The Original 5x5 Program

Discussion in 'Training Forum' started by Bob Smith, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    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    This is not outdated, and is a good program for gaining strength.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.
  2. ItalianPride

    ItalianPride Junior Member

    5x5 ques

    while on the program should u work other muscle groups into the off days, like tues and thurs to do bies or others, or just stick to 5x5 plan
  3. Madcow2

    Madcow2 Junior Member

    You can add barbell curls and tricept extensions without major issue - once per week each for 3x8-10 range. Trust me when I say that if you set the weights correctly you will not have much in the way of capacity left and week5 deloading will seem like an upcoming vacation.
  4. Joffa

    Joffa Junior Member

    How many weeks should one do the 5x5 for? Please explain different phases of a complete 5x5 program, such as deloading phase, etc. This thread explains very well one week in detail; can you guys also explain 5x5 long term? Thanks,

  5. Girth

    Girth Member

    See the 8 week Squat program. AM also did a little write up on the 5x5 and it's progression through a full cycle.
  6. BornToSquat

    BornToSquat Junior Member

    this rocks
  7. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    In general, a full 5x5 cycle will look like this:
    4-6 weeks of 5x5, followed by 2-4 weeks of 3x3. Repeat.
  8. big roid

    big roid Junior Member

    I've never used this method before so I'm gonna try it out. So how many sets can I work my bi's on off day? Is 8 sets * 8-10 reps to much? If I'm understanding this right on the deloading phase do 3*3 of heavy weights?
  9. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    Why would you work your bis for 8 sets when none of your other muscle groups get that much attention? 2-3 sets at the end of 1-2 of your workouts is plenty.
  10. Desmo996

    Desmo996 Junior Member

    Would this routine still be effective if I broke it into 3 workouts a day? Using the above exercises for example, on Monday, do Squats in the morning, Bench at lunch and rows after work. I have found that if I rest for anything over a minute, this routine can easily take over an hour, including warming up. And I usually don't have over an hour to commit to it at one time.
  11. Girth

    Girth Member

    Best advice.....forget the Bi and Tri specific exercises. I hate inefficiency, and time spent curling is the poster child for the aforementioned. Rows and chins will always put more of a load on your bi's.

    Des - Explain your situation. How can you not have an hour? Unless workoing out at home, the time to go back and forth to the gym will easily equate to 1 hour. Not to mention that warming up 3 times as opposed to one, will take even more time. Do you watch TV for 1 hour a day? Perhaps you have 2 jobs, and a family to support?

    That said, your best bet would be pairing antagonistic exercises together. That will shorten your workout and still give you sufficient rest between sets of the same exercise.
  12. bigbody_1999

    bigbody_1999 Junior Member

    this program sounds like for power lifter .. MY Q? am going to have a nice big Muscles as a Bodybuilder ?? :confused:
  13. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member


    The very last line of the original post said "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." I think that explains it enough.
  14. dragon007th

    dragon007th Junior Member


    why would you not also include arms and shoulders into such a program?
  15. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    Arms will typically grow without "direct" work. Also consider that you are hitting back 3x/wk, so bis get work there. Then you are benching 2x and military 1x/wk, so theres 3x for tris.

    As for shoulders, you hit military on Wednesdays.
  16. dragon007th

    dragon007th Junior Member

    Thanks a lot bob!

    I trained very differently till now. the last few months I did 5 times per week doing monday chest/biceps, tuesdays back/triceps, wendesday legs and shoulders etc. I ow will switch as of next week and let you know how it feels and works.

    Would you extend this program to a 4 days? If yes how would it look like? I also assume that you do 3 times a week 30 min of cardio? The only part I am not sure is for "Standning" military press. could you do a different one? Sitting e.g.
  17. getswoll

    getswoll Junior Member

    Typically, no, you would not do the 5x5 4 times a week. If you do you will probably find yourself overtraining very quickly. I fairly certain that if you do it, you will not have enough gas in the tank to do another day anyway. If you are interested in a four day a weeek program you might look at DFHT. As far as the military press goes, Why? You will get more from standing and you will find it is easier on your back, as far as spinal compression goes.

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2005
  18. dragon007th

    dragon007th Junior Member


    thks getswoll!

    How would a dfht program look like?

    Standing military press. Well, I tried a few times and felt very weak, not stable and worried to get any injury.
  19. Dschingis

    Dschingis Junior Member

  20. Beefster

    Beefster Junior Member

    This will happen with virtually any new movement you may incorporate. Drop the weight and stick with them, you will be glad you did.