The 5X5 Workout Routine
If you want to increase your strength as well as your muscle size, and maybe burn off some excess fat at the same time, there’s probably no better way of doing it than with a 5X5 workout routine. The 5×5 routine is great for beginners, people who have hit a plateau in their results or just people looking to spice up their routine with some compound lifts.
The 5X5 system of training has been used for decades and is still one of the most popular training protocols around for the simple reason that it is so effective.
Arnold Schwarzenegger used it in his training to lay down a solid foundation well before he ever used body part splits or higher rep training. And the method was further popularised in the 1970’s by legendary football strength coach Bill Starr, who used it to train all his athletes.
What Is The 5X5 Workout Program?
As its name suggests, a 5X5 workout is simply a program of exercises performed for 5 sets of 5 repetitions each. However there are a number of different ways you can actually go about doing this, depending on your goals and your stage of development.
5X5 training is best used with the big compound exercises, and it is normally done as a full body workout, although upper/lower splits can be just as effective – especially for those who have been training for a while.
A typical full body routine would involve a squat or a deadlift together with an upper body push and an upper body pull. The 5X5 workout routine offers benefits for both the beginner and the more advanced trainee, depending on the approach taken; the three most common approaches being as follows…
The Sets Across Method
This involves performing all 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight (after warm-ups), and is an ideal beginner’s workout routine.
5 reps is the optimal number for building strength, and it’s also perfect for practising technique. The reason for this is that form often deteriorates when done for much more than 5 reps, whereas when using reps lower than this the weights tend to get too heavy, which means that form needs to already be established to avoid injury. And by doing 5 sets you’ll have sufficient volume to elicit a good muscle building response too.
When you start with this type of training it’s important to use relatively light weights so you can get a feel for the movements and practice proper technique. Then simply add some weight to the bar on each exercise every time you train. By adding 5kg to your squat and deadlift and 2.5 kg to your other lifts you’ll quickly progress to using some respectable weights, and your size and strength will increase accordingly.
The Ramping Sets Method
This involves doing your first set with a light weight, and then adding weight to the bar each set, so you work up (or ramp up) to one top weight set of 5. For example, you might start an exercise with 60kg for your first set, then increase to 75kg for your next set, then 90kg, then 105kg and finally 120kg for your final maximum weight set.
This works better for more advanced people, as doing 5 sets of 5 with the same weight will eventually become too taxing (as the weights become much heavier), and you’ll find you’ll be unable to recover from it properly.
The Partial Ramp
This is where you ramp up your first two or three sets and then do your final two or three sets with the same weight. The partial ramp is an intermediate stage between the above two methods.
This method is very popular for testing you strength by ramping it up until you struggle to get the 5 reps then you can just stay on that weight and push through to get the 5 sets of 5 reps.
How to set the 5×5 program out
Probably the best way to put the method into practice is to do two different full body workouts, and alternate these over three weekly training sessions, so each is worked three times every two weeks.
The recommended workouts are as follows…
Bench Press 5X5
Barbell Row 5X5
Overhead Press 5X5
Chin Ups 5X5
It’s important to perform all exercises with proper form and a full range of movement if you want to get the best results from them. Ensure that in the squat you go right down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. With the bench press the bar should touch your chest with a slight pause at the bottom and then power up.
If you are not getting the results you want with your current routine or if you are looking for the ideal workout routine to get started with, give the 5X5 workout a try to let me know how you get on.
If you have any questions on this program feel free to send me an email and we can go over it in finer detail.