For a long time, people have been over-hyping 5×5 routines by presenting them as the cure for natural bodybuilding. Honestly, I am tired of hearing about 5×5. I think that its effectiveness is blown out of proportions.
How did it all start?
5×5 training is usually associated with the popular bodybuilder Reg Park and the strength coach Bill Starr. Both of them believed that lower reps (5 or below) are the key to strength and real mass. Are they the inventors of 5×5? Nobody knows for sure.
In recent times, the 5×5 hype has restarted thanks to Starting Strength and StrongLifts – two very popular strength routines.
Why do people believe that 5×5 is superior to everything else?
Unlike the classic bodybuilding routines found in the magazines, 5×5 workouts come with a progression plan and a good selection of exercises. Those are the elements that make 5×5 superior to other routines.
Truth be told, 5×5 is not a special rep range in itself. You can replace it with 6×6, 4×4 or 5×4. The overall effect will be the same.
5×5 Could Be An Inferior Way To train For Some People
For most people, it may be better to focus on improving strength endurance above 5 reps instead of subjecting the body to heavy weights.
Of course, if you are a powerlifter, you have to do low rep work, but most people are recreational lifters constantly 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 fight against gravity.
5×5 Is Either Too Brutal Or Too Easy
When the weight is light, 5×5 is super easy, but once you’re stronger, getting through a 5×5 squat session with the same weight may require prayers. This is why StrongLifts 5×5 wants you to switch to 3×5 eventually. There’s no other way to continue the progression. 5×5 with a heavy weight is brutal. Some people would need 10 minutes of rest between the sets.
Note: This is why many people recommend ramping the weights to one heavy set of 5. In fact, this is Bill Starr’s original recommendation too. Most of his 5×5 versions called for ramping.
5×5 is an effective way to train, but just like the rest of the programs out there, it isn’t magic. Many of the qualities attributed to 5×5 workouts are unjustified and exploited for commercial purposes.