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5x5 Complements for Hypertrophy

  I want to run by you 3 different takes on the famous 5 x 5 method, as they are used in programs devoted to hypertrophy gains, primarily.

The first option is to perform the classical 5 x 5 method in a full body routine: bench pressing, seated or bent-over rowing, shoulder press and squats on Mondays and Fridays, and alternating movement planes on Wednesdays, as opposed to using the same movements all the week, switching to Decline Bench Press or Weighted Dips, Pull-downs or Weighted Pull-ups/Chin-ups and Cuban Presses for the shoulders, along with Deadlifts. The tempo switches from a 2010 to a 4010, in order to promote muscle growth over strength.

The second option is to keep using the same traditional 5 x 5 exercises (Flat Bench Press, Seated or Bent-Over Rows and Squats, along with Shoulder Presses) with the 201 tempo, following them by 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a different angle of motion, like Decline Bench Presses or Dips, Pull-downs or Chin-ups/Pull-ups and Deadlifts, in a 401 tempo, or keep the same 201 tempo and do 5 sets of 10 instead.

The third one is to just do a 5 x 5 scheme with the classic 201 tempo and then do a 5 x 5 scheme with a 401 tempo, switching movement planes or not. I guess this one is the simplest take.

Which option seems best for a person who needs to get big, and fast?


They don't sound too good because using the 5x5 2-3 times a week:
1) You'll burn out
2) Quick adaption

I would go with the full day approach 3-4 core lifts with 5x5 for one day.

Then change it up for the next two days. Use 3x8, 2x12 or something.


This was Glenn Pendlay's idea. Remember to use different movements.



You can have like a
Squat Day
Bench Day
Deadlift Day

On a squat day, you would use 5x5 for the squat. Then follow up the bench with something like 3x8.

Then on the Bench Day, you would use 5x5 for the bench and then 3x8 for the squat. Something like that.

You can be creative.


5x5 is cool but if you have enough energy to perform 5x5 for 4 major muscle groups and not loose strength or focus then you must have very, very good endurance. And what about biceps, triceps, lateral delts...etc?

There's nothing magical in these set/rep numbers 5x5, 6x6, 8x8, 10x10... You can produce hypertrophy with just about any rep scheme as long as you work smart to avoid burning out and stick with it long enough to make progress.


I used 5x5 during football and wrestling and I didn't feel like I was overtraining. Of course I didn't squat alot, I mostly benched 2-3 times during the week and did my deadlifts on the weekends.
For bench I'd do 5x5 superset with barbell rows, but more reps with the rows. Yeah, thats alot of rowing. After that I'd do some military pressing or weighted dips, with another rowing movement. This would usually be 4x8 or 4x6. I gained some good size and strength. I started repping like 175 or something 5 times, and ended at 210 with a 240 bench. I got some good size, I can see it on my biceps and back. I never did curls during this time.
I never felt too tired or anything, but I wasn't squatting pr deadlifting alot so maybe thats the key.


here's what guys in my gym use and have been getting results



light day


I've been doing a slightly modified version of Madcow's "intermediate" 5x5 routine for the past month, and have been seeing great results so far. (Taken from Bill Starr's work as well) No burn out\overtraining etc., just steady strength gains, and some noticeable size in certain areas. In a nutshell, I'm on 3 days a week, with the following:

5x5 Heavy on all
Bent over rows
Weighted hypers (2 sets of 12)
Weighted situps (4 sets of 12)
Calf work (just because I'm anal)

5x5 Light day except for Deads
Standing barbell overhead press
Situps (2 sets to failure)
Incline flies (2x8)
decline flies (2x8)

6x5 Light to heavy with a PR x3 for 2nd to last set
Bent over rows
Weighted dips( as assist, 3 sets of8)
Bicep work (3x8 varied exercise)
Tricep work (3x8 varied exercise)

I also throw in some slow cardio, incline walking, on Tuesday and Thursday. Like I said, I've been very happy with the results so far from this, and plan on going out at least another 4 weeks.


Link to where Glen covered this?


this reminds me a lot of a routine by Reg Park, using the simple principles we all like.

He performed this routine three times per week

A classic Reg Park workout, with one of his training partners, Spencer Churchill, circa 1951, was:

Squats: 5 x 10 x 400 lbs.

Bench Press: 3 x 10 x 320 lbs., 2 x 10 x 350 lbs.
Dumbbell Bench Presses: 5 x 10 x 140 lbs. (on each hand)
Dips Between Chairs: 5 x 12 (with a 50-pounds plate on as added resistance )

Cheat Barbell Curls: 5 x 10 x 190 lbs.
Swing Bell Curls: 4 x 10 x 170 lbs.

Triceps Extensions on Bench: 5 x 10 x 170 lbs.
French Presses: 5 x 10 x 170 lbs.

Calf Exercises - Donkey Raises: 5 sets

Chins with Extra 60 Lbs. Attached to his Waist 5 x 12

wide-grip Bent-Over Rows: 5 x 10 x 320 lbs

seated rows: 3 x 320 lbs, 2 x 350 lbs

Abdominal and Lower Back Work

Reg usually trained from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., 3 days a week. He gained 25 lbs of muscle in just 10 months on the above schedule. Sleeping 10 hours a night, and taking protein mixes of honey, milk and cream six times a day.

You can choose a 201, 221, 211, 22X, 21X or 20X kind of tempo for this routine. Truth is, I agree with Chad Waterbury, you don't need to go above 2 seconds on the eccentric.

He also agrees on taking 2-3 second pauses at the bottom, so this fits with the famous "4-second rule" about the SSC, although he recommends using pauses as SSC disipation method only 50% of the time you train, or 1/3rd if you hit the body 3 times a week.