T Nation

Big Beyond Belief


#1

Hey Guys,

I have been reading articles on T-Nation for a while and lurking on the forums lately and figured I might as well sign up.

I have been training consistently for a little over a year, trying different splits. I have done full body splits 3 times a week, upper/lower splits 4 times a week, push/pull/leg 6 times a week, and so forth.

Stats wise, here is where I stand:
Age: 22
Height: 6'
Weight: 200
Body fat: Irrelevant (15ish)

1 RM
Squat: 295
Bench Press: 225
Deadlift: 325
Press: 135

I intend to start Big Beyond Belief 6 day-a-week template Monday. I have seen this program recommended a few times, and thought I could use some tips from fellow lifters who tried it.

My long term goals are strength oriented, but I thought this program could be a good starting point. I plan to ramp up the intensity afterwards with more strength oriented programs such as 5/3/1.

I selected 3 exercises per body part, one per cycle (endurance, strength and power). My plan was to start light and bump the weight whenever I bust the rep range, and to keep the same exercises throughout the 18 week cycle (all 3 ramps and training phases). Here is the template:

Cycle A: Endurance (13-15 reps)

Day 1:
Back: DB rows
Chest: Incline DB bench press
Bis: Cable curls
Calves: Raises on leg press

Day 2:
Delts: Lateral raises
Tris: Cable extensions
Thighs: Lunges
Abs: Pallof press

Cycle B: Strength (10-12 reps)

Day 3:
Chest: Flat BB bench press
Back: Pendlay rows
Bis: Incline DB curls
Calves: Seated raises

Day 4:
Delts: DB shoulder press
Tris: Skullcrusher to pullover
Thighs: Squat
Abs: Weighted sit ups

Cycle C: Power (8-10 reps)

Day 5:
Chest: Dips
Back: Chins
Bis: EZ bar curl
Calves: Donkey calf raises

Day 6:
Delts: Press
Tris: Close grip bench press
Thighs: Deadlift
Abs: Rollouts

Criticism is welcome! Thanks in advance.

The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right. Which one are you? -Henry Ford


#2

I’ve ran the program a few times and here are some suggestions:

Don’t do a different lift for each day. Pick 1-2 lifts per body part, and either alternate them each day, or do something like do Flat Benching on both your Endurance and Power days, while doing DB Incline on the Strength day. Your Bench will benefit a lot from doing it 2x a week across different rep ranges. I’d so the same for Squats. I like the alternating each lift better, so i Flat Bench and DB Incline are your 'Chest lifts, week 1 you’ll do Flat on Endurance, Incline on Strength, then Flat on Power. Week 2 it’ll then be Incline on Endurance, Flat on Strength, and Incline again on Power, and so on…

I’d suggest against lunges and DB Rows, unless you’re doing the DB Rows with both arms at the same time. Doing unilateral work on this program is kind of hard with the rest periods, and you’re also doubling the amount of time you’re under stress by doing them, so it kind of adds even more volume to an already tough program.

Lastly, like I said about the exercise variations, limit them, but for stuff like arms, pick a bigger movement to go with your smaller one. So Incline Curls are cool, but add in some BB Curls or Reverse EZ Curls too, something you can add weight to over time, as that’s the point of this program.I personally found not doing any BB pressing for delts helped a ton, because the volume builds up fast with this program.

Good luck man, it’s a great system to train with!


#3

GREAT advice from Spidey! x2

Don’t have much to add. I ran BBB years ago and enjoyed it. Good program. The exercises I did were only Squats, Bench, Dips, Rows, Chins, DB Shoulder presses, EZ-bar curls, cable work for triceps, and ab crunches. I didn’t even do the calves. I did however add direct hamstring work when I did it. Which for some reason Leo Costa didn’t have them in there.


#4

Thanks for the inputs guys.

I am pleased about your suggestions as I am a fan of minimalist workouts. Lately, all I have done is alternate full body workouts of Squat/Row/Bench and DL/Chins/Press.

Here is the new template with fewer exercises and RDL instead of DL to target hamstrings.

Cycle A: Endurance (13-15 reps)

Day 1:
Back: Pendlay rows
Chest: Flat BB bench press
Bis: EZ-bar curls
Calves: Donkey calf raises

Day 2:
Delts: DB shoulder press
Tris: Cable extensions
Thighs: Squat
Abs: Weighted sit ups

Cycle B: Strength (10-12 reps)

Day 3:
Chest: Incline DB bench press
Back: Chins
Bis: EZ-bar curls
Calves: Donkey calf raises

Day 4:
Delts: Lateral raises
Tris: Dips
Thighs: RDL
Abs: Pallof press

Cycle C: Power (8-10 reps)

Day 5:
Chest: Flat BB bench press
Back: Pendlay rows
Bis: EZ-bar curl
Calves: Donkey calf raises

Day 6:
Delts: DB shoulder press
Tris: Cable extension
Thighs: Squat
Abs: Weighted sit ups

Kept the dips on the day I am not shoulder pressing because I feel like it hits my triceps harder than any other exercise.

Any additional thoughts? Thanks!


#5

Yeah dude looks much better IMO! Let us know how it goes and how you progress!


#6

I plan to post my workouts in the Training Logs section.

Feel free to sub if you think it is worthy of interest.


#7

Agreed on all points with Spidey. Much better. I made a ton of progress repeating the movements on Endurance and Power days, especially in my squatting.


#8

Great program this, I have not much to add. A couple of things though:

  1. This is a program for getting big, it won’t be worth shit if you’re not eating to gain.

  2. Do face pulls, band pull-aparts, and some exernal rotation work for the rotator cuff. You need to do all you can to keep your shoulders healthy.

  3. Use knee and elbow sleeves.

I would do cable rows instead of pendlay rows on the 13-15 rep day. The low back fatigue really builds up on this program, considering all the squatting, deadlifting, and bent over rows.


#9

Word on the cable rows.

About the rotator cuff work, I took the habit to do band pull-aparts in between every sets of squat and deadlift. Would there be a more efficient way to implement it in my workouts?

Thanks!


#10

One piece of advice: use the rest periods that are prescribed. Made a big difference for me.


#11

[quote]Quick Ben wrote:
Great program this, I have not much to add. A couple of things though:

  1. This is a program for getting big, it won’t be worth shit if you’re not eating to gain.

  2. Do face pulls, band pull-aparts, and some exernal rotation work for the rotator cuff. You need to do all you can to keep your shoulders healthy.

  3. Use knee and elbow sleeves.

I would do cable rows instead of pendlay rows on the 13-15 rep day. The low back fatigue really builds up on this program, considering all the squatting, deadlifting, and bent over rows.[/quote]

Good call on the shoulder pre-hab stuff, it’s stuff I ‘assume’ everyone’s doing, but actually first time running this program I got a HORRIBLE shoulder injury because it was before I even knew how to do a proper warm-up. So yeah, make sure you balance out all those tiny muscles of the inner shoulder.

I have no experience with knee or elbow sleeves, but I know even just wearing wrist wraps helped me get through the really high frequency pressing that goes along with it. You don’t have to wear them every set, but just using them at all will save your joints.

And Cable rows are a good call. I’ve run the program before without any machines, and it can work, but having cables rows helped a ton with managing lower back fatigue. Wearing a belt can help if you’re really just dedicated to BB rowing, but yeah, cables are just like free weights IMO.


#12

So rotator cuff (shoulder prehab) stuff as warm up?


#13

[quote]The Man Who Can wrote:
Word on the cable rows.

About the rotator cuff work, I took the habit to do band pull-aparts in between every sets of squat and deadlift. Would there be a more efficient way to implement it in my workouts?

Thanks![/quote]

BBB has timed rest periods, I wouldn’t do anything but rest in that allotted time if I were you. You’ll know what I mean when you start ramp 2.

I like to do broomstick streches and band pull-aparts in between warm up sets, but once I start my working sets I drop them. Face pulls I usually do last thing before I leave the gym. Works for me.

Knee and elbow sleeves is just basic shit that everyone should be using, but nobody thinks about before their joints start hurting. lol

PS: Cable rows only on endurance days, you definitely want a heavy rowing movement in there on strength days.


#14

One other thing I liked to do was split up hams and quads on the Strength days, typically with close stance leg press or lunges (quads) paired with SLDL


#15

Cycle A: Endurance (13-15 reps)

Day 1:
Back: Pendlay rows
Chest: Flat BB bench press
Bis: EZ-bar curls
Calves: Seated calf raises

Day 2:
Delts: DB shoulder press
Tris: Cable extensions
Thighs: Squat
Abs: Weighted sit ups

Cycle B: Strength (10-12 reps)

Day 3:
Chest: Incline DB bench press
Back: Pendlay rows
Bis: EZ-bar curls
Calves: Standing calf raises

Day 4:
Delts: Lateral raises
Tris: Dips
Thighs: RDL
Abs: Pallof press

Cycle C: Power (8-10 reps)

Day 5:
Chest: Flat BB bench press
Back: Chins
Bis: EZ-bar curl
Calves: Donkey calf raises

Day 6:
Delts: DB shoulder press
Tris: Cable extension
Thighs: Squat
Abs: Weighted sit ups

I am starting the program Monday and working on the finishing touches.

After reading Friday’s article, I decided to vary angles and stances on calf raises. Something along the lines of:
Seated calf raises, toes parallel and shoulder width
Standing calf raises, toes in and close stance
Donkey calf raises, toes out and wide stance

Also, I swapped pendlay rows and chins because I don’t think I could do multiple sets of 10-12 reps with rest periods as brief as 90 seconds. Would that be ok? Or perhaps I could switch to pulldowns if I fail to hit the prescribed reps for a given set?

Finally, what kind of opening weight should I opt for? Should I be conservative and pick one I know for sure I can hit the prescribed reps with and ramp up from there if I bust the rep range?

Thanks!


#16

Yeah I think subbing the chins and rows are fine, though I like higher rep rows anyways.

I personally just try to pick a weight on my first set that i can hit in the prescribed rep range, though one I won’t blow past said rep range. Usually I find after the initial set, after the rest periods lower, you can either use the same weight for the second set with a decrease in about 2 reps, or you’ll have to lower the weight 10-15% to stay in the rep range.


#17

Link to training log:


#18

Hey spidey22. Can i ask about how much mass you gained during your run on bbb. Ive been thinking about it myself. Thanks


#19

[quote]Quick Ben wrote:

[quote]The Man Who Can wrote:
Word on the cable rows.

About the rotator cuff work, I took the habit to do band pull-aparts in between every sets of squat and deadlift. Would there be a more efficient way to implement it in my workouts?

Thanks![/quote]

Knee and elbow sleeves is just basic shit that everyone should be using, but nobody thinks about before their joints start hurting. lol

[/quote]
Knee and elbow sleeves are not something you just make a blanket statement saying everyone should be wearing them.


#20

[quote]stoicwarrior wrote:
Hey spidey22. Can i ask about how much mass you gained during your run on bbb. Ive been thinking about it myself. Thanks[/quote]

After I did my first ever ‘bulk’, got really fat and cut, BBB was responsible for getting me from the low 170s to mid 190s without much fat gain IMO.