Why 5’s? (08/12/2019)

A few weeks back, kicking off our current Bars & Bells program, one of our members asked why we test using our 5RM (5 repetition maximum). The majority of our members are active adults and we were actually looking for their technical 5 rep max, abbreviated “5TRM,” which is performing a lift by 5 repetitions where a 6threp might fall apart or not be possible. We want that last rep to look as technically sound as the first rep. A little deviation is acceptable, but anything that compromises technique is too heavy for where this program was going.
We train adults who have children to play with, families to take care of, jobs to perform, and testing anything heavier is risky. Most of our adults are in their early to mid 40’s and they’re training with us to get stronger, stay healthy and be safe. Some of our members have come from backgrounds where injuries sidelined them at a point in their fitness journey and they’re not willing to go through that again. Another significant percentage of our members had no training experience prior to joining ELEVATE and have learned our systems and recognize how often we work with 5’s when doing strength work.
Back to the member’s question, “Why 5?” 5 builds strength that lasts. This statement comes from strong and wise men who have designed strength training programs for athletes, military personnel and adults. Pavel Tsatsouline, Dan John, Jim Wendler and Fabio Zonin have all written programs that get people stronger with the use of 5’s.
Pavel’s book Power To The People is built on 5s. Dan John and Pavel co-wrote “Easy Strength,” which focuses on 2 sets of 5 reps for a majority of the training sessions. Fabio Zonin wrote this great article for StrongFirst as well as the ebook “Reload.” Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is one of the most popular strength training programs around (the book is a must have and the program is one worth investing the time and experience doing for yourself once you have establish a solid foundation of strength).
5’s are about practice. It’s not about peaking or hypertrophy – it’s about practice, refining a movement skill and developing strength in that skill. We tend to practice and learn best from 5’s.
Just mentioned above, 5’s develop a foundation of strength. We use 5’s in the Barbell Incline Push up to create maximal tension, which has successfully gotten many of our members to perform Push Ups from the ground. We have used 5 reps to help members bring their Barbell and/or Trap Bar Deadlift from 135 pounds to over 185 pounds in less than a year, repeatedly.
When training adults, we have to ask ourselves how much strength is enough? We find that working on 5 reps for strength helps us build an athletic adult population that remains healthy, feels stronger and accomplishes more in life and makes their favorite activities like hikes with their family or bike rides on the rail trail easier and more enjoyable.