Looking to switch things up? This popular routine is the ultimate answer.
Okay, so you’ve been hitting the gym for a while; six months or maybe a few years. Suddenly things are starting to feel repetitive. Sure you love the release, the intensity, the way your body is transforming – but the routine is just getting stagnant.
That’s where the 5×5 training routine comes in. This is one of the most popular bodybuilding workouts in the business and for good reason. Ever since it was popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger by writing about it in his book, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, the world has gone nuts for 5×5 training.
But what makes it so different? Let’s take a look and break it down so you can start reaping the benefits of the 5×5 method.
A quick word of caution though; this is a workout routine for experienced trainers only. You should have a solid foundation of base training before starting something like this. Between the high intensity and the high volume required of the workout – you can run the risk of overtraining or injuring yourself. Just keep that in mind.
Now onto the breakdown:
What is the 5×5?
So what makes the 5×5 so different from your usual routine? To start, you aren’t lifting to failure. The goal is actually very simple: you perform five sets of five reps for every exercise in your workout. The workout should consist of full body free-weight exercises. The ultimate goal to this routine is to add weight and continue to push up the amount of weight as you progress.
You want the amount of weight to really challenge and test your limits. Traditionally the first two sets at a lower amount and then the last three on the higher end – WITHOUT hitting the point of failure. It is very important to hit all five sets and reps or the program will not be successful. It’s a delicate balance that will take some prep and testing at first – but the results will be mind blowing.
How to Get Started
During the first week or so you should be feeling out exactly how much weight your body can handle. This might mean you will have to start off on the cautious side. If you hit all 5 sets too easily then you know to up the weight next time.
Once you find that perfect balance for the weight – lift at this amount for the first two weeks. At that point, try bumping up the weight about 10 lbs. You should be able to complete all 5 sets with the added weight at this point. If not, jump down 5 lbs until you can move up in weight again.
You should only be performing this workout three times a week (usually Mon, Wed, Fri) so you can have a full day of rest in between to properly recover. You should also be aiming to do three exercises per workout (usually compound exercises like squats, bench press, overhead press, barbell rows, and deadlifts). But if you want, you can add supplement workouts with fewer sets to really focus in on a certain muscle area.
A quick note about rest times: you normally want to have your rest between sets at about 1.5 to 3 minutes – depending how much you are struggling to complete the 5 sets. It’s very important to get the right amount of rest so you can complete them in full.
Getting stronger/Sample Workout
Now that you’ve gotten into the groove you should start to notice an incredible increase in strength and muscle gains. Remember to constantly increase the weight every week that you perform the full five sets successfully. This way you will continue to increase your max reps and constantly challenge yourself.
If you get to a point where you start missing a rep, don’t worry; just keep at the same weight for the next week’s workout until you can successfully complete the whole thing. Soon you’ll find yourself hitting new levels so consistently that you’d wonder why you hadn’t used this method before.
To give you a full picture of exactly what this workout will look like – here’s a sample workout so you can really wrap your brain (and muscles) around it:
- Flat Bench Press – 5×5
- Bent-Over Barbell Rows – 5×5
- Standing Military Press – 5×5
- Deadlifts – 5×5
- Weighted Chin-Ups – 5×5
- Barbell Squats – 5×5
- Standing Military Press – 5×5
- Dumbbell Rows – 5×5
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 5×5