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A 5x5 Program for strength

Use these exercises to increase strength

Up Your Strength With A 5 X 5 Program!

The 5x5 program was designed to increase strength, breaking plateaus, and periodization. Try out the following training routine and see results!

One of the more popular muscle mass building programs that is being used right now is the 5X5 program. Essentially this workout is designed to hit your muscles hard three times per week and then allow enough time to promote growth and recovery. It was designed for strength athletes because one of the most common effects seen by it is an increase in strength.

Along with the strength however you will most often see an increase in muscle mass as well, provided you are eating enough calories to support this muscle growth.

It should be noted too that you should have a good deal of base training behind you before starting a program like this. The intensity and volume are higher so if your body is not used to dealing with higher loads it is going to wind up having a hard time recovering and you could risk overtraining.

What the 5 X 5 program specializes in is periodization, which is changing the program as you progress through it to constantly change the stimulus, promote increases in strength by further challenging your muscles each week and then also having enough recovery time built in with an easier week so as to not become overtrained.

You are basically going to complete the 5X5 program for a total of 7-9 weeks, which includes 4-6 weeks of prep work and then a 3-week peak phase. After you have completed the full cycle it is a good idea to do a deloading week where you workout with less intensity or if you prefer just take a week for complete rest.

Prep Work

During the first week of the training program you should error on the cautious side to make sure your body has a chance to grow accustomed to this type of training. It is likely going to be something you aren't used to so you need to allow for adaptation to take place.

Choosing Your Weight

During this week you will pick a weight that you can do for a total of 5 sets with 5 reps. This weight shouldn't be so easy that you feel you could do a lot more than that but likewise it shouldn't be so hard that you are not able to complete the given protocol.

One of the most essential factors of this program is that you do in fact do 5 sets of 5 reps. It is a key factor in the success of the program and must be followed.

Before starting the first week it would be a good idea to set a 5 rep max for each of the exercises (as described later) so that you know what weight it is you are specifically trying to beat. During the first week you want to use a lesser weight since obviously you do have 5 sets to complete rather than just the one you used for your rep max test.

Bumping It Up

If after the first week you have managed to successfully complete all your sets at a specified weight then bump it up 5-10 pounds for the following week. Again here, if you bump it up and are not able to successfully complete all the reps with proper form then this is too high of an increase and you need to be more moderate.

If you have really been struggling to lift the amount of weight you were using however then you will want to keep it the same for one more week and then hopefully after that you can raise it higher.

By the time you hit weeks 4-6 you will hopefully be setting new rep maxes and will be seeing a significant increase in strength, provided you are in a caloric surplus. You can sometimes still see strength increases even if you are in a deficit however it is much more unlikely, especially among advanced individuals.

Peaking Phase

After you have finished with this prep phase (ending after week 4-6) it is then time to move onto the peaking phase. What you will do for the first two weeks is drop your sets and reps down to more of a 3X3 set-up. This will allow you to push each set even harder and therefore hopefully lift more weight, thus upping your max.

Barbell Squat

You may also want to only perform the squats twice per week rather than three times to allow for extra recovery since the large leg muscles take longer; especially while lifting with such intensity.

During these few weeks the most important thing you must focus on, even moreso than getting in the reps, is the weight increases. This is your peaking phase after all so you want to be pushing yourself to new levels.

Finally for the last week of the cycle you can take it down to one set of three for 2-to-3 workouts and maybe even try for single reps maxes at the end. It should be noted though that not everyone will choose to do the single rep maxes, one set of three or even the 2-3 weeks of 3X3 set-up.

If you choose to end the cycle after the initial 4-6 weeks of 5X5 that is alright too and in some cases, such as for those who are training for sports, the intensity levels during the peak phases are just too much for them to handle along with their other physical pursuits.

Exercises

Moving on to the exercises now, here is what the set-up will look like.

Monday
Accessory Exercises


Wednesday
Accessory Exercises


Friday
Accessory Exercises


As with any program you need to ensure you have proper pre and post workout nutrition while doing this. The workouts are going to take a lot out of your body so providing them with the nutrients to fuel the activity as well as recovery from it is essential if you hope to make progress.

Conclusion

So if you are looking for a new workout to try and already have a few years of training behind you, give this a chance. If done correctly it is hard not to see good results from it and you will likely be more than happy to go on it again for a second and third cycle in the future.


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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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Steve1124

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Steve1124

I'm confused , Do I just do the same exercises for the 7-9 weeks as stated?

May 27, 2012 5:34pm | report
 
DevonEdgar

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DevonEdgar

Yes, although the arm and abdominal exercises are optional the military press, bent over row, bench press, and squat are the best compound exercises and will give you the best results for gaining muscle and building strength.

Apr 7, 2013 6:26pm | report
mcluvin737

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mcluvin737

I think Bill Starr was one of the pioneers of this program. You can google Bill Starr 5x5, but to answer the 7-9 week question, no, you keep going as long as you are making gains, which requires eating enough. He has details on what to do if you stall out as well. Hope that helps.

May 29, 2012 10:49am | report
 
Georgie92

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Georgie92

I'm having great gains from this program. 5x5 rocks, also love the combo of hypertrophy and strength.

Aug 18, 2012 9:49am | report
 
Jiujitsujoel

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Jiujitsujoel

Looking to start lifting to help with my martial arts. Not looking to gain mass. Is the 5x5 good just for obtain strength gains or does it need to be coupled with mass gain?

Nov 18, 2012 6:53pm | report
 
dragonheart380

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dragonheart380

I am a martial arts practitioner as well. I have been doing the majority of these lifts in this program for a while, albeit not exactly 5x5, I have still seen significant strength gains and increased muscle mass to go with it.

Feb 8, 2014 9:10am | report
Jiujitsujoel

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Jiujitsujoel

I just started a similar program. Minus pull-ups I do curls and i added shrugs and calf raises basic 5x5 with some 3x8 iso workouts. Im pretty much enjoying it on my 3rd week. been able to increase 5 lbs a workout.

Dec 9, 2012 1:23pm | report
 
Jiujitsujoel

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Jiujitsujoel

I just started a similar program. Minus pull-ups I do curls and i added shrugs and calf raises basic 5x5 with some 3x8 iso workouts. Im pretty much enjoying it on my 3rd week. been able to increase 5 lbs a workout.

Dec 9, 2012 1:26pm | report
 
shaddock67

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shaddock67

Will be going back to this routine. Had good results from this by doing 5x5 with the compound exercises (deadlift, bench press, squat, etc) and round out with some isolation moves.

Dec 27, 2012 8:06pm | report
 
rogerpain

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rogerpain

do you use the 5x5 for the isolation workouts or do you do less sets and higher reps?

Aug 20, 2014 8:56pm | report
rogerpain

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rogerpain

do you use the 5x5 for the isolation workouts or do you do less sets and higher reps?

Aug 20, 2014 8:56pm | report
keite

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keite

I am going to start that routine next week :)

Feb 22, 2013 2:30pm | report
 
Lanik58

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Lanik58

So this program works??? I jus started jay cutlers living large program... N thinking about doing this instead...

Oct 3, 2013 12:38am | report
 
DarrylKensley

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DarrylKensley

Pick one, stick to it and after say 6-12 weeks give another a go. Preferably one of a different setup - aka higher volume

Chopping and changing so often is one of the biggest mistakes people tend to make and the result is not seeing results.

Feb 10, 2014 5:27am | report
melendfi

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melendfi

I'm on my second week. I've lifting weights for a long time, but i felt a lot of wasted efforts. I love the feeling a full body work out is giving me. Just the increase in motivation level and focus makes this program worth the effort.

Mar 27, 2014 7:52pm | report
 
JasperP17

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JasperP17

This is what the actor Tom Hardy did for his role of Bane in Batman, he gained alot of mass in just 3 months if im not mistaken.I did this once, had nice gains, especially in my thighs. Well I guess ill give this thing a go again.

Jun 20, 2014 9:42am | report
 
PolishRoot

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PolishRoot

I didnt see it in what Shannon wrote about the program, but I know this is what Reg Park (Arnolds mentor) did and so did Arnold to get big, but notice in the Monday, Wed, Friday. The way Reg Park did it was for example, the workout she has for Monday is workout " A" and the workout she has for Wed is workout "B". so starting monday, with letter X being an off day it would look like this.
A X B X A XX, B X A X B XX and alternate every week so you're not always doing bench twice a week and you switch it up with standing military press twice a week. Dead lift should only be one set of 5 after 2 warm--up sets.
It works great!

Jun 29, 2014 8:01am | report
 
Beanie5524

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Beanie5524

Is it better to do a 15-25 minute cardio session after workout or is it better to a low intensity cardio 45 minutes to an hour on the days in between (Tuesday,Thursday). Trying to get a little heart health in with my strength training.

Jun 29, 2014 2:45pm | report
 
EddieN1993

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EddieN1993

What I was wondering was about the deadlift part of this. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now and with the deadlift section i've been using just under my 5 rep max as a start. My question is whether to change it from the 2-3 of 5-8 to 5x5, or is there a reason for this?

Jul 30, 2014 12:38pm | report
 
benedictoooooo

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benedictoooooo

I actually started this routine a couple of weeks ago :) it's going great so far

Aug 27, 2014 10:18pm | report
 
Masonkrushinsky

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Masonkrushinsky

It's time for me to switch up my routines and I stumbled across this. 5x5's seem like the way to go for strength, and also some hypertrophy, but I feel like these workouts don't hit enough muscles. There's nothing for upper chest, traps, or lats...am I missing something or do I dare try to incorporate another exercise each day?

Sep 28, 2014 1:23pm | report
 
ivanxmaricic

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ivanxmaricic

bent over barbell rows, dead lifts. U can use incline BP instead of standard BP...With these exercises listed abowe in the article U hit every single part of Ur body :)

Oct 11, 2014 10:21am | report
ivanxmaricic

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ivanxmaricic

bent over barbell rows, dead lifts. U can use incline BP instead of standard BP...With these exercises listed abowe in the article U hit every single part of Ur body :)

Oct 11, 2014 10:21am | report
Showing 1 - 23 of 23 Comments

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