The Best 5×5 Workout To Build Strength & Mass

The 5×5 exercise is a staple on the earth of energy coaching. If you converse to anybody who has ever significantly educated lifting weights, there’s a good probability they’ve run a model of this coaching program earlier than. We definitely have!

It has reached such a excessive standing within the energy group as a result of its simplicity, effectiveness, and emphasis on main compound workouts. It’s a no-frill, energy and muscle-building program that works. But, can or not it’s higher? We suppose so. This article’s going to elucidate this system, talk about how it may be improved, and present you the way to make personalised changes to satisfy your wants.

This article will talk about:

What is a 5×5 exercise?
Primary 5×5 barbell lifts
Benefits and disadvantages of a 5×5 exercise
How to enhance the 5×5 exercise to align together with your objectives

What Is The 5X5 Workout Training Program?

The time period “5×5” can imply a number of various things to completely different folks. Old college lifters could consider Bill Starr’s 5×5 program as the unique format.

New college guys will probably consider the Stronglifts’ 5×5 program because it has enormously impacted the newer era of lifters. Some could merely comprehend it as a exercise break up specializing in a rep scheme wherein you carry out 5 units with 5 reps of an train.

Let’s talk about these in a bit extra element.

Bill Starr’s 5X5 exercise

Bill Starr is an old-school lifter and elite energy coach. Back in 1976, he launched his guide “Only The Strong Shall Survive: Strength Training For Football.”

In it, he launched the primary 5×5 exercise plan (not less than the primary one to realize traction). Since then, it has spawned numerous different comparable exercise packages. His authentic program is a 3-day break up, requiring you prepare 3 days every week with 3 workouts per session for a complete of 6 workouts.

Throughout the week, the load varies in depth with a heavy, medium, and light-weight day.

While it is referred to as 5×5, it additionally makes use of a 5×10 rep scheme. It appears like this:

Monday (Heavy Day):

Power Clean or Barbell Row: 5×5 @ 85% of your 1RM
Bench Press: 5×10 @ 70% of your 1RM
Squat: 5×10 @ 85% of your 1RM

Wednesday (Light Day):

Power Clean or Barbell Row: 5×5 @ 65% of your 1RM
Incline Bench Press: 5×10 @ 65% of your 1RM
Squat: 5×5 @ 65% of your 1RM

Friday (Medium Day):

Power Clean or Barbell Row: 5×5 @ 70% of your 1RM
Overhead Press: 5×10 @ 70% of your 1RM
Squat: 5×5 @ 70% of your 1RM

You carry out this week after week, including weight when all the set is carried out.

Stronglifts 5X5 exercise

Stronglifts was created in 2007 by a man named Medhi. To be sincere, there’s not an entire lot of knowledge out there on him. As for the exercise routine, it has a number of key elements, together with it makes use of 5 barbell actions, contains two exercises that alternate, solely has three workouts per exercise, and requires coaching 3 days every week.

The program appears like this:

Workout A:

Squat: 5×5
Bench Press: 5×5
Barbell Row: 5×5

Workout B:

Squat: 5×5
Overhead Press: 5×5
Deadlift: 1×5

As talked about, these two exercises are alternated all through the week, emphasizing including extra weight to every session.

Benefits Of A 5X5 Workout Program

Before we get into some issues with the present 5×5 exercise packages, let’s first discuss the great things. From this context, we’re going to deal with the fundamental elements of a 5×5 program. This contains variables comparable to requiring a minimal quantity of train, solely using foremost compound lifts and a easy rep scheme, and putting a heavy emphasis on progressive overload.

Here are a number of the causes we expect it is a good program for most individuals to observe when beginning their lifting journey.

1. Perfect For Beginner And Intermediate Lifters:

A 5×5 weight coaching program focuses on the fundamentals and eliminates all the additional stuff. Not that additional stuff is essentially dangerous, however many new novices can find yourself specializing in it an excessive amount of.

Further, you’ll concentrate on foundational actions you may use in your coaching for years to come back.

2. Emphasizes Simplicity While Building Muscle:

Being {that a} 5×5 program is for the newbie and intermediate lifter, you are still going to develop loads of muscle. This is because of the train choice and emphasis on including extra weight each session. If you are on the lookout for extra info on coaching for energy vs. hypertrophy, make certain to take a look at our article on the subject.

3. Puts Heavy Emphasis On Compound Lifts And Free Weights:

As talked about, barbell actions are used as your foremost compound lifts. Not solely can you prepare all the physique, you be taught the basic motion patterns as nicely.

4. Introduces Progressive Overload:

The most important lifting precept it’s good to know is progressive overload.

Sometimes, new lifters will carry weights each week however see no progress. Upon analyzing their routine, it is not unusual to see that they’ve been lifting the identical weight each week. Progressive overload merely states that one should regularly add weight (whether or not by growing weight lifted, reps, or units) for development to proceed.

5. Hits Every Muscle Group:

All the main muscle teams are hit with a 5×5 program as they use the main barbell lifts. These lifts help you hit extra muscle fibers and muscle tissue with one motion, thus constructing extra lean muscle mass. This explains why you solely want a number of workouts.

5x5 workout plan

Drawbacks Of A 5X5 Workout Program

5×5 exercises have their justifiable share of advantages, however there do appear to be a number of points with a standard 5×5 program that we might like to debate.

1. Omits Fundamental Movements:

We love all of the barbell lifts in these packages. That mentioned, we consider they’re lacking a number of key motion patterns.

We consider any efficient energy coaching program ought to have two major lifts: chin-ups and lunges. We’d additionally add in dips, however the level is that these important motion patterns are omitted once they may simply be added in.

For instance, you could possibly throw them on the finish utilizing physique weight.

2. Minimal Room For Customization:

This is not an enormous deal as we really like the actual fact all these packages are so easy. However, it nonetheless stands that there is little room for personalisation.

This could make it insufficient for folks with particular points from mobility, accidents, lack of ability, or lack of kit.

3. Too Few Exercises:

Our subsequent gripe: Just as a result of you should utilize solely 5 workouts does not imply you need to.

The level is, when you may progress with the way in which the present packages are written, including a number of additional workouts would considerably enhance the standard of this system and your capacity to enhance your muscular energy.

4. Unbalanced Sets Distribution:

This is directed extra in direction of Stronglifts. Even although it solely prescribes 5 workouts, it nonetheless manages to have you ever carry out the again squat 10 instances greater than the deadlift!

To be clear, we love squats. But we expect alternating them each different exercise would make room for an extra train in this system.

5. Uses A Limited Rep Scheme:

While 5×5 works, it is definitely not the one rep vary to contemplate. A broad vary of masses can be utilized to enhance completely different variables for a newbie lifter, but many 5×5 kind packages omit them.

Granted, in the event that they did not use a 5×5 rep scheme, they would not be 5×5, but it surely nonetheless stands.

While Bill Starr does fluctuate the load and makes use of a 5×10 rep scheme for some lifts, it is nonetheless fairly slim by way of variability, which might result in exercise boredom.

How To Create A Better 5X5 Workout Program

As seen, there are a number of points with 5×5 that may be improved upon. The good factor is we are able to simply repair them.

We’re going to point out you a terrific different to your typical 5×5 exercise that addresses the above points whereas retaining simplicity. In this 5×5 model, you are going to prepare 3 instances every week utilizing 3 workouts per exercise. In whole, you may use 8 completely different workouts.

One of essentially the most vital variations you may see is that you’re going to use extra than simply barbell actions. In this model, you’ll use body weight actions steadily utilized in calisthenic plans as nicely. This is for a number of causes.

The first, which we already talked about, is that we expect that chin-ups and dips are important to any coaching program for maximal muscle progress and energy within the higher physique. Further, these actions add a level of athleticism that barbell actions cannot replicate.

The third physique weight motion is the lunge. Again, it is a essential motion that considerably enhances the effectiveness of any energy program.

However, these additionally serve one other goal. Instead of utilizing lighter weights to change the masses, you may use your physique. In impact, this center day can be a quasi “light day” in between the opposite two days to offer you a break from heavy weights to assist muscle restoration. That mentioned, you may additionally carry out squats once more however with a lighter rep scheme of 3×10.

The lifts you may use to coach the entire physique are:

Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Deadlifts
Barbell Row
Barbell Back Squat

5×5 Workout Programming

The two exercises that use barbell workouts are going to observe your typical 5×5 rep scheme. Again, we’re staying with the overall concept, so that is what it’s.

These periods will begin off with both the again squat or deadlift, as these are essentially the most difficult actions.

Followed can be both the barbell bench press or barbell overhead press. Finally, each days will finish with the barbell bent over the row. As you see, every session is a full-body exercise.

The cause you are doing the row each days is that there is not one other barbell motion that does not require establishing like a bench row. Plus, the row is superior. Since it is included twice, we positioned it on the finish of the exercise once you’re most fatigued. We additionally require you to modify your bent over row hand grip in each exercises to hit the muscle groups barely in a different way.

Then through the third exercise, you may carry out your gentle units of squats adopted by your physique weight workouts.

What Loads Do You Use For The Barbell Movements?

For your major barbell actions, your beginning weights can be round 75% of your one rep max. If you are unsure what you are one rep max is, use a weight that you may carry out about 10 reps with.

This could really feel gentle for you, however you’ll develop into it quick. It’s all the time a good suggestion to begin lighter and work into it.

We’re additionally going to throw in a single different twist. You are going to coach 4 units of 5 reps with this weight. However, in your fifth set, you are going to drop the load by about 70% or so and carry out max reps. For the fifth set, you need not monitor. While it is essential, it will not decide your development.

This is to permit extra quantity and hit completely different physiological variables. Even past constructing muscle, this may enhance your muscular endurance whereas including one thing completely different to the combo.

What Loads Do You Use With Body Weight Training?

Workout B, the body weight day, is not going to make use of a 5×5 rep scheme. Instead, you are going to use RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) to watch your masses, following some pointers.

For units 1-4, you may do as many reps as you’ll be able to till you hit an RPE8. Then, on the fifth set, you’ll carry out max reps.
While you are going to be doing 5 units of every train, you will not do them straight. Instead, you are going to alternate workouts.
Be conscious: This shouldn’t be circuit coaching! What we imply is you are not going from one train to the subsequent. You’re nonetheless going to relaxation in between units. This will help you maximize your quantity for muscle hypertrophy.
For chin ups, goal wherever between 4 and 12 reps, and with dips, purpose for between 6 and 15.

The Best 5X5 Workout Program

Without additional ado, here is your new and improved 5×5 exercise. 

Workout A:

Back Squat: 4×5, 1XAMRAP
Bench Press: 4×5, 1XAMRAP
Bent Over Row (Underhand Grip): 4×5, 1XAMRAP

Workout B:

Back Squats: 3×10
Chin Ups: 4XRPE8, 1XMax
Lunges: 4XRPE8, 1XMax
Dips: 4XRPE8, 1XMax

Workout C:

Deadlift: 4×5, 1XAMRAP
Shoulder Press: 4×5, 1XAMRAP
Bent Over Row (Overhand Grip): 4×5, 1XAMRAP

Progressing On A 5X5 Program

The cardinal rule for progressing on a 5×5 program is so as to add weight within the smallest increment potential throughout your subsequent exercise. You wish to postpone hitting a plateau for so long as potential.

Too typically, guys will attempt to add the utmost quantity of weight they will on the bar every session. While you undoubtedly must push your self, this may stall you a lot sooner. Therefore, identical to your beginning weight, you wish to be as conservative as potential.

With that mentioned, attempt to hold your weekly jumps between 2.5 to five kilos.


Be positive to run a correct warm-up earlier than every coaching session, particularly A & B. This ought to embody 5 minutes of a common warm-up and about 5 minutes of a dynamic warm-up. We counsel attempting these body weight dynamic warm-up workouts if you happen to’re on the lookout for suggestions.

When you get to your workouts, you will want to ramp as much as the goal weight. This merely refers to performing some warm-up units as you enhance the load. The quantity you do is dependent upon how heavy you are lifting and the train. 

For warm-up units, deadlifts and squats ought to use not less than 3 warm-up units, the bench press and overhead press ought to use not less than 2, and the bent-over row wants not less than one.

This is along with the very first set, which you need to carry out 10-15 reps of with simply the bar weight.

5x5 program for mass

Special Notes

Always use correct type. If you might be unable to do one of many workouts correctly, carry out the opposite workouts after which spend the time wanted working towards the train you need assistance with.

Until you should utilize the correct type, you should utilize another train. Here are some potentialities:

Instead of the squat and deadlift, attempt the leg press.
Rather than the overhead press, go for the dumbbell press or overhead machine press.
In place of the bench press, attempt push-up variations, the dumbbell press, or the machine press.
Instead of the bent over row, carry out the seated row.

Again, use the alternate options provided that you are working towards type on an train and might’t but use a heavy load.

Also, all the time use correct weights. As we talked about, 5×5 works, but it surely’s not a time for ego-lifting. Not solely will you progress slowly, however additionally, you will enhance the prospect of injuring your self.

Why Doesn’t It Have Isolation Exercises?

Many new lifters suppose that they should pump out a bunch of curls and lateral raises to construct muscle. While we love isolation workouts, you do not want them as a newbie since any load supplies muscle gains¹.

That mentioned, there’s nothing essentially improper with performing isolation strikes so long as they don’t seem to be changing greater actions. And let’s not overlook that one of many foremost causes lifters observe a 5×5 is to maintain workouts to a minimal.

How Long Should You Follow A 5X5 Program?

The size of time you observe a 5×5 program will fluctuate for everybody but it surely actually comes all the way down to how lengthy it really works. That mentioned, you need to observe this program for not less than 3 months.

Within this timeframe, most individuals will have the ability to enhance comparatively simply. While you might not make a soar on each motion in each session, you need to have the ability to progress fairly commonly.

When To Switch Things Up:

There are two foremost causes you might wish to alter some issues in this system.

Your coaching turns into stagnant and uninteresting.
You go 3 periods with out making any progress.

Do You Need A Deload Week?

A deload week is a interval, usually, every week, once you take a break from lifting heavy weights to permit for optimum restoration. It’s used extensively in energy coaching as your nervous system can get fried lifting heavy masses.

Being that this program is about as much as solely actually have two heavy days every week and 4 full relaxation days, you might discover that it is not as taxing as different 5×5 packages that have you ever carry heavy each session. On that be aware, you should utilize some private discretion.

It’s going to rely in your coaching age and what kind of masses you might be lifting. If you are a newbie, there’s probably no cause, because the weights you are utilizing aren’t actually hectic sufficient. However, if you happen to’ve been lifting weights correctly for a while, a deload could possibly be extraordinarily helpful.

Some common pointers to observe embody: If you have been correctly coaching for 6-12 months, you could possibly do a deload each 4-6 weeks. And if you happen to’ve been correctly coaching longer than 12 months, you need to deload as soon as each 3-4 weeks.

During your deload week, you run the very same program however use 50% of the load.

Next Steps After This 5X5 Program

So you have completed our 5×5 program, and now you wish to attempt one thing new. You can do a number of issues, however to remain inside an identical format, we’ll keep on with operating a program 3 days every week.

Running a 5×5 could be very taxing on the physique, so we wish to keep away from back-to-back 5x5s. Switching it up is simpler in your physique, and it additionally frees up time to do greater than three workouts.

Also, we wish to add extra selection within the actions and the masses used. Therefore, in your two heavy days, you may carry out 5 workouts. They’ll begin off utilizing the deadlift and squat once more, however this time, you may use 3X3. While that is really heavier, you are solely doing 3 units of three reps, making it a lot simpler to your nervous system to deal with.

After, you may have 2 workouts that you just use 4 units. The first set is a high set which can be a heavy 3 reps. Thereafter, you may drop and carry out 3 units of 6 reps.

You’ll then have an superior accent motion, both the leg press or shut grip bench press. Last, these periods will finish with Farmer’s carries to coach your cardiovascular health and enhance your total energy and muscle mass.

The center day will once more use the three body weight workouts. However, for the chin-ups and dips, you’ll load them so that you’re within the 6 rep vary for 3 units. Then on the 4th, you may max.

After these, you may run by way of a collection of isolation workouts the place you simply carry out two units of every. The aim is to be someplace within the 8-12 rep vary. For these, be at liberty to relaxation wherever from 1:00-1:30 between every set, relying in your time. It appears like numerous workouts, however the aim is to undergo them with depth.

Workout A:

Back Squat: 3×3
Incline Bench Press: 1×3, 3×6
T-Bar Row: 1×3, 3×6
Close Grip Bench Press: 3×8
Farmer’s Carry: 30 seconds/:30×5

Workout B:

Chin-Ups: 3×6, 1XAMRAP
Lunges: 100*
Dips: 3X6, 1XAMRAP
Arm Curl: 2×8-12
Triceps Extension: 2×8-12
Leg Extension: 2×8-12
Leg Curls: 2×8-12
Face Pulls: 2×8-12
Rope Upright Rows: 2×8-12

Workout C:

Elevated Deadlift: 3×3**
Sitting Barbell Overhead Press: 1×3, 3×6
Bentover Row: 1×3, 3×6
Leg Press: 3×10
Farmer’s Carry: 30 seconds/:30×5

*For lunges, begin with 100 at a time. From there, you’ll add 10-12 each week.

**For the elevated deadlift, you should utilize a squat rack if you happen to can set the bar low sufficient. If not, use blocks or plates to raise the deadlift.

Proper Nutrition For A 5X5 Lifting Program

One factor have to be clear when following a 5×5 energy and muscle-building program. You must eat.

Of course, we absolutely consider that you may run a 5×5 whereas slicing. But usually talking, individuals who run this program wish to enhance energy and measurement. To do that, you want sufficient energy and correct macros.

At the identical time, you solely wish to enhance your muscle mass, not physique fats. Therefore, you wish to be in a caloric surplus of round 300 energy. This can be sufficient to assist your wants. If it appears you are having bother gaining weight, you’ll be able to bump it as much as 500. We additionally counsel using the perfect excessive protein low fats meals, and even following this muscle-building 7-day meal plan for additional inspiration.

After you will have your whole energy, break them down utilizing these pointers:

When figuring out how a lot protein per day to construct muscle, purpose for 1.8-2.2g per kilogram of physique weight².
Dedicate 30% of your energy to fats.
Eat carbs to suit throughout the the rest of your every day calorie allotment.

Spread these energy out evenly into 4-5 meals a day. For what to eat after a exercise, eat a meal with a 1:2 ratio of protein to carbs with not less than 25 grams of protein. An even increased quantity could present additional advantages.

Summary Of The 5X5 Workout

A 5×5 program refers to at least one that focuses on simplicity, utilizing a rep scheme of 5×5.

While the unique 5×5 plans work, we really feel like our model will provide help to make even greater features. The most essential lesson to be taught from 5×5 is that energy and conditioning do not should be fancy or difficult to be extraordinarily efficient. Sometimes, a easy energy coaching program actually is greatest.

Related: 5 Best Strength Programs (With Spreadsheets): Beginner to Advanced



Prepare to maximise your energy with our unique 13-week energy coaching program. 3, 4, and 5 day per week programming choices.


Gentil P, Fisher J, Steele J. A Review of the Acute Effects and Long-Term Adaptations of Single- and Multi-Joint Exercises throughout Resistance Training. Sports Medicine. 2016;47(5):843-855. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0627-5
Campbell B, Kreider RB, Ziegenfuss T, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition place stand: protein and train. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007;4(1):8. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-8

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