Adding Arm Isolation To 5×5 Routines?

5×5 strength training programs and their by-products are supposed to be the ultimate blueprint for natural muscle construction. 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 naivete of the highest order.


I want to be a huge and useful human being. My coach said that squats for sets of 5 will make me tough as nails. A man who isn’t a squat slave like me is a bottom feeder,” says the 5×5 addict.

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! Squats and the enormous amount of testosterone and GH that 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!

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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 subjected to mind terrorism generated by 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}. The combination of those wise words entered the universe after Rippetoe got tired of people modifying his program.

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 have the capacity to modify any training schedule to your liking instead of changing 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 calf raises is not a crime regardless of what the sacred books of the functional athlete say. You are free to change any program you want. There is not a single human being on this Earth that has the right to stop you. We are talking about 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 why many people advise against the addition of assistance exercises to a 5×5 routine is the belief that small extras hurt your recovery.

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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! Why are a few sets of biceps curls short-circuiting your golden program? What will happen if I told you that I vacuum clean during the weekend for about an hour? Am I allowed to do that or is vacuum cleaning also against the rules too?

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Believe it or not, nothing bad will happen if you do isolation exercises. Heavy biceps curls are a very good movement and carry over to numerous activities. In 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 prefers to ignore the simple fact that curls are functional.

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Hey, beta pencil neck! What’s next? Calves raises? Don’t you know that calf raises are pointless if you squat? Dave Tate once said that supporting a heavy barbell on your back 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? 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 calf 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 that a few sets of calf raises two times a week will send your body into the hospital? Don’t worry! You will recover just fine.

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

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