5 X 5 Weight Training Program

5 by 5 training routine 1


The 5 x 5 weight training program is a simple and complete power training program.

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For those of you who are in the intermediate to advanced levels of training, this program may help you add more power to your body.

The 5 x 5 training style has been around for years and was quite popular in the early 60's through 70's, being used by top body builders and strength athletes.

Today, it is an often forgotten form of training but it still remains one of the most effective ways to add power and muscle mass to the body.

If your looking to add more power and size to your body, this type of training is for you. However, this is a tough program that places a tremendous amount of stress to your body. It is for this reason that you cannot do a 5 x 5 program for any longer than 10 to 12 weeks at a time. Once the 5 x 5 training cycle has been completed, you need to take at least 2 weeks off from training to allow your joints, tendons, and muscles to repair.

Alright, what is a 5 x 5 training program all about? The program is all about doing 5 sets of 5 repetitions with a heavy, working weight. For example, let's say I want to do a 5 x 5 for the bench press. I would first do two sets of 20 repetitions for my warm up and than I would load up the bar with my working weight that would allow me to do 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

Let's say my progression is as follows for a 250 pound max bench press:

  • warm up sets: 2 x 20 repetitions with 135 pounds
  • working sets: 5 x 5 repetitions with 225 pounds

Once I can complete 5 repetitions for each set, I will increase the weight by about 10% for my next session. For this type of program, it is all about strength so you need to be fully recovered before you attempt the next set. It is for this reason that you must rest about 1 ½ minutes between sets.

The thing you have to remember about this program is that it is all about compound exercises. You won't be doing 5 x 5 for cable cross overs - You just won't get the same benefit. You need to pack on the weight and do 5 x 5 for compound movements such as the squat and dead lift. If you can do this type of training for these kinds of exercises, be prepared to pack on some serious beef!

You can add a couple of isolation exercises but no more than one to two per session.

Personally, I prefer to do 5 x 5 training for my whole body. That is, I prefer to do full body workouts for my 5 x 5 sessions. For some reason, I get the most out of doing full body, high intensity workouts. Also, you need to break up your exercises because you will open yourself up to overuse injuries that can hinder your progress.

A heavy bench press is enough for one week so to break up the routine, we can use the incline press on the next training session (see below). This is very important because doing two heavy sessions for the same exercise places too much stress on the body.

Now, to get the benefit out of this kind of program, you absolutely must, must have a complete nutritional program down. If you don't, your going to open yourself up to injuries. Make sure you have a lot of nutrients in your body before you attempt to do this kind of training. Go to the diet page to find out more.

I've added a sample 5 x 5 training routine below.


Barbell Bench Press 5 x 5
Bent Over Row 5 x 5
Squat 5 x 5
Stiff Leg Dead Lift 5 x 5
Standing Calf Raise 2 x 5
Hanging Leg Raise 2 x 5

Rest 2 days


Incline Press 5 x 5
Dead Lift 5 x 5
Dumbbell Row 5 x 5
Front Squat 5 x 5
Seated Calf Raise 2 x 5
Incline Sit Ups 2 x 5

Rest 2 days


As you can see, this training routine is very simple but it is very intense because you will be using 80% to 85% of your max for each and every set.

You can do a bunch of variations with this type of set up. Here's a sample split 5 x 5 routine for upper and lower body.


Barbell Bench Press 5 x 5
Bent Over Row 5 x 5
Barbell Curl 2 x 5
French Press 2 x 5


Dead Lift 5 x 5
Squat 5 x 5
Leg Curl 5 x 5
Standing Calf Raise 2 x 5

Again, you can split this up even further by training specific body parts on different days like a 3 day split.

Remember, this is an advanced training technique that requires a tremendous amount of energy so make sure you have your diet plan down before you attempt this type of training.

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All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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