On this page, I'll present a 3 day, 5x5 full body workout routine for intermediate and advanced weight lifters.
Full body training is generally most effective for beginners (see my full body workout routine for beginners). For more experienced lifters, however, it may or may not be the best choice.
Sometimes intermediate and advanced trainees are better off doing weight lifting routines with overall higher volume and less training frequency per body part per week (e.g. a 4 day upper body/lower body split routine, where you hit each body part 2x/week).
Why? Well, full body routines entail hitting each body part 3x/week, which is considered high frequency training. Experienced trainees often need more days of rest between training the same muscles because they've developed the strength and endurance to "damage" an extent that it could hinder proper recovery on a high frequency routine.
Also, lower frequency routines allow for specialization, making it easy to focus on and improve lagging body parts or weak lifts. You can't really do this with full body routines.
However, intermediates and advanced trainees can benefit greatly from full body training if...
- They are focusing on strength development.
- The routine is set up intelligently, with the correct volume, intensity and progression.
- The training is periodized, allowing for cycles of heavy training and deloading.
Intermediate and Advanced 5x5 Full Body Workout Routine – Template
|Week 1||Workout A||Workout B||Workout A|
|Week 2||Workout B||Workout A||Workout B|
|Workout A||Workout B|
|Squat - 5 x 5||Deadlift - 5 x 5|
|Bench Press - 5 x 5||Overhead Press - 5 x 5|
|Bent Over Row - 5 x 5||Weighted Pull Up - 5 x 5|
|Dumbbell Lunge - 2 x 8-10||Weighted Triceps Dip - 2 x 8-10|
|Weighted Crunches - 3 x 10-12||Weighted Hyperextensions - 2 x 10-12|
Intermediate and Advanced 5x5 Full Body Workout Routine – Guidelines
Follow these guidelines to get the best results from the above routine template:
Do a complete warm up routine before each workout. You shouldn't need more than 2 warm up sets for your first lift, since you get warmed up in the first couple of sets since you'll be gradually ramping the weight up.
Do at 1-2 warm up for each main lift after that. Just make sure that you don't fatigue your muscles on the warm up sets.
Rest Time Between Sets
For the 5x5 lifts, rest 1-2 minutes after the relatively easy sets (sets 1-3), and 2-4 minutes after relatively difficult sets (sets 4-5).
Rest 1.5-2 minutes between sets for the assistance lifts (dips, lunges, crunches and hyperextensions).
Weight & Progression
You will ramp up the weight on the 5x5 exercises (i.e. the 1st set is lightest, 2nd set is heavier and so on until the 5th and heaviest set).
First, you must know your approximate 5-rep max for each 5x5 lift (use this calculator to estimate).
On week 1, the fifth set for each 5x5 lift should be 90% of your 5-rep max. The first set of each 5x5 lift should be 50% of the fifth set. The weights used for second, third and forth sets should be equally spaced between weights used for first and fifth sets. I'll give an example of how to do these simple calculations, below:
Example: If your 5-rep max for squat is 300 lbs, then your 5th set should be 270 lbs (300 x 90% = 270) and your first set should be 135 (270 x 50% = 135). The first, second and third sets should be approx. 170 lbs, 205 lbs and 240 lbs, respectively.
Now that you have week 1 figured out for each 5x5 lift, the rest is simple. Increase each set by 2.5% every 5 or 9 days, on Mondays or Wednesdays only. That may sound confusing so let me explain, below:
If you add weight on a Monday workout, then you should increase the weight for those lifts again on the following Wednesday, 9 days later; and if you add weight on a Wednesday workout, then you should increase the weight for those lifts again on the following Monday, 5 days later – since we're dealing with an alternating A/B schedule, this averages out to increasing the weight for each workout every 7 days, over the long-term).
Eventually, adding weight will become too difficult. Going back 2 weeks, every 6-8 weeks (or until your progress plateaus), will encourage relatively consistent progress and help to avoid long plateaus.
For the assistance lifts (i.e. dips, lunges, crunches, hyperextensions), the protocol is simpler: Using the same weight for each set, stop within 2-3 reps of failure on the last set (it's okay to fail). Add weight as often as you can.