Monday: Squats, Benching, Rows
Weds: Squats, Military Presses, Deadlifts, Chins
Friday: Squats, Benching, Rows
Courtesy of bill starr bill starr, the greatest strength coach who ever lived, popularized this in the 70's with his great book, The Strongest Shall Survive, which was aimed at strength training for football. I believe he had essentually two different programs which both are 5 sets of 5. The first, which is more suitable for beginners, is to simply do 5 sets of 5 with similar weight jumps between each set so that your last set is your top weight. When you get all 5 on the last set, bump all your weights up 5 or 10lbs. Example for squat... 185 for 5, 225 for 5, 275 for 5, 315 for 5, 365 for 5. If you get 365 for 5, move all weights up. This is especially good for someone who is just learning a particular exercise like the squat, because the amount of practice with light but increasing weights is a good way to practice form.
For more advanced lifters, he advocated a warmup, then 5 sets of 5 with a set weight. For example, the same athlete used in the other example may do 135 for 5, 185 for 5, 225 for 3, 275 for 2, 315 for 1, then 350 for 5 sets of 5. When successfull with all 25 reps at 350lbs, bump the weight up the next workout by 5 or 10lbs.
This is not outdated, and is a good program for gaining strength. Many elite athletes still use it during at least part of the year. I in fact do 5 sets of 5 on squatting for 4 weeks as part of an 8 or 10 week training cycle. Personally, i do it 3 times a week, but most people will probably make better progress doing it 2 times per week, or even doing version 1 once a week, and version 2 once a week.
In any event i described a system in a post a while back that goes something like this:
Monday use the heaviest weight you can for all 5 sets (same weight each set)---- in other words when you get all 5 sets of 5 reps up the weight (most workouts you will get 3 or 4 sets of 5- and maybe your last one will be for 3 or 4 reps)
Wednesday use 10-20% less weight- in other words if you used 200lbs on monday use 160-180lbs on wednesday- actual amount depending on your recovery
Friday work up to a max set of 5-
In other words lets say that your best ever set of 5 is 215lbs and you used 200lbs on monday for 5 sets and 170lbs on wednesday. On friday your workout might be like this 95 for 5 135 for 5 175 for 5 200 for 5 then attempt 220 for your last set of 5.
This tends to work better as a long term program than doing the same thing 3 times a week. On exercises where you only do them once a week like deadlift you can just do the 5 sets of 5 like i described. On monday on exercises that you are only doing twice (rows) you could do both exercises like the monday workout or lighten one of them depending on your recovery ability. Be conservative with the weight when you start- that is important.
Also i have used this program VERY often with athletes and it IS result producing. However many of your gains will show up after you use it for 4-6 weeks and you switch to training a bit less frequently and lower the reps and volume. However this is one program i have had a LOT of success with. In fact i rarely if ever use it with athletes who are at the top of their weight class because it causes too much weight gain unless you severely restrict your food.
Here's how to periodize and peak with the 5x5 program....
"i do squats only. however i also do alot of other pulling motions off the floor, and these also work the legs. as far as squats monday 5 sets of five with a set weight wendsday, 5 sets of five with a weight that is 10-15% less than monday friday, work up with sets of five, going for your best set of five heres an example of how we do this...
lets say a person has a previous best of 5 sets of five weight with 300lbs, and has done one set of five with 325lbs for this person i may start with mondays weight of 285lbs, wendsdays weight of 255lbs, and on friday work up to a set of five with 310lbs, however if this person never trained this way before i would be much more conservative, more on that later then make small jumps each week, maybe week 2 use 295, 260, and 320 for the three workouts, week three use maybe 305, 265, and 330...and so on.
however keep this in mind, if on monday you cannot do all five sets of five keep the weight the same the next week, and on friday if you fail on a weight you choose keep the weight the same the next week
now, heres a few more hints, if you are not use to this sort of training and know you are gonna be sore as hell the first couple weeks, simply start more conservatively with the weight. if you are use to this sort of training, you can be a bit more agrressive from the start.
also as the weeks go by, dont increase wensdays workout as much as the other two. also some people are able to handle a heavier wensday workout than others. i have had athletes who have reacted best if wensdays workout was only 5% less than mondays weight. i have seen others who needed 25% reduction, however the average seems to be 10-15%, maybe if your new to this training start with 25% reduction then next time try 10-15% reduction.
with people new to this program i usually use it for 6-7 weeks, because we start more conservatively and it takes longer to get the benefits. with people who have done it before i generally go with 4 weeks at a time and go with setting records on monday and friday of week 3, week 4 is to try even more weight if week 3 was succesful, if it wasnt, then try record weights again. after this routine is over, we drop the frequency to about two workouts a week or even a bit less , and drop volume usually to 3 sets of 3.
the first week, we use the same weight as on the last monday of the 5 sets of five workout. this helps with recuperation. then, as in before we add weight each workout, this time aiming to break records on the fourth or fifth 3 sets of 3 workout.
sometimes we cycle on down to 1 set of three for two or three workouts, other times we have an offloading week then start with the five sets of five again.
i proably left some things out, i always seem to. however, although there are other programs that i am sure are effective, i have used alot of leg training programs and this one i know works, i have used this routine on probably over 100 athletes with success all around. it is not unusual for an athlete to increase their leg strength 100lbs in the full squat in the first six months i work with them.
now i know of other people who have tried this program on my recomendation in the track and field world, and not have the success i have had. however they always make the same mistakes, either starting on week one with max weights and not taking a week or two or even three to work up to max weights, OR, they start in on the 3 sets of 3 with too heavy a weight... you have to adjust the volume. dont be in too much of a hurry.
be content to set records on week 3, not week 1. well thats about it, but if your patient and do it right, it will be effective."....wow that was a mouthful ok, that is what i was talking about, although in that post i didnt explain a couple of things that i would like to now.
as you see from reading that, were talking about 4-6 weeks basically of a prep phase, and 3-5 weeks of a peaking phase, so its not really an 8 week program all the time. every time i write this program out, its a bit different, thats because its not a set in stone thing, but an example of a training philosophy... and it can and is altered in the details for individuals. however, there is one important point concerning what can be altered and still get the desired effects.
during the initial phase where 5 sets of 5 are used, you must stick to the written workout frequency and volume. no matter what, do the required sets 3 times a week. if you feel like your really dieing, then cut the weight back. but in the initial portion, the volume and frequency shouldnt be messed with. now, when you go to the sets of 3, you need to begin with the weight specified, and go up each workout, and you should be fairly rested each workout.
that means that you MAY be able to squat 2 times a week at this point, however you may need to squat once every 4 or 5 days, depends on the individual. also, 3 sets of 3 is a good volume for the first week of this phase, but often people react better to 2 or even one top set per workout during the second, third, or 4th weeks of this phase. during this phase, its the opposite of the first phase, he weight increases are the important thing.
take enough rest between workouts and cut the workout volume enough to assure that you are recovered enough to raise the weight. hope this clarifies a bit. the 3 day a week program i wrote was an example of a basic 3 day a week program for a relative beginner. i meant it to be done without any other assistance work except maybe abs. of course, an advanced lifter would probably not do that workout exactly as written.
as far as the "peaking" part of the squat program, i usually use this with shot-putters and athletes like that, and dont neccessarily do it with a program like the 3 day a week program, although if you were doing that and wanted to "peak" a particular exercise, it would work.
basically, if you are not going to try to peak strength, you need to be more carefull when doing the 5 sets of 5 three days a weeek, and not get the weights up so heavy that you start to overtrain... a more gradual increase in weighs is called for, and you must use a little common sense and not push so hard you need rest... when trying to peak you just push and keep pushing on the last couple of weeks of the 5 by 5... you push right to the brink ov overtraining basically, then back the volume and frequency off with the sets of 3.