T Nation

Help With 5x5

I seem to be fighting a bout of insomnia right now, so I figure I might as well ask a question I’ve been trying to figure out lately.

A little about myself. I consider myself dedicated to bodybuilding for about a good 9 months now. I started as a classic 5’5" 150lbs. I am currently 162lbs and motivated to keep growing. I know I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. My lifts are something like 100-100lbs DB bench (8 reps), 265 DL (8 reps), 265 (8 reps). Still working hard on the last two, at the beginning they were 100lb lifts each , haha. My lifting scheme has been a six day split (?) with about 4 exercises of 6x8 on high volume days. I have been using my own pyramid scheme for my lifts. My friends think I am overtraining and I think I might be too.

I have been looking on T-Nation to adopt a good lifting program. 5x5 keeps coming up. Does this mean five sets of five reps of one weight? And you keep using the same weight for all 5 sets. Or do you vary weight and max somewhere around the 3rd set?

Thanks for your answers

http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/showthread.php?t=375215

Above link should give you a few hints about the 5 x 5 program.

Good luck

[quote]magstormpsy wrote:
Does this mean five sets of five reps of one weight? And you keep using the same weight for all 5 sets. Or do you vary weight and max somewhere around the 3rd set?

[/quote]

There are 2 variations of the 5x5 in which the weight used is static or changes (ramping). In the link above from elite fitness, 1x5 denotes 5 sets of 5 reps, except with the weights increasing. e.g. (135 x 5, 155 x 5, 185 x 5, 205 x 5, 225 x 5)

On the other hand 5x5 describes 5 reps of 5 sets with a constant weight.

1x5 and 5x5 are crucial in the programs because they make sure you don’t get overtrained. If you did 5x5 3 times a week you will get fatigued quickly. Say you are squatting 2x per week, one day may be 1x5, then another day will be 5x5.

There are two types of 5x5 programs (there’s lots of other ones but these are the most popular):

  1. Linear program - For novice and intermediate lifters.

  2. Periodized program - For advanced lifters.

Generally the progression is from the linear program to the periodized program. But if you are already an advanced lifter you can try the periodized program. I’ve been training like this for the past year and have gone from 135lbs to a respectable 170lbs while all my lifts increased well over 100lbs. My progress is still consistent and I’ve made the conclusion that this is an awesome way to train. I tried the periodized version before and the gains aren’t noticable at all for the first 4 weeks, then all the sudden in the last 5 weeks of the program it’s almost unreal the amount of muscle and strength you gain.

http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/table_of_contents_thread.htm

Read everything on this site carefully then get started. People are thinking I might not know what I’m talking about since 170lbs is “small” on this site, but the thing is next year I’ll be 180, the next 190, 195, 200, and so on. Also don’t be afraid that your bodyfat% might go up a little bit. There’s guys like dave tate and dave gulledge who lifted heavy for years building quality muscle and gained a bit of fat (although they weren’t really fat at all), cut down, and beneath was an unbelievable physique. I’m never, ever going to cut unless I’m over 200lbs, since it would be a waste of time and totally stall my progress. If you can gain at least 5lbs of muscle a year then you’re doing well, patience is key with lifting. Good luck!

Mike Robertson had a great article about 5x5 a few months ago do an author search.

Phill

thanks for the links and explanations

…i’m looking into them right now

[quote]TKL.ca wrote:

Generally the progression is from the linear program to the periodized program. But if you are already an advanced lifter you can try the periodized program. I’ve been training like this for the past year and have gone from 135lbs to a respectable 170lbs while all my lifts increased well over 100lbs. My progress is still consistent and I’ve made the conclusion that this is an awesome way to train. I tried the periodized version before and the gains aren’t noticable at all for the first 4 weeks, then all the sudden in the last 5 weeks of the program it’s almost unreal the amount of muscle and strength you gain.
[/quote]

Wow, your results sound great! I hope I can achieve those kinds of gains this coming year.

[quote]magstormpsy wrote:
I seem to be fighting a bout of insomnia right now, so I figure I might as well ask a question I’ve been trying to figure out lately.

A little about myself. I consider myself dedicated to bodybuilding for about a good 9 months now. I started as a classic 5’5" 150lbs. I am currently 162lbs and motivated to keep growing. I know I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. My lifts are something like 100-100lbs DB bench (8 reps), 265 DL (8 reps), 265 (8 reps). Still working hard on the last two, at the beginning they were 100lb lifts each , haha. My lifting scheme has been a six day split (?) with about 4 exercises of 6x8 on high volume days. I have been using my own pyramid scheme for my lifts. My friends think I am overtraining and I think I might be too.

I have been looking on T-Nation to adopt a good lifting program. 5x5 keeps coming up. Does this mean five sets of five reps of one weight? And you keep using the same weight for all 5 sets. Or do you vary weight and max somewhere around the 3rd set?

Thanks for your answers[/quote]

Well, you’re right you’ve got years and miles ahead of you, but it’s good that you’ve been consistent for 9 months so far.

Here’s the question: are you progressing? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it until you start aching or stalling in progress. I have this idea that if you can condition yourself to extra high volume and lots of work when you start, your ability to handle volume in general may go up a bit.

Similar to Thibaudeau’s experience of training legs with insanity in his early days. I can’t prove it though. :slight_smile: I’m usually pretty gunshy of overtraining, but as I’ve started to experiment with the set progression that Waterbury likes so much, I find myself rocking the 8x5 and 8x6 rep schemes and liking them. Of course, doing that 6 days a week would kill me.

But that’s the reason I’m saying keep the high volume if you feel good and are making progress in strength/weight. If you are not, then take a 2 week break (halve the volume), and see what happens. 6x8 is a lot of work, but you know, if you can handle it without your body hating you and make progress, go for it.

It’ll make it that much sweeter when you do an interlude of heavy, low volume strength training. And I think you’ll be able to condition your body to handle relatively high volume (see CT’s piece in the “Things I can’t Prove” article).

But anyway, every so often you need to cut the volume in half for a week or two and let your body rest. Also, maybe 1 day of rest a week isn’t enough. 5x5 is a great rep scheme, but I don’t use the original 5x5 template program, so I can’t help you there as much. I tend to use the rep scheme as I integrate it into my workouts.

I know a bunch of people are going to disagree with me, and that’s ok. I’m usually a low volume high intensity kind of guy (PL style). But lately it’s been feeling really good and leaning me out while making me stronger, and giving me a much greater work capacity, so I’m staying with it for a little while. Do what you want and just listen to your body for aches and stall points/plateaus.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
But that’s the reason I’m saying keep the high volume if you feel good and are making progress in strength/weight. If you are not, then take a 2 week break (halve the volume), and see what happens. 6x8 is a lot of work, but you know, if you can handle it without your body hating you and make progress, go for it.

But anyway, every so often you need to cut the volume in half for a week or two and let your body rest. Also, maybe 1 day of rest a week isn’t enough. 5x5 is a great rep scheme, but I don’t use the original 5x5 template program, so I can’t help you there as much. I tend to use the rep scheme as I integrate it into my workouts.
[/quote]

Thanks for the replies

I think what you suggested is a good idea, cutting volume by half to let my body rest.

For the last 9 months I’ve been on a 8-day workout cycle. Chest/Upperback/Lowerback/Shoulders/Legs(quads)/Legs(hams/calves) followed by two days of rest (if my ‘split’ statement earlier was incorrect, sorry). I know this is probably not ideal workout program since I formed it myself throughout college. Right now I’m reading into some of the good 5x5 links provided earlier.

Just for starters as I decide which workout program to adopt, to allow extra growth/rest would it be better to halve the number of reps or halve the number of sets to my current program? And how many weeks of halved volume is recommended?

Thanks again for the great replies

[quote]magstormpsy wrote:
Thanks for the replies

I think what you suggested is a good idea, cutting volume by half to let my body rest.

For the last 9 months I’ve been on a 8-day workout cycle. Chest/Upperback/Lowerback/Shoulders/Legs(quads)/Legs(hams/calves) followed by two days of rest (if my ‘split’ statement earlier was incorrect, sorry). I know this is probably not ideal workout program since I formed it myself throughout college. Right now I’m reading into some of the good 5x5 links provided earlier.

Just for starters as I decide which workout program to adopt, to allow extra growth/rest would it be better to halve the number of reps or halve the number of sets to my current program? And how many weeks of halved volume is recommended?

Thanks again for the great replies

[/quote]

I’d say halve the sets. Or, almost. Maybe go 4 sets instead of 3. Whatever. Usually, down/recovery weeks are just that: 1 week periods of low volume/intensity.

Of course, if you’ve been in an extended period of over-reaching or overtraining, 2 is probably better, maybe, maybe even 3 weeks if you’re just a wreck. But unless you feel like a plane crash, I’d say 2 weeks while you figure something else out.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
magstormpsy wrote:
I seem to be fighting a bout of insomnia right now, so I figure I might as well ask a question I’ve been trying to figure out lately.

A little about myself. I consider myself dedicated to bodybuilding for about a good 9 months now. I started as a classic 5’5" 150lbs. I am currently 162lbs and motivated to keep growing. I know I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. My lifts are something like 100-100lbs DB bench (8 reps), 265 DL (8 reps), 265 (8 reps). Still working hard on the last two, at the beginning they were 100lb lifts each , haha. My lifting scheme has been a six day split (?) with about 4 exercises of 6x8 on high volume days. I have been using my own pyramid scheme for my lifts. My friends think I am overtraining and I think I might be too.

I have been looking on T-Nation to adopt a good lifting program. 5x5 keeps coming up. Does this mean five sets of five reps of one weight? And you keep using the same weight for all 5 sets. Or do you vary weight and max somewhere around the 3rd set?

Thanks for your answers

Well, you’re right you’ve got years and miles ahead of you, but it’s good that you’ve been consistent for 9 months so far.

Here’s the question: are you progressing? If so, I wouldn’t worry about it until you start aching or stalling in progress. I have this idea that if you can condition yourself to extra high volume and lots of work when you start, your ability to handle volume in general may go up a bit.

Similar to Thibaudeau’s experience of training legs with insanity in his early days. I can’t prove it though. :slight_smile: I’m usually pretty gunshy of overtraining, but as I’ve started to experiment with the set progression that Waterbury likes so much, I find myself rocking the 8x5 and 8x6 rep schemes and liking them. Of course, doing that 6 days a week would kill me.

But that’s the reason I’m saying keep the high volume if you feel good and are making progress in strength/weight. If you are not, then take a 2 week break (halve the volume), and see what happens. 6x8 is a lot of work, but you know, if you can handle it without your body hating you and make progress, go for it.

It’ll make it that much sweeter when you do an interlude of heavy, low volume strength training. And I think you’ll be able to condition your body to handle relatively high volume (see CT’s piece in the “Things I can’t Prove” article).

But anyway, every so often you need to cut the volume in half for a week or two and let your body rest. Also, maybe 1 day of rest a week isn’t enough. 5x5 is a great rep scheme, but I don’t use the original 5x5 template program, so I can’t help you there as much. I tend to use the rep scheme as I integrate it into my workouts.

I know a bunch of people are going to disagree with me, and that’s ok. I’m usually a low volume high intensity kind of guy (PL style). But lately it’s been feeling really good and leaning me out while making me stronger, and giving me a much greater work capacity, so I’m staying with it for a little while. Do what you want and just listen to your body for aches and stall points/plateaus.[/quote]

Well obviously my gains have slowed since 165 or so, although this is mainly attributed to diet, since I’m eating maybe about 500-600 calories above maintenance, the past 3 months it’s been around 3-5 lbs a month.