Should you train 5×5 for muscle building

What is 5×5? Well, this is a simple workout – you do five sets each of which has 5 reps, you do only a handful of compound of movements and you do this three times a week.

There are different variation of this workout program but among the most popular ones is the StrongLifts 5×5. This is where you to five compound exercises per week – deadlift, squat,bench press, the overhead press and the barbell row. There are two different kinds of workout throughout the week – workout A (squat, bench press, barbell row) and workout B (squat,overhead press, deadlift).

For each of the exercises you do five sets each consisting of 5 reps. Except for the deadlift – there you do only one set of five reps. Between each day of training you should have a day of rest.

Does this build muscle mass?

With 5×5 you do squats 3 times a week but you do the overhead press, the bench press, the row and the deadlift 3 times every 2 weeks. Thus, you are hitting your legs 3 times per week but only 1.5 times per week you’re working on the back, chest and shoulders.

Several studies have shown that if you work on a muscle more frequently, this increases the speed of the muscle growth. So the training frequency for everything except the quads is less than ideal.

It’s also been shown that the more sets you do, the faster the muscle will grow. 5×5 program has 15 work sets a week for your legs which is sufficient training volume. But the volume of training for the back, shoulders and chest is, on average, 7.5 sets a week which isn’t as good as it can be.

Doing sets of five is fine. First, you are using a weight of about 85% of your max which is heavy enough to recruit enough muscle fibers. And there is minimal fatigue but the volume is still enough to stimulate the muscle growth. But it’s been shown by some studies that if you vary the number of repetitions, you can speed up the muscle growth. So if you want to gain muscle mass as quickly as possible, then it’s better to vary the number of reps rather than doing five sets of five reps constantly.

Some people claim that the 5×5 workout is a mainly strength workout and if you want to put on some muscle you should do more reps – about 6-12. But combining lower reps with heavier weights is a wonderful way to put on some muscle mass. In some cases this works out just as well as the higher reps with lighter weights does.

The majority of the 5×5 workouts has just a few compound exercises – like squat, bench press, deadlift, etc. They do work on many different muscles which makes them efficient for your training purposes. But in order to maximize the muscle development you’ll need to use several different exercises, not just one. If you use various exercises, you’ll recruit all the available fibers in the given muscle which then leads to a complete development of the
muscle.

The designation of the 5×5 workout was mainly to build strength. Yes, the strength and the muscle size are linked. But this relationship isn’t perfectly linear. If your strength doubles in an exercise, this doesn’t mean that the size will also double. There are many people who can lift huge weights but aren’t really muscular. So, building strength through different compound lifts doesn’t mean that you’ll also gain lots of muscle mass.

Also, the 5×5 isn’t a magical number – it’s less “magical” than as 4 sets of six reps or 6 sets of four reps. The configuration has been picked just because it’s an easy to remember one.

Some people say that the compound moves in the 5×5 workout increase the anabolic processes of the body, increase the release of muscle building hormones (growth hormone and testosterone) and, thus, speeds up the growth of the muscles. But even though such exercises do lead to a minor temporary increase of those hormones, this increase isn’t long enough and big enough to impact the growth of the muscles.

Conclusion

Yes, 5×5 is a good place to start if you are just a beginner but it does have some weaknesses and there are better options if you want to build bigger muscles.

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