Fierce 5 Review, The Good, The Bad, What You Need To Know
March 31st 2019
What determines a good strength training program? What about a great bodybuilding program? What about a hybrid program? These are some of many questions millions of lifters face when discovering how to lift weights. Sometimes, if a program is too restrictive, you may not enjoy it. Other times, programs that are too slow in weight increments may not produce progress in a respective amount of time. So, are there any programs that create a balance among strength training, bodybuilding and fun?
What is fierce 5?
The fierce 5 is a series of novice and intermediate programs created by a trusted member in the bodybuilding community. You can find him on the bodybuilding forums as davisj3537.
Listed below is the fierce 5 novice training program.
His program involves the following:
- You will work out three days a week on nonconsecutive days. You will alternate between workout A and B. This entails a one day rest in between each workout. For example, a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule is most common. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday is another schedule you could run but it is entirely up to you.
- Each week, you will increase 5lbs for your main upper body lifts and 10lbs for your main lower body lifts
Here is the full body barbell version of his program:
Pendlay Rows 3x5
Face Pulls 3x10
Calf Raises 2x15/Triceps Pushdowns 2x10 Superset
Front Squat 3x5
Overhead press 3x5
Romanian Deadlifts 3x8
Lat Pulldowns 3x8 (Any Grip)
Ab work 2x15/Curls 2x10 Superset
Here are some additional notes:
- For the face pulls, increment 5lbs a month.
- If you are unable to increase weight due to equipment limitations, increase weight every other week for that exercise only
- For exercises in the 5 rep range, add 1 rep to each set if you are not increasing weight that week
- For exercises in the 8-15 rep ranges, add 2 reps to each set if you are not increasing weight that week
Purpose behind Fierce 5
The creator of this programming series found that many popular programs did not exactly fit his needs and cravings. Most of the programs had obvious flaws, including slow progression, high volume, or not enough volume. He also noted that all programs out there lack a balance in the way exercises and accessories are selected and programmed.
As a result, he created the fierce 5 series, which probably starts for each workout consisting of 5 exercises to do. He did not want to have the program modified so drastically.
I absolutely understand where he is coming from. When I first started to hit the gym in 2013 and really started to transition into strength training in 2014, a lot of programs were very generalized. Naturally, I went for Starting Strength and later Greyskull LP due to the great reviews I saw for them. When finishing those programs and reflecting back to those experiences, I realize how much fate I put into those programs and how it really did not matter which program I followed. I just needed to believe that the program I wanted is the best.
Flaws will always appear in a program. Unless we put our trust and faith into a program, we can always find something wrong with it. While I was doing Starting Strength and Greyskull LP, I loved each program when I was doing it. Even though it got tough towards the end of the workouts, I enjoyed every second of it. I enjoyed how hard I was pushing in order to reach my goals.
In addition to that, goals and ambitions change as well. This is partly why I switched from Starting Strength to Greyskull LP; I wanted to do some bodybuilding exercises that were not included in Starting Strength. After my bodybuilding desires were fulfilled, I proceeded into figuring out the best way to maximize my strength.
Who should do Fierce 5?
Fierce 5 novice program is geared for the novice and intermediate lifters. It is not a powerlifting program and is geared more towards general strength.
As a beginner program, the repetition is slow compared to other programs on the market. On the flipside, this means you will be able to run this program for much longer since you are not increasing weight every workout. This feature could ease in many beginner lifters and first-time strength athletes to having a long career of prosperous gains and health.
This program appears most suited for a bodybuilder who wants to a more structured program to get stronger with. It is a lot better than most bro splits and not as restricting as other “powerlifting style” programs, which mainly revolves around the squat, bench press, overhead press and deadlift.
Does that mean the program can’t be run by aspiring powerlifters or strongman? No, but you can better spend your time doing more efficient exercise to train you for your sport. There are many paths to the same goal.
The alternation between front squats and back squats is not typical in most programs. Most beginner and even intermediate programs will focus solely on the back squat. This is usually 3 times a week for beginner programs and 1-3x a week for certain intermediate programs. In terms of balance, there is none and many athletes do complain about the burnout of incrementing your squat weight every workout.
Adding front squats adds a little bit of breathing room for athletes. It is a lot less intense and it works on different stabilizers compared to the back squat. There is a balance that is created when you utilize these two squats as main movements in your program. I can attest to that; it felt way better to include both front and back squats into a program, rather than isolating them in separate programs or making one a permanent accessory to the other.
The alternation between bench press and overhead press is typical for most beginner strength programs. Almost every single program will rotate between bench press and overhead press.
The alternation between pendlay rows and romanian deadlifts is not typical for most programs. In one variation of starting strength, regular deadlifts and rows are alternated to prolong progress. However, not many programs will only have romanian deadlifts as the main deadlift movement. It does not greatly mimic a regular deadlift and is a common accessory for the main deadlift movement. Nevertheless, it is an excellent compound exercise to do in gaining mass and strength. Though certain athletes, like powerlifters and strongman, may benefit from doing regular deadlifts consistently, there is no argument that the romanian deadlift can be used to greatly improve someone’s overall strength, size and power.
If you do not know the difference between romanian deadlifts and regular deadlifts, I would recommend you watch the video linked down below:
Essentially, romanian deadlifts do not have a full stop and lifters will often stop at least 1-2” off the ground. This is vastly different from a conventional or sumo deadlift, deadlifting techniques common in powerlifting competitions.
Overload for a beginner program
As a beginner, you should increment weights every workout. As an intermediate, you should increment weight every week.
From a strictly programming standpoint, its novice program is more designed for an intermediate athlete. But I get it.
You want to have fun. You want to keep maintaining progress for a longer period of time without any programming tweaks. That’s all good but just keep in mind it is not the most optimal use of your time as a beginner.
Fatigue Management for a beginner program
Fierce 5 Novice program takes advantage of using static rep/set schemes to encourage progress. By resting one day in between workouts and two days after every third workout, fatigue management is optimized for a beginner to be able to hit the next workout strongly.
Individual Difference for a beginner program
Fierce 5 Novice program somewhat accounts for each individual lifter’s unique situation. Different weight progressions are recommended, depending if the lifter is cutting/bulking, if the lifter is male/female or if equipment issues occur. The Fierce 5 series even has a dumbbell version of the program for all aspiring bodybuilders.
Overall, the Fierce 5 considers more about individual differences and offers various strategies in order to account for them. However, most of the general strength training principle still apply, meaning that you will not depend on your “feelings” to lift the weights. This is a common practice for all beginner strength programs since beginner and intermediates are not experienced enough to judge how they are feeling before, during and after a workout. Programming using training feelings will come with experience as the lifter accumulates more time under the bar.
How long should I run the program?
The creator stated the program should last until you stall (after a week of deloading, 15% weight decrease and will not able to break through the weight) on at least two of your major lifts. Typically this should be around 4-6 months for an average bulking male.
Cutting males and bulking females will need to change their rate of progression. The program owner recommends that you should increment half as much as the program calls for if you are cutting.
Any changes I would make?
The program is drastically different from many general strength training programs. The only critique I have is to replace romanian deadlifts with regular deadlifts.
Where can I get more information?
If you have any other outstanding concerns or you just want to drop a thank you to the creator of the program, you can find more information about that here.