The 5×5 model was Reg Park’s choice du jour for packing on slabs of muscle and producing hundreds of pounds of strength. This is also the model that Arnie came to know and love during his formative years. But this isn’t Bill Starr’s 5×5, this is Reg Park’s 5×5 and it’s a little different. The first two sets of five are actually used as warm-up sets. So let’s say we’re going to work our way up to a 150 lb bench, the first set of five would be about 60% or 90 lbs, and the second set of five would be about 80% or 120lbs. After that you would get down to the grit, what Reg liked to call Stabilizer Sets; 3 sets of 5 at 150lbs. So it would end up looking like:
5×90 (Warm-up @ 60%)
5×120 (Warm-up @ 80%)
5×150 (3 stabilizer sets)
When you can get all your reps of 5 at 150 lbs, you add 5 lbs. So next time your bench it would be:
Reg liked to use about 3-5 minutes to rest in between sets.
One more thing: When you’re first starting any 5×5 program you never want to start with your max. Typically you start 30-45 lbs below what you think you can do and work your way back up. Starting anywhere near your maximum capacity is a good way to stall out, so give yourself a running start. If that means starting with an empty barbell, well, just consider that Arnold and Reg both started at the same place you will.