The 5×5 workout plan is by no means a new development; devised by American football strength and conditioning coach Bill Starr in the 1970s, this training regime has been around longer than most of us can remember. For those of you that undertake regular resistance training, the 5×5 makes reference to five sets of five repetitions and is commonly associated as a viable means of developing both strength and size.

It’s application is simple, based around a small number of effective compound exercises, the 5×5 workout plan requires an individual to undertake this form of training three times per week.

The 5×5 Workout

Each workout consists of three primary exercises – those being squats, power cleans and bench presses. The completion of these three exercises ensures that each major muscle group in the body is targeted and worked. The squats target your legs and hip region, the power clean develops explosive power throughout the body (most significantly the back), whilst the bench press targets your chest, shoulders and arms.

On any given week, each primary exercise is rotated so that one is performed with maximal loads, whilst the other two exercises are undertaken at sub maximal intensities. In a nutshell, this basically means that during the training week, each exercise will be undertaken on a heavy day, medium day and light day. This is normally repeated for a period of 6 weeks before alterations are made.

Here’s a look at how the training regime might look:

  • Monday: Squats (heavy), power cleans (medium), bench press (light).
  • Wednesday: Bench press (heavy), squats (medium), power cleans (light).
  • Friday: Power cleans (heavy), bench press (medium), squats (light).

Prior to commencing the 5×5 workout plan you will need to obtain and be aware of your one repetition maximums for every given exercise so that you are well aware of the resistance that is required each week. Each week these loads are enhanced, so that a gradual development in both strength and size is inevitable by the end of the 6 week cycle.

Final Word

The 5×5 workout plan is a simple, yet effective means of developing muscular mass in a relatively short space of time. This training technique won’t be for everyone and has been criticised for lacking any real character, causing athletes to easily develop boredom with the same routine, day in, day out. Having said that, there’s nothing to stop you completing the require 5×5 exercises and then adding some additional isolation or abdominal exercises at the end of it to spice things up a little.

Finally, it is important to note that due to the 5 repetition maximums required, this workout regime will not be suitable for gym novices. The reason being, the load required to perform five repetitions will place your muscular system under excessive demands, resulting in potential bad form and injury.