Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts

Mullet power: John Inzer deadlifts 780 lbs. at 165 lbs. bodyweight. (Photo: Powerlifting USA)

Pavel Tsatsouline, former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, has made a name for himself in the world of strength.

He wrote the below article, outlining the simple routine of Russian Master of Sports, Alexander Faleev, for Built magazine, which folded before publication. Pavel contacted me to publish the piece here, and I am pleased to offer it to you as an exclusive.

Though I often suggest training to failure for maximal size gains (see “Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. in 4 Weeks”), the pre-failure approach detailed here is excellent for maximal strength development, and the repetitions can be further reduced for relative strength (per-lb. bodyweight) development.

Enter Pavel…

Total read time: 12 minutes.

Read time for routine only: 7 minutes.

Pavel:

I have read a book that has made an impression: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.

The 4-Hour Workweek is not a dubious get-rich-quick scheme but a guide to ultimate productivity through ruthless elimination of non-essentials. “Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness,” states the author. “This is hard to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity. Few people choose to (or are able to) measure the results of their actions and thus measure their contribution in time.”

It is no surprise that Russia has borne a number of Ferriss-type strength and muscle building programs, mercilessly eliminating the non-essentials and delivering extraordinary gains. One is Alexander Faleev’s system that has gained many followers among Russian muscle heads in the last four years.

Comrade Faleev dabbled with powerlifting for seven or eight years, then took a few years off. He poured over years of his training logs looking for what worked and came back to the barbell with a vengeance. In just six months, he reached the coveted Master of Sports level in powerlifting.

Faleev has summed up his approach as “Nothing extra!” In one sentence, it is about doing only four things: the squat, the bench, the deadlift, and competing regularly. That’s it.

The system the Russian had developed for his strength and size breakthrough could have come out of The 4-Hour Workweek. Among Tim Ferriss’ tools for getting the most out of life is Pareto’s law. The essence of the law is that 80% of all results come from 20% of the efforts. Applied to muscle and strength, it means, if most gains will come from the three powerlifts, why waste your time and energy on curls and close-grip benches?

Before I will move on to the nuts and bolts of the training regimen I will address your objections. I can read your mind: “But I am not a powerlifter, and I don’t want to look like one!”

The sport of powerlifting (PL) has an unfair image of refrigerator-sized men whose faces turn red from blood pressure when they bend over to tie their shoes — or rather try to bend over and get stopped by an enormous “uni-ab”. To say that all PLers look like that is akin to stating that all runners are thin and wiry.

Look at photos of powerlifters in lighter weight classes. They are as hard as a rock, and many are ripped — without curls and cable crossovers. Take Texan John Inzer who held the world record in the deadlift for years, 780 pounds at 165 pounds of bodyweight or Ukrainian Oleksandr Kutcher, who recently beat that record with 793 pounds. These guys look more like gymnasts than refrigerators.

Tim: Oleksandr Kutcher pulls a light 694 lbs. and then needs chamomile tea.

Faleev’s 80/20 Routine

5 x 5 Progression:

For beginners, Faleev offers a straightforward progressive overload workout with 5 sets of 8 reps. Eventually you are supposed to advance to 5 x 5. In my opinion, you should go straight to 5 x 5. Sets of five are the meat and potatoes of strength training.

Start with a conservative weight. If you manage five reps in all five sets, next time add 10 pounds and start over. Not 5 pounds, and definitely not 2, but 10. For reasons that are outside of the scope of this article, Malibu Ken and Barbie jumps with tiny plates are a waste of time.

Most likely you will not bag all the fives on your first workout with the new weight. Perhaps you will get 5, 5, 5, 4, 3. No problem, stay with the poundage until you get all 5×5. Your second workout might be 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, and your third of fourth should get you to 5 x 5. Slap on another pair of “nickels” (5-lb. plates) and work your way up to 5 x 5 again. According to Faleev, the above progression will add 110-175 pounds to your max in each of the three powerlifts in one year, provided you are fairly new to the game.

Deadlift 1x per week; Squat and Bench 2x per week

You will be deadlifting once a week and squatting and benching twice a week, once heavy and once light for the latter two. Your light days are for honing technique, not for burning out your muscles with high reps. Do 5 sets of 4 reps (5 x 4) with weights that are 80% of the heavy day’s. For instance, if you did 5 x 5 with 200 on your heavy day, stay with 160 for 5 x 4 on your light day. That’s it! The key to the program’s success is in doing less.

The Russian recommends the following schedule:

Monday –heavy squat (SQ)

Tuesday –heavy benchpress (BP)

Wednesday –heavy deadlift (DL)

Thursday – light SQ

Friday –light BP

Saturday –off

Sunday –off

If training five days is not an option, four will do:

Monday –heavy SQ

Tuesday –heavy BP

Wednesday –heavy DL

Thursday –off

Friday – light SQ, light BP

Saturday –off

Sunday –off

Not ideal, but if you have to cram your training into three days:

Monday – heavy SQ

Tuesday –off

Wednesday –heavy BP, light SQ

Thursday – off

Friday – heavy DL, light BP

Saturday – off

Sunday – off

Failure and Rest Intervals

Never train to failure! Don’t attempt a rep unless you are 100% sure you will make it. Ideally, keep one extra rep in the bank. “Save your strength for the next set,” insists Faleev.

Don’t get greedy.

Practice one lift per workout, stretch, and get out. Faleev stresses that you must wrap up each strength workout with static stretches. “The benefits of stretching are enormous. Stretching can increase your strength by 10%. It is a lot.” The man explains that “when you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains.” Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, “if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.”

Don’t rush your sets.

Do a couple warm-up sets if you must, then feel free to take 5 min. and even more between your work sets. Top power dogs take longer; 30 min. is not unheard of. Power loves rest and does not tolerate rushing. You may feel that you are completely recovered in 2 min. but take a full 5 anyway. According to Faleev, an hour is a good number to shoot for in your workout length.

Balanced Development: Biceps and Other Decorations

One common objection is: “But I will not get a balanced development if do only three exercises! What about my biceps and my…?!”

Faleev sticks to his guns: “For a sharp increase in muscle mass and [strength] results you must do only three exercises: the bench press, the squat, and the deadlift… when you deadlift a 550-pound barbell think what kind of a huge load is born by your biceps, shoulders, traps, and even neck… When you squat with a 550-pound barbell, think about the high pressure the athlete’s abdomen must withstand. An athlete lifting such weights cannot have weak abs by definition –the midsection is strengthened in the process of training the squat. If you bench 330, the muscles of your arms, chest, and the front delts will be so developed, than any bodybuilder will be envious. One must add an interesting detail–in the bench press it is very important to learn to use the lats when starting the bar off the chest. Perhaps someone will think of this as a paradox but the bench press develops the back as well, especially the lats.” Faleev states than the above numbers, a 550-pound squat and deadlift and a 330-pound bench, are “more than achievable” if you focus on these exercises and practice them for years.

And if you have not felt your abs when squatting, it only means you have not squatted heavy enough. “Bodybuilding is a strength sport. Don’t forget it,” admonishes Faleev.

The only legit reason for additional exercises is correction of a dysfunction or imbalance that puts your health at risk. An example would be a pronounced discrepancy in the hamstrings’ flexibility, your knees caving in when you land after a jump, or the failure to activate your butt muscles or “gluteal amnesia”. But diagnosis and correction of such problems is not something you can do on your own or even under the guidance or a personal trainer; you need a specially trained health professional. I suggest that you find one through Gray Cook’s website. Cook is the country’s premier sports physical therapist; in the last Super Bowl both teams were his clients. Get a tune-up from a professional on his team so you can safely focus on the basics and not do stupid things like extra leg curls “to balance out my quads”.

But back to our basics.

Faleev stresses that additional exercises are worse than worthless –- they are harmful because they drain valuable energy that your body could have directed towards spectacular gains in the big three. “…get rid of the excesses and just do what is necessary… When you give up the secondary exercises, you will feel that you are not training enough. You will be leaving the gym totally fresh. This is it, the energy for an increase in the load in the basic lifts. This reserve is what will enable you to ‘shoot out of the gate’!”

The above point cannot be emphasized enough; curls, calf raises, and other miscellaneous non-sense may not feel hard but they drain your adaptive energy!

The Fourth Element: Competition and Parkinson’s Law

Focus on the lifts that matter is half of Faleev’s power and muscle equation. Regularly competing in sanctioned power meets is the other half. Faleev observes that with a powerlifting meet date looming on the calendar, many an athlete have accomplished more in six months than others have in many years.

In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss echoes him when he makes use of the Parkinson’s law to get results faster.

According to this law, a task will take as much time as you will allot for it. In other words, you will shine under the pressure of an ambitious deadline. Applied to iron, it means compete, and often! You will be forced to focus on what matters — your squat, your bench, your deadlift –– rather than fool around with what former Coach Powerlifting Team USA Mark Reifkind calls “random acts of variety”. Subscribe to Powerlifting USA magazine on Amazon. Find a meet near you three months away, and go for it! Look for “raw” meets that require that you compete without special squat suits, bench shirts, etc. AAU is one of the federations that hosts raw meets.

As the meet approaches, cut back from 5 x 5 to 4 x 4, 3 x 3, and finally, a couple of weeks before the competition, 2 x 2. Up the poundages accordingly. After the meet, take a week off, then start over with 5 x 5.

Faleev stresses that maxing in the gym is dangerous. Maxing out tests your strength but does not build it. A max workout in the gym amounts to missing a productive 5 x 5 day that you will never get back.

Tim: 5 x 5 isn’t just for beginners: Johnnie Jackson, one of the few champions in both powerlifting and bodybuilding, demonstrates the deadlift. I suggest not slamming the plates. Touch the plates to the floor as if a baby were sleeping in the room.

Faleev offers a formula that will help you estimate your max from your 5 x 5: multiply that weight by 1.2. This is not exact science, but it is much better than those ridiculous charts that claim to calculate your 1 rep max (1RM) from your 10RM.

Just decide what you want: The process of enjoying the pump, the burn, and the variety of exercises? Or muscles and power?

Faleev’s secret of success is so simple, it is easy to ignore: practice nothing but the powerlifts and compete regularly. Period. The Russian muscle man walks into the gym, trains one lift, spends a few minutes stretching, and hits the showers. Done!

Since he dropped all the assistance exercises his progress has been nothing but spectacular. Ironically, his gym buddies who sweat for hours wasting time on meaningless exercises consider him a slacker. He does not care, the wily Russkie has the last laugh with his strength and his mass.

# # #

About the author:

Pavel Tsatsouline is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, currently a subject matter expert to the US Secret Service, the US Marine Corps, and the US Navy SEALs. Pavel’s bestselling book Power to the People!: Russian Strength Training Secrets has been published in the US and Russia.

In real-time: Follow Tim and his experimentation with Pavel’s methods here.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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906 Replies to “Pavel: 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts”

  1. From Chris:

    “Hey, I reading Faleev’s book that contains this info. But there are a few things wrong with Pavels instructions, namely that he has got the light days wrong, according to the book they should be 60% (not 80%) for only 4×4 not 5 sets.”

    Chris, in his book ‘Shkola Svoego Tela’ (‘Your Body’s School’) (2004) on p. 60 Faleev recommends 5 sets of 4 reps with 80% of the weight used on the heavy days.

    Perhaps you have read another book of his. It is not unusual for a coach to change the sets and the percentages without violating the principles. 4×4 does not surprise me as many Russian coaches apply the “60% Rule” to load planning. According to this experimentally calculated formula, the volume of the lowest load training unit (a workout, a microcycle/week, a mesocycle/month) should equal approximately 60% of the highest load unit, provided they are of the same length. If the heavy day’s volume is 25 reps (5×5), light day’s can go as low as 15 (e.g. 5×3).

    But I doubt he would recommend 60% of the 5×5 weight. A 225-pound bencher would be looking at 115 pound light days, which is way too light even for technique training. I suspect that 60% referred to 1RM, not the 5×5 poundage.

  2. @whoever

    What does it mean when you can’t lift the same weight you lifted last week? Squatted 185lbs, 5 x 5 last monday, and could barely do 175lbs 5 x 5 this monday. Not injured, not tired, ate the same thing i normally eat…hrm…the only exercise I’ve done outside lifting is walking a few miles a day.

  3. Hi Pavel, yes it was a different book of his, I think its called “Strength Training Get rid of misconceptions” Published in 2006.

    You’re probably correct about the 60% of the one rep max.

    I found the book on this here:

    http://faleev.com/main_power.html

    Havent read the ‘Shkola Svoego Tela’ (‘Your Body’s School’), but thanks for the info.

    N.B.

    Link update: my previous post that says points to the download, is incorrect, please find below the correct link:

    http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http://faleev.com/main_power.html&prev=hp&rurl=translate.google.com&usg=ALkJrhiXAMAGdFEs6G1cgQfRcNddi7YRaA

  4. Pavel:

    I’ve just quickly glanced at the “School of Body” book, appears to be very similiar to the version I’m reading. But the “Strength training. Get rid of misconceptions.”

    book was published in (2006), so the 60% of the heavy day was a update.

    To quote the Chapter headline in “School of Body” (2004):

    Russian:

    “???????? ??????. “???????” ??????? ?????????? ???????? ?? ??????? 5 ???????? ?? 5 ???. “??????” ???????? ? ????? 80% ?? “???????” ?? ??????? 5 ???????? ?? 4 ????”

    English:(As best as the online translation software can manage):

    “Commandment Three. “Heavy” basic training done by rule 5 sets of 5 times. “Light” are done with a weight of 80% of “heavy” by rule 5 sets to 4 times ”

    But for “Strength training. Get rid of misconceptions.” (2006):

    pg. 65

    Russian:

    “??????? ??????. “???????” ??????? ?????????? ???????? ?? ??????? 5 ???????? ?? 5-8 ???. “??????” ???????? ? ????? 60% ?? “???????” ?? ??????? 4 ???????? ?? 4 ????.”

    English (again as best as the translation software can do):

    “The third principle. “Heavy” basic training done by rule 5 sets of 5-

    8 times. “Light” are made with a weight of 60% of “heavy” to rule

    4 of the Attempts to 4 times.”

    Again I don’t entirely trust the translation software, so if Pavel or any other people able to read Russian can check the translation, and verify how close it is, I would be very greatful.

    Direct download to A.V. Faleev’s updated book, below:

    http://faleev.ru/Downloads/kniga3.rar

    Thanks in advanced

    -Chris

  5. Sorry didn’t realise that the Russian alphabet would be unable to be posted here’s the Russian for the 2nd book using the english alphabet:

    “Tyazhyeliye” bazoviye tryenurovki dyelautsya po praviloo 5 podhodov po 5-8 raz. “Lyegkiye” dyelautsya s vesom 60% ot “Tyazhyelih” po praviloo 4 podhodov po 4 paza.

    This is as best as I could do, it is a straight letter-by-letter translation, but it might be just gibberish now…

    Regardless, this can be found on page 65 of the book.

    -Chris

  6. From Chris:

    “Tyazhyeliye” bazoviye tryenurovki dyelautsya po praviloo 5 podhodov po 5-8 raz. “Lyegkiye” dyelautsya s vesom 60% ot “Tyazhyelih” po praviloo 4 podhodov po 4 paza.”

    Chris, there are no references to light day % at all on p. 65 of my 2004 edition.

  7. From Heyward:

    “What does it mean when you can’t lift the same weight you lifted last week? Squatted 185lbs, 5 x 5 last monday, and could barely do 175lbs 5 x 5 this monday. Not injured, not tired, ate the same thing i normally eat…hrm…the only exercise I’ve done outside lifting is walking a few miles a day.”

    Heyward, it means you need to take a week off and start a new cycle.

  8. “From Pavel:

    Chris, there are no references to light day % at all on p. 65 of my 2004 edition.”

    ————–

    no, sorry I was quoting from the 2006 edition.

    At the end he explains the rational for the light days. Basically if I’m reading it right he saying that you shouldn’t train the main muscle groups heavy more that every 7 days, due to the fact your still recovering.

    So the light days need to be light enough to not break down anymore muscle fibers, but while allowing for enhanced restoration to take place, in other words, Active Recovery. But also to allow for, as you said to practice technique.

    thanks for responding to these posts, as I’m sure youre very busy

    – Chris B

  9. I would like to know how do you do your warm up for the 5×5 ?

    for BP,DL,SQ

    I have to say I m lost here

    nothing is said about warming up ?

    do you suggest more exercises after the primary one ? (bp,dl,sq)

    I read over and over but never see anything about warm up

    do I go to the gym and start right away with 60 or 70 % of my weight ????

    I m really interested to try but I need more explanation

    and Pavel what is your opinion about MAX-OT work out ??

    based on compound move as well with 3 min rest betewn every set

    Max OT is very popular and I was wondering your opinion about it

    sincerely

  10. Hi Pavel,

    Thanks for anwering our questions, I bought three of your books and some kettlebells because of this post about one year ago. I have mostly concentrated on kettlbells this year with much satisfaction and now I want to go back to barbell training so I can alternate it with kettlebells every 12 weeks like you suggested in an above post. I have used the 5×5 method for years, as I use to powerlift. My next goal is to gain mass and strength with presses and deadlifts. Your book ptp has a program I would like to do called the Bear and I noticed that you mentioned above that doing 1 day of DLs and 2 days of pressing a week is the logical thing to do. My question is, that if I want to do the Bear program, should I drop the weight for technique and active recovery on the second day of presses or should I use the same amount of weight or move it up like linear progression? Please clarify how that program is suppose to be done so that I can train correctly. I would like to know if there is a light pressing day or not, and how I should cycle the weight on this program. I am familiar with the cycling options you have in your book ptp so if you just tell me if using wave or step cycling would be best for this program or if there is another way specific to this program that would be great. thank you for your willingness to help. Your work is brilliant! Power to you!!!

  11. From Chris:

    “no, sorry I was quoting from the 2006 edition.

    At the end he explains the rational for the light days. Basically if I’m reading it right he saying that you shouldn’t train the main muscle groups heavy more that every 7 days, due to the fact your still recovering.

    So the light days need to be light enough to not break down anymore muscle fibers, but while allowing for enhanced restoration to take place, in other words, Active Recovery. But also to allow for, as you said to practice technique.”

    No problem, Chris, there are many ways to structure light days and some elite coaches like Marty Gallagher do without them altogether.

  12. “I would like to know how do you do your warm up for the 5×5 ?

    for BP,DL,SQ

    I have to say I m lost here

    nothing is said about warming up ?

    do you suggest more exercises after the primary one ? (bp,dl,sq)

    I read over and over but never see anything about warm up

    do I go to the gym and start right away with 60 or 70 % of my weight ????

    I m really interested to try but I need more explanation ”

    Never mind I find the answer after all lol

    but plz answer the second one if you can 🙂

    about the MAX OT Training

    and Pavel what is your opinion about MAX-OT work out ??

    based on compound move as well with 3 min rest betewn every set

    Max OT is very popular and I was wondering your opinion about it

    sincerely

  13. From Jerome:

    “I would like to know how do you do your warm up for the 5×5 ?”

    It is an individual choice. Generally a few low rep sets for grooving the skill are enough. For instance, if your 5×5 weight for the day is 225 you might do 135×5, 185×2, 205×1.

    “do you suggest more exercises after the primary one ? (bp,dl,sq)”

    Definitely not. That is the point of the program.

    “Pavel what is your opinion about MAX-OT work out ??”

    I don’t know what it is. Please clarify.

  14. Hi guys,

    I used the program fairly strictly for 12 weeks and saw amazing results (see my above post).

    However, I am now cycling with 4 fairly taxing workouts per week and I wondering how I should go about maintaining (realistically, slowing the rate at which I lose) the strength I developed on this program.

    So I ask the readers, Tim, and Pavel for their insight. Would would suit my needs best? A couple days a week Pttp type program? EtK? Right now I am doing 1×5 DL and 1×5 SQ to “grease the groove” on my off-bike days, but I am finding it is leaving me a little depleted for my bike workouts (maybe I am lifting too heavy).

    Thanks guys, I continue to learn much from this post.

    Moses

    PS: My cycling training program is an 80/20 type program, and off 4-6 hours a week of riding, I’m competing with people that do 2-4 times the volume!

  15. thank you for the answer Pavel

    the MAX OT training been popular by the AST SPORT SCIENCE year ago

    it’s base on heavy training 3 set of 3-6 reps by exercises and no more then 2 muscles group a day for 4 times a week training

    or one muscle group a day for 5 time a week of training

    you have to take a full 3 minute rest between every set

    the training is only base on compounded move ONLY

    chest will be ( BP , Incline , and decline )

    and back ( DL , pull down,rowing )

    and etc etc for every muscle group

    and your training doesn’t last more then a hour

    there is the link for the web site

    http://www.ast-ss.com/maxot.php

    hope to hear from you again soon

    and thank you again for the answer

    very sincerely

    Jerome

  16. Jerome, it looks like a good plan. I would add an unloading week every four weeks. Instead of 3×6 do 3×3 with 80% of the 3×6 weight.

  17. One thing not mentioned about Max-OT is that they advocate going to failure on every work set. Max-OT is a body building workout rather than a powerlifting workout.

  18. well I m really interested by you Pavel I have to say lol

    I did master in sport health science

    you technique made a lot of sense

    but I wondering your opinion about other technique

    I m fan of heavy and short training

    and so far the MAX OT was very interesting and very logic .

    but very unknown in general public

    they suggest that every 4-5 week you change your routine around.

    like instead of starting by Bench Press then 4 week later you start by incline for example .

    and every 8-10 week you suppose to take 1 full week rest

    your training technique really interested me .

    do you have any place for cardio ? how do you propose to do it ?

    Max OT propose to wait 8 hours before doing any cardio and that the way I learn it as well…..to wait 8 hours after a strength training…

    what your opinion about it ?

    thank again for all your answer

    hope to hear from you

    sincerely

  19. Hi Pavel,

    Thanks for anwering our questions, I bought three of your books and some kettlebells because of this post about one year ago. I have mostly concentrated on kettlbells this year with much satisfaction and now I want to go back to barbell training so I can alternate it with kettlebells every 12 weeks like you suggested in an above post. I have used the 5×5 method for years, as I use to powerlift. My next goal is to gain mass and strength with presses and deadlifts. Your book ptp has a program I would like to do called the Bear and I noticed that you mentioned above that doing 1 day of DLs and 2 days of pressing a week is the logical thing to do. My question is, that if I want to do the Bear program, should I drop the weight for technique and active recovery on the second day of presses or should I use the same amount of weight or move it up like linear progression? Please clarify how that program is suppose to be done so that I can train correctly. I would like to know if there is a light pressing day or not, and how I should cycle the weight on this program. I am familiar with the cycling options you have in your book ptp so if you just tell me if using wave or step cycling would be best for this program or if there is another way specific to this program that would be great. thank you for your willingness to help. Your work is brilliant! Power to you!!!

  20. Sorry for not beng clear.

    I am wondering the best way to maintain (or slow the loss) of the strength I gained on the program while competing as a competitive road cyclist.

    Should I be converting the strength I gained into strength endurance?

    I am wanting to be in the gym no more than 2-3 times a week.

    Thanks again group,

    Moses

  21. From Adam:

    “One thing not mentioned about Max-OT is that they advocate going to failure on every work set. Max-OT is a body building workout rather than a powerlifting workout.”

    Adam, that is easy enough to fix.

  22. From Jerome:

    “well I m really interested by you Pavel I have to say lol I did master in sport health science you technique made a lot of sense but I wondering your opinion about other technique I m fan of heavy and short training and so far the MAX OT was very interesting and very logic but very unknown in general public

    “they suggest that every 4-5 week you change your routine around.

    like instead of starting by Bench Press then 4 week later you start by incline for example and every 8-10 week you suppose to take 1 full week rest”

    Jerome, it is one of many legit approaches.

    “your training technique really interested me .do you have any place for cardio ? how do you propose to do it ?”

    I prefer kettlebells. Please see http://www.enterthekettlebell.com.

    “Max OT propose to wait 8 hours before doing any cardio and that the way I learn it as well…..to wait 8 hours after a strength training…what your opinion about it ?”

    It is a good idea.

  23. From Moses Bernard, DC:

    “I am wondering the best way to maintain (or slow the loss) of the strength I gained on the program while competing as a competitive road cyclist. Should I be converting the strength I gained into strength endurance?”

    Doc, there is no way you could successfully follow a powerlifting type training regimen and be a serious cyclist. One thing will have to go.

  24. Great article. Again this 80/20 principle seems to pop up everywhere 😉

    I’ve come across articles on the 5×5 training principles before, and have decided right now to follow this program for the next 6 months. Why not 🙂

    I’ll report back to this form with some updates on my progress.

    All the best.

  25. Hi Pavel,

    I have been doing this workout for 3 months and I have had significant gains for the first time ever! I cut out almost all of my cardio and just focused on power. I am now training for greco roman wrestling and was curious about what type of workout I can do to maintain my power and also get my cardio up. Thanks for the help!

  26. Hello Pavel, Fascinating info. Your knowledge is unsurpassed from any I’ve found. I have a son who plays football (American). Due to a variety of reasons he doesn’t participate in his schools off season weight program. We have been working out at home with kettlebells originally and more recently with the stronglifts 5×5 program. We also do some cardio as time permits. He is experiencing nice gains but it seems that this program you are recommending may be the best for him and for our situation.He is 5’9″ and 220 probably carrying 25lbs more than he needs.The coach looks for big numbers as far as lifting goes, but he needs explosive power for his lineman position and would also like to lose the belly without losing much weight.The 5×5 seems to be the answer for the strength and explosiveness, while kettlebells would burn fat. He currently lifts; sq 225 dl 275 and bp 185 1RM. What route would you recommend and what kind of weight would you expect him to be lifting by August? Thanks

  27. Pavel,

    I am about to begin this program for the second time. I originally started the program during June 09′ and worked it for 11weeks. During this time i did not deload at any point and stopped when I did due to a minor pull in my right pectoral. Despite this I made huge gains particularly in my Squat and DL, ending numbers were, Squat 425(with belt), DL 515(with belt), Bench 270(no gear). I have since worked wendlers 5-3-1 program, but feel i have never been as strong, flexible and lean, as i was when doing this 5×5. I wanted to know how often you recomend backing down and deloading the weight, before bringing it back up again. I was thinking mabey every 4th or 5th week droping the weight to 60%-65% and doing Monday squat, Tuesday bench, Friday DL, then the next monday resume where i was only 10 lbs heavier. I’ve never competed, I dont do cardio all i care about is being stong and healthy. Thank You, for this program.

  28. A few qualms and questions I have about this particular article:

    First of all, what records and/or major meets have Faleev, or anybody that religiously follows this workout schedule, broken or won?

    I’d also like to include the following quote from the article: “for Built magazine, which folded before publication.” So, prior to being posted here, he was planning on wiriting this for a particluar magazine which folded… That should tell you something as well.

    While I do agree that the three main lifts: Squat, bench, dead, work a variety of muscles, doing those sole exercises isn’t a great way to improve in areas where you are weak in. For instance, when you are first pressing right of your chest, you are using entirely less of your triceps that coming to a lockout. Just doing regular bench all the time won’t improve your triceps much. That will leave them undeveloped once you are move up to higher weight, thus making it harder to lockout.

    The same applies with Deadlift and Squats. Faleev states that in doing Squats, one uses their abdominals as well as legs. That is definitely true, no argument there. But if you just do squats all the time, and no exercises singling out your abs, when you find yourself doing a good 70+ lbs more than your previous you will also find that getting up from the bottom will be a little tougher than expected. If you aren’t being thrown over by the weight… that is.

    Just my 2 cents.

  29. Dear All,

    I am an Indian researcher at a university in the States.

    I really like your methods and I have been following the Faleev workout for 2 weeks now. I am 6 feet 2 inches in height and weigh 235 lbs, at age 26. I would like to lose approximately 35-40lbs of fat that I have and put on as much muscle as I can with the Faleev workout.

    Now, I am from India, and like most Indians , am primarily a vegetarian; i.e I eat chicken approximately once a week. Thus, most of my proteins comes from lentils (Dals of various varieties) ,whey protein, edamame and “chana” seeds.

    These days I do this:

    1. Take a banana and some milk; workout for 40 minutes before school in the morning, and drink 30 gms of protein, 1-2 slices of bread without butter, 2-3 whole fruits (apples, pears).

    2. Lunch is a half a cup of rice, a bowl of lentils, one serving vegetables, a big salad.

    3. I workout according to Faleevs plan, doing the 5 day plan of Monday-SQ, Tuesday-BP, etc. etc.

    In this, I finish my 5*5 sets. Usually I have enough energy to go on for another 5-6 sets, so I do those also to get “tired” and feel worked out. I throw in some Sun Salutations for flexibility and some back exercises on a bench.

    Dinner is 30 more gm of whey protein, Lentils (dal), 1-2 helpings of veggies, and one Naan / tortilla. I invariably take dessert; dark chocolate, a fruit, some sweetened fruit flavoured yoghurt ( Lala strawberry tastes really good!)

    Questions:

    a. As a person who is new to lifting, and with disproportionately long legs, should I reduce the range of motion of the squats and do heavy weights, or should I emphasize the full range of motion on squats and do lighter weight. I squat 225 at reduced range.

    b. I am cutting out the desserts from my diet. Would you recommend that I remove the breads, Naan, and rice also and increase the salads, and raw veggies like cucumbers and carrots? Will I feel weak etc? Keep in mind that I have hypothyroidism ( I take synthyroid), and I also take an antidepressant like Lexapro (10mg) everyday.

  30. From Jon C

    “I have been doing this workout for 3 months and I have had significant gains for the first time ever! I cut out almost all of my cardio and just focused on power. I am now training for greco roman wrestling and was curious about what type of workout I can do to maintain my power and also get my cardio up. Thanks for the help!”

    Jon, great to hear about your progress! Unfortunately this program is not compatible with wrestling. You need a lower volume, less demanding, plan, e.g. 3×3 or 5, 3, 2.

  31. From lance:

    “Hello Pavel, Fascinating info. Your knowledge is unsurpassed from any I’ve found. I have a son who plays football (American). Due to a variety of reasons he doesn’t participate in his schools off season weight program. We have been working out at home with kettlebells originally and more recently with the stronglifts 5×5 program. We also do some cardio as time permits. He is experiencing nice gains but it seems that this program you are recommending may be the best for him and for our situation.He is 5?9? and 220 probably carrying 25lbs more than he needs.The coach looks for big numbers as far as lifting goes, but he needs explosive power for his lineman position and would also like to lose the belly without losing much weight.The 5×5 seems to be the answer for the strength and explosiveness, while kettlebells would burn fat. He currently lifts; sq 225 dl 275 and bp 185 1RM. What route would you recommend and what kind of weight would you expect him to be lifting by August? Thanks”

    Lance, thank you for your kind words! I would alternate periods of strength maintenance (e.g. 5, 3, 2 with the 5×5 weight) and intense kettlebell trainining for fat loss and conditioning (the ‘Enter the Kettlebell!’ Program Minimum) and periods of strength emphasis (5×5 as in the article) and low volume kettlebell work. Don’t bother with power cleans and such until you bring the kid’s squat and deadlift up to at least 400.

  32. From Ian:

    “I am about to begin this program for the second time. I originally started the program during June 09? and worked it for 11weeks. During this time i did not deload at any point and stopped when I did due to a minor pull in my right pectoral. Despite this I made huge gains particularly in my Squat and DL, ending numbers were, Squat 425(with belt), DL 515(with belt), Bench 270(no gear). I have since worked wendlers 5-3-1 program, but feel i have never been as strong, flexible and lean, as i was when doing this 5×5. I wanted to know how often you recomend backing down and deloading the weight, before bringing it back up again. I was thinking mabey every 4th or 5th week droping the weight to 60%-65% and doing Monday squat, Tuesday bench, Friday DL, then the next monday resume where i was only 10 lbs heavier. I’ve never competed, I dont do cardio all i care about is being stong and healthy. Thank You, for this program.”

    Ian, impressive numbers! What is your bodyweight, before and after? What were you starting numbers in the powerlifts?

    While you must deload, there are many different ways of doing it. Cutting the intensity and volume every 4th or 5th week is one legit approach. Cycling (starting light, then building up, peaking, and starting over) is another. Dan Austin’s 1992 world DL record still stands and so do Coan’s DL records. They were achieved with basic linear cycling. This method is no longer fashionable, which is unfortunate, giving its proven effectiveness. Check out Marty Gallagher’s “The Purposeful Primitive” (http://www.dragondoor.com/b37.html).

  33. To Cody Kellum:

    Cody, before I respond to your comments, could you do me a favor and tell me what is your lifting background?

    Thank you.

  34. Pavel,

    Thank you for your response. My body weight began around 175lbs. and ended around 180-185lbs. My natural body weight is about 185, but i was lighter due to training from a wrestling tournament. My privious PR’s were squat 355 lbs, DL 420 lbs, and Bench 235 lbs. I can write a little more about my experience with this if the other readers would like/find helpful

    1. I think it’s totally appropriate for this blog! Ian, feel free to post in the comments here or share with me via my assistant at amy-at-fourhourworkweek(dot)com

  35. Pavel, thank you for the reply. What would you recommend for low volume kettlebell and how often to alternate between workouts? Every two weeks, every month? Thanks again.

  36. Lance, try every three weeks. “Low volume” is relative to what is “high volume” is. Perhaps 1/2. Experiment.

  37. Hello Pavel,

    I purchased the ETK book and dvd when they came out and it is a fun program.

    I really admire the simplicity of ETK and the routine you present here. I really appreciate that you have taken time to answer questions and I hope you will answer a few more.

    First, I have a broad chest and I do not wish to develop it. I have replaced bench presses with overhead presses. As you say, the gains are slower but they are still gains. Do you have any additional comments about this specific change to the program?

    Second, this program reminds me of Dan Johns “Rapid Ascent Program” and I wonder how you might apply this 1 lift a day to olympic lifts or if that is just ridiculous. I’d love to get some overhead squats and powercleans into a similarly stripped down routine.

    Finally, I have never really grasped how to effectively alternate programs. So for example, in your response to Lance you proposed periods of strength maintenance, ETK, and strength emphasis. When you return to one of these periods, do you simply start where you left off with your numbers?

    I thought I underestood the principal of cycling, but only as applied to one routine. So for example do the 80/20 routine for 4 weeks, adding 10 pounds every week. Then start over with 10 more pounds than your original starting poundage.

    Now, if after that 4th week I instead start 4 weeks of ETK program minimum, where do my numbers start when I return to barbell work?

    Thanks so much for your time. I see you have a new book out (PTTP Pro) and I look forward to reading it.

  38. From Grable, my answers in CAPS:

    “I purchased the ETK book and dvd when they came out and it is a fun program. I really admire the simplicity of ETK and the routine you present here. I really appreciate that you have taken time to answer questions and I hope you will answer a few more.

    First, I have a broad chest and I do not wish to develop it. I have replaced bench presses with overhead presses. As you say, the gains are slower but they are still gains. Do you have any additional comments about this specific change to the program?

    IF YOU FOLLOW FALLEEV’S PLAN, REPLACING BPS WITH MPS WILL NOT WORK.

    Second, this program reminds me of Dan Johns “Rapid Ascent Program” and I wonder how you might apply this 1 lift a day to olympic lifts or if that is just ridiculous. I’d love to get some overhead squats and powercleans into a similarly stripped down routine.

    I SUGGEST THAT YOU STICK TO ONE PROGRAM FOR AWHILE. DAN JOHN’S IS A GREAT CHOICE.

    Finally, I have never really grasped how to effectively alternate programs. So for example, in your response to Lance you proposed periods of strength maintenance, ETK, and strength emphasis. When you return to one of these periods, do you simply start where you left off with your numbers?

    YOU ARE GETTING AHEAD OF YOURSELF. I SUGGESTED THE BLOCK PERIODIZATION TO LANCE’S SON BECAUSE OF HIS SPECIFIC FOOTBALL NEEDS. DON’T ROTATE, JUST STICK TO ONE PLAN.

    I thought I underestood the principal of cycling, but only as applied to one routine. So for example do the 80/20 routine for 4 weeks, adding 10 pounds every week. Then start over with 10 more pounds than your original starting poundage.

    PROBABLY MORE THAN 10; IT DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH STRONGER YOU HAVE GOTTEN.

    Now, if after that 4th week I instead start 4 weeks of ETK program minimum, where do my numbers start when I return to barbell work?

    DON’T DO IT.

    Thanks so much for your time. I see you have a new book out (PTTP Pro) and I look forward to reading it.

    GRABLE, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT IT IS A BOOK FOR VERY ADVANCED LIFTERS.

    FINAL WORD OF ADVICE: STICK TO ONE SYSTEM FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR AND DON’T MIX AND MATCH.

  39. Pavel, Tim, and other knowledgeable comrades,

    I am having trouble with my bench press. I bench 115lbs for 5*5, with 95lbs as a warm up weight. To warm up, I do 5*5 for 95lbs.

    For squats, I do 135*5*5 for warm up and 225*5*5 for the actual exercise.

    Q1. Is this okay, or should I modify my warm up sets.?

  40. I have read this article a few times just to soak it in. Although I won’t necessarily perform this like the article suggests, I will be focusing my workouts on the Squat, Bench, Deadlift, and Rows. I’m currently performing the 3×5 workout called Starting Strength but with Rippetoe’s formatting. I’ve done this workout before a few months on, a few months off. I’m starting low on all the lifts, about 20-30 pounds lower than my five rep max on all the lifts and then proceeding from there.

    I’m looking to gain weight and I really want to do the GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day) to see how much I can gain. For now, I’m just eating alot. I currently weight 150lb at 5’9″ and I want to weigh around 165-170 at 10% bodyfat, which I’m at right now.

  41. Hi Pavel,

    I’m loving this program. It’s allowing me to get in and out of the gym in no time and I’m really feeling the benifits of this program. One great side effect of this program is that now I can cary my 4-year old daughter on my shoulder for as long as I like and I don’t feel it the next day! This is priceless!

    I have one question though. I have torn rotator cuff in my shoulder and I’m finding that the bench press causes a lot of pain for me. Even push-ups don’t feel great, especially the next day. I’ve spoken to the doctor and an operation is not an option.

    Is there an alternate exercise that I can do to take the place of the bench press?

    By the way, in less than 3 weeks on the 3-day program, I’m up to squatting 200 from barely being able to do 150 and deadlifting 250 from 175! I think I could deadlift more, but my hands aren’t strong enough yet. Thanks!

  42. mookiemu, get your shoulder check by a doc and then get it balanced out with these folks:

    functionalmovement.com

    Power and health to you!

  43. Pavel,

    Thanks for the reply. I shall reduce my warm up sets to a good stretch, and the 5 reps of the BP light .

    BTW, the Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, is a great warm up, stretch and get your blood flowing type start to your exercises. Look it up.

    Pavel, also I am 6 2″ 235 lbs. Now. my legs are almost 3.5 feet of my body, i.e I have extremely long legs. I do the sumo deadlift, and I shall try out the front squat.

    The issue is that my butt is heavy, and my flexibility is poor, so I am not able to go down too much in squatting. How do I resolve this? Light weight and more flexibility type stretches?

    I squat 225, but I cannot go down to more than a 135 degree angle—should I go down to 90 and do a proper squat or should I stay at this 135 angle?

  44. Pavel my brother, also answer this, sorry to take up so much of your time though.

    I am a beginning lifter. I notice that in the comments, above, you have told a poster to go till he does 1.5 BW BP etc. which is approximately 300, 400, 500 (BP, SQ, DL) for him as well as for me.

    Should I do the same, and do this 5*5 program continuously without changing the rep schema till I reach those goals?

    My body weight is 225, and I am taking in 150-160 gm of protein every day almost all in the form of whey. I am a vegetarian.

  45. RW, don’t stretch before lifting. If you have difficulty with your SQ depth, look up Dan John’s “goblet squats” and use them to develop SQ specific flexibility.

    There is no reason to change Faleev’s program for years.

    Being a vegetarian makes reaching your goals much more difficult.

  46. Pavel,

    THanks for your time and attention. The simplicity of this program is very attractive, and keeps me enthusiastic about my exercises.

    Cheers,

    RW

  47. Pavel,

    I have to say that the Faleev program is working very well for me. I feel stronger and clearly in better shape. Thanks a lot for giving me a simple, clear cut, easily implementable program.

    I take anxiety medication everyday. Earlier , I used to get in 30 minutes of cardio everyday, and it helped a lot with the depressive symptoms.

    But the Faleev program recommends to avoid spending energy on these other exercises.

    I think I shall do some more exercises to tire myself out, as well as the Faleev program.

    Just FYI.

    Cheers,

    RW

  48. Hi Pavel,

    I have been following the system almost to the letter for about a year and my only small question is on the light days due to the weight of different weights on the bar, is it better to aim for say 75 per cent of your heavy day or go the opposite way and lift 85-90 per cent of the heavy day.

    I think its amazing that you respond to this thread after all this time and even if you don’t reply I really can’t thank you enough for providing the info and more to Comrade Faleev for inventing the system, I aim to keep lifting heavy for life 🙂

  49. pavel said: ‘

    mookiemu, get your shoulder check by a doc and then get it balanced out with these folks:

    functionalmovement.com

    Power and health to you!”

    Thanks Pavel. I will look into functionalmovement.com. Unfortunately as far as my shoulder is concerned, I did go to a sport doctor. There is nothing that can be done for my shoulder other than a shoulder replacement. Been doing very light bench presses and a ton of stretching of my shoulder muscles. I started stretching my shoulder muscles when I started your regimen and I have found that stretching helps tremendously. Still it makes me sad because I know that with a little work, I would have been able to do some heavy (for my weight) lifts.

  50. David, thank you for your kind words! Use 80% as recommended in the article.

    What sort of results have you seen so far?

  51. Hi Pavel,

    Thanks for the reply!

    As to my results, you have to understand that I started with very low strength and I have been doing suitcase squats with dumbbells (imagine picking up two heavy suitcases) and dumbbell bench press on a swiss ball, normal deadlift all 5×5

    Start squat 44 bench 44 dead 54 my weight 140 pounds

    Current squat 150 bench 105 dead 210 my weight 130 pounds

    My height is about 5,6 I feel that I have plenty of room for improvement 🙂

    I feel really happy with how I have trained, and I guess I could do regular squats/ bench but I train at home and this way I never need a spotter and feel very safe which is a ‘deal-breaker’ in my book.

    Now don’t, Pavel get me wrong, I aim for 80% on light days which I achieve most of the time, I just wondered if its better to go slightly lighter or heavier if you have no choice due to lack of equipment but I will just spend a little money to get a few light weights to boost it up.

    Power and Equality

  52. David, you will never get very far with dumbells and a Swiss ball. I would get a gym membership or buy a power rack, a barbell, and a bench for home.

    Don’t go heavier on the light day.

  53. Com. Pavel, first of all thanks for the great article, this kind of training is exactly what I needed! I´m making steady progress on the squat and bench… but my deadlift just won´t go up due to my VERY weak (and small) hands.

    My thought was to add single hand smooth bar holds in the rack for 3x30sec. on friday (after light benching) and sundays. I deadlift on wednesday.

    What do you think?

  54. Thank you for your kind words, Hank!

    A good call. Don’t use chalk for your holds. As an option, perform holds with one hand only, holding the bar like a suitcase. You will be able to use very little weight and you will work some intrinsic muscles in your back in a healthy manner.

  55. Hi Pavel,

    Thanks for the kind words, it’s amazing to me you would spend your precious time helping out schmoes lime me! It’s a great answer on the light days, I will follow your advice because you are really trust-worthy and an expert in your field, and I know you are right about dong proper squats and bench presses.

    Now, I am not ruling out full squats and benching on a bench, but hypothetically would you recommend your ‘The Bear’ system off deadlifts and overhead one arm barbell presses (hope I’ve described this right) instead of using a swiss ball and dumbbells? If so I would change in a heart-beat.

    I am really happy with how I trained, I did 5×5 at 210 pounds today on the deadlift, a feat which would seem miraculous to the old me, and a friend owns one of your books so I did not get to read it fully but it seemed to be packed with great info and with nice explanations and photos about correct form and technique.

    Power and Equality

  56. Pavel, would you recommend adding kettlebell work along with this program?

    By the way, ive been competing in PL for 1.5 years, mainly using similar progressions mentioned. Since i started lifting (2008) my deadlift went from 190 – 413 (165lbs), squat went from untrained to 325, and bench went from 130 to 240. I was pretty untrained and small when i started, so the numbers are drastic… i also went from 120 – 170lbs in that time. I have a meet in 3 weeks and im aiming to total over 1,000 at 165… not legendary, but it will be a great confidence builder.I own many of your texts and they are amazing, I thank you for your contributions!

  57. David, thank you for your kind words! My ‘Power to the People!’ plan you have mentioned is a good choice for you; consider doing floor presses instead of side presses. Just don’t mix routines.

  58. Com. Pavel, thanks for getting me started. As always, you da man! I followed the program religiously from September through March, worked through Faleev’s book (2006 ed.) using Google Translator (that was a trip), competed twice, and attained the following results:

    bwt 163 at 5’8″ age 36

    SQ from negligible, to an easy 275 in Oct. (Last meet was a push-pull.)

    BP from 185, to 205 (October), to 231 (March)

    DL from 360ish to 390 (October) to an easy 405 (March)

    *All lifts belt only

    I should have backcycled, because my dead fizzled in the new year. It was taking me two hours to finish a 5×5, but I didn’t want to recycle everything (since Faleev insists on cycling all three lifts together) close to a meet. In the end I stalled out 5 or 6 weeks from meet time, rested a week, and then had to improvise a GTG-based peaking routine. Faleev wouldn’t approve, but it was too late to start a 10-week cycle, and it was done in good faith. (Though for that matter, I would rather have been shot than look another 5×5 of deadlifts in the face.)

    I’m very happy with the results. Though I once pulled 25 pounds more after doing virtually nothing but KB snatches, it was a TSC (so I was fresh for the dead) and I weighed ten pounds more. And the press! I PRed in October and then boosted it another 15% in five months!

    Here’s the question. Now that I’ve well and truly caught the PL bug, do I gain anything by “trading up” to a slightly higher-volume program? (I’m thinking specifically of 531, which gives the option of following your money sets with low-intensity sets (5×5 seems best) of the Big Three as the “assistance.”) The attractions are that it’s simple and proven, possibly psychologically easier because of the variations in loading, and I’d get more volume. Also, it looks a little easier to plan my meets because I wouldn’t be locked into a cycle that lasted longer than a month. I can’t figure out what to do with myself if my meets don’t happen to come along in ten-week increments.

    That said, Faleev has served me well, even though he just about killed me in the last couple months, and I know what happens to bozos who start finding reasons to switch programs.

    As alway, many, many thanks.

    JasonC

  59. Pavel,

    Currently i’m 176 lbs., SQ 275, BP 165, DL 275 lbs. (i’ve been able to 5×5 with these weights)

    The problem is my BP & DL aren’t changing much, can’t increase weight, i’ve a weaker upper body & hand grip is the issue for the DL, however my SQ is doing well up till now.

    i’ve tried to recycle my DL, but this has worsen it, i began this month with 220 lbs and couldn’t reach my previous max.

    what do you recommend ?

    Thanks.

  60. Pavel, Tim , and other friends and comrades,

    I started the program on March 1st. I was DLing 225 on March 10th. I am DLing 275 on April 14th.

    Thank you, Pavel and Tim. Simplicity is important ! Simple Doables are MUCH better than complicated undoables !

    6 feet 2 inches, 245 lbs , vegetarian diet, 150 gms of protein / day.

    I need to lose some weight as well, to become fitter.

    Namaste,

    RW

  61. Hi Pavel,

    I’ve been meaning to craft an excellent thank-you reply for all of your help, you really are the Milton Erickson of fitness, it’s made all the difference,

    Peace

  62. Wael, start the cycle lighter, use straps in the later sets of the DL, and eat a lot more. Power to you!

  63. Hi,

    I want to say thank you to Pavel and all who have contributed to this post.

    For those of you who might not have given this approach a fair try or are still wondering I want to share my experience.

    Last night I was doing squats and did a warm up set consisting of 4 reps with 205 lbs. and was thinking about how lite it felt. So I looked back in my logs and realized that was more weight then I started squatting with! That prompted me to check this post out again and see what people were talking about. It is nice to see the post is still alive and awesome to see Pavel still helping people out!

    After reading the comments this morning I decided I would share my experience with the 5×5 approach.

    I’m 5′ 10″, 38 years old and weight 210. I am not lean but that will happen in time. I am also vegetarian if that interests any of you. I use some cheese and eggs but that is all. I use rice protein to keep protein intake higher.

    I am married with three kids so do not use family for an excuse to prevent you from using this program.

    I started the 5×5 program as outlined in the article above on 6-3-09. I followed the program until 6-25-09 then had a three week break due to a job assignment. Upon return 7-20-09 I pickup where I left off. I was pleases to note no loss in strength gains. I then ended up missing a total of four weeks due to going on a family vacations before fall ’09. Other then those breaks I stuck to the system. Oh, there were a couple of times when I took additional days off because I felt my body needed it or I was sick.

    Here are the strength results:

    Beginning 6-03-09 Currently 4-23-10

    Deadlift 165 x 5 / Deadlift 305 x 8 – 140 lbs increase

    Squat 195 x 5 / Squat 300 x 10 – 105 lbs increase

    Bench 105 x 5 / Bench 185 x 5 – 80 lbs increase

    This has been done in less then a year. I am very happy with the results and plan on doing similar in the coming year.

    You might ask why the extra reps on the deadlift and squat? Well the machine I am using is not safe using more then 300 lbs in the squat so in the last couple of weeks I have been adding one extra rep to each set every week.

    I did not want to create imbalance in the squat and deadlift so have been increasing the reps. They are off by two reps due to getting sick right after the deadlift and then starting with a squat when I was better. (I must have also wimped out one week and missed the deadlift getting me two reps off.)

    Over the last five months I have not been utilizing the light days and just lifting the three heavy days each week. Maybe this is slowing me down however it seems like it helps me.

    I have also done no competition like the article suggested so that has not been a motivating factor.

    What I really like is that I have been empowered to regain the strength of my younger years and even surpass it. I once maxed out 180 lbs for 1.5 reps my Junior year in high school, but as you can see I am doing more then that now.

    I should also add that I am a computer person so I spend most of the day sitting around. This lead to my muscle loss over the years but targeted focused effort has changed all that.

    I will be getting a proper weight cage the end of June that will let me continue 5×5 into heavier territory!

    The one thing I would say is that I did put on some mass or size in the first few months but sense then I do not seem to be adding much size. But while size is nice, strength is useful.

    While I can not say if the system works for everyone I know it has helped me improve my strength. If you have only tried it for a couple months and then start feeling like you needed to be doing more, back off and follow the system.

    If you have not started, get started as every day you delay is a another day weaker.

    Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to this post by adding useful and helpful information and thanks again Pavel for continuing to visit and answer questions.

  64. Hi Pavel

    I was wondering your opinion about the full motion work out

    some study show that you better do some isolation move in FULL RANGE of motion to get a better muscle growth

    instead using your technique or the one I talk about it before …Like the MAX OT .

    according to those expert your should work on isolation move …full range of motion and do 4 set of 10 of each exercises .

    or do you believe that compound move is the key

    hope to hear from you

  65. Trevor, good work!

    Skipping light days works for some; in Gallagher’s system which has similarity to Faleev’s there are no light days (read “The Purposeful Primitive”, an amazing book. Consider keeping the light BP day though.

    Add a lot more eggs.

    Find equipment which allows you to add weight safely.

    No need to worry about keeping the SQ and the DL at the same level.

    Otherwise, keep doing what you have been doing.

    A note to other readers: Trevor has stuck to one professionally designed plan for 10 months and took his squat to 300×10. What do you have to show for the last year of jumping from program to program?

  66. Pavel,

    good workout – been doing it for 4 months with noticable results, but 2 questions:

    1. what is the point of the light training days. i cut these out 3 months back and just rest on these days and it seems to have made no difference to my strength gains.

    2. for the last month, instead of 5 x 5 Squats, I have been doing 1 x 20. it is gruesome but the gains are v noticable. please comment on this.

    thanks, Nick.

  67. Dear Mr.Tim and Mr.Pavel,

    I’m a little confused. Should I train to failure or not? On many websites I’ve read, people cast doubt about the colardo expirement. Both of your ideas of training to failure and relax while training all seem make sense to me.

    I read about 5×5 to eliminate momentum but I do not really understand. Is it something like: you lift down, inhale, hold it for 5s – you lift up, exhale, hold it for 5s?

    I also do yoga, at my gym there is no space (Vietnamese one) to stretch out after practice. Can I stretch out later, before I go to bed, with yoga?

  68. Not Pavel, but in his absence…

    Nick, the light days are both active recovery and motor learning. The more advanced you get, the more you benefit from both. (See Pavel’s Power to the People on the latter.) Twenty-rep squats do add mass, but Faleev *hates* them because of the injury potential. 5×5 is at least as good, as far as he’s concerned, and offers better better long-term potential.

    Great Sun, rep tempo doesn’t have much place in a powerlifting program. (However, low acceleration–not low speed but low acceleration–can be a good thing. See Pavel’s Power to the People Professional or Boris Sheyko’s article on the bench press in the current Powerlifting USA. It’s dense reading but worthwhile. The take-away lesson is, the best benchers don’t make any sudden movements. The bar gains and loses speed very, very gradually.) As for stretching, Faleev wants you to stretch as soon as possible, so that you recover quickly. You don’t need much space. He recommends the plow pose after deadlifts, a standing quad stretch after squats, and a simple pec stretch and triceps stretch against the wall after bench presses.

  69. Jerome, “full ROM in isolation exercises” is “majoring in minors”; stick with the basics. There are decades of experience to support the powelifting approach—and research on the endocrinological effects of such exercise as well.

  70. Nick, there is no agreement on the value of light days among top coaches. If you can do without them—fine.

    20 rep squats build a lot of muscle, if you can do high rep squats safely, you can alternate this approach with 5×5 (read Dr. Strossen’s ‘Super Squats’ book, http://www.ironmind.com).

  71. Great Sun, I have explained the science of not training to failure in my book ‘Power to the People!’ (http://www.dragondoor.com/b10.html). Top powerlifters and weightlifters do not train to failure, by the way.

    Your question on breathing suggests that you could use a couple of technique lessons from an experienced powerlifter. Well worth the time and money.

    Stretch after.

  72. hey pavel, I train as a lightweight strongman and compete in strongman. I couldn’t believe when i saw the date of the last post that you were still replying here so i HAD to post this.

    Its so coincedental because I had just come up with PttP plus strongman and am currently testing on myself, into the 2nd week of it. I’ve been searching the WHOLE net to see if anyone had combined PttP with strongman, so I wouldn’t have to be a guinea pig but no one had.

    Since you’re here, can you give your opinion on whether this would work.

    This is what I’m doing now(dl=deadlift):

    Wed-dl

    Thu-dl

    Fri-dl

    Sat-dl

    Sun-dl+strongman(usually total 30 reps tire flips and maybe 15 metre 100kg farmers..it varies, but its along those lines)+ abit more acesory work

    oh yea, i also do overhead presses, as describbed in pttp, along with the dl.

    My main concern is whether the Sun monster workout is too much and 2 days(mon & tue) would not be enough recovery.

    Another thing is, I’m doing pttp because I still wanna improve my dl substantially..and not focus ONLY on strongman.

    I weigh 160 pounds and only deadlift 405 for 5 reps, I think I can improve, and the thing is I HAVE to combine dl improvement with strongman cus next competition is about 8 months away. Oh yea, and I also intend to stay within this weight as the chicks find me sexy 🙂 heh heh

    So that being said, actually what i wanna say is, will my program work. Sorry for the essay

  73. Could I replace bench press with dips and squats with barbell hack squats due to lack of equipment?Great routine Pavel!

  74. Hi Pavel,

    Thank you for telling us about Faleev’s 5×5 program and being so responsive in the comments!

    I am going to be building a house in little more than 30 days and I was thinking of using this program to build as much strength before starting work.

    My previous 5RM for Squats is 190, for Bench it is 50 lbs w/ two dumbbells. I forget what I have for Deadlifts but I know my back gets a bit sore.

    I’m 5’10 and 230 lbs, but it doesn’t seem like my strength is as high as it should be.

    I was thinking of starting the program with:

    Squat: 155 lbs for 5×5

    Bench: 85 lbs for 5×5

    Deads: 135 lbs for 5×5

    I want to get strong quick in the next 30 days to be ready for work. Do you have any tips for building strength quickly?

    I saw a bearpowered article about how one athlete increased his dead from 455 to 515 lbs in 4 weeks, or about 15lbs per week instead of 10lbs.

  75. I have a question but that nothing to do with the book or your training tech…

    what your opinion about steroids ??

    I m touching a very sensitive subject here I know…and I m not expecting everyone to answer me …….but I just want some opinion

    I never use it ….it cross my mind sooo many time …but I never..

    I m frustrated sometime cause ,I see other use it and look fantastic …and me or we have to do DOUBLE the work …..and not even look like them or result ..

    I was alway afraid to use it…..does it worth it ….dangerous ?

    I didn’t know and didn’t have the courage ….to use it…..

    and dear god it cross my mind soo many time ..

    then I meet some pro bodybuilder…I remember I meet one of my favorite but can’t tell his name…and I ask him….does it worth it ???

    and he look at me …….

    since that day I didn’t want to use it….

    you look on the internet it’s alway dangerous and you look some other web site and it’s not or you ask people around and say it’s totaly safe ….

    I look the good old Hulk Hogan …men he still got it………and far as I know he never been diagnostic with any kind of kidney or cancer problem …

    but more I look around and look does guys and look very good with half the work ….more I feel bad that I never did use it couple years ago and I could be at the top …

    lot of frustration …….

    those it worth it……….and 100 % safe…..?

    and plz don’t give me some answer like look on the internet for answer lol …or men depend what you looking for lol …

    sincerely…

  76. Hi Tim & Pavel. Tim, BTW this is the post that got me into your universe. I’ve now read the 4HWW and most of this blog, investigated and started some work on 3 muses (www.doc1design.com the first). Great stuff!

    I’ve been following this program for 4 weeks and not yet missed a lift on my 5×5. My measured 1RM were 175 BP, 293 SQ, 317 DL. I started at 128, 205, and 227 (mix of kilo and lb weights), adding 11 lbs per week. So my 4th successful week was at 161, 238, and 260. It was hard!

    I checked in to read the article again and realized I haven’t really been following the program, because I didn’t do any light days I haven’t been stretching much. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that I am a bit achy. I will start doing light days and stretching more now.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the program, I am enjoying. For other newbs, check back in and make sure you are following the program – even though I’ve had success I need to reset and stick to the program. Even with a simple program anyone can miss details.

    By the way, my goal in this cycle (6-9 months) is to get to 1RM 200/300/400. The first two may already be achieved but the DL may take a while. I am 6′ 1″ and 185 lbs, and I am not eating enough to gain size (on purpose). The next cycle I hope to get to 300/400/500.

    My plan is that once I can not do 5×5 on each exercise I will take a week to measure 1RM and reset my patterns, then start up with 5×5 again the following week. This is not explicitly in the program, but from Pavel’s comments a 1 week change of pace does not sound out of line.

    Any specific advice for me, Tim or Pavel?

    Thanks,

    Damien

  77. Kevin, I don’t think PTP is optimal for a strongman as you need to work a variety of angles. Consider the free style strongman approach from my book ‘The Russian Kettlebell Challenge’, modify it by adding the barbell and strongman implements.

  78. Denis, the program will not tolerate any replacements. It is not hard to find a gym with a bench or buy a power rack and a bench for home.

  79. Jim, rushing strength is always a bad idea. Have patience. Since your back hurts DLing, you need to see a medical professional first, then a powerlifter for instruction. Use a barbell for the bench. Power to you!

  80. Jerome, if you compete at the highest level of powerlifting in a non-tested or half-heartedly tested federation or in bodybuilding, of course, you do not stand a chance if you are clean. You can still be exceptionally strong by any other standards without drugs—take a look at the numbers put up by old-timers like Grimek and their physiques.

    Many resort to steroids because they don’t have a good training plan. You do. 5×5 is the answer.

  81. yes and I agree Pavel I was just making a point here just saying what everything think in silence that all…..

    it’s a very sensitive subject and wanted to know your opinion about it …

    honestly I don’t think no body will one day ,give a real answer about this…..

    anyway

    my other question was about supplementation

    what your opinion about it ?

    any particular supplementation that you recommend ?

    thank you again

  82. Jerome, steroids are a sensitive subject and it is indeed hard to get straight answers. That said—there were many exceptionally strong men before drugs came along. Don’t listen to people who use “being clean” as an excuse for being weak.

    Periodization is essential; Faleev’s plan uses it. If you want to understand the science of it, please refer to the chapter “Periodization Demystified” in my book “Beyond Bodybuilding”, http://www.dragondoor.com/b31.html.

  83. Pavel, thanks for responding!

    Here’s a bit of an update:

    I ended up following your PttP program. Genius! Simplest exercise program ever. I go every other day and do 2×5 w/ Bench, Deads, and assisted Pullups as a nice extra.

    I’m now up to 155 lbs for my bench, and my deads are 185lbs. I feel that my deads are going to improve a lot quicker than my bench for now.

    I ended up switching to sumo stance for my deadlifts, I have short legs and a long body, so it’s a lot easier for me to do that. Also easier on my back. But to be honest, I didn’t notice any back problems at all.

    I love the fact that I can do this every other day. My workouts are so quick, I usually take only 30 minutes (25 minutes of that is resting). I’ve been wondering about increasing it to 3×5, which would make my workout about 45 minutes. I did an online search and I noticed 3×5 programs are almost as common as 5×5 programs.

  84. Evil Master, at what point would you recommened a PLer move to a more complex plan, like the beginning Sheyko routines? (Is there a rule of thumb, e.g. “post a class 1 total in your fed first?”)

  85. Com. Jason, there is no rule of thumb. Some lifters achieve extraordinary results with very simple programs. Coan, Karwoski… While you are making progress, there is no need to change programs.

  86. Jim, the difference between 2×5 and 3×5 is 1×5 ;]

    An extra set of five is worth adding if your progress on 2×5 is slowing down.