Reg Park was the man who inspired a young Arnold Schwarzenegger to become a bodybuilder. Arnold saw, the 3 times Mr. Universe Champion, star as the super strong demi-God ‘Hercules’ in the 60’s and decided he wanted to be like Reg.

How did Reg get Herculean?

Reg published a book called ‘Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters & Body Builders’. In this book, he shows the 5X5 program he used to get both big and strong.

The program is broken down into 3 phases, each lasting 3 months.

Phase 1

Complete the following workout 3 times a week with at least a day between each.

Start the 45-degree back extensions unloaded (just your own bodyweight). After you can complete 5 sets of 5 with ease, you should start to add extra weight.


Phase 2

Phase 2 includes the same core movements as phase 1 with added extras to provide progression and avoid stagnation. Complete the following workout 3 times a week.



Phase 3

Phase 3 sees the addition of isolation movements. Again, complete the following workout 3 times a week.



The 5 sets of each exercise include two progressive warm-up sets, followed by three sets at working weight. For example:

Back Squat

Set 1 – 100 kg

Set 2 – 120 Kg

Sets 3, 4 + 5 – 140 Kg

Once you can complete the three working sets cleanly (no struggling, slow grinds or excessive farting) increase the weight of all five sets by 2.5 – 5 kg.



A truly old school program with loads of volume especially by phase 3. Which looks daunting, however, you’ve progressively built up to the amount of volume, so when it comes to phase 3 you’ll be ready for it.

It might not be the greatest program out there and it won’t be for everyone. However, it worked for Reg, it’s worked for others, so it might work for you.

Why not give it a try and see if it brings any benefits for you. Even just taking the phase 1 workout and throwing it into your training every now and then when you want to get a bit old school.