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What Does 3x5 Mean in Weight Training?

author image Beth Rifkin
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.
What Does 3x5 Mean in Weight Training?
A man is strength training. Photo Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

In weight training the term 3x5 is an indication of the number of sets and repetitions to be performed; in this case, you'll do three sets and each set will contain five repetitions. This means you will repeat the exercise five times in a row before stopping to rest or to move on to another exercise; that would be one set. Duplicating this pattern three times means that you performed three sets.

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Work to Failure

Typically, a 3x5 variation is performed by experienced bodybuilders only. Most often, the number of repetitions in a set will be to failure, which means that you would not be able to perform one more rep with proper form. If you are a beginner using a level of resistance that causes you to fail in just five reps, it is likely that the weights are too heavy and you may be at risk of sustaining an injury; American College of Sports Medicine guidelines call for most healthy adults to fatigue between eight and 12 repetitions.


Allow for 48 hours rest between training sessions for the same muscle group. Consult with your physician before starting a new weight-training program.

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