5×5 Workout Explained…

Ben WhiteDL

The 5×5 workout is the perfect way to build overall strength and size.  This type of training has been utilized countless Olympians and professional bodybuilders for years.  Incorporating this into your program supercharges your training regiment into overdrive.  The high intensity gives you a pump unlike no other type of workouts.  Work out plans seemed to get more and more complicated each year; not the 5×5 training.

Because it combines high intensity and volume, the 5×5 workout is a staple in training programs of professional bodybuilders to get results, fast.  Training with the 5 reps 5 times uses your major muscles and core to achieve the overall brute strength that is needed for huge guns and head turning pecs!  It was originally popularized in the 70’s by Bill Starr and Reg Park.  Once Arnold took hold of it, the workout was used by almost everyone in the professional body building world.

The basic set up of the 5×5 workout makes it simple to remember routines and it is perfect for beginners who are looking to jump start a workout program.  The dynamic options available to you allow you to suit your needs and wants.  As I said before, this training paves the road for the muscle you want and the strength needed to get it.  There is no need for crazy exercises; just simple, old school techniques that have been proven to work.  Spending hours in the gym is pointless and only results in overtraining and that leads to fatigue and loss of gains.  This is a quick workout that allows you to see results fast.

Looking at the 5×5 workout, you can interpret the meaning a few different ways.  You can pick a weight and stick with that 5 times for 5 reps.  Working your way up from a light to heavy, making the 5th set your heaviest, gives your body great gains for strength.  Another way to utilize this workout is to make your 3rd set the heaviest and lower the weight slightly for the 4th and 5th set.  Remember, that this should not be your only workout that you do.  This needs to be a workout you do a few weeks at a time, trying to increase the weight you lift each week.  Variations of this workout work great to confuse the body and keep you gaining muscle and size.

Example 5×5 Workout


  • Squat: 5 sets by 5 reps
  • Bench: 5 sets by 5 reps
  • Barbell Row: 5 sets by 5 reps


  • Military Press: 5 sets by 5 reps
  • Deadlift: 5 sets by 5 reps
  • Weighted Wide Grip Pull ups: 5 sets by 5 reps


  • Squat: 5 set by 5 reps
  • Bench:  5 set by 5 reps
  • Barbell Row: 5 set by 5 reps

About the Author

SeanBachelors of Science in Exericse Science | Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist | Fitness Enthusiast | Foodie | Motocross and Soccer Devotee | GingerView all posts by Sean →

  1. davedave09-12-2011

    5×5 only does 1 set of deadlifts iirc

    • SeanSean09-13-2011

      I’m sorry Dave, I do not understand. Are you saying you only do 1 set of deadlifts each week?

  2. TambiTambi09-19-2011

    you will be alternating between two programs each week .. so there will be weeks where you deadlift once and other weeks where you deadlift twice.

  3. SeanSean09-19-2011

    Tambi, you can do this. It really just depends on what you need to work on. I can dead lift more than I can squat, therefore I choose to work legs and chest twice per week because I need to improve those lifts.

  4. OdiliaOdilia01-06-2012

    Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

  5. williamwilliam03-09-2012

    You say make 5th or 3rd set heviest but you said stick with a weight dont make no sense

    • SeanSean03-09-2012


      I am sorry if it confused you, but you have a couple different options. You can stick with one weight for the 5 sets or you can make the 5th set the heaviest and then work back down. It’s just to add variety.

      Hope I cleared that up.

  6. Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about making my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

    • SeanSean08-28-2013

      My best advice would be to start with wordpress. Once you have a basic layout, play around with the code and have fun with the design!

  7. EliasElias09-07-2013

    Hi. Are these meant to be supersets?

    For example,

    5 Squats
    5 Benchpresses
    5 Barbell Rows

    x 5 supersets

    • SeanSean09-08-2013

      No. Those are supposed to be done one exercise at a time. Do your 5 sets before moving on to the next exercise.

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