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

A training log is the best way. Obviously it won't give you information regarding where you fall in relation to everyone else or an average but providing you aren't overseeing a program with many trainees under you - it does everything you need it to do and provides information about the single and most important trainee you have, yourself.

As far as determining where you fall, it varies with training as well as genetics (apptitude) but figure your 1RM and then use one of the generic charts to extrapolate your various rep maxes. If you routinely can't get the reps in the upper ranges but hit right on in singles or lower ranges - that's a good indicator. Making easy work of 10 rep maxes indicates the opposite, that your 1RM is relatively low compared to your capacity for 10 reps.
I have a table of numbers I found somewhere on the net a few months back. Using this it's fairly easy to write a program to extrapolate your expected lifts.

1.0, 1.047, 1.091, 1.130,
1.167, 1.202, 1.236, 1.269,
1.3, 1.330, 1.359, 1.387,
1.416, 1.445, 1.475, 1.504,
1.531, 1.560, 1.587, 1.616

The table has twenty entries and can be used in two ways.
1) You know your 1RM and want to know what you should be doing for, say, 5 reps. Take the fifth entry from the table and divide your 1RM by the value (1.167). For example, your 1RM is 235 then your 5RM should be 235/1.167 which is 201.37. So, 1 1RM of 235 corresponds with a 5RM of 201 (ish).

2)You know you n-rep max and want to know your 1RM. If you know, say, that your 8RM is 150 then take the eighth entry (1.269) and multiply the weight by the value. 150x1.269 is 190.35 so a 150 8RM corresponds with a 1RM of 190. Of course, once you have a 1RM you can use method 1 do calculate your n-rep max for other numbers.

Bear in mind that these can only be estimates due to what has been said in the past few posts. Until you actually do a 1RM you don't really know your 1RM but this method can be a very useful guideline to progress and to being able to compare performance at various levels of intensity. For example to know that 8 reps at 185 shows about the same strength as 5 reps at 200.

Early on while running this exercise program I decided that, for me, a 5x5 was about the same as a single set of 8 and a 3x3 was about the same as a 5-set in terms of weight I could handle. That also depended on how much rest I took between sets, of course, but it helped me to think about the levels of intensity I was using and gave me some way to compare my Day1 and Day3 workouts.
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

Charlie Francis on HIT

I was digging around on Charlie's site,, looking for a good source book to answer a PM (the book was Training for Speed - $16.99 in Ebook format on the site). I came accross this repost of an article he wrote on HIT training. At this point, some 14 odd pages, it should be pretty clear that I'm not an advocate of HIT methodology which I feel ruins athletes. While I am no where near the level of knowledge of Charlie or others I'm glad to be keeping company with the best (Louie Simmons, just about every notable researcher and strength coach besides the HIT fanatics who actually have figured a way to get paid to detrain athletes - Let's hear it for Penn State - Ra!).

Anwyay - for those interested in speed training, Charlie's site is highly recommened. He's obviously had some controversy over the whole Ben Johnson thing but let's get over the idea that elite track is 100% clean. This is a guy who was respected as the best speed coach in the world and able to train champion athletes at lower dosages than anyone else. Programs today are still based on his methods.

BTW - the Supertraining site is the late Mel Siff's and I believe it is still up and running. Siff authored the book Supertraining which is one of the finest books on training available. You can purchase it through

(No - I don't get paid or receive anything for plugs but I am guilty of shamelessly promoting the best and trying to make it available to those interested)

Here's the article:


The Road To HIT is Paved with Good Intentions

(I originally wrote this article in 2002 as a response to a debate that was raging at the time between Louis Simmons from Westside and the Mat Brzyski of the HIT crowd on Supertraining but never ran it cause I couldn't locate the complete original articles . We've just had some HIT promoting posts on the site, so rather than holding back- Here Goes!)

No doubt, the concept of an injury- free training environment is appealing. The pursuit of this goal led to the development of the universal gym and every other "machine" we see today. Unfortunately, the only way to guarantee that no training injuries occur is not to train. High Intensity Training (HIT) has become football's version of the next- best thing.

In 1981, Al Vermiel, then strength and conditioning coach for the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers (later with the Chicago Bulls), brought me in as a consultant. When I arrived, Al was on the phone, fending off Arthur Jones, who wanted to replace Al's Olympic weights with Nautilus equipment. After Al had dismissed Jones, I asked him why so many teams had moved away from Olympic lifting and he replied that, sadly, 20 years of machines had created a lifting "Dark Age" where there was almost no-one left who could teach the classic lifts. The success of the 49ers (and the Dallas Cowboys) was partly responsible for a renaissance of classic lifting in football, but now, 21 years later, we are descending into a new "Dark Age" led by the HIT crowd.

Mat Brzycki (MB), a strength coach at Princeton and a principle HIT proponant, wrote a rebuttal to an article written by Louis Simmons. In it, he defends the HIT system, claiming that only some linemen entering the NFL from HIT schools have vertical jumps below 19 inches and have squats below 300 pounds and further suggests that some linemen entering the NFL from non- HIT schools might also have vertical jumps below 19 inches and squats below 300 pounds.

What kind of debate is this? A 300 pound squat for a lineman? Is this with one leg? A 19 inch vertical jump? When I was at the Denver Broncos training camp a few years ago, there wasn't a single lineman below ELEVEN FEET in the standing long jump! (Needless to say, this was not a HIT program)

Have you ever noticed that training concepts like HIT always take root where comparison is difficult? A track athlete who prepared this way would have his answer in the first race. Speaking of getting your ass handed to you on a plate, too bad MB didn't test out his arguments on the Princeton debating team first! They would have jumped all over his leaps from valid observations to illogical conclusions. (Some of them can probably squat 300 pounds too).

MB rightly points out the pre-eminence of the requirements of the game (open skills) over the strength qualities that are tested (closed skills). If he understands this, why then would he train one element, which, by his own admission, is NOT the most important, to FAILURE? All training components are interrelated, thus, every other aspect of training will be compromised by HIT. This is the central flaw in the HIT philosophy.

The ability to prioritize training components, objectively time and measure the impact of the work asigned, and to adjust workloads accordingly is the cornerstone of any reasonable training program. MB neatly sidesteps HIT's fundamental failure by claiming all times and measurements are irrelevant. Hedging his bets, he says they don't matter because some of the fastest and strongest players don't make the squad. Granted, some players are more skilled than others, but shouldn't you make those who DO make the squad fitter, faster and stronger, and shouldn't you be able to PROVE you've done it? He tries to obscure the issue further by suggesting that it's impossible to compare bench presses due to differing arm lengths, then, in the next sentence, provides a formula for doing just that, down to the last inch-pound.

MB points out that some HIT schools have produced better results than some other schools with non- HIT strength programs. This is undoubtedly true, but, given HIT's fundamental limitation, this is not a vindication, but, rather, a condemnation of the other programs' inability to capitalize on HIT's weakness.

MB paraphrases Ken Mannie, the strength and conditioning coach at Michigan State, as stating; "Using potentially dangerous movements in the weight room to prepare for potentially dangerous activities is like banging your head against the wall to prepare for a concussion". This statement is true, of course, but where is the real danger? Performing cleans with proper technique, progressive loading, and supervision, or sending an athlete onto the playing field with his muscles in the severely over-trained state that HIT guarantees?

MB has difficulty understanding why linemen should have a greater problem in surviving HIT training than players in other positions. "Is it because they were not mentally and physically capable of completing such a challenging type of strength training in a highly aggressive fashion?" he asks. "Is it because of their relatively larger size? Is it because they begin each play in a 3-point stance?" He quips.

For MB's information, linemen reside on the extreme left hand side of the strength to endurance continuum, along with shot-putters and weight- lifters. Their ability to deliver incredible force makes them by far the most vulnerable to the over-training that can result from a coach's attitude, so aptly described by the statements above. I'm sure that MB would consider the HIT program that made me mad enough to write this article, a success. After all ONE player got stronger. The other 57guys that got weaker obviously had bad attitudes.

MB correctly defines muscular reserve: "If your muscle fibers become stronger, fewer are needed to sustain a sub-maximal work output (creating) a greater reserve to extend the sub-maximal effort." But then he contends that the principle is reversible. That muscular strength, gained under conditions of total fatigue (Failure) will improve explosive power. This is certainly NOT true.

Explosive power can only be optimized during the maintenance phase of an organized weight program after maximum strength is already in place. The maintenance phase extends the period over which maximum strength can be maintained while allowing the entire organism to super-compensate.

Maintenance phase lifting consists of slightly sub- maximal weights in numbers well below maximum rep capacity. It takes 10 to 12days to rebound, after a 12week maximum strength phase, followed by a 6week super-compensation "window" in which explosive power can be maximized before the gradual loss of strength outweighs the benefits of additional recovery. This concept of peaking is completely alien to HIT.

MB correctly states that the speed of movement in lifting is not that important. Increasing lifting speed increases risk and lifting rates are so slow compared to the movement rates of the sport itself, it renders any lifting speed change irrelevant. But he doesn't quit there.

He attacks the clean, stating: "There's no study that shows the power clean produces an honest- to- goodness, full fledged improvement in explosiveness in a specific "open" skill during game conditions. And if there is no scientific evidence, then there is only wild speculation, anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking."

Along this line, I might point out that there's no scientific proof that there will be a tomorrow. There is however speculation, anecdotal evidence, and, indeed, wishful thinking!

Does he seriously suggest that the clean is the only lift that does NOT improve on-field performance, whether directly or indirectly?

I have no special attachment to the clean. I have used it successfully with some athletes, but my most successful athlete, Ben Johnson, never used it in any of his programs. I don't buy the concept that the clean is specific either. Specificity comes from the sport itself. What can safely be said is that the clean represents a means to recruit a very large percentage of the body's motor units in a single lift and, for the athlete with the skill to employ it, and it can reduce the total number of lifts in training, when required. The real reason the HIT crowd hate it is because it can never be reconciled with training to failure.

MB extrapolates, suggesting that practicing skilled movements with added resistance may train the neuromuscular system to move slower. With an inappropriate load, yes, but lightly resisted sport-specific actions are used with success in many sports. Resisted sprints up to 30meters (generating no more than a 10% slowing of best time) will not alter sprint mechanics, and, when mixed with un- resisted runs, can generate significant gains in acceleration performance. Likewise, short sprints up a slight grade will help an athlete to improve his mechanics by allowing him to achieve optimum joint angles before he can generate enough acceleration to achieve them on a flat track. I have the CV to back me up on this. Sorry, I forgot. MB doesn't believe in performance measures.

MB speculates that bodybuilders, who often train using HIT principals, might be explosive, but to quote Milos Sarcev: "We are not athletes, we are athletic mannequins"!

MB also spends a lot of time trying to "ferret" out the names of the nay- sayers. In the finest tradition of the Inquisition, he wants to know who is not "Catholic" in the weight room. It's no surprise that he operates this way. Once a program like this gets hold of a team, it's hell to get rid of, since players, fearing their complaints will get back to management, keep their mouths shut. Then they're double- damned. Most players in the NFL need the work- out money they get for doing the team's off- season training program. So, even as they see their performance deteriorate, they have to put up with this dumbing- down of their training.

Why then is HIT gaining ground in the face of a flawed concept, fierce criticism from the outside, and grumbling from the inside? I'm afraid it comes down to laziness. The "culture of the cubicle" has entered the weight- room.

Annual Plan? Who needs it? As MB so aptly puts it: "Why "overcomplicate" your lifting program with periodization"?

Want to work different strength qualities? Don't worry about it! There are no different strength qualities. One set to failure covers everything.

Spending too much time supervising your athletes? Get machines in there and you can post your workouts on the bulletin board and hang out in your cubicle "surfing the net".

But HIT crowd take warning. Team owners didn't get rich by being entirely stupid, even if they did hire you. Can you expect them to accept forever that the failure to meet expectations is due to lack of talent or poor player attitude? If they should happen to stroll through the weight room and see what's going on, how long will it be before they figure out that THEY can post your workout on the bulletin board and let you spend your time in a cubicle at the unemployment office?
Good article.

I've been back in training for around 7 months now and during this time I have not purposely gone to failure on any of my sets. I've probably hit failure on less than ten sets this whole time.

I have never been stronger or bigger. I used to be all about HIT. I read everything. It seems to make sense, but after years of little progress in highschool I quit lifting for a couple years. Then I lifted again for 6-7 months still going to failure, but now I was only training each bodypart once every 7 days and by the end of the 7 months I was training each bodypart once every 10 days. I made good strength gains and gained some noticeable muscle size after the first 2 months, but then didn't seem to gain an ounce of muscle for the next 5 months even though my strength was going up.

Then I started learning about the nervous system and people's genetic differences. I was taking my sets to absolute momentary muscular using the 10-12 rep range. Not only that, but on the final failed rep I would press it for around 10 seconds as hard as I could and then I would lower as slowly as I could until I couldn't hold it anymore. No wonder it took so long to recover. I was literally frying my nervous system.

At this point I quit lifting for another year or so. Then I started up again and started taking only certain exercises to failure like dumbell bench, barbell bench and military press. I started experimenting with singles training and sets of 3-5 reps. My squat strength was gaining very rapidly. I put on an extra 5lbs a week on the squat for 9 months straight using a 6x1 set scheme.

For deadlifts I did the same thing and for rows I did 6-8 sets of 3 reps. Before I knew it I was doing DB rows with 90's.

It seemed like every exercise that I wasn't training to failure on was going up and up while the failure exercises were only going up at a marginal rate. Some bullshit started going on in my life and I quit lifting.

Roughly a year later I decided to start lifting again and this time not quit no matter what happens in life. I also decided not to train to failure at all and to not train above 8 reps and now have dropped it to not above 6 reps with sets of 3-5 being ideal for me. I made excellent progress starting out and now that I'm using madcow2's 5x5 variation, I feel that I have a very solid grasp as to how to train for optimal progress using dual-factor programs. Also, it coincides with my theory that I am pre-dominantly fast twitch based off how I seem to respond the best to low rep ranges and not going to failure.

HIT SUCKS. A great way to build a crappy physique. A great way to remain relatively weak. HIT BLOWS.
I couldnt let this thread get to the 2nd last ? for mcow....

I've read the entire thread, but I'm just a little unsure how this program DIFFERS from the original 5x5 where you increase the weights 5-10lbs each week, such as 225x5x5 wk 1, 230x5x5 wk 2, etc.........the method you have posted shoots from a record at wks 3-4, while the orginal would be setting recods (depending on how light you started) and wks 4-5 and then EACH WEEK after.....correct? As you would keep increasing by 5's until you plateua, than move to 5x3, etc......Plus, you are hitting the muscle groups individually on seperate days, so you dont get stagnant with rows, bench and squats 3x week........(+ my knees won't forgive me, lol).....thanks bro.
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

Well, the original version (Bill Starr's 5x5) works fine for a lot of people and has for a really long time. The problem you get is with experienced lifters and/or very strong lifters. Upping the weights 5-10 lbs a week just isn't enough of a jump and leaves you training with record or near-record loads and will break you down very quickly. Basically, it's just too much stress on the body for an experienced lifter to run consistently for months at a time making small incremental jumps.

For an example, go back a few pages to the cut/pasted response from Glenn Pendlay describing the squatting program Mark Ripptoe uses with his new lifters. That's a basic program where he has them making incremental jumps over longer periods. He uses this and some close variations for a year and maybe two as long as the athlete keeps progressing. This is a supercompensation program and works really well for beginners. Glenn says he gets 30-40lbs on new lifters in 6 months.

If you think such a program will work for you, go at it. Make gains for as long as you can on it. However, the day will come when programs like that won't work anymore. An experienced lifter just isn't going to respond to going in the gym and lifting at 100% all the time. Hence, dual factor theory becomes a lot more important once base adaptation has already taken place. It's just a lot harder to make consistent quality gains further out.

Here is that thread anyway:

Actually, now that I'm looking at your post again, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by the "original 5x5". I kind of assumed you were talking about Bill Starr's original workout but now that I see "Plus, you are hitting the muscle groups individually on seperate days, so you dont get stagnant with rows, bench and squats 3x week........(+ my knees won't forgive me, lol).....thanks bro." I'm a lot less sure. How the hell do you get stagnant with rows, benches, and squats? Great physiques have been built off simple basic movements. If you are talking about some generic 3 day split varriation - I'm going to be pissed off. There are no less than 3 instances in this thread where I have ripped appart the 3 day split idea most recently here:
There is no science or evidence behind the 3 day split 1x per week workout. Read the thread. This came from ignorance and totaly misapplication. Some BBers wondered why they came back stronger after a layoff and they clung to overtraining because they simply had no clue about how training actually works (I watched all this develop over a period of a few years) - obviously they still don't and the BBing world is stuck in 1x per week because some ignorant fucks threw out the idea and no one bothered to pick up a book or ask anyone who studies this stuff (I guess everyone was more concerned with procuring more drugs). When you apply this finding to basic supercompensation workouts you arrive at the conclusion that you aren't allowing for enough time to recover between sessions. This is the whole reason why it's fucking wrong. Dual factor theory has tons of empirical evidence behind it. Increased training frequency has tons of evidence behind it. It's not like I'm the only one who uses it. BBing is basically the only group of weight trainers in the world that doesn't.

So anyway, do the workout you want. Whether it's Bill Starr's, mine, someone elses or even the Suzanne Summers' Thigh-Master Blaster program. It's important to try things and let them run their course. You'll go nowhere just sitting and talking about training trying to figure out the best workout. Try them all if you want or try none. Doesn't matter but we've been going over this stuff way too long. It's time to plan out a training cycle and get in the gym - end of story.
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Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

More Results:

Linked Thread:

Ceasar989: Well I have to admit that I really enjoyed the program recommended by Madcow2, I wish I'd heard about it before. I should let you guys know that I did finish 1 week early because I just cant afford to bulk anymore financially and school is starting to get a little more hectic. My diet pretty much consisted of tuna, protein shakes, cottage cheese, bread, ANPB, Potatoes...and cafe. I could have eaten a lot better had I been at home, but here i didnt have the luxury of having steak and chicken breast everynight. Anyhow, I naked weight when I began was 213 lbs (in some of my earlier posts i said i was 215, but that was with all my crap on) and have arrived at a finishing weight of 234.5 lbs. I am 6'1.5. I have never experience strength or size gains like i did with this program...and I have to admit, I was kinda skeptical atfirst because it went against everything i'd learned earlier...but, before this, my bench was weak, squat was weak, dl was weak, everything was weak. Now, everything is respectable:
Bench: 180 -> 235
Squat : 245 -> 325
DL: Same as Squat
Incline: 115 ->185
Chins: I can do them with ease now, despite the fact that it was harder for me at a lesser weight.
Rows: 185-> 245

I measured myself today, and damn was i surprise with what I saw. My arms went from 16 inches to 17 (cold)...and i got the stetch marks to prove it! My traps have increased tremendously...normally its hard to notice differences with yourself, but the change is so significant that i can see it myself. I didnt measure my legs before hand, but now they are 27.5-28 inches. Chest is up from 43 inches to 45.5 inches. Forearms are up from 13 inches to 13.5.

So overall, it was pretty successful. I put in the time and consider the circumstances with me having a crappy diet most of the way through (becaus i'm in residence), I did alright...I did gain some fat, but that comes with the prize as always.
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I tried to find it somewhere in here and thought I had saw it before, but I am starting the program today and wanted to know, with out screwing up the true intentions of the program, if incline can be substituted for the flat bench, or more specifically if you can do incline on one day and flat on the other. If so would it be better to do flat bench on the 5X5 days or the 1X5 days. Although each day has a different goal do they work in such a way together that you need to keep each lift the same, either flat bench for both days or incline for both days.