The 5×5 Strong Lift program is one of the most popular strength programs you can find on the web, but can this training method help you reach your goals? By searching for a fitness program, you’re already halfway there because planning your workouts can help you make more progress. However, like any program, 5×5 training comes with pros and cons.
The 5×5 Breakdown
When it comes to training programs, it doesn’t get more simple than the 5×5 workout. 5×5 includes five multi-joint barbell lifts that take place over the course of a week: squat, deadlift, overhead press, deadlift, and bent-over-row. All lifts are performed and condensed into three days and have an “A/B split,” which involves an alternating schedule and a rest day in-between.
Day A is always the same, and so is Day B. Both days will look like the following:
- Day A: Bench Press, Squats, Bent-Over Barbell Row
- Day B: Deadlift, Overhead Press, Squat
Both days include squatting, and each lift asks you to perform five sets of 5 reps. The deadlift is the only exception, where you would perform 1 set of 5. Since squatting builds similar muscles to the deadlift, the 5×5 program prioritises this move over the latter.
You don’t have to conform to that schedule strictly. You can begin with a squat on Day A and finish with a bench press. However, you must keep all exercises on the same day.
Be sure not to perform these moves until failure because the 5×5 program isn’t designed for bodybuilders. This program is meant to increase strength in a low rep range.
Sample 5×5 Two Week Training Schedule
- Monday: Bench Press, Squats, Bent-Over Barbell Row (Day A)
- Wednesday: Deadlift, Overhead Press, Squat (Day B)
- Friday: Bench Press, Squats, Bent-Over Barbell Row (Day A)
- Monday: Overhead Press, Deadlift, Squat (Day B)
- Wednesday: Bent-Over Barbell Row, Bench Press, Squats (Day A)
- Friday: Overhead Press, Deadlift, Squat (Day B)
Adding 5 Pound Reps: 5×5 More In-Depth
Start your first 5×5 session by lifting 50% of your max 5-rep lift. You’ll need to know what that is before performing a complete 5×5 session, so experiment with your weight limit then subtract from there. For example, if your 5×5 rep limit is 40 pounds, 50% of that would be 20 pounds. At first, the program will feel easy, but you’ll start adding weight every week.
Add 5 pounds to every lift each week, except for the deadlift, where you’ll add 10 pounds. Only add extra weight if you can reach 5×5 sets, even uncomfortably. Not that being uncomfortable is fine, but hurting yourself isn’t, so stop immediately if you’re in pain.
If you can’t hit 5×5, then you must deload. Decrease load weight by 10% the next time you begin strength training. You can try again next week on your full weight load.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the 5×5 Program
The 5×5 workout is perfect for newbie lifters because it’s simple to understand, and the exercises are easy to perform. Beginners are more likely to quit their workout routine when the going gets tough, but the 5×5 program makes that less likely. Plus, goal setting is easier with 5×5.
Other notable advantages:
- Simplicity is an integral part of the program.
- There are no surprises: every week is the same.
- It’s easier to practice five workouts and become a great lifter.
- You’ll build strong muscles quickly, even without the failure principle.
- No seated exercises: the lifter keeps moving and staying engaged.
The simplicity of the 5×5 program is also its most significant deficit. Advanced lifters will immediately become bored with the techniques and exercises performed, and it may be difficult for seasoned lifters to gain stronger, more viable muscles with the 5×5 program.
Other notable disadvantages:
- No opportunities to increase training volume.
- Doesn’t up the intensity per week.
- Some experienced lifters don’t agree that squatting will improve your deadlift.
- It won’t make you a better overall lifter.
In conclusion, 5×5 is perfect for new lifters but won’t satisfy experienced bodybuilders.
Photo by Li Sun