Back to basics – 5×5 Strength Program for BJJ & MMA

As you gather training experience, you probably recognize that basic things do better than fancy new exercises you can see in every corner of the gym. Ok, if they are periodized and done properly they have their place in strength training. There is a tendency, in the fitness world that more is always better and that is absolutely not true, especially if you are on your very beginning. When it comes to the starting point everyone should start from, it is a basic 5×5 strength program. What is 5×5? , which exercise to chose and how to implement this type of strength training in your BJJ weekly schedule are topics you will read about in the further text.

Back to basic – 5×5 strength protocol for BJJ

This protocol is very easy to understand. His roots date back to the 60s year of the past century and it is widely used in strength training even today. What is the secret of 5×5 strength program longevity. It is simplicity and results. In this strength program, you have 5 different exercises and those are; strength king deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press and bent over row. What do you do with this? You put it in a 3 days weekly training schedule and split them into 2 different workouts. In A days you do squat, some pressing job with bench press and in the end you train your pulling strength with bent over row. On the other hand, B days are started with the deadlift, then again you do some squats and you finish your work with the overhead press. As you can immediately see, you do squat in both A and B day and deadlift is done only once. The original explanation for this is that deadlift „taxes“ your body more than squat does and that is the way you avoid body fatigue. So, now you have your training splits. It is time to add some sets, reps, and weights.


Monday Workout A
Wednesday Workout B
Friday Workout A
Monday Workout B
Wednesday Workout A
Friday Workout B


Example of 5×5 training days split through the 2 weeks cycle


Reps, sets, progression

As its name suggests, in 5×5 strength program you do 5 sets and 5 reps of each exercise. The only exercise you do in another way is deadlift. You do only 1 set of fives and that is it.

5 x 5 Week 1

Monday Wednesday Friday
Squat 5×5 Deadlift 1×5 Squat 5×5
Bench press 5×5 Squat 5×5 Bench press 5×5
Bent over row x5 Overhead press 5×5 Bent over row x5


 Example of 5×5 training week

Now when you got your splits done the question of progression and weights is above your head. Your starting point is to find your fives maxes in every exercise mentioned in this protocol. So you find the weight you can lift 5 times and not a single repetition more. Now, when you got that number cut it in a half. Congratulations, 50% of your max is a place from where you start. Probably it sounds too easy on first sight. Keep reading…

In every exercise, you have done properly with 5 sets of fives, in next strength training session add extra weight. How much extra weight?  2.5 lb or 1.25 kg per side. An exception here is deadlift.  In the deadlift, you add 5lb or 2.5 kg on both sides of the barbell. Once you come to 220 lb or 100 kg in a 5×5 deadlift, you start adding 5 lb or 2.5 kg aside, per workout. Also, it is possible to avoid plateauing by choosing even slower progression with smaller adds of weights. Once, when you fail to do your fives in three consecutive workouts, it is time to deload. Just cut your numbers for 10 % and you will be fine. And that is it. You have your 5×5 strength program done.

Best strength development starting point

The best strength development starting point for every BJJ practitioner is 5×5 strength program. That is the protocol that combines compound exercises and has an intensity and progressive loading scheme. It is easy to start with and very simple to follow and most of all, it works. It will prepare you for demanding conditions that are waiting for you once you place your feet on a BJJ mat. Start handling iron and see how your strength level increases.

Check also: