The 5x5 Routine

Discussion in 'Training' started by PowerManDL, May 7, 2006.

  1. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    This is a new twist on Bill Starr's 5x5 routine. It's basic, it's to the point, and most importantly, it works.

    The commentary comes from Glenn Pendlay, who's arguably "the" guy when it comes to practical uses of periodization.


    The 5X5:


    Olympic Squats 5x5 (same weight)
    Benching 5x5 (flat, close grip or regular)(same weight)
    JS Rows 5x5 (same weight)
    Accessory (low volume triceps and abs)


    Olympic Squats 5x5 (reduced 15-20% from Monday) or Front Squats 5x5
    Standing Military Press 5x5 (same weight)
    Deadlifts 5x5 (same weight) (if you pull 2.5x bodyweight do 3x5)
    Pull ups 5x5 (use weight if you need it)
    Accessory (biceps and abs)


    Olympic Squats 5x5 (working up each set)
    Benching 5x5 (flat or incline)(same weight)
    Rows 5x5 (same weight)
    Accessory (low volume triceps and abs)

    The idea is simple: pick a weight you can do for 5 sets of 5, and if you complete all the sets and reps, then next time bump the weight up 5 or 10 pounds.

    Before beginning the program it is important to establish 1 rep maxes for the squat, bench press, military press, and deadlift, and 5 rep maxes for the squat, bench press, rows, military press, and deadlifts.

    The first week, it is important to begin very conservatively and prepare to set new 5 rep maxes on about the 4th-6th week, rather than the 1st or 2nd week. It will take some time for your body to grow accustomed to training this way, and in the beginning you’re gonna be sore as hell.

    If you get all the sets and reps, then you increase the weight (5-10lbs) for the next week, and if not, you keep the weight the same.

    Try and set new 5 rep maxes on weeks 4-6 for beginners , and weeks 3-4 for veterans and then move to a 3x3 for 2x per week.

    Run the 3x3 for 2-3 weeks, drop the squatting frequency to 2x per week (or even every 4-5 days if you need the additional recovery), and try setting records on the 4th or 5th workout. (Also, weight increase are the important thing here).

    Then cycle down to 1 set of 3 for 2 or 3 workouts, and maybe even go for a max single at the end.

    So basically what you get is a 4-6 week prep phase, followed by a 3-5 week peaking phase.

    One point – during the initial phase where 5x5 is being used you MUST stick to the required volume and frequency. Back off the weight if you have to, but always get in all 5 sets of 5.
    __________________________________________________ _______________
    Here's the original post by JS about it...

    Monday: Squats, Benching, Rows
    Weds: Squats, Military Presses, Deadlifts, Chins
    Friday: Squats, Benching, Rows

    Courtesy of bill starr bill starr, the greatest strength coach who ever lived, popularized this in the 70's with his great book, The Strongest Shall Survive, which was aimed at strength training for football. I believe he had essentually two different programs which both are 5 sets of 5. The first, which is more suitable for beginners, is to simply do 5 sets of 5 with similar weight jumps between each set so that your last set is your top weight. When you get all 5 on the last set, bump all your weights up 5 or 10lbs. Example for squat... 185 for 5, 225 for 5, 275 for 5, 315 for 5, 365 for 5. If you get 365 for 5, move all weights up. This is especially good for someone who is just learning a particular exercise like the squat, because the amount of practice with light but increasing weights is a good way to practice form.

    For more advanced lifters, he advocated a warmup, then 5 sets of 5 with a set weight. For example, the same athlete used in the other example may do 135 for 5, 185 for 5, 225 for 3, 275 for 2, 315 for 1, then 350 for 5 sets of 5. When successfull with all 25 reps at 350lbs, bump the weight up the next workout by 5 or 10lbs.

    This is not outdated, and is a good program for gaining strength. Many elite athletes still use it during at least part of the year. I in fact do 5 sets of 5 on squatting for 4 weeks as part of an 8 or 10 week training cycle. Personally, i do it 3 times a week, but most people will probably make better progress doing it 2 times per week, or even doing version 1 once a week, and version 2 once a week.

    In any event i described a system in a post a while back that goes something like this:
    Monday use the heaviest weight you can for all 5 sets (same weight each set)---- in other words when you get all 5 sets of 5 reps up the weight (most workouts you will get 3 or 4 sets of 5- and maybe your last one will be for 3 or 4 reps)

    Wednesday use 10-20% less weight- in other words if you used 200lbs on monday use 160-180lbs on wednesday- actual amount depending on your recovery

    Friday work up to a max set of 5-

    In other words lets say that your best ever set of 5 is 215lbs and you used 200lbs on monday for 5 sets and 170lbs on wednesday. On friday your workout might be like this 95 for 5 135 for 5 175 for 5 200 for 5 then attempt 220 for your last set of 5.

    This tends to work better as a long term program than doing the same thing 3 times a week. On exercises where you only do them once a week like deadlift you can just do the 5 sets of 5 like i described. On monday on exercises that you are only doing twice (rows) you could do both exercises like the monday workout or lighten one of them depending on your recovery ability. Be conservative with the weight when you start- that is important.

    Also i have used this program VERY often with athletes and it IS result producing. However many of your gains will show up after you use it for 4-6 weeks and you switch to training a bit less frequently and lower the reps and volume. However this is one program i have had a LOT of success with. In fact i rarely if ever use it with athletes who are at the top of their weight class because it causes too much weight gain unless you severely restrict your food.
    __________________________________________________ ______________
    Here's how to periodize and peak with the 5x5 program....

    "i do squats only. however i also do alot of other pulling motions off the floor, and these also work the legs. as far as squats monday 5 sets of five with a set weight wendsday, 5 sets of five with a weight that is 10-15% less than monday friday, work up with sets of five, going for your best set of five heres an example of how we do this...

    lets say a person has a previous best of 5 sets of five weight with 300lbs, and has done one set of five with 325lbs for this person i may start with mondays weight of 285lbs, wendsdays weight of 255lbs, and on friday work up to a set of five with 310lbs, however if this person never trained this way before i would be much more conservative, more on that later then make small jumps each week, maybe week 2 use 295, 260, and 320 for the three workouts, week three use maybe 305, 265, and 330...and so on.

    however keep this in mind, if on monday you cannot do all five sets of five keep the weight the same the next week, and on friday if you fail on a weight you choose keep the weight the same the next week

    now, heres a few more hints, if you are not use to this sort of training and know you are gonna be sore as hell the first couple weeks, simply start more conservatively with the weight. if you are use to this sort of training, you can be a bit more agrressive from the start.

    also as the weeks go by, dont increase wensdays workout as much as the other two. also some people are able to handle a heavier wensday workout than others. i have had athletes who have reacted best if wensdays workout was only 5% less than mondays weight. i have seen others who needed 25% reduction, however the average seems to be 10-15%, maybe if your new to this training start with 25% reduction then next time try 10-15% reduction.

    with people new to this program i usually use it for 6-7 weeks, because we start more conservatively and it takes longer to get the benefits. with people who have done it before i generally go with 4 weeks at a time and go with setting records on monday and friday of week 3, week 4 is to try even more weight if week 3 was succesful, if it wasnt, then try record weights again. after this routine is over, we drop the frequency to about two workouts a week or even a bit less , and drop volume usually to 3 sets of 3.

    the first week, we use the same weight as on the last monday of the 5 sets of five workout. this helps with recuperation. then, as in before we add weight each workout, this time aiming to break records on the fourth or fifth 3 sets of 3 workout.

    sometimes we cycle on down to 1 set of three for two or three workouts, other times we have an offloading week then start with the five sets of five again.

    i proably left some things out, i always seem to. however, although there are other programs that i am sure are effective, i have used alot of leg training programs and this one i know works, i have used this routine on probably over 100 athletes with success all around. it is not unusual for an athlete to increase their leg strength 100lbs in the full squat in the first six months i work with them.

    now i know of other people who have tried this program on my recomendation in the track and field world, and not have the success i have had. however they always make the same mistakes, either starting on week one with max weights and not taking a week or two or even three to work up to max weights, OR, they start in on the 3 sets of 3 with too heavy a weight... you have to adjust the volume. dont be in too much of a hurry.

    be content to set records on week 3, not week 1. well thats about it, but if your patient and do it right, it will be effective." that was a mouthful ok, that is what i was talking about, although in that post i didnt explain a couple of things that i would like to now.

    as you see from reading that, were talking about 4-6 weeks basically of a prep phase, and 3-5 weeks of a peaking phase, so its not really an 8 week program all the time. every time i write this program out, its a bit different, thats because its not a set in stone thing, but an example of a training philosophy... and it can and is altered in the details for individuals. however, there is one important point concerning what can be altered and still get the desired effects.

    during the initial phase where 5 sets of 5 are used, you must stick to the written workout frequency and volume. no matter what, do the required sets 3 times a week. if you feel like your really dieing, then cut the weight back. but in the initial portion, the volume and frequency shouldnt be messed with. now, when you go to the sets of 3, you need to begin with the weight specified, and go up each workout, and you should be fairly rested each workout.

    that means that you MAY be able to squat 2 times a week at this point, however you may need to squat once every 4 or 5 days, depends on the individual. also, 3 sets of 3 is a good volume for the first week of this phase, but often people react better to 2 or even one top set per workout during the second, third, or 4th weeks of this phase. during this phase, its the opposite of the first phase, he weight increases are the important thing.

    take enough rest between workouts and cut the workout volume enough to assure that you are recovered enough to raise the weight. hope this clarifies a bit. the 3 day a week program i wrote was an example of a basic 3 day a week program for a relative beginner. i meant it to be done without any other assistance work except maybe abs. of course, an advanced lifter would probably not do that workout exactly as written.

    as far as the "peaking" part of the squat program, i usually use this with shot-putters and athletes like that, and dont neccessarily do it with a program like the 3 day a week program, although if you were doing that and wanted to "peak" a particular exercise, it would work.

    basically, if you are not going to try to peak strength, you need to be more carefull when doing the 5 sets of 5 three days a weeek, and not get the weights up so heavy that you start to overtrain... a more gradual increase in weighs is called for, and you must use a little common sense and not push so hard you need rest... when trying to peak you just push and keep pushing on the last couple of weeks of the 5 by 5... you push right to the brink ov overtraining basically, then back the volume and frequency off with the sets of 3.
  2. Erik

    Erik Admin

    I pinned it ... bitch.
  3. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    More from Glenn on periodizing the routine:

    there are really so damn many ways to squat, even to squat with 5 sets of 5, or 6 sets of 4, or 4 sets of 6, or any similar thing, that there is not really any one program... im always hesitant to even write it out as a "program" becasue i dont really know what we will be doing in 4 weeks when we start such a thing... it kind of adapts as it goes.

    but there seems to be some confusion as to the pyramid version or the non-pyramid version, so ill try to briefly explain the differences.

    the EASIEST method we use for squats, and the one which rip used for beginners, is a simple pyramid program, the weights are pyramided BOTH monday and friday... and another leg exercise is used for wednesday, usually front squats for the young and athletically minded, sometimes leg press for the old and feeble.

    say a person tests at 200lbs for 5 reps on their initial workout. well then monday they might do the following sets for 5 reps, 95, 125, 155, 185, 205. fairly equal jumps, ending with a 5lb personal record. if the last set is successfull, then on friday they will go for 210 on their last set, with adjustments on the other sets to keep the jumps about even as needed.

    the average beginner can stay on this exact simple program for anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, as long as they continue to improve at least 5lbs a week, most can do this for quite a while.

    when they stop improving, the first thing he does is to drop a couple of the "warmup" sets down to one or two reps, to decrease fatigue and allow a few more personal records on the top set... so that 200lb top set of 5 workout at this point would at this point have the 155lb set at maybe 3 reps, and the 185lb set at one or two reps, then try for 5 at 205.

    this change usually lets people get new personal records for another 2-3 weeks, sometimes more.

    at some point, of course, this doesnt work anymore. so now we change the monday workout to 5 sets of 5, still with heavy front squats or for some lighter back squats on wednesday, and the same pyramid on friday, trying for one top set of 5. the 5 sets on monday with the same weiight will be some amount less than the current personal record for one set of 5.

    usually with this raise in volume, the weights are set somewhat lighter than they were, and people are given a few weeks to work back to their personal records, then try to go past them, invariably they will pass them, and invariably eventually they will stall again...

    at this point we usually lower the volume of training, raise the intensity, in some form we will go with lower reps, lower amounts of sets, cut out a day of squatting, something to allow a raising of the numbers... again, the numbers will raise for a while, then stall again.

    a this point, another raise in volume is needed, and at this point we will go to the program that most usually associate with the "5 by 5"... squatting 5 sets of 5 with the same weight 3 times a week, lighter on wednesday and heavier on mon and fri. you are all familiar with this i think, we raise the volume for 2-4 weeks, then slowly cut the volume aned intensity of most workouts, going for a big workout every 1-2 weeks, might be a single, a single set of 5, or even one big 5 sets of 5 workout. with people cycling down for a big contest at thsi point we might go for lower reps and try for the big singles.... with someone not at a place where a big peak is needed, its just cycling down to less sets but keeping the reps at 5, and trying to make a pr on a set of 5. this can be repeated several times over and over, but at some point you have to have a period of lower intensity training for a while in between cycles.

    i will add that often, for the people with higher goals who want to really train hard, i will start right in with the 15 hard sets a week version, but with weights low enough that they can endure it, and when they get in condition and get used to the volume, will then go back and start at the normal place where rip starts right from the beginning. i find that people who have been athletically active, who have been training on other programs, etc, usually do well with an initial 4-8 weeks of high volume lower intensity training to get them mentally and physically used to this sort of training, get their form changed to a good squat, etc.

    this post describes as much as a year of training for most people, with some that adapt well it is stretched to two years.... two years from when they start their initial "pyramid" workouts, or their initial month or so of conditioning with 15 moderate sets a week to when they get through their first real cycle with heavy weights and 15 sets a week cycled down to a peak.

    i know this question was aimed at people who have used 5X5 and not me, but id still like to make a couple of comments... there are so many versions of the "5X5" training style, and they are so different. i use this type of training for the people i train all the way from beginners to really good lifters but the program changes over time for each person. generally it starts out in the first week of training with finding your max set of 5 and then very simply working up to one max set two times per week trying to add weight to that one set, with one ther workout in between that is most likely front squats. simple as this might be, it usually works for several months and i am convinced that it is about the fastest way for a total beginner to make progress. at some point this stops working and we go to a slightly different version, probably the one most well known, and also probably the one most usefull to a large number of people. 5 sets of 5 on monday with a set weight, then lighter squats on wednesday or front squats, then on friday working up to a max set of 5. there are some things we do here when it isnt possible to just add weight every week, but for a lot of lifters with minor variation this keeps the squat going up for another year or two. like everything else, it eventually stops working, and we start to add in some more long term variation like loading and unloading. we might do 5 sets of 5, pretty heavy, on all 3 squatting days for 3-4 weeks as a loading period, then back off the volume for 3-4 weeks by squatting for lower reps and only 2 days per week as an uloading period. we might add in speed work or dynamic effort work, using 5 sets of 5 on monday, fronts squats on wednesday, and dynamic effort work on friday. when a lifter is really near the top of their genetic potential, they cant do 5 sets of 5 consistently with heavy weight. for example, i dont think kyle gulledge could do this. hes squatted 700lbs with belt and knee wraps, so i estimate his raw squat as around 625-650lbs, probably pretty close since he did a chain squat raw last week with about 650lbs total weight, with a lot of that weight taking the form of hanging plates attached to the chains that came off the ground all at once right at the sticking point, a very hard way to do it. its normal for a lifter to be able to do 5 sets of 5 with around 82-87% of thier max squat. 85% for kyle would be 550lbs or something like that. i dont think thats something he could benefit from doing week in and week out. hes almost superhuman, but to recover from this weekly and still be able to train other lifts would take a cape and tights, almost superhuman wouldnt cut it. so for a guy like this, we wouldnt use it all the time, we would do 5 sets of 5 with lighter weights for 3-4 weeks, working up to one really heavy workout trying to break our record, then move on to a more westside style of training, with max effort work one day and dynamic effort work another day, much easier to recover from if you are pushing really heavy weight.

    If your doing 5 sets on monday, lighter squats on wed, and one set on friday, or something like that, you would be trying to do your one set on friday with more weight than you used on monday.

    its important that you approach it in a systematic way, start with weights that are easy to handle. just for example, if you are capable of doing say, 300lbs for a set of 5, you might start with 225lbs for 5 sets of 5 on monday, 200lbs for 3 sets of 5 on wednesday, and then 275 for one set of 5 on friday. you could then try to increase the monday and friday weights by 10lbs 3 weeks, and the wednesday weights by 5 lbs. that would give you a PR of 305 for 5 on week 4, and depending on the person, you might be able to get 310 or 315 for 5 on week 5. if friday of week 4 feels like you just might be able to get a PR the next week, you might try dropping the monday workout back to 225 monday of week 5, and letting yourself recover a little more preparing for week 5 friday.

    there are lots of options for the next cycle... for instance, you could choose to push the monday workout hard and not push your single set of 5 quite so hard. a good goal here would be to do 5 sets of 5 on monday with your previous best single set of 5. you would then start your monday workout in week one with a weight that is say 40lbs below your best single set of 5... keep the wednesday workout similar to the first cycle, and on friday simply add 5 or 10lbs to mondays weight, roughly the same weight you will try for 5 sets the next monday. given steady 10lb increases, if you started with 270lbs on monday, you should have a good chance of doing 310 for 5 sets of 5 on monday of week 5.

    options for the next cycle would be to change the number of reps... say to the same number of sets but 3 reps... or you could run another 4-5 week cycle similar to the first with lower numbers for the monday workout, say this time starting with 235lbs, but trying for 320-330lbs for a single set of 5 on week 4 or 5, or you could start with lower weight and make bigger jumps if you feel your getting tired around week 3 or 4 on the previous cycles. starting lower and making bigger jumps takes some of the fatigue factor away.

    OR... two things we have done that work really well, have been to do a cycle with monday and wednesday the same, but take fridays workout and turn it into either 5 singles, or into a westside style DE day. If the friday workout is 5 singles, then you again have the choice of doing the 5 singles with a weight that is say 20lbs above mondays weight and trying to make a PR 5 sets of 5 mark at the end, or of keeping the 5 sets of 5 at a slightly lower weight than maximal, and pushing the singles up to a PR weight at the end. If you choose the second option, you can also try decreasing the number of singles each week by one, so that at week 5 you are going for a true max single. If you are doing this, increasing mondays workout by 10-15lbs for the first 3 weeks, then decreasing it by 10-15lbs a week for the last 2 weeks is a good option.

    If you use the westside DE day as fridays workout, you again have several options. you can use 6 weeks as your cycle length, and do 2 of the 3 week waves that louie likes on friday, incorporating a higher weight single into each workout at the end of fridays DE work, and trying for a new max single on friday, OR you can keep the DE work fairly light, and push mondays training hard and try for a new max 5 sets of 5, or 5 sets of 3, or whatever scheme you are doing on monday.

    whatever you choose eventually, you should do it the way i initially described it for the first cycle, and probably should follow with my second recomendation for the second cycle. if you have never done this style of training before, keeping the weight relatively low on monday and concentrating on a higher single set of 5 on week 4 or 5 will help you get used to it without the strain of all out training with 5 sets of 5 when you are not really ready for it. after a 4 or 5 week introduction, you will be ready to really push the harder monday workout, and should be able to really make gains by doing so. going straight back to the first cycle for your third time thru is usually the best option from what i have found. after really pushing the monday 5 sets for a month, you should be ready to make a much bigger single set of 5, and backing off of mondays weights a little and pushing the single set on friday will help you realize your new potential for a big single set. from here its anyones guess, but you should by this time be familiar enough with how your body is responding, how tired you are getting, etc, to know what to go to for your next cycle.
  4. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned


    there seem to be a lot of people who do the style of training we usually can "5 by 5" for a while, then wonder "whats next".

    one general comment i would make, is that if this style of training has been successfull for you, why change it? and by style of training, im not talking about one specific program, but the general style of doing whole body exercises, training the whole body or at least most of the body in each workout, and doing multiple sets not taken to failure.

    i do, however, understand the mental side... you do the same thing over and over and you want something different. there are lots of ways you can change things without totally changing to a "new" program. switching back and forth between widely differing types of training isnt that good of an idea... small and systematic changes over time in what you are doing however IS a good idea.

    for instance... say youve been squatting 3 times a week. how about changing one of the workouts to front squat, hell you could change 2 of the workouts to front squat. i hate leg presses, but if you really wanted to, you could squat on monday, front squat on wednesday, and leg press on friday!!! if youve been doing only rows for back, change one or two of the workouts to chinups... substitute stiff legged deadlifts for deadlifts, change mondays workout to 3 sets of 8 for a month, change fridays squat or bench workout to 5 singles, etc, etc, etc.

    ive even seen people who after a while on a 3 day a week program, switched to a 4 day split, doing squats and pressing exercises on monday and thursday, back and pulling exercises on wed and saturday. i dont see this as retreating from the principles of the 5 by 5 at all. you are STILL working your whole body, or very nearly so, every training day. squats work the back, they work everything... and deadlifts or stiff legged deadlifts work the legs, not as much as squats, but they still work them. this is in fact the favored program of mike stone, probably the best ex phys guy on the planet and former head of sports science at the olympic training center.

    the main thing is to go about it in a systematic way.

    one of my lifters, josh wells, who made the junior world team in 2004 in weightlifting, and can jerk close to 400lbs weighing around 180lbs as a teenager, did this program about a year ago in his "off season" to try to gain some general strength.

    monday, squats (5 sets of 3), push presses (3 sets of 5) then glute ham raises or reverse hypers

    wednesday, snatch pulls (5 sets of 2), powercleans (5 sets of 2), chinups (5 sets of 10 with extra weight, hanging from a 2" bar)

    thursday, front squats (6 sets of 2), push jerks (5 sets of 2), military press (3 sets of 5), then glute ham raises or reverse hypers.

    saturday, powersnatches (5 sets of 2), clean pulls (5 sets of 5), barbell rows, (5 sets of 5)

    obviously this is geared toward olympic weightlifting, and not really what most of you would be doing. im not sure many here have that much interest in doing so many snatch and clean pulls. and hes using lower reps, because of course for him strength is a bigger deal than size, but even his reps changed over time, sometimes were higher, sometimes lower. this is just as representative of the 5 by 5 training style as the simpler 3 day programs... because we did it systematically, sets across instead of failure, gradually moving the weights up, gradually adding then subtracting volume of training to force the body to adapt

    the important thing is to think thru the changes, dont make too many at one time, but make them slowly and steadily.

    the real value of the "5 by 5" style of training isnt that it can or will add a certain amount of muscle or strength in an 8 week cycle. the real value is that it is a framework that when used right can work for years, slowly changing and morphing along the way to fit itself to your particular goals, and making for steady progress for 3, 4, or more years. it is more than anything, a mindset. a mindset of writing your workouts down, being systematic, knowing what you are going to do before you go to the gym, having a plan, and knowing that 5lbs a month is 60lbs a year and 180lbs in 3 years.

    and more than that it is a mindset of THINKING, thinking about training, and rejecting the latest and greatest thing that forces many, even most, to run from one program to the next, changing things totally every time they get bored or have a bad workout. by recording everything, thinking a lot, planning, making small changes instead of wholesale ones, going back and looking at your workout log and looking at the last month, 6 months, year, etc, and planning the next month... within a year or two you know more about your body and what to do than me or anyone else could ever tell you.

    now... last comment. i have, in a big drawer, a record of every single workout i have ever done, from the time i was 15 back in 1975 to my last month of competitive training in 2003. every single one. i also have descriptions and comments, tables in the back of the logs that showed weight gain and strength gain on a yearly basis, monthly, etc. comments on what happened to weight/strength when i changed exercises, changed reps, etc. there is very little i dont know about how my body responded, what worked and what didnt, etc. you all should do the same thing. approach training like a scientist working an experiment.
  5. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    And yet more:

    becky came here with a best set of 5 on the back squat of 178lbs. she is a big and strong looking girl, so i was kind of amazed that she couldnt squat more... but i witnessed her doing about that for sets a few times, and sure enough it was damn hard.

    roughly 3 months ago she decided her squat wasnt going up with what she had been doing, and decided to try to do what i had been trying to get her to do... to go along with her trying a new workout i bet her $20 that she would squat 220lbs for 5 sets of 5 reps before the arnold, which as i remember it was at that time about 10 weeks away. she took the bet as her squat had been stuck for over a year and she really didnt think she could make that sort of progress in that amount of time. this is how we approached improving her squat, which is representative of how we usually do things

    first workout on monday we loaded 178lbs and i told her we were going to do not one set, but 5 sets of 5 with it. she was skeptical, but willing to try. luckily we had a full training room, plenty of people to yell and scream at her. she was really grinding them out, but the second and third sets were just like the first, absolutely limit but she made them. she failed on the last rep of the 4th or 5th set, but good effort.

    2 days later, we did 165lbs for 5 sets of 5. 2 days later we loaded 183lbs and she did it for two set of 5, that was on a friday.

    next week on monday she did 178lbs for 5 set of 5. wednesday she did 165lbs for 5 sets of 5. friday she did 183lbs for 5 sets of 5, making all the sets.

    next monday she did 183lbs for 5 sets of 5. wednesday she did 165 for 5 sets of 5, and friday she did 183lbs for 5 set of 5.

    next week monday she did 183 for 5 sets of 5, and on wednesday she did 172lbs for 5 sets of 5, then on friday did 183 for 5 sets of 5.

    (that was a heavy period, she was tired all the time, not seeming to get much stronger)

    next monday she did 154lbs for 3 sets of 5, and on wednesday did 198lbs for one set of 5, then on friday did 187 for 5 sets of 5.

    next monday she did 154lbs for 3 sets of 5, then on wednesday did 203 for one set of 5, then on friday did some front squats to max.

    next monday she did 193 for 1 sets of 5, wednesday front squats to max, then friday did 198 for 5 sets of 5.

    (those 3 weeks were less load, she was recovering and feeling stronger, only 2 really hard workouts in those 3 weeks, last workout a big one that showed she was recovering well nad getting much stronger)

    next monday we didnt plan to go all that heavy, but she was looking strong, so we did 209 for one set of 5, rest of the week was taken off of squatting becasue of collegiate nationals.

    monday we did 178 for 3 sets of 5, wednesday we did 198 for 1 sets of 5, and friday we did 215 1 sets of 5.

    next monday we did 178 for three sets of 5, wednesday light front sqauts, and friday 215 for one set of 5, which surprisingly enough was a really easy set.

    (these 3 weeks also easy, the sets with 209 and 215 were getting easier as she was recovering more)

    based on last ffriday being easy, we tried the 220lbs for 5 sets of 5, and she made it on monday, i won the $20, which is still unpaid, and she took the rest of the week off from squatting for the arnold.

    not a perfect sqaut cycle, remember that becky was training often 2 times per day doing snatches and clean and jerks, and sometimes 3 times per day. sometimes what we WANTED to do with squats was not an option based on her going to heavy weights so often on snatch and clean and jerk, and having to back off sometimes on squat to allow her to consistently lift at least %90 to %95 on the competitive lifts. becky was able to succeed with 70kilo snatches and 85kilo clean and jerks consistently throughout this training period, these weights were her maxes before we started this. she occasionally did 72 snatch and 87 clean and jerk, but she was doing 70/85 3 days a week, and doing the 70 snatch often 2 or 3 workouts a day. on her light days she did about 65 snatch and 75 or 80 clean and jerk.

    her workouts looked basically like monday, wed, friday, take a morning light workout of 65snatch and 80kilo clean and jerk, then in afternoon take 70/85 and sometimes then start over and work to 70/85 again, then squat, then often in evening come back for something like 70/80. light days were done with 65/75 in the afternoon, then 65/80 in the evening. if tired, she only worked out one on light days instead of twice, or only worked out two times instead of 3 times on heavy days.

    id say becky averaged about 12 workouts a week not counting the week directly before collegiate nationals... highest number of workouts was 15 in a week, lowest i think was 10.

    at the arnold she did 75 snatch with a stupid miss at 77.5 that showed she was physically ready but not mentally ready, and then a solid clean and jerk with 92.5k. her squat best set of 5 went up 42lbs, with the higher weight actually being done for multiple sets.

    i think her success in raising her squat was due to a few factors...

    1. she was obviously ready to squat more, but for some reason wasnt. not everyone could make that much progress in a short time, she obviously had a little more in her than she was showing

    2. she had never loaded really heavy, she was used to doing a certain thing and really was physciclly ready to respond to something different.

    3. she was in good shape with no real injuries (her only injury is a knee problem which is left over from her former career as a track and field athletete, but with enough yelling and screaming and disgusted looks its effects on her training are minimized), so was able to do a fairly heavy loading period with about 12-15 sets of 5 a week for several weeks without breaking down too much. she also had a LOT of support in the gym to keep her motivated when she was tired and still had to do hard sets.

    4. she trains with a girl who is smaller than her but outsquats her by a LOT and i suppose this pissed her off and motivated her.

    5. by the end of the 4th or 5th week she was beginning to believe in what she was doing, and this gave her the confidenct to put weight on the bar and know she should be able to do it when the time came to rest a little bit and start going after the heavier weights. if you dont believe you are ready, you can fail even if you can physically do it.

    we have upped the bet to double or nothing that she squats 242lbs for 1 set of 5 before senior nationals, which is about 7 weeks away.

    this will be more difficult, because whe will be loading much harder with the competitive lifts as well as some things like drop snatches and other exercises picked to try to abolish her mental and physical problems catching a snatch. she will drop snatch 90kilos about 2-3 weeks out from the nationals, which will be up 10kilos from her current max. that will take some work, and that plus more snatching and clean and jerking will take a little away from her ability to squat hard. we also will not be able to load the squats with quite so many high rep sets this close to a big meet like nationals. so she will have to rely more on front squats lower volume, higher intensity training.

    for our hard training for nationals, becky will approximately double the number of attamps over %90 that she takes in the snatch and clean and jerk for several weeks, along with adding in a couple of assistance exercises that she hasnt done in the past, and adding more front squats. this will make doing 5 sets of 5 in the squat with high weights impossible. so her squatting will include some workouts of 5 sets of 5 with fairly small weights, and more workouts of 1 set of 3-5 reps done at maximal weights.

    after nationals, i will INSIST that she pay up the $40 that she will owe me.
  6. Erik

    Erik Admin

    You sure type fast.
  7. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    I'm the best.
  8. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    As you can see, there's a lots of stuff to post:

    Here's some more stuff from Glenn:

    "when you get to a certain weight and workload, it is indeed tough to do it all on just 3 days... i think its really advantageous for beginners to do it on 3 days just to get in better shape, but at some point it is good to split it up, or at least go back and forth and switch to a split late in the cycle when the weights get really hard.

    what i like to do is actually legs and back on one day, and shoulders, chest and and triceps on the other... sounds like a LOT more work on one day than another, and it is, and i believe this is good. all your training days should NOT be exactly the same stress level, you should have some hard days and some easy, and i think this accomplishes that goal.

    if you do this, you can try just squatting two times a week, although i know that for some people three squat workouts work really well and they continue to add in light squats on one of the chest/shoulder days.

    in general, what i would recomend if you do this is thye following

    heavy squat day, then something like powercleans or stiff leg deadlifts and then pullups

    heavy military press, heavy close grip bench press and then maybe something light for chest...

    squats a bit lighter than monday, heavy deadlifts, heavy barbell rows, then some other back exercise, depending on what you need

    heavy bench press, lighter military press than tuesday or maybe DB militaries of some sort, some sort of nosebreakers or other tricep exercise.

    or course some of the exercises i would really question the need to change, like the squats, militaries, benches, deadlifts, but others like the nosebreakers or pullups or closegrip benches could bd changed if you like other similar things.

    i think a really good way to do this would be to do the 3 day a week program for a certain number of weeks, then switch to the 4 day split for a few weeks at the end when it really gets hard and you are having trouble getting it all done. this would let you keep going up in weights for a few extra weeks becasue of the lower frequency and less total work in each training session... then lower the weights again (but of course not totally back to the old levels) and start over again on the 3 day a week program.

    a variation that i think i discussed in the post i wrote about the 5 by 5 training program and that you could use here for squats or for any other exercise you wanted to concentrate on would be to do 5 by 5 on one day then work to one max set of 5 on the second day... for instance if you really wanted to specialize on militaries you could start with militaries on tue and thur and on tue do 5 by 5 and on frir work to one top set of 3 or 5 reps... of course the same principle applies, when you first start the workouts with the top set of 3 or 5 start below your best set of that rep range, give yourself 2-3 weeks to work back to your old max and then pass it."
  9. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned


    "girth, its hard to put a percentage to it, becasue its kind of individual to the lifter, kind of like how light to go with the wednesday workout, some need to back off more than ohters. a couple of good rules of thumb, you should be at or near PR levels around week 3 or 4, you should definately be trying a new PR by week 5. some people can do it sooner than this, kind of depends on how long you have been training.

    as far as the size of the jumps and how far below PR levels you should start, the stronger you are and the longer you have been training, the lower you should start, and therefore the bigger the jumps. 10lbs for the squat is a good rule of thumb for many lifters. however ive seen lifters who need to start way lower and take way bigger jumps. as ive gotten older, ive become one of them.

    id say if you are squatting 350 or less for sets of 5, then 10lb jumps will be about right, unless your weighing like 150-160lbs or something light like that and that represents a really good squat... assuming you are 200+lbs, then the 10lb jumps should be about right. if your squatting 500 or so for sets of 5, then 15-20lb jumps every week might work better. if you are handling 600-700lbs in your workouts, then you will definately need to take bigger jumps. when i was in this situation, i took jumps of 30lbs or so each workout.

    if you are in your first or second year of training, you can usually start a little closer to your max, take smaller jumps, and be at a new PR earlier. the longer you have been training, and the stronger you are, the lower you need to start relative to your old max, the bigger jumps you should make, and the longer it will take you to get to new PR levels.

    does that make sense?

    i should say that all this is based on a high bar olympic style squat, deep and close stance and no wraps or suit, personally i dont even wear a belt when i do this workout. if you are half-squatting, or squatting powerlifting style then it might need to be significantly different. "


    "first off, if you are under 200lbs, and doing over 400lbs for a set of 5 on the squat, assuming it is a true, deep, OL style squat... thats pretty strong. peoples notion of squat numbers gets all screwed up becasue of powerlifting, and high squats. very few, very few people can squat 500lbs all the way down with no wraps or suit. you have to be really strong to do that. make it a half squat, and you dont hae to be that strong.

    sounds like youve done the program a few times, what i would do now would be to raise the training volume the next time you go through it... by doing sets across on monday and friday, instead of going up to a max set on friday. do this for 4 weeks at the beginning of your next cycle... if you can do that and end that period with similar or higher numbers than the monday workout of your present loading period, when you cut the volume you should be able to add another 20-30lbs to your squat.

    other changes to your next cycle should be doing 3-4 work sets with the top weight with the rows on monday instead of just one set, and adding push presses to the saturday workout... start the push presses with 10-20 more pounds than the military presses, you can do them from behind the neck if you want, this might even be better, be sure to use LOTS of leg drive, as much as you can.

    do the unloading the same.

    that should get you through one more cycle with some decent gains. after that, you will have to change the workout more... probably even different rep schemes. 5 sets of 5 is a good workout, and the program you are doing is a good one, but nothing works forever. after 3-4 cycles through it, you should be ready for some different trainig for a while to rest a little, then back at it.

    dont get discouraged with your gains. 10lbs gained per month on the squat is good. in 3 years, thats 360lbs gained. no one does that! maybe they do if sometime during those 3 years they add knee wraps and a powerlifting suit, or start squatting shallower, but not 360 honest pounds, unless they are starting out as a total beginner.

    and last, i read some of your and AM's back and forth... hes right that going to a 4 day split for a while at this point would probably be good... but if you cant you cant, i can understand that. i think you can still make some good gains on 3 days. also about deadlifting... you dont have deadlift in the loading phase of the workout you listed... it aint gonna kill you not to do it, but adding deadlift or stiff legged deadlift on wednesday would probably help you, either just add it or even better do it in place of the pullups and put the pullups on saturday... that would be ideal but then you would have to drop the light bench on saturday or with pullups and push presses added it would be too much. personally id be in favor of that, no benches on sat, but add push presses and pullups, and do the stiff legged deads or the deadlifts on thur."
  10. Brandi

    Brandi old school

    :lol: You said "snatch."
  11. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    The snatch is fun.
  12. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

    This thread ROCKS. :clap:
  13. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    Even if you're not interested in using the 5x5 (and I should reiterate, it's one of my favorite ways to train as it's quite effective), Glenn's comments on how he periodizes are invaluable, and can be applied to other training approaches.

    Which is the main reason I posted all that.
  14. Leah

    Leah Well-Known Member

    Sweet B)

    Should you really do a 1RM on the military press though?
  15. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    Don't you start too.
  16. Leah

    Leah Well-Known Member

    Oh...was that already brought up somewhere? :p
  17. PowerManDL

    PowerManDL Banned

    Nah. Just found it ironic that the entire post was about how fluid and dynamic the training process is, how nothing's really set in stone....then you come ask that ;)
  18. Lynny

    Lynny I like me.

    I know Glen- he's an awesome guy and definitely knows his stuff. I trained with him once- he works at the same gym I went to when i lived at home.

    Thanks for posting this thread--great and informative!
  19. smuggie

    smuggie Maureen aka Mo

    I started this program today.

    Matt, if I don't start getting stronger I'm blaming you. :lol:
  20. Inatic

    Inatic Ya Gotta Wanna! Moderator

    I've been doing 5x5 for awhile. My strength has greatly improved.

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