ACCUMULATION VS INTENSIFICATION
As a reminder, we rotate our strength blocks between two central themes:
We're finishing the first accumulation block of 2020 where the theme was Advanced German Volume Training, where the primary focus to effectively build endurance and improve our work capacities. The improvements will be seen in the next strength block immediately.
For Strength Block #2 of 2020, we are shifting gears and heading into an intensification block. The theme of this intensification block is the 5x5. It will take us 4 weeks to go through this strength block cycle.
THE HISTORY OF 5X5
THE 5X5 IS FOCUSED ON THE BIG THREE MOVEMENTS: SQUAT, BENCH AND DEADLIFT WITH THE PROGRAM DIVIDED INTO HEAVY, MODERATE AND LIGHT VERSIONS.
March's King Strength and Performance strength block is the famous 5x5, a program invented by strength and conditioning legend and pioneer Bill Starr.
Bill Starr landed on the set and rep scheme because he thought it was the perfect balance of volume and intensity that would develop muscular size and strength at the same time.
For some historical context, Starr designed this program at the time when most of his athletes and lifters worked full-time, manual labor jobs outside of training. They'd do hard labor in factories and then after work, they had to go to the gym to train.
Starr had to be strategic with program design to get the most results for his athletes. By trial and error, he realized what we adapt to is the most important. And that it's not about how much one can do, but about how much one can sustainably handle.
His methods became something of a legend and ushered a whole new world of strength and conditioning that took deep roots in all aspects of the physical culture.
WHAT MAKES THE 5X5 SPECIAL?
The 5x5 program split is three separate days focused on the big three: Squat, Bench and Deadlift. The program is broken up into a heavy, moderate and light version.
This is important because it was one of the first great attempts to look at pattern development from a movement perspective and performance perspective. On one hand, you need a certain level of exposure to master the movement. On the other hand, you need a certain amount of intensity to perform optimally in the movement.
But if you push one exercise everyday at maximal intensity, you will break (which we imagine was a product of learning this the hard way). There has to be proper manipulation and variability in training intensity to accommodate proper recovery.
HERE'S HOW THE 5x5 PROGRAM WORKS
The 5x5 program has three days that start with a heavy version of Squat, Bench or Deadlift followed by a moderate version of Squat, Bench or Deadlift, followed again by a light version of Squat, Bench or Deadlift.
You push the weight as heavy as you can on each for 5 sets of 5 reps but the weight is deloaded based on the rage of motion, vector, distance from center of gravity, joints involved, and balance required.