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Opinion on Full Body 5x5 Program


I've followed the below:

and made some good gains.

I want to do it again, with a different exercise selection, however.

Front squat
Incline DB Press

Front squat
Decline BB Bench
DB Rows (3 sets of 8 at a 'medium' weight)

Front squat
Incline DB Press

I'll also be on a caloric deficit. Bad idea? Good? Who knows?

My reasons for changing the exercises are:

A.) I really enjoy the exercises I've substituted. I've back squatted and
BB flat benched 2 or 3 times a week since I started; I want to do something

B.) I want to gain some strength on those exercises.
I'm particularly interested in increasing my chinning strength; right now I
can only do 12 bodyweight chinups.

That leads me to one other question. My current 5rm on chinups is probably only bw + 25 lbs (215 lbs total). The program calls for ramping weights to your "top set" - going up about 12.5% each set. There's going to be chinning sets where the load to be used is less than my bodyweight. Is it a good idea for me to do pulldowns for these sets using the calculated load? Anyone done this before? Would I be better off doing the fucking BB rows monday and friday and chinning on wednesday? :slightly_smiling:


Well, the 5X5 is really kind of set up for big strength and potentially size gains. So first, no I would not recomend that you do this while on a calorie deficit. However, you may want to play a little with carb cycling, like keeping carbs very low on off days and upping them on workout days.

On changing the lifts, it could work, but I don't know if you'll be happy with the progress you will make. Front squats do have a place in the original template. The original 5X5 by Bill Starr called for power cleans on Wed. in lieu of squats I believe. Many people have chosen to go with front squats on Wed., which I would suggest. Chins are a good exercise, but if your max is 12 then I would suggest doing straight sets of 5X5 with bodyweight until you can complete them all, then think about adding weight. Again, you may want to only do these once a week until you're ready to progress. The BB rows ae really good if you do them right and give them a chance. As far as bench workouts go, I'd substitute DB for BB when needed and use incline, but personally would not use decline as a substitute. You can also vary your grip width.


Good advice. I was on the 5x5 for a while and it's a great program, but had to stop b/c I was doing too much bench pressing. The frequency was terrible for my shoulders and wrists.


I had similar trouble myself. Mine mainly comes from the elbows which I have since discovered is caused by heavy squatting...the bar on my shoulders coupled with really squeezing my elbows in tight. Anyway...for the wrists, I don't press anything over 200 lbs without wrist wraps. It just doesn't make since to not protect them.


Thanks for the advice roofus_5, it's appreciated. In the version of the program I linked to, the clean was replaced by BB rows. The high pull was replaced with a deadlift. If I do this program, I'm going to just do the rows on monday/friday and do a few sets of chins on wednesday. I may just forgo doing the dips on friday, too.

I'm really unsure as to what program to follow. I figured the above was ok while eating less than maintenance calories since it's relatively low volume (isn't it?).

I really want to do a 3 day a week program (i.e. full body). It would be highly difficult for me to make it to the gym 4 or more times a week due to school, work, and other obligations.


If that's what you want I would suggest looking into some of the full body routines on this website, like Waterbury's stuff. You can make the workout whatever you want but if followed to the letter the Starr 5X5 is definitely not low volume. The reps are lower but the sets keep it high and the progressions are aggressive.

So, in short, it's an intense program. That's why I didn't think it was good for your purposes. HOWEVER, I would never discourage you from trying something in the intrest of science. So do what you feel is best for you.