Building Mass with 5x5 Training

5x5 training is one of the original and most popular muscle mass building programs being used by elite bodybuilders and athletes. It's designed to hit a muscle group hard 2-3 times per week, while still providing enough recovery time to promote significant muscle growth. 

This program is designed for those that have base training "under their belt" as the intensity and volume is much higher than what most beginner bodybuilders are used to. If your body isn't used to this increased intensity, you may experience prolonged recovery times and, potentially, the risk of overtraining.

A recommended "5x5 cycle" lasts approximately 7-9 weeks, which includes 4-6 weeks of "prep work" followed by 3 weeks of the "peak phase".

Recommended 5x5 Training Products

5x5 Prep Work Phase

During the first week of your 5x5 regimen it's important to prepare your body, allowing it to grow accustomed to this type of training. Proper prepping starts with finding the proper weights to start with. 

Finding the Proper Weight Range

Focus on finding a weight range that allows you to complete 5 sets of a given exercise, at 5 reps per set (25 total reps). The weight should be heavy enough to where you cannot complete 6-8 reps of 5 sets, but also light enough to where you're able to finish all 5 sets. The entire training program is centered around being able to complete all 25 reps, so it's entirely important to find the proper weight range for each exercise. 

Increasing Weight Properly

After the first week, once you're able to properly complete (focus on proper form) all of your sets at the proper weight range, it's important to gradually increase your weight in order to maximize strength gains. For free weights, we recommend increasing weight by 5lbs per dumbbell and by 10lbs (each side) on barbell exercises. 

If you're unable to complete the entire 5x5 set/rep range with the increased weight then you need to reduce the increased weight to one that allows you to complete the entire program. If, by decreasing the weight, you end up back at your original weight, then perform your exercises for an additional week at their original weights to help build the strength necessary for a weight increase. 

With proper nutrition and training, by the time you've reached the 4-6 week mark, you should be setting new weight maxes and seeing significant increases in strength and size (best when done in a "bulking" phase, or calorie surplus).

5x5 Peak Phase

After 4-6 weeks of prepping, you're ready for the 5x5 peaking phase, which is where you begin to follow a 3x3 model of 3 sets of an exercise at 3 reps each. This allows you perform better each rep, while pushing more weight per set. 
For the larger, compound exercises like squat, bench press, and deadlift, you may want to consider only performing the 3x3 program twice per week, as opposed to three times, due to increased intensity.

During the peak phase it's important to focus on increasing weight, more so than increasing the number of reps performed. This is the time to train harder and push yourself to new levels.

Below, we provide a weekly breakdown of a commonly effective prepping phase 5x5 program.

5x5 Training - Day 1 (Monday)

  • Barbell Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 5 reps

5x5 Training - Day 2 (Wednesday) 

  • Front Barbell Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Standing Military Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Barbell Deadlift: 5 sets of 5 reps

5x5 Training - Day 3 (Friday)

  • Barbell Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Row: 5 sets of 5 reps

With only 3 exercises and 75 reps total, this leaves room for 1-2 accessory workouts (abs, calves, etc.) as well. There's no need to focus on the 5x5 program for these base exercises. 

5x5 Training Round Up

For those looking to mix up their workout regimen, the 5x5 training program is one of the most respected and most efficient regimens for gaining lean muscle mass. It's important to note, however, that whenever you're looking to gain muscle mass, or bulk, to be in a caloric surplus, to help with protein synthesis. 

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