What Is the Five-by-Five Workout?

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Many workout methods, from super sets to drop sets, circuit training and pyramid training, help you tone and sculpt your body. Some workouts emphasize muscle growth while others promote fat loss. Some workouts, like the five-by-five workout, may even burn fat and build muscle together if properly executed.

Five-by-Five Workout

Many variations of the five-by-five workout exist, but they all have one common thread. In any given workout period, you must perform five sets of each exercise, and each set must include five repetitions. A repetition, or rep, refers to one complete movement in an exercise, like lifting and lowering a barbell one time. A set includes repetitions performed in succession, like lifting and lowering the barbell five times before setting the barbell on the ground.


In order to promote muscle growth, you must perform fewer repetitions with heavier weights. In order to promote fat loss, you must perform higher numbers of repetitions to raise your heart rate. While these methods may seem contradictory, the five-by-five workout borrows from both styles. By performing only five repetitions at a time, you can lift heavier weights, but by performing five sets of each exercise, you still must execute a high number of repetitions overall -- 25 per exercise.


There is no standard five-by-five workout. A five-by-five workout may include any workout in which you perform five sets of five reps for each or any given muscle group. As a result, you can modify the workout to meet your needs. For example, you can alternate between upper-body and lower-body workouts each day, or you can do one five-by-five sequence for each muscle group with only short rests in between, like circuit training. You can also sculpt specific parts of your body by focusing on just one or two muscle groups per day. For example, if you want to focus on biceps, you can use a five-by-five sequence for traditional curls, followed by preacher curls, followed by hammer curls.


A five-by-five workout emphasizes both strength and stamina, so if you do not currently have an active fitness regimen, consult a doctor before starting. Begin with light resistance when working with dumbbells, barbells or exercise machines, and raise the amount of weight gradually to avoid injuring or over-exerting yourself. Never exercise the same muscle groups more than once in any 48-hour period.