One question I get asked very often is, Whats your training like?
It’s not something I answer in any great detail on instagram so thought I’d make a post about it and link some articles and apps that I’ve found to be useful.
I’m currently running a very simple 5×5 program.
5×5 is considered the grandaddy of strength training programs and it’s strength lies in its simplicity. Its been around forever and for good reason, its straight forward, uncomplicated, challenging and incredibly effective.
In recent years, strength coaches such as Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe have re-popularized the 5X5 program and altered it slightly with programs such as madcow 5×5.
While I have tried many programs throughout the years, the one I’m going to write about here is strong lifts 5×5. Mainly because its very straight forward, great for beginners and highly adaptable.
What is it:
In the simplest terms 5X5 refers to a program made up of 5 sets of 5 repetitions, its based around 5 compound movements with the focus being on progression.
- Overhead press
- Bench press
- Barbell row
These are compound exercises, these will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of training. Unlike most bodybuilding routines, the goal with Strong Lifts 5×5 isn’t to reach failure, get a pump or be sore. Your goal is to add weight to the lifts.
StrongLifts 5×5 consists of two full body-workouts:
- Workout A: Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Row
- Workout B: Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift,
You train three times a week, alternating workout A and B, and resting at least one day between workouts.
You never train two days in a row because your body needs days off to get stronger.
(Note: if you really hate squats now is the time to stop reading the article)
5 x 5 means 5 sets, 5 reps with the same weight (excluding warm up set) and rest times should be set at 90-120 seconds. Remember to focus on proper form
Note: Deadlifts are 1×5 for a reason. They are taxing on your CNS and thats why we don’t attempt 5×5 on this particular exercise.
- If you make it through all 5 sets, you add 2.5kg for the next session.
- If however you fail one or more sets, the weight remains the same next time.
To fail is to succeed: The goal here is to hit failure and then work towards improving that’ll the next session, so get use to the idea of not aways making it through a session “cleanly”
Progression will depend on a number of factors,
- Calorie intake
- Quality of diet
Its important to at least be hitting maintenance calories to keep progress moving smoothly.
Training three days a week provides ample recovery time, which is arguably the most important factor when it comes to getting stronger.
I’m sold. How do I get started?
Start light to let your body get used to Squatting three times a week this may take time to adjust to even if your a veteran lifter.
Remember you’re adding 2.5kg/5lb per workout or 30kg/60lb per month on Squats. The weight will increase fast to begin with so theres no need to start too heavy.
If you’ve done free weight exercises like Squat, Bench and Deadlift before, with proper form, start with around 50% of your five rep max. If you’ve never used free weights, haven’t lifted in years, or you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll want to start very conservative:
- Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press: 20kg (Thats an empty olympic bar)
- Deadlift: 40kg (The bar plus 2x 10kg plates)
- Barbell row: 30kg (The bar plus 2x 10kg plates)
Here are some videos of the full workouts for A and B:
I’ll also add the link for the mobile phone app here:
If you bring your phone to gym, you’ll love this app, it’s amazing. (and free)
You update the app as you work through the program and it sets your targets for the next session, rings through your headphones to let you know its time to start the next set and even schedules deloads when it knows your struggling.
A final word:
It never fails to amaze me the amount of “fluting about” people will do in the weight room.
Cables, bosu balls, resistance bands, and the seemingly endless sets of bicep curls, they’re given preferential treatment over the tried and tested compound exercises that have been around forever. Now Im not saying that they don’t have they’re place in some way but but if thats all your workout revolves around and your lifts haven’t progressed in a very long time then its hardly surprising.
I highly advice reading this article: http://www.leangains.com/2011/09/fuckarounditis.html
Which changed the way I train forever, its by the one and only: Martin Berkhan who, amongst other things came up with the lean gains (intermittent fasting) protocol.
Thats it folks, if your interested, give it a shot for a month or two. I guarantee you’ll surprise yourself with just how much your stronger you’ll become and if nothing else your form will greatly improve on the compound exercises.
Do I have to stick to those lifts?
Not necessarily no. Front Squats, Rack Pulls, Pull-ups, Row variations. Basically, multi-joint/compound exercises that lend themselves well to incremental loading will work well.
So no arm day?
Will it be enough to train 3 days a week? I workout 7 times a week and I feel I won’t be pushing myself enough.
Three days a week isn’t just enough, its whats considered optimal for this program.
But isn’t it more effective to lift in the 10-25 rep range?
Strength is strength. Cardio is cardio. Don’t mix, keep them separate if your primary goal is strength and muscle gain.
Can’t I add anything extra to this?
You absolutely can, I recommend Rack pulls, at least one pull up variation (preferably weighted)
You do not need to add any extra accessory work, you are a novice. Your entire body is lagging right now. You fix your overall body before moving to intermediate level workouts. Then focus on specific body parts and weaknesses.
Can I run it on a cut?
You can but its really not advisable to run it in a caloric deficit, you won’t see much in terms of progression but one thing I did notice is that my lifts don’t tend to drop as much if I continue to run this throughout cut.
Do I really have to squat 3 days a week?
Squats are indisputably one of best full body movements ever created, why would you not commit to doing them more than once a week?
Is it suitable for women?
Yup, to my knowledge it shouldn’t cause any issues apart from maybe some calluses on your hands.
Wont I need to train my core?
No, no one squats 2 x body weight with a weak core. you’ll be fine.
What equipment do I need?
All you really need is a bar, a rack, and 45 minutes 3 times a week.
Belts, weightlifting shoes, chalk are all somewhat effective training aids but theyre not really necessary.
Can I add more training days?
You can if you must, but stay away from the compound movements from the program.
But Kai Greene trains 9 days a week?
Kai Greene does a lot of things you probably don’t, so keep it simple.
But gym is life
Ok cool bro….