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The Plateau Busting 5 x 5 program

There are many different versions of this program doing the rounds, it’s been around for a very long time.
In 1960 an English bodybuilder named Reg Park developed one of the earliest versions of the 5 x 5, he won Mr Britain in 1946 and won the Mr Universe in 1951,1958 and 1965, so he’s no armature and one of the biggest bodybuilder of his time. He was benching 230kg before the influx of PED’s.
The 5 x 5 program is best used with compound movements and usually involves whole body training sessions. The 5 reps is great for strength and the 5 sets keeps the volume up there which is great for hypertrophy (muscle growth), so you get strength and size out of it. Great!
Anyone can do the program, from beginners right up to the most advanced lifter.

 

Reg’s Program

The program is set out in three different phases completed over 9 months, 3 months per phase. Each phase introduces more exercises, load and volume but frequency stays the same.
Reg’s 5 x 5 program requires you to complete 2 progressively heavier warm-up sets and finished with 3 sets of the same weight. The 3 sets performed at the same weight needs to be a weight that you cannot get all 5 reps on every set, your first set may be 5 reps, second set 4 reps, third set 4 reps. It’s only when you can complete all 3 sets at the 5 reps that the weight is increased by 2.5kg – 5kg.
Reg was never an advocate for training to failure, not for the physical effects but more so the mental effect. He believed it puts trainers into a negative mindset.
Reg designed a 3 phase 5 x 5 program – ‘Strength and Bulk for Bodybuilders’.

Phase 1
This phase is done 3 days per week for 3 months.
Back Extensions 3 sets x 10 reps
Back Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
Bench Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Deadlift 5 sets x 5 reps
Rest 3-5 minutes between sets

Phase 2
This phase is done 3 days per week for 3 months.
Back extension 4 sets x 10 reps
Front Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
Back Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
Bench Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Standing Shoulder Press 5 sets x 5 reps
High Pull 5 sets x 5 reps
Deadlift 5 sets x 5 reps
Standing Calf Raise 5 sets x 25 reps
Rest 2 minutes between sets

Phase 3
This phase is done 3 days per week for 3 months.
Back extension 4 sets x 10 reps
Front Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
Back Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
Bench Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Bentover Barbell Row 5 sets x 5 reps
Standing Shoulder Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Deadlift 5 sets x 5 reps
One arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Barbell Curl 5 sets x 5 reps
Lying Triceps Extension 5 sets x 5 reps
Standing Calf Raise 5 sets x 25 reps
Rest 2 minutes between sets

Where’s all the fancy isolation exercises?? Well Reg believes that you can’t advance to these exercises until you have the basics and built a good base through compound movements.
How practical is his version of the program?? Well if you don’t mind spending up to 2- 3 hours in the gym it’s perfect, the trade-off being that its only 3 days training per week, where most of us might spend 1-2 hours in the gym 5-6 days per week.

You could implement it in your current routine as a shock tactic or plateau buster, maybe on the fourth week of your program do the above 5 x 5 method or similar and follow it for a 3 month block.
A simple google search of the ‘5 x 5’ program will give you all sorts of different versions and I do highly recommend this type of training to help induce new muscle growth and strength.

Thanks for reading,
Schembri PT Team

2 thoughts on “The Plateau Busting 5 x 5 program”

  1. Interesting program. Had not heard of the 5 X 5 as of yet. 66 yr old – 5 yr “natural” bodybuilder dreaming to compete in the senior division some day. We’ll see!

    Thanks again. I’ll be back.

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