The 5×5 Routine for Massive Gains
From the beginner trainer to a seasoned pro, there are times when you just need to switch things up and get out of that stagnant routine you’ve been following for too long.
With all the training principles out there to pick from, it becomes difficult to decide which one will benefit you the most.
Everyone wants to get either bigger, stronger, faster, leaner or all of the above. How can you achieve this? Well, a routine that combines heavy lifting with a moderate amount of sets, utilizing low repetitions and very little rest time is just what you are looking for. The 5×5 routine has these elements and makes for a difficult and intense weight training session.
The 5×5 routine has been in existence for a long time now and has been used by many athletes from world-class strongmen and Mr Olympia champions to amateur athletes interested in gaining strength and muscle mass. Arnold Schwarzenegger made this training principle famous after writing about it in his Encyclopaedia of Bodybuilding and was an avid user of it himself.
This type of training is great for anyone looking to gain size and strength quickly by shocking their muscles into new growth. It is very taxing on the body to train this way, as you use weights that range from 65% of your max up to 85% of your max. A spotter is recommended to help you perform your sets and reps and you really are looking to achieve muscle failure when the set is complete.
What Does the 5×5 Routine Look Like?
The 5×5 routine is actually very simple in its approach. All you do is pick an exercise, perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions with a 90-second rest in between sets and a 3-minute break in between exercises. That’s it. Sounds easy right? Think again! During those sets you want to be using weights that challenge you and test your limits to the point of failure. My recommendation is to start at the lower end of the percentage weight you are going to use and increase it with each successive set up to 85% of your max. That way you are preparing the body for the lifts versus risking injury by jumping right into the heaviest weight you would be using.
You can use the 5×5 routine for all body parts and can break your workouts into 3-day splits up to 6-day splits. The reason for splitting your routine like this is due to the stress put upon your body and the need for recovery after the workouts.
The following is a sample 5X5 program:
Full Body 5X5 Workout
This is a great full body workout that you can do three times a week.
Monday: Bench press, bent-over rows, squats and deadlifts.
Wednesday: Weighted dips, weighted chin-ups, deadlifts and hanging leg raises.
Friday: Incline bench press, front squat, glute/hamstring raise, one-arm rows (with dumbbells or kettlebells)
Here are a couple of good split 5×5 routines to get you started:
Monday/Thursday: Bench press, bent-over rows, military presses, barbell curls and triceps pushdowns.
Wednesday/Friday: Barbell squat, stiff-legged dead lifts, seated calf raises, hanging leg raises.
Split Two (This is an advanced 6-day a week routine – alternate A/B)
Monday/Thursday – Chest/Back
A) Incline bench press, reverse wide-grip pullups, weighted rope crunches.
B) Chest dips, one-arm dumbbell rows, weighted lying leg raises.
Tuesday/Friday – Shoulders/Arms)
A) Upright rows, close-grip bench press, preacher curls.
B) Rear delt rows, triceps pushdowns, incline hammer curls.
Wednesday/Saturday – Legs
A) Jefferson squats, lying leg curls, calf raises.
B) Leg press, stiff-legged deadlifts, calf press.
Who Should Use the 5×5 program?
Anyone interested in changing things up or looking to break through training plateaus should try this method. The best part about training in this style is that it can be used for just about any exercise and you can make your own changes to the training splits, the order of exercises and the weight being used.
Bodybuilders can benefit from the 5×5 program when you need to increase muscular size. Powerlifters and Olympic lifters use this method quite often and make it a basis of their training. Even recreational trainers should give it a try, for the challenge and also the rewards. A good time to try this routine is right now! Especially if you have been following the same routine now for a long time, it’s time to switch it up. Whether you are in offseason or in season, this principle will prove to be a useful tool in your repertoire.
How would You Supplement a Routine like this?
Due to the amount of stress you will be putting on your body by training like this, you’re going to need to supplement your diet with the right products.
Pre-Workout: MUSCLEPRIME – Focus, energy, incredible pumps and a 4 g dose of BCAAs.
Intra-Workout: AMINOCORE - Keep yourself anabolic, and stimulate muscle growth.
Post-Workout: ISOFLEX - A highly concentrated whey protein isolate to ensure recovery and growth.
Finally, you may want to consider ALLFLEX, it will provide you with the joint care you’re going to need for this kind of intense training.
Considering the fact that the 5×5 routine is simple in its concept, it provides you with the results you’re looking for and is highly adaptable. I think it’s a great routine for everyone to at least try. Approach it with respect and enthusiasm and watch what happens.