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The Bodybuilding 5×5 Routine You Should Do

5×5: Where It All Started

The 5×5 routine was popularized by an English bodybuilder, Reg Park. Park was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role model, and essentially the man who got Arnold to pursue weightlifting.

When Arnold first saw Reg Park on the cover of a magazine, he said: “He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park.”

bodybuilding 5x5

The late Reg Park was a three-time Mr. Universe winner and competed at a hefty weight of 225 pounds. That’s a lot of muscle, especially back in those days.

Park’s 5×5 routine was first published in 1960 in his manual Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters and Body Builders. Ever since its publication, many have taken his 5×5 routine and made slight alterations to it.

Park’s 5×5 routine was designed for bodybuilders while keeping strength and size gains in mind.

Reg Park’s Bodybuilding 5×5 Routine

How 5×5 Works

Reg’s Parks bodybuilding 5×5 routine consists of three phases. Each phase progressively becomes more challenging, forcing your body into growth. Each phase ends at three months, giving you sufficient time to grow stronger and add more mass.

Park explained that 5×5 involves two warm-up sets followed by three working sets. He says that if you can complete your last three working sets at any given weight, then you should bump up the weight for all five sets by 5-10 pounds.

bodybuilding 5x5

However, Park suggests that you test your one-rep max at the end of each phase. He recommends that you do two warm-up sets followed by three progressive singles.

These singles shouldn’t be easy, instead, they should present a challenge. After all, you’re testing your strength to see how much you’ve gained from the past three months of training. A 1RM testing day would look something like:

1 x 5, 1 x 3, and 3 x 1 for each major lift (squat, bench, deadlift). After you’ve tested your newfound strength, take 4-7 days off from training and start your next phase.

The 5×5 routine requires you to only train for three days a week. Due to the sheer volume of this training method, you’ll need the other days to recover.

The 5×5 Routine

Phase One

  • 45-degree Back Extensions — 3 x 10
  • Back Squat — 5 x 5
  • Bench press — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5

Rest for 3-5 minutes in between every working set. Continue Phase Two for three months.

Remember that if the weights for your working sets become easy, increase the weight by another 5-10 pounds for your next training session.

Phase Two

Phase Two is quite a step-up from the first one, but by the time you complete the first phase, adding a few extra exercises should be a delightful change.

  • 45-degree Back Extension — 3-4 x 10
  • Front Squat — 5 x 5
  • Back Squat — 5 x 5
  • Bench Press — 5 x 5
  • Standing Military Press — 5 x 5
  • High Pull — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5
  • Standing Calf Raise — 5 x 25

Rest two minutes between working sets. Continue Phase Two for three months.

Phase Three

  • 45-degree Back Extension — 3-4 x 10
  • Front Squat — 5 x 5
  • Back Squat — 5 x 5
  • Bench Press — 5 x 5
  • Standing Military Press — 5 x 5
  • High Pull — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5
  • Behind-the-neck Press or One-arm Dumbbell Press — 5 x 5
  • Barbell Curl — 5 x 5
  • Lying Triceps Extension — 5 x 8
  • Standing Calf Raise — 5 x 25

Rest two minutes between working sets. Continue Phase Two for three months.

Key Notes

Each phase of Reg Park’s bodybuilding 5×5 routine lasts for three months. Be sure to get sufficient rest in between each working set as the volume can be strenuous.

If the weight of the three working sets is too light or easy to move, increase the weight by 5-10 pounds for the next training session.

Need Something Simpler?

We understand that Reg Park’s original bodybuilding 5×5 routine is really high in volume and would not be feasible for many to follow due to time constraints. So, below we’ll add an alternative to Park’s 5×5 routine which could save you some time.

bodybuilding 5x5

The routine also follows three training days a week, but with a few exercises being moved around.

The length of each phase is also drastically shortened. Instead of following a three-month long phase, it’ll be shortened to four weeks. And instead of increasing the weight whenever you feel stronger, you’ll increase the weight after every four-week phase.

Know Your 1RM

It’s important to know what your 1RM is for each of your major lifts, as they’ll help you with progressive overload, causing you to grow stronger.

Use this calculator to find what your 1RM is for each big lift, and write it down.

The weight for each big lift will be calculated based on percentages. By using this method, it’s easier to keep track of what you lifted in your last session as well as aid with your progression.

What to Know About The Routine

The exercises will essentially remain the same, however, you won’t have to train for six months before you start doing barbell curls. Music to your ears? We thought so.

With each phase being shortened to just four weeks, there will be no need to test your 1RM after every phase. Instead, at the end of the third phase, you’ll be testing your 1RM.

Deload Week & Testing 1RM’s

After the first two phases, you’ll be undergoing a “deload” week, which is when you drop the weight to allow your body to recover — another reason why using percentile-based training will come in handy.

The deload week will be the fourth week of both first two phases. For example, weeks 1-3 will be “working” weeks, and week 4 will be the “recovery” week. With the inclusion of a deload, there will be no need to take a week off from training before starting the next phase.

bodybuilding 5x5

However, after testing your 1RM’s at the end of your third phase, you should take a week off from training to allow your nervous system to recover.

Just like with Reg Park’s bodybuilding 5×5 routine, you’ll need to rest for 2-3 minutes between each set.

Increasing the Weight

Instead of increasing the weight every other workout, you’ll be increasing the weight you lift after every phase. The weight increments should be 10 pounds for lower body (squat and deadlift) and 5 pounds for upper body (bench press).

If you are unable to perform the exercise with the increased weight, decrease the weight by 5 pounds for lower body and 2.5 pounds for the upper body.

Use the first two sets of the exercises to warm up. Remember that the warm-up sets should be lighter than your working sets.

The Modified 5×5 Routine: Phase One, Two, & Three

Week 1

Monday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (70% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (70% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Cable Skullcrushers — 5 x 5
  • Sit-ups — 5 x 20

Wednesday

  • Front Squat — 5 x 5 (60% of 1RM)
  • Standing Military Press — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5 (75% of 1RM)
  • Pull-ups — 5 x 5
  • Barbell Curl — 5 x 20
  • Crunches — 5 x 20

Friday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (60% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (60% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Weighted Bench Dips — 5 x 5
  • Machine Crunches — 5 x 20

Week 2

Monday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (75-80% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (75-80% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Cable Skullcrushers — 5 x 5
  • Sit-ups — 5 x 20

Wednesday

  • Front Squat — 5 x 5 (65% of 1RM)
  • Standing Military Press — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5 (75-80% of 1RM)
  • Pull-ups — 5 x 5
  • Barbell Curl — 5 x 20
  • Crunches — 5 x 20

Friday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (65% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (65% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Weighted Bench Dips — 5 x 5
  • Machine Crunches — 5 x 20

Week 3

Monday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (85% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (85% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Cable Skullcrushers — 5 x 5
  • Sit-ups — 5 x 20

Wednesday

  • Front Squat — 5 x 5 (70% of 1RM)
  • Standing Military Press — 5 x 5
  • Deadlift — 5 x 5 (85% of 1RM)
  • Pull-ups — 5 x 5
  • Barbell Curl — 5 x 20
  • Crunches — 5 x 20

Friday

  • Back Squat — 5 x 5 (70% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 5 x 5 (70% of 1RM)
  • Bent-over Barbell Row — 5 x 5
  • Weighted Bench Dips — 5 x 5
  • Machine Crunches — 5 x 20

Deload Week for Phases One & Two

  • Back Squat — 3 x 5 (60% of 1RM)
  • Barbell Bench Press — 3 x 5 (60% of 1RM)
  • Deadlift — 3 x 5 (60% of 1RM)

1RM Test Week After Phase Three

  • Back Squat — 2 x warm-up sets, 3 x 1RM
  • Barbell Bench Press — 2 x warm-up sets, 3 x 1RM
  • Deadlift — 2 x warm-up sets, 3 x 1RM

Conclusion

Since its conception, 5×5 training has been the foundation layer for many bodybuilders and strength athletes.

Reg Park created the bodybuilding 5×5 routine for the purpose of providing bodybuilders and aspiring weightlifters with the basic tools they need for strength and size gains.

Many have used the classic 5×5 routine and have seen tremendous results from it. The bodybuilding 5×5 routine has been tested by time and has stood to tell the tale of its success. I doubt that this method of training will ever lose its credibility.

The 5×5 program was created to increase strength, mass, and breaking through plateaus. So, if you’ve hit a plateau and are looking for a way out, then the 5×5 workout may be your shining light.

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