The 5 by 5 program is as old as the world. However, this does not negate its effectiveness. Athletes since ancient Soviet times used this program and grew well on it. Unfortunately, modern fashion trends often lead people away from proven and really working programs in the direction of ingenious, but ineffective schemes. Today we will understand why the 5 × 5 training program is so good.

5 × 5 workout program

In fact, the 5 × 5 training program is not a specific training program with a specific set of exercises, but a general training principle. Although there are specific options, such as the Stronglifts 5 × 5 program from Reg Park , but still it is not some single and undeniable option, and the exercises in such programs can use the most diverse.

Option Rega Park provides that you perform only three basic strength exercises at each training session. In this case, you alternate between two training options. The first workout consists of squats, bench press and torsion barbell tilt. The second workout includes squats, standing press (army bench press) and deadlift. These workouts are constantly alternating.

The program is quite tolerable. The base allows you to gain weight well and progress as quickly as possible in working scales. This will be especially noticeable at the initial stage of training, if you have not been involved in bodybuilding programs before.

Reviews about this program in most cases are good, however, in our opinion, there is still something to argue with.

Than the Reg Park option is bad

Reg Park, of course, was a great athlete, so you need to be insolent in order to criticize his program. But we still try.

For example, this program is offered to be performed 3 times a week. We believe that for such a basic program this is very, very much (for example, heavy squats go at every training session). Even chemists are unlikely to be able to fully recover from such a training schedule, and 100% straight people will get severe overtraining.

In the best case, under such a program you can train only at the very, very beginning of your training. Literally, the first 1-2 months. At this stage, the working weights are still small, the muscles, too, and the body does not take so many resources to restore them. To train in this way further, or with already existing solid training experience, is the way to nowhere.

You need to either create a split program (so that the exercises are not repeated in different workouts, and fundamentally different muscle groups work), or increase the rest time between workouts.

The best option would be to train for this program a maximum of 2 times a week. And in truth, I want to say that it is better to train only 1 time (yes, it also happens). Do not be afraid to rest for a long time and recover well!

We do not exclude the possibility that during the days of Reg Park, bodybuilding, in fact, was only in its infancy, and had not yet managed to acquire a scientific base. People themselves felt for ways to train muscles, looked for working options, and it is quite possible that the Reg Park option in this regard was quite good, but still not an ideal option. He, too, could be mistaken in something. In addition, Reg Park itself definitely took steroids.

Even now, after decades, in bodybuilding there is no consensus on a number of issues. There are many conflicting opinions. Therefore, we can safely assume that in those days everything was even more complicated.

Why the 5 × 5 training principle is so effective

As we have already said, it would be more correct to consider a 5 × 5 system not as a concrete training program, but as a training principle. Its essence lies precisely in the combination of the number of approaches and repetitions.

The fact is that the natural athlete’s strength and mass does not grow from a large number of repetitions. And not from much fatigue. Muscles grow from maximum stress in a certain range of repetitions. As a rule, in bodybuilding we are talking about 6-12 repetitions in the approach.

This range of repetitions per se is small. It seems strange to many beginners how to pump up, doing only 6-12 repetitions. It seems to them that for muscle growth you need to work in a multi-repetitive mode.

Practice shows that this is not so. A multi-rep is very poorly builds strength, and relatively weakly builds muscle mass. It gives a good pumping and a feeling of powerful pumping. But pumping both comes and goes, and in the long run it does not give serious results. Therefore, for a straightforward, a little repeat is the best choice. Many experienced athletes with experience come to this idea.

And even if a range of 6-12 repetitions is taken, even in this range there will be a big difference if we compare, say, 6 and 12 repetitions. In which case will you create maximum stress in your muscles? That’s right, with 6 repetitions you can work with much more weight than 12 repetitions. Consequently, the load on the muscles will be greater. That is what we are achieving.

In the case of the 5 by 5 program, we perform even fewer repetitions. It’s not even 6, but only 5. This allows us to provide the very maximum stress stress, which causes us to increase muscle mass and strength.

Theoretically, the number 5 is not in this case some kind of magic. With the same success, you can do 4 or 6 repetitions, or perform not 5 approaches, but 4 or 3. There is no fundamental difference. The main essence of this program is a low number of repetitions and hard power work.

How can you enhance the effect of a 5 by 5 program on mass

If we develop this idea further, we can draw the following conclusion: we can develop maximum effort only with “fresh” muscles in the first approach to the muscle group.

That is, if we achieve failure not in the fifth approach, but in the very first, then this failure will be the most powerful and most powerful. It is in the first approach (of course, after the warm-up approaches) that we will be able to give our best.

When we fail in the last approach, it turns out that in all approaches we are not working on it. That is, if in the last approach we can do 4-5 repetitions, after which the failure occurs, then in the first approach we could do not 5 repetitions, but much more repetitions. Maybe 7-8, or even all 10. We would have had enough strength for this.


But we deliberately stopped at the number 5. That is, stress was not the maximum. Failure occurred only in the last approach, but this failure was not the hardest, since by the fifth approach our muscles were already tired and could not develop maximum effort. We could develop maximum effort in the first working approach.

Thus, we can conclude that the first working approach to the muscle group is the most important and most useful. All other approaches are not so important. Theoretically, we may not perform them at all, and the muscles should still grow.

If we use refusal in the first approach, then we can do 5-10 repetitions in it, and in the other approaches take the same weight and perform approaches also to failure, but with an arbitrary number of repetitions. How much will turn out, so much and okay. Even if it will be only 3-5 repetitions in the last approach. For example, 10-7-6-5-4, or 5-4-3-3-2.

Does it make sense to do even less repetition

By the way, Mike Mentzer in his book “Super Training” promotes, in essence, the same principle (little repetition, few approaches, maximum stress, rare workouts).

But still, most bodybuilders agree that one approach is somehow too little. A decrease in the number of repetitions of less than 5 is no longer a matter of mass and strength, but mainly only of strength, and, in essence, this will already be more like powerlifting than bodybuilding. Therefore, 5 repetitions and 3-5 approaches are considered more optimal and universal for the goals and objectives of bodybuilding.

Why modern professionals choose multi-repetition

Indeed, one can notice how top bodybuilders perform a lot of repetitions in their workouts. Why is he doing this?

The thing is that all professional bodybuilders (all to one) use hormonal pharmacology (steroids, insulin, growth hormone). This is what allows them to build such muscle mass. They have a lot of artificially introduced hormones in their body, and their own testosterone production is suppressed.

Therefore, it makes no sense to create naturally high levels of testosterone in the body. His and so much (artificial). Therefore, a little repetition will not give them any special advantages.

For natural athletes, their own production of testosterone is critical. And little repetition contributes to this better.

The second reason that professionals engage in multi-repetitive mode is the potential trauma of low repetition when using steroids.

The fact is that on the course of steroids and other pharmacies, muscle strength increases manyfold in comparison with natural values. Therefore, the load on the ligaments and tendons increases significantly. From prohibitively large weights, the ligaments and tendons can simply tear or tear off. Muscle rupture may also occur. Such cases are not uncommon for chemists.

Therefore, they prefer to work with large, but still moderate weights in a large number of repetitions. Figuratively, this can be compared with the principle of a gearbox or lever: you can make a big effort for a small number of repetitions, or a small effort for a large number of repetitions – the work from the point of view of physics is the same.

In straight men, working weights are most often not at all exorbitant, so it is almost impossible to injure muscles or ligaments under such conditions. Especially in the initial stages. The muscles simply do not have enough strength for this. You cannot create such more effort. Therefore, for straight people, a small repetition can be considered safe. Especially if the correct technique is followed and a good workout is performed.

5 to 5 workout option (full body)

We would suggest the following options for a 5 on 5 principle training program:

  • Deadlift – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5
  • Reverse Grip Pulls – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5
  • Bench press on an inclined bench – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5


  • Squats – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5
  • Inclined rod pull – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5
  • Bench press on an inclined bench – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

These two options are suitable for beginners to train in the first 1-2 months of training. You can perform it 2-3 times a week. Asterisks indicate warm-up approaches. You can alternate these two workouts, as in the program from Reg Park.

This combination of exercises allows you to use almost all the muscles of the body, and the muscle groups in these exercises practically do not intersect. That is, each muscle group actively works only once per training session (legs, traction muscles, squeezing muscles). As we have already said, great fatigue does not play any role, so it makes no sense to do 99 different exercises on the same muscle group or individual muscle.

In general, these programs can be used as long as it gives results. If muscle mass at the end of the month increased by at least 1-2 kg or more, then you can continue. If you have not even gained 0.5-1 kg, then it’s time to switch to split.

5 to 5 split training option

The 5 to 5 split option can be used as follows:

Workout 1

Squats – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

Inclined rod pull – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

Workout 2

Bench Press – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

Workout 3

Deadlift – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

Reverse Grip Pulls – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

Workout 4

Standing barbell press – 15 *, 10 *, 5 × 5

This version of the program is superbase. No isolation. This option is good for gaining total muscle mass. If you want to purposefully and intensely train (or, conversely, not train) some muscles (for example, for reasons of body features and aesthetics), you can change this program, add isolated exercises there, change or remove some exercises.

As you can see, muscles on different days will work fundamentally different (bench presses and traction alternate). This will allow better recovery of the muscles that worked in the last workout. The presses and traction alternate so that the press and traction muscles work at different angles on different days.

The bench press can be replaced by the bench press on a bench with an angle of inclination of 30-45 degrees.

Squats and deadlifts are alternated and not used at every training session, since recovery from squats and deadlifts takes a particularly long time. If you feel underreported, you can generally do squats and stand only once a week.

In general, the program is designed to run 2-3 times a week. A longer rest between workouts is welcome. Between approaches in training, you can relax for 2-3 minutes (less is not necessary).

Thus, now you have different versions of the 5 by 5 weight training program, both for the first months of classes and for classes with more training experience.

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