T Nation

5x5 and Experience


I've been training Bill Starr's intermediate 5x5 for about 5 weeks now with good results. Today however, a trainer at my gym told me not to attempt doing 3 reps with heavy weight (as per Friday's schedule), as its only helpful if I'm "very huge".

Now, I'm not very huge by any means, I'm 5'6", 64 kgs (141 lbs) and even though I don't know my body fat %, I can make a safe guess between 12 and 16%. Current 5RM maxes are bench: 125, squat: 175, row: 135, and deadlift 225 (all in pounds).

I just wanted to know whether he was right and whether I should scrap this program in favour of his recommended 4 day, 8-12 rep bodypart split.

Thanks in advance.


Hah, I think it is the opposite way around. If you are really strong, you will find your work capacity is higher when you switch to higher reps. Do the math. Doing 3 reps will get you strong, no doubt, and it looks like you need to get stronger!


As long as that remains true it does not matter what the trainer says.


Ignore the trainer and ask yourself, am I getting closer to my goals? Decreased body fat, increased strength, more muscle? If you are who cares, stay the course and enjoy it.

On a side note, would the 5x5 be so popular if it didn't produce results?


I used this program & different variations of 5x5 program for an extended period of approx. 9 months when 1st starting out lifting.

As long as your nutrition is there & your lifts are always increasing its definitely a good way to build a foundation for lifting(depending on your goals).

I put on approx. 44pds & increased lifts dramatically while using 5x5

Good luck!


I guess the real question that you have to ask yourself who do you think knows more BIll Starr (considered a legend in the strength community) or a personal trainer at your gym.


As a beginner, I think you'll be much better off sticking to the programme you're on. Don't get caught in a constant switching of routines. The best yarstick to measure you progress is strength. Stronger means bigger. And 5x5 should get you there. Just stick to it for a year, eat and sleep for recovery, avoid injuries by proper form, and you should finally get some girls' attention :slight_smile:


That trainer was a moron.

I did Madcow's 5x5 for a long-ass time. I grew, got stronger, but my arms and calves were seriously lagging when I finally went to split routines. If you are going to continue with 5x5 I would strongly recommend adding 1day/week for direct arm and calf isolation.