5×5 Workout For Over 50 – Introduction
5×5 Workout for Over 50-Year-Old – What You Need to Know
If you want to build muscle and get stronger, you NEED to follow a well-designed workout routine.
Sure, you could head to the gym and do whatever exercise takes your fancy, but that’s probably not the best use of your time or energy.
Training without a workout routine is like embarking on a long, unfamiliar journey without a map.
You MIGHT reach your destination eventually, but the chances are you’ll just get lost.
Having a workout routine means that every hour you spend in the gym has a clear purpose, and the training will waste none of your time or energy.
There are lots (by which I mean thousands) of workouts you can use to build muscle and get stronger, and almost every one of them works, at least for a while.
Even poorly designed workouts will produce results for some people!
As a younger exerciser, you can do almost any workout and still make progress.
With energy to burn, excellent recovery abilities, and a virtually injury-proof body, you can adapt to practically any form of stress.
But, as you get older, your body is more likely to break down if your workout is poorly designed.
Subsequently, you need to be a little more discerning when choosing your next workout plan.
The 5×5 workout routine is a popular program, and there are several proven variations.
This article discusses whether 5×5 is a good training approach for the over 50s and how you can modify it to make it better when you are no longer in your 20s and 30s.
What Is The 5X5 Workout Program?
Let’s clear one thing up from the outset; 5×5 refers to doing five sets of five reps, and several workouts feature this set/rep scheme.
Popular examples include:
Some of these workouts involve doing five sets of five for every exercise within them.
In comparison, others use five sets of five reps for just a couple of exercises and another set/rep scheme for the remaining lifts.
Every 5×5 workout is built around compound exercises, that is:
These core exercises are arguably the most time-efficient way to build muscle and overall strength.
They involve multiple muscle groups and allow you to lift heavy weights in relative safety.
They’re also functional, replicating movements often performed in everyday life or sports.
Sample 5×5 Workout
Depending on the 5×5 workout you’re following, you may end up doing two or three different workouts per week.
Stronglifts, the most recent and seemingly popular 5×5 variation, uses an A/B split, where two workouts are done in an alternating fashion, that is:
- Monday: Workout A (squat, bench press, bent-over barbell row)
- Wednesday: Workout B (squat, overhead press, deadlift)
- Friday: Workout A (as before)
And for the following week:
- Monday: Workout B (squat, overhead press, deadlift)
- Wednesday: Workout A (squat, bench press, bent-over row)
- Friday: Workout B (as before)
The next week starts with workout B…
Note: With Stronglifts 5×5 deadlifts are done for a single set of five reps and not for five sets of five.
There are a few different ways to do the five sets of five reps, and your options include:
- Five sets of 5 reps with the same weight
- Five sets of 5 reps with progressively heavier weights up to a 5-rep max
- Three sets of 5 with progressively heavier weights and two heavy sets
- Five sets that pyramid up and then down in weight, for example, 150lbs, 175lbs, 200lbs, 175lbs, 150lbs.
Ultimately, the workout you follow will dictate which interpretation of 5×5 you use, although you are free to modify the plan according to your needs and preferences.
Most 5×5 workouts are very effective and can produce good results.
However, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons before implementing this type of program.
5×5 Workout for Over 50 Advantages and Benefits
Not sure if 5×5 is a suitable workout for you?
Consider these advantages and benefits:
Build muscle and strength
Most experts agree that you should do 1-5 repetitions for strength gains and 6-12 reps for muscle growth.
Doing sets of five reps means you’ll get stronger and build muscle simultaneously.
Five reps per set is a good workout option if you can’t decide between bodybuilding and getting stronger.
Most 5×5 workouts focus exclusively on compound lifts and may be limited to only 2-4 compound barbell movements per training session.
As such, you should be in and out of the gym in under an hour and need only train 2-4 times a week, depending on your chosen program.
5×5 workouts are often ideal for time-pressed exercisers who don’t want to spend longer in the gym or train more often.
5×5 has been around for well over half a century.
Champion bodybuilder Reg Park, one of the strongest golden-era bodybuilders, used this method to bulk up back in the 1950s and 1960s.
Any program that is still in use after over 50 years clearly works.
It’s a part of weight training history.
Most lifters will, at some point, try a 5×5 program; it’s a rite of passage!
Most 5×5 workouts start light
With 5×5, you don’t start out training with heavy weights.
In fact, your first few workouts should be pretty easy.
For example, a beginner might even begin with an empty bar so they can master the techniques of each lift before things start getting heavy.
Then, week by week, you add 5-10 pounds to the bar and gradually work up to more challenging weights.
This is called linear progression.
As such, 5×5 can work well for beginners, exercisers returning from layoffs, and anyone looking to gradually increase workout difficulty over several weeks and months.
Minimal special equipment required
Most 5×5 workouts are built around barbell exercises.
As such, they’re suitable for anyone who trains at home or in a gym with limited equipment.
In most instances, all you need is a barbell and weights, a bench press, and a squat rack.
However, you may want to add dumbbells and a power tower, so your workouts are slightly more varied.
5×5 Workout Disadvantages and Drawbacks
While 5×5 workouts are popular and can produce great results, they may not be ideal for everyone.
Disadvantages and drawbacks o f5x5 workouts include:
Hard on your joints
When you work up to five sets of five reps with heavy weights, your joints may start feeling the strain.
You don’t have to use heavy weights to build muscle, but 5×5 is all about adding more weight to the bar regardless.
If like many older adults, you’ve got achy knees, shoulders, or low back pain from the aging process, doing a lot of heavy lifting with squats, deadlifts, and rows may make matters worse.
Linear progression eventually grinds to a halt
Most 5×5 workouts specify that you should add weight to the bar every week.
In the beginning, and providing you start with light weights, this shouldn’t be a problem.
However, eventually, you won’t be able to increase your training weights, and your progress will grind to a halt.
Some 5×5 workout programs suggest reducing your weights by 15-20% and then building up again to overcome plateaus.
This may allow you to exceed your previous sticking point.
However, this strategy only works a couple of times.
Eventually, 5×5 will stop working simply because you can’t increase your weights anymore.
Focusing on compound movements is usually a good thing.
Moves like squats and bench presses are the best way to build muscle mass and get stronger.
However, if you only do a limited number of compound exercises, there is a danger that you’ll develop muscle imbalances.
As such, a lot of 5×5 workouts would benefit from accessory work, such as face pulls, band pull-aparts, and other prehab/rehab movements.
Some 5×5 workouts don’t include direct arm, calf, or core exercises, which may also be an issue if those are body parts you want to develop fully.
Maybe too hard to recover from
Doing five sets of five reps with a heavy weight can be exhausting.
Not just for your muscles but your central nervous system too.
It’s no secret that older exercisers often recover more slowly than their younger counterparts.
Doing 3-4 5×5 workouts a week could be too much for an over 50 exercise to recover from.
Without sufficient rest days, you might be unable to recover which will soon bring your progress to a halt.
Difficult to do with dumbbells
5×5 is usually best done with a barbell.
Heavy dumbbells are generally too unwieldy to get into position for overhead presses, bench presses, or squats.
That said, you can use dumbbells for any accessory lifts in your 5×5 workout, although most 5×5 programs do not include them.
Limiting your strength workouts to the same small handful of exercises done for the same number of sets and reps could become tiresome.
Boredom could give you the reason you’ve been looking for to give up your workout routine.
If you enjoy varied workouts, both in terms of exercise selection and set-rep schemes, you may not enjoy your 5 x 5 workouts.
5×5 Workout for Over 50-Year-Old – Wrapping up
While there is nothing especially wrong with any of the 5×5 workouts, they may not be ideal for all over 50s lifters.
However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about doing five sets of five reps.
A cycle of heavy weights/lower reps is a great way to build basic strength and size before switching to some lighter weights and higher reps and provide your muscles and nervous system with a well-deserved break.
Also, there is no need to do 5 x 5 for every exercise in your workout.
For example, you might do 5 x 5 for the first exercise only, and then something like 3 x 8-10 for the remaining exercises.
Finally, you can use one of the more moderate interpretations of 5 x 5.
For example, instead of doing five sets of five with the heaviest weight possible, which is exhausting, do two or even three lighter sets and just a couple of heavier sets.
This is more forgiving for exercises in their 50s.
So, while 5 x 5 is a valid program steeped in bodybuilding history and tradition, it’s not compulsory or any better than doing a program built around three sets of eight or four sets of ten.
It’s just another workout you can try.
However, many lifters and fitness writers are guilty of trying to turn 5 x 5 into something like a religion, saying it’s the ONLY way to train.
So, while it’s okay to love 5 x 5, you don’t need to marry it!
By all means, give 5 x 5 a try, but remember it’s just another workout, and there are plenty more to try.
You also may need to modify this workout to align it to your over-50 workout needs and training goals.
While the 5×5 workout is an excellent routine, it could be taxing for beginners or lifters over 50 years of age.
That does not mean you shouldn’t strength train.
Instead, consider the 3×5 workout plan.
As the 3×5 workout suggests, you perform three sets of five reps for each exercise.
The 3×5 workout can be more comfortable than 5×5 for beginners and older lifters because it is less than 5×5 in volume.
As such, it is an excellent place to start strength training.
Also, with 3×5, this means that you probably won’t be in the gym for more than an hour or so.
If you’re a new or older lifter, then this might improve your ability to get through the workout without getting too tired and fatigued.
Therefore, please take the time to check out the 3×5 Workout: The Only Strength Training Program You’ll Ever Need.
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