The 5x5 Program is a very common lifting routine who's main concept has been around for quite a while. This program is based around the concept of progressive overload training by increasing the amount of weight on your lifts on a weekly basis. This system forces your muscles to grow in order to handle the extra weight and therefore makes the routine very successful even though it uses small weight increases.
How to Do It:
For each day you will want to focus on one heavy compound exercise for each bodypart that you are training. The most commonly used exercises to do in 5x5 fashion is deadlifts, squats, bench press, close grip, military presses, barbell curls, and so forth. Your routine will choose one of these heavy compound exercises to do at 5 reps for 5 sets (hence the program name) and then choose your other exercises to do at your normal 2 set at 8 reps each. For example, a bicep focused workout may look like this:
Standing Barbell Curls 5x5
Incline Dumbell Curls 2x8
Preacher Curls 2x8
Alot of people start using this program once they have hit a plateau in their other workout routines as it is known for allowing people to constantly add weight to their lifts. With that being said, someone who is just starting this program should not do their 5x5 sets at the amount of weight they can currently put up. So if I could put 300 on the bench press for 8 reps, I would cut it back to somewhere around 270. Because this program uses more sets with less reps, the cutback will not be affecting you very much and will enable you to perfect your form as you progress through the program. So we started at 270 the first week, after successfully doing the 5x5 bench press we would then add 5 lbs for a total of 275 lbs the next week. Keep adding small amounts of weight until you stop progressing. The key to the program is not to rush to the big numbers, but if you are patient and continually add small amounts of weight each week you will progress!
Now with every program there will come a time when you hit a plateau. Let me asure you, this program was made to BREAK plateaus so don't worry. Once you get to a point where you cannot successfully complete your 5x5 set you have a few options. Most people decide to move to a 5x3 program on the specific exercise that they are stuck on until they once again reach a plateau on 5x3. This would mean if I was benching 350 and hit a plateau where I couldn't do the 5x5 few a for weeks I would move the 5x3. Now with the 5x3 I got to 375 before I couldn't get any further. At this point I would go back to my original 5x5 plateau of 350 and try to complete it at the normal 5x5 routine. At this point I should be able to do 350 at 5x5 and then some as we have built up our strength. You can continue to do this back and forth whenever you hit a plateau.
What it Does:
As I said the 5x5 program has been around a long time and has been proven successful by many beginners and veteran bodybuilders/powerlifters. This program will both add size and strength to your body.
Please feel free to reply with any questions you may have about the program.