how can you do 5x5 at home

How Can You Do 5×5 At Home? What Skinny Guys Should Know To Build Muscle

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Are you interested in doing a 5x5 training program but hate the local gym? Then keep reading! Because today I’ll be explaining how you can do 5x5 at home.

The 5x5 workout can be done at home with barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells. The recommended choice of free weight will depend on training goals, budget, and the space available. In general, 5x5 at home is best performed with barbells, but they are also the most expensive.

Let’s explore the different 5x5 home workouts you can do at home!

Two 5x5 Options You Can Do At Home.

5x5 training is the generic name given to any workout program based on 5 exercises, 5 sets, and/or 5 reps.

It’s a great training weight training routine for beginners.

For a beginner, it can often be confusing when random numbers are given out left, right, and centre:

“Do 5x6 for this and 4x8 of that”

“4 sets are the best”

“Always aim for 8 to 12 reps”

So as someone new to lifting weights, it doesn’t get more simple than sticking to a program where all the training variables are 5, 5, and you guessed it….5!

Therefore the main appeal for doing a 5x5 workout is it’s simplicity.

Here are 2 of the most popular 5x5 home workouts you can try.

1) Stronglifts 5x5 Is The Most Popular.

The Stronglifts 5x5 full body workout is currently one of the more popular forms of 5x5 training.

StrongLifts 5x5 Workout A: Squat/Bench Press/Barbell Row (full body in 30min)

This programme has you alternating between two workouts:

Workout A

  • Squat.
  • Flat bench press.
  • Bent-over row.

Workout B

  • Squat.
  • Overhead press.
  • Deadlift (1 set only).

There are 3 training days per week.

On each training day, you complete either workout A or B.

You would then take a 1 or 2-day rest before completing the other workout, effectively cycling between the two workouts.

Each exercise requires you to perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions, with a 90 second rest in between sets.

If you successfully complete your 5 sets, then you’d add an extra 5lb for that exercise in the next workout.

The exception is the deadlift, where you add 10lb.

By rapidly increasing weight as the weeks go by, the idea is to quickly build strength.

And as a by-product of your strength gains, you’ll also increase muscle size.

2) Muscle Group 5x5’s Are Also Effective.

The muscle group 5x5 is the more beginner-friendly way to perform 5x5 training.

This programme has more flexibility, compared to the Stronglifts 5x5.

THE 5X5 Dumbbell Only | Chest

Each workout has you working one specific muscle group (e.g. chest, arms, back, shoulders, legs, or abs).

I like to group the arms with the shoulders and legs with the abs.

This is because the arms and abs are often trained concurrently when exercising the other muscle groups, so they don’t need dedicated workouts.

So a weekly full-body muscle group 5x5 programme could look like this:

  • Monday- chest.
  • Wednesday- back.
  • Friday- shoulders and arms.
  • Sunday- legs and abs.

Each workout involves 5 exercises, each targeting the specified muscle group.

For example chest day could include:

  • Bench press.
  • Incline bench press.
  • Chest fly.
  • Dips.
  • Dumbbell pull over.

For each exercise, you’d complete 5 sets with a 1-2 minute rest between sets.

The number of reps per set is entirely up to you.

Some people like to do specified reps. If your goal is to build or tone muscle, then you should aim to complete 8-12 challenging reps per set.

Other people like to work towards a time limit. This involves completing as many reps as possible in, say, 30 seconds. After the time is up, your set is complete and you’d take a rest before moving on to the next set.

Regardless of your rep style, you should aim to progressively make small weight increases every 1 or 2 weeks.

This is called progressive overload, and it drives muscle growth.

Check out my other article to find out why 5 reps can build muscle.

Choose Your Poison: Weight Options To Do A 5x5 At Home.

Both of the 5x5 training programmes described above are great for beginners to work the full body at home.

Your choice of 5x5 home workout will depend on your personal goals.

Stronglifts 5x5 is more geared towards rapid strength and muscle size gains, whereas the muscle group 5x5 is more suitable for general fitness, muscle size gains, and muscle toning.

Once you’ve chosen your preferred choice of 5x5 training, you’ll need to decide what type of weight to use.

Free WeightSuitable GoalEstimated CostEstimated Space
BarbellGet bigger & stronger$1000-200030 square foot
Kettlebell SetTone muscle & general fitness$500-10015 square foot
Adjustable DumbbellBuild & tone muscle$5004 square foot

1) Barbells Offer The Greatest Progression Potential.

If your goal is to gain muscle and strength, and you have the budget for a barbell/rack/bench/plates, then this is the superior choice for a home gym.

Barbells allow you to load greatest amount of weight and are ideal for 5x5 training at home.

In fact, the entire Stronglifts 5x5 routine revolves around the barbell. And for best results, you should definately stick with Stronglift’s recommendation.

That’s because the programme requires you to increase weight at a rapid pace, and dumbbells/kettlebells will simply be outgrown very quickly.

Additionally, the muscle-building compound exercises (such as those in Stronglifts 5x5) return the greatest benefits when loaded heavy.

The obvious downside to choosing a barbell setup is the required cost and space.

For a home barbell 5x5 to work, you’ll need to buy the bar, rack, bench, and weight plates.

That being said, the initial investment will likely last you many years (if not your entire weight lifting career).

Another great reason to choose a barbell to do 5x5 at home is that if you need more weight, plates are relatively cheap (around $2 per pound).

Find out if a home gym is right for you in my other article!

2) Kettlebells Can Also Be Used For A 5X5 Home Workout.

If your goal is to use 5x5 home workouts to improve general cardiovascular fitness and tone muscles, then kettlebells can be a cheaper option for a 5x5 home workout.

Just be aware that you’ll need a complete set, and this will consume space (especially the rack).

Both 5x5 routines mentioned above can be performed with kettlebells at home (though not as effective as barbells or dumbbells).

You’ll also have to find kettlebell-specific exercises which cover the entire body.

Some of the best home 5x5 kettlebell exercises include:

  • Single-arm row.
  • Floor press.
  • Kettlebell overhead press.
  • Deadlifting with kettlebells.
  • Goblet squat.
  • Clean and press.
  • Kettlebell swing.

You would simply choose 5 exercises each workout, and complete 5 sets of each exercise (as described above)

But if your goal is to get bigger and build significant amounts of muscle, then kettlebells are not your best option.

There are 2 reasons why kettlebells are not ideal for building muscle:

  • Large weight increments- make it difficult to progressive overload regularly. You may find yourself having to jump 20 pounds between kettlebells, and this makes it especially unsuitable for Stronglifts 5x5 where you’re recommended to overload by 5lb at a time.
  • Awkward grip- makes the best muscle-building compound exercises difficult to perform for beginners.

That being said, having kettlebells is better than not having any weight at all.

It’s just the barbell or dumbbell is the better alternative for most skinny guys.

3) Dumbbells Are Cheap And Convenient.

The third way to do 5x5 workouts at home is to use dumbbells.

Many people choose to do 5x5 with dumbbells over barbells for two reasons:

  • Cheaper- a pair of heavy adjustable dumbbells will set you back around $400-500 but will contain a range of weight increments, effectively packaging an entire dumbbell set into one convenient unit.
  • Space-efficient- these dumbbells take up just a few square feet. And when combined with a weight bench, you have everything you need for a good home workout.

Here’s a 5x5 full-body dumbbell workout you could try:

Workout A

  • Flat bench press.
  • Overhead press.
  • Deadlift (3 sets only)
  • Squat.
  • Bent-over row.

Workout B

  • Incline bench press.
  • Lateral raise.
  • Deadlift (3 sets only).
  • Bulgarian split-squat.
  • Dumbbell weighted pull-up (3 sets only).

You should be doing 3 workouts per week by alternating between workouts A and B with a rest day in between.

For each exercise, do 5 sets of 8 reps before taking a rest and continuing your sets.

Rememeber to progressively add a small amount of weight every 1 or 2 weeks.

Also, beginners should start with body weight pull-ups before progressing to weighted pull ups. And if you don’t have a pull-up bar, then you can substitute with bent-over rows instead.

This workout won’t be as effective as the Stronglifts 5x5, but it allows you to do a 5x5 workout at home without a barbell.

Besides, you can also expect to build some muscle as well as tone those muscles.

Check out my other article for an in-depth analysis for the effectiveness of Stronglifts 5x5 with dumbbells.

What Results Can You Expect From Doing 5x5 At Home?

The results you can expect from doing 5x5 at home will vary depending on the specific 5x5 programme and what type of weight you choose.

Here are the expected results from Stronglifts and muscle group 5x5 for the 3 different free weights:

  • Barbell Stronglifts 5x5- significantly increase strength and build around 20 pounds of muscle in a year.
  • Dumbbell Stronglifts 5x5- build around 5-15 pounds of muscle over 6-12 months.
  • Kettlebell Stronglifts 5x5- increase general fitness and muscle toning.
  • Barbell muscle group 5x5- build 20+ pounds of muscle in a year.
  • Dumbbell muscle group 5x5- build 5-20 pounds of muscle over 3-9 months.
  • Kettlebell muscle group 5x5- increase general fitness and muscle toning.

So if your goal is to become bigger and stronger, then a barbell is your best option.

But if you only want to make moderate and noticaeble improvements in your physique at an affordable price, then dumbbells are the way forward.

Finally, if general health and fitness is your goal, then kettlebells are great!


That’s how you can do 5x5 at home.

5x5 training is a simple, yet effective, program for beginners to build muscle and strength without needing to go to the local gym.

The most important decision you need to make is which routine to perform (Stronglifts vs muscle group 5x5) and what type of weight to use.

Ultimately, there’s no “best 5x5 program” or “best type of weight to use. Rather, you should choose the most suitable combination for your personal goals.

Which 5x5 workout are you going to try at home?

Let me know in the comments below!

Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint to find out EXACTLY how I transformed my skinny body as a hardgainer!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


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