September 02, 2018

Crazy 5 Method - 20 reps total per set

5 fast

5 super slow 5/5/5 tempo

5 1/4 reps

5 regular

Perhaps the most common and most popular rep scheme of all time is the tried and true 5 sets of 5 reps.  This strength training staple is simple and easy to apply to any exercise and yields benefits for everyone from beginners to veterans.  It is typically used on big compound movements with the first set of 5 as a warm up, the second set as a heavier 5, and the last 3 sets of 5 reps as heavy as possible.  

Although this rep scheme is simple and effective, if you are wired anything like I am mentally it may leave you a little unsatisfied.  I have consistently used 5 x 5 as a base in my training, but was always trying to find tweaks - negatives, partial reps, etc. - to get the most out of each exercise.  Some weeks I would add a drop set or pause reps to the last set of 5 x 5, providing a better pump to my standard workout. Still, I felt like I needed a more potent finisher before moving on to another exercise.  That is when I came up with what is known as the Crazy 5 Method.

The Crazy 5 Method involves taking a set of 20 reps of a particular exercise and dividing it up into 4 blocks of 5 reps that each incorporate a different training variable.  The first 5 (of 20) reps are what I refer to as “Plyo” and are done super fast. It is important to keep the weight under control and use a normal range of motion but explode into the movement.  If used on a chest press I think in my mind that I’m trying to throw the weights to the ceiling.

After completing 5 Plyo speed reps, your nervous system has to put the brakes on as the second 5 reps are performed using a Time Under Tension tempo of 5/5/5.  What that means is you will lower the weight for 5 seconds, pause at the bottom for 5 seconds, then raise the weight slowly for a full 5 seconds. The lowering, or negative, portion of the exercise is the Eccentric part of the exercise.  The “pause” is actually the isometric contraction of the muscle - make sure to keep everything tight and don’t let the weight rest at the bottom. Now for the hard part. The Concentric portion of the movement is the way “up”, and is the part of an exercise when you are used to moving the bar or dumbbells with speed.  Taking a full 5 seconds to concentrically contract the muscles and raise the weight is extremely taxing.

After suffering thru 5 Super Slow reps, the next block of 5 is performed as partial 1/4 reps.  The 1/4 reps are typically performed at the “bottom” of the movement. Using a DB shoulder press as the example, you would lower the dumbbells all the way to your shoulders, then raise them about 1/4 of the way back up before pausing briefly and going back down.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to use the hardest part of the exercise as the partial rep - on a chest press it would be the bottom 1/4 of the exercise where the chest is stretched, but on a barbell curl, it would be the top 1/4 of the movement where the biceps are contracted fully.

Once you have completed five 1/4 partial reps, finish up the set of 20 with 5 regular reps.  You may think you would be on easy street at this point, but generally you will be so fatigued from the first three blocks of 5 that completing 5 basic reps may be the most challenging.  Get them done any way you can - squirm, yell, and tremble those weights thru a full range of motion.

Now that you understand the premise behind my unorthodox Crazy 5 rep scheme, let’s circle back to the program that inspired the madness, the 5 x 5.  I like to use the Crazy 5 as a 6th set on exercises where I implement the standard 5 x 5 reps. This allows me to get some standard heavy work in before I shock my muscles and nervous system with a potent finisher.  Typically when choosing a weight for Crazy 5s you will need to use between 50-60% of the weight you used for your last heavy set of 5. If your last heavy set of Chest Press was with the 100lb dumbbells, you will need a set of 50 or 55lbers in order to complete your 6th set.  Here is a great three day split that weaves the Crazy 5 Method into a standard 5/5 routine:


Day 1

  1. DB Bench Press

1 x 10 warm up

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Shoulder Press

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Shoulder Flys***

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular

***superset each set with 10 DB Shrugs


  1. Tricep Machine Press Downs

3 x 10

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


Day 2

  1. Deadlift - 5, 3, 2, 1***

***superset each set with 10 Pull Ups


  1. DB Rows

5 x 5 each side(last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Underhand Lat Pull Downs

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Barbell Curls

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5:

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


Day 3

  1. Squats

1 x 10 warm up

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5: (weight will need to be less than 50% of heavy 5 weight)

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Dumbbell Lunges

5 x 5 (last 3 sets max effort for 5 reps)

1 x Crazy 5: (do 1 set of Crazy 5 per leg with NO weight)

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


  1. Weighted Crunches

3 x 10

1 x Crazy 5: (no weight, full “sit up” style)

5 - Plyo - super fast, but controlled

5 - Super Slow - 5/5/5 tempo

5 - Partial - 1/4 reps

5 - Regular


Feel free to add any accessory lifts into this plan, and you can take the Crazy 5 method and apply it as a finisher to any exercise - it doesn’t have to be tacked onto a 5x5.  That is what is so great about this method as a finisher - it works well in any situation, after heavy singles or volume work, and can take the most mundane of routines and turn up the intensity to full blast.  I tend to use this method for about a week at a time and then put it on the shelf for a month or two. I’ve found that if you incorporate this method regularly, it looses some of its shock value as the body adapts to it.  For optimal growth and increased endurance, use it sparingly. Try it on bodyweight exercises such as pull ups and Push ups, and you will be amazed at how it transforms an easy set of 20 into a grueling experience.




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