5×5 Workout Routine Info

by Travis Hlavka

I learned about the 5×5 workout by accident. Actually, I don’t even remember how I came across the Madcow 5×5 version of Bill Starr’s program. (I recreated MadCow’s site on my site for my visitors and to make it easier for me to find. (Go here if you are looking for the MadCow 5×5 spreadsheet)

That program changed my life. Well, my life as it relates to powerlifting. Previously all I cared about was trying to get bigger and eating 4,000+ cal/day and and and. What a pain. Once I realized that if I eat good and lift HEAVY, I will eventually get bigger. (Or at least look bigger). And really, who cares… I’d rather be ripped at 175lbs and be 2x as strong as most of the guys in the gym than be huge and weak.

Anyway, got off on a tangent there… So the 5×5 workout is just that period. 5 sets of 5 repetitions using compound movements almost exclusively. There is some assistance (isolation) work also intertwined which is good to stay more rounded.

The basic premise of the routine is squat/bench/deadlift three times/week. (Deadlift is only once per week). Also, the original Bill Starr program used power cleans. (Madcow recommends using bent over barbell rows if you don’t know how to do powercleans. I’ve done both at different times).

Another thing about the 5×5 workout is that you increase your weight every week. It’s not always increased a lot, but usually around 5lbs. There are percentage calculations you can use, and Madcow actually created a great spreadsheet that’s a good place to start for newbies.

It breaks down to this:

  • Monday: Squat/Bent over barbell rows/Bench
  • Wednesday: Light Squat/Incline Bench/Deadlift (I prefer doing incline dumbell bench)
  • Friday: Squat/Bent over barbell rows/Bench

Finally, if you go with the Madcow version, then LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS! Don’t screw with the workout. Just do it and you’ll see results. After you’ve been on it for a while you can start playing with it. In the beginning, stick with the template 5×5 workout.

Click here to get my updated version of MadCows 5×5 Workout Routine Spreadsheets

Travis Hlavka (9 Posts)

I may act like a 12yr old a lot of the time, but that's because I have a genetic defect that will not allow me grow up. HOWEVER, I do take strength training and fitness very seriously and I love using what I know to help others reach their fitness goals and avoid the bazillion mistakes I've made in my 25+ yrs of training. Since I don't know everything, I never stop learning. Note: I am no longer a "certified" trainer, but I truly understand more about fitness and health now than I ever did with that official piece of paper.

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