5x5 Novice Strength Training Program by KETOGAINS

(based on the classic 5x5 by Reg Park)


If you are a beginner and want to make great gains in muscle mass and strength you should follow this program. 

It is based on the classic 5x5 program created by Reg Park, and so it can be used as the foundation to start to build a balanced physique, no matter if you are a man, a woman, your age or build.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to do lots of repetitions at low weight to get “toned” and “defined”… You achieve the “toned” look by having a low enough Body Fat % and at least somewhat decent muscle mass. This program will help you achieve that goal, as long as your diet is also on par.

Think of building your body as building a house. You need to set up the foundations first, before you start adding extra rooms, furniture and decorations. This program is, in my opinion, the best to help you start your journey towards body recomposition.

Again, this program is suited for both males and females of any age.

The program is to be conducted 3 days a week for Strength Training and 2 OPTIONAL days a week for Fat Burn, alternating workout A&B on non-consecutive days.

If you are totally new to Strength Training, you can start with an empty barbell, otherwise start with a decent load in which you can do 5 sets of 5 reps with good control, form and cadence.

Then, your goal is to add some weight each workout session, or  deload a bit if you stall. Its fairly simple.

Click on the name of each exercise and you will see a video of the lift in question.

You can also download the Ketogains 5x5 Novice Strength program on an Excel file, HERE.

If you don’t have access to Barbells, you can check the Kettlebell / Dumbbell version HERE.

Refer to the FAQ after the layout of the program for any questions.



Day 1 – Strength: Workout A Day 1 – Strength: Workout B
Day 2 – Optional Fat Burn: HIIT Day 2 – Optional Fat Burn: HIIT
Day 3 – Strength: Workout B Day 3 – Strength: Workout A
Day 4 – Optional Fat Burn: HIIT Day 4 – Optional Fat Burn: HIIT
Day 5 – Strength: Workout A Day 5 – Strength: Workout B
Days 6 & 7 – Rest Days 6 & 7 – Rest




Exercise Equipment Muscle Sets Reps
Barbell Squats Barbell Legs 5 5
Barbell Bench Press Barbell Chest 5 5
Bent Over Row Barbell Back 5 5
Barbell Shrugs Barbell Traps 3 8
Standing Overhead Tricep Extension Barbell Triceps 3 8
Standing Barbell Bicep Curls Barbell Biceps 3 8




Exercise Equipment Muscle Sets Reps
Barbell Squats Barbell Legs 5 5
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Back 1 5
Standing Overhead Shoulder Press Barbell Shoulders 5 5
Bent Over Row Barbell Back 5 5
Close Grip Bench Press Barbell Triceps 3 8
Standing Barbell Bicep Curls Barbell Biceps 3 8

Note: Sets do not include warm-up sets. Do 1-2 sets at 30-40% RM (Rep Max), 12 to 8 reps. To calculate your Rep Max, use this calculator.



Exercise Equipment Muscle Sets Reps
HIIT: Kettlebell Swings Kettlebell Core / Body 5 20
LISS Cardio Machine of your choice Heart 20 min

Note: For Cardio, follow the instructions above. I suggest a cardio machine that you are not used to and is hard, such as Stair Climbing machine. You do not add weight to these exercises. Start Kettlebells swings with 20 to 30 lbs., increase if easy.



  1. Aim for correct form, but don’t be afraid of lifting heavy.
  2. You should try to add at least 5-10 lbs. each week 5x5 exercises, and 2-5 lbs. to 4x8 exercises.
  3. If you fail a rep/set/whatever, you repeat that weight during the next workout. If you fail the next workout, you lower your weight by 10% and continue to use that until progress. Reset weights get rounded down.
  4. Break times between sets are 3-5 minutes for the x5 sets and 1-2 minutes for the x8 sets.
  5. Unless you are unable to do this program for medical reasons: do not alter the program.
  6. If you have bad knees, do box squats. Otherwise, unless you are medically unable you should squat.
  7. Deadlifts are 1x5 for a reason. They are taxing on your CNS and if you mess around you will get hurt.
  8. Do the reps and sets as they are laid out in the program. 
  9. The weight should be the same for all 5 reps and 5 sets of all exercises. This is not “pyramid / reverse pyramid” training.
  10. You do not need to add any more extra accessory work except for maybe some abdominal and calf exercises.
  11. If you have done this program for more than 6 months and want to progress even further, you can follow with an intermediate program such as Madcow’s 5x5 follow up program.



  1. Adding Exercises. This is a full body routine. Overhead Press, Triceps Extensions & Bench Press works your triceps. Barbell Rows, and Barbell Curls work your biceps. Overhead Press, Squats, Deadlifts work your abs. Focus on the big picture: getting your Squat up to 1.5x your body-weight. Then your abs will be muscular.
  2. Dropping Exercises. Only reason not to Squat 3x/week is because it’s hard. Avoiding what’s hard doesn’t get you results. Don’t drop any exercises, especially not the Squat. The whole program revolves around the Squat.
  3. Substituting Exercises. You don’t need Front Squats, Zercher Deadlifts, Push Press, etc. Master the basics. When you have base strength and good technique, you can add more.
  4. Changing Exercises Order. The exercise order is chosen for a reason. Squats first because they are most important, but also heaviest. Stick to the exercise order, it works best that way.
  5. Using Machines. Strength built on machines doesn’t transfer to free weights or real life: machines balance the weight for you. Machines are also potentially dangerous: they force your body into fixed, unnatural movement patterns. No Leg Press. Do Squats. No Smith Squats. Do Squats. Safety depends on technique. Start with an empty barbell. Focus on technique. Add weight each workout.
  6. Using Anything but Barbells. Barbells work best because you can use more weight. More weight is more stress on your body, thus more results. It’s also easier to add weight each workout with barbells as you’re using both sides. You want to use dumbbells or kettlebells? Follow a training program designed for those. But remember: if you want to become strong you need barbells for your main exercise. Use dumbbells as assistance.
  7. Changing Sets. Best way to learn exercise technique is to do the exercise a lot.  5×5 has 25 reps/exercise to practice technique. 5×5 Deadlifts is too much on your lower back. It’s already worked on Squats, Barbell Rows & Overhead Press. Stick to 1×5 Deadlifts. When you can Squat 1x your body-weight you’ll be happy with 1×5 Deadlifts.
  8. Changing Reps. Stick to the reps as laid out. 5 is the magic rep range where you learn exercise technique best. You can add weight more easily. And you build strength, power & muscle mass. High reps. 8-15 reps work endurance. You can’t lift as much weight and fatigue gets in the way of learning exercise technique. Low reps. 1-3 reps is for strength, speed & power work.
  9. Lowering The Weight. Never lower the weight because the first 2 sets were hard. Go for 5 reps. If you only get 1 rep per set, so be it. The only way to get used to lifting a weight, is to lift it. Only lower the weight if you got injured, if you’re not confident about your technique or if you stalled 3 times with the same weight.
  10. Not Adding Weight. Lifting the same weight forever doesn’t force your body out of its comfort zone. It becomes lazy and you lose strength. Add weight each workout until you stall. If you’re not sure about your technique, lower the weight by 20%. If you got injured, start with an empty bar. Add weight slowly, but systematically.
  11. Adding too Much Weight. Use bigger increments if you have weight lifting experience, are confident about your technique and started too light. You can also use bigger increments if you just come out of a layoff. However, if you just did 180 lbs Squats and they were heavy, don’t add 10lbs the next workout. Stick to 5lbs. Bigger increments make you stall faster. Small increments delay stalling and are better for your technique & confidence.
  12. Underestimating The Program. You’re a beginner longer than you think. Weight lifting experience doesn’t make you an intermediate. Squatting 1.5x your body-weight with good technique does. Weightlifters, strongmen, powerlifters, athletes, … work their legs several times per week. Bodybuilders are the only exception. If you never did Squats more than once per week, do 5×5.
  13. Overestimating Yourself. Starting with heavier weights will make your legs sore. Sore legs will make it hard to Squat again 2 days later. Worse, you might not make the gym because your legs hurt too much. Start with an empty barbell and add weight each workout. Less soreness, and you can better focus on technique. Proper exercise technique is more important than weight. Adding weight becomes easy once you can lift correctly.
  14. Skipping Workouts Because You’re Sore. The best solution for soreness is to train the muscle again. This flushes blood into your muscles, speeding up recovery. Start with an empty bar and go the gym no matter what.
  15. Switching Program too Soon. This is not a 10 week program. Change routine once you can at least Squat 1.5x your body-weight. You’ll stall 2-3 times on your Squat before getting there. You can progress faster on this program because you’re adding weight each workout. Intermediate programs use weekly increases. Stick with this program until you stall at least 2-3 times on your Squat. Trust the program. Try it as laid out for 2 months. Measure your progress by tracking your measurements, strength stats and taking pictures. After 2 months you can evaluate for yourself if it works or not.


©Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved Ketogains® - The use, copy or distribution of the content, image, logos and tools of this website is prohibited without written consent by the owner.

©Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved Ketogains® - The use, copy or distribution of the content, image, logos and tools of this website is prohibited without written consent by the owner.