If you use a selectorized weight machine, for example for pulldowns (which, as an aside, are NOT the best replacement for pullups in Starting Strength if you can't yet do pullups), and the weight jumps are too large for you to stay in a rep range you like / feel comfortable with / is part of your program, then you probably didn't yet figure out that those machines always have a freestanding plate or two that you can add to the stack to make in-between weights. Many machines even provide a hook to hold it. Unfortunately, at lots of gyms it's been lost/stolen/whatever--particularly if it wasn't cabled to the machine.
At that point I would buy or DIY something. For example: http://www.adamantbarbell.com/Microloadi ng provides plenty of options. Better yet as far as I'm concerned: http://www.harborfreight.com/30-lb-capac ity-powerful-handle-magnets-67156.html is a $2 magnet to which you could hook chain or whatever to bring up the weight.
Rip's advice would be that you aren't doing Starting Strength (and probably not 5x5) if you aren't doing the big lifts with barbells, and if you go to a gym without a squat rack you should find a better gym. In fact, here's a quote: "(A guy asks if hack squat is useful since his college does not have any squat racks only squat machines) I recommend that you change colleges."
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
4,114 2/6/13 2:03 P
A couple of things. First, does your gym have a power rack? If so, ask someone how to set the crash bars and you can safely lift with free weights. I do this workout at home in a power rack and fail regularly. I even practiced failing (as silly as that sounds). Machines might work in a pinch, but I think the free weights are a bit better.
Lat pull downs are not part of the program. I understand you don't use barbells yet, but this is strength program revolving around those four main movements. So if you're not doing those movements, all bets are off.
I can speak in general terms about progression. Isolation moves are going to be difficult to progress linearly for long. The way I would approach it if you want to go about it like that is to start with a weight that is a challenge and start the program at 90% of that weight. Continue to progress each workout. Upper body moves 5 pounds, lower body moves, 5 to 10 pounds. Try and keep rep count static until you fail.
So if 45 pounds is too easy, what about 50, hit yours reps... then try 55 next time? Again, I think you're going to hit a wall and stall much faster with isolation type moves, so I think 5x5 type progression is probably a bad idea.
I only feel qualified to answer questions about the actual program. Once you start doing other moves, days of the week, moves per set, different progression, etc, you're no longer doing 5x5 and therefore outside of my wheelhouse.
Fitness Minutes: (41,738)
523 2/6/13 1:16 P
Can I attach another question onto here? I recently started doing 5x5- I mean, Monday was my first day. I think I found the appropriate weights, but since I don't have a spotter, I have to do the machines, which are the pin-plates. Some go up by 5, others 10, and some even 15.
Now the question is- on the ones that go up only by 15 lbs, there is a LARGE discrepancy in what I can/can't do. For the lat pull down, 45 lbs is way too easy to do 5x5. I can easily do 15+ reps in a set... However, 60 lbs is really difficult. I can do sets of 4-5 reps for the first few, but the last set is just KILLER. I think 55 lbs would be the "perfect" weight for me right now (or at least it would've been on Monday and I doubt I gained that much strength after one workout), but I don't have that option. Do I train with the 45 or the 60, then? And when do I try to up it to 75? Is there some kind of rep max I should get to with 60 before I attempt to do 75? What if I get to the point where I do 8-10 reps of 60 but only 3 or so with 75?
The article I hyperlinked discuses several variations of the 5X5 programme which may answer your questions.
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
4,114 2/6/13 11:18 A
I think what you're proposing changes the programming pretty substantially. I don't have any personal experience with that setup.
Personally, every time I screw with the programming, I end up limiting progress, so I make it a point to stick to the program to the letter as much as possible. If the program stops working, then I need to switch to a different program. 5x5 worked for about 18 months, so I moved on to something else.
So what I'm getting at here is that if you want to change the workout, I'm probably not going to have a lot of insight.
I meant on the middle day, so if I was working out MWF, go lighter on W. I was not planning on doing ABA BAB, I was planning on doing all 5 exercises 3 times a week. I have done that in the past on a different program that progressively got lighter each workout of the week, but it was a beginning program that started at 8 reps and worked up to 12 using your 10 rep max. I want to go lower rep this time.
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
4,114 2/6/13 11:03 A
I might be confusing the particulars of 5x5 with the programming of Starting Strength, but it should be a 3x a week routine. Mind you, you switch between workouts A and B. Where A = Squat, Bench, Dead and B = Squat, Press, Rows (and later Power Cleans). So week 1 you do A, B, A. Week 2 you do B, A, B. So if I understand your first question correctly, yes, you should be doing this 3x per week.
I don't understand deload in the middle of the day. What do you mean in the middle of the day?
Why are you using dumbbells? This is a barbell program.
One more thing, Bill, since you offered, do you think 5x5 is doable as a 3 x a week full body routine, or would that be too much? Should I deload on my middle day or change up the exercises? I was thinking squat, bench, bent over row, overhead press and deadlift, doing them in a different starting order each day. I workout at home, I have a bench, bar, rack and plate loadable dumbbells, although at the moment, I don't have enough plates to use two dumbbells at the same time if I need to go over the 10 that each dumbbell weighs. Even though I might get bored, I want a good, structured program, because right now I am suffereing from screw-around-itis.
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
4,114 2/6/13 9:43 A
No problem. I ran this program for about 18 months and had a lot of success. Let me know if you have any more questions. It's a great program.
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
4,114 2/6/13 9:26 A
So I think you're specifically referring to failure to complete the worksets and I didn't gather that anyone addressed that specifically.
Obviously there is no absolutes here, but the general rule of thumb is this. If you do not complete all 5 reps, stay at the same weight. Easy. If you miss again on the next session, you need to deload for that movement. Deload means decreasing your weight 20% and starting from there with the 5 reps. So for example, you bench press 100 and your 3 work sets look like this, 5, 4, 3. Next session at 100 you do 5, 4, 3 again. Your next bench press session would start at 80 pounds (20% deload). If you hit all 5 reps at 80, you would go to 85 (just as you normally progress with Starting Strength).
Does that make sense?
Fitness Minutes: (67,277)
2/6/13 2:21 A
There are several variations of 5x5, as mentioned. I have been doing 5x5 for about 8 months. What I do is to warm up first, and start lifting the 5x5 after warming up. For example, to warm up, I squat the barbell without weights 10 reps, then 60kgs(132lbs) 8 reps, then 80kgs(176lbs) 5 reps. The next set is the first set of 5x5, 90kgs(198lbs) at 5 reps, but after resting 5mins.
When I increase the weight, I do several variations in an effort to stay at the new weight and not having to deload. First, I increase the resting time between sets from 3 mins to 5 mins. Next, I can either (1) do as much as I can completing the 5 reps in the first few (2-3) sets, and in the remaining sets 4 reps or even lower, or (2) do 3 or 4 reps in all 5 sets, and gradually increase the rep count in the following sessions until I make the 5x5 without breaking the form, or (3) I add the missing reps in additional sets, and in the following sessions try to unite them to form the regular 5x5. Breaking the form is failure but often inevitable at the new weight.
I tend to do all 3 variations, and can't tell exactly if one is more advantageous over the other or not. More and more it seems to me that you just have to (1) focus on the lift and do the best you can, (2) be patient, (3) when the 5x5 is complete, increase the weight by the smallest increment. I think following these principles, over time the new weight gets to be lifted easily.
However, two more points that I would like to make are: (1) Nowadays I miss a spotter in both squats and bench presses and wonder if it would help or not, (2) the calories taken in is important, if you are at a caloric deficiency, after initial strength gains, one gets stuck. I got stuck at barely squatting 80kgs (176lbs) at caloric deficiency, and I had to start eating more. More protein does not really help, you literally need more calories. After starting to eat about 300-500kCals more, I have come to squat 90kgs(198lbs) now. All other lifts progressed similarly, with the exception of overhead standing press, which is more technical than even the supposedly too technical squats.
I'm not familiar with that particular program but would suggest it's probably more beneficial to start at a weight such that you can make 5 reps on your 5th set and build up that weight, rather than doing less reps until you can make 5x5.
I know when doing a 5x5 workout that if you can do 5 sets for 5 reps you should go up in weight. So, does that mean when you go up, if you can only do 2 sets of 5 reps and then say the other 3 sets at 3 reps that you do that until you get all 5 sets for 5 reps? I'm definitely leaning towards yes, that's what makes sense, and this seems a silly question now that i've typed it out, but anyone care to weigh in? And, one more thing, the 5 sets do not include warm-ups sets, correct?
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