T Nation

Can I Go All Out High Reps on 5/3/1 While Hitting BBB?


My lifts got to a point where my all out sets were basically singles. So I decided to gain more weight to get stronger. I took about 40% off my max and restarted the program with the BBB at about 75% of my current max. Now I find myself performing up to 20 reps on my last 531 sets (if I can hit 20 thats where I’ll stop even if I have few more, with some lifts it’s less). What do you think about the 5 x 10 BBB sets after going all out on 531, is this too much volume?


Wendler doesn’t advise plus reps with BBB. In fact, he explicitly states not to do it in various books, articles, threads. You should also recalculate your maxes if you’re hitting 20 reps and use the percentages given for 5/3/1 rep schemes and percentages given for BBB. If you don’t use those, you’re not doing the programme and therefore won’t get the intended results


First of all, if your all out sets are approaching singles, your TM has become way too high, and apparently has gone untested for too long.

Are you saying you reduced your training max by 40% and are doing your BBB sets at 75% of your new training max? If your TM was nearing 100%, I would suppose this wouldn’t be all that different for the BBB stuff than using an 85% TM and starting BBB at 50% of it when you do the math. Rather than take such a drastic amount off, why not just reset to a recommended range (which covers BBB) and then restart? I’d really hesitate to say there’s such a thing as too low a TM, but it sounds like you’ve just gone from way too high to way too low.

The original BBB was written with AMRAP sets in it, but more recently the preference has been to go to 5’s progression to allow more focus on the BBB sets (through challenges or some of the newer BBB variations). So it’s not like the original won’t work, plenty of people used it successfully in that version, but a different approach is favored these days.


I’ll try to respond to your excellent points the best I can:

first week (5) I would only get 6 maybe 7 reps, second week (3) I would only 4 maybe 5 reps, third week (1) I would only get 2 maybe 3 on my best days (with good form of course)

I felt I was going nowhere and the weights were becoming to high for my body size. Also it felt hard progressing cycle to cycle. So I decided to reboot the all thing and emphasize the body weight gain side while keep doing my strength program.

yes, exactly, I would say fairly light . I get to the end of the workouts but also I am beat (remember I am doing 15 to 20 rep on my last set plus the BBB)

well honestly I was feeling not big enough to keep progressing on 531, I felt I needed to gain weight in order to lift more weight, that is why my drastic approach …

Is it working? well I feel it kind of is, even though the squat and deadlift are progressing I am not sure I am doing more good than harm … that is why I seeking for help here for a more experienced opinion on what I am doing

That is exactly what I based my approach on! I read that, felt challenged, and put it in my program right away. Now I see you only have to get the prescribed amount of reps of that particular week and then move on to BBB. The only problem at the end of my workout I am still fairly fresh!

And this is exactly my dilemma. No extra reps + BBB = no strength gains (at least for me, I plateaued that way). Extra reps + no BBB = am I really working out? and finally Extra reps + BBB (5x10 all sets at 75% of my TM)= am I on the right path ?


Thanks, although they’re far from excellent points, just regurgitated bits of Jim’s ideas.
-I can sympathize with progress stalling when the TM gets too high, for me everything goes to shit if I let it cross 90%. The most common recommendation is 85% which equates to your TM 5 times, so if on the 3rd week you’re struggling to get 5 that’d be an indicator it’s time to readjust. There’s a whole 7th week protocol for this, but it’s forum content I don’t feel comfortable reproducing here.
-Your comment about feeling the need for more mass but not wanting to sacrifice strength illustrates the whole movement towards programs from templates. Check a few of the threads on leaders/anchors here (and the upcoming book will be great for this), but basically the idea is to not try to work on everything at the same time. So try a couple of cycles of higher volume (which would be your BBB with 5’s pro) to add some weight, then switch to something with lower volume but higher intensity (which could include PR sets) a cycle or two to build off of it. Jim’s way of focusing on one thing at a time (rather than failing at everything at once) and progressing them in a logical order. If you start with a more reasonable TM you can still maintain or build strength from 5’s progression, and the volume should set you up for some nice PR’s in the anchor. If the 50% is still too easy you can manipulate it, it’s just a good starting point based on the potential for huge soreness from this kind of work. If the leaders/anchors thing is too vague here, there’s a ton of it on Jim’s forum and I imagine the upcoming book, just again not trying to add anything that Jim hasn’t already introduced to this forum.


awesome, thank you, I’ll check the threads you mentioned and try to tune things up