Bill Starr’s 5×5 Intermediate Routine

It is often said that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle. If you want to put on size, it is imperative that you would be required to lift heavy. Once your body gets comfortable with lifting heavier weights, putting on mass and size would be an easy road for you. Bill Starr took this concept and designed his 5×5 routine for intermediate lifters. Here we will provide you with an elaborated overview about the Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate Routine.

The Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate Program is a simple workout plan but at the same time, it’s sufficiently challenging. It facilitates systematic progression that aids in enhancing the gains and increasing the core lifts. Let’s have a rundown about the specificity of the program and its progressions.

Program Overview

Bill Starr 5 x 5 Intermediate Routine

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Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate Program is laid on the concept of weekly linear progression. Under this workout plan, you take your current 5 rep maxes, and then you train your way up increasing the weight systematically over 3-4 weeks. After hitting your current 5RM on certain compound lifts, you continue with the incremental increases on the lifts every week. It further strengthens yourself to increase your weight on those lifts, thereby setting up new PRs every week. You will be taking 2-5 minutes of rest in between your sets. If a certain set gets too taxing to complete, you can take 5 minutes of rest afterward.

You continue with this trend until your major compound lifts get stalled. In case you start missing up the reps, you continue with the same weight in the coming weeks until you are able to complete 5 sets of 5 reps with that much weight.

When you start stalling on the majority of lifts, you will reset the program, lower back several weeks and will restart.

Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate Program

Bill Starr 5 x 5 Intermediate Program

BILL STARR 5×5 INTERMEDIATE PROGRAM

Exercises

Sets x Reps

Details

MONDAY

Squat

5 x 5

You would be ramping up the weight to top set of 5

(It should be equal to the weight that you lifted on previous Friday’s heavy triple)

Bench Press

5 x 5

You would be ramping up the weight to top set of 5

(It should be equal to the weight that you lifted on previous Friday’s heavy triple)

Barbell Rows

5 x 5

You would be ramping up the weight to top set of 5

(It should be equal to the weight that you lifted on previous Friday’s heavy triple)

Assistance work: 2 sets of weighted hyperextensions will be performed along with 4 sets of weighted sit-ups.

WEDNESDAY

Squat

4 x 5

The first 3 sets will be the same as performed on Monday, the 4th set would comprise repeating the 3rd set.

Incline press or military press

4 x 5

You would be ramping up the weights to the top set of 5.

Deadlift

4 x 5

You would be ramping up the weights to the top set of 5.

Assistance work: 3 sets of sit-ups

FRIDAY

Squat

4 x 5

The first 4 sets will be the same as performed on Monday.

1 x 3

The second set with 3 reps will be performed with a weight that is 2.5% greater than your Monday top set of 5.

1 x 8

You will be using the weight from the 3rd set for performing a final set of 8 reps.

Bench Press

4 x 5

The first 4 sets will be the same as performed on Monday.

1 x 3

The second set with 3 reps will be performed with a weight that is 2.5% greater than your Monday top set of 5.

1 x 8

You will be using the weight from the 3rd set for performing a final set of 8 reps.

Barbell Rows

4 x 5

The first 4 sets will be the same as performed on Monday.

1 x 3

The second set with 3 reps will be performed with a weight that is 2.5% greater than your Monday top set of 5.

1 x 8

You will be using the weight from the 3rd set for performing a final set of 8 reps.

Assistance work: 3 sets of weighted dips performed for 5-8 reps, 3 sets of barbell curls performed for 8 reps, and 3 sets of tricep extensions performed for 8 reps.

Ramping Weights

The ramping of weights under the Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate Workout Program can be done by taking leaps between 10%-15% per set that is based on your top set. To figure this out in an easier manner, you can choose to go with 10% and 15% for your top set and then track backwards to the other sets. You can understand this from the below-mentioned list.

Assume your top set weighs 100 lbs. Mathematically, its 10% and 15% will be 10 lbs and 15 lbs respectively. Taking that into consideration, your progressions will be like this:-

  • 5th set- 5 reps performed with 100 lbs
  • 4th set- 5 reps performed with 90 lbs
  • 3rd set- 5 reps performed with 80 lbs
  • 2nd set- 5 reps performed with 70 lbs
  • 1st set- 5 reps performed with 60 lbs.

Don’t miss:

Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Program
StrongLifts 5×5 Workout Program
Madcow 5×5 Program

Progression

The progression that takes place under this training protocol is weekly increases of 2.5% of your top set of 5 that you perform on Monday.

For instance, if on Monday you perform 100 lbs for 5 reps on your top set, then on Friday, you would be performing your lifting with 102.5 lbs for 3 reps. You will then lift 102.5 lbs for your heavy set of 5 on the coming Monday. Then on Friday, you will be performing 3 reps with a weight of 105 lbs. Talking about Wednesdays that don’t include squats, you will increase the percentages by 2.5% every week.

The percentage-wise progression of 2.5% made every week might seem a not-so significant increase but think about it, when it will get compounded, you would be setting up a new PR that would be over 10% of your previous record and that too in just 8 weeks. The table given below will show you what your percentage increase will look like after successfully completing 15 weeks on the workout plan.

Week

Percentage increase over the current personal record (%)

4

0.00%

5

2.50%

6

5.06%

7

7.69%

8

10.38%

9

13.14%

10

15.97%

11

18.87%

12

21.84%

13

24.89%

14

28.01%

15

31.21%

Deloading

If you follow the above-mentioned training protocol for a longer period of time, your strength levels will hit a plateau. You will start noticing a stagnation or decline in your lifting capacity. To tackle this scenario, deloading is done by decreasing 10% weights to promote recovery and recuperation which thereby results in enhancing your overall lifting performance.

Final Words

The Bill Starr 5×5 Intermediate workout routine is perfectly designed to suit the requirements of intermediate lifters without getting them overly trained. All you need to do is to keep a check on your nutrition and daily routine, and you can surely expect to reap the best out of this old-school workout plan.

Related:

Jason Blaha’s Ice Cream Fitness 5×5 Novice & Intermediate Workout Program
4 Day Intermediate Full Body Workout Plan for Mass
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Greyskull LP (GSLP) Program Spreadsheet