Are you looking for a simple and effective weight lifting workout? Want to build your strength, increase your muscle mass, and burn body fat? Look no further.
Designed in the 1970s by football strength coach Bill Starr, the 5x5 workout is based on a system of doing five sets of five repetitions using a limited number of compound exercises done three times a week.
Interested in learning more? Read on.
In his book, “The Strongest Shall Survive,” Starr explains the exercise program he designed to increase the strength and bulk of his football players. Three basic exercises comprise each workout: power cleans, bench presses, and squats. Performing these three exercises will work every major muscle group in the body. Therefore, additional exercises aren’t required - but they don’t hurt either.
The three different exercises are rotated each day so that one exercise is done with maximum weight and the other two are done using less than max weight. For example, there is one heavy day each week for power cleans, a heavy day for squats, and a heavy day for bench press. This workout is designed for a six-week period, followed by a break. After a break, the program will resume with heavier weights.
Sound a bit advanced? Fear not, for the 5x5 workout is adaptable to your strength level. The amount you lift is based on your maximum for one repetition. Each exercise then uses a percentage of this maximum. Every week you slightly increase the load so that your strength and the amount of weight lifted progresses at the same time.
In the Classic Starr program, only three main exercises are used: power cleans, bench press, and squats. These three exercises target large muscle groups, while indirectly working your whole body at the same time.
Power cleans help develop explosive power, speed, and strength. They work your hamstrings, calves, glutes, traps, lower back, and upper back. To do the power clean, lift a barbell off the floor to your knees in a slow motion. Then in an explosive motion, pull the barbell up to your shoulders while extending your hips. Keep your shoulders down and your chest up at all times. Before attempting a power clean, stretch your triceps, wrists, and hamstrings.
A bench press works all the large muscles found in the upper body, including your arms, shoulders, and chest. For a bench press, lay on your back on a bench. Lower a weight (barbell) toward your chest, and then push it up until your arms are fully extended.
Squats target the muscles in your legs and hips. Stand with your feet placed shoulder-width apart and facing forward. Hold a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Bend your knees and extend your buttocks back as if sitting in a chair. When your hips become level with your knees, return to a standing position.
If you’re interested in a bodybuilding workout, the 5x5 routine may not be for you. Bodybuilding exercises target individual muscles with the goal of developing a balanced, cut physique. In contrast, the 5x5 program works to build strength and functional muscle mass.
When it comes to strength training, the 5x5 workout is exceptionally simple. If you only perform the three basic exercises recommended, you’ll likely become bored with your workout. Additionally, for maximum benefit from your five sets of five repetitions, you’ve got to challenge yourself with heavy weights, putting yourself at risk for overuse injuries. Therefore, a 5x5 workout is best suited for intermediate or advanced lifters. If you’re a beginner, focus on learning proper lifting technique before trying a 5x5 program.