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The 5x5 routine

  1. #1
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    The 5x5 routine
    I get a lot of requests on Elite about my version of the 5x5, so I thought I'd share it here. The program results in great size and strength gains and is actually an enjoyable way to train. A lot of people on elite are having tremendous success with it right now.
    Here's the link

    new 5x5 link

    Here is a cut and paste of the original post

    Originally posted by Needsize:

    I'll do my best to try and remember all the elements that make the program work.

    The premise of the routine is progressive overload, meaning that every week you are putting increasing amounts of stress on the muscles, generally through small increases in the amount of weight used. The progressive overload forces the body to grow to adapt to the increasing amounts of stress, even though the body really isnt training to failure.

    The routine consists of choosing a heavy compound exercise to use for each bodypart, these can include, squat, deadlifts, bench press, close grip bench, standing barbell curls, military press, etc. On top of the initial 5x5, you also choose 2 other exercises, and aim to do 2 sets on each, of 8-10 reps per set.
    Here's a sample routine
    Chest
    Flat bench 5x5
    incline dumbell press 2x8-10
    incline flyes 2x8-10

    The key for me when using this routine is to start light, at weights that you can easily nail your reps and concentrate on form. For example, say you can bench 225lbs for 8 reps, start with 195lbs on the bar. This should be easy, but if you keep your reps slow and in control, you will still get a good pump and have a good workout. Next week, bump up the weight by a SMALL increment, remember the key is to be able to keep adding weight, it's not a race to get to the massive poundages. If you add too quickly you will plateau in a hurry and the routine wont do jack for you. So you hit 5x5 on 195, next week its 200, the week after 205, etc. When you get to a point where you're starting to have trouble hitting your reps, add something extra to help, if you're natural, thats when I would throw in creatine and whatever else as this will help you keep adding weight. If you dont get all 5x5, then do not add more weight next week, stick with the same and the odds are you'll hit it next time you try.

    This routine is very effective as it targets fast twitch muscle fibres(5x5) as well as slower twitch(8-10reps) all in the same workout. Generally when done correctly you can gain lots of size as well as some pretty incredible strength all at the same time. I'm only a bodybuilder and dont give a rat's ass about strength, but have hit lifts (ie, deadlift 550lbs for 5 reps) that would allow me to compete as a powerlifter.
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    Last edited by StoneColdNTO; 03-08-2009 at 10:16 PM.
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  2. #2
    Steelers = SuperBowl BiggieSwolls's Avatar
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    5X5 is a very proven method. Works very well with a lot of different body types.

  3. #3
    Eze
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    That sounds like it will be awesome. Should I try this with my first cycle that I plan on doing in the spring time?

  4. #4
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Easto
    That sounds like it will be awesome. Should I try this with my first cycle that I plan on doing in the spring time?
    It works well on a cycle as your size gains come from the constant adding of weight every week, and while on gear you'll have no problem adding lots of weight. I'd give the system a shot first though and get to your sticking points before you start the gear, that way the drugs will push you well past them. Be sure to start pretty light when you begin this as the point is too keep adding weight every week, how much is actually on the bar isnt that important
    Last edited by Dreaded Pirate Roberts; 03-08-2009 at 10:55 PM.

  5. #5
    NPC Amateur Competitor bigpresser's Avatar
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    When bulking, I usually do 5x6. I'll have to try 5x5. It should allow me to use more weight. Pushing the envelope of strength and muscle MASS!!!!!

  6. #6
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bigpresser
    When bulking, I usually do 5x6. I'll have to try 5x5. It should allow me to use more weight. Pushing the envelope of strength and muscle MASS!!!!!
    The strength gains I've made on this program are incredible. What you can do when you plateau on 5x5, switch to 3x5reps and you'll be able to keep adding weight. When you plateau on that, try 5x3reps, and you'll keep going up, then when you go back to your old plateau it'll be a joke
    I love this routine

  7. #7
    Elite Mentor Citruscide's Avatar
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    I guess I should READ your 5x5 routine before I assume it is the standard volume training...

    C-ditty

  8. #8
    Elite Mentor Citruscide's Avatar
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    Wow... I read it...

    Ok, here are some questions I have for you.

    First, I think your routine is good... it stresses the lower rep workouts which hit the Class 2 b and c and some a muscle fibers as opposed to the Class 1 (ie, FT rather than ST). FT are the larger muscle groups... so it makes sense train those...

    Now, my concern is... is stimulating BOTH muscles at the same time... for equal effectiveness? In my readings and applications... I've found that doing the higher rep and lower rep workouts seperated by periods of weeks (i.e. 3-4 weeks High rep and then the same for low rep) would more effectively train the various muscle fibers... since the body would need time to adjust to the training measures and begin the training of those muscle fibers.

    Again, I'm not implying that your 5x5 program isn't the combination that can successfully train both muscle fibers at the same time, but I wanted to bring to light... that in training BOTH of these muscle fibers in the same workout... it could reduce the relative effectiveness in EACH of their training... Where doing only lower rep power workouts might yeild a 100% benefit for FT fibers, doing a mixture might yeild a 65% 35% or even 50/50 for each of the various muscle fibers...

    The overall premise of your workout is sound, and I do not doubt it works for you... hell, I've seen your deadlifts!!

    But I wanted to bring to light that issue...

    Also, I was thinking of the volume training part of the 5x5... generally... volume training ... well, I don't want to get into that just yet... After all, I have 6000+ posts on EF and only 3-4 here.

    C-ditty

  9. #9
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Citrus, its good to see you over here.

    Anyway, I appreciate the debate...For me, I've found over the years that training 1 type of muscle fibre in a workout never yielded much in the way of results for me. It wasnt until I started this type of training that my body really started to respond. I'm pretty sure its the consistent addition of weight to the exercises, both high and low rep sets, that forces the body to grow to adapt to the increasing amounts of stress. I dont know how that would work though if only targetted towards only one type of fibre
    needsize@*****************

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  10. #10
    Elite Mentor Citruscide's Avatar
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    Originally posted by needsize
    Citrus, its good to see you over here.

    Anyway, I appreciate the debate...For me, I've found over the years that training 1 type of muscle fibre in a workout never yielded much in the way of results for me. It wasnt until I started this type of training that my body really started to respond. I'm pretty sure its the consistent addition of weight to the exercises, both high and low rep sets, that forces the body to grow to adapt to the increasing amounts of stress. I dont know how that would work though if only targetted towards only one type of fibre
    Well... like I said... It sounds good.

    But if you don't mind, I'd like to bring up something else I was thinking about. My understanding of general 5x5 training is that it is VOLUME training... and that in doing 5x5 you aren't going to failure... meaning... you are doing say... 45,55,then 65% of your 1RM Max... for the five sets... as a switch up to the standard heavy training... now, this type of training, doesn't result in as much hypertrophy as say, lower volume, higher weight training that doesn't go all the way to failure...

    But what you have done is combined the concept of VOLUME with the lower rep higher weight workout... so in effect... when you are doing 5x5 you are doing I guess... maybe 85% of your 1RM Max??

    Now, I could be totally off here... and it has worked for you... so I don't discredit that, or anything really... I guess I'd just like to understand more how the increase in volume and weight is more effective, if at all, then standard low rep/hight weight training?

    C-ditty

  11. #11
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    My theory is that if you can keep adding weight to an exercise on a consistent basis, then your body is going to grow to adapt to the increasing amoutns of stress. Since I find I am much stronger in the 5 rep range, its much easier to keep adding weight each workout. Add in the stimulation of the slower twitch fibres on the 8-10 rep sets, and it ends up an efficient way to train that results in great mass and strength gains. The last 50lbs of mass i've put on my frame came from this routine or variations of it
    needsize@*****************

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  12. #12
    Novice Thammer's Avatar
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    Solid routine bro

    I've preached a similar approach before. This is very similar to what Reg PArk,Arnold and others did for along time. This type of routine will build a solid foundation on which to build a powerful looking physique.

    Another possibility which someone might have mentioned is after doing the 5x5 routine for awhile, you might want to go 5x5,4,3,2,1.

    You would not however want to jump into that if your not used to dealing with heavy weights because your joints and tendons etc..will simply not be ready for it.

    With saying this some people grow on heavy weights and low reps and others dont respond at all in size but just get stronger. Bodybuilding is as mcuh art as it is science dont get carried away with percents

    TH

  13. #13
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    When I plateau on the 5x5, I'll switch to the 5x3 for a while instead, in order to keep adding weight. I dont seem to gain much in the way of size from sets of 3 reps, but it does help me get past the plateau
    needsize@*****************

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  14. #14
    Novice Turbo3000's Avatar
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    Thanks Needsize. I was looking for a new routine and I think I found it. Although, I am in the middle of a cycle right now, I have 5 more weeks, should I wait it out and then start the 5x5 after I have recovered (after my clomid and everything). Or, since I have 5 weeks left, just start busting ass next week.

  15. #15
    Amateur Bodybuilder copracr's Avatar
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    what do you increase your 8=10 rep sets by and how often do you increase the wieght?

  16. #16
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Turbo3000
    Thanks Needsize. I was looking for a new routine and I think I found it. Although, I am in the middle of a cycle right now, I have 5 more weeks, should I wait it out and then start the 5x5 after I have recovered (after my clomid and everything). Or, since I have 5 weeks left, just start busting ass next week.
    thats a tough call. If your growing on your cycle with the routine you are doing now, then I would stick with it. Now that I think about it, I think you would be better off waiting and starting the program maybe a month post cycle. That way you can start light like the program is intended, and not worry about losing size. After a while you will start to plateau, which would be a great time to start a new cycle which would keep you progressing
    hope that made sense...
    needsize@*****************

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  17. #17
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Originally posted by copracor
    what do you increase your 8=10 rep sets by and how often do you increase the wieght?
    I would say by as small an increment as you can. I would raise the weight when you can get 2 sets of 10 reps on a given weight
    needsize@*****************

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  18. #18
    Novice Turbo3000's Avatar
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    Originally posted by needsize
    thats a tough call. If your growing on your cycle with the routine you are doing now, then I would stick with it. Now that I think about it, I think you would be better off waiting and starting the program maybe a month post cycle. That way you can start light like the program is intended, and not worry about losing size. After a while you will start to plateau, which would be a great time to start a new cycle which would keep you progressing
    hope that made sense...
    Thanks for the help NS. I think this program looks fantastic. I am gonna finish off my cycle with my current routine, then start the 5x5 a month after post cycle like you suggest. And I like the idea of starting it out naturally and then when I hit a plateau to start my next cycle. I think that is a great idea. Thanks again for the help.

  19. #19
    Eze
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    Originally posted by needsize
    thats a tough call. If your growing on your cycle with the routine you are doing now, then I would stick with it. Now that I think about it, I think you would be better off waiting and starting the program maybe a month post cycle. That way you can start light like the program is intended, and not worry about losing size. After a while you will start to plateau, which would be a great time to start a new cycle which would keep you progressing
    hope that made sense...
    This sounds like the best time to use it. I think I will have to give it a try post cycle!

  20. #20
    Rookie Biotch
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    i have tried needsizes 5x5 and 5x3...both work excellent. Though like he said start out light because you are going to be "on the brink of overtraining"towards the end of your lifting cycle

  21. #21
    Novice Mystical's Avatar
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    I have been training for sometime, with some pretty good intesity, but I have to say, not until I started the 5x5 has my back and chest ever got the pump that it gets off of Needsize's 5x5 routine. Over the years I have tried many different routines, thi sone really seems to do it for my body. Thanks again Needsize...

  22. #22
    Olympian Bodybuilder Fyre's Avatar
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    Okay Needsize, I'm going to give it a go starting next week! I've had a number of people try it and they like the results that they've got so here goes nothing! I'll keep ya' posted!

  23. #23
    Community Veteran needsize's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mystical
    I have been training for sometime, with some pretty good intesity, but I have to say, not until I started the 5x5 has my back and chest ever got the pump that it gets off of Needsize's 5x5 routine. Over the years I have tried many different routines, thi sone really seems to do it for my body. Thanks again Needsize...
    Glad you like it, i keep trying new variations of the routine but the original version is still my favourite

    Fyre, if you ever need me to give you a "hands on" boost to the program let me know...
    needsize@*****************

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  24. #24
    Olympian Bodybuilder Fyre's Avatar
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    "Fyre, if you ever need me to give you a "hands-on" boost to the program let me know"

    I like "hands-on"!!!!!!!

  25. #25
    Co-Founder TxLonghorn's Avatar
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    I like the 5x5 method. Has always worked well for me.

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