You will find here our version of Full Body Workout 5×5. This is one of the most effective routines for natural athletes. It is really great for building muscle mass and strength at the same time.
5×5 workout isn’t about getting ‘massive pumps’, blasting each muscle group as hard as you can or training always to failure. Its primary objective is progressive overload – adding weight over time. By lifting heavier and heavier weight over several months our muscles will have to adapt and grow. They will have no other choice. Your whole body will become much bigger and stronger. It will change you for life.
Full body workouts are quiet popular now, especially by people who train naturally (without taking steroids). They aren’t new. This is how old time bodybuilders trained for years, at the beginning of their careers. Because there is only 5 sets of 5 repetitions for each muscle group we can hit each body part more often what brings us much better results than training each body part only once a week.
Full Body Workout 5×5 will be based on the main compound exercises:
- Bench Press,
- OHP (Over-Head Press) or OHP BTN (Behind The Neck),
Main lifts have to stay the same. I mean: don’t replace them with any other movements unless you really, really have to.
5×5 means five sets or five repetitions. This is the number of sets and reps for the main lifts most of the time. For additional movements repetitions will stay around 10-8.
Workout level 1 – Beginner
In the level 1 of full body workout you will be doing the same training 3 times a week. Only few additional exercises will be different but besides that each day looks the same:
|Squat 5×5||Squat 5×5||Squat 5×5|
|Bench Press 5×5||Bench Press 5×5||Bench Press 5×5|
|Barbell Row 5×5||Barbell Row 5×5||Barbell Row 5×5|
|OHP BTN *3×5||OHP BTN 3×5||OHP BTN 3×5|
|Barbell Curls 3×8||Seated French Press 3×8||Shrugs 3×8|
|Back Extensions 3×10||Cable Crunches 3×10||Calves + Forearms 3×10|
*only 3 sets of 5 for OHP because shoulder muscles work hard during bench press and row as well.
OHP BTN – Overhead Press Behind The Neck. I really would like you to do behind the neck (BTN) version of OHP. But I know that not everybody can or is able to do it. If for any reason you can’t press from behind the neck just perform standard military press.
Squat: +5kg (+10lbs) each training but only for the first month, after that start adding only +2.5kg (+5lbs)
Rest of exercises: +2.5 kg (+5lbs) each training (as long as you’ve done the right number of reps).
Workout level 2 – Intermediate
In the level 2 of FBW there will be 2 different workouts: A and B. We will alternate them. For Example:
Monday: Workout A,
Wednesday: Workout B,
Friday: Workout A,
Monday: Workout B,
Wednesday: Workout A,
and so on…
|Workout A||Workout B|
|Squat 5×5||Deadlift 5×5|
|Bench Press 5×5||OHP 5×5|
|Barbell Row 5×5||Pull-Up or Chin-Up *3×5|
|Barbell Curls 3×8||Dips or CG Bench Press 3×8|
|Back Extensions 3×10||Shrugs 3×10|
|Calves 3×15-10||Rear Delt Raises 3×8|
|Forearms 3×15-10||Decline Sit-ups 3×10|
*only 3 sets of 5 for pull-up/chin-up because back muscles will be already hit by deadlift.
Deadlift: +5kg (+10lbs) each workout;
Squat, Bench, OHP, Row and Pull-up/Chin-up: +2.5 kg (+5lbs) every workout;
Additional exercises: +2.5kg (+5lbs) whenever you’ve done the right number of repetitions.
Workout level 3 – Advanced
In the level 3 of our routine we will have 2 different workouts: Push and Pull. We will alternate them like in the previous level:
Monday: Workout A – Push,
Wednesday: Workout B – Pull,
Friday: Workout A – Push,
Sat, Sun: off,
Monday: Workout B – Pull,
and so on…
|Workout A – Push||Workout B – Pull|
|Squat 3×5||Deadlift 3×5|
|Barbell Lunges 3×8||GHD raises or Leg Curls 3×8|
|Bench Press 3×5||Pull-Up or Chin-up 3×5|
|Incline DB Press 3×8||1-Arm DB Row 3×8|
|*OHP BTN or OHP 3×5||Barbell Curl 3×8|
|Side Laterals 3×8||Shrugs 3×8|
|Seated French Press 3×8||Decline Sit-ups 3×10|
|Calves 3×15-10||Forearms 3×15-10|
*if you are able to – do behind the neck version of over-head press. If you can’t, just stick to normal military press.
In level 3 number of sets is decreased from 5×5 to 3×5 for the main lifts because there will be more volume (1 more exercise for big muscle group). Workout will become much easier and it will help us to make progress for another few months. You couldn’t possibly do 5 sets of squats with heavy weight, then do some lunges and still increase the weight next week.
Add weight when you are able to do prescribed number of repetitions for two consecutive workouts. You don’t have to increase the load each session. You’ll still achieve great result over time.
Workouts will be quiet long and heavy so I don’t recommend adding any more exercises. It’s not about ‘destroying’ each muscle group – it’s about adding weight over time.
Barbell row should be done with under-hand grip and pull-ups are preferred over chin-ups. However if you decide to do barbell row with over-hand grip do chin-ups instead. Generally, use different grip between these two exercises.
For abdominal muscles training you can do decline sit-ups, leg raises and cable crunches. Just alternate them from time to time.
Forearms and calves should be trained equally as well so don’t neglect them. The choice of exercise is yours.
You can add some core and rotator cuffs training at the end of each workout, for example planks in Monday, side planks in Wednesday, external rotations in Friday.
Where to start:
If you are relatively new to weight lifting simply start from level 1.
If you already have some training experience but still can’t squat with 3 plates on each side or deadlift four – begin from level 2.
Don’t start from level 3 unless you are really advanced. By advanced I mean that you can squat with 3 plates on each side, deadlift with four e/s and bench press 2 for five times.
How to choose a starting weight:
Don’t start too heavy. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, I advise you to start from the weight you can easily do 10 repetitions with the correct technique and the full range of motion. This is the easiest way to choose weight.
Otherwise, just start from ~65%-70% of your 1RM.
Although it might seem light, full body workout 5×5 is designed for long progression. After few weeks weight will become much heavier. If you start too heavy you will stall too quickly.
Warm-up and cool-down:
Before each main lift perform a warm-up with lighter weight ramping it up to the training target. For example you are going to bench press 100x5x5, this will be your warm-up:
If you are going to train with much heavier weight simply perform sets of two reps (doubles) until you reach target weight.
Beginners, training with very light weight need only 1 warm-up set of 5 reps with empty barbell or something very light. Generally, the heavier weight you use the more warm-up sets you need.
Of course warm-up your whole body by doing any form of cardio for 10-15 minutes before each session and some dynamic stretching.
Perform static stretching as a cool-down after each workout, some mobility work and use a foam roller. This is very important. When you train each muscle group so often it’s essential to stretch and address mobility issues regularly. You will avoid some serious problems further down the line.
Increase the weight only when you’ve done prescribed number of repetitions. Don’t rush with that. Beginners are able to increase the load very fast – each session, where more advanced lifters may want to increase it only every other workout. I’ve found that slower progression (every other training) is very effective.
With exercises like squat and deadlift you’ll be able to progress with weight faster and for longer. On the other hand you will stall much quicker with overhead press for example. Don’t worry by that. If it gets really heavy increase the load only every other workout for exercises you have problem with. Notice that you will never be able to perform military press or biceps curls with as heavy weight as with squat or deadlift. Remember that. You can also use micro-plates, they can be very healpful.
Anyway, take your time. Full body workouts are designed for long term gains. The best results are achieved when you stick to this type of program for really long. If you progress too fast, the workout will become too heavy or overwhelming.
Of course don’t increase the weight if you couldn’t do the right number of reps.
Rest between sets:
Rest around 2-3 minutes between sets of main exercises (where you do 5 reps). At the start take shorter breaks – no more than 2 minutes .When the weight gets heavier you will need more time to rest – up to 3 min.
Rest no more than 1 minute between sets of additional exercises (higher reps).
Don’t worry about the tempo too much. Make sure moves are smooth and barbell is under control. 1 second up, 1 second down. No pauses.
If you miss any reps:
If you miss and not accomplish the required number of repetitions (for example you’ll do only 5/5/5/4/3) use the same weight on the next workout. Don’t increase the load.
If you stall:
If you stall for 2-3 workouts with the same weight simply take away 10% of the load from the exercise you have problem with and start increasing from there.
5×5 workouts are very heavy for the body, especially for central nervous system (CNS). For this reason we should do de-load around every 8-12 weeks or whenever you feel run down.
For de-load you can cut the number of sets in two or train with half of the weight you usually train. Apply this for the whole body or workout A and B. Also do this week only 2 training sessions instead of 3.
When to progress to next level
Progression to next level depends from individual. Generally stay on each level as long as you can. As long as you make progress.
However to give general advice I would suggest to do:
- level 1 – two months;
- level 2 – two months;
- level 3 – two months.
As I said don’t try to be precise. It simply depends from advancement of each athlete. Total beginners might progress for more than two months on each level, where more advanced trainees will stall a bit quicker.
How long to stay on it
Minimum 6 months. Stay on it as long as you can. Don’t progress too quickly. Add weight even every other training. If you stall, de-load 10% and start over again. It’s like making 1 step back to make 3 forward. Anyway think about it as a 6 month program and don’t stop if you’re still making progress.
You need to train your cardiovascular system. It is very important and always neglected. I am not a fan of typical cardio machines at the gym; use them only if you have to.
The best way to do cardio in my opinion is to play some sport with your friends. You can’t beat that. You can also do some jogging once a week instead. Just a slow run for half an hour and few short sprints after. This is all you need.
Full Body Workout is probably the most effective way of training for natural (drug free) athletes. Combining low volume with high frequency gives the possibility of hitting each muscle group more often what causes faster and better gains than doing all the time typical bodybuilding splits. It also allows us to build muscle and strength at the same time. However don’t disown completely typical bodybuilding workouts (higher volume). There’s time for them in bodybuilding. They are also very effective; you just can’t rely only on them for the full year.
Remember to start light, even lighter than you want. Also don’t rush with adding weight, take it slow. FBW 5×5 is designed for long term progression. If you start too heavy or add weight too fast you will fail. So take your time with it. Constant progress is the key. Don’t treat it as a simple 12 week workout to get bigger but think about it as of a 6 month program for the total body transformation.
5×5 workout will change you forever. Training for half a year with this method will make you super strong. Your muscles will become very hard and dense. You will not be just a pumped, weak bodybuilder but extremely strong athlete with great physique and unreal strength.
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