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

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

Bill Starr - Glenn Pendlay 5x5

Periodized Version for Advanced Lifters

Intro to Periodization

Note: I have a more complete and better formatted description along with a template download and a ton of other information in this link: This will be the final update to this post, anything new will go in the Geocities site. In addition as this is a cut/paste some of the weblinks that are intended to be in the description are not active so when you see " here" and there's no link. This is why.

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


Okay, this is a simple program - the problem is that people have very little experience setting something like this up so we now have a giant document and all kinds of crap to answer the questions that most often arise (even some of the most inane ones). This is simple, effective, and very direct training. You will see how simple it is after you do it once but people seem to do a lot better with a surplus of information than a deficit so this is a very comprehensive piece that should answer just about everything.


This program and variants have been making the rounds on the internet for a few years now. Variations have been made for specific lifters, it’s been rehashed and re-explained by various people ranging from your standard guy who had a lot of success with it all the way to some fairly high level coaches in multiple sports using it on their athletes or using it to illustrate periodization. It’s been cut/pasted into articles, internet forums, interviews, etc… Heck I've put it out there a lot and tried to give credit to every source I could locate as I was able but still my name wound up getting attached to it even though I was pretty clear that this was not a program I designed. This version here is one that I've tweaked a bit in an effort to make it more accessible to the variety of people using a program like this for the first time (i.e. trying to set it up to be as tolerable as possible). All that said the real origins stretch back fairly far but for practical application there are three primary sources who are responsible for it’s popularity over the most recent 30 years: Bill Starr, Glenn Pendlay, and Mark Rippetoe.

Bill Starr: This is a variation of Bill Starr's classic 5x5. Bill is without doubt one of the best strength coaches ever, serving at multiple universities, pro teams – including the Super Bowl 1970 Colts, and holding records in both PL and OL. His articles are frequently reprinted in Milo, have appeared in Ironman for years (they might still be in there periodically), and are generally all over the strength and conditioning world. His book on training for football, 'The Strongest Shall Survive', is a classic for coaches, players, and any strength athlete - you can pick it up at Ironmind.

Glenn Pendlay: An accomplished powerlifter and Olympic weightlifter in his own right and a fantastic strength coach, Glenn has found his real calling training and developing others. He founded and serves as the head coach for Wichita Falls Weightlifting – which he has quickly turned into one of the best teams in the nation. He is also the coach of the MSU weightlifting team, head coach of a Regional Olympic Development Center. Coming to OL relatively late he still managed to snatch 170 kilos (375lbs), cleaned 210kilos (463lbs), push pressed 200 kilos (440lbs), and military pressed within a few pounds of 400 on multiple occasions. You can learn more about him in his interview.

Mark Rippetoe: Owner of Wichita Falls Athletic Club, co-author of Starting Strength, is well known for his outrageous success in adding muscular bodyweight to new lifters (30-40lbs in 4-6 months being fairly typical). Has trained countless lifters over the years. Link to his interview.

For those interested in a more full overview of how Mark and Glenn typically train their athletes this is a solid piece to read:


This program and variations are very much in common use all over the place even being common to elite athletes in various sports. This program is very effective at increasing strength and lean body mass, if focuses on the core lifts that drive full body hypertrophy and getting those lifts up as quickly as possible. There is little isolation work and what is generally used is targeted and specific, not the typical shotgun array of ‘let’s do everything and the kitchen sink’ that serves mainly to dilute a program’s effectiveness. Solve problems as they arise, do not waste time trying to preempt every possible future issue one can imagine. Most people who haven’t trained like this tend to be pretty amazed that the body grows very proportionately all on it’s own from a small assortment of compound lifts. The idea is you do a few things and get systematically better at them over time, don’t try to do everything all at once. Focus on what matters most and remove all the garbage so you can do it a lot and get really good.

People have had a lot of success using something like this while cutting. I have seen a number of reports of people keeping bodyweight constant, losing body fat, and increasing in most relevant measurements (chest, thigh, arms) so that says something. If you are close to a weight class limit you’ll need to be very careful. All that said, this program will make you strong but if you want to put on muscle there absolutely must be caloric excess. Read my piece on caloric excess if you haven’t already, more people screw this up than anything else. This program has gotten results for 30 years and still continues to get excellent results from bodybuilders, strength athletes, or those looking for better performance. It is a very good method of getting big and strong. In addition, specific to bodybuilding it breaks a lot of the typical voodoo myths running around like “training a muscle 1x per week is required for recovery” or that “isolation work is required or one will develop all out of proportion”. This program is about simple training and results. However, there is a ton of science behind it and one would do well to familiarize themselves with dual factor theory and the properly used concepts of volume, frequency, intensity, and workload. There is more to training than simply going into the gym, getting under a bar, and working hard hoping to come back better. So by running this program one gets gains and learns at the same time, sort of a "teach a man to fish..."

This program is not ideally done as a “cookie-cutter” but should be tailored to the experience level of the trainee. It is setup here for an experienced lifter who is completely familiar with the core lifts and is beginning periodization (i.e. with experience making week to week record progress becomes less and less a reality for all lifters over time so this would be a balanced version to use) . For most people unfamiliar with this style of training, which is a lot more taxing than doing a bunch of isolation work, it’s a good starting point. Some might find that they can be more aggressive with the weights and load harder, some might need more volume, some might find themselves doing really well in the volume phase and realizing that a single factor program with more emphasis on frequency and the core lifts is what might work best as significant strength increase during the initial phase would be a good indicator that linear progress is still available but programming must be improved (i.e. you don't need periodization, you need a good training program). Anyway, it’s a progression not a static cookie cutter although we have to start somewhere which is why I’ve drawn it up the way I have. I’ve tried my best to cover that as have others but still people get attached. As a lifter progressed workload will be expanded and obviously you can’t just keep hammering the same thing again and again. The programming interview from Pendlay and Rippetoe here can probably provide more insight and they have a book coming out with Lon Kilgore called Practical Periodization (available early 2006) that is intended to cover multiyear training plans and development.


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). You can base your 5x5 max off your 5 rep max just by cutting back a bit. 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 so you can make adjustments on the fly as you ramp the weights week to week to across the board records in the final weeks of the volume phase. Don't overly stress on this - it's easier than it sounds and once you've run it once, subsequent cycles fall right into place.

Loading/Volume (Weeks 1-4)

Exercise Sets x Reps

Squat 5x5
Bench 1x5
Barbell Row 1x5

Squat 5x5
10-20% less than Monday
Deadlift 5x5
Incline or Military 5x5
Pullups 3x3

Squat 1x5
Bench 5x5
Row 5x5

OPTION 1: Deload and Peak (Weeks 5-9)

Exercise Sets x Reps

Squat 3x3
Bench 1x3
Barbell Row 1x3

Deadlift 3x3
Incline or Military 3x3
Pullups 3x3

Squat 1x3
Bench 3x3
Row 3x3

OPTION 2: Pure Deload (Weeks 5-6 or Extended)

Exercise Sets x Reps

Squat 3x3
Bench 3x3
Barbell Row 3x3

Wednesday or Thursday
Squat 3x3
30% less than Monday
Deadlift 3x3
Incline or Military 3x3

Clarifying Examples:

5x5 and 3x3 are straight sets with working set weight:
i.e. 315x5, 315x5, 315x5, 315x5, 315x5 in the case of 5x5 and 315x3, 315x3, 315x3 in the case of 3x3

1x5 and 1x3 are ramped sets of 5x5 and 3x3 respectively with the weights increasing set to set over fairly even intervals:
i.e. 225x5, 255x5, 275x5, 295x5, 315x5 in the case of 1x5 and 275x3, 295x3, 315x3 in the case of 1x3

Volume/Loading Phase (Weeks 1-4):

So 5x5 is 5 sets of 5 reps with working set weight (warm up to the target weight for the week and proceed through 5x5 with that weight). Where 1x5 is present you are ramping the weights upward each set to a target set weight for a single set of 5 (it's still 5x5 but each set gets heavier and your target set is the top set of 5). The exception is the Wednesday squat for 5x5 using somewhere between 10-20% less than the working weight on the Monday 5x5 workout (the Wed squat may increase less than the Monday squat over the ramping weeks - meaning it may start at 12% less and wind up at 22% less by the last record week if one needs some extra recovery). What you are doing is gradually increasing the target weights week to week so you wind up performing record lifts in the final two weeks of the volume phase (weeks 3/4 in this case). If you miss a weight, hold it constant for the next week by carrying it forward (you should not be missing until weeks 3/4 though). Keep in mind that you have separate targets for 5x5 and 1x5 even though they are the same lift (i.e. bench press). The ramping is set separately for these and they are treated separately. It's a good idea to start conservatively as this gets fairly backbreaking and you'll be begging for week 5. The most common mistake is people starting too high. It's useful to start light and then be flexible either adding an extra week to the ramp up or moving your targets a bit as you feel your way. This is far easier in the intensity phase because you already have a reference - likewise the next time you run this workout, it'll be a no brainer. The main point in this phase is the volume. Lower the weight if need be but get the sets and reps in. If you fail on an exercise just carry the target weight forward into the next week. Some people who are new to this might find it easier to run this phase for 6 weeks starting much lighter and building slowly. If your working weights for the deadlift are 2x bodyweight (meaning you are a 200lbs lifter and you'll be doing 400+ for 5x5 throughout the cycle) it's probably a good idea to do lower the volume on that lift to 3x5 in this phase.

The easiest way to set this up the first time is to put current PRs in week 3 (with more experience and relevant lifts you might have new PR goals in both weeks 3 and 4). Your 5RM can be calculated and just drop off a given percentage for your 5x5RM (try 7.5% maybe) you get a week 3 figure for those lifts. Now back down to week 1. A conservative number to start with might be 80% of your Week 3 PR lift then split the difference for Week 2. If you are really strong (and jumps are large), you might need more weeks to ramp up. What you don't want to do is start too high, you can always tack on another week but if you start too high you blow the progression. Anyway, week 4 lifts are a margin above week 3, maybe 5%. It's important to plan it out and then play it by ear as you go, adjust where need be so that you culminate with the 2 final weeks. If that means starting lighter and running for 6 weeks that's fine. If that means, you thought 4 weeks was fine but you were unexpectedly stronger (or got stronger during this phase) and need to add an extra week to avoid a big jump, that's okay too - just be very conscious of fatigue level. Your first time through you'll feel pretty beat up after the last week, that's okay. If you are beat up entering the 2nd to last week, that's something to watch. You want to 'overreach' which is before overtraining. Sometimes you'll encounter a performance deficit and not be able to set PRs (very common for advanced athletes loading hard), without experience though you don't want to push it too hard and overdo it - takes too damn long to recover from.

Option 1: Deload and Peak 3x3 (Weeks 5-9):

This option provides for deloading in the middle weeks and working toward new PRs in the final weeks (think of it as almost 2 loading phases as the 2nd will likely fatigue you by the time you are done). This makes it a bit harder to handle particularly for first timers. In addition, trainees might need a light week or two before moving back into another loading period.

Deloading Week - Week 5:
On week 5 drop the Wednesday squat workout, begin using the Deloading/Intensity set/rep scheme, and keep the weight the same as your last week in the Volume Phase. In reality the whole intensity phase and this week are the same thing, I just break this week out because there is no weight progression so in reality after the volume phase the whole thing is deloading/intensity which for the purposes of this workout are synonymous. Also my 3x per week layout tends to get pretty aggressive as many find themselves fatigued again by the end so it kind of makes logical sense to break this period separately. Largely semantics.

Intensification Phase - Week 6-9:
Everything is the same principal except that you use 3x3 and 1x3 setting records on week 8 and 9 (or the final 2 weeks of this phase). No Wednesday squatting. It's important that you recover before getting into the heavy weight PRs again so if you have to keep Week 6 light, go ahead. The important aspect of this phase is the weight increases. If you are burned out and you need an extra day here and there that's okay - this won't hurt you at all and unless you are feeling ripe it might well be beneficial. If you can't do all the work that's okay too. Just keep increasing the weight week to week. It might also help to keep the first week in this phase just incrementally higher than the Deloading Week to provide for extra recovery if needed. During this phase you'll be ramping the weights from your deloading week to your 3x3 and 1x3 records in the final 2 weeks. In this 3x per week pattern, start light once again and get a breather. Taking extra days or cutting out volume isn’t encouraged but if you need extra recovery do it and then adjust your future training plans accordingly. If you don’t get an adequate deload first (that 1 week may not be enough) you will cripple your gains. Better to get 90% out of a training cycle than 10%. You'll learn a lot about your tolerance for volume loading and unloading here - there is no need to try to be a hero. Get some experience and the next time you run this you'll be spot on but you wind up feeling your way to a degree the first time.

Post Cycle:
Depending upon how you feel, it's probably a good idea to deload again before moving back into another volume phase if you ran the 3x per week like I outlined above. See the alternative schedule below and perform this light for 2 weeks working on speed/acceleration. If you ran the 2x alternate schedule below for your deload/intensity you can likely move straight back into another volume phase.

Option 2: Pure Deload (Weeks 5-6 or Extended)

This is designed to get you recovered without too much hassle or worry. Frequency is dropped to 2x per week and the Friday workout is dropped. The Wednesday workout can be moved to Thursday if desired. This phase can be run as long as needed to recover or until one wants to do something else. Maybe that's 1-2 weeks for some people to build enough steam to jump back into a loading phase. Maybe that's 4-5 weeks if someone feels they are really getting a lot out of it.

Week 5 and on switch to 3x3 and drop the Friday workout altogether. Week 5 weights are the same as the final week of loading. Over the following weeks increase the weight workout to workout if you get all 9 reps. If you don't get all the reps, keep the weight constant. You'll likely be able to move straight back into another volume phase after this is complete. As for the increases week to week, probably best to use a percentage but to make it easy for first timers maybe add 5lbs to benches and rows then 10lbs to squats and deads.


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 shit. 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 doesn’t 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.


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).

Learning about Your Tolerances/Setting Up Your 2nd Training Cycle:
This can be somewhat daunting to set your weights the first time you run this and for reasons already stated it's a lot better to be on the conservative side. I don’t provide percentages because this is very individual and I want people to pay attention to their bodies and learn – stated percentages have a way of short circuiting the learning mechanism even in the face of common sense. Once you've been through this once, you'll learn a lot about your tolerances and you'll have a set of very relevant records which you can sub right into the next training cycle. Your best 5x5 would become week 3 and then week 4 a margin above it (this is conservative) - or ideally week 3 would exceed your best 5x5 by a margin and then week 4 above that (this makes for a tougher loading cycle and this is one of the things you'll learn whether or not to do for your current state of conditioning). In addition, if you are really loading hard, performance will decline towards the end so setting records and actually getting the lifts may not be possible (and that’s okay because the juice comes on the other end). The other lifts 1x5, 3x3, 1x3 are similarly adjusted based on previous records. Also, people's tolerances vary widely at every level. Take 2 top competitive lifters - they may lift exactly the same weight, have similar training history, and be equally sized but one requires a massive amount of volume in training while another does not. No ego just what each needs to stimulate progress. As you go, you'll learn all about what you need, what you can handle, and what is too much. Eventually, you'll be able to tailor this program or an entire 6 month training cycle to your individual specs and requirements. Obviously reading the Training Theory topics in the TOC is going to really assist in providing you a framework in how to quantify and design your programs.

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. That’s a quick and dirty way of handling this without much disruption.

Substituting Exercises:

Don't fuck 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 screw 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.

If you don't know what this is, don't worry about it. Read up on Westside sometime - it's not integral to the program but incorporating work like this into your training cycles can be worthwhile no matter if you are a PL, general athlete looking for performance or bodybuilder. For those that do and want to incorporate them, the 1x5 days are the days you would choose for these in the generic layout.

New or Novice Lifters:
A dual factor program is unnecessary. This is more work than you need and slower progression. Why add weight once every 4-8 weeks if you can string together new personal records for weeks at a time back to back. 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).

Advanced Lifters:

As one learns about one's tolerances and progresses over time one will generally find that one is able to gradually accommodate more volume. Some might find it more advantageous from a recovery standpoint to do all their 5x5 work on Monday and save the 1x5 for Friday. In terms of this generic template what generally happens is that a lifter will remove the pyramid 1x5 workouts and swap them into a second 5x5 over time. In addition, an advanced lifter might start their ramps much closer to their record weights (that said, this same lifter might need a longer period of acclimation before being able to handle record weights so a lot depends on the individual and the current state of the athlete). As one's weights increase the volume can also be spread over 4 days rather than 3 to accommodate the fatigue from the heavier weights – especially the Wednesday deadlift. These lifters might also compress the training cycle into 2-3 weeks of loading and 1-2 weeks of deloading once they are geared up and training hard (this would be within the context of a longer training plan like a planned out Macrocycle – give a read to Planning Your Training Cycle and the Training Theory section of the TOC). I'm just going to state, this stuff is for someone who has spent some time doing this type of work. I only include this for completeness because it is needed to illustrate progression and if I put an “advanced” version down you can bet everyone would be doing it, burning out, making zero progress, and I’d be “wrong” and this program would be “bad”. The way I have it listed above will overload just about anyone besides an accomplished seasoned lifter and push them to their limit if they set their weight right. You apply more volume when you need it, not as an ego thing. This will destroy or drastically limit your gains. Don't do this unless you've run many dual factor training cycles and are absolutely sure you need it. I'm being overly cautious but most people on this board come from a bodybuilding background where typical programs are the 3 day split variety hitting each muscle 1x per week. This base program itself is a whole different world of volume and the tweaks here can make it much more taxing and in every single case that I've seen where someone is even relatively new to this style of program - they should not be employed.
Last edited by a moderator:
FYI to everyone who hasn't looked at the first page in a while. A linked Table of Contents was added to the first post (resulted in me rewriting the above which kind of needed to be done anyway since my original description was written in all of about 5 minutes a few years back). It indexes just about all of the best info in this thread as well as other stuff I've referenced at different sites. Given that we are way out in the page numbers now - I figured it's unrealistic to expect someone to read the entire thread so this simplifies things a bit. Hope this helps.
Madcow2 said:
You'll be fine. The deadlift is taxing for everyone - maybe moreso to you because you are so new to it. Spread the volume for now and just grunt it out. Weeks 3/4 are what really determine the success of your training cycle. Plus, all of this provides more information to you about your tolerances. Maybe you are most suseptible to the deadlift right now (there is a reason why Westside avoids it), maybe 10 days of really heavy loading is adequate for you under these conditions. Maybe to get the most out of your squat you cut the deadlift back to 3x5 for the volume phase or substitute high pulls (although from the sound of it you are benefiting from the lift). All just food for thought but this is the kind of stuff you are learning.
Well, it's become fairly moot after I twisted my knee over the weekend on being barged by a horse. There are few things more humbling (or stupid) than trying to pit muscles against a three-quarter ton animal.

Anyway, I can't squat for toffees now and deadlifts are probably not an option either so I'm going straight into deload for a week or two and decide whether to start again at week 1 or attempt an intensity phase. I don't think I have any serious injury there but I can't squat bodyweight without pain today. Ho hum.
So Madcow, how would one apply the concepts of the program if they are looking to keep gaining size as opposed to strength? How might the program be chaged up or look different (if at all)?
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

slyder190 said:
So Madcow, how would one apply the concepts of the program if they are looking to keep gaining size as opposed to strength? How might the program be chaged up or look different (if at all)?

Well the reason why I put it on a BBing board is primarily because it's a really great size program. Much of the gains show up in the deloading/intenisty phase. People here are a bit lucky because they've seen gains throughout but this is more because this style of training is so new to most (it's like getting someone who has trained on all machines doing deads and squats - the program itself won't matter all that much at first because they are going to explode with gains for a while just by putting in some time in the rack). If someone is a more advanced lifter that has accrued a fairly solid tolerance they generally see their strength and size increases in the deloading/intensity periods rather than throughout the program.

All that said, a lot of the tweaking that one can do is heavily dependent upon one's own tolerances. This is why I try to be so thorough because in reality, nearly everyone on the forum is their own coach and they will slowly gain information that will enable them to tweak the program properly over time (i.e. they have to start the intenisty phase with fairly light weights because week 5 doesn't provide them with enough of a deload, or they can start their weights higher in both the volume and intensity phase, maybe they eventually are able to hande more volume than this program provides). So the generic write up is designed so that just about anyone that is familiar with the exercises and has a couple years of training under their belts can get in and make solid progress (there is a novice 5x5 and Ripptoes novice squatting program in the TOC now too for those that haven't been at this long enough to make a dual factor style program necessary).

The intensity phase itself will accrue more size, make no mistake (especially my 3x which tends to reload the athlete as he nears the record weeks if he's not taking prodigous extra days and cutting out volume). The only thing I'm doing is slashing the volume down a bit because you can't keep the pace of a good loading period up for long. Even if the intensity phase only provided pure strength and enhanced neural efficiency (plus some recovery for your gains from the volume), that enhanced strength and efficiency will enable you to use heavier weights in your next loading cycle thereby increasing total volume and the stimulus. So you are basically using 2 training styles periodized into a dual factor fatigue/volume manipulation scheme, one that fits your needs precisely and the other that allows for growth/recovery and potentiates your ability to progress more quickly the next time you hit the first phase again. So even if we rule out any size benefits (and they are significant) other than just a recovery effect for the intensity phase, it still makes a ton of sense to incorporate this style of training even when someone is only interested in size.

Now just talking randomly, if you want to extend the loading period you have to start fairly light and not let the weights climb too quickly (this works well for some and not so well for others and this can change over time as the level of general conditioning increases - you just don't know until you experiment and really the best experiment is the plain vanilla at first so you get a reference because most people using starndard BBing programs simply have zero reference for this). Still, once you reach the point of being really pushed you likely have somewhere between 10-21 days (most have 10-14, if you are truly loading and breaking records few humans can tolerate more than 2 weeks) before sliding from overreaching into overtraining which will lessen your net gains. Doing away with the intensity period all together, you could then deload for 1-2 weeks as needed (use the 2x per week method) and then begin lightly again.

So going through all of this - you still need a reference for your tolerances which should be the plain vanilla the first time because it's layed out so that it can't get screwed up too badly (and believe me - this program can get screwed up if people are allowed free reign and have never done anything like this - I'm just very vigilant about it), and in reality I don't think most people are going to net any more gains using something like this (meaning altering the periodization and neglecting the 2nd phase) although I can see some sense if a BBer is very very strong and is nearing a contest phase where his BF is very low and he doesn't want to burden his dryed joints with heavy triples. That said, the average is just that - an average. Most people want above average gains which means setting it up specifically for themselves, yet that can only be done as one gains experience and has a reference for how they responded and what they tolerated in the past.

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

"How Many Times Should I Hit a Muscle Each Week?"
Why A Body Part Split/Frequency Are Insufficient

So this was another response that I figured was worthwhile. Yes, I am lazy and I don't like retyping so I prefer to do it right once and be done with it. That way everyone gets the same thing and the poor shlep that comes along #20 in line doesn't get a half-assed version solely because I was too tired to do it again by that point.

Anyway, this is just an illustration on how totally useless a basic bodypart split is and why there's no real answer to how many times you should work a muscle in a week - it all depends on exactly what you are doing to it along with the body/system (volume and intenisty i.e. load) as well as how long you plan on maintaining that pace. Most intermediate/advanced trainees will benefit hugely from a periodized program where volume/intensity/frequency are regulated and varied over periods i.e. dual factor or fitness fatigue or whatever one chooses to call it. For beginners this isn't as important but understanding how these factors relate is still critical.

Source Thread is Here:

Madcow2 said:
would doing the muscle group twice a wk lead to "overtraining" ..whats up with the myth about doing a body part only once a week...

so say currently your doing this:

Mon: Chest
Tues: Back
Wed: Legs
Thurs: Shoulders
Friday: arms

And you start doing this:

Mon: Chest/back
Tues: legs/shoulders
Wed: arms
Thurs: off
Fri: chest/back
Sat: arms...

Damn im would you hit a body part twice but if you only took one day off??

Mon: Chest/back
Tues: Legs/shoulders
Wed: arms
Thurs: chest/back
FRi: Legs/shoulders
Sat: arms
Sun: rest??

do you believe if a body part is lagging you should hit it twice a week?
There's just so much more to it than organizing a split that determines which muscles on which days. Consider squatting 2 sets of 5 reps at 30% of your 1RM (so a 300lbs squatter doing roughly 100lbs). You could do this 5x per week indefinitely. Consider squatting 12 sets of 5 reps at 90% of your 1RM (so a 300max doing 270 now). Most people probably can't handle that more than once per week and even then will likely overtrain assuming a reasonable amount of other volume on other lifts being trained at reasonable intensity (overtraining has a lot more to do with the CNS and systemic recovery than it does with an individual muscle group).

Granted these are extremes but extreme scenarios serve to illustrate the point that frequency alone doesn't determine anything. When most people think about hitting a bodypart 2x per week what they basically end up doing is taking their existing workout and doing it twice in the same amount of time. So let's just say that they handle their existing workout okay - can they handle double the volume okay? I don't know, that's a damn big increase to pull on someone suddenly. A better way is to split your volume and distribute it using the frequency (so 6 sets of squats with working set weight becomes 3 sets 2x per week). Now a lot of people might find they can increase volume a bit because they become better conditioned with increased frequency and can tolerate more but it would be pretty dumb to start doing 6 sets 2x per week rather than 3 and double it up. Maybe increase by 1 set in each of the 2 workouts or some such other alteration, anything that's less severe than a 100% increase.

So the primary factors at play that determine the training load you are applying are volume, intensity (a given weight's % of your 1 rep max), and frequency (the allocation of volume/load). It's also important to realize that the idea that a muscle is trained, recovers fully and is enhanced, and then gets trained again in a similar process workout to workout is a really nice logical way of looking at things but not really how this stuff works. For a novice, it won't make any difference but as one progresses what were once nuances in training theory and not really important can really hurt or stop gains completely (plateau). This is actually the whole reason for periodization in training. You might check out the links under 'Dual Factor Theory - Why This Works' on this page:
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Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

Prilepin's Table

This is pretty highly prized in Westside training. There is some argument over its restrictiveness in allowing volume loading and how heavily it was relied upon by coaches (some people will say hugely, some actual former/current Soviet coaches will say not at all). Whatever, it's still a useful tool and at a minimum one can say that it has been implimented with unequivocally broad success in at least one training methodology- Westside and they aren't too shabby under even the most critical eye. So, there is some evidence that it shouldn't be completely ignored and might be useful enough to include here for those that are inclined and interested. There also seems to be some disagreement on how the guy spells his name - I've always seen Prilepin and that's what I'm sticking with.


By Tom McCullough MEd., MSS

Percent............Reps/Set............Optimal Total............Range
55-65.................3 - 6......................24..................18 - 30
70-75.................3 - 6......................18..................12 - 24
80-85.................2 - 4......................15..................10 - 20
> 90...................1 - 2.......................7...................4 - 10

Prilephin's table can be used as a tool to plan you next workout. This table takes advantage of both the maximal and dynamic effort methods of strength training. The reason we exercise using several methods is to vary the level of resistance so to cause differences in metabolic reactions, intramuscular coordination, and biomechanical variables. By training this way we enable ourselves to work intensely enough to bring about the optimal gains in strength.

When maximal weights are lifted the largest number of motor units are activated . Using the maximal effort method is thought to be best for training the muscles and CNS due to the great load place on them. Because of the high level of motivation needed to lift maximal weights, the lifter can easily become over trained. Therefore, only about 10% of our training cycle will be spent lifting maximal and supramaximal weights.

As we all are very aware, a good maximal lift is often determined by the amount of explosion we generate out of the hole. If the momentum is great enough, we will generate enough speed to get through our sticking point and be able to lock out the lift. Therefore, the dynamic effort method is very useful in training the explosive strength necessary for getting those new personal records. By training with intermediate loads, we are able to move the weights quickly, thus improving the rate of force development and explosive strength. Dynamic effort training is best done in the 55-82.5% range, with controlled eccentrics and very explosive concentric lifting. While the loads are intermediate in weight, maximal efforts should be used in moving the weights.

As for the repetition range, Prilephin found that a given percent can be optimally trained in the suggested repetitions per set range. Any less than this and you have not done enough work, any more and the bar speed slows too much. For example, if 55% is trained for 4 sets of 6 repetitions, the total repetitions done will be 24. We are well within our optimal total repetition range. Let's look at another example, 55% is trained for 8 sets of 3 repetitions. The total work done is still 24, with is still within our optimal repetition range. So we can see how versatile this table can be.
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Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

The Deadlift & Recovery
(Increasing the Deadlift Without Deadlifting Take 2)

Some good info to ponder below along with some very solid links. Pulling from the floor is fundemental to developing the body (like squatting and pressing the latter of which isn't nearly as effective despite it's popularity as the primary mass builder in the US - and people wonder why they struggle to get big). The deadlift only provides a lifter with a single option and it is the most taxing one of all. The Olympic Lifts and their varriants address many of the concerns around this.

Source Thread:

Madcow2 said:
I'll second that. The deadlift is the maximum pull that the body can muster. As a lifter progresses one finds that it becomes very very taxing on the body's recuperative ability (CNS is included in this) - there is a big reason why Westside's Elite lifters avoid training the lift frequently. If you are going to pull heavy once a week and do some light pulls on another day you might get away with it.

There is a good program that has you deadlift 3x per week (Korte's 3x3) but also figure that it includes absolutely no assistance work and all you do is bench, squat, and dead every day 3x per week for around 8 weeks. If your max is somewhat respectable this program is a nightmare because you always have to pull last before you leave the gym. You can find Korte's write ups along with a lot of Louie's (WSB) in the Deepsquatter archives here:

Anyway, the point being is that you had better either be a beginner or you'll have to manage this very carefully if you intend to deadlift 2x per week. This is actually a really good reason to learn the olympic lifts (or even just clean and snatch pull variants) because it gives you a ton of possible pulling variants that are for the most part concentric only, far less taxing, and have a very solid carry over to the dead. Louie (WSB) tends to steer clear of them but this has never made sense to me as the same article that talked about the carry-over from the goodmorning listed the power clean, high pull, and power shrug along with it - it was written by Bill Starr BTW after he set a DL record without training it explicitly - he was an OL. With OLs you can pull mutliple times per week, acceleration is implicit, and you can redistribute your recovery away toward other lifts. Steering clear of the whole "teaching" argument by using clean/snatch pull style varriants this is pretty logical to me and it's probably the only thing that irks me about Westside. For those who are unfamiliar with their own excellent assistance routines and good-morning implementation it's well worth the time to become aquainted.

Here's the original Starr article: Folder 1969/dlapproach1.html

Here's someone who recently did an OL assist program which lead him to a PR in the dead without training it. Do notice the only issues he encountered were with locking out the much heavier weight than he was accustomed to, but also notice the one exercise he neglected was the dynamic shrugging (power shrug) which specifically overloads the top portion to supplment this:

Interesting stuff anyway. Good tools to have in the arsenal as the deadlift didn't earn the title as the "ultimate test of full body strength" by being easy to recover from so train smart and use each tool to the best of your abilities.
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madcow, so lets suppose I do this 5x5:

Mon......Volume Phase...........................................De load/Intensity Phase
Squat.......5x5................................... ..............................3x3
Bench.......1x5................................... ..............................1x3
Row.........1x5................................... ...............................1x3

Wed......Volume Phase...........................................De load/Intensity Phase
Squat.......5x5 with 15-20% less than Monday.................drop this lift
Deadlift.....5x5.................................. ...............................3x3
Military......5x5................................. ................................3x3
Pullups.......5x5................................. ...............................3x3

Fri.........Volume Phase...........................................De load/Intensity Phase
Squat........1x5.................................. ..............................1x3
Bench........5x5.................................. .............................3x3
Row...........5x5................................. ..............................3x3

now on monday and fridays workouts, lets say I do six sets of accesory work, something like this: (*purpose is for aestethic purposes*)

-2sets of barbell curls
-2sets of dips
-2sets of calves

-2sets of laterals
-2sets of bent overlaterals
-2sets of lying tricep extensions

all of the exercises done for 12 reps. would that lead to overtraining? I can't see how it would because 12 rep weight isn't that stimulating on the CNS compared to 3-5 rep lifts. I have a hard time getting out of the bodybuilder mindset, I know. :O
No dips. That's adding a compound exercise and you are already pressing 3x a week. The rest are fine. Train them to a pump or to failure if you choose but not to a "psyched" failure. No emotional arrousal as this will independently tax the CNS outside of the exercise itself.

To be honest the whole loading/volume phase is overtraining to a degree - in 4 weeks you will come right to the edge of overtraining. If you ran it for 6-8 weeks straight with a series of weeks very close to your max 1x5 and 5x5 weights, it would most likely plunge you into a severe deficit and require 3-4 weeks to be able to lift decently again (I did this once as an experiement). If people mis-set their weights and don't start somewhat conservatively they can also run into this issue - and this is without any assistance work whatsoever.

Given that the base program can already be so taxing if not properly run, this is why I don't like anyone adding additional work beyond some basic anciliaries and certainly no more compound lifts. I won't give you my opinion on laterals suffice to say they shouldn't hurt you in that volume.
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