As the old saying goes, ‘training plans are a dime a dozen’, but which one is right for you? The real tried and tested plan is the original 5X5. So, what is that when it is at home then?
It involves doing 5 sets of 5 reps of the three main lifts, bench press, deadlift and squat. These are particularly difficult movements to truly master
and even I sit here writing this with a slightly painful back from putting too much on the bar when squatting, but what can I say ego can sometimes get the best of all of us. By following this plan, you should train three times a week with ideally a day of rest in between. With only three days training it gives you plenty of time to grow!
The main aim of the workout is progressive overload (meaning to increase the poundage every training session). Rest periods can vary but try to keep them within the same period, ideally 1.5-2.5 minutes depending on recovery ability and mental focus. So you only need to go to the gym three times a week for about an hour, fantastic!
Here are some pointers for performing the lifts:
· Never round the back (if the back rounds then reduce weight)
· Keep your elbows close to your armpits
· Squeeze the bar
· Keep your arms straight when pulling the bar off the floor and never pull with your arms
· Use straps or alternate grip to help use maximumal weight (one hand over bar the other under and vice versa)
· All weight should be supported through your heels
· If you discover the weight is going to your back, attempt to widen your legs and try again
· Tense your glutes as much as possible
· When performing the squat control your breathing and contract your abdomen (imagine someone is going to punch you in the stomach
· Imagine trying to push your heels apart on the floor when moving the weight – this will help to contract your quadriceps
· Arch your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to force your chest out as much as possible
· Try squeezing your glutes together to improve strength (sounds strange but it works)
· Brace your abdomen like in the squat (like someone is punching you)
· Imagine squeezing the bar together and bending it in half (helps contract the pectoral muscles)
If you do not add weight to the bar each week, then evaluate variables such as:
· Length of sleep
· What you ate before
· Stress levels
· Warm up
· Correct form
Try to continue to do this for at least 3 months. Your body will eventually naturally start to adapt to the plan and will plateau. To help avoid this if trying to gain strength and weight, try to gradually increase your calories (100-300 each day) and repeat as they say in cookery books for ‘desired results’.