I tried a 5×5 program the last three months. 5×5 is basically a strength training program. It doesn’t really focus on bulking you up but it can build strong muscles that should stay with you for life. The strength 5×5 builds becomes your basic strength with or without the gym. Any bulk you gain as a result of doing 5×5 is actually just a bonus. The basic 5×5 principle is to focus on compound exercises performed at 5R for 5S per session. You start with the minimum poundage to get the form right — say in doing the squats, benches, rows and deadlifts. Then every workout session, you should add 5 pounds to your previous poundage for each exercise. At a certain point, you would reach your max, which means (after the people in the gym gets tired of spotting for you to complete your negatives) it should be time to rest and reset.
This month, after two weeks of deconditioning, I will be starting with the HST program instead of continuing the 5×5 program. HST, or hypertrophy-specific training, focuses on bulk but may also add to your strength as you progress. HST is a little more complicated than 5×5 so it would be important to keep a log. The program lasts 8 (3 cycles) to 10 (4 cycles) weeks including the 2 weeks of deconditioning after which you can start all over again. The basic HST principle is to focus on full body workouts per session performing a cycle’s preset number of reps for 1S to 2S per exercise. Every workout session, you should add 5 to 10 pounds to your previous poundage for each exercise. The recommendation is to follow a 3 times a week gym schedule with at least 1 day rest in between (so that’s MWF or TThS) doing full body workouts prioritizing to complete mostly compound exercises such as squats, chins, benches, dips, presses and raises per session.
- The 1st cycle is two weeks of 15R for 1S to 2S where you should aim to exceed your 15RM on the last day of the cycle. The poundage on the last day is your new 15RM.
- The 2nd cycle is two weeks of 10R for 1S to 2S where you should aim to exceed your 10RM on the last day of the cycle. The poundage on the last day is your new 10RM.
- The 3rd cycle is two weeks of 5R for 1S to 2S where you should aim to exceed your 5RM on the last day of the cycle. The poundage on the last day is your new 5RM.
- The 4th cycle, if you choose the 10 weeks program, is two weeks of 5R for 1S to 2S continuing to progress from the 3rd cycle’s last poundage per exercise. 5R is not a rule here because you are already exceeding your 5RM since the end of the 3rd cycle. However, you may use drop sets and negatives as desired in order to complete the exercises.
- SD, or strategic deconditioning, is 9 to 12 days (or around 2 weeks) of no lifting. You may focus on other activities, sports or cardios if desired although the program also recommends doing no exercise at all during the SD period. This allows your body to rest and de-stress. It resets your body so you can restart with the HST program wherein by that time you should be aiming to exceed your new RMs for each cycle.
I enjoyed 5×5 a lot with good results. I hope HST would work for me as well. Wish me luck!