T Nation

How Often to Change Templates?


I like to vary what I do in the gym, partly because helps my motivation, and partly because I like to periodise my goals. For example, I am currently following the BBB template, which I consider my volume phase. I use this to work on baseline strength and endurance. I'll soon switch to a low rep assistance template to work on power. Then I might to for a bodyweight template if I wish to bring up my athleticism, or an explosive template. Then I go right back to BBB again and start the cycle again.

How often would it be suitable to switch these templates? I have been switching them every 2 cycles. 2 cycles BBB, 2 cycles power, I'll often do just 1 cycle bodyweight then before starting again. Am I switching around too much?


I’m an intermediate, no Jim Wendler for sure, but here’s my take:

Are you using a training max of no more than 90% of your true 1RM? If you are, the weights should still be quite light after only 2 cycles. You could be hitting a couple rep PRs, but is 2 cycles really enough time to maximize your gains from a program? In my humble opinion, no.

I’m on my 5th cycle of the template I’ve made for myself right now, and I’m hitting PRs steadily. Won’t change a thing until that stops. When it does stop, I’ll lower my maxes and up my volume again. Strength is my main goal though. If I had your goals, I would change my template when I stall out on the current template I’m using, or maybe just shy of stalling out.

2 cycles just seems like you’re not giving yourself enough time to get the most out of your program.

I’m interested in hearing other peoples’ views on this.

Good luck with your training.


I like to stick with a “measurable” goal long enough to achieve it. You say the goal of your first phase is to broaden your base of strength with Boring but Big (BBB). How broad of a base do you think you’ll achieve in just 6 weeks? How will you know if your base has been broadened? I think it’s much better to have measurable goals.

For instance:
If I wanted to broaden my base using BBB, I’d set a goal for the 5x10 @ 50% work.

Starting TM of 300 lb
BBB @ 50% = 5x10 @ 150 lb
Goal: Add 10% to my BBB sets

Cycle 1
TM 300 lb
BBB @ 150 lb

Cycle 2
TM 310 lb
BBB @ 155 lb

Cycle 3
TM 320 lb
BBB @ 160 lb

Cycle 4
TM 330 lb
BBB @ 165 lb

Cycle 5
TM 340 lb
BBB @ 170 lb

Cycle 6
TM 350 lb
BBB @ 175 lb

Cycle 7
TM 360 lb
BBB @ 180 lb

That would take me 7 cycles but my BBB sets would have increased by 10% and given me a measurable improvement of my base strength and capacity. Just food for thought.


Oh ya, I should clarify, I follow the 5 3 1 system all the time. The changes every two cycles are to the assistance. So it would be two cycles of bbb 5 x 10 reps, then two cycles of something in a lower rep range, then bodyweight assistance or explosive movements.

The main lift remains the same and follows the 5 3 1 system always.


it all comes down to your goals.I remember I ran BBB for 9 months until I felt I put on enough mass and achieved my strength goals.

as long as you’re making progress with a specific template exhaust it till the end.

the beauty of 531 is there’s many of options(strength,mass,conditiong)


Shane, how is it working for you? Are your main lifts feeling good? It looks to me like a good rotation if it works for you. I don’t think it really matters how much you switch the assistance.


I don’t have a set goal when it comes to the assistance work. It is secondary to my greater goals of just increasing strength and power. So I wouldn’t ever really set myself the target of increasing the bbb 5 x 10 numbers. I just keep them at 50% of the main lift total. I aim to improve my performance on the main lift, and the assistance is just to complement that.

So my goal when I switch to bbb is to improve muscular endurance and my performance in higher rep ranges. I also feel that bbb benefits your stabiliser muscles more because they get the opportunity to be stressed more by the higher volume. I think this sets a good base for moving into lower rep ranges and higher weights. Also, I know most of ye wouldn’t approve of this, but I combine lifting with endurance running. I think bbb benefits that too.

After a couple of cycles of bbb I feel that my gains start to slow, and that I need to concentrate more on explosiveness and power. So then I switch over to the lower rep range assistance, and I usually see my gains pick up again.

It seems to work for me, but I’m just wondering if those of ye with great experience find anything fundamentally wrong with such an approach. But ya, I think it works for me.


Are you doing SST when you switch over to lower rep assistance for strength/power? What are some lifts you like when you switch over?


Well I feel dumb. I have been changing templates almost every workout. I like to do BBB on my legs to bring up strength in them, but then come Bench day I like to do Bodybuilder to balance it out. I assume you should focus on one template at a time instead of jumping around from workout to workout? Fail.


You can use a different template for different lifts - so BBB for Squats and FSL for Bench, etc. That is pretty common, though you would keep the template for the entire 3 or 6 week cycle


I’ve been following the guidelines of the 28 wk program as my base. But beyond that, literally no two weeks are the same! Work gets crazy and I I’ve a bunch of other hobbies so I lift when I can. Funny thing is, I’ve been consistently hitting PRs.

I’m finding it that as long as the core principles are followed, the little details aren’t all that important.


5/3 principale