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5x5 Workout: The Best Workout to Build Strength & Mass


5x5 Workout: The Best Workout to Build Strength & Mass
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If you want to develop strength and size, 5×5 workouts are ideal! A 5×5 workout mostly uses compound barbell movements — for example, squats and deadlifts. The weights tend to be heavy, but the repetitions per set are lower.

As the name suggests, a person usually has to do 5 sets of 5 repetitions. Compound movements get stronger by adding weight every time someone works out using this method. This form is excellent for beginners and experienced lifters because it effectively helps both groups progress.

Therefore, give it an effort — chances are you'll improve more than you think!

What is the 5×5 Workout Program?

The 5x5 workout program is a series of five exercises performed weekly. The exercises are designed to increase strength and muscle mass and are typically performed with heavy weights.

Bodybuilder Bill Starr popularized the 5x5 program in the 1970s, and since then, it has become one of the most popular workout programs among serious weightlifters. There are many variations of the 5x5 program, but all of them involve performing five sets of five repetitions for each exercise.

A 5x5 workout is focused on compound barbell movements, such as squats and deadlifts. You use lower repetitions with heavier weights for each set; usually, there are five sets of five repetitions.

The objective is gradually become stronger in these exercises by adding weight every time you do the workout routine. The workout revolves around 3 days of training in a week; it's a 3-day program because it's exhausting, and the body needs to relax and power up after the strenuous physical activity.

5×5 Weekly Training Schedule

The 5X5 workout is based on the following weekly training schedule:

Week 1

Perform workout A twice, on Monday and Friday. Perform workout B once on Wednesday.

Workout A

Barbell squat — 5×5

Barbell bench press — 5×5

Bent-over barbell row — 5×5

Workout B

Barbell squat — 5×5

Barbell overhead/military press — 5×5

Barbell deadlift — 5×5

Week 2

Perform workout A twice, on Monday and Friday. Perform workout B once on Wednesday.

Workout A

Barbell squat — 5×5

Barbell overhead/military press — 5×5

Barbell deadlift — 5×5

Workout B

Barbell squat — 5×5

Barbell bench press — 5×5

Bent-over barbell row — 5×5

Week 3 will repeat the structure of week 1, adding weight. Week 4 will follow week 2's structure, adding weight.

This is a simple but intense thrice-a-week program where you'll lift heavy weights with fewer reps. 5x5 always focuses on just 5 reps of all exercises, and there is no concept of working out on two consecutive days in these programs.

The concept of recovery is strong in 5x5, where your muscles must be given a day to rejuvenate, recover and build bigger and stronger after a tiring day at the gym.

This workout always starts with squats, and there are strong reasons for it:

  • The squat is an incredibly functional and important exercise. Whether your goal is to improve performance or simply be able to stand up from a chair in old age, squats are essential.
  • When you squat with a barbell, your core must be stable to avoid fatigue. Other exercises don't require the same level of stabilization with weight pressing directly down, or they allow you to drop the weight easily if you can't complete the repetition.

Other than this, the workout is fairly simple and self-explanatory.

Benefits of the 5x5 Workout

Here's a quick overview of the most outstanding benefits of the program:

Building Maximal Strength

5x5 training is high-intensity strength training that can effectively build maximal strength. The 5x5 workout involves performing 5 sets of 5 reps of a heavy lifting exercise, such as the squat, bench press, or deadlift.

This program trains your nervous system to recruit each muscle maximally and is especially effective for building explosive strength. In addition, 5x5 training can help to increase your work capacity and improve your recovery from strenuous exercise.

Packing on Lean Muscle Mass

Although the number of repetitions in a set is often thought to be the most important factor in gaining lean muscle mass, research suggests that loads of 5 repetitions or even lower can lead to substantial gains.

You don't necessarily have to hit maximum reps to gain lean mass; lifting heavy weights and doing fewer reps may just do the trick for you. They may even present a better alternative to exhausting reps.

Revving Up Your Metabolism

The 5×5 program not only helps build muscle but also aids in burning calories and reducing body fat. Simply put, the more muscles you have, the more energy your body expends- both during a workout and post-workout as your muscles repair themselves.

Furthermore, extra muscle requires additional calories to maintain itself, meaning by following the 5×5 program and gradually increasing heavier weights over time, you will be able to create a calorie deficit (or prevent weight gain) without necessarily having to change anything else about your diet or lifestyle!

Improved Athletic Performance

The barbell lifts are the core of many strength and conditioning programs for athletes. Strength and conditioning coaches use these exercises because they transfer well to many sporting activities and improve athletic performance.

Simple But Effective

Three exercises per workout might sound like too little, but it's simpler to keep track of your progress this way. You won't have to wait around for equipment since you can utilize a squat rack for most or all workouts.

If saving time is something that interests you and you're a gym-goer, consider giving this method a try next time your go-to spot is crowded when you work out.

Understanding Serious Strength Programs

After you follow this program for a few months, you'll see real progress. You will learn to trust the efficacy of basic but difficult barbell workouts as the best way to improve. From that point on, whenever somebody recommends a newfangled workout plan, you'll be able to tell if it's worthwhile or not.

Drawbacks of the 5x5 Workout Plan

You may be interested in knowing where it lags. Well, here's what makes it not-so-perfect:

Overly Simplistic

Many people believe that the 5x5 workout plan is too simplistic and doesn't provide enough of a challenge. After all, it only consists of five reps and five exercises. Important exercises like lunges and dips (exercises that many consider staple) are completely omitted.

Not Customizable

Simple programs are not to be hated because they suit some people's busy routines. They are not so great for others because there is little room for customization. The 5x5 workout is perfect for many because of its very simple layout, but it doesn't suit people who have injuries and might want to change a few things for better compatibility purposes.

Restrictive Rep Range

The program is great for muscle building with heavier weights but fewer reps. However, it may not be to the liking of some who like to alternate or frequently change reps to keep their interest intact. 5x5 is mostly about 5 reps on all lifts; there is a margin of slight changes, but it usually does stick to 5 reps only.

Is 5x5 for Beginners?

5x5 training programs are certainly beneficial for beginners; however, they're recommended more often to intermediate lifters. Though you won't be lifting your maximum capacity, the intensity and volume are higher than most bodybuilding routines.

Beginners will benefit from standard 8-12 reps programs with progressive loading better. Jumping head first into a 5x5 may be slightly overwhelming for some newcomers.

Tips on 5x5

Here are some tips that you must keep in mind while following the 5X5 workout program:

  • If you can't perform five reps on the first four sets, lower the weight slightly for the next set.
  • Once you can do five reps on all five sets with the same weight, raise the weight during your next workout session.
  • For 5×5 sequences, focus mainly on compound lifts such as squats and bench presses.
  • The additional exercises should mostly be isolation moves like leg extensions and flyes.


1. What's the right weight for a 5×5 workout?

If you're looking to hit your fitness goals as efficiently as possible, set your program up using a 1 repetition maximum (1RM) goal in mind. For 5 reps, 85% of your 1RM should be manageable.

However, if this is your first time working out at the gym, testing and pushing yourself to find your true 1RM can be dangerous, given

your lack of experience with proper form for each movement. In this case, it's best to start slow by utilizing just the barbell - which typically weighs 45 pounds (20.4 kg). Get comfortable with the program and movements by sticking with just the bar for 2 weeks or more before progressing to adding weight.

2. How long should you do a 5x5 program?

Train 5x5 for at least four weeks, and if you hit all your reps, you should set new rep maxes and see significant strength and muscle gains. If you're still progressing, stay on the program for another four weeks. After that point, it's a great time to try different exercises or switch to a different workout routine altogether.

3. What's the best nutrition for 5x5 training?

No matter the workout, proper nutrition is key to fuelling the activity and aiding recovery. When you're doing 5x5 training, this is no different. Even though you might not break a sweat during sets of 5, trust us when we say that your body is working hard!

A general rule of thumb is to consume a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. So don't be scared to see the number on the scale increase along with the weight on the barbell. Fuel your body to muscle up.


The 5x5 workout is a great program for beginners and experienced lifters alike. It's a great way to build strength and mass, and it has several benefits that make it worth considering. However, before starting, you should be aware of some drawbacks to the 5x5 workout. So, if you're considering starting a 5x5 workout program, educate yourself on all the ins and outs first. And this article is the best place to start!

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Schoenfeld, Brad J., et al. “Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum.” Sports (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 9, no. 2, Feb. 2021, p. 32. PubMed,

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