5 x 5 Example

In my last post I mentioned that we were planning on getting back to the basics, in particular the 5 x 5 program. The 5 x 5 program has been around for as long as I can remember. Every lifter, from body builder to powerlifter, has probably used this program or some variation of it in their training. Some may have not even realized they were using it.

For those who may be new to lifting, the 5 x 5 is a very basic progressive program and can be utilized to build base strength. Below is an expert from my book, Monster Squat, to give you an idea how it can be used to build your squat. It will give you a better understanding of the program and a template to work from to plan your own variation of the program.

From the pages of Monster Squat….

5 x 5 Program

One of the best base building programs is the traditional 5 x 5 program. This consists of five sets with five reps. It will require you to slowly increase the training weight. You want to perform regular squats as well as box squats. Most of the other exercises, discussed earlier in this chapter, are used specifically to train weaknesses. Below is a typical 5 x 5 program.

Week 1
Monday Squats 5 sets x 5 reps Moderate weight
Good Mornings 4 sets x 8 reps Medium weight
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Box Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Light day, use 40% of max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each
Week 2
Monday Squats 5 sets x 5 reps Week 1 weight + 5 to 10 lbs.
Leg Press 4 sets x 8 reps Light weight
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Box Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Speed day use 40% of max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each
Week 3
Monday Box Squats 5 sets x 5 reps Moderate weight
Good Mornings 4 sets x 8 reps Medium weight
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Light day use 40% of max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each
Week 4
Monday Box Squats 5 sets x 5 reps Week 3 weight + 5 to 10 lbs.
Leg Press 4 sets x 8 reps Medium weight
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Speed day so use 40% of max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each
Week 5
Monday Max Squats Work up to a 1 rep single max
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Light day very light < 40% max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each
Week 6
Monday Light Squats 3 sets x 5 reps Light weight
Thursday Pull Throughs 3 sets x 10 reps
Squats 8 sets x 2 reps Speed day, so use 40% of max
Leg Extensions/Curls 4 sets x 10 reps each

As you can see, this is a six-week program, consisting of two exercises in a two-week rotation. The main exercise will be performed for two weeks in a row, and then switched to the second exercise. Each second week with an exercise, you should try and push the weight higher than the previous week. On the fifth week, max out to see where you’re at, and rest on the sixth week. On week seven, start all over again and try to push the weights higher than the last time you performed the exercise in the rotation. You need to start with a weight that you can get all five reps for all five sets. If you are unable to do this, then stay with the same weight on the second week.

Notice the light days are the “other” exercise from the heavy day exercise; this is to add change. On light days, you should be more focused on form than on weight, so keep it light. Note the secondary exercises on each heavy day—good mornings and leg presses. These need to be done with moderate weights, nothing too heavy.

This may seem to be a very simple program because it is. I chose the squat and the box squat for this program because they focus on form along with strength. The squat and box squat will have you performing the full range of motion for squatting while you build your strength.

Track your progress each week and try this program for at least three cycles, approximately three months. After three months, you will be ready to move on. Take an inventory of your progress. Have your training partners access your form. They will help determine your weaknesses and help you plan your next training program. Your form should be more than adequate, and you should have made significant gains before moving on. It may take longer than three months but be persistent and continue constructing your base until you are ready to move on.

There you have it. Pretty simple, right? Beginners, this is one of the best base building programs out there and for you experienced lifters, like myself, getting back to the basics is sometimes what your training needs.

Remember, questions and comments are always welcome.

GO MOVE SOME METAL!