Biotest

5x5 or 25 Singles, Which is Best?


#1

Hi CT,
I use the same weight in the military press for the 5x5 double progression or 25 reps for time.

The thing is the 5x5’s take me about 10.5 minutes to perform and the 25 reps take 7.5 minutes.

Which should I be doing or is there a different benefit for each method?

thanks,
George


#2

Best for what goal?


#3

That’s a good question… Which would be best for hyper trophy and which would be best for strength?


#4

Sorry I’m late George.

At an equal weight the 5x5 will be more effective to DEVELOP strength and size. Singles will be more effective at making you more efficient at demonstrating strength (better for technical efficiency).

When you do a set, you have a drop-off in force production from rep to rep. I will say about 2.5% per repetition when using large weights. For example if you are doing a set of 5 reps with 85% of your maximum the first rep will “feel like” a single with 85%, the second one will feel like a single with 87.5%, the 3rd rep will feel like a single with 90%, the 4th rep will feel like a single with 92.5% and the 5th one will feel like a single with 95% (most people can do 5 reps with 85% of their max for one set).

Now… if you rest about 2-3 minutes between sets you will have a slight drop-off in performance capacity from set to set to… for that reason not many people can do 5 sets of 5 with 85% of their max… I often see people being able to do 3 sets of 5 and then get 4 or even 3 reps on their last two sets.

Normally for 5 x 5 we are talking about 80%

So in that regard the sets will “feel” like…

Set 1
Rep 1: 80%
Rep 2: 82.5%
Rep 3: 85%
Rep 4: 87.5%
Rep 5: 90%

Set 2
Rep 1: 82.5%
Rep 2: 85%
Rep 3: 87.5%
Rep 4: 90%
Rep 5: 92.5%

Set 3
Rep 1: 85%
Rep 2: 87.5%
Rep 3: 90%
Rep 4: 92.5%
Rep 5: 95%

Set 4
Rep 1: 87.5%
Rep 2: 90%
Rep 3: 92%
Rep 4: 95%
Rep 5: 97.5%

Set 5
Rep 1: 90%
Rep 2: 92%
Rep 3: 95%
Rep 4: 97.5%
Rep 5: 100%

As I mentioned this refers to the “feeling” of each repetition. But it also refers to muscle recruitment … as fatigue sets in, the body must recruit more muscle fibers to do the job… if more muscle fibers are recruited and fatigued, their is more stimulation and development of those fibers.

This next part is theoretical BUT it will help you understand the difference between 25 singles and 5x5. I say theoretical because even though the drop-off between reps is fairly accurate at that level, it is still an approximation and can vary from one individual to the next.

We could thus estimate the “average rep feeling/demand” of each set of 5 reps at:

Set 1: 85%
Set 2: 87.5%
Set 3: 90%
Set 4: 92.5%
Set 5: 95%

Which in turns means that the average feel of a rep during 5x5 at 80% will be 90%.

And assuming 2:30 of rest between sets we are talking about 20 minutes of training time for the completion of the 5 sets.

So it is my opinion that to get a similar training effect on strength DEVELOPMENT and size with singles as you would with 5x5 you would need 25 singles at 90% of your maximum in about 20 minutes. Since setting up and doing one repetition might take about 5-6 seconds we are talking about 25 singles at 90% with about 40-45 seconds of rest between “sets”.

This is certainly doable BUT the impact on the nervous system might be a tad high to do this on a regular basis.

But if you use the same weight, 80% for 5x5 versus 25 singles at 80%, the 5x5 will be superior to build muscle and strength while 80% for 25 singles will be very effective at improving strength-skill (your capacity to demonstrate strength).


#5

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Sorry I’m late George.

At an equal weight the 5x5 will be more effective to DEVELOP strength and size. Singles will be more effective at making you more efficient at demonstrating strength (better for technical efficiency).

When you do a set, you have a drop-off in force production from rep to rep. I will say about 2.5% per repetition when using large weights. For example if you are doing a set of 5 reps with 85% of your maximum the first rep will “feel like” a single with 85%, the second one will feel like a single with 87.5%, the 3rd rep will feel like a single with 90%, the 4th rep will feel like a single with 92.5% and the 5th one will feel like a single with 95% (most people can do 5 reps with 85% of their max for one set).

Now… if you rest about 2-3 minutes between sets you will have a slight drop-off in performance capacity from set to set to… for that reason not many people can do 5 sets of 5 with 85% of their max… I often see people being able to do 3 sets of 5 and then get 4 or even 3 reps on their last two sets.

Normally for 5 x 5 we are talking about 80%

So in that regard the sets will “feel” like…

Set 1
Rep 1: 80%
Rep 2: 82.5%
Rep 3: 85%
Rep 4: 87.5%
Rep 5: 90%

Set 2
Rep 1: 82.5%
Rep 2: 85%
Rep 3: 87.5%
Rep 4: 90%
Rep 5: 92.5%

Set 3
Rep 1: 85%
Rep 2: 87.5%
Rep 3: 90%
Rep 4: 92.5%
Rep 5: 95%

Set 4
Rep 1: 87.5%
Rep 2: 90%
Rep 3: 92%
Rep 4: 95%
Rep 5: 97.5%

Set 5
Rep 1: 90%
Rep 2: 92%
Rep 3: 95%
Rep 4: 97.5%
Rep 5: 100%

As I mentioned this refers to the “feeling” of each repetition. But it also refers to muscle recruitment … as fatigue sets in, the body must recruit more muscle fibers to do the job… if more muscle fibers are recruited and fatigued, their is more stimulation and development of those fibers.

This next part is theoretical BUT it will help you understand the difference between 25 singles and 5x5. I say theoretical because even though the drop-off between reps is fairly accurate at that level, it is still an approximation and can vary from one individual to the next.

We could thus estimate the “average rep feeling/demand” of each set of 5 reps at:

Set 1: 85%
Set 2: 87.5%
Set 3: 90%
Set 4: 92.5%
Set 5: 95%

Which in turns means that the average feel of a rep during 5x5 at 80% will be 90%.

And assuming 2:30 of rest between sets we are talking about 20 minutes of training time for the completion of the 5 sets.

So it is my opinion that to get a similar training effect on strength DEVELOPMENT and size with singles as you would with 5x5 you would need 25 singles at 90% of your maximum in about 20 minutes. Since setting up and doing one repetition might take about 5-6 seconds we are talking about 25 singles at 90% with about 40-45 seconds of rest between “sets”.

This is certainly doable BUT the impact on the nervous system might be a tad high to do this on a regular basis.

But if you use the same weight, 80% for 5x5 versus 25 singles at 80%, the 5x5 will be superior to build muscle and strength while 80% for 25 singles will be very effective at improving strength-skill (your capacity to demonstrate strength).[/quote]

Damn, this must be why you get paid the big bucks. I need you in my life.


#6

[quote]ac1065 wrote:
Damn, this must be why you get paid the big bucks. I need you in my life.
[/quote]

Dude! If only you knew :slight_smile: There are tons of unscrupulous “online experts” harvesting way more money and not providing anything worthwhile. I’m doing this because it’s my passion and there is nothing I like more than helping people out and sharing what I learn.


#7

Just stumbled onto this thread. Great question and Wow! -I learned a lot from your response CT. Thanks a ton!