps in that program I would do very limited sprints if at all. Maybe bike work instead.

That style of training/giant sets shred you up fast as long as you bring some intensity to your sessions so you should be golden.

Personally I would just add a bit of low intensity cardio once a week


I’ve had the same worries you have. Not currently that is, but when I was younger and first starting out.

Ultimately, I wanted to be bigger and stronger. Didn’t care to be bodybuilder lean, but not fat either. I read about Dan John’s and Jim Wendler’s programs, and wanted to follow them and get big! I also read some coaches saying I should lose fat first, so my “bulk” would be more muscle, rather than fat.

In the end, I spent so much time worrying, that after a few months (or longer), I’d made zero progress. I wasn’t leaner, I wasn’t more muscular, and I wasn’t stronger. I’d only gained experience in procrastinating.

Having all the different opinions that you have access to can be difficult. As a beginner, and probably somewhat young (how old are you?), it’s tough to know who’s right. I know for me, it was easy to buy into some coach talking about his program being the best. I wanted abs, a big bench, big squat, big traps, big triceps, better sprint times, etc. All at the same time. And fast. It doesn’t work like that.

I’d highly recommend following @T3hPwnisher 's advice, and pick one author who you “follow,” at least for a while. Doesn’t have to be forever. For me, that’s been Jim Wendler. There are others I like. Joe DeFranco, Paul Carter, Christian Thibadeau, Dave Tate & Louie Simmons (kinda group them together) all have things that speak to me. But Jim’s is just simple, great for younger lifters (I’m still only 19), and very “all encompassing” without taking up too much time. Take, for example, BBB. Add in 5-10 min. of mobility before lifting, and you’ve got mobility, strength, and hypertrophy, all in one workout. It’s very simply and easy to do.

Don’t worry about doing everything right. You won’t, and can’t. Pick a program (BBB is good) and just do it. Lift hard, eat like this:

and you will be fine. In 5 years (or more) you can decide if you then want to lose some fat or not. If you did lifted often, did some conditioning and didn’t only eat Oreos and Twinkies for 5 years, then you shouldn’t have much fat to lose anyways.

Read @isdatnutty 's log. He’s made so much progress in the past few years. His training has been very fun to follow along.

I don’t say any of this to scold you or anything, merely offering advice because I’ve been where you’re at. My biggest regret was only ever not doing something because I couldn’t decide what science was saying. In the end, my body would have improved either way, if I’d just taken a step and done it.

Good luck!

P.S. Consider starting a log. Tag whoever replied to you here if you do. You’ll most likely get some good advice and encouragement.


Walking on rest days would be fine. Sprints would be overkill because the program has some type of explosive training 4 days a week. The program was designed as-is, almost specifically to drop fat without regular cardio training.