5×5 or 3×8: Quick Comparison

5x5 or 3x8: Quick Comparison

As someone looking to build body mass, you might be confused over the significance of rep sets. 

Two of the most popular sets of reps are 5×5 and 3×8. And you want to know which one is best suited for you.

So, which one is better, 5×5 or 3×8?

While 5×5 works greatly on helping you build up strength, 3×8 mostly works on muscle gain. With the 3×8 reps, you get more time to rest compared to the 5×5. You also get one extra rep with 5×5 sets than that of the 3×8 set.

We’ve prepared an elaborated piece on this topic to answer all your questions regarding this topic. This will only take a few minutes to read.

So what’re we waiting for? Let’s get straight into it!

5×5 or 3×8: Quick Comparison

5×5 or 3×8 is not too tough to choose. Once you know your goals you are good to go. To give a heads up 5×5 works best for strength build up. Whereas, 3×8 is good for muscle gain. 

As long as you know your capacity, endurance and stamina you won’t face any injury. 

Now let’s talk about facts! Here’s a table depicting the basic differences between the two sets of reps:

Total Reps2524
Exercise GoalMuscle StrengthMuscle Gain
Types of ExerciseSquats, bench press, barbell rowShrugs, bicep curls, standing triceps extension
Visible ResultsNot less than 4 weeks12-16 weeks

This table gives you a rough idea on which one to pick. To know more in detail jump into the next segment.

5×5 Vs 3X8: Detailed Comparison

We’ve tracked down five differentiation factors from the above table. Now it’s time to break them down one by one. So that you can pick the best option from 5×5 or 3×8.

Rep Count

More sets mean more rest . In a 5×5 you are doing 5 sets and reps of a single exercise.Which is 25 reps altogether. On the contrary you will be doing 24 reps if you go for a 3×8.

Both the combinations provide almost similar work volume.  The catch is your end goal of a single exercise. The 24 rep exercise is good for a complete body cutting goal

Surely, don’t wanna get scared with fatty muscles when you want strength. So, let’s move on to know where actually your goals fit.

Exercise Goal

When our goal is to get fit we switch to diet foods. Similarly we have to find out our exercise goals.

You might have aspirations for bigger muscles. This is not only to look good but also to improve your metabolic rate. Or, you might want to be stronger. If any of these are your exercise goals you are in the right place.


5×5 is an appropriate choice for gaining strength. There are chances it overlaps with other goals(ex;muscle gain). Thankfully, 5×5 puts less concern for muscles and more on strength building.

By choosing 5×5 you are entering into a life with countless health benefits. Strength helps you have stronger bones.

Also less injury on tendon sprains and tears. You won’t get these benefits from doing a 3×8 scheme. Also building more strength with 5×5 means not having health issues while cutting


If your goal is to get a lean muscle mass then pick 3×8.

Lean muscle mass is the total body weight excluding fat mass. This indicates a healthy body weight.

However,muscles are a great source of calorie burn. It also helps you enjoy a healthy life with less chances of fatal diseases. 

So for this goal you should opt for a 3×8 set and reps. It is considered to be good for gaining muscles. 

However, no combo comes with a single orientation. You will get a tinge of strength as well. But you won’t get the same result as 5×5 for getting strength.

So, 3×8 should be the pick for your goal of getting more muscles.


5×5 is a high intense workout scheme. In this set you’ll be doing 5 sets consecutively. In between these sets you can take 90-120 seconds of break. 

5×5 requires doing heavy workout exercises, like squats. As you can imagine, 5×5 is good for directly complementing high intensity workout benefits

On the contrary, 3×8 is a less intense one. It has 3 sets and these sets are much easier than 5×5. Moreover 3×8 doesn’t require heavy exercises like 5×5. You can easily take 3 to 5 minutes of rest between sets.

Types of Exercises

As mentioned previously, 5×5 includes heavier exercises than 3×8. It has squats, bench press, barbell row. All these exercises are challenging enough. Ultimately these types of exercises help accomplish your goal of getting stronger.

3×8 pushes you to do shrugs, standing triceps extension, bicep curls. All these exercises can be done with less heavy equipment than 5×5’s. They work on the muscles of either arms or shoulders. So, 3×8 is much more effective for your muscle goals than a 5×5.

Visible Results

5×5 takes at least four weeks for visible results. Though 5×5 takes more time to complete, it shows results quickly. You’ll see differences to some extent. Surely, four weeks isn’t enough to achieve your goal. You need more time to see the major difference.

On the other hand, 3×8 takes 12- 16 weeks. Getting lean muscle is a matter of time. It depends on your body fat, metabolism. So, it takes longer than 5×5.

Either it’s 5×5 or 3×8 you must have an effective workout plan. You can’t reach your goal without a plan.

Workout Plan for 5×5 and 3×8

We are incorporating a workout plan for amateurs. If you have already passed the beginner’s phase,simply add extra weights, other exercises. 

We are just trying to be your GPS. Hope this workout plan won’t push you away.

Exercise5×53×8Weight of tools
Bench pressYesN/A30kg
Barbell RowYesN/A57.5kg
Standing triceps extensionN/AYes20kg
Bicep CurlsN/AYes25kg

This table gives you a layout of exercises for both 5×5 and 3×8. Besides you get to know the weights of your equipments.For example, take 60 kgs of dumbbell or barbell while doing squats. Similarly you can do other exercises with the mentioned weights.  

How to Choose the Right Sets of Reps?

If you are into fitness,you must have heard about Dan John. He is one of the world’s most renowned strength and conditioning coaches. That’s why I am referring to one of his podcasts.

In his podcast he talked about the time factor related to 5×5 and 3×8. Multiple times we stop exercising because of the time crunch.

He recommends 5×5 when you are on vacation. But if your big day is just around the corner then go for 3×8.

Wanna do the math? 

Let’s say you are doing push, pull, hips, squats. This four exercises will take 20(5*4) sets for 5×5. On the other hand it will take 12(3*4) sets for 3×8. The extra sets of 5×5 typically take 30 minutes to complete. 

Are you ready to invest extra minutes? Do your goals justify the time you invest? Ask these questions to yourself. You will get your answer.


Is 5×5 Good for hypertrophy?

Yes, the 5×5 is good for hypertrophy. It’s the first step for building strength. Eventually it will be helpful for doing hypertrophy oriented training. 5×5 is an intense workout scheme. It takes additional time. Overdoing 5×5 may give you a filler muscle. 

Should I be adding 5lbs every workout if I switch to 3×8?

Yes, you can add 5Ibs every workout if you switch to 3×8. Normally 1-5 reps are taken a good range for strength training. Whereas, 8-12 reps are good for hypertrophy and higher ranges are better for endurance. So, you can add 5Ibs until you are doing less than 8 reps.

Is it better to do 3×10 or 5×5 for hypertrophy?

3×10 is a better option for hypertrophy, whereas 5×5 would be a compromise. If you choose 3×10 you’ll get a total volume of 30 reps higher than 5×5. But the main concern is your body type and how that’ll match your number of reps. Also your current training program decides on choosing 3×10 or 5×5.

Wrapping up

We reached the end of our journey. And you can finally pick your preferred sets from 5×5 or 3×8. 

Don’t push your body too hard right from the beginning. It’s better to get used to the workload first. One step at a time!

Will be meeting soon. Take care!

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