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  • Writer's pictureDavid Esser

Why I Recommend 5x5 to Beginner Lifters

One of the single most asked questions when it comes to the gym and people beginning their weightlifting journey:


"What is the best beginner lifting program?


This is somewhat of a trick question, because pretty much any exercise is going to stimulate muscle growth if you are a true beginner in the gym. I've seen people start their lifting careers with powerlifting, bodyweight exercises only, goofy Olympic training programs that clueless football coaches prescribed in high school, etc.


They all built muscle. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a program that stands above the rest when it comes to results, health, and overall longevity in the muscle building department. "Starting Strength 5x5" or "Strong Lifts 5x5" (they are largely the same thing) has beginner lifters focusing on a few key movements. Those key movements being the bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell row, weighted pull ups, and overhead press. These movements are selected due to them being "compound lifts" that utilize several muscle groups at a time. They also tend to be the easiest to learn for someone new to the gym.


The goal of any 5x5 program is simple: you do 5 sets of 5 reps, and add a little weight each week.


For example:


Say you start week one doing 100 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps. The next week you'd put 105 pounds on the bar and do it for 5 sets of 5. The week after that? 110 pounds for 5 sets of 5.


You get the point.


The power behind 5x5s -- and why it's perfect for beginner lifters -- is that it really simplifies the first few months of training. You don't need to worry about fancy terms or how to hit a muscle from different angles. You can ignore all the crazy gimmicky workout plans that plague Instagram these days. You can ignore the 100-set arm workout that your gym friend bro is trying to put you on.


With 5x5s you have one job every session, and it's to hit your weight for 5 sets of 5. Add a little bit of weight to the bar each week, eat enough food to grow, and after 12-16 weeks you will likely be stronger and bigger than all your friends (even the gym friend bro who does 1,000 curls every week).


The stimulus that's causing the muscle to grow in this scenario is the added load on the bar week over week. As a beginner lifter, your body is going to hyper respond to this type of stimulus, allowing you to make a considerable amount of muscle growth from simply improving your key lifts by 15, 20, or even 30+ pounds.


Once you get to that point and it's becoming impossible to add 5 pounds every week, that's when you can start looking into more immediate type training plans.

 

If you are a beginner lifter or even someone still within their first 1-3 years of lifting who's frustrated with a lack of progress, I strongly recommend giving a 5x5 program a go.


A quick Google search will provide you with several time-tested plans that you can run. I've also included a 5x5 plan that I personally designed below. Normally I'd charge for something like this, but the plan below can be downloaded 100% for free.



I've taken the liberty of adding some accessory movements with recommended volume. However, these are largely customizable. The part that actually matters the most is doing your 5x5s each week and getting stronger at them over time.

 

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