The 5 3 1 Boring But Big Workout Regime, Explained In Detail

Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 workout program is one of the most popular strength training routines for beginners and intermediate weightlifters looking to increase strength and build muscle.

Since Coach Wendler released the first edition of 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Building Raw Strength back in 2009, He has developed variations on the basic 5-3-1 workout routine to suit athletes with different goals and fitness levels. 

One of the most popular versions of the 5/3/1 strength training program is the 5/3/1 Boring But Big (531 BBB) routine.

In this article, we will discuss the 5 3 1 Boring But Big program, including the pros and cons, the differences between the 5-3-1 BBB workout and the basic 5/3/1 strength training program, and how to do the Boring But Big 5-3-1 training plan.

We will cover the following: 

  • What Is the 5 3 1 Boring But Big Workout Regime?
  • Who is the 5/3/1 BBB Strength Program For?
  • How to Do the 5 3 1 Boring But Big Template

Let’s get started!

A military press exercise.

What Is the 5 3 1 Boring But Big Workout Regime?

Like the original 5/3/1 training regimens, the 5 3 1 Boring But Big (BBB) strength routine was designed by Strength Coach Jim Wendler.

Since Coach Jim Wendler initially developed and released the 5/3/1 BBB strength workout program, 5/3/1 Boring But Big has grown to be one of the most popular 5–3–1 workout program variations for those looking to maximize hypertrophy

Coach Jim Wendler considers the Boring But Big 5 3 1 program the “most popular, effective, and brutal accessory plan.”

All 531 BBB workouts start with one designated strength training compound exercise of the day.

Then, you do five sets of 10 reps per set of the same exercise. Due to the repetition and volume, the 5/3/1 BBB workout earns its moniker—the Big and Boring workout program.

Bench press.

Who is the 5/3/1 BBB Strength Program For?

The 531 BBB workout program is best for intermediate weightlifters who are primarily interested in increasing size as well as strength.

It is highly recommended that beginners spend time focusing on a beginner strength training program such as Starting Strength or StrongLifts, or ideally, the basic 5/3/1 workout program for beginners prior to advancing to the 5/3/1 BBB strength plan.

This is because the Wendler 5/3/1 BBB program is a higher volume training program and requires proficiency in all of the foundational compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press before adding a layer of neuromuscular fatigue with the accessory lifts.

Plus, all of the accessory weightlifting exercises in the Boring But Big 5 3 1 training plan require doing five sets of 10 reps.

This requires a high level of muscular endurance and central nervous system endurance to ensure proper form and technique, especially after working through the heavy sets of the main compound exercise for each BBB 531 workout.

Chin up.

Additionally, because the 5 3 1 Boring But Big program is inherently monotonous and “boring,“ it is best suited for weightlifters who do not mind repetition and simply want to maximize gains without needing a lot of variety.

The 531 Boring But Big strength program will definitely help you develop technical proficiency in your compound strength exercises while improving gains in size and strength through the accessory lift. 

However, it is not an easy strength training program, nor is it a particularly exciting one. 

It is also a high-volume strength training program that can be time-consuming, given all of the accessory lifts.

The 5 3 1 Boring But Big plan requires training in the gym four days per week. On workouts one and three each week, you will do accessory exercises for your lats, and on workouts two and four, you will hit extra abs exercises.

Therefore, if you are a beginner, crave variety, or have limited time to train in the gym each week, the Wendler 5/3/1 Boring But Big Version is likely not the best strength training program for your needs.

Bicep curl.

Finally, the 531 BBB workout program is primarily designed to be a hypertrophy or muscle-building resistance training program.

This means that it is ideal for bulking or putting on size and mass. If you are cutting or want to get shredded and lose body fat, it may be difficult to maintain the high volume and high intensity of the Boring But Big 5/3/1 while remaining in a caloric deficit.

The recommended diet with the Wendler 531 Boring But Big is to be in a caloric surplus to not only support the volume and intensity of the workouts but also to fuel your muscles so that you can put on mass as a result of your strength training.

A good goal with the 5 3 1 Boring But Big workout routine is to gain 1-2% of your body weight per month. 

This is a fairly aggressive bulking workout rate, but if you are eating right, consuming enough calories, and working hard in the gym during your BBB 5-3-1 workouts, you should be able to gain the majority of this weight as lean body mass.

A tricep pull down.

How to Do the 5 3 1 Boring But Big Template

There are two general ways to do the Boring But Big training program for size and strength. One version of the BBB 531 template isn’t necessarily better than the other.

Ultimately, both 5 3 1 BBB workout templates involve the same amount of work, but they are structured differently.

The second option tends to be slightly more popular because it has you tackling each of the major compound exercises twice per week, which may help maximize your gains in strength and mass while also giving you more practice for developing technical proficiency.

Note that the accessory lifts for each 5/3/1 Boring But Big workout are not set in stone. 

You should feel free to substitute different accessory strength exercises that are similar to the ones suggested, depending on your preferences, relative strength deficits, and how you feel. 

However, the goal should be to choose accessory lifts for the lats on workouts one and three each week and accessory strength exercises for the abs on alternate days.

A deadlift.

Similarly, as long as you have mastered the basic bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press, you can incorporate variations on the main compound lift for each 5 3 1 Boring But Big Workout.

For example, instead of doing a flat barbell bench press for every 5 3 1 workout with bench press, you can switch it up and do:

  • The basic barbell bench press one workout
  • The dumbbell chest press another time
  • The incline bench press sometimes
  • The close-grip barbell bench press occasionally
  • And the Swiss bar (football bar) press in another

This can help provide some variation to break up the monotony of the 5 3 1 Boring But Big workouts while helping to target different muscle fibers for better gains in mass and strength.

Keep in mind that the basic foundational compound exercises shouldn’t be neglected altogether, but when you need some variety, there is latitude in this advanced version of the program.

An ab wheel exercise.

Here is an example week of the Wendler 5-3-1 BBB template based on modifications from Jim Wendler’s website:

Sample 3 5 1 Boring But Big Workout Plan

Workout #1

For exercises D, E, and F, you can pick one, two, or do all three.

AMilitary press**
BFlat bench press510
DBiceps curls310
ETriceps pushdowns310
FFace pulls310

* 5/3/1 sets

Workout #2

CAb wheel rollouts 510-20

* 5/3/1 sets

A barbell squat.

Workout #3

For exercises D, E, and F, you can pick one, two, or do all three.

ABench press**
BOverhead press510
CBarbell rows510
DBiceps curls310
FLat pulldowns310

* 5/3/1 sets

Workout #4

BTrap bar deadlift510
CHanging leg raises510

* 5/3/1 sets

For more training programs, check out our guide to the 5×5 strength training program here.

A lat pulldown.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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