In the past, when it came to adding quality mass, the pros always prescribed a heavy load and low reps. The governor of California (that's Arnold Schwarzenegger to you and me), made famous a workout of five sets with five reps per set for just that purpose. That's the basis of the five-by-five workout.
But for those who wanted to get ripped—snake-like veins, Bruce Lee cuts, and all—it was high reps, low weight. How to compromise? Well, for people like Arnold, who actually got paid to workout, it was okay to spend half the year getting bigger with low reps, and the other half getting lean with high ones. For us, the everymen who just want to look good in our swimsuits, there's not enough time for all that nonsense. Isn't there a way to get leaner and bigger at the same time? Yes! I've got an updated version of the five-by-five workout that combines the best of both worlds—the best mass and cut-up workouts—to give you the body you want without the hassle and complexities that you don't. One word of caution: It's not easy... but nothing worth doing ever is.
The Not-So-Average-Joe Workout
The genius behind this workout is that it uses both heavy weight (to get you mean) and many reps (to get you lean). In fact, you're going to be doing 100 reps. But don't be afraid of that double-goose-egg number. It won't feel as bad as it sounds. Here's how it goes.
Supersets: For each major muscle group, you'll do two supersets̬—a series of two exercises for a single muscle group, performed back-to-back with little or no rest in between. Each superset is two exercises, with five sets of five reps for each exercise, for a total of 50 reps per superset. Put the two supersets together, and you've got your 100 reps; but since those reps are split up among the sets and different exercises, you'll still be able to use heavy weight, and you won't feel the overkill of the 100 reps.
The key to the supersets is choosing the right exercises. To devise your two supersets, decide which muscle group you want to work. Now, pick two compound movements and two isolation movements that work your chosen muscle (some examples of these two types of movements are in the list below). Compound movements are multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises, even though one muscle will be primary; isolation movements are single-joint and single-muscle exercises.
Begin with the first compound movement and do five reps to failure. Without resting, head right into five reps of an isolation movement. After the second exercise, rest 120 seconds before moving on to your next pair of exercises, again beginning with a compound movement and then moving to an isolation movement, and all the while staying within a single muscle group. Do this five times through and you'll have completed a five-by-five superset. For your next superset, you'll pick two new exercises. Juxtaposing the two types of exercises without rest wrings the last bits of strength out of your muscles by challenging them in different modalities. And keeping your weights high and reps low brings you to failure quickly. Both of these help you to build mass.
Here are examples of compound and isolation movements for each major muscle group, to give you an idea of how to proceed:
|SAMPLE EXERCISES: COMPOUND VS. ISOLATION MOVEMENTS|
|Muscle Group||Compound Movement||Isolation Movement|
|Chest||Bench Press||Flat Bench Dumbbell Flys|
|Biceps||Standing Barbell Curls||Preacher Curls|
|Shoulders||Dumbbell Military Presses||Dumbbell Lateral Raises|
|Legs||Barbell Squats||Lying Leg Curls|
|Triceps||Triceps Bench Dips with Feet on Floor||Triceps Single-Arm Kickbacks|
|Back||Gravitron Neutral Grip Pull-ups||Wide-Grip Lat Pull-downs|
|Compound Movement (like Bench Press)||5 (alternating with isolation movement)||5||None before isolation movement|
|Isolation Movement (like Chest Flys)||5 (alternating with compound movement)||5||120 seconds before starting compound movement again|
Tempo: "Tempo" is a term often used by pros. It is simply how quickly or slowly you raise and lower the weight. To get the most out of this workout, you should do your compound exercises at a regular tempo, but your isolation exercises much slower, taking about six seconds to lower the weight. Again, the idea here is to challenge the muscles in different ways; don't let them get complacently accustomed to a particular rhythm. And, on isolation movements, you should have sufficient control to slow down a bit.
|Compound Movement||Regular: About 2 seconds to raise weight, and 2 seconds to lower it.|
|Isolation Movement||Slow: About 4 seconds to lift weight, and 6 seconds to lower it.|
Split it Up
Because this workout is not for the faint of heart, you're also going to need to rethink your splits. In fact, for this type of workout, you should work each muscle group only once a week. A good split is as follows:
- Monday: Chest and Back
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Arms
- Friday: Shoulders
- Saturday/Sunday: Off
|SAMPLE CHEST WORKOUT|
|Bench Press (Compound)||5||5||Regular/None|
|Flat Bench Dumbbell Flys (Isolation)||5||5||Slow/120 seconds|
|Stability Ball Dumbbell Press||5||5||Regular/None|
|Standing Cable Chest Flys||5||5||Slow/120 seconds|