T Nation

Best 5x5 Program?


Been looking at a couple to start and they seem like they might be a recipe for overtraining. Anyone tried the Strong lifts or Rippetoe 5x5 programs? The only thing I see that I don't like is not enough deadlifting. Pulling is something I really want to emphasize


We started talking on this thread about fat loss and drifted to 5x5 but I wanted to get a more indepth one here.



you should do 5/3/1 instead of 5x5.


I am starting to think that honestly after all the programs I have read on 5x5. I am not happy with the lack of posterior chain work in the 5x5's


Okay where are you on the spectrum of lifting? Have you been lifting for years? Are you getting back into lifting?

5X5 is a good starting base program for the young or the middle age getting into the Iron game. It is base strength building.

You could do 5X5 with anything. You could do Percentage of 1 RM or just start low and build up, adding weight every week if you complete the 5X5.


Break up those for 4 days a week and add some accessory work. Program Done.


Watch out for mj. He claims that 5/3/1 is the pinnacle of training. But we all know that his success is from eating all those who don't worship at the altar of 5/3/1.

I agree with you on the overtraining aspect. There is no way that I could do multiple 5x5s, of major compound movements, in the same workout, multiple times a week. When the weights are light, maybe. But not once I am really having to put effort into it.

I guess you could try 2 workouts a week, and get more recovery. But I need to workout 3 days a week. 2 times just isn't enough, even if only psychologically. 4 times has proven, time and again, to be too much.

They claim that the 1x5 on deads is just because it would be too much to 5x5 squats AND deads multiple times in the same week. To get around that, though, you could 5x5 the deads and 1x5 the squats.

I do a bastardized 5x5. And I only use it on upper body.

Saturday- Bench 5x5 + back work (not 5x5, unless on a whim)

Monday - Deadlift for heavy singles, doubles or triples. Sets of 5 at weight kill my back. With my issues, it is just too much. Squats aggravate my back more than deads. Since I have a real issue with my back, I just skip squats.

Wednesday - Military Press 5x5 + BB shrugs and DB work (not 5x5)

So far it has yielded results. I had never been able to get more than 3x5 @ 300# on bench. I hit my 5x5 on Saturday. Also, I had never been able to get more than 3x5 @ 215# on Military. I hit my 5x5 last Wednesday. We'll see how far this can go.


Ok guys how about this for size. Squats, Deadlift, Bench, Press each 5x5 1 day per week. Add 10lbs per workout on the Squat and DL, and 5lbs per on both presses? Add in a little accessory work, a little conditioning and go on.

BTW I haven't touched a weight in 9 months, 6 of that due to a knee surgery back in June I am now 100% on. Last thing I need is a setback or injury. I am thinking going simple like I outlined would be a good return to lifting program.


^ Sounds good to me, you should plataeu at some point and then be set to go to a more intermediate lifting program of choice. Good luck on the recovery.


I tried Bill Starr's 5x5 for a while. came with a handy excel spreadsheet that you just type your maxes into and it comes up with the prescribed weights for you for every day. I didn't have great success with it, but I think that may be due to having pt every morning, a fast 5 mile run in the morning makes it hard to squat heavy later in the day.

definetely good for starting strength, as it has you squatting 3 days a week, and it is not 5 sets of 5 every day, the weights and rep/set ranges vary each day (heavy day, moderate day, lighter day).

It only had you deadlifting once a week, but it was a very intense session, i personally dont believe deadlift should be done more than once a week, because to me the whole point is to go as heavy as possible on them, so frequency is somewhat invalid. To me, the value of the deadlift is mostly in the hormonal response


i don't post much on here just use T-Nation to suck all the info i can out of it.and i have found there is alot to learn.as for the 5x5 program imo i have been on it for the last 8 months my gains have been huge and yes it is taxing i am 52yrs old.but with that said it is very similar to 531.

if you are looking to gain strength and size this program will get it done.although you will earn it.can't bench 2 times a week?cant'squat 3 times a week?or military press 2 times a week or do deads right once a week?then this program is not for you.keep on doing the magizine work outs


Who are you referring to about the magazine workouts? I do not know anybody in the over 35 that is benching 3 days a week and doing curls 4 days a week.


thanks. I just don't see the need to squat 3x per week. Since I have been out of the gym i am going to start at 50-60% of my 1rm in each lift and do 5x5 on that day then add weight each week. when it gets heavy do a 3x3 week, then a 2x2 week then recheck my 1RM's and start over.

I like the idea of going in and putting all my focus into one lift for the day, and add in a little accessory work like Wendler suggests and then GTFO. If you do it right you are going to get stronger, you are going to be able to recover for the next workout


LOL no joke.


Good plan, my opinion adding in some of the "cardio" of choice on the off lifting days is a good addition. Prowler, sand bags, tire flips or even doing light weight circuit training on off days is great for over all health.


5x5 has been doing fine by me.
Variations of Arnold's Big 6
Various splits (upper/lower, upper/lower-push/pull)

Typically squats and deads on same day. Most important one (at that time) first.

Occasionally I go for 5x3 on one or 2 exercises to boost poundages then back to 5x5. I test max's couple times a year.

Every time I try 10x10, I wear out or get injured. Great short term gains make it SO tempting...

Been working for me for for a couple years, but my bench still SUCKS...


Hill sprints, walks with the wife, complexes, swings, sand bags will be the offday work. Will still walk with the wife after hitting the weights


I've done both, prefer Rippetoe's for the power cleans.

Once the weight goes up, you'll find you're pulling plenty. Every other workout.

Note that as the weight goes up, you're doing a 3x5 program, 1x5 for deads. Plus warm-up sets.

After you hit 1.5x BW for squats, 5/3/1 or whatever other program suits your goals.


dont exaggerate with the overtraining, unless you dont eat or sleep properly you shouldnt worry about that unless youve experienced it

took me 15 days straight of heavy training with alot of volume (prob double the 5x5 volume) for overtraining to really hit me while having sleep issues and a soso diet granted that was when i was half your age but still...im sure you get my point

edit: actually nevermind...stupid comment on my part because of our age difference, not my place to talk, good luck with getting back at it


ramrod, that wasn't a stupid comment at all. We are all addressing this from our own perspectives. I think that the biggest issue is how this is going to go down for the OP. I can't do a true 5x5 without my strength going down. To many bench and lower body sessions in a week. That is based on my age, genes, recovery abilities and overall goals. But that is ME.

I am sure there are folks out there, who are older than me, that can pull it off. There are a myriad of variables that will dictate, on an individual basis, where progress stops and detriment begins.
Hell, if I could just string together multiple nights of 7-8 hours of sleep and not spend 10 hours a day under what I consider significant stress, I would likely be able to do more.

And if the blonde in your avatar comes with the headphones, I'll take 3 pair. Bye-bye recovery...


Careful, Strick, you're married. I'm single, though, so I'll look into the headphones...

Ramrod, you're right that overtraining isn't as cut and dried as some think. When I started training seriously in my low 20's, I was warned that overtraining lurked around every corner and would do horrible, unspeakable things. Sure enough, I undertrained, and couldn't understand why I got no gains. Of course, the other guys in the gym did lots of sets and were way bigger than me, but the "experts" explained that as happening in spite of the program, not because of it.

By the time I figured it out, my youth was gone and I have to work with today's body (I'm 54). Strick's lucky, he can see how his body changed over the years, but I don't have a baseline, so I feel like a beginner, trying to figure out how much pounding my body can take - what it SHOULD take to kick in growth. On the plus side, if I work too intensely, I get heart palpitations which are an immediate clue to back off for a bit. On the down side, it's an awfully painful way to get the message.