Reg Park's 5x5 Routine: The Original Size & Strength Workout

Reg Park’s 3 Step 5×5 Routine: The Original Size & Strength Workout

If I could time travel, aside from using it to make millions a la Back To The Future Part II, I would pay a visit to my 15 year old self and impart some pearls of wisdom:

Get a haircut, stop wanking into a sock, and, most importantly, forget those endless bicep curl and tricep extension repetitions, as they’re not doing anything.

Instead, and this goes for all beginners who are taking their first nervous steps into the weight room, start with a well structured size and strength routine like Reg Park’s 3 Step 5×5 workout.

Trust me, a rounded routine such as this will do more for your gains in six months than that ‘Killer Bicep Pump Workout’ you found in Men’s Health magazine will do in three years.

reg park 5x5

What is 5×5?

The idea behind 5×5 is extremely simple.

Each session is a full-body workout where you perform five sets of five reps on a range of compound movements.

The beauty of 5×5 is that it strikes a balance between strength and size protocols.

So if you’re looking to gain strength AND slabs of muscle this is the ideal training routine for you.

And, realistically, who doesn’t want that combo?

It’s like having your balls massaged by Emma Watson while someone else hands you a fat envelope full of cash.

Although the principles that underpin this routine were undoubtedly in use before Reg Park, it was the three-time Mr Universe – and perennial Gymtalk favourite – who made it famous.

Since Reg Park, a number of other athletes and trainers have also championed the principles of this programme and their effectiveness for building size and strength, including Bill Starr and the popular Starting Strength, Stronglifts and Madcow routines.

The Reg Park 3 Step 5×5 Workout

Reg Park’s 3 Step 5×5 workout is the original variation and also the most famous.

strength and bulk training for weightlifters and bodybuilders by reg park

First published in Park’s 1960 manual Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders, it comprises three phases of progressive volume and difficulty, with each phase lasting three months.

So, if you need help with the maths, that means the entire cycle will last about nine months.

Phase 1

Exercise Sets Reps
Prone Hyperextensions 3 10
Full Squat 5 5
Bench Press 5 5
Deadlift 5 5

 Phase 2

Exercise Sets Reps
Prone Hyperextensions 3-4 10
Front Squat 5 5
Regular Squat 5 5
Bench Press 5 5
Press Off Stands 5 5
High Pull Ups 5 5
Deadlift 5 5
Heel Raise 5 25

 Phase 3

Exercise Sets Reps
Prone Hyperextensions 4 10
Front Squat 5 5
Regular Squat 5 5
Press Off Stands 5 5
Bench Press 5 5
Bent Over Rowing 5 5
Deadlift 5 3
Press Behind Neck or Arm Dumbbell Press 5 5
Barbell Curl 5 5
Lying Triceps Curl 5 8
Heel Raise 5 25

Notes

Warm up sets

What sets Park’s 5×5 routine apart from, say, Bill Star’s or Medhi’s’, is that the first two sets of five are warm-up sets.

For these two sets, progressively increase the weight at similar intervals.

So, for example, your five sets on bench press might look like this:

1 x 50kg, 1 x 75kg, 3 x 100kg.

Progression

Once you can complete that last three sets of five reps for an exercise, add 2.5kg to the bar for upper body movements and 5kg for lower body movements.

Then just rinse and repeat.

Rest

First phase: three to five minutes between each set.

Second phase: two minutes between each set.

Third phase: two minutes between each set.

Failure

Park was a strong advocate of not training to failure as he believed this led to frustration and negativity which would hinder other heavy lifts.

So make sure you leave some juice in the tank while working through this routine!

Duration

For each phrase train three times per week for three months.

Recovery

Reg Park prescribes lots of rest and sleep (at least eight hours) alongside a diet loaded with full cream milk, red meat, eggs, and protein powders.

Raaaaargh!

Thoughts

reg park 5x5I’m a huge advocate of this routine – it’s a simple, proven and ridiculously effective way to gain size and strength.

In my view, most beginners today are fed workouts by bodybuilding magazines and fitness figures on social media which, while effective for a certain demographic, are not really geared towards building a well-rounded, structurally sound physique.

Reg Park’s 5×5 routine harkens back to an era before steroids flowed like water and bodybuilders trained like strength athletes – and they were all the better because of it!

Having blown the trumpet for this routine, there are, however, some issues with it.

By the time you hit the phases two and three the volume of work in each session becomes insanely high.

In the third phase, for instance, you will be working through 49 sets per session!

You will need at least two to three hours in the gym to get through all of that.

These colossal sessions were very common back in the day – indeed guys like Park, Reeves and Grimek used to live in the gym.

Unfortunately, most of us are not lucky enough to enjoy a career which involves downing milk and squatting, which means that fitting these monster sessions around your weekly routine can become problematic.

It can be done, but it’s certainly a tough gig, especially if, like normal humans, you have family and work commitments.

To get around this, I tend to either to split up the routine between two smaller sessions or drop down to three sets on some of the exercises.

And, as a final word of caution, while this routine is not as intense as say GVT or Squats and Milk, the high volume of sets involved still requires your respect, especially if you’re a beginner.

I guarantee your CNS will not know what’s hit it!

Summary

Reg Park’s 3 step 5×5 routine is a classic, highly regarded routine for a reason: it is an extremely effective way to make impressive size and strength gains, and its efficacy has been tried and test over decades.

In fact, it’s pretty much impossible not to make huge gains during this programme – provided you’re training, eating and sleeping as instructed. 

Ultimately, this is the routine I wish I had seen before I started my weightlifting journey!

Over to you

Have you tried this routine or any other 5×5 variations?

Thinking of giving this programme a go for the first time?

Have any questions?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. This is an excellent article Henry.

    I love Reg Park’s 5×5 and the philosophy behind the method in terms of being a strong in between for both building size and strength.

    It creates the perfect marriage between bodybuilders and power athletes by giving them a point in the middle to reach across the aisle and shake hands.

    Even though I don’t employ his entire model both myself and many other strength coaches in my field employ Park’s 5×5 philosophy in application with many of our bigger lifts.

    I understand where he’s coming from by not training to failure.

    He was smart enough to recognize that the body would adapt by gradually stressing it over time in a progressive fashion (hence progressive overload principle) and by training the muscle to failure you were basically diminishing your level of work capacity which in turn would sacrifice gains as it related to his given model.

    Once again great share, thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks for your comment and the kind words, Brandon.

      I’ve had more success with the 5×5 protocol than any other training method.

      Like I say in the article, I just wish I’d discovered it earlier!

  2. Great article Henry, think we’ve all tried and greatly benefitted from 5×5 at some point in our gym lives.

    I have a question though: What do you think a 35yr old Henry Croft would say to his present day (2014) self?

    1. Thanks Greg.

      I reckon by the time I’m 35 I’ll still be training and farting around on the Internet, but I’ll be clinically fed up, my best years firmly behind me, and divorced with my children calling another man ‘Daddy’.

  3. How are you supposed to increase the weights on this routine?

    Is it a pattern like SL 5×5?

    As in, adding 2.5kg per workout for Phase 1/2/3?

    Or should I only add weight once a week once I leave Phase 1?

    1. Hi Mark

      I mention this under ‘Progression’ on the ‘Notes’ section of the article.

      Again, for your reference: Once you can complete the last 3 sets of 5 reps for an exercise, add 2.5-5kg to the bar next session.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this Henry.

    I have a question …

    Regarding progression, it says “Once you can complete that last 3 sets of 5 reps for an exercise, add 2.5-5kg to the bar.” …

    And regarding Failure it says “Park was a strong advocate of not training to failure as he believed this led to frustration and negativity which would hinder other heavy lifts.”

    Now, how would I know that I can complete a set comfortably, without failing it multiple times in the past?

    1. Hi Ashoke

      Not sure I understand your question?

      Once you can complete the last 3×5 on an exercise comfortably then you’re good to up the weight – regardless of how many times you failed in the past.

  5. Great article Henry.

    I was wondering how appropriate this routine is for beginners?

    You mentioned how you wish you knew this routine when you first started lifting, but would this routine be suitable for someone with very minimal lifting experience?

    For example, less than 6 months?

    Would really like to try it out, as I’m doing SL5x5 now, but feel like it isn’t really challenging me enough, and would love to try something more unique and bodybuilding oriented.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jack

      Thanks for dropping by!

      I would suggest Arnie’s Golden Six Routine or Reg Park’s Beginner 5×5 Routine – both are excellent full body workouts which are more beginner friendly than this one.

      Also, a recent article I wrote on old-school bodybuilding philosophies might be useful: http://www.gym-talk.com/10-old-school-commandments-for-building-muscle/

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  6. I’m really curious about this plan as there seems to be no Ab focus at all.

    Was this intentional or is there another part to this?

    1. Hi Thomas

      In the early phases, leaving out ab focus, like any other isolation and supplementary work, is entirely intentional.

      The principle aim of any full body workout is to develop size, strength and power through hard work on the basic compound lifts.

      These heavy duty exercises allow you to lift very heavy weight and bring the big muscle groups into play, and training hard and heavy is the most effective recipe for gains.

      If you want to develop SIZE, STRENGTH and POWER, these are the exercises that you should be working has hard as you can on, and focusing all your attention on.

      Also, don’t forget that these movements will also target your core too!

      If you want to factor in some isolation ab work, of course you can do so (perhaps at the end of the workout or at your leisure), just not at the expense of these big lifts, as they will not be of consequence when it comes to your overall development.

      And remember, in the words of Bradley J. Steiner, from ‘Hard Work On Basic Exercises’ (1971):

      You are far, far better off with a thick, powerful waist than you are with a ‘wasp-waist pretty body’. A man should be BIG. He should be strong and powerful. And he can’t be if he tries to blow his biceps up to 20″ and keep his waist down to 30″. Use your head!

      Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions!

  7. Is it safe to be deadlifting heavy three times a week?

    1. Hi Matthew

      Having completed this routine several times myself, I found heavy deadlifting three times a week a little excessive for me personally (squatting heavy every session I’ve never had a problem with).

      If you find your body telling you the same thing – and you should always listen to your body – try doing what I did, which was to only deadlift twice a week, each time warming up to 1×5 max.

      This is far more sustainable and also leaves you with a bit more room left in the tank for some other heavy lifts, as 3×5 max on deadlift is crippling!

      Hope that helps – and good luck with your training!

  8. So I dig it yet… couple issues I have are:

    #1. Phase 3 would have me in the gym waaayyy too long.

    That is a lot of sets and exercises – is that necessary? Could it be split up?

    #2. It doesn’t say how often you do the workout? Do you do the entire workout 3 times a week?

    #3. Could get boring and repetitious (but that could be good too just nice and simple)

    #4. A couple exercises you should NOT DO bent over row and behind the neck press

    #5. It doesn’t say if I should increase the weight and at what intervals?

    Are there answers some where and I missed it?

    Thx

    1. Hi Dallas, thanks for dropping by.

      To answer your questions:

      1) As I mention at the end of the article, during the third phase I tend to either to split up the routine between 2 smaller sessions or drop down to 3 sets on some of the exercises.

      2) Again, as discussed, perform each phase 3 times per week (Monday, Weds, Fri, for example), for a total duration of 3 months.

      3) There’s plenty of exercises in here to add variation, so you shouldn’t get too bored, but remember consistency with the key compound lifts – no matter how monotonous it may become – is what’s going to make all the difference.

      4) While I agree that behind the neck press is an unnatural movement that can put undue stress on your rotator cuffs, bent over row is one of my favourite exercises and definitely NOT bad for you, so whoever told you that is talking out of their arse.

      5) Again, this is answered in the article: “Once you can complete that last 3 sets of 5 reps for an exercise, add 2.5-5kg to the bar.”

      Hope that helps buddy – let me know if you have any more questions!

  9. Henry,

    (My Phone Auto-capitalizes Every Word, Sorry)

    LOVE this Program.

    I Will Be Starting Phase 2 Monday!

    Quick Question, However:

    After All 3 Phases Are Complete, What Would You Recommend Doing?

    Take Time Off And Start Over?

    That Doesn’t Seem Right To Me, Thoughts?

    1. Hi Joshua, thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      After Phase 3 I would recommend a different routine:

      Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 is a fantastic strength training programme and very popular (for good reason).

      I would also recommend giving a cycle of 20 Rep Squats a go at least once – although the tail end of that routine is a fucking ballcrusher, so be warned!

      We’ve written about a few other good full body routines as well, so give them a look too:

      http://www.gym-talk.com/training/workout-reviews/

      Hope that helps – let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

  10. No biceps work on Phase 2?

    1. Hi Nick

      While there are no arm isolation exercises in this phase, remember that all those big compound movements are going to be hitting your arms just as significantly, while also hitting a multitude of other muscle groups at the same time.

  11. Hey there…

    By all these phases, do these 3 phases have to be completed in one day?

    3 phases on Monday, 3 phases on Wednesday, 3 phases on Friday?

    Bit stuck on this… I’m a weightlifter on and off for a good while but this sounds interesting.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Conor, thanks for dropping by.

      To clarify, each phase lasts 3 months, and for each phase you train with the same workout 3 times per week.

      Got it?

  12. Hello!

    Congratulations for your website!

    Reg Park is a true legend!

    I have a question: after Phase 3, can I repeat the 3 phases over and over again while adding some variations?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Conrado, thanks for your comment.

      The three phases will take you around 9 months to complete – so repeating/modifying means you will be spending an awful lot of time on one programme.

      And while I love the 5×5 protocol, in my experience sticking with it for too long will lead to a plateau as your body adapts to the routine.

      So, instead, I would suggest freshening things up with a new progressive routine after completing Reg’s 5×5.

      I’m currently working through Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 – a highly effective and well structured routine for building strength and muscle.

      Give that a go!

      Hope that helps – and let me know if you have any more queries 🙂

      Henry

  13. Hey Henry!

    Thanks a bunch for this post!

    I’ve been doing a lot of 4 x 8-12 for quite a while now, and I have a few questions for you!

    Firstly, will the muscles I have already developed diminish or lose strength or size?

    Secondly, will this be good for me being that I already have some experience in the gym?

    I really need to gain mass and strength being that I am becoming a police officer, I’m not too worried about appearance being that I have very low fat percentage!

    Thanks a lot for this article it was great!

    I do not know if you are a salesman, but you straight out sold me this workout!

    1. Hi Tristan, thanks for dropping by.

      1) No, the opposite will be true, as 5×5 is – in my opinion – a much more effective strength and size protocol.

      2) Yes – once you have some familiarity with the basic compound movements and have built a foundation, 5×5 is the perfect routine to step things up a gear.

      Hope that helps – and let me know how you get on!

      Henry

  14. As a person that has been training for the past 35 years and has been a competitive power lifter it was great to see an original program that has some great progressive phases.

    Although I have arthritis in my hips and knees I am still enjoying this program I will be putting it into action fully once I get my diet in order over the next few weeks and I believe that this will help me achieve what I require from my body for strength and lean muscle mass.

    Thanks for the reminders of proper old school training.

    1. Hi Frank, glad you enjoyed the article – hope you achieve your goals!

  15. This routine looks good, but if I decide to do it I’m afraid that I will over-train.

    I mean it’s too much volume and I don’t know if I will recover in time for the next workout.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    And if you could post some other workout routines of Reg Park, that would be great!

    1. Hi Luur.

      That’s absolute cobblers, you won’t be over-training with this workout at all.

      Trust me, your body can handle it, it’s only 3 sessions per week!

      However, just make sure you are not ‘under-recovering’.

      By that I mean, ensure you are getting enough food and sleep to handle your workload.

      If you are, your body, I’m sure, will surprise you!

      Also, we’ve featured Reg Park’s Beginner 5×5 Routine on this site, which you might like to check out:

      http://www.gym-talk.com/reg-park-beginner-routine/

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Henry

      1. Thanks for the answer.

        Is this routine only for beginners?

        Can intermediate lifters do this routine (say for 2-3 years in BB) and see big gains?

        Or should they stick with other full-body intermediate programs?

        1. This is certainly not a routine just for beginners.

          I’ve returned to it time and time again over the years, as it always delivers!

  16. Can I practice martial arts on 2 alternate days for 60 mins each and still make gains on the park 5×5?

    1. Hi John.

      Yes, in fact this will only help with lean muscle gains, as well as overall strength and flexibility.

  17. I’m really confused, do I do Phase 1 Monday, Phase 2 Wednesday, and Phase 3 Friday, or what?

    Btw thank you for answering.

    1. Hi there.

      No, each ‘Phase’ is a 3 month cycle where you train 3 x per week, and you do the same routine 3 x per week.

      Got it?

  18. I’m 46, been in the gym about 3 months now, wondering if this workout is OK being the amount of months and age I’m at?

    Also I work 1 week dayshift the next afternoon shift and this rotates.

    Would the volume from phases 2 and 3 impact on the recovery stage?

    1. Hi Perry.

      You should have no trouble following this routine.

      Come Phase 3, provided you are getting adequate food/sleep, recovery shouldn’t be an issue.

      The beauty of full-body routines is that 3 x per week gives you plenty of time to rest and recharge for the next session.

      And, remember, muscles grow when we rest, not when we train!

      Good luck buddy – and keep us posted on how you get on!

      Henry

  19. Hi Henry,

    With regard to your suggestion of the phase 3 split, could you post the details of this?

    This routine looks ideal to add thickness, strength and size.

    Thank you for posting it.

    Regards,

    Richard

    1. Hi Richard.

      As I mention, the best way to tackle this heavy workload in Phase 3 is to either split the workout into two smaller sessions (follow up a heavier session with a lighter workout the next day using some of the more isolation exercises) or reduce the sets from 5 to 3 on some of the later, less important exercises (barbell curl etc).

      Hope that helps!

  20. Hi Henry,

    Thank you for posting this!

    I did Medhi’s 5×5 a year back, and really wanted to try Reg Park’s original 5×5.

    Right now I am on the last 2 weeks of phase 1.

    I have never been able to bench, squat and deadlift such high weights, I really love this routine.

    It is just what I needed for motivation!

    I had a question about switching to phase 2:

    Do I need to keep the weights for bench, squat and deadlift the same as in phase 1?

    Right now I got a 3-5 minute rest to complete those heavy lifts.

    Since more exercises are coming for those muscle groups and less rest, should I lower the weight a bit when I start at phase 2?

    Greetings from Belgium,

    Tommy

    1. Hi Tommy!

      Brilliant to hear you are seeing some good results!

      My advice in situations like this would always be to listen to your body.

      If you feel like you are getting stronger and have more left in the tank, keep adding weight to the bar!

      If not, by all means drop down in weight and work your way up again – that is, by adding weight to the bar every time you complete 3×5.

      Hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      Henry

  21. What’s the high pull in phase 2?

    1. YouTube is your friend:

  22. Which is the correct 5×5?

    2 build-up sets and 3 final sets as REG PARK said or warm up and do 5×5 at the final weight as Mehdi said?

    I’m lean build but muscular – if I drag out training it kills me – if I lift heavy fast I grow overnight 3 sets at final weight?

    Thank you… great blog.

    1. Hi Bob.

      There is no correct 5×5 – they are just variations of the same principle.

      By all means try both and see which yields the best results.

  23. I’ve been smashing gym for a while but want to change up routine, I was gonna jump straight to phase 3.

    Or should all three be done in order?

    Cheers

    1. Hi Edward.

      I would always recommend completing the routine as it is laid out here, otherwise it kinda defeats the notion of progressive overload.

      1. I’ve cycled twice (12 weeks) using http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/dorian-yates-blood-guts-6-week-trainer.htm.

        I wanted to take it up a notch in terms of strength, do you think starting Reg Park 5×5 Phase 1 would benefit me enough?

        Just worried about a loss in gains.

        1. Yes, absolutely, because unlike that programme you posted (classic split routine nonsense – a day dedicated to “Delts and Tricpes” but not a single squat in sight!) with this you’ll be hitting the main compound movements three times per week, which will be far, far more conducive to size and strength gains.

  24. Hello I’m defo going to give this routine ago for 9 months but I was thinking of doing a fair bit of swimming on the days I don’t do the routine, do you think that will be OK without affecting my progress?

    Also I recently completed a 12 week Shelko routine and every time I did flat bench it was followed by dumbbell flys I see there are no flys here do I need to add some?

    1. Hi Gary.

      I would absolutely recommend swimming on recovery days – the perfect cardio to supplement an intense weightlifting routine as the low-impact nature of the sport will help with joint issues and niggles.

      Chuck in some interval work as well (25m/50m sprints) to help with overall fitness and fat loss too.

      Lastly, flys are completely non-essential, but if you really want to add them in, you can do so by all means, just tag them in at the end.

  25. I’m at a point where I don’t think I could physically do 3 sets of max deadlift for 5 reps each.

    Was that what Reg Park was advocating in this routine?

    If so, I have even more respect.

    I don’t see how it is possible at high weight unless you are just a freak.

    Which he was.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Yes, that’s what the routine advocates, but like you I struggled here, and, as I mentioned in a previous comment, would generally just work up to 1 heavy set of 5 reps.

      Reg was indeed a genetic freak – he was the second man in history and the first bodybuilder to bench 500lbs (approx 225kg)!

  26. Hi there,

    This looks interesting.

    I have been lifting weights on and off and recently I am on to it continuously and I do lift heavy.

    What I usually do is focus on a particular muscle group everyday.

    My routine is:

    Monday – Chest
    Tuesday – Shoulders
    Wed – Biceps and Triceps
    Thu – Deadlifts, Lats, Core
    Fri – Legs

    Currently I am in the process of cutting weight, but soon I will be starting my bulking up routine.

    My question is if I start following 5×5, I can just do it for three days per week, which is Monday, Wed, Fri and remaining days simply rest?

    Mon – 5×5
    Tue – Rest
    Wed – 5×5
    Thu – Rest
    Fri – 5×5
    Sat – Rest
    Sun – Rest

    Should it be like this?

    1. Hi Sudhar, good to have you with us.

      Yes, that layout is absolutely correct.

      During recovery days, make sure you’re getting lots of rest and sleep, drinking lots of water, and eating as much as you can!

      Good luck with the routine buddy, and let me know if you have any further questions.

  27. This workout sounds great.

    But as a baseline what weight should I start at?

    I weigh 140, am 5’7″, and do 3×10 bench @ 150, 2×5 squats @ 150, 3×5 deadlift @ 200.

    None of these to failure.

    I’m thinking 125?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Mike.

      That weight should be fine – if in doubt, always err with a lighter weight to avoid plateauing too soon.

      As I mention in the article, Park advocated leaving “juice in the tank” where possible.

  28. Hi I’m currently half way though phase 2 and I’ve been stuck on the same weight for squat and bench for quite awhile should I try a 10% de-load or just keep going (failing on 4 reps) until I complete?

    Also once I complete this routine I was thinking of trying 12 weeks GVT then back to this do you think that would be OK or would you go on too 5-3-1?

    Many thanks

    1. If you’ve stalled, before suggesting a new routine, I would always ask the following questions:

      Are you getting enough calories in your diet?

      Are you getting enough rest/recovery?

      Take a few days off, relax, take it easy, up your food intake, and hit the gym again with renewed vigour.

      If you’re still not able to make progress, then I would recommend mixing things up with a new routine.

      5/3/1 is a great shout and should help with building on the strength gains you’ve made thus far.

  29. Hey, sir.

    Big fan of 5×5, so far doing good progress on my own type.

    I’ve considered this as an option, as SL 5×5 only has back squats and it can get slightly tiring doing 5×5 with straight 175lbs.

    I’m wondering if 2 sets of 5 is enough for a good warm up, or should I warm up more before I go that high.

    Thanks!!!

    1. Having a quick 5-10 minute warm up before you hit the iron, in addition to the back extensions, should be adequate.

      Listen to your body though – if you feel you’d benefit from a few lighter sets, especially for squats, do it.

  30. Hi Henry.

    Here’s my current situation: I’m 42 almost 43 and 2 years away from retiring from Active Duty Navy.

    I’ve lifted weights off and on since high school.

    Lately, for the past year or so, I’ve been more serious about it.

    I’m 5’11”, 255 lbs, carrying more fat than I should, I know.

    Over this past year, just lifting in my garage and hap-hazardly jumping from routine to routine, I have managed the following 1RMs:

    Bench 245 lbs
    Squat 390 lbs
    Deadlift 380 lbs
    Military Press 180 lbs.

    I’ve been thinking of resetting because, to be honest, my form sucks and there is no structure to my workouts.

    My goal is to have a strong and aesthetically appealing build.

    In your opinion, if I start off a little lighter and focus on my form, would this workout be good for me?

    I generally try to consume at least 200 grams of protein a day with 30-40 minutes of low impact cardio (exercise bike) 3-4 times per week to keep from gaining anymore weight.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Brian.

      While this is a great routine, I would actually recommend something a little more structured around hitting PRs, as you’re obviously very strong.

      Wendler’s 5/3/1 is a great place to begin – it will start you off light and allow you to focus on form while leaving plenty of room to progress.

      As far as cardio goes, I would also drop the low level work in favour of some more high intensity cardio to expedite fat loss, such as boxing (bag work etc) or sprints.

      Much more effective and wont eat up as much time.

      Hope that helps.

      Henry

  31. Question.

    Do this program assume you are doing any cardio?

    Or is it ONLY lifting?

    1. If your goal is to build size, I would recommend keeping cardio to a minimum, as you’ll simply burn too many calories.

      By just being strict with your diet – as well as hitting all of those big compound lifts – you should be able to ward off any unwanted fat and keep muscle gains lean.

  32. Great article mate, I only have 90 mins of training before I start work.

    4am wake up call.

    How can I manage a full body workout in this short time scale?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Adam.

      Thanks for the comment, much appreciated.

      In your case, I would recommend something like Stronglifts 5×5, as you’ll be in and out of the gym in a much shorter timeframe, but still working your nuts off.

  33. Can you add barbell row and military press to 1st phase?

    1. You could, of course, but I would always advise sticking to the routine as closely as possible.

      Reg Park was a big advocate of not over-training, and working through Phase 1, as stipulated, leaves plenty in the tank for the following phases and allows lots of room form rest and recovery.

  34. Very well put article Henry.

    I find this routine to be a lot easier to stick to as it has all compound lifts (the big 3) and although I don’t go according it as textbook as I should, I feel that just having those 3 lifts makes this this a lot more challenging than the usual routines that only incorporate 1 or 2 at a time.

    This way I’m hitting all my muscles in unison 3 times a week instead of focusing on bro splits like chest/tri where I bench once or twice within the week and by the next week/exercise I’ve feel as if I’ve lost the muscle memory and hit a plateau.

    1. You’re bang on, Jarrod.

      Split routines simply leave too much time between each key lift, which dramatically hinders progress and causes plateaus.

  35. Henry great article!

    Been thinking about doing this program for a while now.

    I’m 46 and out of shape.

    I’ve done powerboat meets in the past so I’m not stranger to the 3 big lifts.

    But I’ve thought instead of 3×5, lighter weight and 4×12 and only going up 5lbs a week.

    That way I could get back in shape and lose some 15 to 20.

    You that will work is it overkill?

    1. Personally, I would stick to the 5×5 protocol.

      The volume is much more manageable (in terms of keeping the sessions shorter and avoiding injury) and the workouts are more strength focused, allowing you to progress faster on the key lifts.

      If weight loss is the goal, accompany the routine with some cardio and focus on eating better.

  36. Hi Henry,

    Thanks for the article.

    I was wondering: would you recommend for “intermediates” to start at phase 1?

    Or would it be unnecessary and possibly counter-intuitive to building gains?

    Not to say that I’m anywhere near my goal yet (5’8″, 155 lb, 12% body fat), but for someone who isn’t just starting out weight training, I’m just worried starting at phase 1 (as opposed to going directly into phase 2) might not work as well to get the intended muscle growth.

    Really appreciate your advice and articles!

    -B

    1. Hi Brandon.

      Regardless of level, I would always recommend starting with Phase 1, as stipulated.

      Far from being unnecessary, starting with fewer exercises, just the key lifts in this case, at a lighter weight will allow you to build work special work capacity and a strong foundation for phases 2 and 3, while leaving plenty in the tank.

      As mentioned in the article, Park was a big advocate of not training to failure all the time, rather progressive overload with a view to long-term results.

  37. Hello!

    What weights do you recommend to start with, in percentage of 1 rep max/5 rep max?

    1. I would start with around 50-60% of your 1rm – or whatever feels comfortable.

  38. Hey Henry!

    Fantastic Job.

    I would like to ask you, these routines of 3 phases of Reg Park are the same routines that exist in his book?

    “Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders”

  39. Hi, Henry!

    Thanks for the article.

    Don’t you think that by sticking to the P1 for 3 months, one would be neglecting lots of muscle groups, the fact which will have them diminish?

    If I am wrong, please explain.

    1. No, the compound movements you’ll be performing will be working your whole body, and in a far more productive way than any isolation movements you may be used to.

  40. Henry,

    If you’re still answering questions.

    The 60% of 1rm – is that the weight you would start with on the warm up sets and progressively go heavier until you are at 80-90% for the last 3 sets before increasing the weight?

    My 1rm for bench is 210.

    60% would put me at 125 for the first set then up to to 160 for the second before hitting 190 for the last three working sets.

    Alternatively, I would be starting at 70 for the first set then 100 and 125 for the working sets.

    This seems a touch light, but the weight increases in Reg’s 5×5 are more drastic than some of the other strength programs I’ve run through.

    Thoughts?

    1. To be honest, I don’t worry too much about percentages and just work with 10-20kg increments.

      Typically for squats and deadlifts I’ll also do a few more warm up sets, say between 3-4, and for all lifts I’ll do some reps with just the empty bar first.

      So bench might look like:

      20kg x 10 x 2
      80kg x 5
      100kg x 5
      120kg x 5 x 3

      And squat:

      20kg x 10 x 2
      90kg x 5
      110kg x 5
      130kg x 5
      150kg x 3
      170kg x 5 x 3

      Hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

  41. Hi Henry,

    I am a little confused by what you mean when you say that you split phase three into two smaller sessions:

    – Do you do one half one day and the other half the next day – if so does that mean you work out 6 days a week?

    – If not, is it still OK to split the phase like this?

    – Or do you mean something else?

    1. Hi Yulet.

      Yes, that means 6 workouts per week.

      If that’s not sustainable just prioritise the most important lifts and omit the isolation work.

  42. I like how the sets are done.

    5 sets = 2 warm ups followed by 3 work sets.

    Can this be done with different rep ranges e.g. 5 sets of 10 or 5 sets of 8?

    1. No as this is no longer prioritises strength.

  43. Hi Henry, thanks for putting this up in such a clear manner.

    However I am confused researching Reg Park’s routine online there is one that has two different workouts for the week a,b,a then b,a,b etc which had chin ups included.

    What was that about?

    Also as a 38 year old who has only dabbled in the gym occasionally, but worked a physical job all my life, I’m a bit concerned that the 2-3 hour sessions might ruin me for work?

    Would really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions!

    Many thanks

    1. That’s most likely his beginner 5×5 course which you can find here.

      For a more manageable routine, check out some of the 5×5 / 3×5 variations out there, such as Starting Strength and Stronglifts.

      Let me know if you need any further help!

  44. I have a question about rest periods.

    Do you need to rest 3-5 min (or 2, in later phases) between ALL 5 sets or just between 3 WORKING sets?

    If it’s all 5 sets, than it is going to be long day in the gym.

    1. Between the last 3 working sets not the warm up sets.

      But remember this is just a guide – listen to your body and take as much (or as little) rest as you need to lift the weight that day.

      Load is the key variable here and lifting that weight is what matters above all else.

      1. Thank you kindly for your reply.

        I have another question to bug you with.

        I’ve seen this workout program recommended on this website https://www.t-nation.com/training/reg-parks-5×5-program.

        But, in the 3rd phase there is an extra exercise: military press (standing barbell shoulder press), which is missing from your list of 3rd phase exercises.

        Did you forget about that one, or did they make a mistake by including it?

        1. Just checked the original manual (see below) and yes, I accidentally left this out.

          I’ve updated the table, thanks for the heads up!

  45. Thanks for the direction Mr. Croft.

    As I age I’m showing more interest in the Reg Parks, Jack Lalannes and even Vince Gironda.

    They probably knew a thing or two.

    The modern-day emphasis on isolation exercises and gear doesn’t interest me much.

    Never really has.

    So it’s retro time.

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Jim.

      Be sure to check out the rest of our workout reviews – plenty more retro routines!

  46. What is the push off stands in phase 2?

    1. A push up on stand bars?

      Thank you a lot for posting this workout plan dude I’m a huge fan of the old school bodybuilders.

      1. It’s the standard overhead press.

  47. Hi Henry,

    Just a couple of questions for me to be guided accordingly…

    I’m doing the SL 5×5 workout A and B to date.

    Can I have these options:

    1. Workout A for Monday then switch to workout B on Tuesday followed by workout A on Wednesday then workout B and so on with the same alternate sessions to have the 3 days per week work out then rest on Sunday, or;

    2. Do the workout A on Monday, Wednesday and Friday then rest then the following week work out B for the same day (M/W/F) then rest, or;

    3. Should I have to to do MFW workout A for 3 mos then MWF for workout B for 3 mos and repeat…

    4. I think I would be more comfortable with option 1 or 2 at least in my opinion based on my personal and work circumstances or should I strictly follow the SL schedule..

    Thanks Henry in advance… hope to hear from you soon… God bless

    1. Just follow the programme, it works, I don’t understand why you’re trying to complicate matters.

  48. What exactly is ‘press off stands’?

    Great website, btw!

    1. Standard overhead press.

  49. I would like to try this program.

    What are press off stands?

    1. Standard press – read the comments!

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