Bill Starr 5x5
Linear Version for Intermediate Lifters
Note: I have a more complete and better formatted description along with a template download and a ton of other information in this link: http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow...Linear_5x5.htm. This will be the final update to this post, anything new will go in the Geocities site.
Relatively easy program to understand. It nicely illustrates the importance of making systematic progression to drive gains and increase the core lifts. HISTORY:
One of the many flavors of Bill Starr's 5x5 workouts. This particular one is designed with the intermediate lifter in mind and is from the Deep Squatter site. Deep Squatter (www.deepsquatter.com
) is a great site so make sure you check it out along with all the great info located in the archives. Someone who has experience with the lifts and some decent training history should do quite well. It's important to keep in mind that this program is a snapshot, training changes with time, you don't do it forever, to get a better idea on how training changes over time I'd encourage people to read this interview from Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe on programming http://www.readthecore.com/200510/markr.htm
This program is based on weekly linear progress. You take your current 5 rep maxes (5RM) and work up to them systematically by increasing weights in steady increments over 3-4 weeks. You then hit your current 5RM on lifts and continue these incremental increases week to week which pushes you further and further out making new personal records (PRs) every week until you stall on the majority of your lifts. If you miss reps, keep the weight constant the next week and don't move it up until you get all 5x5. When you eventually stall on the majority of lifts, and you will, meaning something like several weeks of no progress in that you can't add reps or weight, you'll have to reset lower back several weeks and begin again. If it's just one lift that has you stuck, reset on that and work up again but don't restart the whole program. When restarting the whole program, a lot of times changing variables is also helpful here. I'm not going to cover that. Training is a blend of art and science, and knowing what parameters to change for a given lifter is more art. This is a cookie-cutter, it's meant to get you big and strong, and more importantly training correctly. The best programs are always tailored to a given trainee so being your own coach, you have to learn and seek out knowledge (generally not in bodybuilding sources as a rule and this will seldom do you wrong).
Rep speed is natural, time between sets is what you need. Don't rapid fire compound lifts but don't be lazy. 2-5 minutes is probably right with 5 minutes being needed after a very taxing effort.
If you've just randomly come to this topic or been provided a link - there is a large amount of information here: Table of Contents
------------------------------------------------------------- CORE DESCRIPTION:
Before beginning it is useful to know your 1 rep maxes or more ideally your real 5 rep max in each lift (there is a table and calculator in the TOC). If you don't know this - it might be useful to test your lifts first or start light and allow for some flexibility in the weekly planning. The whole key is the weekly progression and keeping workload low enough to not overwhelm someone with fatigue and enable them to get out in front and set records for as many weeks as possible. Said a different way, the stimulus is not getting under the bar once with heavy weight but getting under it frequently and systematically increasing week to week starting within your limits and slowly expanding. Exercise Sets x Reps
Squat 5x5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 (which should equal the previous Friday's heavy triple)
Bench 5x5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 (which should equal the previous Friday's heavy triple)
Barbell Row 5x5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 (which should equal the previous Friday's heavy triple)
Assistance: 2 sets of weighted hypers and 4 sets of weighted sit-ups Wednesday
Squat 4x5 First 3 sets are the same as Monday, the 4th set is repeating the 3rd set again
Incline or Military 4x5 Ramping weight to top set of 5
Deadlift 4x5 Ramping weight to top set of 5
Assistance: 3 sets of sit-ups Friday
Squat 4x5, 1x3, 1x8 First 4 sets are the same as Monday's, the triple is 2.5% above your Monday top set of 5, use the weight from the 3rd set for a final set of 8
Bench 4x5, 1x3, 1x8 First 4 sets are the same as Monday's, the triple is 2.5% above your Monday top set of 5, use the weight from the 3rd set for a final set of 8
Barbell Row 4x5, 1x3, 1x8 First 4 sets are the same as Monday's, the triple is 2.5% above your Monday top set of 5, use the weight from the 3rd set for a final set of 8
Assistance: 3 sets of weighted dips (5-8 reps), 3 sets of barbell curls and 3 sets of triceps extensions (8 reps) The Progression:
So it's pretty obvious what's going on in this example is weekly increases of 2.5% of your top set of 5 on Monday. So you do 100lbs for 5 on your top set on Monday. Then on Friday you do a triple with 2.5% more, or 102.5. The next Monday you come back and do 102.5 for your heavy set of 5, that Friday the triple is 105 and so on. For the non-squat Wednesday lifts you just increase by the percentage week to week.
Of course you start with a good margin to give yourself a run so you have to back into the initial weeks' weights. That means using some math. Put your current 5 rep maxes at week 4, figure out what 2.5% of the number is and go back and put that for week 3, do that back until you get to week 1. The Friday triple is always the next week's Monday set of 5. Pretty easy.* Ramping Weights:
This is basically increasing your weight set to set like warming up. If your top set of 5 is 315, you might go 135, 185, 225, 275, and then 315 all for 5 reps. There are several reasons for this, you are warming up, getting a lot of practice and really groove the coordination of the lifts, and contributing to workload without raising it so high that fatigue overcomes you and you overtrain. If you do 315 for all 5 sets, workload is a lot higher and doing that a couple of times a week ensures that you won't last long on this program.
Typically jumps can be somewhere between 10-15% per set based on your top set (or 12.5% and round up or down). An easy way to figure this is to find out what 10% and 15% are for your top set and then track backwards into the other sets using the variance to round or help it make sense. Example:
Your top set is 100lbs
10% is 10lbs and 15% is 15lbs
Your 5th set is 100x5, 4th is 90x5, 3rd is 80x5, 2nd is 70x5, and 1st is 60x5
These are the minimum jumps of 10%, the math doesn't always look this neat but using 12.5% isn't as intuitively easy to see for explaining this.
Make sure this makes sense and you aren't so strong as to make the jumps ridiculous at 10-15%. But keep in mind, going 200, 205, 210, 215, and 220 is a lot closer to 220 for 5x5 and that's too much on this kind of frequency, it will fatigue you a lot faster (i.e. prevent you from progressing) and hurt your ability to get as much as possible with your top set.
*Note: for the math inclined you probably realized that when moving up in weight you are taking 2.5% of the current weight but when I have you set up the initial weeks moving backward you are taking 2.5% off the forward week which is a slightly larger number than moving in the other direction. So if you want to really be exact, you can work it out the other way but the math is harder.
------------------------------------------------------------- OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION The Lifts:
Squats - these should be full range Olympic style squats. Use the full range of your body - that means as low as you can go which for almost everyone is past parallel. If the top of your thighs aren't at least parallel it's for . If you think this is bad for your knees going low, you and whoever told you that are relying on an old wives tale. Anyone who knows the human body will tell you that below parallel is MUCH safer on the knees whereas parallel and above put all the sheer right on them and doesnít allow proper transfer of the load to the rest of your body (this is how your body was designed). Read the Squat article from Arioch linked in the TOC for a complete description and references on the mechanics of the squat and depth.
Deads - each rep is deweighted fully on the floor. No touch and go. This is called the 'dead'lift because the weight is 'dead' on the ground. You can touch and go warm ups but that's it.
Military - standing overhead presses. Supporting weight overhead is a fundamental exercise and stimulates the whole body. Push presses are a fine substitute.
Rows - 90 degrees and done dynamically (Accelerate the weight into your body - do not jerk it but constantly increase the pace like an oar through water). There is a TOC topic on rows, a good read that also illustrates a version done from the floor.
Common Sense - you should know how to do the lifts before starting a program like this. Start light and learn. Don't include brand new compound lifts that have you training near your limit without some time in. This is how you get hurt. Compound lifts load the entire body and are very effective. If you have a weak link, they will bring it up - of course if you haven't trained the lift long enough for this to happen your weak link may get you hurt. Use your brain.
The rest is self explanatory. Time Between Sets:
Don't over think this. Use a natural rep speed, take what you need between sets. Don't be lazy but don't rush. You can't be doing rapid fire sets of big compound lifts. Maybe on the lightest warm-ups you take a minute but most sets will be 2-5 minute range with 2 being between fairly easy sets and 5 being after a heavy set in preparation for another very serious major effort that drains you. I can see exceeding the 5 minute limit by a tad when really pushing near failure in the PR weeks when you are uncertain of getting your reps on your last set. Just use your brain and don't micromanage. Diet:
Depends on whether you are trying to gain muscle or what. I will say that for gaining muscle, caloric excess must be present. Read the caloric excess topic in the table of contents. More people, particularly bodybuilders, go wrong here. If caloric excess is present and training stinks, you will get fatter. The few guys who have come back with no weight gain got very strong and gained no net weight - guess what - they were already fairly lean (i.e. no excess in their diet otherwise they'd have been fatter) and they didn't gain fat or muscle (no caloric excess during training). There's nothing any program can do if you won't eat. For the purposes of gaining muscle or getting big and strong it's better to eat McDonalds and KFC all day long than not eat enough Zen clean ultra pure food which might be healthier but if not enough there's simply nothing to use to grow. So caloric excess is a requirement, you don't need to eat like a slob but it will work infinitely better than not eating enough healthy food for this purpose. Lots of people have gotten big and strong on diets that were bad, if you choose to eat squeaky clean, kudos to you but it is not critical to putting on muscle (it might be critical to a long high quality life though). Incorporating the Olympic Lifts:
The above is basically setup for someone who doesn't know the OLs. Starr's original workout included Power Cleans and High Pulls. Instead of Bent Rows substitute Power Cleans. Rather than Deads substitute High Pulls. Thatís a quick and dirty way of handling this without much disruption. Substituting Exercises:
Don't with this. Every bodybuilder seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder and an overwhelming desire to customize everything. The bottom line is that these are all the most effective exercises and just about anything one does will result in less gains. As a rule those people who want to change it don't know enough to make proper alterations - those who do know enough, don't have much to change. The guy who is responsible for this program is of the best on the planet at bulking lifters and making people stronger. It's kind of like Sesame Street's Elmo offering neurosurgery advice at NYU. Anyway, it's absolutely essential not to with the squats, they are the foundation of this program. If you want to sub inclines or push presses for military that's okay. Do not sub machines - don't even think about it, hit yourself with a plate if you must. For arms choose a single biceps and triceps exercise and perform them at the end once per week for 3 sets of whatever - your arms will take a beating from all the pulling and pressing anyway. If you want to chin on Wednesday or do a few sets of pulldowns/ups that's fine (avoid the machines if you can use bodyweight). Core work is always fine. Cardio is fine - interval training is the best for this I'll just throw out. If this is just too much mental strain, take solace in the fact that it's just a few weeks, you'll gain a ton of muscle and strength and then you can spend the next 4 weeks adding the minute detail to refine the gained mass (like most care anyway - I have yet to meet a guy on this board who will trade 20lbs of muscle for a bit of added detail somewhere). In a nutshell, put your trust in some of the better coaches on the planet and enjoy the results. New or Beginner Lifters:
This is not a beginner program. You will make faster progress with less workload on a true beginner program. I really recommend Rippetoe's Starting Strength for beginners or novices. It's so critical to learn the lifts correctly and get started on a good program (i.e. not what one typically finds on bodybuilding sites). Rippetoe is the man at coaching beginners and putting muscle on them with 30-40lbs in 4-6 months being quite normal. The book will handle teaching you all the lifts. It's written for coaches and no, given what I see in commercial gyms, the internet and Joe Schmoe at your local gym are not capable of instructing you properly - they will you up and make you look like a moron or possibly get you hurt. On top of that the book covers everything to get you set up on a program that is time proven as one of if not the best beginner programs available. Advanced Lifters:
After a while, linear progress doesn't work so well. You want to do this for as long as you can. And I mean, resetting and running at your records, changing some exercises, rep ranges, whatever, just keep trying to get some linear progress as you want to milk this kind of progression for all it's worth. After a while it will become pretty obvious this doesn't work for you any more. Welcome to periodization.