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5x5 question...

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  • 5x5 question...

    I came across this article:

    That states that pyramid sets are bad for strength gains and are more geared towards putting on mass. It instead says - in so many words - that 5x5 sets are better for strength and will not add mass (or not as much as pyramid sets)

    I'm looking to gain strength but not add too much mass. I'm aware that to add mass at all I'd need to be at a calorie surplus, and currently I'm not, but I do have a question about the workout itself.

    I've watched some videos and it seems that weight is increased at every set, so wouldn't that in essence be pyramid sets? OR is the pyramid where you progressively go down in reps as you go up in weight?

    Should my 5th set be the max I do currently on a pyramid set? Lets say if I'm doing bicep curls with a bar, my current max is 70lbs which I can do for 6 reps, should I start at 30lbs do 5 reps, then go 40, 50, 60, 70? 5 reps each?

    Another question is how many different exercises per body part should I do? currently I do 2 or 3 depending on the muscle group, can I still do the same using 5x5?

    Thanks in advance guys, I'm new around here but learning lots everyday. I appreciate all the input.

    I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

  • #2

    In order to gain muscle you need to move a large amount of weight with a high volume. Either of the loading parameters you mention can produce muscle gains given enough weight and appropriate exercises for each body part. If you do 5x5 or pyramid sets (which is incredibly vague; you could be pyramidding with reps in the 10s that will do nearly nothing for size or with 1-5 reps which will give vastly different results) for a squat-deadlift-push-pull workout and leave it at that, you're unlikely to see any decent size gains due to the minimal volume, but you can certainly see great strength gains.


    • #3

      Your body will respond in different ways to the strength-training stimulus depending on how much you eat. If you eat a large surplus of calories, your body will get stronger by putting on more muscle. If you eat normally, your body will increase its neurological efficiency by recruiting more muscle fibers (you only use about 30% at any given time). This is "wiry strength," and it is the reason a 165 pound person can deadlift upwards of 600 pounds without turning into a bear.

      I've done pyramid sets before where the reps increased but the weight stayed the same; i.e. pullups at 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, etc. I have also done pyramids where the weight increased or decreased but the reps stayed the same. You can structure a pyramid in any given way and it should stimulate muscle growth if that is what you are looking for.

      I only do two exercises per workout: deadlift and overhead press/bench press alternating. You can do basically anything with 5x5 but you're just going to get tired if you do too many exercises. I just do the same workout every day of the week and rest on the weekends. You can do a full body split or upper/lower split, which would look something like:


      Deadlit 5x5

      Squat 5x5


      Barbell Row: 5x5

      Overhed Press or Bench Press 5x5

      Pull ups 3xF

      Dips 3xF

      Anything more than that it basically wasting your time IMO. Beginners will gain strength with any program, you only need many exercises if you're an idiotic body builder who needs the "pump" and must do hundreds of curls every day. You don't sound that way so stick to the basics.


      • #4

        Muscular/neurological adaptation to strength training is not dependent upon caloric intake. It is dependent upon training stimulus.


        • #5

          Iniquity - visit for the info on 5 X 5's. Mark recommends them for gaining mass. As I understand it, you want to warm up with a few sets and then do all 5 sets of 5 reps at one weight. The next time you add 5 lbs. and continue doing so until you hit the ceiling. Then you back off 10% of your weight and begin again. Not too far off from a periodized schedule of sorts. Low reps means heavier weights means major training stimulus. Pair that with increased calories and you should gain mass and strength.