18 January 2011

The Rule of Five, Part 1

If you haven't had at least limited exposure to the much ballyhooed 5x5 programming methodology, you likely cannot read, which means you simply check out this blog for the pics.  For those of you who do so, allow me to oblige:
Natasha Talonz.  Hotter than a scotch bonnet pepper enema, and awesomely naked in Black Devil Doll.

Moving right along to 5x5, it was allegedly popularized by Reg Park, a British badass who is purported to have utilized what I consider to be a paean ode to mediocrity into one of the most brutal physiques ever.  Park's program was pretty fucking simple to follow... mostly because it's the barest essence of simplicity, but also because he broke it down into three phases.  They look like this:

Phase One
45-degree back extension 3x10
Back squat 5x5
Bench press 5x5
Deadlift 5x5
(Rest 3-5 minutes between the last 3 sets of each exercise)

Train three days per week for three months.

Phase Two for Bodybuilders*

45-degree back extension 3-4x10
Front squat 5x5
Back squat 5x5
Bench press 5x5
Standing barbell shoulder press 5x5
High pull 5x5
Deadlift 5x5
Standing barbell calf raise 5x25
(Rest 2 minutes between sets)

Train three days per week for three months.

* After the basic Phase One, Park had a different set of recommended exercises for aspiring Olympic weightlifters. It used a few different sets and reps, and included lunges and power cleans.

Phase Three for Bodybuilders

45-degree back extension 4x10
Front squat 5x5
Back squat 5x5
Standing barbell shoulder press 5x5
Bench press 5x5
Bent-over barbell row 5x5
Deadlift 5x3
Behind-the-neck press or one-arm dumbbell press 5x5
Barbell curl 5x5
Lying triceps extension 5x8
Standing barbell calf raise 5x25
(Rest 2 minutes between sets)

Train three days per week for three months.

According to this source, 5x5 includes two progressively heavier warm-up sets and three sets at the same weight.(Source)

Clearly, once you get into the more advanced stages, this program appears to resemble something a person would use if they wanted to do more than fuck about in the gym for a half hour a couple of times a week.  Reg Park ended up getting pretty fucking strong using this style of lifting, and definitely had a physique that was the ultimate definition of herculean... which is probably why he was cast as Hercules in a bunch of godawful Italian sword and sandal epics back in the day.  Nowadays, however, you're more likely to see a bunch of pantywaist bullshit with 5x5, which pretty much ranges from low volume to housecleaning volume, and churn out some astonishingly average lifters and physiques.  I'm talking about the innumerable permutations of this shit ranging from Stronglifts to Madcows that essentially amount to 3 exercises for 25 reps with the same weight, 3 times a week.  They all have their individual variations in loading protocols (heavy, medium, light, for instance, as if you'd need a light day if you're only training 3 times a week) and their special little spin on it, but it amounts to not a whole hell of a lot of lifting the vast majority of the time.  Additionally, those programs are by and large incredibly boring, as it's the same couple of exercises with the same fucking weights repeated over and over until you finally quit the gym out of boredom, and the fact that it's barely even part of your daily routine.
Precious Cox likely has a different style of 5x5... one that'd be a hell of a lot more fun than Madcows.

"Oh, but holy shit!  So and so weak assed douche online said that Madcows was the best thing ever and then he tried to blow Wendler for creating 5/3/1 but threw out his neck doing so and said it was from overtraining because Rippetoe told him so while he was lubing up his asshole for a nice hard pounding!"  Guess what?  I don't give a fuck.  Every fucking time I read a defense of one of these 5x5 programs, it begins and ends with a pack of bullshit about steroids and "natty" lifters and about how "natty" guys are flaming pussies who can't handle more than 30 seconds in the gym ever 24 hours or they'll spontaneously combust into sterile sperm and tiny limp penises, and that anyone who isn't transmogrified into mini phalluses is on every kind of performance enhancing drug ever invented, and some that never have.  This, of course, is nothing but an excuse to cover up their own failings, of which there are almost certainly legion.  As such, you should disregard them as the pseudo-scientific nonsense that they are and carry on living your life.  

Want to know why I hate 5x5?  

Because every time I've tried it, and I've tried many different permutations, my bench goes down.  Not just down like when your zipper's partway down but no one can really tell unless you pop wood and it pushes the two sides apart and people can then see your neon-green banana hammock, replete with precum stains- I'm talking "I just followed what my Garmin told me to do and drove off the highest point of the Grand Canyon to my fiery but Darwin ordained death" down.  Nevertheless, with all of the hype for those programs among the young whippersnappers these days, I decided to give that shit another try.  After a month, and seeing my bench, I figured I'd hang in and maybe see a rebound.  Want to know what I found?  My bench dropped 20 lbs in two months.  Yay for fucking me, right?  So, I wondered, I know everyone's a little different, but this shit is ridiculous.  How could my bench invariably drop on this program and Reg Park damn near grew a fucking cape and flew with it- I mean, how did he  hit a 500 lb bench with this bullshit?

In Park's words: " I didn't have a favorite workout routine.  I have done every routine and every exercise in the book, but like most advanced trainers, I have found what exercises and what routines give me the best results.  What is good for one man isn't necessarily good for somebody else.  My bodyweight fluctuated between 230 and 245 during those years." (Kiiha)

His personal bests, as a bodybuilder and occasional Olympic weightlifter, were:
- Behind the Neck Press - 300 Lbs. For one rep.
- Behind the Neck Press - 260 Lbs. For four reps.
- Behind the Neck Press - 240 Lbs. For eight reps.
- One Arm Dumbbell Press - 165 Lbs. For two reps.
- Front Squat - 405 for a single.
- Lying Triceps Extension - 300 Lbs. For three reps.  This was done at Muscle Beach in 1957.
- Standing Dumbbell Press - Two 120 Lb. Dumbbells for five reps.
- Standing Dumbbell Press - Two 140 Lb. Dumbbells for one rep.
- Dumbbell Bench Press - Two 185 Lb. Dumbbells for five reps.
- Squat - 605 for two reps at Buster McShane and Ivan Dunbar's Gym in Belfast.
- Strict Barbell Curl - 200 Lbs. For one rep.
- Incline Dumbbell Press - Two 185 Lb. Dumbbells for five reps.

Reg Park's Favorite Program
Deltoids and Upper Back
- Press Behind Neck 4-10 Sets, 5 Reps.
- Heavy Bent arm Lateral Raises 5-10 Sets, 10 Reps

- Bench Press 5-10 Sets, 2 Reps (That's Right 2 Reps!)

- Squat 5 Sets, 5 Reps (of all exercises, this one was my favorite.)
- Hack Lift 5 Sets, 5 Reps

- Barbell Curl 5 Sets, 5-8 Reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curls 5 Sets, 5-8 Reps

- French Press - I did these standing and lying on the bench.

- Calf Machine 25 Reps, Many Sets.
- Donkey Calf Raises 25 Reps, Many Sets

- High Pullups 5-8 Sets, 3 Reps.
- Power Clean 5-8 Sets, 3 Reps.
- Chins Behind Neck 5-8 Sets, 5-8 Reps (weights tied to waist.)

Waist and Trunk Area
- Leg Raises and Side Bends 100 or more Reps.

Coming soon to this muthafuckin' blog, you'll discover something useful I learned from my adventure in 5x5... and it has nothing whatsoever to do with doing 5 sets of 5 reps in a beige gym with beige people listening to bland music and then eating tasteless fucking food.
Appropos of nothing- see this fucking movie, stat.  At the very least, it's better than doing 5x5 for bench.

Kiiha, Osmo. Reg Park - A Hercules for Our Time.  http://beyondstrong.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/11/rip-reg-park.html


  1. It's funny how many people claim that so many people have become Gods with 5x5 when most of these programs (or similar ones) are purely introductory weight training protocols.
    Don't quote me, but I think I read somewhere that Bill Starr originally had a "Starting Strength"-like workout laid out as follows: 5 sets of 5 (or 3... or something like that)
    5 singles.
    Supposedly, this would have made the workout too time consuming for someone working the big lifts (bench/press, squat, dead/clean.)

  2. I just looked up Buster McShane, that dude bench pressed 500lbs at a bodyweight of 145lbs... in the 19 fucking 50s!

  3. I've used 5x5 for 6-7 months. It's true, the bench press improved just a tiny bit. But my squat and deadlift improved around 50 kg in that period. And I went from 68 to 77 kg in that same period. And that meant weaker bench press to bodyweight ratio than before. I would say it's great program for begginers who can't lift jack shit.

  4. When i first started training my brother and before i knew any better i had him on a 5x5 program with the heavy medium light setup and he was bored as shit after a month, sure his squats and deads went up but he was a beginner and training is supposed to be enjoyable, not some journey into severe boredom.

    In the bizarre world of bb.com it seems 90% of the people not doing some bodypart shit all furiouly wank over 5x5 and rippetoes. None of them are anything but fat/skinny douches polluting their bodies with gomad and with massive squats in the 300's. What the hell happened to strength training man.

  5. Cameron, that wasn't Bill Starr it was Doug Hepburn. I think Bill Starr wrote about it at some point but the concept came from Doug Hepburn.

  6. @ Bebobacklash- Fuck me running. I'll have to check that guy out.

  7. Jamie I took your heavy/frequent lifting lesson to heart this week. I tried to train twice a day. Lasted one day haha.

    Instead ill just train the way i enjoy which is every day if i have the time. Last night got a spontaneous 1 rep max p.r on deadlift (200kg) ( im 75 kg) followed by 100 kg front squat for 4. I was always too hesitant to front squat heavy. Shit was actually awesome. I gave your block training system a go you see. I like how i can just choose from a bunch of great ideas without worrying about "overtraining", seeing as the point has been hammered home that one can surprise oneself in this regard.

    Front squatted @ 90 % my training max for 12 sets of 3 including the 1 set of 100 kg. Each set was supersetted with fat barbell clean and press ( 60 kg) for 10 sets of 5. Then some 10 rep sets on close grip bench.

    To recap: the spontaneity of your block training is FTW.

  8. StrongLifts is not as you describe. It is not the same weight all week. You add 5 pounds every workout three times a week.

    You are an amazing advanced lifter. Not sure why you even bothered with beginner and immediate programs.

  9. managed to fix up a blog for myself. Id rather not have an apartment block as my profile name. It is now beastface as opposed to block a9 lol

    1. And 6 years on, your profile has had 61 views. Way to go, fucking loser.

  10. For some reason it is never mentioned:
    A routine like Park's posted above would be done half in the morning, then he'd have eaten ,and finished up the other half after.

    That's how you manage to do retarded amount's of volume. No one ever mentions that these routines are usually done over the course of a day. lots of rest between sets.

  11. Final SQL- See the part where I mentioned that each individual program has it's own permutations. I don't really have a problem with stronglifts, outside of the fact that it seems incredibly simple and boring. Their shit's at least on the right track though.

    Block- Rome wasn't built in a day. As I mentioned at some point in the blog, Waterbury nearly killed me why I tried to jump into two a days all the time. You've got to play just the tip with it for a while- just a little bit, just to see how it feels.

  12. 5x5 did nothing for my upper body lifts. I got 20kg out of it for my squat last year. Actually I tell a lie, I got about 10kg before stalling and then doing a further month on 5x3.

    Stronglifts was the first cookie cutter program I ever tried. The only thing it did for me was start me using an olympic barbell. This didn't go down too well at Ross Enamait's forum but take a look at Medhi's astounding record and see just what the guy's methodology will get you: http://stronglifts.com/mehdi-pictures-body/

    A 400lb squat after 12 years of lifting and a physique that looks like Brooks Kubik from the dimension where he was born with dwarfism.

    I'll never understand why his website is one of the number one strength resources. To be fair to the guy, at least he doesn't care if you add curls to his routine, unlike Rippetoe who will shit bricks if you so much as dream about them.

  13. Thanks for the clarification Glen,
    I've read a lot of Hepburn's stuff, as well as Starr's, so I get them confused.
    Why don't kids try out Hepburn's programs?
    Or Ditillo's? Or even Kubik's (which is basically all of the aforementioned stuff reworked- I mean this is a good way.)
    I think it may have to do with the fact that the "Fitness" industry thrives off of novel ideas- if a trainer had you come in and told you that anywhere from (basically) 3-8 exercises could make you look like whatever you wanted, then the entire industry would cease to exist.
    I know this isn't some kind of revelation, but I lift at a University gym and about 95% of the people I see in there forget that they are lifting weights, and the idea of lifting weights is to add more weight.
    I actually got this comment once, while deadlifting,
    "Bro, lighten the weight so you can get better reps."

  14. Kieran: Huh? Rip has curls in his book.

  15. well thats 3 p.r's in one week anyway. training 6 days a week with a bit of road running should suffice, and dont shit the bed, I wont consider that "training". The timetable in college shall be immense this term.

  16. Quick question, i've been training a good while now but never tried to drop bodyfat before, i'm on my 6th day of a strict keto diet and was wondering if you believe it necessary to go 14 days before a carbup as i've heard differing things. I'm just not sure if i can handle a whole 2 weeks is all.

  17. It's general consensus that you should go at least 10 days for your initial couple of runs. The longer you go, the better, especially if you're a fatbody.

  18. Cool thanks man, i'll give it at least 14 days and see how my performance in the gym is before deciding if i need a carb day.

  19. Hi, huge fan of the blog from Spain.

    I found this article about Reg Park's take on rack pulls, which I think is relevant as shows how distant his actual training was from 5x5


    I've already seen in forums talk about this thing about park using 5x5 very late in his career once he was already jacked and it makes perfect sense. The diference between gifted individuals and less gifted is in my opinion so narrow that the principles that govern the training of both groups are the same.

  20. Interesting article. It's definitely weird that more time isn't spent on training neck by most people in the modern era.

  21. Seems to me that practically all lifters in their prime before the 60's dabbled in some form of wrestling also. Stands to reason that they would know the value of training the neck. I don't know, do bodybuilders get judged on their neck?

    But that's not what I came here to write. This is from Roosevelt's autobiography that I'm reading right now. It really stood out for me. This was while President:

    "After a few years I had to abandon boxing as well as wrestling, for in one bout a young captain of artillery cross-countered me on the eye, and the blow smashed the little blood vessels. Fortunately it was my left eye, but the sight has been dim ever since, and if it had been the right eye I should have been entirely unable to shoot. Accordingly I thought it better to acknowledge that I had become an elderly man and would have to stop boxing... I THEN TOOK UP JIU JITSU FOR A YEAR OR TWO."

    I would be a lot more interested in politics if there were more world leaders like this guy around today. I'd rather have a judo chopping bare chested horse riding (albeit sinister) motherfucker like Vlad Putin in number 10 than that fucking salmon faced toff Cameron.

  22. "Every fucking time I read a defense of one of these 5x5 programs, it begins and ends with a pack of bullshit about steroids and "natty" lifters and about how "natty" guys are flaming pussies who can't handle more than 30 seconds in the gym ever 24 hours or they'll spontaneously combust into sterile sperm and tiny limp penises,"

    I respect a lot of what you say Jamie, but you do really need to get out more. I work in the natural lifting realm in the US and know a shit-ton of natural bodybuilders and powerlifters who use all sorts of routines, including 5x5s, and are:

    A) Stronger than a bear.
    B) Have great size for being a natty.

    I personally profile, interview and talk with these guys every day.

    Some of these opinions are pure fairyland nonsense. You might see the pussification of 5x5 on BB.com or wherever, but let's keep it real here. Don't start becoming what you adhor.

    Your quoted opinion is nothing but bullshit, and you need to be called on it.

    Let me try your logic...

    "Every time I read a defense of C&P it begins and ends with a pack of bullshit about it being the only way to make real gains..."

    Blah blah blah.

    I have a natural and raw 1500 3-lift total, am an old fuck, train using a 5x5 fullbody, and see you turning into the exact type of individual you attack...

    If you would like to see the Youtube videos of my lifts. I'd be more than happy to share them...

  23. LiftHeavyRock- If you'd reread that bit, it wasn't really anti 5x5- it was anti-"the people who espouse 5x5". I don't give a shit whether or not people use it, nor do I care whether or not someone's natty. Online "natty" lifters are just like half the edge kids back in the day- they make a lot of noise about how cool they are while sucking. I didn't break my edge until I was 27, and frankly fought more hardline kids while edge than anyone who wasn't edge, because they're assholes. When someone describes themself as "natty", they're excusing their shitty lifts, by and large- otherwise, they'd shut the fuck up and lift.

    Your logic is sound- people say that silliness on boards all the time. I've never said my way was in any way superior to any other, but have proposed an alternative to the mainstream. That doesn't stop people from acting like I'm Jesus online, which prompts other people to say I'm full of shit. They're all assholes, haha.

  24. Ok i got a little lost on that last one. I didn't get the edge hardline broke edge references.

  25. Hardline and straight-edge both mean the same thing: Geek.

  26. There's a large difference between being sober and being a straight edge cocksucker. I was sober until I was about 20 and never identified with those douches that drew X's on their hands and ran around reciting Youth of Today lyrics.

    God, those fucking kids are awful.


  27. Ok some kinda fad movement then huh?

  28. I'd not really a fad... more of a subculture. Straightedge means that you don't drink, take drugs, smoke, or have promiscuous sex. Hardline means you're a total asshole about it.

    Adebis- Dunno how old you are, but if you're old enough to know youth of today, you might recall the faily hilarious story of OLC getting fucked up by Bad Luck in Philly some years back. Apparently, they beat Johnny Lockjaw with spiked bats, haha.

  29. Do you mean the Mormons?
    j/k ha ha

  30. Hahaha. Actually, there's a Mormon straightedge crew, or there used to be, called the Courage Crew. They'd do this thing called the "poo buck" where they'd shit on the ground, scoop some of it up with a dollar, and the unfold it and throw it down in front of drunks coming out of the bar, telling the drunks that they'd dropped a buck. The shit was pretty funny.

  31. Thats hilarious. Well off to the bar :)

  32. I grew up with a handful of the Bad Luck guys.
    They beat up too many people to keep track of.
    Their shows were the best.
    One song, mayhem, cops show up, everybody scatters.

  33. Jamie, I just came across this link which describes a study connecting moral intentions with strength. I think it might interest you:


  34. They don't mention actions of physical strength anywhere in that article.

  35. These guys have been around for quite a while, but I'm gonna put this out there in case some people haven't heard of them yet:

    Band: Meshuggah
    Song: Bleed
    Genre: Metal as Fuck


  36. Band: Meshuggah
    Song: New millennium cyanide christ
    Genre: Technical Bass
    Vid: Epic.