Episode 4. The 5 X 5 Reps Scheme and Using Strength Training Workout Plans to Build Muscle
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This episode was all about the famous 5X5 rep scheme, and using that as a way into talking about the role of strength and strength training when your goal is gaining or building muscle.
Here’s what we talked about:
- Scott pretty much always uses “weights constant” with his 5 X 5 rep schemes, meaning you pick a weight that you can get 5 sets of 5 reps without failure, and without having to go down in weight to hit your reps on the latter sets.
- The use of crossover effects. That is, why should a bodybuilder ever focus on limit strength?
- The use of the big lifts in the gym, things like compound movements, which aren’t “just” the squat, deadlift, and bench press. There are also rows, lunges, and so on.
- Kevin never goes heavier than his opener in the gym, which is usually about 87.5%-90% of his projected max… that’ll be the heaviest single he’ll ever do, maybe twice before a competition. None of his best lifts are done in the gym; they’re done at the actual powerlifting competition.
- Kevin talked a bit about the way sometimes he trains the movement for the sake of keeping his skills sharp, not just to maintain or build “strength.” It’s like a tennis player needing to practice their swing so that the muscles stay trained.
- Pay attention to “force decrements.” As you get to the final reps in a set, you’ll notice you’re unable to produce as much force. Sometimes this means you pause in between reps, and you make sure your form is perfect, and that you’re mastering the movement.
- How and why to use 5 X 5. There are more uses to a 5 X 5 rep scheme within a bodybuilding program than just the standard 5 X 5 program.
Here are some examples of using the 5 X 5 reps scheme within a program:
- The Hardgainer Solution contains sets of 5 in every workout, but those are whole body, bodypart workouts. Also, there are instructions to raise the rep schemes on the lower end (like the 5 X 5) if you start working out 4, 5, or 6 days a week. (HGS gives you that option in terms of how many days per week you train.)
- A new 6-day program Scott’s working on has 5 sets of 5 for the first three days of the week, but then on the last three days of the week those reps go much higher: going up to 8-10, 12-15, 15-20.
- Another 6-day program that Scott has (custom program, unreleased) is much like that six day program, except each half of the week is a mirror of the other. So on Day 1 if you do Chest and Quads, Chest will be the strength focus, and Quads will be higher rep. But then on Day 4, you do Chest and Quads again, but this time the Quads are on the lower end of the rep scheme. Day 5 lines up with Day 2, and Day 6 lines up with Day 3. (Note from Mike: I mis-spoke. The rep schemes are not actually 5 X 5. The strength focus days go as low as 4 or 5 sets of 6-8, not 5. Just a tiny bit higher. Worth keeping in mind in terms of recovery!)
Links / Resources mentioned
Kevin’s Free Video Series and cheat sheets on the Compound Lifts: