Newbie questions on the 5x5


Purple Belt
Jan 30, 2008
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Hey guys, I did the 5x5 for the first time today, following Bill Starr's routine from the FAQ link. I have a few questions, I hope none of them are blatantly answered somewhere else, I tried to research as best I could.

1. I'm following the exact routine on Bill Starr's post, which is different from the one listed in the FAQ proper. Instead of doing one day Deadlift-oriented, one day Squat-oriented, etc., it has Squats every day with some others thrown in, like today was Bench Press and Dynamic Rows. Think that's ok, or should I tweak it?

2. Bill's routine requires 5 minutes of rest between sets for the "volume" lifts, and I'm following this exactly, but is there anything I can do in that rest period? I know I need the rest in order to get the most out of each set, but could I at least do some ab work or something in between, that won't use the same muscles?

3. Since I'm doing squats at every lift, should I expect/attempt to add weight each time, even if it's only 48 hours after my last squat workout? Or should I only add weight at the end of each week?

4. Should I stretch before and/or after this lift? My flexibility isn't terrible, but it's not great, and my hamstrings are just barely flexible enough for me to squat all the way down (just below parallel, almost sitting on the ground).

Thanks guys. I'm really excited about this workout, I've done plenty of lifting before, but I can already tell this is going to be much more more half-squats for me.
1 - The routine in the fAQ is just a different beginner one. Stick with the 5X5

2 - no, just rest

3 - if you're following the workout to a T you should know that you increase the weight each week by a small amount. Re-read it.

4 - warmup up properly before, stretch after as part of cooldown. Doing the movements properly will be stretch enough.
Thanks Cap. I'll read through the workout again to make sure I didn't miss anything else.
I did this program when I first started lifting. Here's answers to a couple of your questions based on my experience.

2. Soon you will appreciate the longer rest periods. The weights will increase and five sets across with heavy weight is pretty intense.

3. The workout you're doing adds five to ten pounds each week for each of the lifts on each of the days except for the lighter squats on deadlifting day. Those can range from 70%-85% of you're heavier sets. For example, if you did 135 for the intensity set and 125 for the sets across then the next week would have you doing 145 for the intensity set and 135 for the sets across.

4. Don't static stretch before you lift (increases risk of injury) but do some dynamic stretching after about 5 minutes of light cardio. I do some of the stretching exercises on this website: Below is the standard dynamic stretch series.
I have not read the routine posted on here, but you can and should do active rest between sets and this will actually improve your results. Try doing very light (little to no resistance) activity using the same muscle groups between the sets.

In the case of the lower body you can walk or slowly jog and for the upper body sled drags work the best although not practical at most gyms. You can also actively shake up and dynamically work the muscle through an unloaded range of motion. This will speed up your recovery between sets and is very important for max strength development.
Listen to cap'n and what he said. A while back when I first started weight training, my squat increased by twenty pounds a week for a little over a month