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  1. #1
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    Pure Gold From Glenn Pendlay- 5x5 progression

    This is not one big post, it's many. I'll format it so it's more readable, but if you do 5x5 or have any interest, it's gold.

    Hi all, this is stolen from Lyle Mcdonald's Forum: Some of it is from Glenn, other bits are synopses from other members on what he said. Read it all.


    Thought I'd post a collection of posts by Glenn Pendlay on how he periodizes the 5x5 routine:

    There are really so damn many ways to squat, even to squat with 5 sets of 5, or 6 sets of 4, or 4 sets of 6, or any similar thing, that there is not really any one program... im always hesitant to even write it out as a "program" becasue i dont really know what we will be doing in 4 weeks when we start such a thing... it kind of adapts as it goes. But there seems to be some confusion as to the pyramid version or the non-pyramid version, so ill try to briefly explain the differences.

    The EASIEST method we use for squats, and the one which rip used for beginners, is a simple pyramid program, the weights are pyramided BOTH monday and friday... and another leg exercise is used for wednesday, usually front squats for the young and athletically minded, sometimes leg press for the old and feeble.

    Say a person tests at 200lbs for 5 reps on their initial workout. well then monday they might do the following sets for 5 reps, 95, 125, 155, 185, 205. fairly equal jumps, ending with a 5lb personal record. if the last set is successfull, then on friday they will go for 210 on their last set, with adjustments on the other sets to keep the jumps about even as needed.

    the average beginner can stay on this exact simple program for anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, as long as they continue to improve at least 5lbs a week, most can do this for quite a while.

    when they stop improving, the first thing he does is to drop a couple of the "warmup" sets down to one or two reps, to decrease fatigue and allow a few more personal records on the top set... so that 200lb top set of 5 workout at this point would at this point have the 155lb set at maybe 3 reps, and the 185lb set at one or two reps, then try for 5 at 205.

    this change usually lets people get new personal records for another 2-3 weeks, sometimes more.

    at some point, of course, this doesnt work anymore. so now we change the monday workout to 5 sets of 5, still with heavy front squats or for some lighter back squats on wednesday, and the same pyramid on friday, trying for one top set of 5. the 5 sets on monday with the same weiight will be some amount less than the current personal record for one set of 5.

    usually with this raise in volume, the weights are set somewhat lighter than they were, and people are given a few weeks to work back to their personal records, then try to go past them, invariably they will pass them, and invariably eventually they will stall again...

    at this point we usually lower the volume of training, raise the intensity, in some form we will go with lower reps, lower amounts of sets, cut out a day of squatting, something to allow a raising of the numbers... again, the numbers will raise for a while, then stall again.

    a this point, another raise in volume is needed, and at this point we will go to the program that most usually associate with the "5 by 5"... squatting 5 sets of 5 with the same weight 3 times a week, lighter on wednesday and heavier on mon and fri. you are all familiar with this i think, we raise the volume for 2-4 weeks, then slowly cut the volume aned intensity of most workouts, going for a big workout every 1-2 weeks, might be a single, a single set of 5, or even one big 5 sets of 5 workout. with people cycling down for a big contest at thsi point we might go for lower reps and try for the big singles.... with someone not at a place where a big peak is needed, its just cycling down to less sets but keeping the reps at 5, and trying to make a pr on a set of 5. this can be repeated several times over and over, but at some point you have to have a period of lower intensity training for a while in between cycles.

    i will add that often, for the people with higher goals who want to really train hard, i will start right in with the 15 hard sets a week version, but with weights low enough that they can endure it, and when they get in condition and get used to the volume, will then go back and start at the normal place where rip starts right from the beginning. i find that people who have been athletically active, who have been training on other programs, etc, usually do well with an initial 4-8 weeks of high volume lower intensity training to get them mentally and physically used to this sort of training, get their form changed to a good squat, etc.

    this post describes as much as a year of training for most people, with some that adapt well it is stretched to two years.... two years from when they start their initial "pyramid" workouts, or their initial month or so of conditioning with 15 moderate sets a week to when they get through their first real cycle with heavy weights and 15 sets a week cycled down to a peak.


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    i know this question was aimed at people who have used 5X5 and not me, but id still like to make a couple of comments... there are so many versions of the "5X5" training style, and they are so different. i use this type of training for the people i train all the way from beginners to really good lifters but the program changes over time for each person. generally it starts out in the first week of training with finding your max set of 5 and then very simply working up to one max set two times per week trying to add weight to that one set, with one ther workout in between that is most likely front squats. simple as this might be, it usually works for several months and i am convinced that it is about the fastest way for a total beginner to make progress. at some point this stops working and we go to a slightly different version, probably the one most well known, and also probably the one most usefull to a large number of people. 5 sets of 5 on monday with a set weight, then lighter squats on wednesday or front squats, then on friday working up to a max set of 5. there are some things we do here when it isnt possible to just add weight every week, but for a lot of lifters with minor variation this keeps the squat going up for another year or two. like everything else, it eventually stops working, and we start to add in some more long term variation like loading and unloading. we might do 5 sets of 5, pretty heavy, on all 3 squatting days for 3-4 weeks as a loading period, then back off the volume for 3-4 weeks by squatting for lower reps and only 2 days per week as an uloading period. we might add in speed work or dynamic effort work, using 5 sets of 5 on monday, fronts squats on wednesday, and dynamic effort work on friday. when a lifter is really near the top of their genetic potential, they cant do 5 sets of 5 consistently with heavy weight. for example, i dont think kyle gulledge could do this. hes squatted 700lbs with belt and knee wraps, so i estimate his raw squat as around 625-650lbs, probably pretty close since he did a chain squat raw last week with about 650lbs total weight, with a lot of that weight taking the form of hanging plates attached to the chains that came off the ground all at once right at the sticking point, a very hard way to do it. its normal for a lifter to be able to do 5 sets of 5 with around 82-87% of thier max squat. 85% for kyle would be 550lbs or something like that. i dont think thats something he could benefit from doing week in and week out. hes almost superhuman, but to recover from this weekly and still be able to train other lifts would take a cape and tights, almost superhuman wouldnt cut it. so for a guy like this, we wouldnt use it all the time, we would do 5 sets of 5 with lighter weights for 3-4 weeks, working up to one really heavy workout trying to break our record, then move on to a more westside style of training, with max effort work one day and dynamic effort work another day, much easier to recover from if you are pushing really heavy weight.






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  2. #2
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    If your doing 5 sets on monday, lighter squats on wed, and one set on friday, or something like that, you would be trying to do your one set on friday with more weight than you used on monday.

    its important that you approach it in a systematic way, start with weights that are easy to handle. just for example, if you are capable of doing say, 300lbs for a set of 5, you might start with 225lbs for 5 sets of 5 on monday, 200lbs for 3 sets of 5 on wednesday, and then 275 for one set of 5 on friday. you could then try to increase the monday and friday weights by 10lbs 3 weeks, and the wednesday weights by 5 lbs. that would give you a PR of 305 for 5 on week 4, and depending on the person, you might be able to get 310 or 315 for 5 on week 5. if friday of week 4 feels like you just might be able to get a PR the next week, you might try dropping the monday workout back to 225 monday of week 5, and letting yourself recover a little more preparing for week 5 friday.

    there are lots of options for the next cycle... for instance, you could choose to push the monday workout hard and not push your single set of 5 quite so hard. a good goal here would be to do 5 sets of 5 on monday with your previous best single set of 5. you would then start your monday workout in week one with a weight that is say 40lbs below your best single set of 5... keep the wednesday workout similar to the first cycle, and on friday simply add 5 or 10lbs to mondays weight, roughly the same weight you will try for 5 sets the next monday. given steady 10lb increases, if you started with 270lbs on monday, you should have a good chance of doing 310 for 5 sets of 5 on monday of week 5.

    options for the next cycle would be to change the number of reps... say to the same number of sets but 3 reps... or you could run another 4-5 week cycle similar to the first with lower numbers for the monday workout, say this time starting with 235lbs, but trying for 320-330lbs for a single set of 5 on week 4 or 5, or you could start with lower weight and make bigger jumps if you feel your getting tired around week 3 or 4 on the previous cycles. starting lower and making bigger jumps takes some of the fatigue factor away.

    OR... two things we have done that work really well, have been to do a cycle with monday and wednesday the same, but take fridays workout and turn it into either 5 singles, or into a westside style DE day. If the friday workout is 5 singles, then you again have the choice of doing the 5 singles with a weight that is say 20lbs above mondays weight and trying to make a PR 5 sets of 5 mark at the end, or of keeping the 5 sets of 5 at a slightly lower weight than maximal, and pushing the singles up to a PR weight at the end. If you choose the second option, you can also try decreasing the number of singles each week by one, so that at week 5 you are going for a true max single. If you are doing this, increasing mondays workout by 10-15lbs for the first 3 weeks, then decreasing it by 10-15lbs a week for the last 2 weeks is a good option.

    If you use the westside DE day as fridays workout, you again have several options. you can use 6 weeks as your cycle length, and do 2 of the 3 week waves that louie likes on friday, incorporating a higher weight single into each workout at the end of fridays DE work, and trying for a new max single on friday, OR you can keep the DE work fairly light, and push mondays training hard and try for a new max 5 sets of 5, or 5 sets of 3, or whatever scheme you are doing on monday.

    whatever you choose eventually, you should do it the way i initially described it for the first cycle, and probably should follow with my second recomendation for the second cycle. if you have never done this style of training before, keeping the weight relatively low on monday and concentrating on a higher single set of 5 on week 4 or 5 will help you get used to it without the strain of all out training with 5 sets of 5 when you are not really ready for it. after a 4 or 5 week introduction, you will be ready to really push the harder monday workout, and should be able to really make gains by doing so. going straight back to the first cycle for your third time thru is usually the best option from what i have found. after really pushing the monday 5 sets for a month, you should be ready to make a much bigger single set of 5, and backing off of mondays weights a little and pushing the single set on friday will help you realize your new potential for a big single set. from here its anyones guess, but you should by this time be familiar enough with how your body is responding, how tired you are getting, etc, to know what to go to for your next cycle.
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    Here's an overview summarized in a clearer format:

    Stage 1:
    o Monday = 5x5 (pyramid)
    o Wed. = 5x5 (20% lighter than Mon. or front squats)
    o Friday = 5x5 pyramid to PR if you got all 5 reps on Monday

    Stage 2:
    o Same as above except reduce volume of ramping sets on Monday (do a few singles or doubles on sets 3 & 4)

    Stage 3 (increase Monday?s volume):
    o Monday = 5x5 same weight (using less than single set PR)
    o Wed. = no change
    o Friday = 5x5 pyramid to PR
    o w/ more volume, it takes a few weeks to work back up to PR
    -- Programming notes from Glenn: here, you might choose to push Monday or Friday hard for a cycle . . . e.g., build up over a few weeks to a new 5x5 PR on Monday while making Friday a lighter day by pushing for a top set that is maybe 5-10 pounds heavier than your Monday sets (then Monday, you?ll get 5 sets of 5 w/ Friday?s weight). Then in the next cycle, swap it around and push Friday?s top set while making Monday?s sets lighter.
    -- You can reduce Monday?s weights as you near the end of the cycle so you have more gas to push PRs on Friday

    Stage 4 (reduce volume, increase intensity by using lower reps)
    -- A few ideas:
    - Push 5 sets of triples or singles on Friday; keep everything else the same
    - Monday, either go lighter or keep pushing for 5x5 PR . . . if you do the former, you can reduce the number of sets on Friday by 1 each week so that by the end, you do a true PR max single on the last Friday (in the last few weeks, you can even go lighter on Monday so you?re ready for big PRs on Friday)
    - Do Westside DE style squats on Friday . . . either keep it light & push for 5x5 PR on Mondays or add a heavy single at the end of your DE work on Friday

    Stage 5 ?5x5 w/ the same weight
    o Monday = 5x5 same weight
    o Wed. = 5x5 same weight, but lighter than Mon.
    o Fri. = 5x5 same weight
    o After a few weeks of this higher volume, reduce volume and go for PRs
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  4. #4
    Registered User StayfQ's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GlennPendlay
    there seem to be a lot of people who do the style of training we usually can "5 by 5" for a while, then wonder "whats next".

    one general comment i would make, is that if this style of training has been successfull for you, why change it? and by style of training, im not talking about one specific program, but the general style of doing whole body exercises, training the whole body or at least most of the body in each workout, and doing multiple sets not taken to failure.

    i do, however, understand the mental side... you do the same thing over and over and you want something different. there are lots of ways you can change things without totally changing to a "new" program. switching back and forth between widely differing types of training isnt that good of an idea... small and systematic changes over time in what you are doing however IS a good idea.

    for instance... say youve been squatting 3 times a week. how about changing one of the workouts to front squat, hell you could change 2 of the workouts to front squat. i hate leg presses, but if you really wanted to, you could squat on monday, front squat on wednesday, and leg press on friday!!! if youve been doing only rows for back, change one or two of the workouts to chinups... substitute stiff legged deadlifts for deadlifts, change mondays workout to 3 sets of 8 for a month, change fridays squat or bench workout to 5 singles, etc, etc, etc.

    ive even seen people who after a while on a 3 day a week program, switched to a 4 day split, doing squats and pressing exercises on monday and thursday, back and pulling exercises on wed and saturday. i dont see this as retreating from the principles of the 5 by 5 at all. you are STILL working your whole body, or very nearly so, every training day. squats work the back, they work everything... and deadlifts or stiff legged deadlifts work the legs, not as much as squats, but they still work them. this is in fact the favored program of mike stone, probably the best ex phys guy on the planet and former head of sports science at the olympic training center.

    the main thing is to go about it in a systematic way.

    one of my lifters, josh wells, who made the junior world team in 2004 in weightlifting, and can jerk close to 400lbs weighing around 180lbs as a teenager, did this program about a year ago in his "off season" to try to gain some general strength.

    monday, squats (5 sets of 3), push presses (3 sets of 5) then glute ham raises or reverse hypers

    wednesday, snatch pulls (5 sets of 2), powercleans (5 sets of 2), chinups (5 sets of 10 with extra weight, hanging from a 2" bar)

    thursday, front squats (6 sets of 2), push jerks (5 sets of 2), military press (3 sets of 5), then glute ham raises or reverse hypers.

    saturday, powersnatches (5 sets of 2), clean pulls (5 sets of 5), barbell rows, (5 sets of 5)

    obviously this is geared toward olympic weightlifting, and not really what most of you would be doing. im not sure many here have that much interest in doing so many snatch and clean pulls. and hes using lower reps, because of course for him strength is a bigger deal than size, but even his reps changed over time, sometimes were higher, sometimes lower. this is just as representative of the 5 by 5 training style as the simpler 3 day programs... because we did it systematically, sets across instead of failure, gradually moving the weights up, gradually adding then subtracting volume of training to force the body to adapt


    the important thing is to think thru the changes, dont make too many at one time, but make them slowly and steadily.

    the real value of the "5 by 5" style of training isnt that it can or will add a certain amount of muscle or strength in an 8 week cycle. the real value is that it is a framework that when used right can work for years, slowly changing and morphing along the way to fit itself to your particular goals, and making for steady progress for 3, 4, or more years. it is more than anything, a mindset. a mindset of writing your workouts down, being systematic, knowing what you are going to do before you go to the gym, having a plan, and knowing that 5lbs a month is 60lbs a year and 180lbs in 3 years.

    and more than that it is a mindset of THINKING, thinking about training, and rejecting the latest and greatest thing that forces many, even most, to run from one program to the next, changing things totally every time they get bored or have a bad workout. by recording everything, thinking a lot, planning, making small changes instead of wholesale ones, going back and looking at your workout log and looking at the last month, 6 months, year, etc, and planning the next month... within a year or two you know more about your body and what to do than me or anyone else could ever tell you.

    now... last comment. i have, in a big drawer, a record of every single workout i have ever done, from the time i was 15 back in 1975 to my last month of competitive training in 2003. every single one. i also have descriptions and comments, tables in the back of the logs that showed weight gain and strength gain on a yearly basis, monthly, etc. comments on what happened to weight/strength when i changed exercises, changed reps, etc. there is very little i dont know about how my body responded, what worked and what didnt, etc. you all should do the same thing. approach training like a scientist working an experiment.
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    link to the thread:

    http://monkeyisland.lylemcdonald.com...ad.php?t=11348

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    Bump for the night crew, this stuff is great.
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    Great stuff. Reps for putting that all together.
    Workout log:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=119228591
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    ttt
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    This thread really needs to be stickied.

    People should follow Rippetoe's Starting Strength for the first 3-9 months of their lifting until linear progress stops, then move on to Texas Method for the next 6-12 months, then move on to what Rippetoe calls "Starr Method" and Madcow calls the "Bill Starr Intermediate 5X5" and which is what Pendlay is describing above. The detailed breakdown Pendlay gives is invaluable, and you'll have a hard time finding this sort of detail anywhere else. Most people could stay with this type of training for years, before moving to the advanced stage, which would be something like the Madcow Advanced 5X5 (which Pendlay authored).

    This is the way people should train if they're really interested in getting big and strong. Everyone with average genetics should be able to hit 300/400/500 in the bench/squat/deadlift within their first two years of training. If you've been training longer and still aren't there, it's probably because 1) you're following retarded 3-5 day bodypart splits with a bunch of isolation exercises and/or 2) you're not eating enough to recover from your workouts because you're afraid of losing your six pack.
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    Here are some excerpts from Glenn Pendlay's posts at the Dr Squat forum a couple years back, where some scrawny idiot (probably from this site) was arguing the superiority of split routines over full body routines:

    now, to add my two cents worth to this whole body thing... you said it wasnt too good of an idea for a "clean" person...

    well, i am clean, i train my whole body in each workout, and i think ive done pretty good when it comes to physical development. ive bench pressed over 500lbs, squatted over 800lbs, deadlifted over 700lbs, snatched 352 in competition and 375 in training, clean and jerked 419 in competition, and just did 440 two nights ago in training. ive also curled 235lbs for 8 reps, closed the #2 ironmind gripper for 28 consecutive reps (dont have a number three). ive also push pressed 429lbs, stiff legged deadlifted 700, done RDL's with over 700 for reps, done strict barbell rows with 425lbs, and have done a good morning with over 500lbs down to parrallel.

    so... what do you think, jj? do you think that whole body workouts have worked ok for me? the fact is, you need to learn a little more about training before you start to act as if you know so much. most of the worlds top athletes train like i do. thats a fact.

    ------------

    i suppose the most important detail is that i have trained steadily from the time i was around 13 or 14 or so to the present, im now 31 by the way.
    ive concentrated on several different sports during this time, including wrestling, scottish highland games, powerlifting, and presently olympic lifting.

    my training has changed of course as i changed sports and matured as an athlete... but it has always centered around exercises like the squat, deadlift, powerclean, clean, push press, bench press, snatch, bb rowing, good mornings, etc. i havnt done each and every exercise at all times throughout the years, but always did mostly exercises like these, big exercises that use lots of different muscles at once.

    ive usually trained with a whole body program... with the exception of a couple of years where i did the westside program.


    --------------------

    I assume this question of how much mass was gained was directed at me.
    well, as a high school freshman, i wrestled at the 112lb class. i lifted all through high school and also grew a lot, and ended up weghing around 185 or so right before wrestling season my senior year... however i lost some weight and wrestled at 171. i really started to grow between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, i think i was about 200lbs starting college. a bit over 6 feet tall also by the way. i started powerlifting not long after this and worked my way up in bodyweight over the next few years, gaining i suppose 20lbs a year on average for the next 4 or 5 years. i peaked out at about 300lbs during my powerlifting career... then took a break from competition for a couple of years while putting my wife through school. i did still train, but not specifically for any competition. after beginning olympic lifting 3 years ago, i quickly shot up to 330lbs, then in the last two years have increased that to about 360lbs.

    as far as measurments go, when i was a starting out in powerliting weighing in the low 200's, i wasnt really that big. but by hte time i was in the 275lb class, i had arms near 20 inches, thighs around 30 inches, and a neck of about 21 inches. at 300lbs i had honest 20 inch arms, 32 inch legs, and a 22 inch neck. right now i have 34 inch thighs, arms a bit over 22 inches, and i am not sure about the neck, but a 23inch neck dress shirt wont button.

    so im at my biggest right now, and also at my strongest. im sure if i went back to powerlifting i could signicantly improve on my powerlifting poundages... the 500 bench, 800 squat, and 700 deadlift as well as my best good morning and best barbell row were all done when i weighed under 300lbs and wasnt near as strong as i am now.

    i plan to gain more weight. i keep getting stronger as i gain muscle and bodyweight... so as long as i can get bigger without getting a big gut or anything, ill keep gaining. ive got a big frame, and hold the weight better than most people probably could. at 360 im still at least halfway athletic, i can run and jump, and play basketball with the kids when i want to... so im sure i can get bigger.

    ---------
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  11. #11
    Registered User StayfQ's Avatar
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    bump again
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    Do you have links to the original posts.
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  13. #13
    Rape Artist xXDeadmanXx's Avatar
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    Bump. Awesome info. The link is provided a few posts above. Lol @ me.
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    Originally Posted by OldSchoolLifter View Post
    This thread really needs to be stickied.

    People should follow Rippetoe's Starting Strength for the first 3-9 months of their lifting until linear progress stops, then move on to Texas Method for the next 6-12 months, then move on to what Rippetoe calls "Starr Method" and Madcow calls the "Bill Starr Intermediate 5X5" and which is what Pendlay is describing above. The detailed breakdown Pendlay gives is invaluable, and you'll have a hard time finding this sort of detail anywhere else. Most people could stay with this type of training for years, before moving to the advanced stage, which would be something like the Madcow Advanced 5X5 (which Pendlay authored).

    This is the way people should train if they're really interested in getting big and strong. Everyone with average genetics should be able to hit 300/400/500 in the bench/squat/deadlift within their first two years of training. If you've been training longer and still aren't there, it's probably because 1) you're following retarded 3-5 day bodypart splits with a bunch of isolation exercises and/or 2) you're not eating enough to recover from your workouts because you're afraid of losing your six pack.


    Exactly.

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    reps for cliffs
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    Wow good stuff i didn't even know about all this. I thought when i stalled in 5x5 i'd have to switch programs. reps to you for giving me at least 6 months more on pr's for this cycle of 5x5.
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  17. #17
    Registered User james0566's Avatar
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    good post! reps!
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  18. #18
    Registered User Uniden's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot for posting this. I've been on Bill Starrs 5x5 for about 6 months and have started to stall a bit, this gave me some good pointers to keep going forward with the programs.

    Reps
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  19. #19
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    Bump to bring it back to the forefront. Also repped OP, this really brightens my day, I've been doing Ripp's 5x5 for three weeks now and plan to go till January at least. This just gives me more ideas for planning. Thanks.
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  20. #20
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    This makes me happy seeing as I am going to jump into a 5x5 progression starting the middle of December/end of fall semester (currently doing a 4 day strength/hypertrophy split). Definitely worth a read if not once then twice to let it sink in. Repped for this.
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