The 5×5 workout plan is specifically designed to hit all of the major muscle groups with serious intensity — multiple times per week.
First originating the 1940’s, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about the 5×5 workout in his best selling book ”The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.” He says that he first learned about the 5×5 workout program from his bodybuilding idol Reg Park, who won Mr. Britain 1949 and Mr. Universe 1951.
Over time it has become one of the most commonly used workouts for building strength and muscle mass. Both, professional and amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters all swear by it — and rightfully so!
Does The 5×5 Workout Work?
Does the 5×5 workout really work? The answer is a resounding yes! This workout has been around for decades and has been used by countless bodybuilders and powerlifters to build strength and muscle mass. Not only does the 5×5 workout work, but it is also one of the simplest and most effective workout programs out there.
In his book The Education of a Bodybuilder (1977), Arnold Schwarzenegger said this about the 5×5 workout program:
“From the beginning I was a big believer in the basic movements, because that was Reg Park’s preference. He would stay with the basic exercises – bench presses, chin-ups, squats, rowing, barbell curls, wrist curls, pullovers, leg extensions, calf raises. These were the movements that worked most directly on all body parts. I was following his example to the letter. And as it turned out, I could hardly have chosen more wisely. The basic exercises were creating for me a rugged foundation, a core of muscle I could later build upon for a winning body. Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality.”
Is 5×5 Workout Good For Bodybuilding?
The 5×5 workout is perfect for bodybuilding because it allows you to hit all of the major muscle groups with serious intensity. One of the big advantages of using this workout program for bodybuilding is that it allows you to add more mass.
In his book The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (1998), Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about the two core principles of the 5×5 workout:
“The 5×5 system is based on two important principles: First, progressive resistance — in order to keep getting results, you must continually increase the amount of weight you lift; Second, working out five times a week – this allows you to train each muscle group hard and frequently enough so that it will continue to grow larger and stronger.”
The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding
A 5×5 workout should take you around 45 to 60 minutes to complete. This includes the time it takes you to warm up, rest between sets, and cool down.
As the name suggests, the 5×5 workout program involves doing 5 sets x 5 repetitions on basic compound exercises. These include lifts like bench press, barbell rows, deadlift and squats, among others.
This workout is usually done 3 times per week, but there are many different workout variations where training can be done more or less often.
By doing the 5×5 workout with progressive overload you can expect to add up-to 30-60lbs (14-28kg) to your compound lifts (bench press, squats, deadlift) after just 12 weeks of training.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered by many people to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time. The 7x Mr. Olympia winner used this workout program to help him achieve his legendary physique — so if it was good enough for the Austrian Oak, it will be good enough for you.
5×5 Workout Results
The 5×5 workout program is one of the most effective ways to build strength and muscle mass. In fact, it is so effective that it is still used by bodybuilders and powerlifters today — even though it has been around since the 1940s!
If you are looking for serious results, then this workout program is for you. Just make sure to follow the program correctly and to listen to your body. If you are new to lifting, then start light and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. Progressive overload is the cornerstone of the 5×5 workout.
Most people who do the 5×5 workout program see results within a few months. However, it is important to note that everyone is different and that results will vary from person to person. If you’re a beginner you may notice significant results in as quickly as a few weeks.
5×5 Workout Program
The 5×5 workout was created around the principles of progressive overload. This means that the exercise load changes as you progress. You have to progressively increase your weights, which will trigger new muscle and strength gains.
Progressive overload is perfectly described in the legend of Milo of Croton. It talks about an Ancient Greek wrestler and Olympic victor who is described as having near-superhuman strength. While training for the Olympic games he would lift a calf on his shoulder and carry it every day. As the calf grew over time, so did his strength and muscle.
The lesson here is that he started light and added more weight gradually, which kept making him stronger throughout his training.
Lifting heavy weights is the cornerstone of the 5×5 workout program, but make sure that you don’t go too heavy too early.
During your first 2 weeks it is recommended that you start with weights around 65% of your 1RM. This will allow your muscles to get accustomed to the weight and reduce the risk of injury.
Here is an example of a 5×5 workout program with a full body split:
Bench Press (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Barbell Rows (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Squat (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM)
Weighted Dips (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Weighted Chin-Ups (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Deadlifts (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM)
Incline Bench Press (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Front Squat (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Barbell Rows (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM)
TIP: You should aim to increase the weight on each lift by 5-10% every 2 weeks.
Alternatively, if you prefer to train using an upper/lower body split, try this 5×5 workout program instead:
Bench Press (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Barbell rows (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM)
Squat (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Stiff Leg Deadlift (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM) Calf Raise (5 reps x 5 sets @ 65% 1RM)
By the time you get to week 12 you should be comfortably hitting new 1RM’s. Keep in mind that nutrition is equally as important as training, if not more. So if you want to keep gaining new muscle you must up your calorie intake — especially your protein.
If you find that you are struggling with increasing your weight every 2 weeks, just stick with the same weight for an extra week!