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5x5 Execution: Weight Scheme

Been doing some reading from authors Reg Park and John Berardi trying to design a 5X5 routine.  The two conflict however.  Berardi recommends keeping the weight the same for all 5 sets, while Park recommends using the first two sets as a warmup and then keeping the weight the same for the last three sets.  For example:  

Under Berardi, and say Bench Press for example, I would do 5 sets of 5 reps with all sets at 200 pounds and increase the weight only when I can get all 5 sets at five reps for that weight.

Under Park, once again using bench press, I would do 160 pounds in the first set, then 180 in the second set, and finally 200 for each of the last three sets.

So, I’m not sure which way to go. I would warm up regardless if I were doing it Berardi’s way or not. So if using his way I would do a total of 7 sets (2 warm up and 5 working). Are 5 working sets really required or is Park’s method of only using 3 work sets sufficient (obviously the answer is yes if that’s what he did right (rhetorical))?

Just to give a little more back ground, I would be centering my routines around the 3 big lifts (Bench, Squat, Dead). I’m currently using a routine from a Reg Park article that goes a little something like this:

Workout-1:

Bench: 5X5
Rows: 5X5
Squat: 5X5

Workout-2:

Pull-ups: 5X5
Dips: 5X5
Deads: 5X5

and I just alternate between these two with 2 days rest between. I want to keep it basic like that because the more complicated I make it (i.e. throwing in bicep curls, skull crushers, etc…) the more off track I seem to get. My goal here is mass and strength. I’d rather not throw in any extra exercises until I’ve built a foundation I can be happy with. I used the Reg Park method today but it’s waaaaayyyyyy too early to judge since this was the first workout that I went back to 5X5, so I had to dial in my weight again. Todays workout was more of just a primer to find my working weight. However, those poundages may change if I decide to use Berardi’s method since I will certainly have to reduce the weight a little bit in order to get all 5 sets of 5 reps with a constant weight.

So, any input would be great. Would you go with Berardi or Park? Thanks in advance.

Really, it doesn’t matter. Both will get you good results if you eat enough. What you’re writing about is whether an extra two sets will make a difference. It might, but it won’t be that big.

I would start with Parks. Later, you can increase the volume by using more sets (doing Berardi’s version) as a progression.

Will do, and since everything I do is 5X5 (for now) I’ll be less likely to burn myself out during a workout by using the Park method and thereby keep motivation/intensity steady.

[quote]gzen1 wrote:
Been doing some reading from authors Reg Park and John Berardi trying to design a 5X5 routine. The two conflict however. Berardi recommends keeping the weight the same for all 5 sets, while Park recommends using the first two sets as a warmup and then keeping the weight the same for the last three sets. For example:

Under Berardi, and say Bench Press for example, I would do 5 sets of 5 reps with all sets at 200 pounds and increase the weight only when I can get all 5 sets at five reps for that weight.

Under Park, once again using bench press, I would do 160 pounds in the first set, then 180 in the second set, and finally 200 for each of the last three sets.

So, I’m not sure which way to go. I would warm up regardless if I were doing it Berardi’s way or not. So if using his way I would do a total of 7 sets (2 warm up and 5 working). Are 5 working sets really required or is Park’s method of only using 3 work sets sufficient (obviously the answer is yes if that’s what he did right (rhetorical))?

Just to give a little more back ground, I would be centering my routines around the 3 big lifts (Bench, Squat, Dead). I’m currently using a routine from a Reg Park article that goes a little something like this:

Workout-1:

Bench: 5X5
Rows: 5X5
Squat: 5X5

Workout-2:

Pull-ups: 5X5
Dips: 5X5
Deads: 5X5

and I just alternate between these two with 2 days rest between. I want to keep it basic like that because the more complicated I make it (i.e. throwing in bicep curls, skull crushers, etc…) the more off track I seem to get. My goal here is mass and strength. I’d rather not throw in any extra exercises until I’ve built a foundation I can be happy with. I used the Reg Park method today but it’s waaaaayyyyyy too early to judge since this was the first workout that I went back to 5X5, so I had to dial in my weight again. Todays workout was more of just a primer to find my working weight. However, those poundages may change if I decide to use Berardi’s method since I will certainly have to reduce the weight a little bit in order to get all 5 sets of 5 reps with a constant weight.

So, any input would be great. Would you go with Berardi or Park? Thanks in advance.[/quote]

My honest advice is to not do it either of the two ways that are suggested above.

The goal when trying to gain size/strength is to get progressively stronger (the size will come from eating enough). Both of these methods of doing a 5x5 will hinder your ability to consistently add weight to the bar. Or, should I say they will drastically slow your rate of progression.

If you have to wait until you can perform all 5/3 sets with the weight to increase then you are either going to:

  1. have to considerably reduce the amount of weight that you are lifting (as you yourself mentioned) to begin with

and/or

  1. waste a lot of time not adding weight to the bar, when you could be

My suggestion would be (and this is if you are beyond the point where you have outgrown a Rippetoe style program, if not do his program) to simply ramp the weight up to a final heavy set.

So it would look like this (using your exercise selection):

Workout-1
Squat- 60% of working weight (oww), 70% oww, 80% oww, 90% oww, ww
Bench- same format as above
BB Row- same as above

Workout-2
Deads- same format as above
Dips- same as above
Pull-ups- same as above

You should add weight to the bar every single workout until you cannot perform all 5 reps with the working weight. At that point, give yourself one more try and continue (everybody has a bad day here and there). If you can’t perform all 5 reps for two consecutive tries, drop the weight back down a few weeks and repeat (trying to get a “running start”), trying to work up to and beyond your previous best.

Once you get really stuck, address any obvious glaring weaknesses (make sure you aren’t slacking in the diet department). If you don’t have any, then either switch to different variations of the same exercises (maybe front squat, incline bench, and T-bar row/ sumo dead, close grip bench and chin-ups) and repeat the process, or switch to a different program that allows more recovery time.

A major part of why the old timers (no disrespect intended by the phrase, just referring to the era) liked to do progressions such as Park did is that they believed it minimized injury.

Whether it does or not is very dependent on the individual.

Personally, for example, there is zero point in my doing that sort of approach. The vast majority of exercises I need no warm up whatsoever.

The only exercise that I do warm up is the squat, which gets three reps to parallel with very light weight (135 just for convenience’s sake), then a minute later three same-weight reps to rock bottom; if I feel I need it then the same for a second time.

Then either the first work set with full weight or another warmup triple that’s 50 lb or some other convenient value lighter than work weight.

Why just triples for the warmup? Because they’re all I need to warm up and this way I waste a minimum amount of energy on warmup work that is not going to stimulate growth.

Now, if instead I did two sets of five with significantly less weight than I can do for 5 reps, but still fairly close to it, then what I am accomplishing besides wasting energy?

Not better warm-up (in my case), and probably no more growth stimulation than just doing the 3 sets at the real work weight. For 5 sets worth of time and energy, wouldn’t I be better off doing those 3 real work sets and then, or before then, 2 real work sets of another exercise? Yes I would.

Or wouldn’t I get more growth stimulation from 5 real work sets at the weight that can be handled, than from only 3 such sets and 2 non-challenging-but-energy-draining warmup sets? Yes I would.

But for another person this may not be so. Many, for example, rather than recognizing that for them the standard bench press is a shoulder-wrecker and should in their case be abandoned, find that they can just barely keep things together if they follow some warmup protocol like the Park protocol.

So when that’s the case, and a straight 5 sets would injure them, then of course for them the Park protocol is better. Though I do wonder, if 5 straight sets of a given exercise, will tear someone up with time, maybe the real problem that needs addressing is not the warmup method.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
My honest advice is to not do it either of the two ways that are suggested above.

The goal when trying to gain size/strength is to get progressively stronger (the size will come from eating enough). Both of these methods of doing a 5x5 will hinder your ability to consistently add weight to the bar. Or, should I say they will drastically slow your rate of progression.

If you have to wait until you can perform all 5/3 sets with the weight to increase then you are either going to:

  1. have to considerably reduce the amount of weight that you are lifting (as you yourself mentioned) to begin with

and/or

  1. waste a lot of time not adding weight to the bar, when you could be

My suggestion would be (and this is if you are beyond the point where you have outgrown a Rippetoe style program, if not do his program) to simply ramp the weight up to a final heavy set.

So it would look like this (using your exercise selection):

Workout-1
Squat- 60% of working weight (oww), 70% oww, 80% oww, 90% oww, ww
Bench- same format as above
BB Row- same as above

Workout-2
Deads- same format as above
Dips- same as above
Pull-ups- same as above

[/quote]

Agreed, except I prefer larger than 10% jumps (closer to 20%, so I’ll perform a 4x5 like this 40%/60%/80%/100+%) with my warm up sets because, for myself, the smaller jumps still creates too much residual fatigue and forces me to use lighter loads than I could be handling.

The point of me sharing this is that I want you to know there isn’t only one way to perform effective warm ups and that you should feel comfortable in experimenting with different setups to find which way best suits you.

[quote]Protoculture wrote:
Sentoguy wrote:
My honest advice is to not do it either of the two ways that are suggested above.

The goal when trying to gain size/strength is to get progressively stronger (the size will come from eating enough). Both of these methods of doing a 5x5 will hinder your ability to consistently add weight to the bar. Or, should I say they will drastically slow your rate of progression.

If you have to wait until you can perform all 5/3 sets with the weight to increase then you are either going to:

  1. have to considerably reduce the amount of weight that you are lifting (as you yourself mentioned) to begin with

and/or

  1. waste a lot of time not adding weight to the bar, when you could be

My suggestion would be (and this is if you are beyond the point where you have outgrown a Rippetoe style program, if not do his program) to simply ramp the weight up to a final heavy set.

So it would look like this (using your exercise selection):

Workout-1
Squat- 60% of working weight (oww), 70% oww, 80% oww, 90% oww, ww
Bench- same format as above
BB Row- same as above

Workout-2
Deads- same format as above
Dips- same as above
Pull-ups- same as above

Agreed, except I prefer larger than 10% jumps (closer to 20%, so I’ll perform a 4x5 like this 40%/60%/80%/100+%) with my warm up sets because, for myself, the smaller jumps still creates too much residual fatigue and forces me to use lighter loads than I could be handling.

The point of me sharing this is that I want you to know there isn’t only one way to perform effective warm ups and that you should feel comfortable in experimenting with different setups to find which way best suits you.[/quote]

Yeah, the jumps between warm-up sets is somewhat an individual thing, and it doesn’t have to be 10% jumps, or 20% jumps. The jumps will also be somewhat dependent on how much weight you are going to use for your final working set.

For instance, if my working weight is 600 lbs, I would want to do a final warm-up with more than 80% of that (which would be 480 lbs). That would be too large of a jump, for my tastes anyhow, between my final warm-up and my working weight.

But, if I’m only using 200 lbs for my working weight, then yeah, 20% jumps might make more sense.

Ok, sounds like two of you are conflicting a little. I guess I should expect that though. One says ramp up the weight on each set while another says do all 5 as working sets or at least do 3 working sets of that exercise and 2 more of another.

I appreciate the input guys. I’ve never tried ramping up the weight on all five sets before. Guess I’ll stick with the Park method for about a month and then try ramping on all five for another month.

Damn, I had two options before…now I have three…I’m not complaining though… I do appreciate the input.

The ramping weight method is laid out pretty nicely in Bill Star’s 5X5 program. I and everyone I know who have used it have done very well on it.

http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/weight-training-weight-lifting/bill-starrs-5-x-5-program-variation-per-madcow2-thanx-so-here-k-up-now-375215-2.html#post4497774

[quote]gzen1 wrote:
Ok, sounds like two of you are conflicting a little. I guess I should expect that though. One says ramp up the weight on each set while another says do all 5 as working sets or at least do 3 working sets of that exercise and 2 more of another.

I appreciate the input guys. I’ve never tried ramping up the weight on all five sets before. Guess I’ll stick with the Park method for about a month and then try ramping on all five for another month.

Damn, I had two options before…now I have three…I’m not complaining though… I do appreciate the input.[/quote]

Don’t listen to any of us. Instead, take a quick look around at what the big, strong guys do and think for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZrXC2y-38A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrYprk3vReo&feature=related

Noticing any trends? How about, none of these guys do multiple sets with the same weight. They all ramp up to a top weight. Also, all of them are lifting some serious poundages. It’s not a coincidence that they are also huge.

The sooner you can max out your lifts, the sooner you will reach your genetic potential for muscle growth (provided that you eat enough to truly max out your leverages/grow).

Any system that by it’s very nature hinders your ability to add weight to the bar, or slows that process down is inferior when it comes to building muscle IMO.

Do what you want, but I hope that my real world, flesh and blood examples will get you to think for yourself. And when you do, I think you’ll wind up agreeing with myself and Protoculture.

Alright, I’m convinced. I’ll ramp it up. Time to bust out the training jounal again. Thanks!

For me the beradi/straight sets method works best, saying that they all work.
I would experiment:do three weeks at a time with this, the Reg Park and the Bill Starr/ Ramping method and see which works best for your body.

This is a classic DJ article to help or confuse you further
http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/iron_john_5_x_5_variations