How I Squatted 5x10x405 Using 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake

This morning, at 0435, I achieved a goal that was a LONG time coming: I squatted 5x10x405. I did this with an Ironmind Buffalo Bar and a variety of bumper plates, by myself, in my power rack, in my garage, while a summer thunderstorm crashed around me, with Foo Fighters’ “All My Life” on a loop for the entire 18:58 time it took from start to finish (I billed it as 18:28 in my training log, because I give myself that first 30 seconds of the first set to walk up to the bar and get set up, but from that point on I’m on MY time).

I did this as part of the 5/3/1 program “5/31 Boring But Big Beefcake”. This was my third run of that particular 5/3/1 program, and each time I do it, I learn something new about training and about myself. I wanted to share what I did this time around to make BBB Beefcake fit me so that I could achieve my goal of 5x10x405.

I apologize, this is going to be long and self-aggrandizing, but I think it’s pretty awesome.

GETTING THE SPARK

  • Every time I’ve had significant success with any 5/3/1 program, it was because it came with some great “what if” sort of idea. The first time I ran Building the Monolith, it was “what if I could get the workotus done in under an hour?” I wrote about that here Building the Monolith Workouts in Under an Hour . The first time I ran BBB Beefcake, it was “What if I followed this up with Building the Monolith and Deep Water to make a 26 week hypertrophy block?” The results of that got posted in the 2021 physical transformation challenge. This was no exception. I had a strongman competition coming up, the training block leading up to it was coming to an end, and I needed a new goal to chase, and 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake had become reliable, but I thought to myself “What do I want to achieve when it’s done?” And 5x10x405 squat was the answer.

  • In turn, the squat was the sole focus. This ended up being a bit of a blessing, as I sustained a torn muscle at the midpoint of the program (details to follow) that made some of the other lifts a bit trickier to work with, but through it all my squat remained strong and stable, and I could keep building on it.

  • When it comes to selecting these goals, I have a simple rule: I have to pick a goal that makes me thing “F–k me…ok let’s go” vs “F—k me that’s impossible”. 5x10x405 did just that. If I picked 5x10x495, I knew it was out of my reach.

  • Once I had the goal set, I picked a TM that would get me there within the second cycle. It’s worth noting that this TM was WAAAY too high as far as main work goes, which is what I’ll discuss next.

BEING THAT WHICH DOES

  • “Being that which does” is a concept I’ve written about on my blog, but ultimately in this case it boiled down to “If I want to squat 5x10x405, I have to be the person who squats 5x10x405”. So then you have to ask yourself: what does that person think and do?

  • That person follows @Dan_John ‘s mantra that “The goal is to keep the goal the goal”. Through this process, I physically transformed myself into a squatting for reps machine. What this entailed was a sharp nosedive of my top end strength. The first time I ran BBB Beefcake, I used 5s progression (5 reps for all main work sets). The next time I ran it, I took my TM up higher and ended up using 3s progression. My original plan for this run was to hit bare minimum reps (5 on 5s week, 3 on 3s week, 1 on 5/3/1 week), but toward the end I was only good for the second set of mainwork for a single. In a past life, I would have freaked out, abandoned the goal and lowered the TM so I could get back to hitting reps of main work, but I took Jim’s quote about the main work VERY liberally here

image

  • In truth, I feel like I really TRULY understood this through this program.

  • The other thing the person who squats 5x10x405 does is EAT LIKE A CHAMPION. That phrase actually comes from Jim’s Building the Monolith article, and it’s such a good one. I’ll post some photos of some meals


Breakfast


Dinner


Another dinner


Pre-bed meal

  • For the most part, you’re looking at a lot of pasture raised whole eggs, egg whites, grassfed piedmontese beef, bison, and a variety of lean white meats and veggies, along with lots of nut butters and sunflower butter, and some fat free greek yogurt and grassfed cottage cheese, and avocados. I’ve summed up my diet as “Deep Mountain” before: the base is Jon Andersen’s Deep Water, with deviation permitted that fit within John Meadows (RIP) Mountain Dog Diet. It works for me. I also embrace Jon Andersen’s frequent feedings approach, not even really looking at things as meals but more just “feedings”. I wrote “breakfast” for one of those meals, but it was technically the 3rd time I had eaten that morning. I had either my morning Surge workout fuel (more on that later) or a slice of keto toast with sunflower butter, then a protein shake in between my lifting and conditioning workout, and THEN came back and smashed that breakfast. And I would eat as soon as I got to work, and keep eating through the day.

  • Another gem of Jim’s from his Building the Monolith workout is that you will NOT get fat eating in such a manner IF you are actually training hard. And that’s a big thing the guy who squats 5x10x405 does. There’s NO room for fear of getting fat: only fear of UNDEReating such that he’s not able to recover and be ready to perform when the time comes.

  • On that note, it’s worth appreciating the value of conditioning work as a hunger builder. Eating when you’re not hungry sucks. 15 minutes of conditioning can create enough hunger to eat MORE than enough to “undo” the calories burned.

EVEN MORE ON CONDITIONING

  • As written above, if nothing else, conditioning helps make you hungry. But conditioning has a LOT of value here. For one, when it came time for the squats themselves, my cardiovascular system has NO issue recovering. I set my initial rest time for 90 seconds, then went 120, 150 and 180, and I was really just letting my MUSCLES recover during that time. Every time I approached the bar, my heart rate was low, my breathing was normal, and I had one less thing to worry about. Same was true as I approached those later reps within sets: zero CV issues. That’s a big win. The fewer variables you have to deal with on game day, the better. This is also what allowed me to meet Jim’s standard of sub 20 minutes for the supplemental work.

  • I did conditioning everyday, multiple times a day, while achieving this goal. The guy who squats 5x10x405 is in PHENOMENAL shape, and he does absolutely nutty conditioning to get there.

  • To start, everyday, no matter what, I do 5 minutes of @Dan_John ‘s Armor Building Complexes ( 2 cleans, 1 press, 3 front squats ) w/24kg bells. I’ve been doing this for about 6+ months now. Before that, I was doing Tabata KB front squats daily. Somehow, someway, everyday, I get them in.

  • Alongside that, I would end every 5/3/1 lifting session with some manner of conditioning work. This would typically be about 10-20 minutes of a variety of approaches, to include barbell/kettlebell/bodyweight complexes, crossfit WODs, KB swings, circuits, etc etc. I’ll post a few videos of some examples

Conditioning WOD: 10 minutes AMRAP of 5 burpee log viper presses & 4 double kb front rack lunges - YouTube

  • On my non-lifting days, I had one day dedicated to prowler work (I can discuss that if need be, but this is already a huge piece I’m writing), one day dedicated to weighted vest walking (80lb vest for 2 miles, stilling getting in some sort of conditioning circuit somewhere else in the day), and my Saturdays had me doing “Monument to Non-Existence”, which I’ll post a video of a few of those below and an article explaining what the hell it is
  • Much like “train harder than you fight”, I made condition so much hell on earth that 5x10x405 would feel like a breeze

ADVERSITIES ALONG THE WAY

  • On the final week of the first cycle, during the deadlift workout, I noticed I couldn’t even get the second set of mainwork off the floor. I THOUGHT I was playing it smart by not pushing it and just moving on to the supplemental work, but what ended up happening was, on the first very rep, I subluxed my left shoulder and the resulting rapid shift in weight caused me to tear a muscle somewhere along my tricep/teres minor

  • It took about 10 days for the bruising to show up, but I immediately realized I was f—ked up based off the SOUND my shoulder made when it happened. When I ruptured my ACL, tore my meniscus and fractured my patella in a strongman competition in 2015, it made a similar noise
  • I pivoted that workout and went with SSB good mornings for 5x10 to still meet intent. I had lost the ability to suspend myself from a hanging surface for several days, but each day I would progress a little further with some band assisted chins in order to force some healing bloodflow through the affected area and get it to “relarn” how to function. Within 4-5 days, I could do a full chin up again. By the second week of the second cycle, I could deadlift heavy enough to do 50 reps axle deadlifts of 361lbs using the “Malcolm X method”
  • That tear also made it tough for me to do any sort of upper body pulling in general, so a lot of rows were out. Amazingly, I could still do cleans. My pressing was unstable for a week or 2, but sorted itself out.

  • That knee I mentioned earlier swole up something fierce the week before I was to squat my goal. Humidity had gotten bad, I had pushed it hard on a Saturday workout, and it got to the point where I needed a weighted load just to BEND the knee in the first place. It was frequently in pain as well. Amazingly, a 5 mile walk up and down some hills seemed to help heal it up.

  • In both cases, I REFUSED to let these things keep me from my goals. I willed them to heal, because I had a goal: squat 5x10x405 at the end of BBB Beefcake. You can get a LOT done if you simply refuse to accept the alternative.

  • Just as a fun aside, I showed up for my deadlift workout the week after the tear, tried to pull heavy, couldn’t, so I decided I would use that day to do 800 bodyweight dips while doing 5 high handle trap bar lifts of 225lbs every minute on the minute

PROGRAM DEVIATIONS

  • It’s already apparent from what I’ve written that I’ve mutated 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake to suit my needs. I just wanted to include some wavetops of changes.

  • For the 5s week, I took to using the “Malcolm X Method”, getting the 50 reps “by any means necessary” rather than a 5x10 approach. I detailed the success of that method in a link I’ll post below, but the bottom line is that it’s awesome and something I’ll be making use of in the future

  • For all my pressing, I took all sets from the floor. I find this has a much better metabolic response compared to pressing from the rack. The main work was typically clean once and press away, while the supplemental had me cleaning each rep whenever possible.

  • I employed pause benching for the 5s and 3s week during the supplemental. Once again, it made things harder.

  • I’ve already detailed the psychotic conditioning I did, turning the TMs up WAY too high, placing the main work on the back burner, but, as it most likely obvious, my assistance work was turned way up high as well.

SOME BEFORE AND AFTER

  • I started this program at the leanest I’d ever been, weighing in at 178lbs while fully clothed, a weigh in I had no intention of doing, but I was about to fly back home and needed to see if my luggage was underweight. Since that time, I’ve resumed not weighing myself, but do have photos of between then and now. I’ve definitely filled out

MY SURGE WORKOUT FUEL EXPERIENCE

  • @Tim_Patterson challenged me to overcome my low carb biases and give Surge workout fuel a try, and with me having prior experience with BBB Beefcake and an understanding of how I reacted on it, I figured it’d be worth documenting my experience using it.

  • For week 1 of the programming, I continued having my typical pre-training meal of 1 slice of keto toast, and I paired it with half a serving of Surge, then had the other half during the training session. This was just a feeling out process, as it had been a LONG time since I had any significant carb sources in my diet, and I was following John Meadows suggestion to pair carbs with fats for steady energy/digestion. It was pointed out to me that such a suggestion makes sense if you’re eating a pre-training meal an hour before training, but not 5 minutes before…so for the next 2 weeks, I just went with half a serving of Surge pre-workout, half during.

  • For the last 3 weeks of the program, I upped the dose to a serving before the workout and a serving during the workout. In truth, I didn’t notice much difference having that much of it in my system, BUT it WAS forcing me to have 40oz of water over the course of a training session compared to my typical…0. I never consumed fluids in training before. There was lots of other goodies coming along with that too.

  • Keeping in mind I’ve been low carb for a LONG time, I feel like my perspective on Surge is unique and speaks positively of it’s qualities. Specifically: I never experienced the typical carb crash I got when I would try a pure carb meal pre-training. It never sloshed in my gut (one of the many reasons I didn’t drink during training), I kept a steady, even level of energy very similar to what I would get with my keto toast and sunflower butter, it didn’t fill up space in my guts such that I was more than able to eat my gigantic breakfasts post training, which also meant it was an easy way to get in more calories while training for size. All of these are net wins.

  • I also experienced much better performance on my more “bodybuilding-esque” training movements in the program. Specifically: belt squats and Poundstone curls. I set some MASSIVE PRs on the belt squat, hitting 54 reps AFTER my 5x10x405 squat today, which was a 3 rep PR from the previous time, itself a 7 rep PR. For Poundstone Curls, I hit 214 reps unbroken with an unloaded axle.

CONCLUSION/TAKEAWAYS

  • Set your goal, keep your goal, do the things that achieve that goal, and pick your battles. You can’t be great at everything all the time, but you can be awesome at something if you do what it takes to be that which does it.

  • I have even more I can write, but this is pretty goddamn wordy as it is. If people would like, I can detail an example “day in the life” regarding training and nutrition, keeping in mind I don’t track calories/macros.

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It’s been a pleasure following you in your journey through this misery. Thanks for the great write up, there is so much great info here for all of us mere mortals!

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I appreciate that dude! Means a lot that you read through it all. This was a great journey.

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Fantastic accomplishment

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Thanks man!

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This is truly insane! Great, inspiring write up on how you accomplished it too! It definitely makes me believe I can accomplish my goal of 405 for 1 and 315 for 5x10!

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Much appreciated dude! From what I’ve seen of you, the only thing that is stopping you from accomplishing your goal is time. I’m big on the idea that all of these events have already happened and we’re simply experiencing them. It was that way when I squatted the 405. I came into my garage that morning KNOWING that the 5x10 had already happened: it was just my time to experience the suffering of it. And when it was done, I came out the other side.

It’s the same for you. All of these goals have happened. You have an amazing future: you just gotta keep experiencing the present until it happens.

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This is great. I love this idea, but don’t think I could ever have put it into words like this. Your eloquence, as ever, is on par with the squat performance!

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Those are very meaningful words from you my dude: I don’t take them lightly. That idea has been HUGE for me getting through training recently. It removes all fear, doubt, anguish, etc. There is no eventuality or continuity where I do NOT succeed: it’s just up to me to experience it.

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This is really an awesome way of putting things in perspective, and like TrainForPain, I’ve thought this so many times about different events in my life. To apply that towards my goals in the gym and on the mat could be something that could completely change the mental side of the game for me! Appreciate the inspiration as always!

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read this yesterday but forgot to comment. Thankyou Pwn, not only for taking the time to write out such a well thought review but also for continuously challenging yourself to do something most people think is crazy. I love the idea of picking a goal that is right on the edge of I may be able to do this or I may break. So much good information in this write up and I really hope some newer members take the time to read it and see what it really takes to be strong and dangerous. Quality

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@davemccright Absolutely dude! Hope it serves you well.

@simo74 First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I really appreciate your comment. I remember you expressing a similar sentiment when I first posted about this goal/approach in my training log. It’s one of those “tricks” I didn’t realize I was learning until had accidentally done it a few times with a few hard programs. Set big goals, then do what it takes to achieve them. Just like competition.

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I can’t decide which is more impressive:

Or:

I can’t do a single rep of 405 lbs on squat, and I can’t listen to a single song by the Foo Fighters. To do both simultaneously is mind blowing.

But seriously, those numbers are amazing and, in all honesty, unfathomable to me. There was this “Tyson zone” narrative on the internet in the 90’s/00’s where the joke was you could literally say anything about Tyson and it would be believable. “Did you hear Tyson punched a bear and killed it?” would be met with “What type of bear?” rather than a “Shut up, dude”. That’s where you’re at.

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Dude, that Tyson thing is amazing. One, because it’s a huge compliment. Two, because as I was walking into work that day after that squat, that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking to myself. “I’m Mike Tyson in his prime, I’m unstoppable, I’m untouchable, I’m ferocious”. Those of us that grew up in that era will always appreciate that mthos.

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Tyson, both the man and the myth, is such a part of sports folklore. There are certain Tyson moments where I remember right where I was when it happened: knocking out Spinks in less than 2 minutes, losing to Buster Douglas, and the Holyfield-ear thing. That he’s become a pretty interesting and thoughtful dude far removed from the late 80’s animalistic warrior makes it all the better.

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Well there’s certainly no doubt why you are stronger, in better shape, and have more muscle than me…

Anyone asking themselves why they don’t have results XYZ yet read this thread and ask yourself if you’re working this hard. Fuck I need a nap after just reading that.

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@antiquity “Sports folklore” sums it up perfectly. I honestly feel like internet/social media has taken a lot of that away from us. We know TOO MUCH about these folks now. So much cooler when there was a little bit of mystery. But I am happy to see Mike experiencing more peace these days.

@Lonnie123 those are huge props from you my dude: thank you! You still left an impression me when I first posted in “rate my physique” and got a nod from you. Been awesome having you around as an OG here and seeing all that you’ve continued to do.

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Thanks man, I don’t contribute nearly as much any more with all I have going on but I check in to see what the people I still know are doing and your stuff is always a blast to read. Still wish I had that fire and desire to run myself into the ground like that, reading your stuff takes me back to when I did haha

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How do you keep accurate count of the reps?

It seems like a silly question, but only to someone who has never been in a set of high rep squats and had their legs start shaking.

Many times I need 10, I think I had 12, then watch the video and it’s 7-9 because I lost count

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@Lonnie123 just think of it as periodization via life. We’ll catch that fire every once in a while, chase it, then back off. Do it enough times over a few decades and we really turn into something amazing.

@throwawayfitness I have milestones through a set that I need to hit. My primary goal is to get through as many reps as possible in a single breath. This is a bit of psychology I play on myself. If I can get through 7 reps in one breath, there’s no way the weight is heavy. You can’t do that with heavy weight…right? So That’s my goal. What this does for me is it keeps my heart rate down and helps convince my body that I’m not actually killing it. A big part of the recovery between sets is my ability to keep calm and not freak out about what I’m about to do.

Well, after that, there’s only 3 more reps left. I count those 3 and get it done.

In the most ideal of words, I keep that up. That didn’t happen for this workout, because it was actually heavy as f**k and I was lying to myself. So for the rest of the workout, I’d get 5 reps in one breath. I have 5 more left now. Typically, that shook out to 2 reps, then 3 singles.

@Dan_John has a strategy of counting DOWN rather than up, which I’ve found helpful, and breaking big sets into minisets of 5 can also be a good trick of psychology. Matt Wenning did that for his most recent insane 525lb squat for 20+ reps.

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