5×5 Review: 4 months later



I’m still not shredded like Joe. Dammit!

I’ve been doing the 5×5 program for 4 months now, so I’m at a place where I can reliably assess how I’m doing with the program and how it’s working for me.

Back in January when I first started the program, I wrote that if I follow the program to a T, which makes you increase the weight on each lift by 5 pounds, I should be squatting 240lbs by the end of three months.

In retrospect:


Needless to say, I am not lifting anything that’s 240lbs. Not even close. So not close, it’s kind of ridic that I even thought I could squat anywhere near that in 3 months. I think it’s clear that I didnt really have a clear concept of how heavy 240lbs is at that time. Because y’all – it’s heavy. Like really heavy. Like, you clearly need quads made of tree trunks to squat or deadlift that much weight. And tree trunks dont grow in three months, my friends.

Ah well, I’m just going to brush off that mathematical delusion as a little bit of naivete.

I basically reached my weight limits after about 6-7 weeks into the program. After hitting 90lbs on the squat, I had to deload to 85 and have been stuck there ever since. Shortly after that,  I got pinned after doing 70lbs on the bench press, and I deloaded on that too, and that’s where I’m at now. I havent made any significant progress with the bent over row, and i realize that I don’t really have the mechanics of the lift down yet.

The only lift that I didn’t completely stall at is the deadlift, and I’m up 120 lbs on that one, and my one rep max is like 5-10lbs more.

So yeah, in terms of weightlifting gains, I didn’t get to increase the amount of weight I could lift by very much. I reached my upper limits pretty early and plateaued on most of the lifts except for the deadlift. I admit that I didn’t try to bust through these plateaus with ferocity or anything- I definitely took a conservative approach, and never tried to force the weight until I was ready to increase it.

Visually, my arms also aren’t ripping out of my shirtsleeves or anything.

However, it hasn’t been all lameness and failures:

Plainly, I’ve gotten stronger. I’m not talking about gym strength that lets you pick up weights and lift them up and down, but functional strength in everyday tasks. That’s the key thing with the 5×5 program- it’s all compound lifts that work your whole body and not isolation lifts. So while I may not have a goose egg for a bicep, I feel that I’m just stronger overall. I first realized this when I went to the  water cooler at work. The jug was empty, and someone had to replace it with a full one. Normally a few months ago I would have waited around till a male coworker came by to replace the bottle (Yes, I realize  this sounds like gender stereotyping, ugh). Not that I didnt think I could lift the thing, but that I just didnt really want to exert that much effort and be all out of breath for a few minutes. But I looked at that 5 gallon water jug (40bs), and I realized that heck, I was lifting practically thrice that much weight this morning. So I removed the empty jug, picked up the a full one from the floor and placed it on the dispenser. Like a bawse. Picking up that jug from the floor and hoisting it above shoulder height is 1) deadlift and then 2) overhead press.


weighlifting has real life applications!

The other day I’m in taekwondo, we’re doing our quick meditation before class where we’re all like this


And I’ve got my hands on my thighs, and I tell you, I felt those quad muscles. Quad muscles that were not there before, and I could for real feel them and they were hard. And I was like daaaaaaaayummm. Kneeling down like that obviously flexed those muscles to the point of straining, but the point is, there are muscles to be flexed. It’s kind of fantastic.


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