Friday, February 5, 2016

High-Frequency Training with the 3x5 Program

Build Muscle and Strength With This Basic 3x5 HFT Program!
Matthew Sloan—at just 16 years of age—has built plenty of lean muscle and an aesthetic physique using HFT programs almost exclusively

     After my last several posts on HFT, I thought it would be good—based on several emails that I have received, with readers pondering how to properly apply the HFT principles—if I did a few posts with specific methods of training.  These posts will take out more of the guesswork from planning, and then implementing, a HFT plan.
     Keep in mind that these programs are just examples.  You may need to make your own adjustments based on genetics, past training history, etc.  But, for the average lifter, these programs—as examples—will be good on setting you on the correct path.  Some of you may need more training, and some may need to be less, but stick with the programs as I recommend them before deciding that you need to make personal changes.
The 3x5 Program
     I like to (generally) begin a lifter on what I call the "3x5 program" when they first embark on HFT.  It's easy to program compared to some of the other programs (we will get to the other programs in future posts), and, for the most part, the lifter has less questions when employing it, and seems to "get in the groove" of training fairly quickly.
     The 3x5 program is simple.  Here are my "rules" when using it: 
     Train a minimum of 4 days per week, 5 to 6 will be even better.  When first starting on the program, I think that the easiest thing to do is train on a three-on, one-off program.  Once again, this takes all the guesswork out of training.  But, if you prefer more flexibility, then do as I recommended a few posts ago: just take a day off whenever "life" gets in the way.  The important thing, however, is to train frequently.  You will not be doing a whole lot of work at each training session—no matter what form of HFT you are using—and so it necessitates very frequent training.  4 days minimum, period.
     Use 3 to 5 exercises at each training session. Choose 3 to 5 exercises that work a wide range of movements and muscles.  I generally recommend a lower-body pulling exercise, a squatting exercise, an upper-body pulling exercise, an overhead pressing exercise, and an upper-body pushing exercise when using 5 exercises.  So, for instance, this might mean squats, deadlifts, chins, military presses, and bench presses on one training day, and front squats, power cleans, one-arm dumbbell rows, behind-the-neck presses, and weighted dips on another.  If you choose 4 exercises, then drop the upper-body pushing exercise, and if you do 3 exercises, then drop the upper body pushing exercise and the upper-body pulling exercise (but keep in mind that this is not a "hard" rule).  I would much rather one of my lifters—if he is using just 3 exercises—choose push-presses, deadlifts, and squats over deadlifts, bench presses, and chins, as an example.  (Feel free to throw in some barbell or dumbbell curls on some days, but just don't make direct arm training a daily thing.)
     Perform 3 to 5 sets, of 3 to 5 reps, on each exercise.  These sets should include "warm-ups".  Let's say that your first exercise of the day is the bottom-position squat, then your sets may look something such as this:
     The last set is the only one, in this instance, that is close to being all-out.  Use the same scheme, or something similar, on the other exercises.   Depending on how "big" the exercise is, however, depends on whether all of your sets are "ramps" (as above) or whether you fit in some "straight" sets as well.  So, let's say that your second exercise is chins, and, since most people can't use much weight on the exercise, your set/rep scheme may look like this:
bodyweight x 5
25 pounds (via weight belt) x 5
50 pounds x 3
50 pounds x 3
50 pounds x 3
     Also, keep in mind that you could do all of your sets with 5 reps—you don't have to go down to 3 reps on each exercise.  In fact, if you're after more muscle than strength, then it would probably be best to stick with 5 reps.  Keep in mind as well that you don't have to do 5 sets, either.  On some exercises, 3 will be plenty.  Program according to how you feel on each particular training day.
The Program on Paper
     Pretty simple and easy to program, huh?  However, just to make it even easier to understand, here is what several days of training may look like (please keep in mind, however, that this is just an example, too):

Squats: 5x5
Deadlifts: 5x3-5
Behind-the-Neck Presses: 5x5
Weighted Dips: 5x3-5
Weighted Chins: 5x3-5

Goblet Squats: 5x5
Power Cleans: 5x3
One-Arm Overhead Presses: 4x3-5

Front Squats: 5x3-5
Power Snatches: 4x3
Military Presses: 5x3-5
Behind-the-Neck Chins: 3x5


Repeat Monday's workout

     At this point, you could repeat Tuesday and Wednesday's workout on the next couple of training days, or you could begin mixing in other exercises, or mix and match which days you do the above exercises.  But don't use too many different exercises—the less advanced you are, then the less exercises you need to use.  You should be constantly pushing for heavier and heavier weights on the last set of each exercise, and too many different exercises makes it hard to do that.
     If your goal is to really increase the weight on a certain exercise—as competitive powerlifters would need to do—then feel free to perform each exercise on each training day.  The more often you perform the exercise depends on the nature of how your body adapts to it.  You could squat at each training session, bench press at every-other training session, and deadlift at every third training session.

     In the next couple posts on HFT, I will go over a program that only uses one or two exercises in a training day, and another program that uses as many as 10 to 12 different exercises on each training day.
     Until then, train hard and frequent!


  1. Very helpful! Thanks.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on how to run the two-barbell program.

  2. Mike,

    You're welcome. Hopefully, these example programs will help.

  3. What u say about the HFT program i'm doing?

    Squat High-Bar - 3x5
    Deadlift - 2x5
    Bench-Press - 3x5
    Pull-Ups - 2x5
    Militar Press - 2x5

    I'm doing this program five times a week, varying during the week, the intensity between 50 % to 70 % of one repmax.

    And every two or three weeks i try to beat my PR on all of them.

    I started this program one month ago.

    What u think about it?


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