Five by five strength training is nothing new, it's a strength program usually consisting of squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press and bent over rows, normally doing 3-4 days a week and every session including squats.
I had been getting really down on my own training due to making excuses, always training by myself etc. (one of the biggest things I miss about just training is training in a group, it is the best way to train in my opinion) so with a week off coming up I decided I really needed to have some focus and get back to the way I used to lift. I altered it slightly to include my least favourite exercise, naturally, so it looks like this:
- Back squat
- Front squat
- Overhead Squat
- Deadlift Strict
- Shoulder Press
- Bench Press
The goal was to shift as many kilos in one week as I could only using those 6 exercises, only the actual working sets in the 5x5 format counted. So for example if you did 5x5 back squat at 100kg and 5x5 shoulder press at 50kg your score for that session would be 3750kg, no warm up sets were included and if you were only able to complete four or less sets that was a fail (F*** you Saturday) and you can do them as many times as you like, I did attempt to keep pull ups in the program but if I'm honest they only lasted to Tuesday...
My idea was that I could warm up for squats by using the overhead squat 5x5 as the first set so as soon as they were finished I could add weight and start set 1 of either back squats or front squats without needing to do any other warm ups. So, my warm up only consisted of lunges, hanging, 10 OHS with an empty bar, 3 OHS with a moderate weight then load the selected weight for the sets and begin, not even 10 minutes. Only taking 3 minutes between sets I was able to bang out at least 2 different variations of squat and both shoulder press and bench press quite quickly, it really opened my eyes to how lazy I've been the past few months. On Monday and Tuesday I trained in the morning and the evening then it was single sessions for the remainder of the week.
The great thing with strength training is that it doesn't necessarily leave you sore afterwards as it is more of a drain on the nervous system, your muscles won't be as fatigued like they are with hypertrophy training and true enough throughout the entire week I didn't once feel sore, but I did feel mentally tired but stronger at the same time. I shoulder pressed and bench pressed and overhead squatted 5 days in a row and didn't die!! On the Friday I had aimed to take a rest day but by eight o'clock at night I was really restless and itching to lift so I ended up going to the gym at ten o'clock, unfortunately I wasn't fully recovered by the Saturday morning so I only ended up doing one set of overhead squats and had to call it a day and just do 5x5 deadlifts. As the goal was to chase kilos it was very motivating to keep trying to add weight each time I did sets so I actually ended up with a 10kg increase on what I was strict pressing and benching and a 5kg increase on what I was overhead squatting and front squatting (it may not sound like much but that's over only one week)
In regards to recovery I didn't skimp out on food, I ate everything and anything clean or not, I never skipped out on stretching after the sessions and I tried to take a power nap every day too, I intentionally stayed away from any foam rolling and lacrosse balls and guess what... I didn't die!!! As for supplements the usual fish oils, arginine and creatine, but I credit all the gains to having mixed grills for breakfast. Obviously training like that every day isn't sustainable, you will eventually burn out and I would worry about the constant stress on your joints, implementing it into four-day-week training though is very doable and that way you could keep it up for a number of weeks before changing up for another variation.
1. Stop faffing about with lengthy warm ups and "mobility" (stalling). Get the blood moving and get started!
2. Use overhead squats as your warm ups for front or back squats
3. If doing all 3 versions of squats, do your front squats Olympic style and adopt the powerlifting style for your back squats
4. Program the sets and the weights you're going to use BEFORE going to the gym and STICK TO IT!
5. Don't go easy on yourself
6. Leave the deadlifts until the end of a session and only do them twice during the week
11. Have body awareness, if you start getting joint pain then change what you're doing immediately
12. If you're not nearly collapsing after each set go heavier!
13. If you are physically collapsing mid rep... Go lighter!
14. A sports massage, ice bath with salts wouldn't go a miss
15. You'll have to up your calories but try and keep them clean...
16. Bring me a coffee
17. Black no sugar
18. Chase the gains
19. Getting some friends involved and turning it into a bit of a competition will push you even further
20. If you're doing it for the full 7 days ONLY do that and nothing else
21. Do not skip on sleep
22. Use a spotter or video yourself to make sure your form is to standard
23. Write everything down
24. Have a motto to tell the barbell, mine was "I will destroy you"
25. Have a testing day the week before to see what you can hit 5 reps for each exercise so you know what you're going in to do, never go on guesswork
26. Don't decide halfway through the week to try testing your one rep max in anything save that till after
Enjoy yourself and let me know how you get on if you decide to jump on this gain train! (I threw up a little)