Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Program

With myriads of workout programs available online, beginners often tend to get confused about the workout plans that would fetch them optimal results. In such a scenario, it is often recommended to go with an old-school workout program.

When it comes to old school workout programs, the Bill Starr’s Beginner 5 x 5 program, still stands tall amongst others. It has been ideally designed for beginners to lay a solid foundation that can take their strength to the level they are expecting or even beyond that. Let’s have a rundown of Bill Starr’s Beginner 5 x 5 routine.

Program Overview

Bill Starr 5x5 Beginner Program

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When it comes to various books that have been written with a prime focus on weight training, the book named “The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football” written by Bill Starr in 1976, holds a prominent spot. This book is still relevant, even after more than 40 years of its publishing, in terms of the training protocols presented in it. Bill Starr was a renowned weightlifter in the 1960s. He, later on, became a coach in the field of strength and conditioning along with being a high-profile author and editor.

Bill Starr’s Beginner 5 x 5 routine is simple but really very effective. It is designed for beginners who have just entered into the arena of lifting weights to gain overall muscle size and enhance their overall physical strength. Bill Starr was of the opinion that performing the basic compound lifts are sufficient to pack on a decent level of muscle mass on one hand and on the other hand it also provides a foundation for overall strength gains.

Bill Starr’s beginner 5 x 5 program includes back squats and bench press that are performed three times a week with a heavy day, a light day, and a medium day. For targeting the back muscles, he included one vertical pulling movement, one horizontal pulling movement, and one hip hinge movement for training the lower back. Deadlifts, being a strength-enhancing movement were included on the heavy days, pull-ups were included on the light days, and barbell rowing was included on the medium days. These days were divided on the basis of certain percentages of 1RM on the basic lifts. The days were divided into heavy, light, and medium days in the workout plan to promote both strength gains and hypertrophy.

Bill Starr Beginner 5×5 Routine

Bill Starr 5x5 beginner routine

Exercises

Sets x Reps

Monday (Heavy Day >85%)

Back Squats

5 x 5 (You will be ramping up weights to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets)

Bench Press

5 x 5 (You will be ramping up weights to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets)

Deadlifts

5 x 5 (You will be ramping up weights to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets)

Wednesday (Light Day – <70%)

Back Squats

5 x 5 (You will be using 60% of the weight that you lifted on Monday)

Bench Press

5 x 5 (You will be using 60% of the weight that you lifted on Monday)

Pullups

5 x 5 (You will be ramping up weights to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets)

Friday (Medium Day – 70-85%)

Back Squats

5 x 5 (You will be using 80% of the weight that you lifted on Monday)

Bench Press

5 x 5 (You will be using 80% of the weight that you lifted on Monday)

Barbell Rows

5 x 5 (You will be ramping up weights to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets)

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Ramping Weights

The list presented below will give you a clear idea about the beginner’s program and how you should progress with the sets on each heavy, light, and medium day. Let’s have a look at it.

Monday (Heavy)

  • Set 1- 85% of target weight
  • Set 2- 90% of target weight
  • Set 3- 95% of target weight
  • Set 4- 95% of target weight
  • Set 5- Target Weight

Wednesday (Light)

  • Set 1- 60% of target weight
  • Set 2- 60% of target weight
  • Set 3- 60% of target weight
  • Set 4- 65% of target weight
  • Set 5- 65% of target weight

Friday (Medium)

  • Set 1- 70% of target weight
  • Set 2- 75% of target weight
  • Set 3- 80% of target weight
  • Set 4- 85% of target weight
  • Set 5- 85% of target weight

(You can also choose to perform 1 set each of leg curl and the leg extension with 20 reps and 10 reps respectively.)

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Progression

Under this program, if you are able to complete all the reps for the given number of sets for all the lifts, you would be increasing the weight by 2.5% in the coming week. This takes into consideration the main principle of progressive resistance weight training.

Deloading

The deloading phase helps in breaking plateaus. By deloading the weights to the ones you were lifting 4 weeks back (10%), your muscles create more momentum which enables you to demolish newer obstructions.

Conclusion

The Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5 Program has stood the test of time and it works perfectly fine for beginners provided they keep their diet and overall routine on point. Owing to its nature, this workout plan provides the beginners with both strength and size gains that they can carry forward to the intermediate level.

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