Go visit any popular bodybuilding website and check out the types of routines people are doing.
Chances are they are extremely complicated and involve doing 10+ exercises with supersets, dropsets, bands, etc.
In fact, most people put more effort into coming up with their program than they actually spend working out!
While it might seem more effective to do tons of exercises the reality is that the simple programs are usually the most effective – that’s where 5×5 comes in.
The 5×5 Training Program
Alright guys, get ready for it… the 5×5 program involves doing… 5 SETS of 5 REPETITIONS per exercise.
Pretty simple, right?
While 5 reps might seem low, it actually allows you to lift some pretty heavy weight which leads to impressive strength gains.
Now, 5×5 training isn’t exactly new – it’s been around for a long time and was used by guys who used to train with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In terms of exercise selection, you are going to want to stick to the compound exercises.
That means, squat, deadlift, rows, shoulder press and bench press.
These exercises all work multiple muscle groups and only need 5 reps to really work your body hard.
As for isolation exercises, you don’t necessarily have to swear them off.
Exercises like lateral raises, bicep curls and tricep kickbacks can all be added in to the routine – but they are not part of the core 5×5 plan.
In other words, don’t expect to build huge biceps by doing 5 sets of 5 reps on curls.
Instead, add in a few sets of isolation exercises at the end of your workout, with 8-12 reps or the traditional hypertrophy range.
If you are doing 5×5 training properly you probably won’t have much energy left for isolation exercises anyway.
Adjusting the Program to Suit your Goals
While 5×5 training is traditionally considered a strength program, it can definitely be tailored to bodybuilders.
One way you can modify this is by adjusting the rest period between sets.
If you are training for strength, feel free to take 2-3 minutes between sets to recover.
However, if you are training for size you should reduce those rest periods to closer to 1 minute.
If you are a beginner we recommend using the 5×5 program to build your strength.
While you might be eager to get huge right away, building a foundation of strength will help you later on.
After all, you will be a lot bigger down the road if you are benching 225 pounds for 10 reps rather than 135 pounds for 10 reps.
Designing the Split
A lot of people like to split their 5×5 workout as push/pull/legs.
This of course isn’t the only way to do it.
You can always do push/pull and split your leg exercises up over those two days.
For example: on push day you could work the quads and on pull day you can work your hamstrings and glutes.
Since many pulling exercises such as the deadlift already work certain leg muscles this type of structure tends to work well.
Another important note about this program is that you want to make sure you are increasing the weight each time you go to the gym.
At first, aim to increase the weight by 5 pounds per workout.
As you become more experienced that will drop to 2.5 pounds per workout or even 2.5 pounds every other workout.
The advantage of being a beginner is that you can make gains quickly – so don’t waste it!
5×5 and Hormone Levels
One of the reasons 5×5 training is so effective for increasing strength is the impact it has on testosterone production.
When you lift heavy weights by squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing your body responds by producing additional testosterone.
As you know, this is the most important male hormone and helps define our body composition, strength, confidence, energy levels and more.
While 5×5 will definitely increase your testosterone levels, you should do everything you can in your life to boost your own t-levels to amplify the benefits.
These include eating a clean diet, getting plenty of sleep, taking a testosterone booster and reducing the stress levels in your life.