5×5 Workouts for Strength and Mass

When training, it’s important to find workouts that suit your specific goals and objectives. If you’re looking to lose fat and improve your fitness, fat-burning cardiovascular workouts should have you covered. If you’re training with muscle hypertrophy in mind, a typical 5-day bodybuilding split may be more suitable. But what about those of you who are training to build muscle mass, and increase their strength in the process? In these instances, you might want to seriously consider following the 5×5 workout program. This program has proved to be extremely popular in the fitness community. Here’s a brief overview.

What is 5×5?

The 5×5 workout program was created in order to break plateaus, increase strength, and build muscle. The workout is designed to target each major muscle group three times per week, whilst allowing plenty of recovery times between sessions. Because of the nature of the training, many powerlifters, strongmen, and strength athletes follow the 5×5 workout program, as one of the main benefits you’ll notice is a significant increase in strength. So, why ‘5×5’? Well, the basic premise is that you perform 5 working sets of 5 repetitions per exercise. Typically, a 5×5 workout program will last around 8 weeks, including a 4 – 6 week ‘prep’ phase. Because of the fact that this workout program is designed to promote training heavy, it is not suitable for those new to the world of lifting.

Prep phase

This first phase actually makes up the bulk of the program. It may sound relatively easy and relaxed, yet in truth it’s extremely physically demanding, especially as the weeks go on. Here, you’re basically testing your limits and getting your muscles accustomed to what they’re soon to be subjected to.

Choosing the right weights

In the prep phase, this is the most important consideration. Here, you’ll need to select a weight for any given exercise, which allows you to perform 5 working sets of 5 reps, so, 25 reps in total. The weight must be heavy enough so as you would not be able to perform a sixth rep unassisted. You must however, be able to hit all 5 reps per set. 4 would not work.

Increasing your weight

With the passing of each week, you should be growing stronger, which means you’ll need to increase your weight slightly. For dumbbell exercises, most experts recommend an increase of 5lb per dumbbell. For barbell exercises, most experts recommend an increase of 10lbs per side. If this is too heavy for you, find a weight that is manageable.

A typical 5×5 prep phase workout example:

Day 1 – Monday

• Barbell bench press – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell back squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell bent over rows – 5 sets of 5 reps

Day 2 – Wednesday

• Standing military press – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell back squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps

Day 3 – Friday

• Barbell squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell bent over rows – 5 sets of 5 reps
• Barbell bench press – 5 sets of 5 reps

Peak phase

Here, you’ll have been following 5×5 for 4 – 6 weeks, so you should be a fair deal stronger. Now you’ll follow a 3×3 program whereby you perform 3 working sets of 3 reps. This enables you to train even heavier and pack on even more muscle mass as a result. This is where you really push yourself and see what you’re made of. You should also perform 1 – 2 accessory workouts, I.E core, triceps, abs, etc. as this will help you to make even more impressive gains.