5×5 Workouts Take Too Much Time: How To Fix It It's simple. Just don't do sets across.


Location: Monkey Planet Fitness Center;
Time: 9 a.m.
Weather: California;

Casper was really in a hurry and wanted to use the squat rack for some serious next level arm pumping. He was going to the clubz tonight. #YOLO #flex #pussydestroyer

Unfortunately, the squat rack was already taken by some weird looking specimen loaded with creepy determination.

“How many sets do you have left, brah,” asked Casper.

“….’Bout 5 sets,” replied Zack while tightening his powerlifting belt.

“Fuck. Another skinny fat 5×5 natural squat warrior,” thought Casper and headed to the dumbbell rack area.

¯\(°_°)/¯ {shrug}

“Damn. Another bicep curl warrior is preventing me from becoming functional and completing my 5×5 special ops mission. Fuck that guy,” thought Zack.

¯\(°_°)/¯ {shrug}

#squat #functional #rippetoe #realmensquat



Once you reach some decent numbers the classic 5×5 workouts start to take too much time. Yesterday, I was on reddit.com where people were complaining that when the 5×5 method is applied to 2 main barbell lifts per session, the workouts turn into a two hour marathon, and people begin to give you that: “when are you going to get out of the squat rack, you skinny fat trash?” look.

The main reason why 5×5 becomes such a burden is that when the weight is heavy (80% or more of your 1 RM), the body just needs more rest to fully recover for the next set.

Let’s say that your current bench press max is about 90 kg and the last time your tried it, you nearly cried. You start a 5×5 workout with something like 60 kg and at one point you reach 75-80 kg. You will probably need solid 7-9 minutes of rest to finish all your working sets.

7 x 4 = 28 minutes of rest for just one exercise. When you add in the time you need to warm-up, let’s say 15 minutes, it all adds up to 43 minutes. Plus the time it takes you to do your working sets (5 minutes) you have a 50 minute workout, and that’s just one exercise. If you do two compound movements, you will soon need 90 minutes to finish everything. If you also perform some kind of assistance exercises, you are up for 2 hours of fun in the pit.

A lot of people like to attribute the 5×5 “magic” to people like Reg Park and Bill Starr. I don’t know who “invented” it. I wasn’t there.

What’s interesting is that many times people actually forget one thing – there is data suggesting that Reg Park did not perform sets across for his 5×5 workouts. According to some sources Reg Park did only one working set. One of his 5×5 variations was as follows:

Set 1 – 60% of the working weight; 5 reps;
Set 2 – 80% of the working weight; 5 reps;
Set 3 – same as Set 2;
Set 4 – working set – 4 or 5 reps;
Set 5 – set with a weight allowing 8-10 reps; (back off set)

This is one of the best ways to shorten a 5×5 workout. If you want to make it even shorter, you can skip set 5 and go home even earlier.

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