5 x 5 Muscle Mass Bodybuilding Program

5 x 5 Workout Program


It isn’t a piece of cake to gain muscle mass, but it isn’t impossible too. With the right program and diet, you can achieve your target within the stipulated time.

Few routines work efficiently and provide excellent results. If you don’t have much idea about it, you have come to the right place.

Here we will discuss one of the most effective exercise programs that have come into existence. This particular workout routine is one of the most popular programs, and many bodybuilding enthusiasts have achieved their target by following it.

It’s called the 5 x 5 workout program, and you may probably have heard about it if you are an enthusiast. Even if you have not, it doesn’t matter because we will provide you with vital information and facts on the topic.

5 x 5 Workout Program Basics

So, what exactly is a 5 x 5 muscle mass bodybuilding program? Simply put, it’s a workout program that uses 5 sets and 5 reps of each exercise during each session.

It was invented in the 1930s but came into vogue in the 1960s. Reg Park, a winner of several Mr. Universe titles, made it popular, and enthusiasts followed it faithfully. It’s one of the earliest and most efficient techniques created to date.

The 5 x 5 protocol has only gained more fame with time. Even today, it is considered the best because experts say that you will never go wrong with it.

Most workout enthusiasts follow the method of 3 sets and 10 reps, but often they don’t get the desired results and become over exhausted instead.

But with 5 x 5, you can gain more muscle and strength without becoming extensively fatigued. However, you also require pushing your body to the limit to achieve fantastic results.

The traditional 5 x 5 exercise routine uses barbells in a number of ways. They are also called “compound barbell movements” since they consist of squats and deadlifts.

5 x 5 Workout Program


The following are the commonly performed barbell movements. 

  • Barbell back squat
  • Barbell deadlift
  • Barbell row
  • Barbell bench press
  • Barbell overhead press

Many 5 x 5 muscle mass bodybuilding programs follow the exercise routines using the five movements mentioned above. Experts recommend performing the workouts only three times a week so that you get ample time to rest and repair the muscles.

How Does 5 x 5 Exercise Program Work?

Unlike many other programs which use plenty of machines and objects, the 5 x 5 structure is pretty limited.

However, all the five barbell movements combine to produce the ideal results. They work on all the areas and help develop lean muscles.

Besides that, the workouts with barbells also enable you to lift the heaviest weights. As a result, you are able to increase strength, gain more muscles and enhance physical performance.

The barbell movements also target the most vital muscles of your body, giving way to more agility and flexibility in athletic activities. They also help and require you to steady your torso and spine while lifting heavy weights.

Structure of 5 x 5 Bodybuilding Workout

Out of the five compound movements, you have to make two routines with three exercises in each one. You have to do these routines only three times a week to have ample time to rest and repair your muscles before the next session.

You have to do 5 sets and 5 reps of all the exercises except for deadlifts which you have to do only 1 set of 5 reps. Deadlifts are the most challenging exercises, and they could make you tired and wear and tear your muscle tissue.

It’s also essential to keep the barbell deadlifts in the last cycle so that you don’t lose much energy before performing the exercises.

Out of the five, barbell back squat will be in every routine, while it will be once or twice for the other movements depending on which part of the program you are on.

Weekly Routine for 5 x 5 Exercise Program

The following is the commonly followed structure of a 5 x 5 bodybuilding program.

  • Week 1: A, B, A (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
  • Week 2: B, A, B (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

Routine A

  • Barbell back squat – 5×5
  • Barbell bench press – 5×5
  • Barbell row -5×5

Routine B

  • Barbell back squat – 5×5
  • Barbell overhead press – 5×5
  • Barbell deadlift – 1×5

In the first week, do A on Monday and Friday and B on Wednesday.

In the second week, do B on Monday and Friday and A on Wednesday.

In the third week, follow the first week structure, and in the fourth week, follow the week two format with additional weights.

Some 5 x 5 programs have five or six exercises for each session, with three variations performed three times a week. We will list the examples of each exercise variation below.

Program 1

Routine A

  • Back squat – 5 x 5
  • Chin up – 5 x 5
  • Lateral raise – 3 x 8-12

Routine B

  • Bench press – 5 x 5
  • Bentover row – 5 x 5
  • Romanian deadlift – 3 x 8-12

Routine C

  • Hip thrust – 5 x 5
  • Incline dumbbell press – 3 x 8-12
  • Face pull – 3 x 12-15

Do each workout once a week with A on Monday, B on Wednesday, and C on Friday. 

Program 2

Routine A

  • Barbell back squat – 5 x 5
  • Barbell bench press (medium grip) – 5 x 5
  • Barbell row – 5 x 5
  • Ab rollout – 3 x 8-10
  • Lying cable triceps extension – 3 x 15-20

Routine B

  • Barbell front squat – 5 x 5
  • Military press – 5 x 5
  • Barbell deadlift – 5 x 5
  • Neutral-grip pull-up – 3 x 5-10
  • EZ-bar curl – 3 x 8-12

You can follow the method of A-B-A on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the first week and B-A-B the following week.

It’s necessary to rest at least 2 minutes after you finish each exercise, no matter whichever program you follow.

5 x 5 Workout Program


How Long Does a 5 x 5 Bodybuilding Program Last?

A standard 5 x 5 program usually lasts between 7-9 weeks with two phases. The first one, called “prep work,” lasts 4-6 weeks, followed by 3 weeks called “peak phase.”

Prep work for 5 x 5 muscle-building program

Since you will be getting into extensive physical sessions, it is necessary to prepare your body. Prep work starts in week one, and there are two main aspects to consider. You have to:

Find the Correct Range of Weight: Though you may want to, it’s important not to begin with heavier weights. Instead, choose a weight range that will allow you to complete the 5 x 5 routine but not more or less. The aim is to perform 25 reps during each session for each exercise, so it’s vital to go with a suitable range of weight.

Add Weight Correctly: Once you accustom your body to the proper weight range during the first week, with you being able to finish each workout session, it is time to increase the weight little by little.

The usual recommended Weight to be added is five pounds for each dumbbell and ten pounds for barbells (on each side). You can try performing the exercises with the additional weights and see how it goes.

If you can’t perform the workouts freely or complete all the sets and reps with the increased Weight during each session, you must lower the weights. If you still have problems, decrease the Weight again. But if you are back to the original weight range, continue the workouts for one more week to increase strength and stamina.

Add more Weight from the third week till the end of the sixth week so that you are prepared and strong enough to start with the next phase.

Peak phase for 5 x 5 bodybuilding program

From the 7th week onwards, you need to do 3 x 3 sets and reps of all the exercises three days a week. Also, with the squat, bench press, and deadlifts, it’s crucial to perform the new 3 x 3 routines only two times per week. It’s because they are now heavier and your exercises are more intense.

Now, you have to focus more on adding weight to your workouts instead on more sets and reps. You must try to increase the weight and push yourself to maximum limits without injuring your body.

Which Muscles Do the 5 x 5 Exercises Target?

What makes the 5 x 5 protocol unique and perfect is that it uses both prime movers and stabilizers.

Prime movers: These are the muscles that produce energy to move the weight.

Stabilizers: These muscles keep your body and spine steady and firm while supporting the heavy Weight.

The muscles in prime movers during workouts include:

  • Hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps – squats and deadlifts
  • Triceps and deltoids (shoulders) – overhead press
  • Deltoids, triceps, and pectorals (chest) – bench press
  • Biceps, lats (back), rhomboids (back) – barbell rows

The muscles in the stabilizer category are:

  • Erector spinae
  • External and internal obliques
  • Lower, middle, and upper trapezius
  • Lumbar multifidus (1)
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Transverse abdominis

All the stabilizer muscles restrain your spine from moving in different positions, such as bending towards the side, twisting, curling, or arching when you lift heavy loads. You can get severely injured if your spine moves in any unwanted direction, so stabilization is important.

If you are still unsatisfied with the results, you should continue adding more Weight to your routines. However, if you arrive at the target, you can continue to work out, but it doesn’t have to be that intense.

You must also consult with a qualified instructor before starting the program to move in the right direction for safety and brilliant results.

It’s also necessary to eat a suitable muscle-building diet to benefit extensively.

5 x 5 Program Benefits

Of course, you will gain muscle mass from the exercises, but you also

  • Gain loads of strength and stamina
  • Improve metabolism
  • Enhance physical performance and ability
  • Obtain experience in major lifts
  • Receive entire body training
  • Learn about intense strength regimes
  • Go through the routines smoothly as there are few movements involved
  • Boost overall health

Bottom line – 5 x 5 Workout Program

While there are many muscle-building and bodybuilding programs, not all are safe and effective, like the 5 x 5 workout regime. That is why it’s so popular.

Just be sure to:

  • Seek advice from an expert physical instructor before any program
  • Follow the tips correctly
  • Eat a suitable diet that also increases bulk
  • Use a mass gainer supplement for bulk
  • Complete the course
  • Make workouts a habit for a lifetime for long-term benefits


Jason Shaw is an experienced bodybuilder, gym owner, nutritionist and content creator for many websites. He has competed at a high level and wants to bring that experience in muscle building, fitness and nutrition including supplements to our many readers, whether you're a skinny guy want to build muscle or a seasoned bodybuilder.

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