The Magic 5

Some say number are the secret to unlocking the universe, if this is indeed the case then I believe the secret for a great many things can be found stowed away in the number 5.

Let me explain why.

When I look back at many of the great lifters of yesteryear such as Reg Park, Steve Stanko, Dough Hepburn, Steve Reeves, Arthur Saxon and many others of that time period they had a common theme in their training.

What was the common theme?

In their early days they all believed in the power of building their strength in the 5RM range (they did use 10-20 for legs on some occasions, but 5 was a staple too). If you are to build your strength and increase your 5RM then all of your other maxes go up as well. This number seems to hold the mythical middle ground that allows for good progression in both strength and hypertrophy because of the amount of weight you can lift along with the ability to add sets easily.

Obviously it is not to say ht the other rep ranges aren’t without their merits, however pushing out solid 5’s seems to be where the most progress is often found for the majority of people. 5 is a good building number, for weight on the bar and volume (sets).

How can you apply this to your training? Easily it the answer. Here is an example:

*All % are based off of 1RM. All working sets are done after warm ups. AMRAP = as many reps as possible.

Week 1 – 1x5x80%, 1x5x77%, 1x5x75%, 1x5x72%, 1x5x70%+ Back Off Set AMRAP x60%

Week 2 – 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x77%, 1x5x75%, 1x5x72%+ Back Off Set AMRAP x60%

Week 3 – 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x77%, 1x5x75%+ Back Off Set AMRAP x60%

Week 4 – 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x77%+ Back Off Set AMRAP x60%

Week 5 – 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%, 1x5x80%+ Back Off Set AMRAP x60%

After this 5 weeks you would then incase the weight on your 5RM by either 2.5/5kg, perhaps 10kg if you’re some kind of super human and then workout your subsequent % for the other sets accordingly and start the process above again.

If we said in week one your 1RM was 100kg that would make the first 1×5 80kg and your last 1×5 70kg. After hitting 5x5x80kg you may increase the weight by 5kg and have the first set being 1x5x85kg and the next sets decreasing in weight (82.5,80,77.5) until the last 1×5 is at 75kg. Make sense?

The general idea is to build your strength, sets and overall volume on your 5’s and in doing so you will notice that everything else gets stronger. The AMRAP set is simply to further stimulate hypertrophy and you will be looking at hitting 15-20 reps unbroken not his set with your prescribed weight.

You could do this on a one body part per day routine, or a simple upper lower split, perhaps a pull-push-legs. It’s entirely up to you and what you can fit in your training schedule. I would personally advice doing the following:

Day 1 – Squat, Press, Pull Up, Ab Roll Out – 3x fail

Day 2 – Deadlift, Bench, Bent Over Row, Hanging Leg Raise – 3xfail

Day 3 – Light Cardio or Off

Day 4/5 repeat days 1/2

Day 6/7 – Light Cardio or Off.

Keep the Week 1 Guideline for both sessions, it will help as a double progression method, meaning you will have confidently hit your desired weights/targets twice before adding that next set of 5 at 80%.

Now go, lift, progress and get the results you deserve.




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