5/3/1 BBB for bodybuilding is an interpretation of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 BBB strength program that is focused on bodybuilding aesthetics and hypertrophy instead of raw strength.
It is run for 7 weeks per cycle with 4 training days per week.
It was written by /u/GriefandHoz and is not officially endorsed in any way by Jim Wendler. The author did cite 5/3/1 Forever as the primary influence on the program, mixed with some of their own personal training preferences.
It is described as a “bastardization of BBB which is a leader, with the accessory volume of an anchor.” (full write up)
To best understand the programming strategies of 5/3/1, it is highly recommend to read 5/3/1 Forever by Jim Wendler.
5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding Program Structure
The spreadsheet creator cites training principles discussed in Wendler’s book 5/3/1 Forever as the primary influence of the 5/3/1 BBB Bodybuilding spreadsheet provided on this page.
A 2017 article titled “5/3/1 and Bodybuilding” from Jim Wendler seems to confirm this, as the content from that article generally aligns with the programming contained in the spreadsheet, although the spreadsheet is considerably more flexible.
Here is an example of how Week 1 is laid out in the 5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding program spreadsheet.
- Day 1: Squat
- Leg Extensions – 5/3/1
- Hack Squat – 5×10
- Barbell Curl – 5×10
- Lateral Raise – 5×10
- Incline Curl – 5×10
- Cable Rope Pushdown – 5×10
- Day 2: Bench Press
- Bench Press – 5/3/1
- Bench Press – 5×10
- Cable Row – 5×10
- Incline Bench Press – 5×10
- Wide Grip Lat Pulldown – 5×10
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 5×10
- Day 3: Deadlifts
- Leg Curls – 5/3/1
- Romanian Deadlift – 5×10
- Close Grip Bench Press – 5×10
- Hammer Curl – 5×10
- Overhead Tricep Extension – 5×10
- Face Pulls – 5×10
- Day 4: Overhead Press
- Overhead Press – 5/3/1
- Overhead Press – 5×10
- Close Grip Lat Pulldown – 5×10
- Dumbbell Bench Press – 5×10
- Straight Arm Lat Pull Down – 5×10
- Cable Flyes – 5×10
Program Notes and Customization Options
You’ll probably have noticed many of the key differences in this bodybuilding adaptation of boring but big (BBB) vs. the 5/3/1 bodybuilding template shared by Wendler.
- The BBB bodybuilding template doesn’t program the squat or deadlift as 5/3/1 lifts, instead using leg extensions and leg curls, respectively, while programming variations (hack squat and Romanian deadlifts) with the BBB rep scheme of 5×10.
- This was the personal preference of the spreadsheet creator and is not necessarily “prescribed” to the general population. If you want to stick to squat/bench/deadlift/OHP, by all means, make the necessary changes.
- Instead of the 4×12 rep scheme in Wendler’s article, this unsurprisingly uses the BBB rep scheme of 5×10. This should be expected given the name of the program.
- Again, this can be altered to many different rep schemes via dropdown menus: 2×10, 3×15, 4×12, or even 1×20 (widowmaker sets).
- Widowmaker sets should be used carefully. They’re not for beginners.
- 5 supplemental movements are programmed in the BBB for bodybuilding spreadsheet vs. 4 in Wendler’s generic 5/3/1 for bodybuilding template. This is also way more volume than what was initially recommended by Wendler in his original 5/3/1 BBB article, which prescribed 2 supplemental movements, each at 5×10.
- Wendler typically recommends 50-100 lifts per accessory category (push, pull, single leg/core) for “leader” cycles. This program exceeds that at times and does not specifically program any single leg or core work. This is acknowledged by the author and they encourage you to run the program as-is for one cycle and then add 0-100 reps of single leg OR core work to each workout if you’d like.
- This is a deviation from Wendler’s typical recommendations.
Spreadsheet: 5/3/1 BBB for Bodybuilding
Progression (Adding Weight)
There are two main sets of lifts: the 5/3/1 movement and the BBB supplemental lifts.
The 5/3/1 movement is assessed after the 6th week. If you’re able to achieve all reps during the first 3 weeks but missed some reps in weeks 4 through 6, add 5 lbs. If you were able to hit all reps for weeks 1 through 6, add 10 lbs.
The supplemental lifts progress from 55% to 60% to 65% before starting over at 55% on the 4th week. On this 4th week you can add 5lbs to 10 lbs per lift depending on how they’re feeling and how much musculature is recruited for the movement (e.g. adding 10 lbs on the Romanian deadlift is much easier than adding 10 lbs to face pulls).