Not Sure How to Program Your Strength Routine? Try the 5×5 Workout

When it comes to a workout in the weight room, it can seem difficult to determine not only which exercises to do, but also the ideal reps and sets to build strength. That’s where the 5×5 workout comes in.

A favorite among athletes, the 5×5 routine gives you the freedom to choose between moves, but encourages you to stick with five reps and five sets of each exercise in a three-exercise routine.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 5×5 workout and how to incorporate it into your weekly or monthly workout. strength training routine.

What exactly is a 5×5 workout?

The 5×5 workout is also known as “5×5 heavy lifts” or the “Bill Starr Program,” named for the Olympic athlete who helped create the concept of strength. Breaks down into practicing three weight lifting exercises for 5 sets of 5 repetitions each.

The 5×5 workout allows you lift heavy loads at a lower volume so you can concentrate on edifice forceNick Rodriguez, NASM certified trainer in Valley Wellness Gym in Allentown, Pennsylvania has runner world. “You’re keeping the reps low because you’re lifting heavy weights and you’re doing five sets just to break them,” she explains. “You’re not doing three sets of 15 reps, because once your rep range is too high, you’re training a different muscular system.”

There are five movements you can include in the 5×5 workout: row, back squat, overhead press, chest press, and deadlift. You’ll usually do these with a barbell, but if you work out at home or don’t have access to a barbell, you can also use heavy dumbbells.

Since you’ll be choosing three of these moves for the main lifts of your workout, feel free to mix and match to target specific body parts on different days. Or combine it by bench pressing and rowing on the same day for an agonist and antagonist workout (or opposing muscle groups), says Rodriguez. To create a more complete routine, you can also incorporate center, conditioningor accessory work in the 5×5 workout (as shown below).

As for weights to use for 5×5 training, choose those that hit 50 to 75 percent of your one-rep max (or how much weight you can lift in a single rep) to beginners and up to 85 percent of your one-rep max for more forward lifters. As you continue with a 5×5 program, you must increase your weight load to continue progress your strength. (It’s helpful to write down how much weight you lift in each session, so you know where to start or what to increase the next time you do your 5×5 workout.)

To test your one-rep max, load a barbell with dumbbells and complete as many repetitions as possible, gradually increasing the amount of weight you lift in each set, until you can only complete one repetition of a given weight. This is your one rep max.

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The benefits of a 5×5 workout

No matter how far you run, you can gain an advantage by doing a 5×5 workout. If you are a sprinter you can improve power of this strength-training routine by practicing it more often, says Rodriguez. And if you are a long distance Runner, lifting heavy objects periodically will allow you to strengthen your muscles so they can withstand the impact of all those miles. But the most important thing, Rodríguez says, is that this exercise will help you side step injury thanks to the resistance it builds in your body.


5 movements for your 5×5 training

Here, the five moves you can choose from to make up your 5×5 workout, and how to do them powerfully.

dead weight

Why Runners Need It: practicing the dead weight train directly to you gluteal muscles to propel yourself forward as you sink your foot into the ground and build force, says Rodriguez.

How to do it: Holding two dumbbells or a barbell with both hands shoulder-width apart, stand with your feet hip-width apart and chest-height apart. Bend your knees slightly and lower your shoulders down your back. Slowly send your butt back, hanging from your hips while keeping your back straight and abs tight. Engage hamstrings and glutes to resist the downward pull of gravity as the weight descends toward the ground. Go as low as you can until you feel tension in the back of your legs. Then, put your feet on the ground to get back up. Repeat.

chest press

Why Runners Need It: The bench press will help you strengthen your chest muscles, and having a strong upper body can help you run efficiently by fighting fatigue and increasing endurance, according to research.

How to do it: Lie on your back on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand or on a bench, holding a barbell with both hands about shoulder-width apart. The palms of the hands should face out and the arms should be straight, with the weights on the chest. Place your feet flat on the ground. With control, bend your elbows about 45 degrees from your torso, lowering the weights toward your chest. Pause, then press back. Repeat.

shoulder press

Why Runners Need It: Movement will help you stay strong, run high and hold powerRodriguez says.

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How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells or a barbell in both hands at shoulder height. Your palms should face out and your elbows should be bent so your arms form a W. With your core engaged and your back straight, push the weight up over your head, biceps by your ears. Slowly lower your back to your shoulders. Repeat.

bent oar

Why Runners Need It: Rowing is a hinged motion that will target your back muscles and strengthen your latswhich can help improve your arm momentum while running, says Rodriguez.

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of you with both hands, placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and palms facing you if you’re holding a barbell or palms facing each other if you’re holding a barbell. he is holding weights. Rotate your hips by sending your butt straight back and keep your back flat with your knees slightly bent. Pull the weight up and back toward your torso while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the weight back down until your elbows are fully extended. Repeat.

squat

Why Runners Need It: In general, Rodríguez says, the squat is one of the best strengthening exercises can do because it targets multiple muscle groups at once (quadriceps and glutes included), while helping to improve your core stability.

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed out. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, at shoulder height, or a barbell behind your head, resting lightly on your shoulders with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Drive your butt down and back, bending your knees to lower into a squat position (as if you’re about to sit on a chair). Go as low as you can without feeling joint discomfort, dropping your chest, or lifting your heels off the ground. Pause, then push through your feet to return to standing. Repeat.


The best 5×5 workout for runners

For beginners, Rodriguez suggests practicing this exercise no more than twice a week to avoid overtraining. you can start with lightweights to help focus on technique and then slowly progress to extra heavier weights, he says. For experienced lifters, it’s safe to implement this exercise routine three times a week.

Keep in mind that “the goal is to get to 5 reps and 5 sets, so you want the 5th rep to be harder. But you don’t want the second rep to be too heavy,” says Rodríguez.

For this particular 5×5 workout, Rodriguez included the squat, row, and overhead press because they are movements that go well together, while targeting upper and lower body muscles. (You can substitute the deadlift or chest press on other days.) He also added the kettlebell swing To help with glute strength and power on the fly, as well as a Pallof press to help stabilize your core.

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How to use this list: For this workout you will need a barbell or a set of heavy dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a resistance band. An exercise mat is optional. Each move is demonstrated by Monique LeBrun, associate editor for health and fitness at runner world, so you can follow the proper form. (See the videos above for the squats, overhead press, and bent over row.)

Complete all reps and sets of each movement before moving on to the next exercise. You’ll do 5 reps and 5 sets of squats, shoulder presses, and incline rows. Rest two minutes between sets of these three movements. (This rest period should allow you to continue lifting heavy objects for all 5 sets.)

For kettlebell swings and the Pallof press, follow the reps and sets below. Rest about 30 seconds between sets of these two movements.

swing with kettlebell

Begin by standing at arms’ length from the kettlebell with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Rotate at the hips and reach your arms forward to grab the bell with both hands on the handle, keeping your back flat and your arms extended. Maintaining a neutral spine, pull the kettlebell back until it is between and behind your legs. Immediately squeeze your glutes and bring your feet to the floor as you drive your hips forward and swing the kettlebell up to chest level. Let the kettlebell guide you down to the hinge position. Repeat. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

pallof press

At about chest height, loop one end of a large resistance band around a pole, squat rack, or other stable anchor point. Standing with the left side of the body facing the anchor, grasp the end of the band with both hands at chest height. (Make sure you are far enough from the anchor so there is resistance in the band.) Engage your core and push the band directly in front of your chest, using your midsection to resist rotation. Bring the handle back to your chest. Repeat. Do 3 sets of 30 seconds each.

Monique LeBrun joined the editorial team in October 2021 as Associate Editor for Health and Fitness.

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