Confessions of a Squataholic Part 2

April 13, 2015


Results never come easy and choosing the right program can be confusing. One of the more popular routines for strength and size is the classic 5 x 5, “go big or go home plan”. However, is it all that its cracked up to be?


We asked Renegade Training Founder, John Davies, about the secrets of 5 x 5 and the Modern way:




“There is likely no more constant training approach than the 5 x 5 and with good reason; it has a reputation for producing results. However, if there is a secret to a 5 x 5 approach it isn’t in the precise numbers, but in its simplicity and how it motivates individuals to make use of compound movements with relatively high demands.


Part of the reason why 5 x 5 is successful is due to the ease of remembering the routine as opposed to say ascending and descending pyramids that vary from 75 to 90% (a great seven set routine that invariably leads to errors in the heat of training). Clearly, a 5 x 5 with intensity at or near the 85% of a one rep max steers the individual to more intense workouts and adds to the edict of lifting big.


Yet the greatest benefit from my experience of a 5 x 5 routine is ushering users towards compound movements; the cornerstone of the iron game with the Squat, Push, Pull, and Press. This is the true ballast of the program as it directs users to movements that use the greatest muscular stimulation in the shortest period of time. It works because you work and there is no wasted time.


However, in an effort to return to B2B (back to basics) with a 5 x 5 routine, many tend to over-simplify and see results lag over time as training lacks required variation to shock muscular growth. This is answered quickly with subtle changes to style and approach to the classic lifts; Squat, Push, Pull, and Press, as small changes can create a great responses.


Variations may be slight but they are enough for a pronounced training effect with likely no better example than the squat. The solution is simply variation; not within a large training cycle, but in a daily session that turns a 5 x 5 into a highly challenging giant set at high intensity. This Modern approach to the classic 5 x 5 routine will effectively guarantee that adaptation is not in the future and it will shift every training session into over-drive.


Modern 5 x 5 Squat Routine


From Renegade Training founder John Davies


Each movement is performed with 85% of your one-rep max and followed immediately with 10 Burpees (or Russian-Split Jumps) as a super-set. Given training loads are at 85%, you may require a few sets to move towards working sets.


  • Squat (classic bodybuilding style, feet shoulder-width apart)
  • Barbell Hack Squats
  • Front Squats 1½
  • Jefferson Squats
  • Bulgarian Squats


As with each training session, conclude with walking lunges to the tune of 5 sets of 50 steps.


Alternative Workout from TEAM USPlabs


  • Front Squat 5×5
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts 5×5
  • One Leg Squat (On to bench or box) 5×5
  • Barbell Step-Ups 5×5


USPlabs Barbell Club


Prepared by John Davies


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.


The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.

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