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Looking for 5x5 BBB Advice


Hey Folks,

since i felt pretty stuck on the “usual” 10s BBB i switched over to the 5x5 Variation, using Template two. At this, i made some pretty good gains, but my lower back hurt after Squat+DL BBB and Bench+OHP BBB days, so i had to quit it. But i have to admit, i pushed the Joker Sets to heavy singles almost every day.
Now i am wondering, how to adjust the plan. I had some ideas, i would like to hear your oppinion on:

  1. Would it be usefull, to just do my 5/3/1 and go on with the BBB without Joker Sets? The Joker Sets sound pretty important in Beyond. Maybe use two Back-off-Sets of 8 @ 60% instead?

  2. May it help, to just do 3 Sets of DL after the 5/3/1 Squats? Or is this too little volume for the DL all over the week?

  3. Would you recommend using 5 x 5 with heavy weights or 5 x 10 with lighter ones for the second assistence exercise (especially for lats/upper back)?

  4. Should i use the 7 weeks template with 5 x 5 or ist the 4 week circle better at this variation?


Some of this depends on what your goals are. Since you’ve chosen BBB, I’m assuming you want to gain weight and increase muscle mass. With this assumption, I suggest dropping the joker sets, or at least decreasing the frequency of them. Even in OG 5/3/1, in which strength is the primary goal, I don’t think it’s recommended for anyone to joker sets almost every day. IIRC, the point of jokers is to only do them on a day when you feel really strong.

I’ve found that lower deadlift volume is better, for me. Depending on what % you’d perform those 3 DL sets at, I think it could be fine. If it was me, I’d keep the intensity relatively low and focus on form and technique and save the bigger weights for a day where deadlift is your primary lift of the day.

In my opinion (again), lighter weight for higher reps is better for the upper back muscles, even the lats. It usually takes me a rep or two to hone in on whatever muscles I’m trying to work and be able to make some sort of mind-muscle connection.

I’m interested to hear what Jim has to say. My impression of BBB is that it’s meant to give you a program where the meat of the workout is at a lower overall % with higher overall volume. I don’t blame you for throwing jokers in there, because it’s tempting and everyone likes lifting heavy, but it doesn’t seem to fit in with the goals and purpose of BBB. I believe Jim said once that as long as you do you 5 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, or 1 rep at 95% (depending on the week), at the very least you’ll maintain your strength. You may not get stronger (although you might), but as you increase your muscle mass, you’re increasing your strength potential. So it’s still a big win in the long run. Good luck man


Well doing joker sets with BBB was a terrible idea. You should probably buy the forever book and read upon the principles of programming. You shouldn’t ever mix volume work like BBB with intensity work like joker sets. They don’t go together.


I´d love to buy the book, but since there is no ebook version and shipping to europe is pretty expensive, this is not a viable option.
I think i just missunderstood what Jim mentioned in Beyond. There he said, to get stronger, one should use Joker Sets and FSL. I thought, it would be no problem, to exchange the FSL with another volume work (in my case 5 x 5 BBB). But it seems i´ve been terribly wrong.


It’s easy to get carried away and want to work on everything all at once. I’m guilty of this. You need to pick one and run it for three to six weeks depending on when you want to deload.

Run BBB for a cycle or two and then switch to Jokers for awhile. If you want to do FSL then do those for a cycle or two.

Putting them all together will end up being too much. I’m sure you could be creative and program squats with one method, deads with another and so on but it’s not worth the headache. Keep it simple. Alternate or cycle periods of high intensity/low volume with periods of low intensity/high volume.