The 5x5x5 workout program was developed by Pavel Tsatsouline to train Soviet Special Forces personnel and is discussed in his book, Beyond Bodybuilding. It employs his Mind Over Muscle protocol to help "hardgainers" build muscle mass.
In a nutshell, what Pavel focuses on is picking 5 different overall-body exercises, (Say...dips, pull-ups, squats, dumbbell side bends, and barbell curls) and perform them 5 days each week (M-F) and have only ONE work-set in the 5 sets you do for each exercise.
You DO NOT train to failure. Make sure you stop a couple of reps short of failure.
Pavel reinforces that you will feel weird wrapping up your training session while you feel so good, but this is his protocol for neural training to build strength and muscle mass.
The 5x5x5 Workout Program has limits
Pavel really stresses the discipline to do only ONE work-set, even though you feel much stronger. Your focus will be on quality technique...staying tight, using power breathing, and maintain staying in the perfect grove.
You will taper your workout in Week 4, then look to test your 1RM ( 1 rep max) in Week 5. After testing your 1RM, you will discard this routine and switch to a completely different one.
Remember, you will be training 5 consecutive days.
Pavel states; "The weight is ideal if you have managed it with a couple of reps to spare. To establish that perfect poundage start every workout with a couple of lighter singles. For instance, yesterday you squatted 300x5 and felt that you could have done 300x7. Today squat 225xl, 255xl, and 275xl. The feel of 275 should tell you whether you should stay with 300, go up, or go down. And don't sweat it too hard if you do not hit it right, occasional easier and harder sets will do you good by introducing more variety.
The usual 5x5x5 pattern is a very strong start on Monday, a PR on Tuesday, Wednesday could go either way. Thursday and Friday are downhill as fatigue builds up. By Monday you will be rested and ready to smash new records."
You must taper in the 5x5x5 Workout Program
To get the most out of this 5 week program, you must begin to taper in Week 4.
To make this work, you will only do 3 reps of each exercise in your work-set during Week 4.
Pavel advises: "So unload in Week Four. Use this simple technique: work up in singles to establish the poundage for your usual set of five, then do only three reps with it.
In Week 5, you will work up to what Pavel calls "a comfortable single" on Monday...meaning you will most likely use about 90% of your 1RM. This is a weight you can put up rather easily. You should not have to psyche yourself up for this.
Go for a 1RM on Tuesday, after going through progressively heavier singles like on Monday. From here, you would take the rest of the week off and begin an entirely different routine starting the next week.
I hope this short review has given you a better idea on how to use Pavel Tsatsouline's 5x5x5 Workout Program.