29 January 2011

The Rule Of Five, Part 2 (More NSFW Than Usual)

It has recently come to my attention that people feel very strongly about 5x5 programs.  Comically so, in fact.  As such, I received a fantastic array of hate mail regarding my first installment of this series, due entirely to the fact that people are apparently incapable of differentiating between my opinion and a statement of fact.  This is tragic.  The following is a sampling of some of the email I received:
"I usually love your blog, but ur last post was total horse shit.  Who are you to say that 5x5 sucks?  It's worked for millions of lifters for years and years. ur way off base on that shit, brah."
-- I couldn't really find any evidence that came close to supporting any part of this claim, which I consider to be wholly spurious.  Glen Pendlay promotes 5x5, and he's a bad motherfucker.  He managed to scrape up three names of marginally famous lifters who use 5x5 in an article.  While I don't discount his advice, that's hardly incontrovertible evidence of its efficacy.  And by the way, anyone who uses the word "brah" should be dragged into the street and summarily executed with a bleach and battery acid enema.

"5x5 fuckin rules, juicer."
-- Well put.

"If it weren't for the 5x5 programs you claim don't work, I wouldn't be competing in powerlifting today.  Your full of shit, and you're blog is full of shit."
-- Anyone who is incapable of using the correct your/you're for a given situation should preheat their oven on broil, wait 20 minutes, and insert their head into the aforementioned oven.  They should not, however, give anyone an opinion on anything.  Ever.  They've demonstrated as adults that they'd fail third grade, which means that my dog is smarter than they are.  While Griz is awesome, he's really not that smart.
Grizzly can correctly use both "your" and "you're" correctly in a sentence, even while eating his own shit in the yard.

Clearly, there are some highly educated people whom I've gravely offended with my alleged assertions that 5x5 doesn't work.  Well, except for the fact that they display the intellectual bearing of chimps and have likely read fewer than a single book in the last year... and the fact that I never suggested any such thing- I stated that it doesn't work for me, which would indicate that it's hardly the magical system people claim it to be, as there were neither unicorns with giant boners nor elfin fairy shit involved in its creation.
Conventional wisdom is that 5x5 is the bast basic program a person could follow in the gym.  That's fanfuckingtastic.  Conventional wisdom (52% of Americans believe this) is also that the sun orbits the Earth.(Strupp, 63)  As such, you should probably shoot anyone giving you advice in the face with rocksalt and run screaming in the other direction unless they make a fairly compelling argument about anything at all.  Even if they did, however, half of Americans are too fucking stupid to understand the simplest of concepts, so maybe you should just do some research and try shit for yourself.

Very much in line with my last recommendation, I found myself in a position to try something new after I found myself mentally exhausted from a couple of months of two a days, during which time I did a hell of a lot of singles at near max on one exercise per workout.  Doing that got me to kick the fuck out of everyone at the comp, but I paid the price in mental burnout, some weird muscle knotting, and a general malaise.  Frankly, I'll attribute this blog to part of that, as I find that spending as much time as I do blogging about training and nutrition reduces my overall enthusiasm for those two subjects. 
Enthusiasm renewed.

To combat this, I intentionally gave myself exercise ADD.  This is how I developed my version of 5x5, which ended up being 5x5x5 and for a while was 5x5x5x5.  Confused?  You should be.  Allow me to explain.

I initially started running what was a fairly typical 5x5 program, alternating through three loading protocols on MWF and filling the other two days with bodyweight shit and random nonsense, just to be in the gym.  I soon found that the MWF workouts were short unto ridiculousness and fairly boring, so I decided to start doing 5 exercises like that, making it 5x5x5.  Pretty soon, I found that since the 5x5 wasn't all that hard to begin with, I started doing it 5 days a week, making it 5x5x5x5.  What I found, however, is that I fucking hate doing 5 reps.  I like to test myself in the gym, and 5 reps is more of a test of patience than of strength, generally.  I can hear my max dropping as I cut out the top end lifts, and as my strength drops, so does my enthusiasm for lifting.  Thus, what started as an effort to jump-start my interest in lifting ended up bending that interest over the table and raping it, as if 5 reps was George Bush, and my enthusiasm was our nation's economic ass, with a spiked bat.  I did find, however, that doing 5 exercises in the gym 5 days a week forced me to do supplementary lifts I'd abandoned in my quest for a higher total, like neck, forearms, calves, etc... making that my version of 5x5.
But that's not 5x5!  SCREEEEEEEEEEEE!

Yeah, I don't fucking care.  I do what works for me.  The failure to determine what suits one's personality, goals, and interests in the gym is likely the downfall of 90% of the useful motherfuckers who ever set in the gym.  Instead, they grab hold of whatever programs in vogue and ride that motherfucker straight to hell.  I intend to blog more about this soon, but to sum it up in short, 5x5 would seem to me to only suit those people with personalities that tend toward conformity or very normative and convergent values. (Young, 28-31, 33, 55) I, on the other hand, do very poorly in rigidly defined systems, as I'm (violently) inclined towards individualism and self-determination.  That's not to say that there's anything wrong with people who are methodical or inclined to go with the flow- 5x5 would likely work pretty well for them.  As I fucking hate that shit, however, my style of 5x5 allows me the freedom to do my own thing and prevents me from becoming so overly focussed on my immediate goal that I ignore shit that could prevent eventual systemic breakdown by balancing my workouts. 
Probably big fans of the traditional 5x5.

Do I live and die by my newfound 5x5 program?  Hell no.  That'd defeat the purpose of designing a program that suits my personality.  It does give me a good guideline to follow, however, and I ensure that I hit a wide array of exercises every week.  I still have a day or two a week wherein I hit nothing but one or two exercises, but for the most part I've stuck to the idea that 5 days a week I'm going to hit 5 exercises a day, and it's definitely allayed a lot of the general disinterest I had previously had in hitting the gym without getting me involved in too much shit I detest (like doing 5 sets of 5 reps).

For those of you, however, who feel a desire to try a 5x5 style workout, I highly recommend the book Powerlifting Basics, Texas-Style.  It's pretty much packed with 5x5-esque workouts designed by a guy who knows that about which he's writing (Paul Kelso) and written in a highly engaging, anecdotal style.  For those of you like me, it's worth a read anyway, as he outlines the utility of his bench shrugs and explains how half of the shit you see in use in powerlifting gyms these days came to exist.

By the way, I'm apparently not along in my dislike for 5x5.  According to Lyle McDonald, the "usual criticism is that 5X5 doesn’t provide enough heavy first reps to prepare someone for powerlifting.  A routine based around triples, doubles and singles are often preferred since this not only lets you go heavier but you get more properly done first reps which is a key to optimal powerlifting performance.  And there is much to this idea."  (McDonald)  
He does go on, however, to outline the ways in which that methodology is good for beginners and a variety of other people, so check the article out if you're interested in programming with 5x5.

Clear as mud, right?  You should probably focus more on lifting, then, and less on random bullshit that doesn't really matter... like who said what on the internet.
There's no reason whatsoever for this pic other than the fact that I like it.  Mya Nicole has the best ass in porn, by the way.  And she squirts like the fountains at the Bellagio.
Kelso, Paul.  Powerlifting Basics, Texas-Style.  Ironmind: 1996.
McDonald, Lyle.  The 5x5 Program.  http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/training/the-5x5-program.html
Strupp, Peter.  Fat, Dumb, and Ugly: The Decline of the Average American.   New York:  Simon & Schuster,  2004.
Young, Peter.  Understanding NLP:  Principles and Practice.  Norwalk:  Crown House Publishing, 2004.


  1. Fun fact: Rock salt shot makes for a poor self-defense ammunition. The penetration is so pure (Due to the lack of density in the projectile) that it does little than cause pain in the target. At best, you'll scare an undetermined attacker away. Facing someone who actually plans to fuck your shit up, and you've just pissed him off.

  2. Given that I prefer to beat up groups of people with my bare hands and then go to jail thereafter for calling the cop who tells me to roll out after my victory a dick... I have little experience in firing rock salt at people. I was merely trying to suggest that you shoo them away.

  3. PS- I find it amusing that people on the internet read my blog and follow my suggestions while at the same time calling me a douche. That shit is priceless.

  4. PPS- That last picture is fucking money.

  5. Good call on Mya Nicole man, hadn't heard of her before. Agreed also that bare handed fighting is the way forwards, plus chicks always seem to get moist about it which is a bonus.

  6. "anyone who uses the word "brah" should be dragged into the street and summarily executed with a bleach and battery acid enema."

    I second that

  7. I recommend what I like to call an "insurance policy" for when your fists just aren't getting the job done fast enough. This may take the form of a stainless steel ballpoint pen, a pair of those studded leather fingerless gloves that moshers like to wear, or my favourite: a small G-clamp. Tighten it all the way up and you have a knuckle duster. Notice that you will not get arrested for carrying any of these items. If you would rather not get involved in any conflict but still want to threaten a motherfucker into leaving you well alone then consider carrying a hypodermic needle with you. Technically not illegal to own though you will get questioned on it. I mean, who is going to mess with someone brandishing a syringe? Nobody, cos thats gotta be one sick fuck walking round with a needle as a weapon.

  8. PS That pic is worthy of an elegant frame and a space above the mantlepiece.

  9. I saw a guy get stabbed about 50 times with a syringe at a dance back in high school. I didn't know the guy so I have no idea what ever came of it but he must have been scared shitless. Probably went to the walk in clinic every week for the next few months.

    I stopped carrying weapons of any kind back in my 20s. They aren't really necessary. Unless you're a total mongoloid you can do more than enough damage with your bare hands. And if somebody pulls a knife on you you're pretty much fucked whether you've got one of your own or not. Chances are you'll never see it coming. Guns are another matter. You definitely don't want to be in a gunfight without one but the reality is that when you don't have one there is almost zero posibbilty of being involved in a gunfight. Contrary to what the Internet would have you believe, a barehanded beatdown is usually enough to shut up most "gangstas." Ninety per cent of them are wannabes who haven't got the teeth to do anything but run off at the mouth. The weapons are all for show. Some asshole pulls out his knife or his gun at a party and every other shithead has to pull his out so they can all compare. It doesn't get much more phony than that.

  10. Your dissertation on weaponry is fascinating, Gwen.

  11. what would chad waterbury say.

  12. It sounds like the biggest problem is that you're bored with it and therefore, you don't believe in it. I don't blame you, if that's the case. It's all a fucking bore, IMO. Do what the fuck you like and if you get filthy, fucking strong then what difference does it make how you get there?

    More NSFW than usual? Come on, that was pretty tame. I thought you could do better than that!

  13. Given the general lack of enthusiasm for 5x5. What do you think of the Westside for Skinny Bastards template, which uses a 5x5 rep scheme, but instead of using the same weight for three or all five of the sets, you build to a pyramid or straight set at your 5RM, then move up the weight? Along with dynamic training, rep days, and max effort days, I figure this is something akin to your CnP ADD you mentioned in this post.

  14. Alexis Texas has the best ass in porn...period.

  15. @Brute- You are correct, sir.

    @David- Seems like a decent program, from my extremely cursory examination.

  16. Jamie, what do you think of Ken Leistner?
    I don't recall you ever posting much (or anything) on him.
    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
    I personally like some of his stuff.

  17. Excuse my lack of understanding at the moment. Been having a discussion with my wife and I didn't have a chance to upgrade my thought processes before reading this blog. Basically, when it works for you, it's good and when it doesn't it's shite?

    I understand that some guys swear by 5x5. To me it's just one of many training parameters and it equals to 25. Personally, I have felt better and more at home with single, doubles, and triples when it comes to moving heavy shit. Recently, I have been getting used to ringing in some hidden adolescence with 8 reps per working round with what I thought was heavy weight (a joke of 335lbs). Some people just need to get used to criticism, formal and informal, forget how many millions or thousands of people did good on any kind of parameter or program and just figure the fuck out what works for their sorry ass, than bust on anyone who openly says that something ain't shit because it's no miracle workout program.

    Not everyone that poops out and publishes a template follows exactly what they publish all the damn time. If it did, then very strongly they need to reconsider the chances of a lack of champions from coming through their camp.

    I still enjoy what you have to say on your blog, even if you have different opinions than I do on some things. I thinks it great to learn of counter points. It definitely helps in sniffing out the bullshit.

  18. For a bunch of "manly men" some of you guys get your feelings hurt pretty easily. It's just another set/rep scheme.

  19. I just typed out a comment about Leistner. Fuck you, page, for destroying my comment.

  20. Cameron- I know he's a doctor of some sort and that he's in some way possibly connected with Ironman Magazine. That's the sum total of my Ken Leistner knowledge.

    Kawika- You appeared to agree and argue with me simultaneously, so I'm not sure what your point is. My point, however, was that people should use what works for them, and everyone else can fuck right off.

  21. I don't agree with everything he says, and I am certainly not a fan of HIT training (which he was an advocate of) but the fact remains he is a pretty tough guy.

    Squatting 415x23 at 165.


    From what I've read of his, he always advised routines with 10-20 reps to failure. He liked heavy dragging and carrying, as well.

  22. He often advised sets to 50 reps and other crazy shit. For what it's worth, as far as odd object work he's a massive authority, and they use 200 pound dumbbells pretty regularly at his place for high rep work.

  23. My point? While I may disagree on some of the immediate statements you have written about, reading your reasons behind it was/is good stuff. I got your point and it's similar to probably how many feel about training.

    It helps to hear out a different look on some training ideas. I didn't think I was trying to make a beef with you while feeding you beef the way you like it. Apologies that it came out that way.

  24. I'll bet you won't guess what muscle in your body is the muscle that gets rid of joint and back pain, anxiety and burns fat.

    This "hidden primal muscle" is in your body and it will boost your energy, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.