5×5 workouts seem to be the bomb these days.
Want to build muscle? Do 5×5.
Want to lose fat? Do 5×5.
Want to get rich? Do 5×5.
Want a bigger dick? Do 5×5.
For a long time people have been creating some serious hype around 5×5 routines and quite honestly, I am tired of it. The 5×5 workout has become one of the lamest way to train and you know what – it sucks, HARD.
How did it all start?
5×5 workouts started a long time ago and are usually associated with the popular bodybuilder Reg Park and the strength coach Bill Starr.
Are they really the inventors of the 5×5 workout? Most likely not. However, they made that type of training famous in North America.
In modern days the 5×5 hype has been continued by Starting Strength and StrongLifts which are more or less the same thing.
Today, we have beginners who believe that just because they are doing 5×5 they are now part of the high class gym members. Those guys usually look with a sense of superiority towards the “3×10 loser”.
Why do people believe 5×5 workouts are superior to everything else?
What makes 5×5 superior to other type training is not the rep range, but the fact that most 5×5 workouts are more intelligently created as a whole than a regular bodybuilding routine taken out of Flex magazine.
Usually 5×5 workouts come with a progression and a good selection of exercises. That’s the only thing that makes 5×5 superior to other routines. It does not take a lot of brain cells to realize that the same effect could actually be achieved with other rep ranges as well.
In fact, one of the best ways to train is to start with higher rep ranges and move on to lower reps. That way you’re combing the best of both worlds instead of blindly subscribing to a popular ideology only to become another 5×5 Nazi.
Practice Makes You Better
When you are first starting out there is absolutely no need to do reps of five. Why? Because the weight is light and you need to use that to your advantage by doing more reps and sets to perfect your form.
Good mechanics during light sets carry over to the heavier stuff. The more you practice a skill, the better you will get. Despite this there are people who do a couple sets of five with the bar or 95 pounds, and call it a day because they’ve been brainwashed by the 5×5 worshipers.
5×5 Could Be An Inferior Way To train For Most People
Anything under 6 reps could be considered strength work. Question is, who really cares? Who’s stronger: the guy that can do 225 lbs for 10 reps or the guy that does 250 lbs for 5 reps?
There are difference types of strength besides maximum attempts. For most people it may be better to focus on improving strength endurance above 5 reps instead of killing themselves with low rep work. Of course, progress in one equals progress in the other but sometimes it’s more beneficial to get stronger by lifting light weights.
If you can squat 400 lbs for 2 reps, you will probably be able to squat 315 for 10-12 reps. So, why not get your squat or whatever exercise to 315 for 10 -12 reps by doing more reps per set instead of waisting time maxing out for some type of imaginary contest? Lifting heavy has its time and place, but is never the only option.
Of course, if you are a powerlifter you need to do low rep work, but most people are recreational lifters overrating the importance of lifting things and putting them down in a sweaty gym. You should know by now that very few people care about your Facebook videos.
5×5 Is Either Too Brutal Or Too Easy
5×5 is either too easy or too hard. When the weight is light 5×5 is not difficult to do at all, but once you’re stronger getting through a 5×5 squat session may require prayers. This is one of the reasons StrongLifts 5×5 wants you to switch to 3×5 later on. There’s no other way to continue the progression. It’s too hard and takes too much time. Some people would need a good 10 minutes to recover in between each set.
5 Ain’t Nothing But A Number
What if I told you that you could replace 5 with 4,6 or 7 and the routine would still work? This seems like an extremely simple concept to understand, but bodybuilders fall for the idea that squats can build big arms which means that the intelligence bar is pretty low. The exploitation of beginners’ ignorance on the subject of training and the prevalent usage of anabolic steroids in the iron world is not helping the issue one bit either.
5×5 is just part of what you could be doing to succeed. What makes it effective is the exercise selection and the progression model – not exactly the number of sets and reps. If you choose the right exercises for your goals and follow an intelligent plan requiring you to add more weight over time, you can progress with any rep range.
A lot of the hype around 5×5 workouts is unjustified and exploited for commercial purposes just like many other bodybuilding beliefs. You need to choose your tools according to your goals, instead of blindly believing that one size fits all, just because somebody pimping 5×5 workouts says so.
Highly recommended article: Is There A Perfect Range For Muscle Growth?