What is 5x5 2 2

5x5 principle: The formula for success for effective strength training

Bill Starr, athletic coach for various US football teams, formulated his 5x5 training theory back in 1976. At that time, the world was not yet networked, but today, more than 40 years later, Google is finding over 36 million hits.

Starr's paperback "The Strongest Shall Survive" is a little treasure and is antiquarian for up to 180 US dollars.

Simply because his training program is still valid today.

The secret behind 5x5

"5x5 is the most universal set-repetition scheme," says strength trainer Wolfgang Unsöld. "No other scheme enables progress for such a large spectrum of trainees - from beginners to competitive athletes."

One reason is certainly the simple process: five sets of five repetitions. It is trained with high weight.

“Most of them perform every sentence right up to the point of muscle failure,” says Unsöld. "I recommend beginners who have never done 5x5 to start with around 80 percent of the target weight and add something to each set so that only the last, fifth set of each workout is carried out to the maximum number of repetitions."

That means: Then the air is really out.

Reading tip

With this program, functional hypertrophy, the perfect mix of strength and muscle volume, can be achieved particularly quickly and effectively in the weight room.

Unsöld: "An important aspect for everyone who not only wants to build larger, but also more functional muscles."

Women don't have to be afraid of heavy weights either: the result is more definition and tension, not muscle mountains.

Scientists from the University of Central Florida and the College of New Jersey compared high-intensity workouts like 5x5 with a routine that uses less weight and twice as many repetitions.

Results after eight weeks: The 5x5 candidates showed almost double the increase in strength in bench presses, and were still a third ahead in squats. Bill Starr's training program is really worth every dollar.

5 exercises for 5x5 training

Originally developed for football professionals, the Bill Stars training concept also ensures strong results for beginners or long-time strength athletes. This is how it works:

1. Shoulder press

Wolfgang Unsöld: "Optimizes stability and mobility in the shoulder girdle."

  • Stand hip-width apart, grip the barbell shoulder-wide - thumbs pointing inwards - and hold it in front of your body over your chest. Push your elbows forward a little, deliberately pull your shoulders back and down.

  • Tense your core and push the dumbbell up until your arms are straight. Slowly and in a controlled manner lower back down to your shoulders.

For beginners: Do the exercise with a bar with no weight until the movement is seated. However, Olympic poles alone weigh 20 kilos, or better: a simple broomstick

2. Deadlift

Wolfgang Unsöld: "Important: no hunched back when lifting and lowering!"

  • Stand hip-width apart, pull the bar right up to your shins and grip around shoulder-width from above. Lift your buttocks backwards and straighten up with your back straight. Guide the bar close to the body. Chest out, shoulders actively pull back.
    Consciously push your knees slightly outwards when lifting.
  • In the upright position, actively push the hips forward. Important: do not go into the hollow back! Then lower the barbell in reverse order, always keeping it close to your body.

Against calluses: Not back and legs - grip strength is often the limit. Good tool: leather pulling aids.

3. Bench press

Wolfgang Unsöld: "Top basic exercise, so to speak the squat for the upper body."

  • Lie on the bench, eyes straight under the bar, feet firmly on the floor, shoulder blades together. Grasp the bar so that the forearms are perpendicular to the floor in the down position. Keep your wrists as straight as possible.
  • Now lower the dumbbell in a controlled manner towards your chest until it briefly touches the body (do not put it down!) And then forcefully back to the starting position.

For women: The bench press not only trains your arms and chest, but also your back, stomach and buttocks.

4. Squats

Wolfgang Unsöld: "The supreme discipline: no other exercise combines strength, stability and mobility so efficiently."

  • Stand upright, hip width apart. Place the barbell from the rack on your upper back and grip with both hands. The elbows are under the bar.
  • Push your hips and buttocks back and bend your knees with your trunk straight until your thighs are at least horizontal.
    Optimal: hips lower than knees.
  • Push up from your legs again. Heels stay on the ground all the time.

For office workers: If you sit a lot, you usually have shortened hip flexors and do not get into deep squats.

Tip: Reach for your body without weight or with a kettlebell.

5. Barbell rows

Wolfgang Unsöld: "Keep the trunk horizontal, so the back works optimally."

  • Stand hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, bend forward with the torso straight. The torso and head form a line. Grasp the barbell shoulder width apart with stretched arms.
  • Pull the dumbbell towards the navel, keeping your elbows close to your body. The view goes straight towards the ground. Lower the dumbbell slowly and in a controlled manner.

For maximum stability: Pull your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.

The 2-week training plan

Five exercises of five sets with five repetitions - three of which are on each workout day. Here is our training plan:

week 1

1 day2 day3rd day4th day5th day6th day7th day
Bench pressSquatsBench press
SquatsRest dayShoulder pressRest daySquatsRest dayRest day

Week 2

1 day2 day
3rd day4th day5th day6th day7th day
SquatsBench pressDeadlift
Shoulder pressRest dayBarbell
Rest dayShoulder pressRest dayRest day

Tip from the professional

“One of the most important aspects of the 5x5 is to take enough break between sets. Three minutes is a good guideline, ”says Wolfgang Unsöld.

The lower number of repetitions leads to a greater training effect on the neuromuscular system, which, compared to the muscle itself, takes about 7 times as long to regenerate.

Advantage of 5x5: Less repetitions mean less risk of injury! Because with fatigue, the risk increases that an exercise is carried out improperly and thus overloads the joints and ligaments.

Reading tips