Adding Arm Isolation To 5×5 Routines? Will my progress stop if I add biceps curls to 5x5 routines?

The 5×5 cult has been going strong for a long time. 5×5 strength training programs and their by-products are supposed to be the best possible blueprints to build muscle and strength. The legends surrounding this type of training are now reaching epic proportions. Many noobs still believe that miracles happen when you do squats for 5 sets of 5. As a result we had the chance to witness the formation of a very peculiar social group – the 5×5 bourgeoisie. Its main characteristic is pomposity and fake hipsterity.


I want to be huge and a useful human being. Coach said squats for sets of 5 will make me tough as nails. Anybody who isn’t a squat slave like me is nothing more than a loser, deadbeat, bottom feeder”

Oh, brother! Don’t say! You better start saving money for new clothes right now! You are going to grow faster than a small kitten! Those squats, and the enormous amount of testosterone and GH they release, will add slabs of functional muscle to your frame. Get ready for extraterrestrial jealousy coming from the beta losers!

Fuck the haters! Their opinion is not important. What’s important is that women will be killing themselves to touch your functional “squat butt”. Can you handle the monster? Can you handle 5×5? If you want it to work, you better do everything as prescribed. Don’t change a thing! Get ready to become a man, comrade!



Let’s get serious now.

Somewhere along the way people decided to stop thinking completely. It seems that no day is brain day anymore. Guess what happens when you stop thinking for yourself? You lose.

People who have been subject to mind terrorism coming from the 5×5 clan of skinny fat natural warriors are often afraid to deviate from the main route. The abbreviation for such sin is – NDTFP {not doing the fucking program}. This started many years ago when people got tired of kids asking him whether it’s fine to replace the power clean with barbells rows. It’s a universal law now.

One of the best approaches is to learn the principles behind a routine and change it accordingly if needed. You have to take into consideration your goals, needs, injuries and your body’s feedback. If you can do that, you will be able to modify any training schedule according to you, instead of trying to shape yourself to fit a routine. Of course, there will always be pedants who will call you out for NDTFP, but the proper response is IDCTIANDTFPSPSTFU. {I don’t care that I am not doing the fucking program. So, please shut the fuck up!}

Adding stuff like biceps curls and calves raises is not a crime regardless of what the sacred books of the functional athlete say. You are free do change any program you want. There is not a single human being on this Earth that has the right to stop you. It’s your own body, your own efforts and your own goals. If you want to, you can do bicep curls on a bosu ball three times a week.

One of the reasons many people advise against adding exercises to a 3-5×5 routine is because they believe anything extra will kill your recovery capacity. Those individuals usually explain even lack of progress with the same golden pony logic.


You added biceps curls for 2 sets at the end of the workout? It’s all clear now – you are a lady boy, and that’s why the program is not working for you. You better DTP {do the fucking program} or else!

Oh, brother! Don’t say! Adding a few sets of biceps curls made your golden program result in a short circuit. What will happen if I told you that I vacuum clean during the week-end for about an hour? Am I allowed to do that or vacuum cleaning is also considered NDTFP?


Believe it or not, nothing bad will happen if you do isolation exercises. Heavy biceps curls are a very good movement with great carryover to many things in the real world. It many situations one of the only ways to lift an object is to hold it in a 90 degree flexed biceps position. Strong biceps help a ton with that and curls replicate this motion better than anything else. I don’t know why the functional crowd always chooses to ignore the simple fact that curls are functional.

In order not to interfere with progress, just do the isolation work last. Having your arms tired affects almost every lift. You don’t want fatigued biceps before deadlifts or back work.


Hey, beta pencil neck! What’s next? Calves raises? Don’t you know that calves raises are not needed when you squat? Ah? Dave Tate once said that having a heavy barbell on top of your neck turns you into a fat person, and we all know that all fat people have master race calves. You, mad? Go cry next to the calf machine, cowboy!

Thanks for the advice, but I will tell you a shocking truth – squats will never make your calves strong.

The squat is not limited by lower leg strength. Nobody misses a heavy squat because of calf or shin failure. There are many people with goat legs (big upper legs and pencils underneath) who squat heavy weights. You know why that is? Cause the squat is not a calf exercise. How hard is it for your small head to comprehend that one of the best ways to overload the calf muscles is to do heavy calves raises? There are other movements that work well too, but this one is the most direct approach to fix weak calves. Besides, do you really think a couple sets of calves raises two times a week will send your body in the hospital? Don’t worry! You will recover just fine.

Bottom line: adding arm isolation and calves raises to a 5×5 routine is perfectly fine.

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