Bill Starr "The Strongest shall SURVIVE" AKA 5x5 Routine

Crissco

Master Don Juan
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#1
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed and enduring book ever written on the subject of weight training is Bill Starr’s “The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football” written in 1976. Seemingly endless variations of Starr’s original routine have sprouted up all over the Net and for good reason – it is possibly the most perfect routine ever devised. His routine focused on bench presses, squats and power cleans, done on a Monday – Wednesday – Friday rotation with heavy, medium and light days. Bill Starr is where the “5×5″ routine came from; each exercise was done following a protocol of five sets of five reps. Starr’s 5×5 routine uses the three exercises which Starr referred to as “the big three”, quoting Starr:

“These are 3 basic exercises used by weightlifters to increase their strength….the football player (and you can insert Martial Artist, Fighter, whatever there) must work for overall body strength as opposed to specific strengthening exercises….In other words the athlete should be building total leg strength rather than just stronger hamstrings. He should be seeking overall strength in his shoulder girdle rather than just stronger deltoids….the program is fast, simple and, most importantly, effective. It requires very little space and a minimum of equipment….”

Bill Starr’s 5X5 Routine In Its Original Form

Monday – Heavy

Power cleans – 5 sets of 5
Bench – 5 sets of 5 1×10 weight from 3rd set (add 10 rep sets after 8-12 weeks on program)
Squats – 5 sets of 5 1×10 weight from 3rd set

(set 1 35% of target / set 2 70% of target / set 3 80% of target / set 4 90% of target / set 5 target)

Wednesday – Light

Power cleans – 5 sets of 5
Incline Bench – 5 sets of 5 1×10 weight from 3rd set
Squats – 5 sets of 5 / 1×10 weight from 3rd set / set 5 use weight from 3rd set of Monday

Friday – Medium

Power cleans – 5 sets of 5
Overhead press – 5 sets of 5 1×10 weight from 3rd set
Squats – 5 sets of 5 / 1×10 weight from 3rd set / set 5 use weight from 3rd set of Monday / set 5 use weight 4th set of Monday


The Bill Starr Power Routine

Monday – Heavy Day

Squat – 5 sets of 5
Bench – 5 sets of 5
Powerclean – 5 sets of 5
Weighted hyperextensions – 2 sets
Weighted sit-ups – 4 sets

Wednesday – Light Day

Squat – 4 sets of 5
Incline Bench – 4 sets of 5
High Pulls – 4 sets of 5
Sit-ups – 3 sets

Friday – Medium

Squat – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple, 1 set of 8
Bench – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple, 1 set of 8
Powercleans – 4 sets of 5, 1 triple
Weighted Dips – 3 sets of 5-8
Triceps and Biceps – 3 sets of 8 each


Bill Starr’s Beginner 5×5

Monday (Heavy Day – 85%)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
Bench Press: 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets
Deadlifts: 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets

Wednesday (Light Day – 65-70%)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday’s weight
Bench Press: 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday’s weight
Pullups: 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets

Friday (Medium Day – 70-85%)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday’s weight
Bench Press: 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday’s weight
Rows: 5 x 5 Ramping weight to top set of 5 reps across 5 sets


The Bill Starr Strength Factor Routine

Monday (Heavy Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Bench Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Deadlifts: 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Bent-Over Rows: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Incline Dumbbell Press: 2 x 20
Calf Raises: 3 x 30

Wednesday (Light Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 50 lbs less than Monday or Lunges: 4 x 6 ramping to limit
Good Mornings: 4 x 10 or Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 4 x 10
Standing Overhead Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Dips: When you can do 20 reps, start adding weight and drop the reps back to 8
Curls: 3 x 15

Friday (Medium Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 20 lbs less than Monday
Incline Bench Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Shrugs: 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Clean High Pulls 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Straight Arm Pullovers: 2 x 20
Chins: 4 sets to failure


Bill Starr’s “Big 3″ Program

Monday – Heavy Day

Powerclean – 5 sets of 5
Bench – 5 sets of 5
Squat – 5 sets of 5

Wednesday – Light Day

Powerclean – 5 sets of 5
Benchpress – 5 sets of 5
Squat – 5 sets of 5

Friday – Medium

Powerclean – 5 sets of 5
Benchpress – 5 sets of 5
Squat – 5 sets of 5
 

bukowski_merit

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#2
Never heard of him. Read some articles of his i found and downloaded his book. Seems to know his stuff.

Any idea why Power Cleans seem to have been replaced by deadlifts in most similar routines?
 

EFFORT

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#3
bukowski_merit said:
Any idea why Power Cleans seem to have been replaced by deadlifts in most similar routines?

Tougher to learn

High risk of injury if form is bad

Not a commercial gym friendly exercise
 

Crissco

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#4
bukowski_merit said:
Never heard of him. Read some articles of his i found and downloaded his book. Seems to know his stuff.

Any idea why Power Cleans seem to have been replaced by deadlifts in most similar routines?
Where did you download his book from?
 

Kerpal

Master Don Juan
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#5
This guy was Mark Rippetoe's mentor. He believed in increasing one's deadlift by deadlifting only rarely and focusing more attention on working on explosive pulling movements like cleans, high pulls, etc.
 

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#6
If the 5x5 routine changed the game so dramatically why is there so much derivation in reps/sets advocated on these forums (1x12, 2x8, etc)? What benefits/limitations does a 5x5 have that alternatives in the Vault do not?
 

Kerpal

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#7
Anything works for beginners (the vast majority of people here are beginners). Some things work better and keep working longer.
 
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Crissco

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#8
lifeislearning said:
If the 5x5 routine changed the game so dramatically why is there so much derivation in reps/sets advocated on these forums (1x12, 2x8, etc)? What benefits/limitations does a 5x5 have that alternatives in the Vault do not?
Good question man. Wish I had a direct answer for you but I can only tell you from my own experience that 5 reps is the key. For me at least. Strength training is anywhere from 3-6 rep range. With strength usually comes size. Like I said for me 5 reps is the key and works wonders. For others it might be 6,7,8,9 reps, dont know. I think it still comes down to the saying with strength comes size, and 5 reps is considered for both strength and size. I say give it a shot and see how you like it.
 
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