5X5 Program

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    HawaiianPride's Avatar
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    5X5 Program


    ---5X5---
    Monday: Squats, Benching, Rows
    Weds: Squats, Military Presses, Deadlifts, Chins
    Friday: Squats, Benching, Rows

    Courtesy of bill starr bill starr, the greatest strength coach who ever lived, popularized this in the 70's with his great book, The Strongest Shall Survive, which was aimed at strength training for football. I believe he had essentually two different programs which both are 5 sets of 5. The first, which is more suitable for beginners, is to simply do 5 sets of 5 with similar weight jumps between each set so that your last set is your top weight. When you get all 5 on the last set, bump all your weights up 5 or 10lbs. Example for squat... 185 for 5, 225 for 5, 275 for 5, 315 for 5, 365 for 5. If you get 365 for 5, move all weights up. This is especially good for someone who is just learning a particular exercise like the squat, because the amount of practice with light but increasing weights is a good way to practice form.

    For more advanced lifters, he advocated a warmup, then 5 sets of 5 with a set weight. For example, the same athlete used in the other example may do 135 for 5, 185 for 5, 225 for 3, 275 for 2, 315 for 1, then 350 for 5 sets of 5. When successfull with all 25 reps at 350lbs, bump the weight up the next workout by 5 or 10lbs.

    This is not outdated, and is a good program for gaining strength. Many elite athletes still use it during at least part of the year. I in fact do 5 sets of 5 on squatting for 4 weeks as part of an 8 or 10 week training cycle. Personally, i do it 3 times a week, but most people will probably make better progress doing it 2 times per week, or even doing version 1 once a week, and version 2 once a week.

    In any event i described a system in a post a while back that goes something like this:
    Monday use the heaviest weight you can for all 5 sets (same weight each set)---- in other words when you get all 5 sets of 5 reps up the weight (most workouts you will get 3 or 4 sets of 5- and maybe your last one will be for 3 or 4 reps)

    Wednesday use 10-20% less weight- in other words if you used 200lbs on monday use 160-180lbs on wednesday- actual amount depending on your recovery

    Friday work up to a max set of 5-

    In other words lets say that your best ever set of 5 is 215lbs and you used 200lbs on monday for 5 sets and 170lbs on wednesday. On friday your workout might be like this 95 for 5 135 for 5 175 for 5 200 for 5 then attempt 220 for your last set of 5.

    This tends to work better as a long term program than doing the same thing 3 times a week. On exercises where you only do them once a week like deadlift you can just do the 5 sets of 5 like i described. On monday on exercises that you are only doing twice (rows) you could do both exercises like the monday workout or lighten one of them depending on your recovery ability. Be conservative with the weight when you start- that is important.

    Also i have used this program VERY often with athletes and it IS result producing. However many of your gains will show up after you use it for 4-6 weeks and you switch to training a bit less frequently and lower the reps and volume. However this is one program i have had a LOT of success with. In fact i rarely if ever use it with athletes who are at the top of their weight class because it causes too much weight gain unless you severely restrict your food.

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    Harland's Avatar
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    i just want to make a quick comment on 5x5, i didn't follow it like stated about, i did more of a bodybuilding routine at the time, but did my "main lift" 5x5, and it worked pretty decently.

    if you are just getting into things, and want a simple way to add progression to your routine, do 5x5

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