The 5x5 Strength Training Program
Are you looking for a great simple strength-focused program? If so, the 5×5 may be a great option!
A 5×5 strength training program is a great workout routine because of its simplicity and effectiveness. If you’re interested in powerlifting, this can be a great way to get started and build up a base of strength before diving into a true powerlifting training program.
The concept is simple and involves performing five sets of five repetitions (reps) for each exercise. While this program is great for beginners who are looking to build strength, it is also quite effective for anyone who may be making a change in their training style (e.g. you’ve been focusing on endurance and general fitness and would like to focus more on raw strength).
Here are the basic steps for this training program:
Choose your exercises. Start with compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups. Examples include squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, and rows. See a list of exercises and how to build each workout below. The exercises you choose should be enjoyable, not cause pain, and something that you feel comfortable performing. Keep in mind that these exercises are a skill and so it may take some practice to become proficient.
Choose a weight that you can lift for five reps with good form. This weight will be your starting weight.
Warm up with some light cardio and dynamic stretches. I also recommend that you perform some reps of each exercise with much lighter weight as a warmup as well (something in the neighborhood of 50% of your working weight and possibly another set with 75% … each person is different … find what works best for you).
Perform 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise with the same weight. Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets. If you’re brand new to lifting weights, you may want to start with 3 sets instead of 5 until you build up a base of strength and allow your body to grow accustomed to the new movements. This will prevent excessive muscle soreness. We want this to be enjoyable.
Once you can complete all 5 sets of 5 reps with good form, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds.
Keep track of your progress by recording your weights and reps for each exercise. You can do this using a simple note pad or, if you’re like me, you may prefer to use an app. There are a number of apps designed specifically for tracking your workout progress. Some apps include Strong, Hevy (yes, that’s spelled correctly), Jefit, StrengthLog, etc.
Make sure to rest for at least one day between workout sessions. It’s important to listen to your body. If you find yourself becoming excessively sore, fatigued, or you just feel off, it’s best to take some extra rest days or try a “deload” where you continue with your workouts but you lighten the load a bit and/or reduce the volume (number of sets).
Remember to start slowly and progress gradually. Don’t try to lift too heavy too soon, and focus on proper form for each exercise. With consistency and patience, you can build a great base of strength and muscle mass with a 5×5 strength training program.
Choosing Your Exercises and Building Your Workouts
- Decide how many days per week you can reasonably expect to train. With this program, you’ll want to choose something between 1 and 3 days per week. This ensures a day of rest between workouts. Believe me, 3 workouts per week, if done with a good level of intensity, will be plenty. Also, if you only have 1 day per week, that’s also fine! Your body can still build strength with only 1 workout per week.
- For each day, build a workout that includes 1 push, 1 pull, and 1 lower body exercise from the list below. So, each workout will include 3 exercises. Trust me on this one too … that will be enough if you’re doing 5 sets of each with a good level of intensity.