T Nation

5X5 Training

I am not a newbie. But nowhere have I seen the answer to this question regarding 5X5 training. How many exercises per bodypart? Poliquin’s examples always use arms and he uses two exercises for bi’s and two for tri’s. What about chest? What about legs? Do you use two exercises for those also (for example, bench press, incline press; squats and leg presses). Larger muscle groups need more recovery time so would it be logical to think only one exercise is enough?


Sorry, brutha, but I couldn't resist.


MBE: “NEWMBE. Since 1339.”


You do not have to pair agonists when doing a 5x5 routine. You can tailor it any way you want. Assuming you DO want to pair opposing muscle groups, two exercises for each bodypart works quite well, as it leads to 20 work sets…any more exercises and you’re pushing 30+ work sets (too much for most trainees), any less exercises and you’re at 10 sets (probably too little). This is also assuming you are giving an equal amount of work to the muscle groups you are working, as one could do two exercises for quads and only one for hamstrings and end up with a nice 15 set number. Nothing is set in stone.

I AM NOT A DICK! Sorry “brutha” I couldn’t resist.


Here is an example for the whole body:


I knew as soon as I posted that I would get some shit for that “I am not a newbie” comment. I deserved that. I appreciate the response / comeraderie. Anyway, I am new to posting, not new to this incredible mag. Anyway, decided to just try 5X5 with just one exercise per bodypart and see how that goes.

It’s not set in stone that you have to do ALL your exercises with the 5x5 format. You could do 1 exercise per bodypart with 5x5, then do a couple of lighter, higher rep sets in another exercise. For instance, on Chest/Back day:
A1. Flat Bench 5x5
A2. Row 5x5
B1. Incline Bench 2x12
B2. Pull Ups 2x12
Just a thought…

Hi, OCRM. I used Joel Marion’s Ripped, Rugged and Dense, a 5x5 strength program, last month. What I liked most about the program compared to what I did before is that I made a shift from single-muscle, so-called isolation exercises to compound, multi-joint (basic) exercises.

Take deadlifts or squats (exactly the sort of exercises where one would want to increase strength). With the squat I’ve read that you use over 200 muscles to execute the squat movement. One exercise, 200 +/- muscles?!?! Talk about an efficient use of your time!

5x5 lends itself to the basic exercises (bench press, squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, good mornings, chin-ups) because you’re going to select four exercises per workout, with no more than 3 or 4 days in the gym per week.

So I guess what I’m saying is I’ve made a shift from body parts (bi’s, tri’s, calves, etc.) and have made more of a shift to push-pull (bench press, incline press and bent-over rows or chin-ups and deadlifts), quad dominant and hip dominant exercises (front squats and deadlifts). 5x5 just lends itself to thinking in larger more sweeping body part terms.

This month, I’m still doing strength work, but it’s a 5, 3, 2, 3, 5 rep scheme vs a 5x5.

If you’ve never done a 5x5 program before, go for it, and be sure to read the article Joel referred to. It will flesh out a lot of the little details.