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Questions on 5/3/1 BBB for a Bulk

Hello! This is my first post here. I’ve yet to read any of the 5/3/1 books but I did just order the “forever” version of it which seems to be the latest release.

I’ve been in a bulk for a while, steadily gaining at 1lb/week. I’m not really feeling the current program I’m on, so I’m looking to switch it up. I’ve got about 8-10 weeks left until my cut(maybe a little more, depending on what bf% I’m at when I hit 200lbs).

I’ve done several hours of online research on 5/3/1 in forums, reddit, etc. I’m quite enamored with the BBB template as my primary goal is building mass, but I don’t want my main lifts to suffer, in fact, I’d like to continue progressing them.

There is almost an unending amount of contradictory 5/3/1 info on the web it seems, so I want to clear up a couple things. First order of business are the 5x10 BBB sets. I’ve read two separate articles on Wendler’s site about BBB. One of the articles said that the 5x10 sets are designed to be done at 50%-60% TM. OK, fine. But either in that article, or the second one, it says something to this effect: “It’s not important what percentage you do the 5x10 at, it’s just important that you do the work and move the weights”. Well, that lost me. How can that not be important? Actually, how can that not be incredibly important? There’s a big difference between 30%TM(his recommended starting point) and 60%, or even 70%(month three of the 3 month BBB challenge).

So which is it? OK, and then I’ve seen things written about doing instead of 5x10 @ 50%, doing 5x5 @FSL %. I just feel really lost, and like I’m chasing after the most current, non-contradictory information, and I’m not finding any.

Second question relates to my goals. As stated, my primary goal is centered on hypertrophy. I full-well plan on adding accessory work to this program after the 5/3/1 and BBB sets. Matter of fact, since this is a 4 day split, I had even considered something like Day 1(work), Day 2(work), Day 3 (conditioning), Day 4(work), Day 5(volume supplemental work, weak areas, etc).

Wendler says in one of his articles “Don’t add anything to this. This is the biggest mistake I see people making”(probably not exact quote). But then I found another article where he talks about adding some simple 3x10 isolation, assistance work like curls and rear delt work on certain days.

I’m also ok if you tell me this program is not a good fit for my goals and I should look into something else - and that I’m a troubled, confused little man.

Before this post becomes too long(may already be), let me just say, I’m confused… And I’m starting this program tomorrow. Please send help.

You’ll want to buy his first book also. It explains everything in detail. 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength (2nd Edition). You can get it as a digital version on Amazon for 10$. I would suggest looking at the Assistance Work #4: Periodization Bible by Dave Tate. You will train the 4 lifts during the week, one per day. But after the main lift you’ll do 5 sets of 10-20 on various body parts. For example on bench day you’d do 5x10-20 of chest or shoulder exercise, 5x10-20 upper back or lats and 5x10-20 on triceps.

It’s what I used before shoulder injury and will go back to at the first of the year.

I’ll definitely look into that digital book - so thank you for that. I had heard of the Periodization Bilble template you speak of, but I sort of glanced past it as at first look, it didn’t seem like much volume. I don’t have the benefit of knowing how I’m going to feel tomorrow after my 5/3/1 bench work though. Since I don’t have the book, I looked up that template on Black Iron Beast. Here’s what it gave me(default weights, I didn’t modify it so the numbers aren’t accurate). Guess I’ll have to just try it. Seems like not that much work. Question: There’s zero bicep isolation work listed in this template - why? I would want to do some extra volume on my biceps as well as rear delts - face pulls, rear flyes, something. Am I missing something?

5 × 75 [10,5]
5 × 90 [10,5,5,2.5]
3 × 110 [25,5,2.5]
5 × 120 [35,2.5]
5 × 135 [45]
5+ × 155 [45,10]
shoulders or chest
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
lats or upper back
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×
10-20 ×

Because you are using a third party website that is pirating Jim’s work and doing a poor job representing it. If you need to do curls, make it part of your assistance work. The main work and supplemental work are what really matter.

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Biceps get hit with over head press, bench press etc. Could even add underhand grip rows on the areas that show rows as an accessory. Face pulls are in the recommendations for upper back. Things will.make more sense when you read the first book. Starting out especially, you should focus on multi joint movements to build over all muscle.

That’s one thing people over look in the beginning. Doing lifts that work multiple areas to build overall size rather than isolation work. It’s like doing squats to build over all muscle in the leg (hamstrings, quads, even glutes and the back get worked) vs doing leg extensions for quads. The squats will add over all mass where leg extensions may add a little mass to the quads but nothing else. Also on a big lift you can load more weight progressively vs. smaller amounts on an isolation. That’s just my opinion though.

For the assistance I do flyes, under hand rows or kroc rows, and close grip flat bench for traps. Flyes are more of an isolation but under hand rows hit my back and biceps, close grip bech hits my triceps, chest etc.

Edit: I feel I should add, triceps are the larger muscle and help the most with giving the arm a large look. Biceps play a role as well but triceps really add the mass over biceps imo.

You’ll have to read the first book and decide what’s best.

WHOA. ok, honestly, I didn’t even think of that. Man. I feel like a real douche. So, I guess because we’re in the internet age, I’m so used to seeing 8million apps which support 5/3/1, and so many folks talking about it in so many places, I just got lost in the ubiquity and took for granted the point you brought up. Well, I’m done with that site - officially. And thank you for locking me on about that.


When I first got into 531 I looked online and even here. After a few days I spent the 10$ for the Kindle version of the first book and I was amazed at how much more sense everything made. Can’t beat 10 bucks and there’s quite a few templates in there, not to mention explinations of the whole programs theory. My suggestion would to be, if you have the 10$, maybe little more with tax, to buy the Kindle version asap and read it.

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You might like that. It has curls in it.

A few sets of biceps is fine. The new books now class accessory lifts as push pull etc. Do the biceps as part of your pulls. Just don’t do them the day before deadlifts.

Ok cool. So, wait, I thought I was supposed to be doing a pulling accessory with my oushing day, so rowing on bench, pullups on ohp day, etc. I’m doing bench today, deadlift tomorrow, then legs Thurs and shoulder Friday. If I row today after bench, that’s sort of doing biceps a bit before deadlift day tomorrow. Do I have my exercises mixed up in the wrong order?

No that’ll be fine. Personally I do biceps on squat day or deadlift day.

High rep kroc rows are amazing with bench and don’t seem to hinder the deadlift. However I find heavy barbell rows are best after deadlifts as it’s quite a similar movement.

There are so many variations of 531 that you can find one perfectly tailored to what you want.

You can also switch shoulder and chest day etc.

You can train biceps on any day. There is no restriction on biceps before deadlifts.

Every training session, you do some sort of upper body push, some sort of upper body pull, and single leg/core work for assistance exercises.

Again, you can do whatever you want/need here. It’s only assistance work.

OK, so that I’m very, very clear on this… I am supposed to do some pull, push and legs/core work every workout? So for example on my bench day, after the 5x10 sets, I should do some push work, some pull work, some ab work and some leg work?

Today I completed my first day, and it was bench day. I did my warm up sets, then 3x5, then my BBB 5x10 sets(flat bb bench). I was hoping to feel sort of smoked after that, but I didn’t feel that way at all. I guess because it takes a few cycles to get my weights dialed in?

Anyhow, after my BBB sets, I did 3x10 incline DB press, 2x10 bodyweight chest dips, 3x10 rope pressdowns, 3x15 face pulls, and finally 3x circuits of ab work. Totally botched, or sound legit?

Yes. At least, you can do that. It fits within the programming structure. If you feel you don’t need to, you can also not do it.

It is assistance work. It REALLY does not need this much though or discussion on it. The main lifts and supplemental lifts are what really drive the progress. The assistance lifts get maybe 10% of your growth.

You did 80 reps of pushing, 45 reps of pulling and however many reps of ab work. If that is what you needed to do to progress, it was right. I personally find that I need more pulling. However, you wanted bicep isolation and yet did not do it.