I was just wondering what you guys think about the 5x5 programs out there specifically Bill Starr’s

I think it’s a great program for intermediate athletes (mostly) but like any training method, it requires refinement at the individual level. Did you have any specific questions about it?

cursivearmy, 5x5 should be a good plan for a while. What particular exercises do you have in mind? What are the goals of your training?

Mauro diPasquali was a big believer in this method and used it a lot when he set his Powerlifting records.

Dr. DiPasquali was certainly extensive in his training. I remember reading on the Supertraining group recently that he would also perform squats twice (as an exercise, not as a number of sets) in his training program. I’ll see if I can find the posting.

I do believe that for some individuals, 5 intense reps can be difficult (especially the more to the left an athlete is in terms of fiber distribution). It’s damn near strength-endurance for some.

Wrong Abstract. I’ll see if I can find it.

I’m sure he wasn’t using 5 x 5 in the late stages.

One of the quickest thing the body adapt’s too is rep range and doing the same exercise repeatedly over a period of time - so 5 x 5 will work like anything for a period of time.

And it all depend’s what response you want from your strength program e.g. my rugby players have to produce a lot of force repeatedly throughout a game - so I normally pick one big bang exercise and do 10 x 1-3 reps e.g. of C & J and the next session could be 8 x 3-5 Snatches I find they concentrate so much better when they only have to focus on one exercise especially in season.

Yes, within the primary lifts, you can (and eventually will have to) further divide emphasis by session as long as the concentration numbers don’t exceed the regular lifting numbers by so much that adaptation stress sneaks in where you don’t expect it.

I’ve always believed that the ideal rep range is dependent on the athletes ‘repetition - intensity pyramid’. An athlete who can perform 10 reps at 80% (the commonly agreed intensity necessary to achieve strength increases) on a given exercise may well benefit from performing 5 rep sets. From my experience however there is be a tendency for this pyramid to become steeper with training age. An elite Olympic lifter for example might only be able to perform 3 - 5 reps at 80%.

Using lower repetition numbers allows a greater range of intensities to be utilised without lifting to failure. As I have stated several times I believe this is to be avoided unless one is testing a given repetition maximum (of course an elite OL will likely lift to maximum more frequently).

As a foot note I also tend to adhere to Prilepins optimum rep ranges at a given intensity. 5x5 (25 reps) significantly exceeds the advised maximum rep number at 80%.

Power - I think your volumes are far too high (again refer to Prilepin’s charts)

In regards to 10 x 3 for my players only the last 3-4 sets are around 90 - 100 %

Agree re steepness of the lifting pyramid as you go along though I’ve found that the pyramid is less steep for sprinters.

I see the C and J numbers range from 8 to 24 but the snatch nos are higher, so I assume the percentages are relatively lower. What is the relative percentage difference and also how many lifts above 80% in a particular lift?

Would the numbers in the snatch need to be lower than the numbers in the clean & jerk due to the technical elements and speed of the snatch?

And when talking about 5x5’s are talking about flat loading? or undulating?

I thought this might enlightening, as it’s from the man him self…

"Hi Nick,

Just thought I’d send you a note about my training. In the 2 decades that I lifted competitively I tried an endless number of training regimens to see what would work best for me and for others that I trained with. That included working out heavy on the three lifts every day but Sunday for several weeks. The result – I didn’t get injured but I also didn’t get any stronger.

I finally settled on three routines that worked best for me. After a competition I would rest up for a week or so and then get into an overall training regimen that was meant to work the whole body and build up some muscle mass. One of the best regimens I followed was the 4 day split routine (done during 4 consecutive days with 3 days of rest before hitting it again) that I’ve attached. I followed this routine for 4 to 6 weeks. Using this routine I gained a fair amount of muscle mass everywhere.

I then went to the strength phase of my training for about 10 weeks, plus or minus a few weeks depending on the competition I was aiming for. This phase allowed me to build tremendous amounts of strength and functional muscle mass. I did 2 workouts every 10 days, one heavy, then 5 days later a light one and then 5 days later a heavy one again. The heavy ones were about 4 hours long and consisted of descending reps with increasing weight, to a max for that day. I did most of the workouts following this sequence, with all of the lifts taken to a max single or two: squats, benches, incline benches, deadlifts, bent over rowing using straps, and then I’d do the squat routine again, going max for the second time that workout. The only gear I used was knee wraps and a belt, both used in a more relaxed way than during competitions.

Five days later I did a light workout that only took an hour or so to do – 5 sets of 5 reps in the squat, bench press and deadlift. I concentrated on form and technique and didn’t increase the weight until I could finish all 5 sets. And 5 days later I did the heavy 4 hour workout again. I found that these two workouts complimented each other to the point that I was able to maximize my functional muscle mass.

The next phase was the pre-competition phase in which I maximized my strength, while minimizing my body fat levels. I concentrated on doubles and singles in the squat, bench press and deadlift. Every week in this phase I did one heavy day that included about a half dozen singles to my max (after about 4 warm-up sets), with no assistance exercises on the heavy day, and one lighter day, again doing singles mainly for form, along with some assistance exercises. On both days I used the same gear and used this gear the same way that I was going to use in the competition. This meant very tight wraps on the knees and a heavier belt that was tight around the waist. I never used the squat suits or bench shirts when I was competing.

You can post this information if you like.

Best regards,



For anyone looking for more information on any of the 5x5 programs, check out this page (TONS of info, and even a link to Charlie’s HIT article):


Personally, I like the modifications that Rippitoe & Pendlay have made to Starr’s original program.