Bill Starr - Glenn Pendlay 5x5 (madcow's version); For Advanced Lifters.

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Bill Starr - Glenn Pendlay 5x5

Periodized Version for Advanced Lifters

Intro to Periodization

(Veel meer informatie over deze routines ku je hier vinden;


1. Introduction

2. History

3. Usage

4. Core Description and Tables

A. Volume/Loading Phase Weeks 1-4

B1. Option 1: Deload and Peak 3x3 Weeks 5-9

B2. Option 2: Pure Deload

5. Other Pertinent Information



Okay, this is a simple program - the problem is that people have very little experience setting something like this up so we now have a giant document and all kinds of crap to answer the questions that most often arise (even some of the most inane ones). This is simple, effective, and very direct training. You will see how simple it is after you do it once but people seem to do a lot better with a surplus of information than a deficit so this is a very comprehensive piece that should answer just about everything.


This program and variants have been making the rounds on the internet for a few years now. Variations have been made for specific lifters, it’s been rehashed and re-explained by various people ranging from your standard guy who had a lot of success with it all the way to some fairly high level coaches in multiple sports using it on their athletes or using it to illustrate periodization. It’s been cut/pasted into articles, internet forums, interviews, etc… Heck I've put it out there a lot and tried to give credit to every source I could locate as I was able but still my name wound up getting attached to it even though I was pretty clear that this was not a program I designed. This version here is one that I've tweaked a bit in an effort to make it more accessible to the variety of people using a program like this for the first time (i.e. trying to set it up to be as tolerable as possible). All that said the real origins stretch back fairly far but for practical application there are three primary sources who are responsible for it’s popularity over the most recent 30 years: Bill Starr, Glenn Pendlay, and Mark Rippetoe.

Bill Starr: This is a variation of Bill Starr's classic 5x5. Bill is without doubt one of the best strength coaches ever, serving at multiple universities, pro teams – including the Super Bowl 1970 Colts, and holding records in both PL and OL. His articles are frequently reprinted in Milo, have appeared in Ironman for years (they might still be in there periodically), and are generally all over the strength and conditioning world. His book on training for football, 'The Strongest Shall Survive', is a classic for coaches, players, and any strength athlete - you can pick it up at Ironmind.

Glenn Pendlay: An accomplished powerlifter and Olympic weightlifter in his own right and a fantastic strength coach, Glenn has found his real calling training and developing others. He founded and serves as the head coach for Wichita Falls Weightlifting – which he has quickly turned into one of the best teams in the nation. He is also the coach of the MSU weightlifting team, head coach of a Regional Olympic Development Center. Coming to OL relatively late he still managed to snatch 170 kilos (375lbs), cleaned 210kilos (463lbs), push pressed 200 kilos (440lbs), and military pressed within a few pounds of 400 on multiple occasions. You can learn more about him in his interview.

Mark Rippetoe: Owner of Wichita Falls Athletic Club, co-author of Starting Strength, is well known for his outrageous success in adding muscular bodyweight to new lifters (30-40lbs in 4-6 months being fairly typical). Has trained countless lifters over the years. Link to his interview.

For those interested in a more full overview of how Mark and Glenn typically train their athletes this is a solid piece to read: Pendlay/Rippetoe Programing


This program and variations are very much in common use all over the place even being common to elite athletes in various sports. This program is very effective at increasing strength and lean body mass, it focuses on the core lifts that drive full body hypertrophy and getting those lifts up as quickly as possible. There is little isolation work and what is generally used is targeted and specific, not the typical shotgun array of ‘let’s do everything and the kitchen sink’ that serves mainly to dilute a program’s effectiveness. Solve problems as they arise, do not waste time trying to preempt every possible future issue one can imagine. Most people who haven’t trained like this tend to be pretty amazed that the body grows very proportionately all on it’s own from a small assortment of compound lifts. The idea is you do a few things and get systematically better at them over time, don’t try to do everything all at once. Focus on what matters most and remove all the garbage so you can do it a lot and get really good.

People have had a lot of success using something like this while cutting. I have seen a number of reports of people keeping bodyweight constant, losing body fat, and increasing in most relevant measurements (chest, thigh, arms) so that says something. If you are close to a weight class limit you’ll need to be very careful. All that said, this program will make you strong but if you want to put on muscle there absolutely must be caloric excess. Read my piece on caloric excess if you haven’t already, more people screw this up than anything else. This program has gotten results for 30 years and still continues to get excellent results from bodybuilders, strength athletes, or those looking for better performance. It is a very good method of getting big and strong. In addition, specific to bodybuilding it breaks a lot of the typical voodoo myths running around like “training a muscle 1x per week is required for recovery” or that “isolation work is required or one will develop all out of proportion”. This program is about simple training and results. However, there is a ton of science behind it and one would do well to familiarize themselves with dual factor theory and the properly used concepts of volume, frequency, intensity, and workload. There is more to training than simply going into the gym, getting under a bar, and working hard hoping to come back better. So by running this program one gets gains and learns at the same time, sort of a "teach a man to fish..."

This program is not ideally done as a “cookie-cutter” but should be tailored to the experience level of the trainee. It is setup here for an experienced lifter who is completely familiar with the core lifts and is beginning periodization (i.e. with experience making week to week record progress becomes less and less a reality for all lifters over time so this would be a balanced version to use) . For most people unfamiliar with this style of training, which is a lot more taxing than doing a bunch of isolation work, it’s a good starting point. Some might find that they can be more aggressive with the weights and load harder, some might need more volume, some might find themselves doing really well in the volume phase and realizing that a single factor program with more emphasis on frequency and the core lifts is what might work best as significant strength increase during the initial phase would be a good indicator that linear progress is still available but programming must be improved (i.e. you don't need periodization, you need a good training program). Anyway, it’s a progression not a static cookie cutter although we have to start somewhere which is why I’ve drawn it up the way I have. I’ve tried my best to cover that as have others but still people get attached. As a lifter progressed workload will be expanded and obviously you can’t just keep hammering the same thing again and again. The programming interview from Pendlay and Rippetoe here can probably provide more insight and they have a book coming out with Lon Kilgore called Practical Periodization (available early 2006) that is intended to cover multiyear training plans and development.

If you've just randomly come to this topic or been provided a link - there is a large amount of information here: Table of Contents



Before beginning it is useful to know your 1 rep maxes or more ideally your real 5 rep max in each lift (there is a table and calculator in the TOC). You can base your 5x5 max off your 5 rep max just by cutting back a bit. If you don't know this - it might be useful to test your lifts first or start light and allow for some flexibility in the weekly planning so you can make adjustments on the fly as you ramp the weights week to week to across the board records in the final weeks of the volume phase. Don't overly stress on this - it's easier than it sounds and once you've run it once, subsequent cycles fall right into place.


Volume Phase Option 1: Deload and Peak 3x3 OR Option 2: Pure Deload
Weeks 1-4 Weeks 5-9 Weeks 5-6 or Extended

Monday Monday Monday
Squat 5x5 3x3 3x3
Bench 1x5 1x3 3x3
Row 1x5 1x3 3x3

Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday or Thursday
Squat 5x5 (10-20% < than Monday) Drop This Lift 3x3 with 70% of Monday
Deadlift 5x5 3x3 3x3
Military or Incline 5x5 3x3 3x3
Pull-ups or Chins 5x5 3x3 3x3

Friday Friday
Squat 1x5 1x3
Bench 5x5 3x3
Row 5x5 3x3

Clarifying Examples
(numbers are random - do not read anything into this)

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5
5x5 = Straight Sets 315x5 315x5 315x5 315x5 315x5
3x3 = Straight Sets 315x3 315x3 315x3
1x5 = Ramped Sets 225x5 255x5 275x5 295x5 315x5
1x3 = Ramped Sets 275x3 295x3 315x3

Volume/Loading Phase - Weeks 1-4:

So 5x5 is 5 sets of 5 reps with working set weight (warm up to the target weight for the week and proceed through 5x5 with that weight). Where 1x5 is present you are ramping the weights upward each set to a target set weight for a single set of 5 (it's still 5x5 but each set gets heavier and your target set is the top set of 5). The exception is the Wednesday squat for 5x5 using somewhere between 10-20% less than the working weight on the Monday 5x5 workout (the Wed squat may increase less than the Monday squat over the ramping weeks - meaning it may start at 12% less and wind up at 22% less by the last record week if one needs some extra recovery). What you are doing is gradually increasing the target weights week to week so you wind up performing record lifts in the final two weeks of the volume phase (weeks 3/4 in this case). If you miss a weight, hold it constant for the next week by carrying it forward (you should not be missing until weeks 3/4 though). Keep in mind that you have separate targets for 5x5 and 1x5 even though they are the same lift (i.e. bench press). The ramping is set separately for these and they are treated separately. It's a good idea to start conservatively as this gets fairly backbreaking and you'll be begging for week 5. The most common mistake is people starting too high. It's useful to start light and then be flexible either adding an extra week to the ramp up or moving your targets a bit as you feel your way. This is far easier in the intensity phase because you already have a reference - likewise the next time you run this workout, it'll be a no brainer. The main point in this phase is the volume. Lower the weight if need be but get the sets and reps in. If you fail on an exercise just carry the target weight forward into the next week. Some people who are new to this might find it easier to run this phase for 6 weeks starting much lighter and building slowly. If your working weights for the deadlift are 2x bodyweight (meaning you are a 200lbs lifter and you'll be doing 400+ for 5x5 throughout the cycle) it's probably a good idea to do lower the volume on that lift to 3x5 in this phase.

The easiest way to set this up the first time is to put current PRs in week 3 (with more experience and relevant lifts you might have new PR goals in both weeks 3 and 4). Your 5RM can be calculated and just drop off a given percentage for your 5x5RM (try 7.5% maybe) you get a week 3 figure for those lifts. Now back down to week 1. A conservative number to start with might be 80% of your Week 3 PR lift then split the difference for Week 2. If you are really strong (and jumps are large), you might need more weeks to ramp up. What you don't want to do is start too high, you can always tack on another week but if you start too high you blow the progression. Anyway, week 4 lifts are a margin above week 3, maybe 5%. It's important to plan it out and then play it by ear as you go, adjust where need be so that you culminate with the 2 final weeks. If that means starting lighter and running for 6 weeks that's fine. If that means, you thought 4 weeks was fine but you were unexpectedly stronger (or got stronger during this phase) and need to add an extra week to avoid a big jump, that's okay too - just be very conscious of fatigue level. Your first time through you'll feel pretty beat up after the last week, that's okay. If you are beat up entering the 2nd to last week, that's something to watch. You want to 'overreach' which is before overtraining. Sometimes you'll encounter a performance deficit and not be able to set PRs (very common for advanced athletes loading hard), without experience though you don't want to push it too hard and overdo it - takes too damn long to recover from.

OPTION 1 - Deload and Peak 3x3:

This option provides for deloading in the middle weeks and working toward new PRs in the final weeks (think of it as almost 2 loading phases as the 2nd will likely fatigue you by the time you are done). This makes it a bit harder to handle particularly for first timers. In addition, trainees might need a light week or two before moving back into another loading period.

Deloading Week - Week 5:
On week 5 drop the Wednesday squat workout, begin using the Deloading/Intensity set/rep scheme, and keep the weight the same as your last week in the Volume Phase. In reality the whole intensity phase and this week are the same thing, I just break this week out because there is no weight progression so in reality after the volume phase the whole thing is deloading/intensity which for the purposes of this workout are synonymous. Also my 3x per week layout tends to get pretty aggressive as many find themselves fatigued again by the end so it kind of makes logical sense to break this period separately. Largely semantics.

Intensification Phase - Week 6-9:
Everything is the same principal except that you use 3x3 and 1x3 setting records on week 8 and 9 (or the final 2 weeks of this phase). No Wednesday squatting. It's important that you recover before getting into the heavy weight PRs again so if you have to keep Week 6 light, go ahead. The important aspect of this phase is the weight increases. If you are burned out and you need an extra day here and there that's okay - this won't hurt you at all and unless you are feeling ripe it might well be beneficial. If you can't do all the work that's okay too. Just keep increasing the weight week to week. It might also help to keep the first week in this phase just incrementally higher than the Deloading Week to provide for extra recovery if needed. During this phase you'll be ramping the weights from your deloading week to your 3x3 and 1x3 records in the final 2 weeks. In this 3x per week pattern, start light once again and get a breather. Taking extra days or cutting out volume isn’t encouraged but if you need extra recovery do it and then adjust your future training plans accordingly. If you don’t get an adequate deload first (that 1 week may not be enough) you will cripple your gains. Better to get 90% out of a training cycle than 10%. You'll learn a lot about your tolerance for volume loading and unloading here - there is no need to try to be a hero. Get some experience and the next time you run this you'll be spot on but you wind up feeling your way to a degree the first time.

Post Cycle:
Depending upon how you feel, it's probably a good idea to deload again before moving back into another volume phase if you ran the 3x per week like I outlined above. See the alternative schedule below and perform this light for 2 weeks working on speed/acceleration. If you ran the 2x alternate schedule below for your deload/intensity you can likely move straight back into another volume phase.

OPTION 2 - Pure Deload:

This is designed to get you recovered without too much hassle or worry. Frequency is dropped to 2x per week and the Friday workout is dropped. The Wednesday workout can be moved to Thursday if desired. This phase can be run as long as needed to recover or until one wants to do something else. Maybe that's 1-2 weeks for some people to build enough steam to jump back into a loading phase. Maybe that's 4-5 weeks if someone feels they are really getting a lot out of it.

Week 5 and on switch to 3x3 and drop the Friday workout altogether. Week 5 weights are the same as the final week of loading. Over the following weeks increase the weight workout to workout if you get all 9 reps. If you don't get all the reps, keep the weight constant. You'll likely be able to move straight back into another volume phase after this is complete. As for the increases week to week, probably best to use a percentage but to make it easy for first timers maybe add 5lbs to benches and rows then 10lbs to squats and deads.



The Lifts:
Squats - these should be full range Olympic style squats. Use the full range of your body - that means as low as you can go which for almost everyone is past parallel. If the top of your thighs aren't at least parallel it's for shit. If you think this is bad for your knees going low, you and whoever told you that are relying on an old wives tale. Anyone who knows the human body will tell you that below parallel is MUCH safer on the knees whereas parallel and above put all the sheer right on them and doesn’t allow proper transfer of the load to the rest of your body (this is how your body was designed). Read the Squat article from Arioch linked in the TOC for a complete description and references on the mechanics of the squat and depth.
Deads - each rep is deweighted fully on the floor. No touch and go. This is called the 'dead'lift because the weight is 'dead' on the ground. You can touch and go warm ups but that's it.
Military - standing overhead presses. Supporting weight overhead is a fundamental exercise and stimulates the whole body. Push presses are a fine substitute.
Rows - 90 degrees and done dynamically (Accelerate the weight into your body - do not jerk it but constantly increase the pace like an oar through water). There is a TOC topic on rows, a good read that also illustrates a version done from the floor.
Common Sense - this program has you train very hard and build quickly to heavy weights. If any of these compound lifts are new to you (like dynamic rowing from the floor or deadlifting) it is unsafe to subject yourself to this kind of unaccustomed work. Compound exercises have a way of finding weak links in the body - heavy lifting has a way of stressing these weak links. What this means is that the chance of injury is greatly increased. Spend some time working with the lift(s) before beginning a program that pushes you this hard.
The rest is self explanatory.

Time Between Sets:

Don't over think this. Use a natural rep speed, take what you need between sets. Don't be lazy but don't rush. You can't be doing rapid fire sets of big compound lifts. Maybe on the lightest warm-ups you take a minute but most sets will be 2-5 minute range with 2 being between fairly easy sets and 5 being after a heavy set in preparation for another very serious major effort that drains you. I can see exceeding the 5 minute limit by a tad when really pushing near failure in the PR weeks when you are uncertain of getting your reps on your last set. Just use your brain and don't micromanage.


Depends on whether you are trying to gain muscle or what. I will say that for gaining muscle, caloric excess must be present. Read the caloric excess topic in the table of contents. More people, particularly bodybuilders, go wrong here. If caloric excess is present and training stinks, you will get fatter. The few guys who have come back with no weight gain got very strong and gained no net weight - guess what - they were already fairly lean (i.e. no excess in their diet otherwise they'd have been fatter) and they didn't gain fat or muscle (no caloric excess during training). There's nothing any program can do if you won't eat. For the purposes of gaining muscle or getting big and strong it's better to eat McDonalds and KFC all day long than not eat enough Zen clean ultra pure food which might be healthier but if not enough there's simply nothing to use to grow. So caloric excess is a requirement, you don't need to eat like a slob but it will work infinitely better than not eating enough healthy food for this purpose. Lots of people have gotten big and strong on diets that were bad, if you choose to eat squeaky clean, kudos to you but it is not critical to putting on muscle (it might be critical to a long high quality life though). If you need a more in depth explanation, look here.

Learning about Your Tolerances/Setting Up Your 2nd Training Cycle:
This can be somewhat daunting to set your weights the first time you run this and for reasons already stated it's a lot better to be on the conservative side. I don’t provide percentages because this is very individual and I want people to pay attention to their bodies and learn – stated percentages have a way of short circuiting the learning mechanism even in the face of common sense. Once you've been through this once, you'll learn a lot about your tolerances and you'll have a set of very relevant records which you can sub right into the next training cycle. Your best 5x5 would become week 3 and then week 4 a margin above it (this is conservative) - or ideally week 3 would exceed your best 5x5 by a margin and then week 4 above that (this makes for a tougher loading cycle and this is one of the things you'll learn whether or not to do for your current state of conditioning). In addition, if you are really loading hard, performance will decline towards the end so setting records and actually getting the lifts may not be possible (and that’s okay because the juice comes on the other end). The other lifts 1x5, 3x3, 1x3 are similarly adjusted based on previous records. Also, people's tolerances vary widely at every level. Take 2 top competitive lifters - they may lift exactly the same weight, have similar training history, and be equally sized but one requires a massive amount of volume in training while another does not. No ego just what each needs to stimulate progress. As you go, you'll learn all about what you need, what you can handle, and what is too much. Eventually, you'll be able to tailor this program or an entire 6 month training cycle to your individual specs and requirements. Obviously reading the Training Theory topics in the TOC is going to really assist in providing you a framework in how to quantify and design your programs.

Incorporating the Olympic Lifts:
The above is basically setup for someone who doesn't know the OLs. Starr's original workout included Power Cleans and High Pulls. Instead of Bent Rows substitute Power Cleans. Rather than Deads substitute High Pulls. That’s a quick and dirty way of handling this without much disruption.

Substituting Exercises:
Don't **** with this. Every bodybuilder seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder and an overwhelming desire to customize everything. The bottom line is that these are all the most effective exercises and just about anything one does will result in less gains. As a rule those people who want to change it don't know enough to make proper alterations - those who do know enough, don't have much to change. The two guys who are responsible for this program are some of the best on the planet at bulking lifters and making people stronger. It's kind of like Sesame Street's Elmo offering neurosurgery advice at NYU. Anyway, it's absolutely essential not to screw with the squats, they are the foundation of this program. If you want to sub inclines or push presses for military that's okay. Do not sub machines - don't even think about it, hit yourself with a plate if you must. If you want to do arms choose a single biceps and triceps exercise and perform them at the end once per week for 3 sets of whatever - your arms will take a beating from all the pulling and pressing anyway. If you can't chin due to bodyweight, pulldowns are okay. Core work is always fine. Cardio is fine - interval training is the best for this I'll just throw out. If this is just too much mental strain, take solace in the fact that it's 9 weeks, you'll gain a ton of muscle and strength and then you can spend the next 4 weeks adding the minute detail to refine the gained mass (like most care anyway - I have yet to meet a guy on this board who will trade 20lbs of muscle for a bit of added detail somewhere). In a nutshell, put your trust in some of the better coaches on the planet and enjoy the results. If it doesn't look like a typical program to you, that's because most programs suck and almost require drugs or a total novice lifter to see gains. For a lifter with some experience, it is not enough to go in and work hard - you need a program that properly regulates volume and intensity (either that or you'll settle for very suboptimal gains or simply use increased drug dosage to compensate for shitty training). Read the dual factor and training theory topics in the TOC.

If you don't know what this is, don't worry about it. Read up on Westside sometime - it's not integral to the program but incorporating work like this into your training cycles can be worthwhile no matter if you are a PL, general athlete looking for performance or bodybuilder. For those that do and want to incorporate them, the 1x5 days are the days you would choose for these in the generic layout.

New or Novice Lifters:
A dual factor program is unnecessary. This is more work than you need and slower progression. Why add weight once every 4-8 weeks if you can string together new personal records for weeks at a time back to back. I really recommend Rippetoe's Starting Strength for beginners or novices. It's so critical to learn the lifts correctly and get started on a good program (i.e. not what one typically finds on bodybuilding sites).

Advanced Lifters:
As one learns about one's tolerances and progresses over time one will generally find that one is able to gradually accommodate more volume. Some might find it more advantageous from a recovery standpoint to do all their 5x5 work on Monday and save the 1x5 for Friday. In terms of this generic template what generally happens is that a lifter will remove the pyramid 1x5 workouts and swap them into a second 5x5 over time. In addition, an advanced lifter might start their ramps much closer to their record weights (that said, this same lifter might need a longer period of acclimation before being able to handle record weights so a lot depends on the individual and the current state of the athlete). As one's weights increase the volume can also be spread over 4 days rather than 3 to accommodate the fatigue from the heavier weights – especially the Wednesday deadlift. These lifters might also compress the training cycle into 2-3 weeks of loading and 1-2 weeks of deloading once they are geared up and training hard (this would be within the context of a longer training plan like a planned out Macrocycle – give a read to Planning Your Training Cycle and the Training Theory section of the TOC). I'm just going to state, this stuff is for someone who has spent some time doing this type of work. I only include this for completeness because it is needed to illustrate progression and if I put an “advanced” version down you can bet everyone would be doing it, burning out, making zero progress, and I’d be “wrong” and this program would be “bad”. The way I have it listed above will overload just about anyone besides an accomplished seasoned lifter and push them to their limit if they set their weight right. You apply more volume when you need it, not as an ego thing. This will destroy or drastically limit your gains. Don't do this unless you've run many dual factor training cycles and are absolutely sure you need it. I'm being overly cautious but most people on this board come from a bodybuilding background where typical programs are the 3 day split variety hitting each muscle 1x per week. This base program itself is a whole different world of volume and the tweaks here can make it much more taxing and in every single case that I've seen where someone is even relatively new to this style of program - they should not be employed.

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