Monday, April 6, 2015

Workout Focus: How the 5x5 makes you Better and Stronger, Faster

My Husband and I have been (inconsistently) working on the 5x5 workout since the beginning of February and since it has been very helpful for me so far, I thought I would share some information about it. If you are looking for a strength building routine, you may want to consider the 5x5 Workout.

The 5x5 workout (which stands for 5 sets of 5 reps) is a weight training regimen designed to help you build strength at a faster pace than if you were to do the "traditional" 4 sets of 10-12 reps routine.  The idea is to make those 5 sets challenging enough that you feel as though you DID do the full 10-12 rep routine, and since it is compound muscle workouts, you are getting more "bang for your buck", so to speak, in both muscle strength and time spent at the gym. Since we lift weights on opposite days of each other, the routine takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour (though that is with waiting for weights on occasion, so could be less.)

We do 5 sets of 5 reps of Bench press, Squats, Deadlifts, and Shoulder raises on alternating days with the goal of lifting 3 times per week. (Goal, being the key word at the moment since we have not done the workout in a couple weeks right now.) Most articles or resources that talk about 5x5 routine suggest that you start at lower weights for your first set and add weights throughout the sets, but we find that that brings us too close to the kind of failure that can lead to injury (instead of just exhaustion and not finishing the set), so we instead switched it to be the heavy/max weight on the earlier sets and find that it is very helpful for us. We work toward adding one more set of the high weight each time we go, until all 5 sets are at the highest weight-then add more and start the process over again. Between sets, you would rest about a minute or so, so you can power through the next set.

Here's what a typical workout looks like, using some of my most recent numbers, with the high(er) weight sets at the beginning:

Bench press: 3 sets at 75 pounds, 2 sets at 65 pounds.
Deadlift: 3 sets at 115 pounds, 2 sets at 95 pounds.
Squat: 5 sets at 155 pounds.*
Shoulder Press: 2 sets at 20 pounds each hand (40 pounds total),  3 sets at 15 pounds each hand (30 total).
-We'll also do about 15-20 minutes of cardio to help burn fat, or in my case sometimes, I will walk home from the gym, which is about a mile from our apartment. (Though when we get back to the workout and get consistent again, I am really going to work on doing more actual high intensity cardio to help burn these last few pounds before goal weight faster.)

*For the squats, I started at 135 and tried 155 for a few sets and the next workout felt like the 135 didn't offer as much as a challenge as it could have, so did the 155 for all 5 sets. This is one way the workout helps build strength faster.

So there you have the 5x5 workout, which in addition to helping us build strength even when we have been inconsistent, is a workout that is easy to master and improve on as you go. It will help you add strength a bit quicker and you can use it as a stand alone workout, or in conjunction with other workouts you may do to help get to your goals. We had considered using it as a jumping off point build strength/endurance so we could ACTUALLY do the Buff Dudes' Challenge that we didn't finish before, but we're not sure what we're going to do yet. (But that is the nice thing, we have possibilities and find something that works well for us.)

Do you have any workouts that have been working really well for you and the goals your reaching toward? Please share in the comments below.

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