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5x5 beginner workout program

How To Use The 5×5 Beginner Workout Program To Build Muscle

Are you looking for a good workout plan as a beginner? Then the 5×5 beginner workout program will help you gain muscle and strength quickly.

Recently, I’ve been struggling to gain some progression in my compound lifts.

So I’ve been considering to make use of the 5×5 beginner workout program because of the benefits that it provides.

Not only will it help me to gain strength and build muscle, but it will also help me to lose fat.

Since this is a high-intensity workout, you just need to workout 3 days per week and get all the benefits of muscle and strength gains.

What is the 5×5 beginner workout program?

The 5×5 beginner workout program is a simple program that can be used to build strength while gaining muscle and losing fat.

The basic idea of this workout is to perform heavy, compound movements 3 days a week each with each session of around 45 minutes.

The compound movements that are a part of this program are squats, bench press, deadlifts, overhead press, and bent over rows.

The meaning of 5×5 is that for each of the exercises you will be performing 5 sets with each set consisting of 5 repetitions.

You will be performing these exercises 3 days per week. And with each workout session, the aim is to try to add 5 lbs of weight to the exercises so you keep getting stronger.

Attempting to gain strength by this simple method is the key to the 5×5 beginner workout program.

Note that unlike other bodybuilding workouts, this workout does not focus on isolation exercises, machines, muscle soreness or pump. Rather, it bets on the fact that the stronger you get, the more muscle you will build.

What are the benefits of the 5×5 beginner workout program?

It will help you gain functional strength

The 5×5 beginner workout program makes use of free weights instead of machines. Machines restrict the amount of muscles that your body uses during the workouts

Machines restrict the amount of muscles that your body uses during the workouts and leave your stabilizer muscles weak.

By making use of free weights, this workout ensures that you gain overall strength in your body.

This workout also uses compound movements rather than isolation bodybuilding movements.

This will help you gain core functional strength in your body. It will also help to prevent any kind of muscle imbalances as you will be training your entire body with the full-body workouts.

It provides high-intensity workouts but in a short amount of time

Unlike bodybuilding workouts where you need to train 5-6 days per week and for hours, this workout focusses on intense workouts with compound movements.

So you just need to train 3 days per week with about 45-minute sessions per workout.

This will help your muscles to recover fully before you hit them with intensity again.

And you will spend lesser time at the gym and have more time for other activities.

It will help you build muscle while gaining strength

As I have already mentioned, the key factor of this workout program is to gain strength.

And the more strength you gain, the more muscle you will build.

The best thing about this workout is that it focusses on compound movements. Compound movements mean that the exercise targets several muscles at the same time.

For example, a bench press is not just an exercise for the chest. It works out your triceps, shoulders, and core as well.

Since this workout makes use of such compound movements, you are hitting several muscle groups in a workout session and this will lead to overall muscle gain in your body.

It will help you lose weight

When you are lifting weights with high intensity, your body is going to burn calories.

Also, once you are done with lifting weights, the body continues to burn calories in what is known as the “after burn” effect. So you are burning twice as many calories by performing the exercises.

Lifting weights and getting stronger will help you build more muscle. And the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more fat you will burn.

How the 5×5 workout program will help you build muscle

As I have mentioned, the 5×5 workout program relies on the premise that the stronger you get, the more muscle you will build.

That is why it focusses on the compound movement exercises and trying to achieve progressive overload with each workout.

The compound movements will hit several muscle groups at once with high-intensity and therefore drive muscle growth throughout the body.

Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press make use of a lot of muscles in the body from the chest, back, shoulders, triceps, legs, core to the many stabilization muscles in the body.

Here is a video that shows how the 5×5 beginner workout program intends to build muscle.

How the 5×5 workout program will help you lose fat

With the 5×5 workout program, you will be lifting heavy weights. This will help you build muscle and boost your metabolism.

So you should start losing fat provided your diet is good as well. Remember, that without a good diet, it will be impossible to lose weight. You always need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.

Now if you are a beginner, then it is very much possible that you will lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

What this means is that even though your weight might not drop, that does not mean you are not succeeding at fat loss. It just means that you are gaining muscle while losing fat and that is why the scale may not change.

However, you will start noticing results in your physique when you look at yourself in the mirror.

You can also add a bit of cardio after your workout so that it assists more in your weight loss goals.

And once again, please remember to have a good diet so that you can fall into a calorie deficit and keep achieving your weight loss goals.

What equipment do you need to perform the exercises?

The 5×5 beginner workout program stresses on the use of free weights rather than machines. So you should find yourself a gym that has the below equipment

So you should find yourself a gym that has the below equipment before you start the program.

If you prefer to perform home workouts, then you will need to purchase this equipment.


An essential equipment that you need for the exercises under this program is the barbell.


Why not dumbbells? Because it’s easier to progress using barbells where you can add 5 lbs each workout. With dumbbells, your progression will be limited and you won’t find dumbbells beyond a certain weight.

It’s also a lot more difficult to handle exercises like squats using dumbbells because you will need to pick up a heavy load with each arm and limit your ability to how much you can lift.


For the barbell, you will need weight plates. The best and cheap ones areiron plates.

iron plates

You will need around 300 lbs of these plates because you will be quickly progressing through the weights while on this workout program.

Try to get plates with a range of weights because you will keep adding 5 lbs each workout when you possibly can. And when not possible, you will try smaller increments like 2.5 lbs.

Power Rack

If you are going to perform heavy squats and bench press without a spotter then you will need a power rack.

A power rack consists of horizontal pins that will help you lift the weight off the rack and onto your back for the squats.

power rack

The horizontal pins will also protect you when you are performing a heavy bench press. So in the case of failure, you can place the barbell on the pins and you will be safe.

Flat bench

A major requirement for performing bench press is the flat bench.

flat bench

You need a bench that is sturdy and can handle at least 600 lbs because you will be adding a lot of weight to your bench.

You don’t need an incline bench because it’s only the flat bench press that you will be using with this program.

Also, you will be using the power rack for the bench press as well so you don’t need any special attachments for the bench.


You will initially not need chalk when the weights are light. But once you start lifting heavy weights, you will need chalk.


This chalk is not blackboard chalk but magnesium carbonate.

The purpose of chalk is to absorb the moisture from the sweat on your hands so that your grip does not slip. It also helps minimize callus on your fingers by filling the cracks on your skin.


You will need a good pair of shoes, especially for your squats. So don’t make use of your running shoes.

You need shoes that have a hard sole. Something like these.


This will help you to gain traction during your exercises and ensure that you do not slip.


A belt will allow you to lift more weights by supporting your core and back.


You will not need one initially but once you start lifting some heavy weights and reach some plateaus then you may need them to attempt stronger lifts.

Select a belt that has a uniform width throughout so that is it useful in supporting your back as well as the core.

What are the exercises under the 5×5 beginner workout program?

The exercises that you need to perform under the 5×5 beginner workout program are squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and barbell row.

As you already know, all these exercises use free weights and are to be performed using a barbell and plates.


The squat is considered the king of exercises. It is a full-body, compound exercise that works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

It also works your core and lower back as you work to keep the bar stable on your back.

As part of this workout, you will squat every workout session. That means, three times per week.

It is important to squat in a power rack so that you are protected in case of failure. And it will help you get stronger.

Here is a video that shows the correct way to squat.

Bench Press

The bench press is probably the most popular exercise at the gym because you can lift a lot of weight doing it.

It is a compound exercise that works your upper body. It mainly targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It will also work your core and your biceps.

To do the bench press, you should use the power rack with the safety pins. It will help you lift heavy weights safely. And if you fail, the safety pins will protect you.

Here is a video that shows you how to bench press.


The deadlift is a full-body, compound exercise that works the quads, hamstrings, calves, and adductors.

It also works a lot more muscles than the squat as you need to lift the weight from the ground using your back as well.

This is one exercise where you will be lifting the most weight and making the most gains.

It is important to perform this exercise with proper form to avoid injuring your back.

Check out the video below to perform the deadlift correctly.

Overhead Press

The overhead press is a full-body compound exercise that works the upper chest, shoulders, and triceps. It also works the abs, legs, back, and traps as you use them to stabilize the weight.

You will need to use the power rack for the overhead press so that you can lift the weight cleanly from the rack instead of from the floor.

Check out the video below on how to perform the overhead press correctly.

Barbell Row

The barbell row is a full body exercise that works the upper back, lats, traps, and biceps. It also works the core, lower back, and legs as you will need them to stabilize the weight.

The barbell row will also assist in the overall health of your shoulders as it works the rear shoulder muscles.

Here is a video to show you how to perform the barbell row.

A detailed guide to starting with this workout program

The 5×5 workout consists of two full-body workouts:

Workout A consists of squat, bench press, and barbell row.

Workout B consists of squat, overhead press, and deadlift.

You will perform this workout three days per week with one day off after each workout.

So for example, you can perform workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

You also need to alternate the workout A and B. So on Monday, you will perform workout A. On Wednesday, you will perform workout B. And on Friday, you will perform workout A again.

Then the next week you will start Monday with workout B. On Wednesday, you will perform workout A. And on Friday, you will perform workout B again.

And you will repeat this cycle for the further weeks. So week 3 is like week 1, week 4 is like week 2, and so on.

This is also shown below:

Week 1

Monday Wednesday Friday
Squat Squat Squat
Bench Press Overhead Press Bench Press
Barbell Row Deadlift Barbell Row

Week 2

Monday Wednesday Friday
Squat Squat Squat
Overhead Press Bench Press Overhead Press
Deadlift Barbell Row Deadlift

5×5 Workout

The term 5×5 means 5 sets and 5 repetitions per set. This is for the exercises squats, bench press, overhead press, and barbell rows.

For deadlifts, you will perform 1×5. this means 1 set of 5 repetitions in that set with the same weight. This is because after performing squats you will be a bit exhausted and deadlift uses a lot of the same muscles as squat. So you don’t need to do too much with deadlifts and 1 set should be sufficient.


As a beginner, you should start light and focus on lifting with proper form. Below is an example of the weights you should be starting with.

  • Squat, bench press, and overhead press: 45lb i.e. the empty barbell.
  • Deadlift: 95lb i.e the barbell with a 25lb plate on each side.
  • Barbell row: 65lb i.e the barbell with a 10lb plate on each side.

Note that if you are able to perform 5×5 with the same weight in a workout then you need to increase the weight by 5lbs on that exercise in the next workout. For deadlifts, initially, you can increase the weight by 10lbs.

Workout A

Below is a video that shows how to perform the workout A.

Workout B

Below is a video that shows how to perform the workout B.


I hope you can take full benefit of the 5×5 beginner workout program to gain muscle and strength quickly.

If you need more information about the 5×5 workout, then you can also check out the website below that provides a lot of details about it at

You can also check out Jason Blaha’s variation of the 5×5 workout that adds some accessory workouts to the standard 5×5.

I hope I was able to provide you with sufficient information that you can take an informed decision whether you would like to use the 5×5 beginner workout program.

If you start with this program, do let me know how you feel about it and how it has helped you make the strength and muscle gains that you want.

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