T Nation

5x5 routine


I've been following a 3 sets of 10 type routine for ages and want to start cutting.
I want to try a 5x5 type workout.
Could you guys let me know what you think of the following routine please?:

Behind neck barbell press 5x5
Upright rows 5x5
Squats 5x5
Dumbell shrugs 3x10

Flat bench press 5x5
EZ bar bicep curl 5x5
Dumbell flyes 3x10
Alternate dumbell curls 3x8-10

Bent over barbell rows 5x5
Seated EZ tricep extension 5x5
Lat Pull down 3x8-10
Deadlift 5x5

On Wednesday does it look like I have too much bicep work?, should I bother with the dumbell curls??
Also should I take out the flyes and replace it with an incline press excercise?

On my off days I will be doing 15-20 minutes cardio.


Hi Jay,

First of all 5x5 is quite an intensive program so dont do too many exercises.

I would drop the upright rows as I dont think they're a great exercise and are considered by some to be "high risk" as they can out the shoulder joint at a weak angle. Likewise some people consider the military press (in front of the head) to be better than the behind the neck press for the same reason (plus you can get a greater range of motion with the military press)

I would also lose the flies , dumbell curls and shrugs. All are single joint movements and therefore, perhaps do not build a great deal of muscle, plus deadlifts can work the traps harder than shrugs and with more weight.

Finally, switch the lat pull down with pull ups or chin ups as i think most people agree they are far superior.

In terms of split, I think Chad Waterbury recommends (for 5x5) 2 upper body and two lowerbody days per week (so for example: mon UB/tue LB/thu UB/fri LB), particularly if you're cutting.

Hope this helps.



doing alternating upright rows with dumbbells feels good.. most people are against upright rows with barbell right ? with barbell upright rows i used2 feel pain in my shoulder after so i stopped, but with dumbbell upright rows ive fealt no pain and i get a really great ROM with it.


I agree with will of iron.

Behind neck presses and upright rows equals rotator cuff impingement.

Also is this the order you would train the actual exercises? If it is i would consider putting the big lifts i.e. Deads and Squats first in the workout as they will give you the best bang per buck and hence should take precedence plus they take alot out of you so do them while your fresh.

Why not substitute the shrugs and upright rows with high pulls? This will give great trap and upper back development.

You might find doing 5x5 Deadlifts heavy going. They are very intensive on the CNS. If you notice yourself getting weaker after a few weeks you might want to consider changing them for something else like Romanian DL's or Goodmornings.


How do you do high pulls?


http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ OlympicLifts/HighPull.html


http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ OlympicLifts/HangPull.html


Move squats and deads to front of w/o. Drop most of your isolation movemenst and stick to big compound movements that will hit multiple areas. Then add in an iso movement or two for lagging parts @ the end of your w/o.


Phill and creed in Vladimir Zatsiorsky's book Science and Practice of Strength Training he writes that the big movements should be done at the end of the routine. If it is done in the beginning the smaller muscle groups will already be fatigued when its time to move into the smaller muscle group specific movements. Resulting in lower output and less than optimal results. I can see why you two suggested doing squats first on the monday workout, 'cause there is no other muscle group that will be heavily affected by squats, but on the friday workout if he did deads first his CNS will be extremely fatigued as well as his grip, forearms and errectors resulting is a lower output during the bent over rows and pulldowns. I'm curious to the method behind the two of you's madness.


The previous suggestions were all great. I have used this: http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/214rip.html pretty much as it was written, except I ised dm press in place of the db clean & press (because I as unsure if I was doing it properly.)


hammies and calves? throw in some GHR istead of the other set of curls. high pulls instead of the shrugs would hit calves too...


42 sets of upper body work vs 10 sets of lower body work ... you definitely need a more balanced program if you don't want to look like an ostrich.


Thanks for your replies guys.
The links you posted for high pulls didn't work,
and I've tried the search engine on this site for the excercise but could find nothing.
I can't do the program reccomended in the ripped, rugged and dense article as I work out at home and don't have gym equipment e.g. I can't do dips as I don't a dip machine or something that I could use do do dips on etc.
Could anyone reccomend a 3 day split, using barbells/dumbells, bench with lat pull down, I'd be very grateful


those high pull links will work if you remove the space in the link.


I'm not sure if you're post is a little tongue in cheek but I'll answer it anyway.

'If it is done in the beginning the smaller muscle groups will already be fatigued when its time to move into the smaller muscle group specific movements'

But if you did it the other way round you would train the small movements first and the smaller muscle groups would be fatigued. SO when you came to do the big movements you'd have fatigued the smaller supporting/stabilising muscles and not be able to gain the full benefit of the big compound movements.

The big compound movements build more overall muscle mass, are more time efficient and contribute more to enhancing athletic performance hence they should be prioritised in the workout. Unless you specifically want to hit the smaller muscle groups that are lagging. Personally i would rather have functional overall leg hypertrophy from training squats than a beautiful defined vastus medialis from leg extensions.

And if you were really concerned about not getting the most out of your bent rows and pulldowns then you could use straps to offset grip fatigue and do supported bent rows instead.


No creed it was an actual question. I always had the same thinking as you until I read Vlad's book. Which is considered one of the "bibles". So now I'm on the fence about it.


Regarding exercise sequence, I always thought the method preferred by Starr and others was to do "high-skill" movements first (e.g., Snatch and other OL movements) and to follow these with your Squats, Deads, etc. The Squats and Deads are highly demanding, of course, but don't require as much skill, coordination, etc. as the OL movements. For this reason, your classic OL movements would be first in the sequence.


from my point of view your routine is good. I'm currently doing a similar one.
Frequently I use 5X5.I found Zeb's forum on pullups/chins valuable. Therefore I incorporate these exercises on Wednesday & Friday:
Military press
Barbell row
Bench press
2 pullups 2 chins
My training cycle usually lasts 3 months. In the first 2 months I train also calves,abs and grip. I abandoned direct arms work.In the 3rd month, because of the heavier weights I prefer to shorten the workouts concentrating on the exercises listed above.


PGA fair enough but simply my logic would be that you could perform all the isolation exercises in the world or just the big three compound lifts and you'd definitely get bigger doing just them.