Beginner 5x5 Routine

This is not mine, it's been in use by various strength trainers and bodybuilding trainers over the years. It makes a very good beginner program so I've added it here.

This is not mine, it's been in use by various strength trainers and bodybuilding trainers over the years. It makes a very good beginner program so I've added it here. It's also great for a change for the experienced lifter when they need to shake things up and do something different for a while.

All of the same principals and reasons for the standard 5x5 apply so I won't go into all of them. They can be found in the "How to do 5x5" thread if you want to read them.

Basically, make yourself two workouts. Workout A and Workout B.

Workout A:


  • Squat 5x5
  • Bench 5x5
  • Reverse row (3 sets to failure)
  • Reverse crunch (3 sets to failure)

Workout B:


  • Squat (light - 80% of workout A's weight) 5x5
  • Dead-lift 5x5
  • Overhead Press 5x5
  • Pull up (3 sets to failure)
  • Push-up (3 sets to failure)


You never lift two days in a row. Try to lift every other day alternating workout A and workout B every time you go to the gym.

It's acceptable to not squat in workout B, however I suggest you do it as a light squat day.

Progression is still 2.5% heavier each week. So you increase your weight every other workout A and every other workout B. So you still start out "4 weeks lighter" than your 5 RM for every lift.

Pull-ups and chin-ups are alternated in workout B each time you do it. Pull-ups this time, chin-ups next time.

For deadlift; as it is a rather challenging lift, if you are a beginner you should do ramped sets. Increase your weight by approximately 12.5%(whatever 5lb increment is closest to it) each set until you reach your single "working set". This will be your heaviest set of the day. With ramped sets, your warm-up sets are part of your workout so you don't do 5 straight sets with the full working weight.

If you have low back or knee problems and cannot dead-lift safely from the floor, it is perfectly acceptable to do "rack dead-lifts" or "rack pulls" instead. For this you simply set the safety bars on the lowest level in a squatting cage or power rack and pull the bar from them. At first set the bars at just above the knee and as you acclimate to the movement lower the safety bars over time until they are at mid shin height. By then, you will probably be ready to start pulling from the floor.

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I run for my aerobic exercise. You can run, walk, dance; whatever you prefer. Just be certain to do aerobics at least 3 – 4 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each workout. If you are using HIIT or something on that order, obviously you will be spending less time getting in your aerobics.

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