Workout Systems: 5×5 Training Method

Workout Systems: 5×5 Training Method

If you’re in the market for a new workout, consider something old school.



The basic goal of the workout is to perform 5 sets of 5 reps of an exercise, with 2 sets being warm-up sets, and increase the load only when you can complete all 25 reps. Although you can use this set/rep protocol with any exercise, it is usually reserved for core exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses.

There are many variations of the program, but with this system the first two sets of 5 reps are performed with progressively heavier loads, the first set at 60% of your working weight and the second at 80%. As an example, let’s assume your best result in the bench press for 5 reps is 200 pounds; 200 pounds will be your working weight.

Start with a warm-up of one set of 5 at 135 followed by one set of 5 at 185. Now put 200 pounds on the bar and try to do 3 sets of 5 reps, resting 3-5 minutes between sets.

The following 5×5 program consists of two alternating workouts, Workout A and Workout B, with at least one day of rest between training sessions. As such, the workouts would progress as follows: Week 1: A,B,A; Week 2, B,A,B; etc.


Workout A

Back Squat, 5×5

Pull-up or Chin-up, 5×5

Bench Press or Dips, 5×5

Forearm or Grip Work, 2×10

Calf Exercise, 2 x 15-20


Workout B

Front Squat, 5×5

Barbell Row, 5×5

Standing Military Press, 5×5

Deadlift, 3×5*

Forearm or Grip Work, 2×10

Calf Exercise, 2 x 15-20


*Only the last set of the deadlift is used with a heavy working weight, with the first 2 sets being with 60% then 80% for 5 reps of the working weight.


3-5 minutes rest between sets for a foundation program focusing on just a few basic exercises such as squats and bench presses, but only 2 minutes rest for a workout designed more for bodybuilding. Tempo prescriptions as a general guideline use 4010 for lower body exercises and 3010 for upper body exercises.