The 5x5 program is a great tool for increasing muscle mass, strength and power, especially for clients who have been stuck in the rut of traditional body building methodology for a while (ie. 3 sets of 8-12 reps week after week). In this video, Chris Dovale of A3 Training and Ross Steiner of Steiner Strength talk to DIAKADI owner Billy Polson about their philosophy, the basics of their 5x5 Training Programs and how both of them, as well as their clients, have seen incredible gains since starting the program.


A3 Training 5x5 Program by Chris Dovale  (

My 5x5 Training Program is a 4 day per week training schedule. I suggest M/W/F/Sat or T/Th/Sat/Sun. Strive to be consistent with the days you train, always waiting 1 week to repeat each main lift. Conditioning may be done on off days or after your workouts. I recommend boxing or sprints, doing either for intervals. (30 sec ON : 60 sec OFF or 60 sec ON : 30 sec OFF, repeating for 15-30min.) Do conditioning 2-4 days a week depending on your body fat level. If you want to control your body fat while you are gaining, do interval training more often. If you don't care about some extra body fat and just want to get huge, 1-2 days a week is good. For those looking for maximum muscle gain, I suggest resting on the off days with little to no conditioning.

Day 1 Squat Day Day 2 Bench Press DayEd Yelp 3 Day 3 Deadlift Day Day 4 Overhead Press Day

Warm up before every workout and stretch after every workout. At the start of your workout, I suggest foam rolling and mobilization/movement of the joints that will be used in the exercise for the day. Then you can begin warming up for the day's movement. Start with the bar and increase by 25lbs until you reach your working weight for the week. Do 15 reps with just the bar when warming up. Then lower the reps to 5-10 when approaching your working weight. You don't want to be fatigued when it is time to move the heavy weight in your 5 working sets.

Every working set consists of 5 sets of 5 reps. (Doesn't include warm up sets).

Each week increase 5lbs for upper body lifts, 10lbs for lower body lifts until you reach the maximum weight you can lift for 5 reps.

I recommend staying on this program as long as it takes to get the size or strength you desire. If you are no longer progressing in strength on your main lifts, you should then switch your periodization schedule to another method. More than likely you just need to take the weights down 10-30% and start the process again to break through the plateau. One step back, two steps forward. You can also try taking a week off from heavy lifting (a de-load week).

Accessory Lifts: Accessory Lifts include bicep curls, triceps, dips, pull-ups and abs. You can integrate these movements in one of two ways:

1- Integrate the pushing accessory movements with the pushing lifts (ex. dips or tricep pulldowns after bench press) 2- Integrate the pulling accessory movements after the pushing (ex. rows after bench press, or pull-ups after military press).

Sample Program with Accessory Lifts

Day 1 Squat Day

  • Squats 5x5
  • Pull-ups   3-4 sets,  10 reps
  • Tom Armenta Action Abs  3-4 Sets, 10-20 Cable Rope Crunches

Day 2 Bench Press Day

  • Bench Press 5x5
  • Dips  3-4 Sets , 10 reps
  • Tricep Pulldowns  3-4 Sets , 10 reps
  • Abs  3-4 Sets, 10-20 Cable Twist Abs

Day 3 Deadlift Day

  • Deadlift 5x5
  • DB Rows 3-4 sets, 10 reps
  • Bicep curls   3-4 sets, 10 reps
  • Abs  3-4 Sets, 10-20 DB Side Bends

Day 4 Overhead Press Day

  • Overhead Press 5x5
  • Pull-ups   3-4 sets, 10 reps
  • Abs 3-4 Sets, 10-20 Hanging Leg Raises

This program is hands down the best way to grow in size and strength. As long as your daily diet is in a caloric surplus, and you are taking in enough protein (1-1.5g per pound of bodyweight), you will grow. If you are not growing while eating cleanly, you are not eating enough. If you are gaining more fat than you would like as you "bulk", then you are not eating cleanly enough. (Clean eating: whole foods over processed foods: examples: Eggs, turkey, chicken, beef, fish, veggies and fruit (3 to 1 ratio), steel cut oats, potatoes, rice (white or brown), almonds.)  Avoid simple carbs (i.e. pasta, sugar, crackers, breads)

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to visit and shoot me an email. Work smart/hard.

Steiner Strength 5x5 Program by Ross Steiner  (

My 5x5 program is broken up into a Workout A (WOA) and Workout B (WOB) with a 3 day/week split (either Mon/Wed/Fri  or Tue/Thur/Sat).

Each program has "core lifts" that rotate each week.


  • Deadlift 5x5
  • Back Squat 5x5
  • Kelly Redanz Action 2Bench Press 5x5
  • Core Lift (Planks, Med Ball Chops, Leg Raises, etc)


  • Deadlift 5x5
  • Back Squat 5x5
  • Over-head Press 5x5
  • Core Lift

Week 1 :  Day 1 WOA;  Day 2 WOB;  Day 3 WOA

Week 2:   Day 1 WOB;  Day 2 WOA;  Day 3 WOB

Week 3:  Continue following this pattern of alternating programs.

(This gives the athlete a proportional amount of vertical to horizontal pressing.)

Once the athlete starts to get used to the volume, usually around 4-6 weeks, we add in your horizontal pulling movements (vertical pull or pull-ups, horizontal pull or rows) as seen in the workout progression below. The athlete will continue to alternate vertical pull and horizontal pull movement patterns as long as they are in the program. (Once the athlete can get over 12-15 pull ups then it would be beneficial to add weight to the pull ups to keep the volume around 6-10 per set.)


  • Deadlift 5x5
  • Back Squat 5x5
  • Bench Press 5x5
  • Pull ups 3x10 (or max reps to 10)

WOBallan mateo new

  • Deadlift 5x5
  • Back Squat 5x5
  • Over-head press 5x5
  • Bent Over Row 3x10-12

Finally, for intermediate/advanced athletes, I would include explosive lifts such as the power clean in their initial program (as seen in the progression below):


  • Power Clean 5x3
  • Back squat 5x5
  • Bench Press 5x5
  • Pull ups 3x10 (or max reps to 10)
  • Front plank 3x60sec


  • Deadlift 5x5
  • Back Squat 5x5
  • Over Head Press 5x5
  • Bent Over Row 3x10-12
  • Tall Kneeling Med Ball *Chops & Lifts 3x10

(*Chops and Lifts are a core exercise focusing on anti rotation. Athlete starts on the ground on their knees toes tucked. Keeping everything tight by bracing your abs and squeezing your glutes, start with a High to Low chopping motion (power on the down) ideally with an 8-10 lb med ball.  In the first set, complete 10 chops down on both right and left side. The second set is almost identical to the first set with the difference being the chop now starts from low moving to high into a lifting motion (power on the up).  During the third set, return to chops down.

These are just some examples of how I use the 5x5 program for general clients. Athletes and clients will keep their program going until the linear progression ceases to produce a gain in strength. At this point, more advanced methods of periodization can be introduced. Also, for advanced athletes and team training, I will pair some exercises together for conditioning and to increase work capacity while making efficient use of training time.

I am more than happy to talk about more advanced programming with athletes and clients if they have more questions. Check out my website or drop me a line at