With all of the different types of training systems and methods around today it is easy to get caught up in the hype and jump from workout to workout. It’s even easier to get caught up in the confusion of the systems and be left with more questions than actions. Fortunately the 5×5 workout is simple yet very effective for increasing muscle mass and strength gains.
If it sounds easy to understand then that’s because it is. The premise behind the program is brutally simple. You pick an exercise and perform 5 reps of 5 sets. The only real rule is that you pick compound movements that are going to allow you to lift the most weight for the muscle group that you train. Here’s a list of the best exercises to use with the 5×5 workout
- Bench Press
- Weighted Chin Up
- Weighted Dip
- Front Squat
- Bent Over Row
- Standing Barbell Curls
- Close Grip Press
- Seated miltary press
- Standing Miltary Press
- Incline Chest Press
A common area that people mess up when performing a 5×5 workout is the warm up. Since you’re not taking your time and just jumping into using heaver weight you’ll want to perform a slow and gradual warm up that both activates and loosens the joints that you’re going to train on that day. Generally I advise a four set warm up with around 12 to 15 reps performed.
Now initially the 5×5 workout will give you some pretty fast results since you’re using a lower amount of weight on big compound movements. Once the results start to slow down you’ll want to steadily increase the weight used. Since you won’t change any sets or reps you’ll want to slowly add 2.5 pounds. Aim to add 2.5 pounds every other workout and work your way to a heavier 5×5 training session.
Rotating exercises in the 5×5
After a while the 5×5 workout can get very boring. As a result you’ll want to continually rotate the main 5×5 movements in order to stay fresh. The easiest transition is swamping dumbbells in for barbells and vice versa. You can also change angles and the Smith machine is a good alternative as well.
Your workout doesn’t have to consist of just two 5×5 movements per exercise. The accessory movements that are done after the 5×5 should be done to make the other main movements improve. For example, if your 5×5 exercise is the bench press then you’ll want to before higher rep triceps, back and rear delt exercises. If the 5×5 exercise is the deadlift then you should focus on hamstring curls, glute strength and forearm exercises.
5×5 workout variations
5×5 Cluster Training
You’ll lift a weight that is 90% of your one rep max. The only exception here is that you won’t do 5 consecutive repetitions rather you’ll perform one rep then rest for 15 seconds then another rep then rest until you’ve done 15 reps.
5×5 Fully Body Workout
While I generally advise against this another option is to perform one 5×5 workout day. You’ll pick 5 movements and perform 5 sets of 5 reps for every exercise. One for chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. I advise that you rest at least 2 days post workout and if you want to do another mini 5×5 day where you focus on your quads and hamstrings with some accessory work then go right for it.
A true 5×5 workout will produce pretty impressive muscular gains but when you try a 5×5 bodybuilding workout you’ll be impressed. Instead of super setting a 5×5 movement you’ll actually pair one with a higher rep exercise of the antagonistic bodypart. Here’s an example
Standing barbell curls 5 sets of 5 reps
Bodyweight Dips 5 sets of max reps
Close Grip Triceps Press 5 sets of 5 reps
Standing Cable Curls 5 sets of 12 reps
The pump you’ll feel from this is insane!
5×5 workout for fat loss.
Can a 5×5 workout be used to burn body fat? Absolutely. Here’s how.
Pick a base movement. Let’s say you’ve chosen the deadlift. You perform 5 sets of 5 reps of the deadlift.
Pick 3-4 more exercises that you’ll perform for 12-15 reps. You’ll perform these next movement in order. 1 set of each without rest. After you perform the first set of each movement you’ll rest for 30 seconds.