The Hardgainer's Workout To Rapid Muscle Gains And Strength

by Nader Qudimat
Updated October 25, 2023

Ever feel like you're stuck in a workout rut?

You're not alone.

The 5x5 workout program could be the game-changer you've been seeking.

With various versions tailored to different fitness levels, this guide will help you find the 5x5 program that's perfect for you.

The Best Hardgainer Workout: Quick Rundown

The 5x5 workout is a classic strength training program focusing on compound lifts.

It's versatile, effective, and customizable, making it a go-to for anyone looking to make serious gains.

Why 5x5 Workouts Are Effective

The 5x5 workout is a powerhouse for a reason: it works.

The program zeroes in on compound lifts that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

This approach is highly effective for building both strength and muscle mass.

Research shows that compound lifts are essential for muscle growth and strength development, making the 5x5 workout a solid choice for anyone serious about their fitness journey.

The Ultimate 5x5 Workout for Skinny Guys: The Original Bill Starr 5x5 Program

The Basics

If you're a skinny guy looking to pack on muscle, the original Bill Starr 5x5 program is your golden ticket.

This program is about the basics, focusing on the core compound lifts that are proven to build muscle and strength.

No frills, no unnecessary complexity—just straightforward, effective lifting.

Why It Works For Skinny Guys

This program is so effective for skinny guys or "hardgainers" because it focuses on compound lifts.

These lifts engage multiple muscle groups, allowing you to lift heavier weights and thus stimulate more muscle growth.

  • Pros: Simple, effective, excellent for building foundational strength and muscle mass.
  • Cons: May lack variety, but that's not what you need when you're starting out.

The Workout Plan

Here's a simple breakdown of the Bill Starr 5x5 workout plan.

Perform this workout thrice weekly, with at least one rest day between sessions.

Monday / Wednesday / Friday

  • Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps

Warm-Up And Mobility

Before diving into the workout, it's crucial to prepare your body.

Start with a 5-10 minute walk to get your blood flowing. Follow this with dynamic stretches targeting major joints like the shoulders, hips, and knees.

Finally, perform one set of each exercise with light weights to perfect your form.


Each week, aim to increase the weight for each exercise by 5 pounds.

If you can't complete 5 sets of 5 reps, stick with the same weight until you can.


Don't forget about your diet.

To gain muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus.

Ensure you're eating enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats to fuel your workouts and aid recovery.

Comprehensive Guide To 5x5 Workout Programs

StrongLifts 5x5

StrongLifts 5x5 is one of the most popular variations of the 5x5 workout.

It focuses on the core compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

The program is designed for beginners and aims to make linear progressions in strength and muscle mass.

  • Pros: Easy to follow, excellent for beginners, focuses on compound lifts.
  • Cons: May lack variety for some, not tailored for specific athletic goals.

BarBend 5x5

The BarBend 5x5 workout is another variation that emphasizes compound lifts but also incorporates accessory work.

It's more flexible regarding exercise selection and is suitable for intermediate lifters.

  • Pros: More variety, includes accessory work, suitable for intermediates.
  • Cons: Complexity can be overwhelming for beginners.

Madcow 5x5

Madcow 5x5 is designed for intermediate to advanced lifters.

It incorporates bodybuilder-friendly assistance work along with the core compound lifts.

The program uses linear periodization and progresses every week.

  • Pros: Suitable for advanced lifters, includes accessory work.
  • Cons: Not ideal for beginners, requires a good understanding of periodization.

Bill Starr 5x5

Bill Starr's 5x5 is the original program that inspired many other 5x5 workouts.

It's a straightforward program focusing on linear weight increases and is excellent for beginners.

  • Pros: Original and time-tested, excellent for building foundational strength.
  • Cons: May lack the variety and accessory work found in other programs.

Best For Skinny Guys: Simply 5x5

For hardgainers or skinny guys, the Simply 5x5 program is the best.

It focuses solely on barbell compound lifts, which are the most effective for rapid muscle and strength gains.

The Importance Of Warm-Up And Mobility

Warming up is not just a prelude; it's a critical part of your workout.

A comprehensive warm-up with a full dynamic stretch routine and joint mobility exercises can set the stage for a successful workout.

A light walk or jog can also help get the blood flowing and prepare your muscles for the heavy lifting ahead.

Perfecting Your Form

Form is not just about looking good; it's about maximizing efficiency and minimizing the risk of injury.

Starting with light weights allows you to focus on technique and muscle engagement.

Remember, you should control the weight, not vice versa.

Compound Lifts: The Core of 5x5

Compound lifts like deadlifts, bench presses, and squats are the cornerstone of any effective 5x5 program.

These exercises engage multiple muscle groups, providing the most efficient path to muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

The strength you gain from these lifts will carry over to other exercises, making them foundational to any effective workout program.

The Power of Compound Lifts: Why They're Your Best Bet For Muscle Building

What Are Compound Lifts?

Compound lifts are exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time.

The big three—squats, bench press, and deadlifts—are the cornerstone of any effective strength and muscle-building program.

Why Compound Lifts Over Isolation Exercises?

Isolation exercises target a single muscle group and are excellent for sculpting and toning.

However, when it comes to building mass and strength, compound lifts reign supreme.

Here's why:

  • Engage Multiple Muscle Groups: This allows you to lift heavier weights, leading to greater muscle stimulation and growth.
  • Functional Strength: They build strength that applies to real-world activities.
  • Burn More Calories: Engaging more muscles means your body has to work harder, burning more calories.
  • Hormonal Response: Compound lifts trigger a more significant release of muscle-building hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.

Ignore The Noise: Why You Shouldn't Follow Influencers Blindly

It's easy to get swayed by influencers or professional bodybuilders who showcase a variety of exercises and routines.

However, it's crucial to remember that you don't know their full story.

They could have a unique combination of genetics, drugs, and specialized programs that the average person doesn't have access to or shouldn't be emulating.

  • Pros: Compound lifts are time-efficient, effective, and backed by science.
  • Cons: They can be intimidating for beginners, but starting with a simple program like the 5x5 is beneficial.

Compound Lifts For Gains

Compound lifts are your best bet if you're a skinny guy or a hardgainer looking to pack on muscle and strength.

They are the most effective and efficient way to achieve your goals and have stood the test of time.

So, ignore the noise and stick to the basics.

Your future muscular self will thank you.


What are the benefits of 5x5 workouts?

The 5x5 workout is renowned for its effectiveness in building both strength and muscle mass. It focuses on compound lifts, which engage multiple muscle groups, offering a comprehensive workout. It's also versatile, with different versions catering to various fitness levels.

How do I choose the right 5x5 program for me?

Choosing the right 5x5 program depends on your fitness level and goals. Beginners might find StrongLifts 5x5 to be a good starting point, while intermediate lifters may opt for Barbend's version. Advanced lifters can consider Madcow's 5x5 for a more challenging routine.

Is 5x5 suitable for weight loss?

While the primary focus of 5x5 is strength and muscle building, it can aid in weight loss when combined with a proper diet. The compound lifts in the program help you burn more calories during and after the workout.

Can I incorporate cardio into my 5x5 routine?

Yes, you can incorporate cardio, but it's best to do it on your off days or after your lifting session to avoid affecting your performance on the compound lifts.

How often should I do 5x5 workouts?

Most 5x5 programs recommend three days a week with at least one rest day in between. This allows for optimal recovery and muscle growth.

Do I need special equipment for 5x5 workouts?

The basic 5x5 workout focuses on compound lifts that usually require a barbell and weights. However, some versions may include exercises that need additional gym equipment like pull-up bars or dip stations.

How long does it take to see results with a 5x5 workout?

Results can vary based on diet, rest, and consistency. However, many people report noticeable strength gains within a few weeks.

Is the 5x5 workout safe for all ages?

While the 5x5 workout is generally safe for most age groups, it's always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider, especially if you have existing medical conditions or are new to strength training.

What should I eat while following a 5x5 program?

A balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will complement your 5x5 workout. Protein aids muscle recovery, carbs provide energy, and fats are essential for hormone production.

Can I modify the 5x5 workout?

Yes, the 5x5 workout is versatile. You can add accessory exercises or adjust the number of sets and reps according to your fitness level and goals. However, the core compound lifts should remain the focus for maximum effectiveness.

Bottom Line

The 5x5 workout is a versatile and effective method for building strength and muscle.

With different versions tailored to various fitness levels and goals, there's a 5x5 program for everyone.

So, are you ready to break through those plateaus and make some serious gains?

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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