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5x5 for fat loss

Has anyone had success lossing fat while dieting and training with a 5x5 method? I’ve tried circuit, meltdown and others like that, and although I do lose fat, I hate it! I need to lift heavy. Has anyone found the same? Thanks.

Well, I’m sure you know this already, but I have had great results with strength training on cutting cycles. Most people just feel like crap with higher volume. Heb, who also posts here has expressed similar opinions.

Since I posted the workout and benefits of such a workout on the Alessi thread, many individuals have given it a shot. I have had nothing but positive feedback thus far, and I know of at least 10 individuals (probably more since everyone who read the thread probably didn't inform me before starting the program) who have switch over to 5x5 and/or strength training.

I'm sure many other individuals will post sharing their thoughts.

Best of luck,

It does make a lot of sense in a lot of ways. I even believe you could take the volume lower then what’s on a 5X5 routine. Really when you think about it, it’s highly unlikely that much muscle growth is going to occur when on a hard cutting cycle anyway so the object should be to stimulate the muscles enough to keep the muscle and strength you do have while increasing the volume of other calorie consuming activities and getting strict on the diet so that you can show off all the strong, healthy, muscle. 5X5 definitely does a good job of keeping you strong while you take off the fat. Many people increase the volume of their weight training when dieting to burn up more calories but really all this is doing is getting the body to adapt to a new higher level of weight training volume without really giving the body a chance to grow from it. The only possible negatives I see from using a 5X5 approach is that this, compounded with the dieting and H.I.T. cardio type training does put a lot of stress on the nervous system so it could lead to neural burnout if you’re not prepared for it.

I’m convinced. I was doing a “growth hormone releasing” type weight workout. Giant sets of 8-12-20 reps and conventional cardio at about 3 hours a week of varying intensity.

I’ve done 5x5 in the past while bulking and got good results and I like the way I felt then. The HIIT sounds like a better deal than hours on the treadmill and bike too. Maybe I can break out of this plateau a bit in the process. I’ll keep you updated…maybe.

Oh, the workout I’m going to use is: 1)Bench, incline bench, pull ups, cable rows (can’t do any wide grip stuff because I’m rehabing a tendon injury), curls 2)Squats, Leg press, power cleans, abs 3)Deadlift, push press, dips, donkey calf, seated calf, DB lateral raise. HIIT will be 2-3 days a week. Any suggestions or changes?

Hi, I just finished my first week of a 15 week 5 x 5 program using a three day split and using the “winning Formula” cardio model.

I was doing Ian Kings "Get Buffed" but got bored with the minimal amount of weight I was able to lift doing his routine. So I switched to more basic lifts and heaver weight. the 5x5 is much more satisfying.

As long as I keep track of my daily caloric intake (1750c) keep up the cardio and keep lifting heavy. I don't see how I can't decrease my bf% and increase my lbm%.

But, only time will tell.


You definitely gotta try the 5 x 5!

I’ve currently on my 2nd week of 5x5 (as per Joel’s recommendations) after doing EDT and I REALLY like the results: stomach’s tighter, muscles fuller, and I definitely feel a lot stronger. Thanks Joel for that training split u gave. it’s done wonders to my physique.

I’m finishing up a fat fast diet while doing some 5x5 training. The first week of the diet I was doing EDT in order to deplete glycogen stores but since then I’ve been lifting heavy. I say “some” 5x5 because at the beginning of each workout I usually go heavier. Each of my four workouts consist of two supersets, the first of which started out at 5x5 for the first week and then went: 6x4, 6x3, and 9x2 for the following three weeks. The 4, 3, and 2 workouts all included wave loading. Then for the second superset I’ve been staying at 5x5. During the second month I’ve changed the loading for the first supersets to a step like pattern where the reps go: 5, 3, 4, 2 for weeks 1 through 4. These are with the same exercises from month 1. For the second superset I’ve kept up with the 5x5, but changed the exercises from the first month. Rest periods are 1.5 - 2 minutes between sets. This program, along with the diet has worked EXTREMELY well. Check out the fat fast support group thread for details. In short, I’ve actually gained lbm while lowering my bf% significantly. I would have been perfectly happy to maintain my lbm while doing this but it’s gone up!

I like using 5x5 when cutting calories using lighter weight and hihger reps has never worked for me. I have noticed that even when cutting calories and using 5x5 training I’ve lost fat and haven’t lost any strength. I use the following split: Day One: Shoulders and Arms Day Two: Legs Day Three: OFF Day Four: Chest and Back and Day Five: OFF then repeat the cycle.

I’ve been doing Joel’s 5x5 program for a week and I cannot remember engaging in such a hardcore, well-developed and satisfying routine. I am currently in a cutting phase (doing a modified T-Dawg w/ massive eating protocol) and I have seen very real and noticable results within the past 7 days. I have lost considerable bodyfat, increase straiation and density, and really have not lost any size, in fact I think I may pick up a fat-stripped lb. or 2. There Joel, another glycerine-dripping testimonial. Are you happy now? Huh?! Dear God, Joel when will it end?!? What more do I need to do or say to satiate you?! Joel, put down that nitrow-teeccchh bar! No! Nooooooo! Gag Choke Monkeyboy Eric is currently experiencing trachial difficulties, please stand by…

MBE: “That’s right kids, taking 3 MD6 and 4 Tribex in the morning on an empty tank will result in a post like this. Sweet. Since 1921.”


Joel- I totally agree with your 5x5 reccomendations for fat loss. Assuming I do that 3 days per week, I was wondering what your cardio reccomendations are? Like, days per week, intensity level, and duration of workouts. Right after workouts, or on off days?Thanks.

What sort of tempo are most of ya’ll using on your exercises, and what rest intervals between sets on the 5x5 program??

Paul- You can find the complete program with rest intervals on the “Don Alessi’s Response to Meltdown on Low Carb Diets” thread. Some exercise descriptions are also provided in the latter part of the thread. The program is about 1/2 way down the thread in a post to MB Eric. I recommend a 31X0 tempo for most exercises except for the deads. The dead tempo is X3X1 (let the weight drop to the floor on the eccentric; trying to slowly lower the weight puts extra stress on the back and is completely uneccesary. Pause for 3 seconds on the floor and regain proper form; by trying to lift the weight immediatly, your form will begin to suffer. Lift the weight as fast as you can with good form; it will probably be slow and smooth, but there is not set time for the concentric. Pause one second in the lockout position; pull the shoulder blades together and stick the chest out for some extra mid-trap emphasis. Get your knees out of the way and drop the weight to the floor again.)

Vcreed- I recommend HIIT cardio, 3 sessions a week with a mix of the 30 minute Berardi 1:3 max effort to active rest (30 seconds sprint:90 seconds very slow jog or walk) and some shorter sessions like the 12-minute program outlined on my cardio page: www.tcnj.edu/~marion4/cardio.html

Essentially, you would be doing each program 3 times within a 2 week time period. I also recommend alternating HIIT days with your weight training days.

If doing HIIT in the morning on an empty stomach (which I recommend), consume 5 grams of both BCAA's and glutamine prior to exercise. Immediatly after exercise, consume the same amount of branched-aminos and glutamine along with whey and malto/dextrose in a 1:2 ratio. By supplementing in this fashion, you can be sure to keep catabolism to a minimum.

Let me know if you guys have any more questions.

PaulB to Joel Marion

Thanks again Joel.

Will start a 5x5 program tomorrow. I have gone from 19.5 % to 10.5 % bodyfat while gaining a few pounds of muscle since 01/01/02.
Ready to change things up a bit with training and get on down to 5-6 % if possible without muscle loss. I will incorporate 3 days of HIIT cardio on non weight training days. I’ll keep you posted on the Getting Ripped chain.

Thanks again, and congrats on you EAS challenge victory.


I’m moving into week three of our 5x5 program. And I tell ya, I’ve been unbelievably impressed. I am already seeing and feeling gains. In both strength and physique. NOW, mind you, I’m closely following my nutrition - making sure I am consuming enough protein, etc. Also, I have not cut my calories. Joel created a very well laid out training routine - it’s allowing me to get leaner and make strength gains (and I’m gettin’ some LBM,too) - and prepping me for some serious hypertrophy in the near future.

It is rather amazing how "innocent" the routine looks on paper - but once you hit the 3rd - 4th set of ANY of the exercises, you are beggin' for mercy. But when I'm through and leaving the gym, I have the grin of complete satisfaction.

do u all know where i can find the COMPLETE information about the 5X5 training not just do five stes of five or outline it for me on here

Your starting weight should be your 5RM. Due to nueromuscular fatigue, you will most likely NOT be able to get 5 reps on your 4 or 5th set. For example, your first bench press workout may look like this:

200 x 5
200 x 5
200 x 5
200 x 4
200 x 3

Stick with the 200lbs and try to improve the total number of reps performed with each workout. Eventually, you will be able to do all 5 sets with 5 reps. Once you can, bump the weight up to 205 and start over (if it were a heavier exercise like the dead or squat, bump the weight up 10lbs as opposed to 5).

Switch the exercises and split up every six workouts. Everything else you can find on the Alessi thread. Let me know if I can be of any more help. Best of luck,

Wow. Good thread. I started a 5x5 routine today, and I’m using a T-Dawg type diet. With all the info I found, here and on the web, this method sounds good. The worst part will be dealing with the hunger! Thanks for the info.

What is the benefit of using one set weight for the whole series of sets? It seems that if you follow the fatigue curve of the muscle group and adjust the weight to get as close to 5 reps as possible, hopefully on all sets, that you get more overall TUT and stimulation.
If you can get 5 on all sets that means you must be holding back (could do 6 or 7 reps) on the first 2 or 3 sets so they are not as effective as they could be. Just wondering.

Much research has shown that optimal gains in strength are achieved by a steady increase in load over time with some standard deviation in the work output from workout to workout. It is not neccessary to put forth maximal effort on each and every set conducted, every workout. Over time, the latter can actually be counterproductive.

In his Modern Trends Book, Poliquin states that the reason why constant-weight programs with gradual increases in load work is due to the Law of Repeated Efforts. These types of programs work by "forcing the nervous system to accept the new load as normal."

Pavel, in his book Power to the People, also explains this phenomenon by way of the Hebbian rule. The Hebbian rule states that if you stimulate a nueral pathway, and the outcome is positive, subsequent stimulation of that pathway will be easier.

Best of luck with your 5x5 program,