There are so many different exercises and methodologies out there for gaining size and strength that it can be tough to understand what to do with it all. So, in this post I’m going to share with you the Performance U 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method, which is a simple to understand, easy-to use, plug-and-play template used in the Performance U training approach for designing fully-comprehensive, Hybrid Training workouts for increasing size and strength.
In this post I’ve provided you with everything you need to know in order to immediately implement the Performance U 5-4-3-2-1 Workout method into your programs (if you wish to do so).
Below you’ll find:
- A break-down of each exercise category used the 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method.
- A list of our favorite exercise applications for each category.
- A sample 5-4-3-2-1 workout program for maximizing STRENGTH gains.
- A sample 5-4-3-2-1 workout program for maximizes SIZE gains.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method: 101
Each of the numbers “5,” “4,” “3,” “2,” “1″ represents a different category of exercises along with the amount of sets the exercise(s) in that category will be performed for. The numbers 5-4-3-2-1 also represent the order of which we perform the exercises in the workout.
Put simply, the exercises that we perform the largest number of sets of (5,4) are the most intense and most complex exercises. Therefore, they’re prioritized early in the workout. These are also the exercises that are done for the least amount of reps. And, as the less intense and less complex exercises for less sets (3,2,1) are placed latter in the workout. These exercises are done for a larger amount of reps since the weight load used is less.
Here’s a break-down of the set and rep range used in each category along with some of our favorite exercises to plug-into each:
FIVE - 5 sets of 3-6 reps using a compound lift or an explosive exercise w/ 2-3min rest between sets.
Our top strength exercises to use in this category are:
Personal Trainer Notes: The cue when performing the strength exercises (above) is to “explode into the weight” on each rep. However, although the intention is to lift the weight (concentrically) as fast possible; since the loads used are heavy (relative the individuals strength level), the concentric aspect of these movements will not (visually) appear fast.
FOUR - 4 sets of 6-8 reps using a compound exercise w/ 90sec – 2min rest between sets.
Although the 5-4-3-2-1 method is a Hybrid Workout template designed to improve both strength and size (regardless of how you spin it), it can easily be adjusted to target your efforts to emphasize size gains or strength gains.
If your goal is primarily to gain STRENGTH simply perform multiple exercises in each: 5 set and 4 set category. And, one exercise in the other 3,2 and 1 set category. Doing this spends more of your training time on the set and rep ranges that help you improve motor unit recruitment and improve force production most effectively.
If your goal is primarily to gain SIZE simply perform one exercise in the 5 set category and do multiple exercises in the 4,3 and 2 set range. Doing this puts more of your training time on the set and rep ranges that are more optimal for creating a stimulus for muscle growth.
Sample 5-4-3-2-1 Workouts
Each of the two sample programs below is divided into three workouts: A,B and C. You can use these programs as either a 3, 4 or 5-day training split depending on your time and preference. Once you finish workout C, just repeat workout A and so on…
Note: Make sure to combine these program with a good nutritional plan that’s geared toward gaining muscle (i.e. doesn’t put you in a caloric deficit).
As you can clearly see by the two workout splits above: there’s more similarities than differences between the exercises used in strength program and the Size program.
Aside from some emphasis differences in set and reps used, the biggest difference between the Strength and Size workout is the way I’ve classified each training day.
On the 3-Day workout split emphasizing Size gains, you can see I’ve labeled the workouts by the muscles trained that day. This is a great way to ensure each major (and minor) muscle group is trained and allowed optimal recovery between workouts.
On the 3-Day workout split emphasizing Strength gains, I’ve classified each workout by themovement pattern emphasized that particular training day. Since strength is more about performance, this classification system ensures each of the three main movements is trained and allowed to recover.