Barbells are the tools of the trade in the 3x5 workout.
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The 3x5 workout is not new but has become popular recently because of strength coach Mark Rippetoe and his Starting Strength program and books. Short for three sets of five repetitions, the 3x5 workout uses basic barbell exercises such as the squat and bench press and is designed for use by beginner and early intermediate exercisers. The 3x5 workout offers several noteworthy advantages.
Choose Simple over Complex
Workouts, especially strength training workouts, are often very complicated. They can require access to a wide variety of exotic training equipment, involve lots of complex training methods, use a wide variety of exercises and involve complicated rep, set and intensity manipulations. In contrast, the 3x5 workout uses simple linear periodization, which simply means you do three sets of five reps one week using a small number of compound, basic barbell exercises and then do the same thing next week with 5 lbs. more on the bar. This simple progression ensures you will get stronger week after week until you reach your genetic plateau.
Stick to the Basics
The 3x5 workout places an emphasis on basic barbell exercises. These exercises can be performed in just about any gym and even at home. Many followers of the 3x5 system have garage gyms. The exercises used in the 3x5 workout are compound in nature, which means that they work multiple muscle groups at the same time. This saves you time and also means you develop usable strength that will carry over to everyday and sporting activities. 3x5 workouts usually consist of only three or four exercises per workout.
Double the Benefits
By performing three sets of five repetitions, you will develop muscle strength and size simultaneously. This is often referred to as functional hypertrophy. While you can build muscle using lighter weights and performing higher reps, your strength gains will not be as significant. Likewise, you can develop strength performing lower reps and using heavier weights, but you won't develop as much muscle mass. The 3x5 workout provides a good compromise for those seeking to develop both strength with muscle size at the same time.
Save Valuable Time
The 3x5 workout is based on a three workouts-a-week template, and each workout lasts approximately one hour or less. This is a small-time investment especially when compared to some bodybuilding-type workouts that involve five or even six workouts per week. The 3x5 workout is ideal for those who are pressed for time or are training for a sport or activity and also need to fit in activity-specific practice sessions around their strength training workouts.