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Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!


A 'HALO' over my head...
Content by Madcow2
Last Revised 1/11/2006

UPDATE - I have updated program descriptions, template downloads, and an updated Table of Contents on my Geocities site (i.e. lots more topics and better organization). This will be the final update of this TOC in the thread (and it's an incomplete one because there's just too much) but the one on that site essentially links all the topics below and more, many of which come to this very thread. This is easier on me and the better descriptions with charts and better layout are easier on you.

Table of Contents for this Thread:

Part I - The Program
Part II - Exercise Descriptions
Part III - Some General Pieces
PART IV - A Few Other Programs
PART V - Sources for Knowledge, Interviews, Articles

PART I: The Program

Novice Lifter Version:
See Geocities Site link above

Intermediate Lifter Version – Single Factor/Linear:

Advanced Version - Periodized/Dual Factor:

Dual Factor Theory - Why this Works:
(The further one progresses the more critical it becomes to understand basic training concepts like this. If you aren't familiar with this, it is absolutely essential. This is how top athletes in sport are trained the world over and this includes adding LBM in addition to strength, speed, and power.)

Weight Selection/Time Between Sets/Exercise Substitution:
(The long and short is Important/Take what you need/Don't fuck with this especially the squats. Adding some arm work once a week is fine. Subbing incline for standing military is fine. Adding core work and doing cardio is fine. Do not sub in a machine variant unless you are injured or over 65.)

Some Results From Members:
(Note, far too much to keep track of at this point. There are basically just the first people who used the 5x5 programs here at Elitefitness. Also there are tons of logs and other info on this site now so just browse around or run a search)
blut wump:
Ghettostudmuffin:...Week 5:
...........................Week 6:
Jim Quini:

Why Haven’t Most BBers Heard of This Type of Training if It’s so Commonly Used Around the World for Athletics, Powerlifting, and Olympic Lifting?

Beyond the 5x5 – Planning Your Training Cycles:

PART II: Exercise Descriptions

Correct Way to Perform Barbell Rows:
(2 Variations – the one at the bottom of page 1 is best)
Links to pics:

The Only Shrug – The Power Shrug:
(Toss out the bullshit standard shrug - enjoy big increases in the mirror and increase your explosive power all at once)

The Snatch:
One of the best exercises for developing power - I believe Arioch wrote this originally

Some General Exercise Description and Video Links:
Very detailed Squat, Deadlift, and Benchpress descriptions are stickied in the PLing forum these are 'must reads' for every lifter:

PART III: Some General Pieces

Why Speed/Acceleration is Critical in Lifting:

Why A Bodypart Split/Frequency is Insufficient -
Or - "How Many Times Should I Hit a Muscle Each Week":

The Deadlift and Recovery
Increasing the Deadlift Without Deadlifting - Take 2

Diet and Training - Caloric Excess
This is the only thing I'm writing on diet - more than enough other sources out there

PART IV: A Few Other Programs

Glenn Pendlay on Mark Ripptoe’s Squat Program for New Lifters:
(routinely gets 30-40lbs of bodyweight increase within 6 months)

Smolov Squat Cycle:
(Considered the holy grail of squat programs - very demanding)

Dual Factor Hypertrophy Training:
Courtesy of Matt Reynolds
Word Doc:

PART V: Sources for Knowledge, Interviews, Articles, Tools

Interview with Strength Coach Glenn Pendlay:

Interview with Strength Coach Mark Rippetoe:

Pendlay and Rippetoe on Programing:

Renowned Speed Coach Charlie Francis on HIT:

WSB Louie Simmons – What a Gym Needs:

Prilepin's Table:
A good illustration of the interplay between volume and intensity

1RM Equations and Estimates:
To help estimate a 1RM, 5RM or whatever

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I posted something similar WAY a search for OLD SCHOOL
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

wnt2bBeast said:
Madcow is the man
No shit, i love that guy.
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

very interesting, thanks for posting
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

wnt2bBeast said:
i didnt think he was gay :chomp:
Gay=Happy Yes.
Gay=Fag No.

Wn2Beast=Fuck you.
j/k bro.
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

^^good shit here^^^
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n


Reprint of Animalmass' post from Meso where he covers this program a a few other dual factor regimines. You'll also notice that the 3x3 phase he is employing is a 2x per week protocol. I'll post this variation next.

Source Here:

In my opinion, the best program for a wide range of athletes, from beginners to elite level athletes, women, men, anyone....

The 5X5:


Olympic Squats 5x5 (same weight)
Benching 5x5 (flat, close grip or regular)(same weight)
JS Rows 5x5 (same weight)
Accessory (low volume triceps and abs)


Olympic Squats 5x5 (reduced 15-20% from Monday) or Front Squats 5x5
Standing Military Press 5x5 (same weight)
Deadlifts 5x5 (same weight) (if you pull 2.5x bodyweight do 3x5)
Pull ups 5x5 (use weight if you need it)
Accessory (biceps and abs)


Olympic Squats 5x5 (working up each set)
Benching 5x5 (flat or incline)(same weight)
Rows 5x5 (same weight)
Accessory (low volume triceps and abs)

The idea is simple: pick a weight you can do for 5 sets of 5, and if you complete all the sets and reps, then next time bump the weight up 5 or 10 pounds.

Before beginning the program it is important to establish 1 rep maxes for the squat, bench press, military press, and deadlift, and 5 rep maxes for the squat, bench press, rows, military press, and deadlifts.

The first week, it is important to begin very conservatively and prepare to set new 5 rep maxes on about the 4th-6th week, rather than the 1st or 2nd week. It will take some time for your body to grow accustomed to training this way, and in the beginning you’re gonna be sore as hell.

If you get all the sets and reps, then you increase the weight (5-10lbs) for the next week, and if not, you keep the weight the same.

Try and set new 5 rep maxes on weeks 4-6 for beginners , and weeks 3-4 for veterans and then move to a 3x3 for 2x per week.

Run the 3x3 for 2-3 weeks, drop the squatting frequency to 2x per week (or even every 4-5 days if you need the additional recovery), and try setting records on the 4th or 5th workout. (Also, weight increase are the important thing here).

Then cycle down to 1 set of 3 for 2 or 3 workouts, and maybe even go for a max single at the end.

So basically what you get is a 4-6 week prep phase, followed by a 3-5 week peaking phase.

One point – during the initial phase where 5x5 is being used you MUST stick to the required volume and frequency. Back off the weight if you have to, but always get in all 5 sets of 5.
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Here's the original post by JS about it...

Monday: Squats, Benching, Rows
Weds: Squats, Military Presses, Deadlifts, Chins
Friday: Squats, Benching, Rows

Courtesy of bill starr bill starr, the greatest strength coach who ever lived, popularized this in the 70's with his great book, The Strongest Shall Survive, which was aimed at strength training for football. I believe he had essentually two different programs which both are 5 sets of 5. The first, which is more suitable for beginners, is to simply do 5 sets of 5 with similar weight jumps between each set so that your last set is your top weight. When you get all 5 on the last set, bump all your weights up 5 or 10lbs. Example for squat... 185 for 5, 225 for 5, 275 for 5, 315 for 5, 365 for 5. If you get 365 for 5, move all weights up. This is especially good for someone who is just learning a particular exercise like the squat, because the amount of practice with light but increasing weights is a good way to practice form.

For more advanced lifters, he advocated a warmup, then 5 sets of 5 with a set weight. For example, the same athlete used in the other example may do 135 for 5, 185 for 5, 225 for 3, 275 for 2, 315 for 1, then 350 for 5 sets of 5. When successfull with all 25 reps at 350lbs, bump the weight up the next workout by 5 or 10lbs.

This is not outdated, and is a good program for gaining strength. Many elite athletes still use it during at least part of the year. I in fact do 5 sets of 5 on squatting for 4 weeks as part of an 8 or 10 week training cycle. Personally, i do it 3 times a week, but most people will probably make better progress doing it 2 times per week, or even doing version 1 once a week, and version 2 once a week.

In any event i described a system in a post a while back that goes something like this:
Monday use the heaviest weight you can for all 5 sets (same weight each set)---- in other words when you get all 5 sets of 5 reps up the weight (most workouts you will get 3 or 4 sets of 5- and maybe your last one will be for 3 or 4 reps)

Wednesday use 10-20% less weight- in other words if you used 200lbs on monday use 160-180lbs on wednesday- actual amount depending on your recovery

Friday work up to a max set of 5-

In other words lets say that your best ever set of 5 is 215lbs and you used 200lbs on monday for 5 sets and 170lbs on wednesday. On friday your workout might be like this 95 for 5 135 for 5 175 for 5 200 for 5 then attempt 220 for your last set of 5.

This tends to work better as a long term program than doing the same thing 3 times a week. On exercises where you only do them once a week like deadlift you can just do the 5 sets of 5 like i described. On monday on exercises that you are only doing twice (rows) you could do both exercises like the monday workout or lighten one of them depending on your recovery ability. Be conservative with the weight when you start- that is important.

Also i have used this program VERY often with athletes and it IS result producing. However many of your gains will show up after you use it for 4-6 weeks and you switch to training a bit less frequently and lower the reps and volume. However this is one program i have had a LOT of success with. In fact i rarely if ever use it with athletes who are at the top of their weight class because it causes too much weight gain unless you severely restrict your food.
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Here's how to periodize and peak with the 5x5 program....

"i do squats only. however i also do alot of other pulling motions off the floor, and these also work the legs. as far as squats monday 5 sets of five with a set weight wendsday, 5 sets of five with a weight that is 10-15% less than monday friday, work up with sets of five, going for your best set of five heres an example of how we do this...

lets say a person has a previous best of 5 sets of five weight with 300lbs, and has done one set of five with 325lbs for this person i may start with mondays weight of 285lbs, wendsdays weight of 255lbs, and on friday work up to a set of five with 310lbs, however if this person never trained this way before i would be much more conservative, more on that later then make small jumps each week, maybe week 2 use 295, 260, and 320 for the three workouts, week three use maybe 305, 265, and 330...and so on.

however keep this in mind, if on monday you cannot do all five sets of five keep the weight the same the next week, and on friday if you fail on a weight you choose keep the weight the same the next week

now, heres a few more hints, if you are not use to this sort of training and know you are gonna be sore as hell the first couple weeks, simply start more conservatively with the weight. if you are use to this sort of training, you can be a bit more agrressive from the start.

also as the weeks go by, dont increase wensdays workout as much as the other two. also some people are able to handle a heavier wensday workout than others. i have had athletes who have reacted best if wensdays workout was only 5% less than mondays weight. i have seen others who needed 25% reduction, however the average seems to be 10-15%, maybe if your new to this training start with 25% reduction then next time try 10-15% reduction.

with people new to this program i usually use it for 6-7 weeks, because we start more conservatively and it takes longer to get the benefits. with people who have done it before i generally go with 4 weeks at a time and go with setting records on monday and friday of week 3, week 4 is to try even more weight if week 3 was succesful, if it wasnt, then try record weights again. after this routine is over, we drop the frequency to about two workouts a week or even a bit less , and drop volume usually to 3 sets of 3.

the first week, we use the same weight as on the last monday of the 5 sets of five workout. this helps with recuperation. then, as in before we add weight each workout, this time aiming to break records on the fourth or fifth 3 sets of 3 workout.

sometimes we cycle on down to 1 set of three for two or three workouts, other times we have an offloading week then start with the five sets of five again.

i proably left some things out, i always seem to. however, although there are other programs that i am sure are effective, i have used alot of leg training programs and this one i know works, i have used this routine on probably over 100 athletes with success all around. it is not unusual for an athlete to increase their leg strength 100lbs in the full squat in the first six months i work with them.

now i know of other people who have tried this program on my recomendation in the track and field world, and not have the success i have had. however they always make the same mistakes, either starting on week one with max weights and not taking a week or two or even three to work up to max weights, OR, they start in on the 3 sets of 3 with too heavy a weight... you have to adjust the volume. dont be in too much of a hurry.

be content to set records on week 3, not week 1. well thats about it, but if your patient and do it right, it will be effective." that was a mouthful ok, that is what i was talking about, although in that post i didnt explain a couple of things that i would like to now.

as you see from reading that, were talking about 4-6 weeks basically of a prep phase, and 3-5 weeks of a peaking phase, so its not really an 8 week program all the time. every time i write this program out, its a bit different, thats because its not a set in stone thing, but an example of a training philosophy... and it can and is altered in the details for individuals. however, there is one important point concerning what can be altered and still get the desired effects.

during the initial phase where 5 sets of 5 are used, you must stick to the written workout frequency and volume. no matter what, do the required sets 3 times a week. if you feel like your really dieing, then cut the weight back. but in the initial portion, the volume and frequency shouldnt be messed with. now, when you go to the sets of 3, you need to begin with the weight specified, and go up each workout, and you should be fairly rested each workout.

that means that you MAY be able to squat 2 times a week at this point, however you may need to squat once every 4 or 5 days, depends on the individual. also, 3 sets of 3 is a good volume for the first week of this phase, but often people react better to 2 or even one top set per workout during the second, third, or 4th weeks of this phase. during this phase, its the opposite of the first phase, he weight increases are the important thing.

take enough rest between workouts and cut the workout volume enough to assure that you are recovered enough to raise the weight. hope this clarifies a bit. the 3 day a week program i wrote was an example of a basic 3 day a week program for a relative beginner. i meant it to be done without any other assistance work except maybe abs. of course, an advanced lifter would probably not do that workout exactly as written.

as far as the "peaking" part of the squat program, i usually use this with shot-putters and athletes like that, and dont neccessarily do it with a program like the 3 day a week program, although if you were doing that and wanted to "peak" a particular exercise, it would work.

basically, if you are not going to try to peak strength, you need to be more carefull when doing the 5 sets of 5 three days a weeek, and not get the weights up so heavy that you start to overtrain... a more gradual increase in weighs is called for, and you must use a little common sense and not push so hard you need rest... when trying to peak you just push and keep pushing on the last couple of weeks of the 5 by 5... you push right to the brink ov overtraining basically, then back the volume and frequency off with the sets of 3.
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