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5×5 Workout Explained


The 5×5 refers to the classic program of lifting for 5 sets, each of these with 5 reps, promoted in the 1970s by football strength coach Bill Starr. It refers to heavy lifting and is recognized as the simplest routine that can make you bigger and stronger.

The workout

The 5×5 workout is a well tested type of training. It’s been utilized by many whom we know today as Mr. Olympia. It thus has the approval of champions and of professional bodybuilders worldwide. However, in spite of its ‘classic’ reputation, it isn’t for everyone. This is a style of training that will send one into overdrive. You need to be prepared for it. This is not to say that it does not suit beginners, though.

5×5 – the ideal workout program for all gym goers

Buy Bill Starr's "The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football" classic strength training book.
Buy Bill Starr’s “The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football” classic strength training book.

5×5 is like a salvation to countless gym goers. This is because they (the new ones especially) tend to get lost in the too many and too complicated exercise programs. When in doubt or when you’re feeling overwhelmed by those, you can simply go to the 5×5. It’s simple and effective. It’s got the high intensity, which pumps you up. Also, it has the volume part, and the combination of the two gets you to build up muscle mass, quickly.

Benefits of 5×5

Doing 5 reps for 5 times will use your big muscles and the core too. This will help you pump your pectorals and experience very big gains. Any routine will go smoother as you incorporate this training method. At the same time, it still lets you tailor you program as you please, according to your needs. If you are hitting a plateau and don’t see any new gains, the 5×5 can help. Use this to get the strength that is needed in order to push for more volume.

I myself made great gains while I was on the 5x5 program. Try it if you want to become thicker and stronger.
I myself made great gains while I was on the 5×5 program. Try it if you want to become thicker and stronger.

This old school technique remains unbeaten today. Start light and then go heavy; try it with weights; whatever you may choose, remember to make the 5th set the heaviest – this is an excellent tip from professionals who have seen spectacular gains thanks to training this way. Others swear by a slightly different method: make the 3rd set the hardest, with the 4th and 5th lighter. This is fine, too. You don’t have to keep a certain routine. On the contrary, you should vary it by changing the exercises and the type of training, as well as increasing the weights.

Practicing 5×5

Do the 5×5 a few weeks at a time if you want the optimal frequency. Apply the method to squats, bench presses, barbell rows, military presses, deadlifts and so on. Make sure you plan it well in advance. Choose the weights you will be lifting in order to make your workout progressive. The easiest way is to start with squats, bench presses and power cleans. Thus, you will focus on the legs, the hips, the back, arms, shoulders and chest, also with a powerful total-body round. This kind of workout is not as much about a balanced and good looking physique as it is about empowering muscles and creating functional mass.

Are there any disadvantages to the 5×5?

The only downside is that you might eventually get bored of it if you are not cycling and varying it accordingly. A more serious threat is that of injuries caused through overuse. Keep that in mind and avoid it. The risks exist when you will be working with increasingly heavier weights.

Buy 5×5 workout program.

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