Could the 5x5 workout help you boost your muscle game? Get the scoop, right here.
Popularized by Bill Starr, an Olympic weightlifter, the 5×5 workout program is a mainstay of the weightlifting world. Whether you’ve heard of this workout in the weight room, or you’re just looking to get ripped by any means necessary, 5×5 strength training might be an option if you’re looking to improve strength.
What is 5x5 strength training?
Put simply, the aim of the 5×5 workout is to build strength and muscle mass through a focus on compound lifts. What’s a compound lift, you ask? Well, you can think of it as a type of lift that engages two or more joints. These types of lifts are particularly effective because they stimulate entire muscle groups, or even multiple muscle groups, making them time-efficient and increasing the amount of muscle that you’re able to build overall.
The concept behind the 5×5 workout is pretty straightforward. 5×5 stands for five sets of five reps, or repetitions, that are performed three times a week. Basically, you work your muscles hard three days a week, and allow enough time in between each session for growth and recovery. Because the volume and the intensity behind this workout is higher than many other programs, it’s probably best for intermediate-to-advanced weightlifters.
Traditional versions of the workout involve three primary exercises: bench presses, power cleans, and squats. However, newer versions can include several other exercises, including pull-ups, hip thrusts, and weighted dips. If you are considering making a start with the 5×5 workout, be sure to consult with a doctor—as well as a personal trainer—just to make sure that it’s the right workout for your current fitness levels.
One of the key elements of the 5×5 strength training program is the fact that it involves periodization. You will constantly change the stimulus of your workout via a cyclical structure. Each exercise is rotated, with each of the primary exercises performed with maximum intensity one day a week, and sub-maximal intensity on the other days. As a result, you’ll have a light day, a medium day, and a heavy day for each exercise. As the weeks go by, you can ramp up the amount of weight that you lift and hopefully get yourself into a position where you’re setting new personal maxes.
If your doctor has given the 5×5 workout the thumbs up, it’s time to develop a workout schedule. To get a sense of what your workouts may look like, take a look at Starr’s original 5×5 strength training schedule. Of course, there are lots of other variations to consider.
What are the benefits of the 5x5 workout?
Why is the 5×5 workout so popular? It’s partly because it’s so simple. When it comes to weight training, at least when you’re a newbie or intermediate lifter, complexity is the enemy, so a simple workout that anyone can follow has a lot going for it. You don’t have to remember long lists of complicated sets, all you need to do is remember the three principal exercises that you want to do. That should be easy enough.
Because there are relatively few lifts that you need to incorporate into the 5×5 workout, it gives you the opportunity to perfect your form. Plus, the fact that there’s a relatively low number of sets for each repetition lets you load more weights with higher levels of resistance. As long as you don’t push your body too hard, this should help you to develop muscle mass.
Are there any drawbacks to 5x5 strength training?
Of course, the 5×5 workout is not foolproof. Although the simplicity of the program can be viewed as a benefit, it’s possible that this simplicity won’t yield benefits for advanced lifters. People with more developed physiques typically require a greater degree of complexity in order to progress with their workouts, so the efficacy of the 5×5 strength training program could be limited to people who haven’t achieved quite as much in their weightlifting journey.
In addition, the reduced variety of the 5×5 strength training program could lead to over-use injuries. The fact that the 5×5 workout incorporates five rep sets is also problematic, as it means that you will need to lift exceptionally heavy weights to get the most out of your session. As a result, there’s a potential for injury, particularly among people who are new to weightlifting.
Looking for a new workout? 5×5 strength training could be ideal, particularly if you’ve already got a solid base of weightlifting experience behind you.