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5x5 Full-Blown

A classic muscle- and strength-building training protocol gets a considerable upgrade with this 5-day full-body routine.

5x5 program

Even the best, most tried-and-true training techniques can use a tweak every now and then. The classic 5x5 scheme is no exception. It’s always produced great results in the gym, but now I’m helping it evolve for even greater gains.

The 5x5 protocol has been around for at least a half century, so it’s nothing new. Iconic bodybuilder Reg Park, a three-time Mr. Universe in the 1950s and 60s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s boyhood idol, swore by the method and is considered a pioneer of 5x5 training.

The method is what it sounds like: 5 sets of 5 reps on a given exercise. The 5-rep count is something of a “tweener” that falls within the well-established 8-12-rep range ideal for building size and the 1-3-rep range favored by powerlifters for maximizing pure strength.

So the question is: Are sets of five reps better for size or strength? Through anecdotal and empirical research, the answer is unequivocally both. And with my version of 5x5, you’ll be promoting muscle-building even more (I’ll explain in a minute).

A typical 5x5 program entails using a relatively heavy weight and taking ample rest periods between sets (2-3 minutes or more). And these workouts are nearly always done as bodypart split routines – ranging from upper body-lower body splits to 3-5-day splits.

My twist on 5x5 keeps the weight heavy like the others, but differs in two key areas:

(1) It consists of full-body workouts, hitting each major muscle group every day; and (2) it cuts down on the rest, where you’ll essentially compete against yourself to complete your 25 total reps (5 sets, 5 reps) per exercise in less time each subsequent workout.

The first added element will maximize fat loss, as research shows that full-body training is better for burning body fat than split-body routines. The second aspect, as I mentioned above, will systematically increase intensity to help you pack on more muscle mass.

Sound challenging? Good, that’s the point!

Full-Blown Breakdown

My 5x5 routine consists of (you guessed it) five workouts. As with my other recent full-body programs, you’ll be doing 10 exercises in each session – one move per bodypart (chest, back, legs, shoulders, traps, biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, abs).

The one major difference between this program and my others is that you’ll do the SAME EXERCISES in all five workouts. And you’ll use the same weight on each of those 10 moves as well.

Same exercises, same weights, same number of sets and reps per exercise (5x5). Exact same workout for five straight days? Nope. One variable will change daily…


Every workout, your goal will be to complete the 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise in less time. If and when you’re able to accomplish this, it means your training intensity will be increasing from workout to workout. It’s a very simple formula: The same amount of work performed (same sets and reps, same amount of

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