There are a lot of programs on the internet which are trending. One of them is the 5×5 workout for over 50 aged people. The 5×5 program was not designed for older adults. However, people all over the globe love this program for its claims of adding strength and muscle mass by its strict protocol.
In this article, we will discuss the effects of 5×5 workout and possible implications on older adults who are over 50. We will also explore if you can follow this training and the possible modifications you need for your safety. This article will give you enough information to decide if the 5×5 workout for over 50 is suitable or not.
What Is The 5×5 Workout Program?
The 5 x 5 workout program is based on adding maximum strength and muscle mass to your body. The program is focused on high weight or high-intensity training where you perform 5 repetitions and 5 sets of 5 exercise for 5 days. Hence the great load on your muscles produces a stimulus that enables rapid gain in strength and muscle mass. There are various protocols available like Stronglift 5×5 routine, Reg park and mad cow 5×5 workout.
The question about how effective is this training protocol depends on the individual and their capability of responding to the program. This program is not suitable for beginners because they need to build a foundation of strength before trying out experimenting with very low repetitions and high weight exercises.
Another major point of the 5 x 5 workout program is that it focuses on 5 exercises per day which means that you will be mainly doing compound movements such as squats, benchpress, deadlift, and so on.
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Program Sample 5×5 Workout (By Guru Mann)
You might want to check out how the 5×5 workout program exactly looks like on the paper so here the complete schedule program is laid down. The workout program here is merely a sample to represent how the 5×5 program is formulated.
5×5 Workout For Over 50: Complications
The scientific complications are not set in stone that means the program may be beneficial or may be harmful to an individual depending on the individual’s physiology, exercise history, genetics, and several other factors. Some of the points are laid down that you must consider before trying out the 5×5 workout program even if you are a regular exerciser.
Are you Accustomed To Heavy Lifting?
The main focus of people over 50 is good mobility and flexibility which serves as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. However, in this 5×5 workout program, our priority is strength and muscle mass which arises the question that is the individual accustomed to that kind of intense training.
If you are not used to heavy compound lifting then you may want to avoid adapting to the 5×5 training program without a few months of moderate to heavy lifting training. This will ensure that you do not face any injury such as a fracture or joint dislocation and muscle fiber tears.
Understand Your Body Has Slowed Down Now
One of the inevitable truths that you must realize is that your body’s capacity has decreased. This means that you won’t be able to lift as heavy as you used to do before and it will take you more time to recover from your workouts. Not to mention your ability to put up muscle mass has also gone down which means that you should not keep your expectations too high.
Due to various aging factors, your muscle contractile strength is now lower than before along with various physiological factors like VO2 Max, heart’s ability to pump blood and nutrients, nerve impulse transmission, neuromuscular coordination, and removal of fatigue. Considering All the above points you must deal with the 5 by 5 workout plan practically and set your expectations accordingly.
Can You Feed Your Body Enough?
Another logical drawback that can occur with aging is that your body cannot digest food as actively as it could do in your teenage. This means that when you work out harder you will need more nutrients to recover. To fulfill this requirement you will have to eat an adequate amount of macros and meet your calorie requirements. The difficulty comes with indigestion because your body has to digest all the food that you provide and on top of that, it has to absorb it so that the nutrients are used up in the recovery process.
Considering your body’s limitations because of the aging process you may want to reconsider taking up this plan because nutrition is a very big part of any fitness goal. Without proper nutrition, you won’t see any benefit of the 5×5 workout plan despite very intense training. This makes the 5×5 workout for over 50 seem dangerous.
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Chances Of Injury
This might be the most important point you need to consider before following the 5×5 workout program. The 5×5 workout program includes heavy lifting which generally involves a higher risk of injury as well. Assuming that you’re warm up properly the chances of injury will lower a lot. However, we are still dealing with very heavy compound lifting which can have a variety of injury risks.
There can be a chance of joint dislocation or even fracture. Your skeletal system should also be familiar to lifting otherwise you will face injury such as muscle tear which can result in permanent muscle damage. The main issue with dealing with injuries is that your body cannot recover as fast as it could do once. Any injury can cause a long-lasting effect or even permanent damage.
Focusing On the Principles Of a 5×5 Workout Program
As stated above the 5×5 workout program might have too many complications for an older adult. Therefore it might do more damage than good to your body. However, the question arises that can we derive only the benefits of the program without the risks involved. To do that, we must focus on the main training principles that cause the strength and muscle gain in 5×5 workout programs.
Heavy Weight To Stimulate Growth
We know that lifting heavy than the muscle is accustomed to will cause growth and hypertrophy. That is the reason the 5×5 workout program focuses on extreme heavy lifting and only doing 5 repetitions. We can apply this same principle in our normal training as well by using heavy weights over comfortable ones.
Here heavy means choosing a weight which is approximately around your 10 rep Max. Keeping the repitition between 10 to 12 can result in uniform gains in terms of strength and mass. This means that you are focusing on not only myofibrillar hypertrophy but also sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In other words, you will experience strength as well as muscle size.
Provided that you are above 50 this type of training is more logical. As long as you do progression over the weeks and increment the weights as you get stronger you will see good growth. One thing to keep in mind here is that your rate of progression might be slower than young individuals because for 50-year-old, many physiological factors slow down due to aging including your ability to gain strength.
Incorporating More Sets
The 5×5 workout program is meant to keep your muscle under heavy tension for a longer period. This increases the volume of the muscle due to an increase in sarcoplasmic fluid. That is why you can see that you have to do five repetitions in the 5×5 workout program.
There is no problem with doing too many sets of exercise however you would want to do a progression from 2-3 sets to a higher number of sets. Directly jumping on to five or six sets in your workout can result in training if your body is not accustomed to that kind of heavy exercise.
Therefore, a smart move would be to start your training program with two to three sets of every exercise and increase the number of sets as you grow your strength over the weeks.
Focusing On Compound Lifts
Compound exercises are well known to train multiple muscle groups at the same time and effectively stimulating the muscle growt. This principle can be applied in your normal training where you focus on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and benchpress. Compound movements do require high levels of strength but since your repitation is going to be 10 to 12 there are fewer chances of injury.
On the contrary, if you are doing only 5 repetitions you are more likely to choose a very heavy weight which can be uncomfortable and pose a threat to your joint, and also compromise your form.
Choosing Less Exercises (5 Exercises Per Day)
Everyone wants to have an effective short and high-intensity workout session rather than a two-hour long session. The 5×5 workout program is popular because of its less number of exercises.
This thing can also be adopted in your normal workout routine where you avoid too many exercises and stick to only five to six exercises per day. As long as you target all your measure muscle groups and workout with good form you can claim that you have had an awesome workout session.
The Dangers of 5 Repetition
As discussed above doing 5 repetitions of your heavy compound lifts can be risky if you are above 50 because you are more likely to lift very heavy weights which can result in injuries that may take months to recover. Therefore you can modify this element and train for 10 to 12 repetitions. You would not regret this training pattern because 10 to 12 repetition is optimal for strength and muscle development.
Understand Your Comfort Zone
They say that to grow you have to get out of that comfort zone. However, with the 5×5 workout protocol, the exercises are going to be too challenging for individuals specially the 50-year-old individuals. This is because performing 5 sets of single exercise and incrementing in each set is not as easy as it sounds.
Your strength training sessions are not meant to be comfortable but it might be somewhat challenging and not super challenging that leaves you sore for days.
Considering this point you would want to set the intensity of your workout and choose the weight you lift such that they are challenging enough but also let you perform with proper form which is less likely if you follow the five repetitions five-set program
My Personal Experience With The 5×5 Workout Program
Although I am not above 50 yet, I can share my experience when I first followed the 5×5 workout program and added it to my training schedule. My observations and experiences are laid down in the following points.
- I found it extremely difficult to increment the weight in every set. This is not mandatory that you must increase the resistance in every set but I tried to increase the load in each of the single sets which were extremely difficult because I would have to do the increment five times in an exercise.
- The fourth and fifth sets would be very heavy for me since I was incrementing after every set. This caused my form to be compromised and reduced the efficiency of my workout. Most of the time I could not finish all the five repetitions in my last set.
- I was not exactly counting my calories but I was eating healthy overall. Therefore I did not notice any massive gains during my 5×5 workout program.
- I loved the training pattern as I only had to do 5 exercises per session which took me less than an hour. The rest between sets was high as well around 2-5 minutes.
- I got plenty of rest since I had to work out only 4-5 days a week. This was quite comfortable on my part as well.
The 5×5 workout program was designed for elite bodybuilders and athletes. It is also being considered safe if you have been working out for a few years and have a foundation of strength. However, as we age and cross 50 various complexities develop due to body’s physiological changes that may cause the 5×5 workout to be unfit.
If you still want to experiment with the workout regime you may go ahead keeping in mind the risk and safety precautions to reduce the chances of injury. Otherwise, you may also follow the root training principles that are behind the 5×5 workout and eliminate the risk by simply following those principles which are proven for strength and muscle development.