How do you use the 5×5 workout to build strength and muscle? Bodybuilders often perform rep (repetition) counts in the 8-12 range with moderate weights. Experts say the right amount of repetitions promote the most muscle growth. Strength athletes and powerlifters lift heavyweights in the 1-4 rep range. Research shows that a repetition range of 1 – 4 reps promotes strength and density. If you dream of a bodybuilder physique with size, strength, and density (thickness), which approach would be best for you? Don’t forget to check out: Post-exhaustion vs. Pre-exhaustion Supersets – Advantages Of Each.
Introducing The 5X5 Workout
If you want to gain strength and muscle, performing a 5×5 workout may be the best option for you. While there are variations, the classic 5X5 workout focuses on basic compound exercises like squats, bench presses, bent-over rows, and deadlifts. The 5×5 workout focuses on lifting the most weight to lift for 5 sets of 5 reps. You can perform the 5X5 workouts three times a week, and you should never do it on consecutive days as you must recover after each workout.
Who Should Use The 5X5 Workout?
Beginners – You can adapt the 5X5 program to your beginner’s workout once you understand how to safely perform the necessary, full-body exercises (squats, deadlifts, bent-rows, and bench presses). The danger here is overtraining as new lifters respond best to less (2 days per week) full-body workouts.
Intermediate Lifters – If you have been lifting for a while and are no longer making gains, 8-12 weeks on a 5X5 program may be an excellent choice to break through your plateau. Changing up your workout introduces your body to new challenges with the bonus of increased size and strength.
Advanced Lifters – If your gains are slowing (like the intermediate lifter) and you want to get bigger and stronger, the 5×5 strength workout is a great option. Advanced lifters should focus more on each lift’s form (concentric, eccentric, and isometric). Advanced lifters have better muscle memory and stronger mental concentration than intermediate and beginners.
What Exercises Should I Perform When Following A 5×5 Workout?
There are many 5×5 options; you can choose any combination of exercises as long as you perform 5 sets of 5 reps. Most experts recommend mixing it up with upper and lower body lifts. To increase both size and strength, strive to improve the weight you lift during each workout. To increase the intensity, reduce your rest times between sets and exercises.
Check out this proven strength-focused 5×5 program using compound movements which engage more muscles:
- Squats 5×5
- Bench Presses 5×5
- Standing Shoulder Presses 5×5
- Bent Rows 5×5
- Wide Grip Pull-ups 5×5
Notice there are no isolation exercises, only power movements that train multiple muscle groups. Compound lifts train muscles in a way that they should be used during the day.
When transitioning to 5×5 training, start with a manageable weight (slightly lighter than what you would typically lift). You will use that weight for the 5 sets of 5 reps. Don’t increase the weight between sets; in this program, you increase either the next training session or the following week. If you find that you can complete the 5 sets uninterrupted, then in the next session, you will increase the weight. Once you can complete the 5 sets of 5 reps, increase the weight at your next workout.
How Often Should I Train?
When done correctly, with maximum weight and minimum rest between sets, the 5×5 workout is very demanding. Some beginners can train with this 5×5 technique only once a week with measurable results. Intermediate and advanced lifters should use this workout twice a week and focus on intensity and increasing the weight used for each exercise as often as possible.