Happy Cinco de Mayo! Instead of giving you a margarita recipe, we decided it would be more beneficial to offer something that will actually help you reach your goals. So, keeping the “cinco” spirit in mind, here is an explanation of the 5×5 Strength Program.
As the name implies, this program is designed to help you increase your strength. You will work out three days a week and focus on five main exercises: the squat, bench press, barbell row, overhead press and deadlift. Each workout, you will do five sets of five reps with the same weight. If you’re able to complete all five reps in all five sets, you will increase the weight by five lbs. in your next workout. The only exception to this is deadlifts. You will only do one set of five reps, and if you succeed, you will add 10 lbs. in your next workout.
The program itself is actually quite simple, but don’t mistake simplicity for ease. You are adding weight rapidly, and if you stick to the three workouts a week, you’ll be squatting 60 more lbs., pressing 30 more lbs. and deadlifting 60 more lbs. in just four weeks.
If you’ve never done these exercises before, we strongly encourage you to start with a very low weight. Focus on your form first and only start adding weight once you’re completely confident with your start weight. We recommend using the empty Olympic barbell (45 lbs.) as your starting point for every exercise.
If you have done these exercises before, don’t let your ego cloud your long-term goal. Remember that you will be adding weight very quickly, and start with about 50% of your five-rep max.
As we said, you will be working out three times a week. Never train two days in a row or try to do two workouts in one day. In order to gain strength, your body needs time to recover. For example’s sake, let’s assume you’ll be training Monday, Wednesday and Friday (MWF). This gives your body one day to recover between each workout, and two recovery days before you start the next week.
You will squat every workout, but the other exercises will alternate like so:
Workout A: Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Row
Workout B: Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift
So in the MWF example, you would do Workout A on Monday, Workout B on Wednesday and Workout A on Friday. The following week, you will do Workout B on Monday, Workout A on Wednesday and Workout B on Friday. Continue alternating for the duration of the program.
You won’t be able to do this forever, but your goal is to add weight to every workout for as long as you can. For help tracking your progress, download the free StrongLifts 5×5 app.