September 5, 2023

The Mechanical 5x5 Strength & Power Training System For "Wood Type" Personality

One coach I have huge respect for is Charles Poliquin. I followed his work for many years but was not fortunate enough to meet him in person. After reading about Strength Sensei Legacy's work I decided to register for 3 modules, and it really was a life changing experience. Charles (the author of all protocols) was that kind of a person that left nothing to coincident. Same as me. Every lift, every set, % of 1RM... Everything has to be perfectly monitored all the time.

I have learned about Neurotyping at the Strength Sensei Legacy certification. Neurotyping basically means that training should be also adjusted to personality types. I am aware that basically all training plans have already been written, but that does not mean they couldn't, or even better, shouldn't be adjusted to personality type of individual to best fit his needs so we can get even better results. And this is what I have been experimenting with ever since I finished the certification at Strength Sensei Legacy. Results of my athletes and even mine are growing rapidly so I decided to share what I have learned.

In this blog post I will introduce you to my variation of 5x5 training system, which has been proven for decades to be one of the best program to develop power and pure muscle mass. The system has been adjusted and changed by a few famous coaches, but I feel I can take it a little further. The idea of 5x5 is to pick 3 compound lifts and do 5 sets of 5 reps, preferably 3 times a week. Now, it can be done with two different workouts (A and B) as it was originally planned by football coach Bill Starr in 1970's or it can be done with three same lifts alternating intensity every workout. It can be also adjusted to a "WOOD TYPE" athlete, where we change the exercises we use every workout. Ether way it should be a total body workout, designed with compound movements. Big lifts for big muscle groups.

Charles was always saying that the best way to cycle through phases is »undulating system«, switching between accumulation and intensification phase, and that phase should last between 3-5 weeks. 5x5 is of course intensification phase and should be treated as such. For "WOOD TYPE" athlete it's very important that exercises remain the same (or at least very similar to each other), but equipment used should vary a lot.

Wood Type

We know that the dominant Neurotransmitter (NT)r of WOOD TYPE athlete is Acetylcholine (Ach). Since Ach plays a huge role in brain function, learning mechanism and memory, that type of athlete will need constant variations in training. Because you can use Ach quickly, WOOD TYPE athlete will not be able to do many tasks in one workout, but will also have a problem following a long term plan if all the exercises will be the same. This is why it is essential, that movement pattern stays the same, but the variations are changing all the time.

If he switches from the front squat to back squat or safety bar squat, he will already feel the changes. It's all a the same movement pattern, but for WOOD TYPE it will mean a completely different exercise, and it will be easier for him to motivate himself to go for it. Variation is a key to training a wood type athlete, and the mechanical changes are one excellent tool to keep his brains busy and focus on training.

My version of 5x5 training system

For my version I have chosen three types of exercises and three lifts for each type:

HIP HINGE PATTERN: Hang Power Clean, Hang Power Snatch and Hang Muscle Snatch
SQUAT PATTERN : Front Squat, Safety Bar Squat and Back Squat
UPPER BODY PUSH PATTERN: Barbell Press, Incline Bench Press (45 degrees) and Bench Press

The reason I chose those exercises is to practice the same movement pattern, but at a different angle. Same (or almost the same) muscle groups are involved but muscles and joints don't get overused by the same pattern. Because there are three workouts per week, one should not just push it to the limit each workout, but rather alternate the intensity. After all, it is a »big bite« for the central nervous system (CNS).

There are three different days in the week:

1.    Intense day
2.    Light day
3.    Intermediate day

The trick is that on intense day the athlete will use mechanically most demanding lifts (Muscle Snatch, Front Squat and Military Press), and the weight they will use here will remain throughout the week. The more they can increase weight on first day, the more weight will go up on other days, keeping them fresh. How will that work?

Since first day the load that the athlete will use will be 80% of 1RM of mechanically most demanding lifts (Muscle Snatch, Front Squat and Military Press). That will be true 80% of 1RM.

For light day, mechanically easiest lifts are used (Power Clean, Back Squat and Bench Press). For Power Clean, the same weight as for the lift of same group on first day.

Understanding ratios between lifts makes it interesting:

-      Power Clean is about 85% of Power Snatch

-      Power Snatch is about 85% of Muscle Snatch

Meaning that Power Clean is about 72% of Muscle Snatch. Front Squat is about 80% of Back Squat, but we also have to keep in mind that there is about 2/3 of bodyweight we are lifting here. Safety Bar Squat falls somewhere in between. Last but not least, the Barbell Press is about 70% of bench press, and of course, 45 degree incline Bench Press falls somewhere in between here also.

One of the 5x5 systems suggests that for heavy day 85% is used, for intermediate 78% and for light 70%. If we use this numbers and put it into Mechanical System we get a very interesting thing. Almost the same percentage is used for certain day, but the weight on the bar remains the same.

So, what we need to do is calculate the percentage for first day only, and than use the same weight on light and intermediate day as well, as percentages fall into what we are looking for.

Training scheme



1.    Muscle Snatch 5 x 5 @80% 1RM

2.    Front Squat 5x5 @80% 1RM

3.    Barbell Press 5x5 @80% 1RM


1.    Power Clean 5x5 @80% muscle snatch

2.    Back Squat 5x5 @80% front squat

3.    Bench Press 5x5 @80% military press


1.    Power Snatch 5x5 @80% of muscle snatch

2.    Safety Bar Squat 5x5@80% of front squat

3.    Incline Bench Press 5x5@80% of military press



1.    Muscle Snatch 5 x 5 @82.5%  1RM

2.    Front Squat 5x5 @82.5% 1RM

3.    Barbell Press 5x5 @82.5% 1RM


1.    Power Clean 5x5 @82.5% muscle snatch

2.    Back Squat 5x5 @82.5% front squat

3.    Bench Press 5x5 @82.5% military press


1.    Power Snatch 5x5 @82.5% of muscle snatch

2.    Safety Squat 5x5@82.5% of front squat

3.    Incline Bench Press 5x5@82.5% of barbell press



1.    Muscle Snatch 5 x 5 @85% 1RM

2.    Front Squat 5x5 @85% 1RM

3.    Barbell Press 5x5 @85% 1RM


1.    Power Clean 5x5 @85% muscle snatch

2.    Back Squat 5x5 @85% front squat

3.    Bench Press 5x5 @85% military press


1.    PowerSnatch 5x5 @85% of muscle snatch

2.    SafetySquat 5x5@85% of front squat

3.    Incline Bench Press 5x5@85% of military press

A note on rest and tempo

Heavy day (Monday)

Goal of first training is ABSOLUTE STRENGTH. Tempo is 2-0-1-0, which makes a set lasts about 15 seconds. That means the main source of energy is ATP- Cr. In each set all the creatine is depleted, and it takes form about 3 – 5 minutes to fully recover. It depends on the level of athlete, general nutrition, general physical preparation and of course, if an athlete is supplementing creatine or not.

Light day (Wednesday)

On light days about 70% of 1RM is used. The goal is HYPERTROPHY. For that goal, time under tension should be between 40 and 60 seconds (could be more). So, considering we are doing 5 reps per set, each rep should last 8 seconds. This is great chance to focus on sticking points and eccentrics. Tempo for that day is: 5-3-1-0 (we want to move weight up fast).

We know that muscle growth is optimally stimulated at about 85% 1RM. And, taking in account that each rep adds 2-4% to weight lifted, in theory we don't get enough stimulus in first three reps, but try lifting 75% with 5-3-1-0 for 5 reps and 5 sets on a LIGHT day and thank me later.

1.    Rep @ 75%

2.    Rep @ 78%

3.    Rep @ 81%

4.    Rep @ 84%

5.    Rep @ 87%

We want to work with some lactates in our muscles for optimal hypertrophy, so rest intervals are short. Now, in bodybuilding world rest between 30 seconds and 60 seconds for hypertrophy is optimal, but here I think 90s (specially after 3rd and 4th set) will do the trick.

Intermediate day (Friday)

By now, you body is tired and craving for rest. Well, it will get it's needed rest over the weekend, don't worry. Just make sure you eat right and sleep 7-9 hours each night. Goal of the third day is FUNCTIONAL HYPERTROPHY. Since program is limited to 5 reps, we have to play with TEMPO again. Optimal time under tension for functional hypertrophy is between 20 seconds and 40 seconds, depending on the weight used.

Weight is heavy enough, muscles are tired, but the CNS is (should be) recovered from Monday, but stimulated enough to survive the workout. TEMPO for this day is 3-0-1-0, or you can add rest at bottom position (or sticking point), so we add another second each rep (3-1-1-0).

Rest periods for functional hypertrophy are about 90 seconds to 120 seconds, which allows super-compensation of about 70% to 80% of creatine phosphate and not all lactates are depleted from the blood. A work on critical drop of point! If you have attended any of Strength Sensei seminars, you have heard about that. The critical drop of point for every muscle quality is different. The rule of thumb: For absolute strength, no more than 7% is allowed, or in that case, practically one reps in last two sets.

For hypertrophy, about 20% is allowed, which means that if you fail one rep on 3rd, 4th and last set is OK, but goal is to complete the least 21 out of 25 reps. The problem in that plan is small amount of reps, and each rep means a lot more than just 2-4%. Maybe here would be better to take into account the total time under tension. So, if we miss one rep, that is already 20%. Which means, COMPLETE 25 reps, suck it up and thank me after 4-6 weeks. Functional hypertrophy critical drop of point is 12%. Again, taking in account TUT, means you should better finish at least 22 out of 25 reps, but strive for 25.

While there are many 5x5 templates out here, this one is great for people who likes variety in main lifts. I found out that this is a great template to use in off and preseason in intensification template for athlete in sports, where speed and strength (power) are critical, and where muscle mass is not in a way of for the athlete. Handball (European Style), basketball, football, MMA, ice hockey and athletic disciplines where throws are involved (shot put, javeling..) all fall into this category.

Understanding Neurotypes and main principles of training laws leaves us with countless options on how to use old school programs and adjust them to athletes specific needs.

Gregor Sobočan

Gregor Sobočan

Gregor is a former professional handball player and Girevoy sport athlete. During his Girevoy sports career, Gregor achieved Master of Sports International Class at the world championship in 2015 and is Master Trainer in Kettlebell Lifting since 2015 (Russian rank). In 2013 he received a Degree from Endurance Specialization from OMSK University in Russia. Currently, Gregor is head strength & conditioning coach for Slovenian Handball National Team and Pro Volleyball National Champions Club. Since 2009 he is also a gym owner and is specialized in helping individuals, and professional athletes perform at the highest level possible.

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