More on the 5 x 5 System
Hi John,

I’ve been using the 5×5 system as my ‘base workout’ for a number of years now.
Whenever things slowed down a bit, I did one (or more) of the following variations.

1.) Reduce the frequency of the workouts. i.e. from 3 times a week to 2, or even
2 workouts one week and just 1 the following week. This was usually enough to spark
continuing progress.

2.) Keep the weight the same on the final working 5th set, but focus on adding reps.
When able to add 2 or 3 more reps with that weight, return to 5×5 and continue
with advancing the weight on that last 5th set.

3.) Take a week off and begin a 5,4,3,2,1 rep scheme with the higher weights this
would allow. Start with 3 workouts per week. When progress slows, I would apply
one (or both) of the above strategies, or return to a straight 5×5 program and
go on from there as before.

These very simple adjustments have kept my progress steadily chugging
along. Using this method I accomplished two main goals that I had set a year ago
in hopes of achieving them by my 65th birthday. One of them was to get my working
set on deadlifts to double bodyweight (360), and my squats over 300 on my 5th set.
I managed to achieve both ahead of schedule by 6 weeks.

I know these poundages don’t mean much compared to younger
and bigger men, but having reachable goals that can be measured from
workout to workout keeps me encouraged and reaping the related benefits.
What I find especially interesting is continuing to make improvements in
performance at an age where I’m also collecting my old age pension.
Geez, whoda thought?

All the Best,

Michael Dumas

Really excellent stuff, Michael. One of the keys to successful training is to always have plenty of options. In this case, when one program goes stale, just switch to the next and keep moving forward, but clearly you are already doing that. Keep it up!

Train hard,
John Wood

P.S. The 5×5 system is the “go to” for a number of strength champions through the years.
Reg Park, for example, used it to win the Mr. Universe title multiple times. You can read more about Reg’s training in his great course Strength and Bulk Training. You’ll also find the 5×5 program discussed in greater detail in several of Brooks Kubik’s books, including “Gray Hair and Black Iron” and “Strength, Muscle and Power.”