The 5×5-Plan

You already have some training experience and feel confident in performing the basic exercises, but you are dissatisfied with your strength? Then you feel the same as I once did. So if you’re looking for a workout plan that will help you to get stronger, then you should read on! You’ll see that you can move much more weight within a short time!


The origin of the 5×5 training is in American football. Bill Starr first introduced this training principle in his book “The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football,” which appeared in 1976. The goal of this training was to get stronger and Starr focused on basic exercises. Nowadays, however, the 5×5 training schedule is no longer found in the original form described.

The training

The idea is very simple. You focus on the basic exercises bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell row and the overhead press and complete 5 repetitions of 5 sets each. You use a weight with which you just manage to finish the specified number of repetitions and sets. It is recommended to start with about 85% of the weight, with which you can complete exactly one repetition.

Therefore, during the week before you want to start your 5×5 training, a small preparation phase is recommended so you can test what training weight you will start the plan with.

Since you will work with few repetitions and a lot of weight, a sufficient recovery time between the sets is essential. It is recommend to take 2-3 minutes break between your sets. I myself started at 2 minutes and took up to 3 minutes of rest at the end of my training.

An important aspect of 5×5 training is continuous progression. You should steadily increase the weight you train with, and this works as follows: If you can do an exercise well with your current training weight in one week and still have strength for another repetition, then it’s time to increase the weight.

The next week, you use about 2.5% more weight than during the last week. If you can do all 5 sets of 5 repetitions with this weight, this is your new training weight. If that is not the case, you will simply fall back to your old training weight in the next training session.

Why does it work?

Due to the high weight and the focus on basic exercises, a large amount of muscle fibers are recruited. Because of the long rest time beween your sets , the muscle can recover well between the individual sets and your form remains correct throughout the training!

Apart from that, the 5×5 training plan combines some important principles when it comes to building muscle mass and getting stronger. Noteworthy here is the high intensity (despite short training sessions), the constant progression and also the frequency with which you perform the individual exercises in one week!

For whom?

Basically, this training is suitable for anyone who is already well acquainted with the specified basic exercises and can perform them correctly. Otherwise, this program is primarily aimed at athletes who want to become stronger. So if these two points apply to you, then the 5×5 plan could be perfect for you!

The measurable progression of this type of training is also extremely motivating as you can yourself getting stronger on a weekly basis!

The plan

Working with a lot of weight for the 5×5 plan requires a full warm-up routine. Ideally, you’ll also do 1-2 light warm-up sets with the next exercise, so you can complete your workout without injury.

Otherwise, there will be 3 training days per week, which you should plan for Monday, Wednesday and Friday for optimal recovery. There are 2 different training sessions, which you always do alternately and they look like this:

  • Workout 1: Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Row
  • Workout 2: Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift

Your training plan might look like this:

Week 1:

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Friday: Workout 1

Week 2:

  • Monday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Workout 1
  • Friday: Workout 2

As mentioned before, a break of 2-3 minutes between each set is optimal for your muscle to recover sufficiently! That’s all you need to know to get started with 5×5 training right away!

Did you like this post and do you want to know more about the 5×5-Training or different training-plans? Let me know in the comments!
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