Increased muscle strength is one of the fitness goals of most workout fanatics. Contrary to what most people think, a muscle strength workout plan does not have to be complicated to bear fruits. The key to this is having the right exercises. To end the struggles of thousands of people looking for the best muscle strengthening regime, fitness gurus have developed the 5×5 workout program. Please keep reading to discover what it entails, its benefits, the muscles targeted, and a sample of a muscle-strengthening 5×5 workout plan.
What Is A 5X5 Workout Program?
As the name implies, a 5×5 workout entails doing 5 sets of 5 reps per exercise for increased strength gains. Typically, such a workout regime consists of compound barbell movements such as deadlifts and squats that require heavyweights but lower repetitions per set.
The few reps and sets aim to build strength in the compound movements by adding weight every time you exercise. You may also benefit from increased muscle size, a bonus of training your muscles with such a workout plan.
How Often Should You Perform The 5×5 Workout Program?
Most people craving increased strength may want to perform this daily for maximum gains. However, that is not the way to go. Remember that you need rest days to allow your body muscles to grow and repair.
Fitness experts recommend performing such a routine 3 times a week and setting rest days between the workouts (3). Your workout schedule could be – exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The extra days between the workout days are crucial as they encourage muscle growth.
How Long Should You Perform A 5×5 Workout Program?
Most fitness gurus suggest performing this routine for no more than 4 weeks. In any case, it would be best to talk to your fitness instructor for further guidance.
What Muscles Are Worked In A 5×5 Workout Program?
Because this workout plan has compound movements, multiple muscle groups are targeted simultaneously. Most barbell exercises will target each muscle group by forcing other muscles to assist during each lift. This means that these exercises will target the following muscle groups (3):
- Legs: Hamstrings, quads, and calves
- Core: Rectus abdominis and obliques
- Back: Rhomboids, trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae
- Chest: Pectoralis major and minor
- Arms: Biceps and triceps
- Shoulders: Long, lateral, and posterior heads
Read More: 3-Day Compound Workout Routine
Sample Of A 5×5 Workout Program
Here is a sample of a 5×5 bodybuilding workout regime to consider:
Monday (Workout A)
- Bench press 5×5
- Barbell hip raises 5×5
- Barbell row 5×5
Wednesday (Workout B)
- Overhead press 5×5
- Deadlift 5×5
- Squat 5×5
Friday (Workout C)
- Barbell squats 5×5
- Incline bench press 5×5
- Barbell row 5×5
How To Perform The Exercises
Here are the exercise instructions to guide you:
Thanks to its effectiveness in building upper-body strength, the barbell bench press is a staple in the 5×5 bodybuilding regime.
Muscles targeted: Anterior deltoid, biceps, triceps, pectoralis major, and serratus anterior (3).
- Lie on your back on a flat bench holding a barbell in the rack using an overhand grip and above you.
- Press your feet on the ground, contract your glutes and quads, and then clamp back your shoulder blades to maximize the neural drive to your delts, chest, and triceps.
- Inhale, then slowly lower the bar a few inches above your chest.
- Engage your abs and your chest muscles, then push the bar back to the starting position explosively as you exhale.
The incline bench press is a variation of the standard bench press. The difference lies in the setup. Some gyms have a dedicated incline bench press station. However, some do not, meaning you will have to make the adjustments yourself.
You have to angle a bench to 30 to 45 degrees, then adjust the seat height so that your eyes are underneath the bar when you lie down (3). Additionally, you may want to position the bar directly over your face. After making the adjustments, proceed as shown in the step by step guide.
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Barbell Hip Raises/Thrusts
The hip thrust exercise should be part of your exercise routine if you are looking to build size and strength in your lower body.
Muscles targeted: Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and hamstrings (4).
How to (4):
- Set your back against an elevated surface such as a bench with your knees bent, feet flat and firm on the ground.
- Make sure the bench is slightly below your shoulder blades, feet shoulder-width apart, and elbows rested on the bench.
- Place a light barbell on your hips or deadlift the bar up, seat, and then get back to this position.
- Tuck your chin, then slowly push through your heels until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your legs will form a 90-degree angle.
- Clench your glutes at the top of the movement while holding it, release, and repeat.
The barbell row is loved because it sculpts and tones your upper body while increasing upper body muscle strength.
Muscles targeted: Lats, biceps, rear delt, hamstrings, core, and back muscles (3).
- Facing the bar, step under it, and put your hands around it on either side. Take a step back from the supports with the weight on your shoulders and position your feet slightly wider than the hip-width distance. Make sure your toes are also slightly pointing outward.
- Tighten your core, breathe deeply, and push your hips back to lower into a squat. Squat to your point of discomfort or until your quads are parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a few seconds, then push through your feet to the starting position.
A dumbbell overhead press is one of the exercises you will find in a 5×5 workout program with dumbbells. It works many upper body muscles and helps increase shoulder strength, balance and mobility (3). There are several variations, including the standing and seated overhead press.
Muscles targeted: Deltoids (shoulders), pectorals, biceps, and trapezius
- Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, both held with an overhand grip. This means the thumbs are on the inside.
- Keep the back straight, breathe out, and then raise the weights above the head in a controlled motion.
- Pause for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then inhale and return the dumbbells to the shoulders.
Deadlifts are compound exercises that strengthen multiple major muscle groups at once. They are very effective in building muscle strength.
Muscles targeted: Hamstrings, core, glutes, back, trapezius, and hips (2).
How to (2):
- Stand behind the barbell and position your feet at a shoulder-width distance close to the bar.
- Lift your chest, straighten your back, sink your hips, and bend forward to grip the barbell. Make sure both hands face down in an overhand grip.
- Press the feet flat on the floor, grip the bar and push your hips forward into a standing position. Your legs and back should be straight, and your knees almost locked out.
- Lift the barbell slightly lower than hip height and hold the stance for a few seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Muscles targeted: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back (1).
How to (1):
- Start in a standing position with your feet slightly over shoulder-width distance.
- Hold a barbell across your upper back using an overhand grip, then hug the bar to engage your upper back muscles.
- Remove the bar’s weight and slowly squat until your hips are parallel with your knees and legs, forming a 90-degree angle.
- Hold for a few seconds, then press your feet to the floor to push yourself explosively back up.
- Clench your glutes and hold a few seconds.
It would be best to talk to your trainer to learn the correct form and minimize injury risk. Additionally, learn the correct variation of these exercises because intensity matters. For example, an advanced 5×5 workout program will most likely include stronglifts 5×5 or complicated variations.
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The Bottom Line
As the name implies, a 5×5 workout program entails performing 5 sets of 5 reps per exercise. This includes strength-building exercises as the program is mainly performed to increase muscle strength. You may also notice an increase in muscle mass or size.
A 5×5 workout plan mainly includes compound exercises that target all major muscle groups. These include barbell squats, barbell hip raises, deadlifts, bench press, and the barbell row. It would be best to craft such a workout plan with the help of your trainer.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A better way to squat: Try this and your butt will thank you (2017, nbcnews.com)
- Electromyographic activity in deadlift exercise and its variants. A systematic review (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exercises to Build Your Upper Body Strength (2019, medicinenet.com)
- Girls Gone Strong (2015, youtube.com)