What is the 3×5 Workout Plan?
The 3×5 workout is a weight training program designed to build strength with the following guidelines:
- perform strength training three days a week, every other day
- traditionally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- take the weekend off to recover
- the meat of the program is the full-body compound barbell exercises:
- bench press
- overhead press
- power cleans
- these barbell exercises will target all the muscles of your body
- 3×5 refers to the set and repetition scheme of the program: 3 sets of 5 repetitions for the main work sets of the program.
Mark Rippetoe popularized the 3×5 workout in his classic book on basic barbell training Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition
The Basic 3×5 Workout Plan
The squat, bench press and deadlift are the foundation of the 3×5 workout plan. These exercises are also the only competitive lifts in the sport of Powerlifting. As a result, with these three lifts, you target all the muscles of your body. Instead of focusing on strength gains in a smaller muscle group, like your biceps, or triceps only.
Smaller muscle exercises will result in less muscle strength gains than large muscles. And the full-body compound lifts like squats and deadlifts work the largest muscle groups of your body.
You will immediately understand why the 3×5 workout is so useful for athletes and anyone who wants to build muscle mass and improve health and fitness. In a typical gym workout, you might spend thirty minutes to an hour walking on the treadmill or elliptical and then do some bicep curls, tricep press downs with dumbbells.
Even some leg presses, but then you finish up, leave the gym, and wonder why after years of working out like this, your body did not change much.
However, the 3×5 workout routine will stress the muscles of your entire body, which is then forced to adapt and grow.
And it is not only your skeletal muscles that get stronger, but also your ligaments, tendons, bone strength, cardiovascular health, and endurance as well.
3×5 Workout Equipment
Another advantage of the 3×5 workout is that you only need a minimum amount of weightlifting gear. As a result, you can build a garage gym or home workout area and save money on a gym membership, and time.
Here are the essential pieces of equipment you need for the 3×5 workout:
- Power rack for safety when doing squats – an excellent choice for a home gym is the Fitness Reality 810XLT:
- Your purchase includes One Fitness Reality Super Max Power Cage with...
- Cage dimensions – 50.5” L x 46.5” W x 83.5” H | Set up weight...
- Bench dimensions – 59” L x 23.5” W x 9” H | Set up weight –...
- A flat bench with the power rack functions as a bench press work station:
- STRONG AND STABLE: Our heavy-duty 1,000 lb ASTM rated flat weight...
- PERFECT SUPPORT FOR LIFTING: The pad measures 12 inches wide, and the...
- QUALITY MATERIALS: Our flat bench is constructed from 11 gauge steel...
- Deadlift platform to protect your floor and weights, and reduce noise in your home:
- Reduces noise from dropping a loaded barbell.
- Easy assembly, get lifting in seconds!
- For the athletes who are looking for a dedicated full rubber tile...
- 45 pound (20 kg) Basic barbell for squats, deadlifts, and bench press. (This barbell is not for Olympic lifts. You can use a Rep Sabre Olympic Bar - 1000 lb Rated - Men's Olympic Barbell for Cross Training, Olympic lifting, and Powerlifting:)
- 700 lb rated bar, ideal for basic powerlifting movements such as...
- Zinc coating - resists rust. Bar weighs 20 kilograms.
- Dual knurl markings, medium depth knurl, with center knurl. Center...
- 160 lbs of bumper plates to is enough to get you started, and you can buy more plates as you get stronger:
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: Set includes a pair of solid rubber 10lb Bumper...
- CROSS TRAINING ESSENTIALS: A good bumper plate set is the centerpiece...
- SUPERIOR DESIGN: We made our 10 lb plates extra thick for high...
- Fractional plates so you can make linear progression, even as little as half a pound per training session:
- Set of 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 lb Fractional Weight Plates that fit any...
- Standard sized for 2¨ Olympic bars, 17.5" outer diameter. Increase...
- Micro loading Plates for Personal Records and Progressive Overload...
- Barbell collars for safety:
- Strong and Long-Lasting: The Day 1 Fitness classic 2-inch spring...
- Ergonomic Grip, Simple Maneuvering: Each barbell spring clip in this...
- Ideal for Olympic Training: Our bench, machine, and free weight...
- Gym Chalk improves your grip and reduces callouses:
- 1 pound of Magnesium Carbonate, Lab Tested
- Contains (8) 2oz. individually wrapped blocks
- Designed to reduce hand moisture for better traction
- Squat and deadlift shoes – you do not need special shoes for the bench press, but you do need squat and deadlift shoes to minimize the risk of injury:
- POWERLIFTING SHOES - Maximum Lifting Performance - by Premium...
- PROVIDES OLYMPIC STABILITY - Good foot support ensures a powerful...
- LONG-LASTING QUALITY - Built to last, even under immense stress. Our...
- Deadlift shin guards to protect your shins:
- ULTIMATE SHIN PROTECTION: Built of strong durable 5mm Neoprene...
- SAVE TIME - QUICK WEAR AND REMOVE: Takes only a few seconds to wear...
- USE ONLY WHEN NEEDED - DURING WORKOUT: Optimize your workout by...
3×5 Workouts A and B
There are two workouts, A and B:
- Squats – 3 sets of 5 repetitions of your work sets (aka 3×5)
- Overhead or military press – 3 sets of 5 reps
- Deadlift – 1 set of 5 reps
- Squats – 3×5
- Bench press – 3×5
- Deadlift or power clean (as you get more comfortable with pulling weight from the floor) – 3×5
You alternate workout A and workout B on your strength training days. For example:
- Mon – Workout A
- Wed – Workout B
- Fri – Workout A, and continue the Monday of next week with Workout B
There are other modifications of the 3×5 workout, for example, Phraks Greyskull LP and LP Variant.
3×5 Workout Spreadsheet Comparison
As always, take the CSEP PAR Q; Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire and seek professional medical advice before starting any 3×5 training program.
A critical component of the 3×5 workout is to increase the weight for every exercise, every training session. Even if you only increase your work set by half a pound, that is another personal victory for you.
Every day that you can push, press, or lift more weight, means that you are adding muscle and strength. Just as high-quality real food is your friend, so too is your muscle mass, because muscle keeps you functional and mobile as long as you live.
A powerful multijoint exercise like the deadlift can even help rehabilitate older people who suffer from mobility problems. For a dramatic illustration, see the story of the powerlifting grandma, Shirley Webb, who can now stand up unassisted from the floor, because she started deadlifting at the age of 75. That’s right, Shirley is far stronger at age 81 than when she began deadlifting at 75.
It is never too late. Progressive resistance training can help improve your mental and physical health and fitness, no matter what your age.
Squats, deadlifts, press, bench press, and power clean are remarkable movements because they target the largest muscle groups of your body. For this reason, these exercises, along with additional assistance exercise, form the foundation of the 3×5 workout plan.
Order of Exercises
The foundation of the 3×5 workout is the squat.
The purpose of squats first, and then press, is that once you get to the deadlift, your legs are warmed up for the deadlift.
Built into the 3×5 workout is the primacy of recovery:
- perform a 3×5 training session three times a week with a rest day in between, and weekends off
- so that your muscles will recover from the stress of the previous workout
- you run the risk of a chronic injury like tendonitis if you do not moderate training volume
- recovery also means that you eat quality food and get good sleep
3×5 Workout – Final Thoughts
Mark Rippetoe popularized the 3×5 workout, which is why it is also known as the Rippetoe 3×5 workout.
In a structured sequence, Rippetoe persuades you why full-body compound weight training is so practical for building strength.
Rippetoe is an American strength training coach, former powerlifter, and author of the classic barbell training book Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition
He tested his Starting Strength program as a powerlifter, coach, and gym owner for the last 30 years, and gives you the minimum effective dose of exercises that you need to build muscle mass.
Thirty years is a long time. Why waste time trying to reinvent the wheel? Of course, there are many approaches to strength training, but the good news is that the 3×5 workout has stood the test of time, and helped thousands improve their health and fitness.
This post will give you the basic concepts of and how to implement the 3×5 workout for your body transformation.
You might not have time for a full 3×5 workout but fear not. You do not need to do 3×5 weight training every other day to transform your body to leaner and stronger than you think possible. Especially if you are overweight today. Here is another approach:
- Learn how to lose 20 lbs in three months, which will help you achieve a normal weight for your height fast.
- Take a 30-minute walk every day.
- Use this beginner deadlift workout routine and 12-week program to maximize the number of muscles you target in your time training.
- Do pushups at home to complement your deadlifting pull movement with the classic push movement, the pushup.
Improving the quality of the food you eat, adding the deadlift, pushups, and a 30-minute walk every day is a simple recipe to change your body from fat to fit. And when you get more time, do the 3×5 workout!
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On Pushups / Bench Press
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On Workout Tips
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