Unconventional 5×5

Everyone knows and loves 5×5, with good reason too.

The 5×5 routine was one that Reg Park used with great success, not to mention Bill Starr and a great many others.

As with anything everyone has their own unique tweaks that put in to play on this basic but brilliant program, each of which work well, here are some examples:

  • 5×5 at set working weight
  • 5×5 – 2×5 warm up (60-80% of working weight) 3×5 at working weight
  • 5×5 – 4 warm up sets to 1 all out set of 5
  • 5×5 – Friday Max out day, working to 1×5 all out, Monday 5×5 at 80% Fridays weight, Wednesday 2×5 at 70-80% Fridays weight
  • Typically the main aim is to hit 25 heavy reps, 80-85% of 1RM is typical.

There are countless more methods and today I would like to give you one that I utilise using extended sets, this will help you improve maximal strength and trigger hypertrophy.

Extended Set 5×5 – Using a harder movement with sub-maximal loading followed by an easier one movement. All total reps add up to the classic 25.

  • 5×2/3

For example:

A1 Extended Set – Front Squat/Squat – 5×2, rack then change bar position, Squat x3 at same weight.

Back Off Set 5×5 – As above, harder vacation of the lift followed by an easier one.

  • 5×2 + 3×5


A1 – FS 5×2 – B1 Squat 3×5 starting at same weight and increasing as necessary.

High Rep Back Off Set 5×5

  • 5×2 + 15


A1 – 5×2 – B1 Squat 1×15 at the FS weight.

^^ Not classic 5×5 but the 25 rep goal is still hit.

There is nothing magical about these rep/set schemes, they’re just options for you to try.



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