T Nation

5x5 for Beginners

I’ve completed the first week of this program:

http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

Since my 5-rep maxes are pretty wimpy at the moment, I’m concerned that this program won’t provide the necessary intensity.

Here’s what I did for the first week:

Monday (ramping up to top set of 5 reps)

Squat 104, 124, 144, 164, 189
Bench 74, 94, 114, 134, 149
Pendlay Row 64, 84, 94, 104, 124

Wed (ramping up to top set of 5 reps for press and dead, back off squat)

Squat 104, 124, 144, 164, 164
Press 44, 54, 64, 74, 84
Deadlift 154, 174, 194, 214, 234

Friday (4x5, 1x3, 1x8)

Squat 104, 124, 144, 164, 194, 144
Bench 74, 94, 114, 134, 154, 114
Pendlay Row 64, 84, 94, 104, 129, 104

*I usually throw in a couple of isolation exercises at the end of each workout as well

The workouts are pretty easy with the only taxing set being the single work set for each exercise.

Is this program better suited for someone who is stronger? For example, bench 1.5x bw, squat 2x bw, dead 2.2x bw or greater? Cause otherwise, the sets become just too light?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

If the sets are too light, add more weight.

Pretty much said it all ^. No matter how strong or weak you are you can adjust the weight so it would be benificial to you. Its a big matter of Thinking.

[quote]mattwray wrote:
If the sets are too light, add more weight.[/quote]

I think the sets are meant to be “too” light because your training squats, back and chest 3 days a week. There is no back-off day for chest, and the back-off day for squat, is the day you deadlift, so you end up beat anyway.

To the OP, the way the weights are set up on the spreadsheet means that the first 3-4 weeks are relatively light. The program assumes that you’re not used to working in the 5 rep range and gives you these first weeks to adjust.

How long are you planning to do it for? I am about to finish my 11th week today, and have one more left. I remember the first few weeks were easy (and I had already been working with 5 reps for a few months prior) and my numbers were not that different from yours. But trust me, around week 4 you will begin to notice how the last 2 sets feel demanding, and by the 9th week you should be cursing on your last deadlift set :slight_smile:

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me. I am by no means an expert, but being near the end of this program I might be able to answer some of your questions.

I am very happy with it. I’ve brought my front squat up much quicker than I ever thought I could, and my deadlift has been pushed to where I wouldn’t have had the guts to push it had I not had that piece of paper telling me I had to lift that weight on that particular day. I would recommend it to any beginner/intermediate trainee. It’s not exactly “fun”, but it’s a challenge, and it delivers.

Going light in the beginning weeks so you can go heavy in later weeks seems counterproductive to me.

Go heavy as much as you can. If you are beat up, then don’t go heavy that day.

I’ve done plenty of 5x5’s before, but I don’t use spreadsheets to figure out weights. If the bar feels light, add more weight. If it feels heavy, keep it where it is at.

[quote]Miserere wrote:

How long are you planning to do it for? I am about to finish my 11th week today, and have one more left. I remember the first few weeks were easy (and I had already been working with 5 reps for a few months prior) and my numbers were not that different from yours. But trust me, around week 4 you will begin to notice how the last 2 sets feel demanding, and by the 9th week you should be cursing on your last deadlift set :slight_smile:

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me. I am by no means an expert, but being near the end of this program I might be able to answer some of your questions.

[/quote]

I plan to give it around 6-8 weeks (possible more if it works out). Yeah, I looked at the progression and it does get more demanding 4 weeks into it. I was just curious about whether the first couple weeks are suppose to feel THIS easy… and I guess it turns out that you pretty much breezed through the first few introductory weeks as well.

Did you just stick to the 3 core lifts per day? Or did you throw in some supplementary exercises as well? And if you did, what did you do and what was the set/reps?

Thanks for the feedback so far everyone.

[quote]mattwray wrote:
Going light in the beginning weeks so you can go heavy in later weeks seems counterproductive to me.

Go heavy as much as you can. If you are beat up, then don’t go heavy that day.

I’ve done plenty of 5x5’s before, but I don’t use spreadsheets to figure out weights. If the bar feels light, add more weight. If it feels heavy, keep it where it is at.[/quote]

This probably works for someone who’s experienced, and it makes a lot of sense, but one of most positive things about this spreadsheet method is that it’s forced me to make gains. Let me explain that.

I have a sheet that tells me what weight and reps I’m going to do on a particular day. After week 4 I had reached the limit of my current strength levels, so from there on I was pushing the limit on every last set. Many days I didn’t feel great, and the bar felt fuckin’ heavy on the 4th set…and yet, because it was in the program, I got under the bar and got 5 reps for that last, daunting set. If I had decided on the weight depending on how I felt that day, I would not have made the gains I have.

I think this is very important for beginners, and many pussy intermediates like myself, that don’t yet know how to properly gauge their lifting capabilities.

On the flip side, there were some days when I felt terrific and the weights went up easily; on those days I could’ve lifted more, but I refrained and kept the mojo for the following week.

I’m all for “instinctual” training, but you have to be very sure that your instinct is correct! I know mine isn’t, so I found the planned weights a great help.

[quote]loctite_zexel wrote:
I plan to give it around 6-8 weeks (possible more if it works out).[/quote]

I would go for 9, and then evaluate whether you can do another 3 or not. I’ve found 12 is quite enough.

I think these weeks are there so that you get used to squatting and benching 3 days a week, which I had never done.

When I do this program again (and I will!), I’ll set it up so that the challenge begins at week 3, so maybe I’ll only do 10 weeks total.

I didn’t do that many supplementary lifts. For the first 4 weeks I was doing the abs on days 1 and 2, but I stopped after that as a) I hate doing abs, and b) I don’t think there’s much point to them. I do do the reverse hypers, as their virtues have long been extolled on this site; unfortunately, I have to do them on a swiss ball, as there’s no RH machine at my gym.

On day 2 I often did farmer’s walks, suitcase carries and waiter’s walks, I felt this was more useful for core training than abs…and a lot more fun, too. Although some days I was too wiped out from the deadlifts to anything but stretch.

On day 3 I’ve been doing rope pushdowns (for triceps), BB curls (for biceps), and overhead DB presses for shoulders. I did 3x8 for all of them, with the last set being to failure. I’ve made sure the weights have increased each week, too.

[quote]Miserere wrote:
mattwray wrote:
Going light in the beginning weeks so you can go heavy in later weeks seems counterproductive to me.

Go heavy as much as you can. If you are beat up, then don’t go heavy that day.

I’ve done plenty of 5x5’s before, but I don’t use spreadsheets to figure out weights. If the bar feels light, add more weight. If it feels heavy, keep it where it is at.

This probably works for someone who’s experienced, and it makes a lot of sense, but one of most positive things about this spreadsheet method is that it’s forced me to make gains. Let me explain that.

I have a sheet that tells me what weight and reps I’m going to do on a particular day. After week 4 I had reached the limit of my current strength levels, so from there on I was pushing the limit on every last set. Many days I didn’t feel great, and the bar felt fuckin’ heavy on the 4th set…and yet, because it was in the program, I got under the bar and got 5 reps for that last, daunting set. If I had decided on the weight depending on how I felt that day, I would not have made the gains I have.

I think this is very important for beginners, and many pussy intermediates like myself, that don’t yet know how to properly gauge their lifting capabilities.

On the flip side, there were some days when I felt terrific and the weights went up easily; on those days I could’ve lifted more, but I refrained and kept the mojo for the following week.

I’m all for “instinctual” training, but you have to be very sure that your instinct is correct! I know mine isn’t, so I found the planned weights a great help.[/quote]

Different strokes…

Nice post.

:wink:

its meant to start on the lighter side. just follow the program.

Good posts, Miserere.

To the OP: Subjective perception of fatigue at a given moment is not a good way to gauge the efficiency of a workout or training regimen. Variations of this program have produced good gains for decades. I’d say just give it a few weeks without tweaking.