T Nation

Question re: 5x5

Hey gang. Just curious: in the “classic” 5X5 protocol, are all 5 sets done at a single weight or is progressive loading used?

The “classic” 5x5 protocol is 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight. Your starting weight should be your 7RM, and you should not train to failure. When you can do all 5 sets for 5 reps each, add 5-10 lbs, and start over. I would recommend this type of training for a maximum of 6 weeks.

From what I understand, the weight stays the same, but you choose a weight that you cannot do 5x5 with and work up to being able to do 5x5 then increase the weight.

You can do all 5 sets with the same weight, or one lighter set & then 4x5, or 2 ligher sets (one heavier than the other) & then 3x5 with the top weight, or 3 lighter sets then 2x5 with the top weight, or 4 lighter sets & one brutal set of 5.

When I do 5x5 I usually use progressive loading, with a 5RM on my last set. However there is an article with the 5x5 on this site that says you should use the same weight for all five sets and the aim is to try and get 5 reps on all 5 sets.

Some do all 5 at the same weight, some do 2x5 as warmups and 3x5 all out. And some pyramid up with each set.

Three ways that I am aware of: (1) Same weight for all 5 sets, once you get all 5 sets of 5 reps, increase the weight – medium weight; (2) pyramid up to a 5 rep max – heavy weight; (3) speed sets with about 60-70% of your 1 RM – i.e., light weight (kind of like Westside Dynamic day). You can also mix and match styles. Let say you use bench twice per week: Wk 1) L-M; 2) L-H; 3) M-H 4) M-L etc…

Thanks, guys. I was just wondering if there is a single, canonical interpretation of what the “classic” 5X5 method is. It seems there is - straight sets - though one can of course employ any number of variations.

Zev, my favorite application of the 5 X 5 method involves a
rapid fire protocol with all work-sets being performed @ the same
weight with all sets performed 1 minute apart.

Is gaining strength is your goal for 5 x 5 training (and I would assume that it is since it’s a powerlifting program), then you will want to rest a minimum of 3 minutes between sets to allow for complete recovery.

Joel: I use the rapid-fire 5 X 5 approach (1 min rest between
sets) during a cutting phase and sometimes during a mass
phase. It allows me to get a great pump while using fairly
heavy weights. It also allows for a high volume of work
in a short period of time. The most important thing is to
stay ultra strict and to steer clear of failure!

This style of training was incorporated by some of the old time bodybuilders of the 50's, 60's and 70's.

I agree with your points on “strict form” and “no failure.” Absolutly.