5x5 good for BEGINNERS??

Hi guys!
I`m new to Dr. Squat`s website. Anyway, as the question asks, is it OK for a BEGINNER (as in new to exercise) in general to start with a 5RM x 5 set routine?

I personally would say NO due to issues with SAFETY (underdeveloped STABILIZER muscles and such, as well as a general lack of KINAESTHETIC awareness (especially with more "technical" movements like a push press for instance).

I am actually just trying to understand the reasoning behind the popularity of the 5x5 for BEGINNERS. I`ve seen something from MARK RIPPTOE using 5x5 for beginners on BODYBUILDING.COM.

As an ex-powerlifter, i know what a SINCERE 5RM feels like, and one mistake (say on a squat)MAY cause INJURY!

So, why 5x5 for BEGINNERS?

THANKS!
patrick

Vaughn Numrych's picture

5x5 vs 5x5 with maximum weight...

I think 5x5 is good for beginners and I think you may be confusing the final week of a cycle with a full 5x5 cycle. When setting up a 5x5, the weight is intentionally low at the beginning and at the end pyramids up so that you are going for a new SRM at the end. These beginning weeks give the body a chance to recover from the previous cycle or, in the case of beginners, a chance to work on form before the weights get heavy. Opinions vary but I've seen 5x5's that go as low as 60%srm in the beginning weeks and this is certainly a safe poundage for most people, even in the beginning stages.

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This isn't happening, it only thinks it's happening.

I used to say no about such

I used to say no about such things, until I learned more about strength training. At the gym I go to they start off teenagers in a bench shirt almost right away as long as they are willing to do the work. The results are guys 10 years younger than me and 50 lbs less benching more than me shirted and raw.

I am quite convinced by now that foundation training for powerlifting is way overrated. When I was in my earlier 20s with only haven trained with lots of reps like a bodybuilder, I used to always wonder why smaller guys were much stronger. Also why did I have so much trouble gaining muscle without gaining fat? I know the answers now. Train heavy and you will be strong. Train for strength and you will have no trouble gaining and keeping that muscle without having to eat like a pig.

5x5 for beginners? Sure. Just make sure they start off light at first and get the form down and play it safe.

VAUGHN and CHARLES- Sorry

VAUGHN and CHARLES- Sorry for a late reply, been busy. THANKS so much for both your replies! I`m not finished yet though.

For some additional background on my question: We`ve been having a long standing debate on our local sports and fitness forum on wether the traditional high rep/light wgt scheme or low rep/heavy wgt (5x5 in this case) scheme is best for BEGINNERS to exercise in general.

Admittedly (maybe my age?), i lean towards the light wt/high reps scheme, especially as it has been reccomended by TUDOR BOMPA on grounds of ANATOMICAL ADAPTATION (tendon/ligament development first).

VAUGHN and CHARLES- I did comment on our local forum that the 5x5 from a
SAFETY standpoint would be acceptable at best by at least starting with a lighter weight, even if only for 5 reps,as you both just mentioned.

The 5x5 advocates on our local forum are of the MARK RIPPETOE variety, whereas the "old school" high repers like me are of the TUDOR BOMPA variety.

I personally am biased towards BOMPA because of his EXPERIENCE as an Olympic athlete himself and coach to some winning world/olympic class athletes, and his knowledge of SPORTS SCIENCE in general.

I am actually waiting for someone to reply/debate the SCIENTIFIC evidence of the superiority of the 5x5 over BOMPA`s teaching for BEGINNERS.I realize that NOTHING IS WRITTEN ON STONE, but still... Anybody? THANKS again!
patrick

Would it not depend on what

Would it not depend on what exactly the beginner's goals are? Are they training for hypertrophy? Limit strength? Sports specificity? General conditioning?

For a trainee wanting to trim down a bit and look good at the beach the answer would likely be different than it would be if he was looking to prepare for a high school football season.

As i understand it, hypertrophy is best trained in the 8-12 rep range with lighter weights, and the 5x5 would be a better option for improving basic strength.

For a trainee with mixed goals, perhaps linear periodization would be a reasonable approach for a starting point.

I went from a skinny punk

I went from a skinny punk (150lbs.) to 220lbs. (still a punk) in a few years using 5x5, waist went up 2" total over that 70lb gain - I think that's hypertrophy, eh?

The problem with looking for

The problem with looking for scientific evidence is that it always looks so cute on paper until you put it to use in the real world. Thats reality. The guys on my team get results doing things that others say you can't do. We do things that Louie Simmons says you can't do, yet we have world record holders.

I think a better way to go about things is to look at what people are doing in the real world. Then if you are dorky enough and you want an explanation, perhaps you can find one. The problem with that is you still might not find the real cause. So simply put, I think its best to just look at what ends up working out better in the real world.

Based on personal experience and the people I have known, lifting heavy works best for natural athletes even for bodybuilders. For some reason stronger muscles just don't atrophy as easily. Additionally, when I think about the younger athletes who are doing so well, I think there has got to be an explanation. Why are they stronger? It all goes back to muscle fiber types and specific training. Type 2 fibers hypertrophy much easier than type 1. For size you would be stupid not to want to train mostly them. For strength you would be stupid to want to train and hypertrophy anything besides type 2 fibers. You start off an athlete doing it correctly right from the start and he will only do continue to build on the strength he already has. Start off an athlete doing lots and lots of reps and years later he will be wondering why all the other guys his size are way stronger.

From a fat loss standpoint I also think training heavy for the muscles is better. The reason is simple. If the muscles don't atrophy as easily then you will keep the muscles while cutting so long as you don't abuse your body. But if you are doing lots of reps and aren't that strong, all I can say is lots of luck because you will probably lose every bit of strength you have real quick. Why do you think guys like Ronnie Coleman train heavy like that all the time? There is a reason for it. It works. Guys like that who train right and eat right can keep their abs showing all year long. Because they do it right. And before anyone mentions steroids I'll just add that there is obviously some good drugs out there, but it won't yield forgiveness if you don't eat or train right. Thats why some bodybuilders turn into fat slobs in the off season; they rely more on drugs than proper training and eating strategies.

Mutsanah.. Yeah man, thats

Mutsanah..

Yeah man, thats hypertrophy I would say. You definately get some volume with 5x5, and that will lead to hypertrophy, but if that is your goal, is that the optimal way to proceed? Maybe so, maybe no...I am not the expert by a long shot, just trying to apply what I have learned on this site over the years. I still say the beginner's goals should be accounted for in choosing the optimal path.

As a beginner, I started with linear periodization, 3 weeks at sets of 8-10, 3weeks at sets of 5, and two weeks of doubles before a final test week. Repeat with higher weights. I added mass and strength at a phenomenal rate, but I was a teenager, so pretty much anything would have worked I think.

I am interested in this thread..I have children who will be beginners some day...What is optimal, and does that depend on the goals of the beginner, or is there an optimal way to start for building a foundation that will best lead to success regardless of goals....

Good thread people, much more interesting than Rocky bashing, gear bashing, or PL judging critiques. And thank goodness there is no 200 post thread about Hoffgate on this site.

Charles, If hypertrophy is

Charles,

If hypertrophy is the goal, why wouldn't you want to focus on both types of fibers? low reps(3-5) = good, med reps (8-12)=better, ABC (low med and high reps combined, hitting both type I and II) =best?

There is an old Greek myth

There is an old Greek myth about Milo, one of their great Olympians from 5th or 6th Century BC that carried a calf every day for one mile and did that for four years until the next Olympics. Scientifically this doesn't make sense because an adult cow can be almost a ton in weight, but the lesson is sound. Small but consistent gains over time will make you stronger and therefore bigger.
Too many beginners get caught up in the BB mags and the hype that is out there, losing sight of their ultimate goal which is indeed to get stronger/bigger.
To get stronger/bigger ---> lift heavier weights progressively over time, rest, eat right, be happy.
If you could add 1 lb. a week for a year to your bench would you be happy with that? Imagine doing that for 5 years - how much would your bench be then?
2 lbs. a week to squat/DL?
Patience, hard work, sweat, determination, discipline will make you strong. There are shortcuts to strength but these rarely if ever lead to happiness.

So if he carried the calf

So if he carried the calf for a mile, does that constitute higher reps? Endurance training? Just kidding, I like the Milo analogy, the mythical foundation for the training we all pursue.

Obviously progressive resistance is at the heart of the matter regardless of goals, it is the fundamental concept of resistance training. But you may choose to progress the weight you use for 10 reps or for 5 reps, or whatever. Thats where the specific goal comes into play. Do you seek the endurance to carry a calf a mile? Or the strength to lift the bull for a step? I believe you will find that the paths diverge for each goal.

So , again, is there an optimal foundation program for a beginner regardless of their purpose or goals, or must we account for individual goals (not to mention relative starting condition)to best advise the new trainee?

Also, I believe Milo's

Also, I believe Milo's training regimen may have been credible at the time. Cows are bigger today, because of selctive breeding over the years, not to mention steroids and whatnot. So maybe the ancient greek cow lift was more akin to todays 1000lb squat. hard to attain, requiring commitment, but within the realm of the possible. No science whatsoever in that view, I am not an expert on ancient bovine dimensions or training protocols.

GREAT answers all!

GREAT answers all!

Its ideal of course for a beginner to know exactly what their goals are. But i`m assuming 2 kinds of beginners, 1)one who is just looking for a relatively SAFE way to get into general fitness (via wgt training) and 2)one who also wants a SAFE way to get into general fitness but eventually wants to get into strength training.

As far as scientific research on paper and actual experience, i strongly believe in their coexistence. In the end of course, our physical/intellectual experiences tell us what to do.

Some people are blessed it seems with a highly developed common sense in physical/sports movement and training (then again if it was so common, then most of us would be well accomplished athletes). Of course we can argue that its simply a highly developed sense of kinaesthetic awareness and sense of logical thinking (?) as well as genetics. Good for them..

Some people like me though started out really clumsy and had to take the hard way, but eventually ended up a fairly decent athlete/lifter with fair amounts of both experience and knowledge.

CHARLES- i do tend to be dorky about trying to understand why something works like it does, but only because i tend to train better when i can make "maximum" sense of something in the hope that i might even find a better way of doing it. And science helps me to organize my thoughts and gives us a universal language so we can hopefully communicate better with each other.

Its true that a lot of cute stuff on paper doesnt work out in reality, but do we stop there and give up on theory, or do we continue trying to learn from both - Applied theory and experience, thats why there`s Sports Science. Of course the term never existed in days gone by, but was being practiced by athletes like Roger Bannister who used his medical knowledge to help his training. I do understand the simplicity of "lift heavy to be strong" (principle of specificity)

But before anybody misunderstands me, i also have all the respect for experience! At 46 yrs old i have 2 head wound scars and sometimes painful wrists from previous sports "encounters" all due to moments of "insanity"(no logic)... I`m sure some of you have really bad battle wounds as well.

Well i apologize for digressing, i will make an effort to understand the "whys" of 5x5 for beginners as i would like to make the traditional high rep for beginners advocates (me included) more open minded in our local forum in my part of the world (philippines). THANKS again to ALL!

P.S. Please keep your replies to this thread coming, so much more to learn! Smiling

Ahh Milo and the calf, what a classic!

In my beginning, 5x5 was

In my beginning, 5x5 was easier - the weight wasn't the important part. Personally I didn't see as much gain from higher reps and also didn't care much for lactic acid. Not against hard work, just took a different path. Today I do 5x3 and 5x5 with 20 reps for shoulders/arms. Size not an issue any more, just trying to inch up core lifts without serious injury and it's still working.
I have a friend that has only done 20 rep sets and high volume - guy is a maniac, I call him quadzilla like the BB from late 80's, early 90's - he's a genetic abnormality - good for him, wouldn't work for me. Some individuals have an intuition that tunes their training to what is best for them. My tuning came from a very detailed training journal and lots of experimentation in gym.

Yukon, I'll answer your

Yukon, I'll answer your question about the different fibers.

To begin with, beginners actually can grow very well with high reps. The reason I would imagine for that is because the stress of the weight even for high reps is still much more stress than what they are normally used to. So if they do a lot of reps with it they end up getting a descent amount of volume and they end up growing well. Thats why for a true beginner I often would recommend that for hypertrophy if that was their goal. But if the person planned on being a strength athlete, I definitely wouldn't recommend it.

Anyways, back to the fiber thing. I think it depends on how much time you have on your hands and what your recovery capabilities are. Younger guys can get away with training more often. Older and stronger guys generally need more time to recover. So that means you better spend your time where it counts the most, focusing on the fast twitch fibers. I mean, if you only had the time or recovery capabilities to train 2-3 times per week you know where you should be spending that time on, heavy weights. But lets lake this argument one step further. Type 1 fibers generally don't hypertrophy very well at all unless you take steroids. So there doesn't seem much of a sense for a natural athlete to bother spending any time working on those. Second of all, depending on how you train, type 2a fibers can be converted to type 2b fibers and type 2b fibers can be converted to type 2a fibers. Type 2b is what we want to focus the most on because it has the most potential for growth. And if type 2b fibers can be converted to type 2a fibers from doing high reps, thats bad news. So from a natural standpoint, I would say you should be training heavy most of the time. Thats where its at. Take a look at a lot of the powerlifters out there. A lot of them are huge! The exception I would say would be with guys who train less sessions per week, low volume, short workouts, and do mostly singles all the time. That will make you really really strong, but it isn't enough volume to make you grow real good. Thats also how some of the powerlifters manage to maintain their current size and continue to get stronger. Thats sort of what I do because I don't want to be any bigger. It works.

But I also think that what works for some people won't work for others. I have a friend who does a lot of reps and cardio work and he gets real strong that way. I got huge from doing a lot of reps. But I never got strong until I started lifting heavy.

I do however think the reps you are talking about are good. But you want to keep your workouts based around the heavier weight. Even as a powerlifter I still do high reps for certain things. My workouts are based around sets of 1-3, but I also include some different stuff. I do assistance exercises for reps. I generally do pull downs for 6-20 reps. Sometimes I do bench press and work up to a set of 10.

But I will give an even more simple answer in my next post in response to what this other guy said. You will get it then.

patrickt, I want to respond

patrickt,
I want to respond to what you are talking about when you say you want to learn how to do things better. Yukon, are you listening to this one?

I used to be that way. I used to want to know all sorts of things about strength training of all sorts. I wanted to know the best way to do things. Very interesting stuff and I believe we are blessed to have guys such as Dr. Squat to give us that knowledge. I used that knowledge to make myself into a better lifter. But it eventually came to a point in time when I wasn't progressing. I wasn't making myself into a better athlete. I wasn't getting stronger.

Then one day I stepped into the home of Metal Militia. I wanted to be around competitive athletes because I figured they would push me to do better and I would learn something. Well, one thing I learned real quick was that I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. Because you can have all sorts of knowledge, but its useless if you aren't simply setting goals and beating them. Its useless if you don't have an attitude that says you are a person who doesn't settle for anything less than excellence.

The guys on my team have a strategy that works. And it is simple. My coach doesn't even like for me to ask questions. I just go there every week and do what he says and I get stronger. No need for it to be any more complicated than that. Then I go home and relax. I mean, how can you get better than the best in the world? Think about it this way. You guys know who Paul Anderson is? He made up his own stuff and did all sorts of weird workouts in his yard. And he became the strongest man in the world. Strength training is simple. The stuff that worked for Paul Anderson still works today.

I can give you another example. When I first started doing strongman training I was doing nothing but events 2-3 times per week. I already had the strength and I just had to practice for the contest. Keep in mind that strongman events will actually make you grow much faster than any bodybuilding exercise you can think of. Yes, they even put squats to shame in the building mass category. I did tire flip with a 770 lb tire, log clean and press for reps with a 95 lb log, and farmers walk with 180 lb farmers handles. I used the same weight every workout because thats all I had. And I just worked on improving every workout. I flipped the tire for more flips, longer distance, and less time. I worked my way up on the log from 7 reps to eventually a bit over 20. And I carried the logs for more distance and less time. I did that all in say 12 weeks. I ended up gaining 20-25 lbs during those 12 weeks. I was 30 years old making gains like a 16 year old boy again. Obviously some was fat, but I definitely gained a lot of muscle too. I think maybe 10 lbs was muscle.

But do you see the point I am getting at? Your training doesn't have to be complicated to make it work. You don't have to wear a lab coat and goggles to design a good workout. You simply have to set goals and make them. Thats it.

Hey Charles,

Hey Charles,
I hear ya man! Your a lifting monster to be sure! First of all, i`d like to make a few personal points: A good athlete(even the best in the world)is not necessarily the best coach, and vice-versa.

Obviously your from the school of hard knocks. But please dont let my technical interest fool you into thinking that i havent been through hell and back. Some background on me:

My 1st Powerlifting meet was in 1983 (1st PHILIPPINE Nat`ls.- IPF rules) until my last meet, the 1985 CLARK airforce base powerlifting invitationals (Clark AFB was a former USAF base in the Phil.) I moved to cycling (road racing) for my squadron(Medical) when i was stationed active duty at Mcguirre AFB, NJ from 1987-91.

I returned to the phil. and competed(1993-95) for an itty bitty little gym you surely never heard of, Zest Power Gym. We have only several worldclass lifters who compete in the Asian powerlifting championships yearly, and a few times at the world championships.

Most of the few veteran lifters at Zest(most are Nat`l team members as well) were my teammates back in college. And they can all attest that i did set goals for myself and have beaten some of them.Rest assured i have walked the talk, which is why we have a mutual respect for each other. Inspite of my sometimes technical interest, i have done stuff like maxing out a goodmorning with barely bent knees and chest to knees with what for me anyway (chickenfeed for your 165 lb guys i`m sure)was heavy, 310 lbs at 160 lbs bodywgt, or at 189 lbs bodywgt my Deadlift to failure of 420 lbs x 14-15 reps, just for the heck of it.. (again surely miniscule performance for your gym). Dont ask me what i`ve benched though... Smiling

After laying off powerlifting for 7 yrs (concentrated on serious training for endurance sport), i decided to try powerlifting again and was coached by the nat`l team coach himself. I hardly ever asked questions, but after a year i felt confident to do my own program but still competing for zest. Its not that he wasnt a good coach, its just that i thought he could do better.

So why do i ask questions? Is it pride? Yes, pride is one reason, but its not what i would call foolish pride. I suppose its a combination of my knowing that i pushed just as hard and usually harder than these guys, and that i went to school (Phys Ed) and was exposed to more than just strength training theories or the college weightlifting team i used to train with. My entire college life(MY ENTIRE LIFE then) revolved around my training and being around athletes from different disciplines

My teachers were former athletes themselves who challenged us (the students back then) to go beyond just listening to the coach,or even to them. We were challenged to learn and discuss and hopefully apply something we learned ourselves, and maybe, just maybe, contribute something to the learning of sports movement and training in general. So blame my attitude on my teachers! To use your words, do you see the point i am getting at? Smiling

I`m of average strength, and obviously not the smartest,thats for sure, thats why i joined this forum. I got my 1st "real" powerlifting book in 1984 (Powerlifting:A Scientific approach)i`ve admired Dr.Squat ever since. So, i do know about goals and making them (or at least die trying!)

And yes of course i know of PAUL ANDERSEN. Hard not to know a man of GOD who is also a man of HERCULEAN strength!

You might want to check out Zest power gym on the net, or take a peak at the April 2009 issue of POWERLIFTING USA: Hardcore gym # 84 coz it features Zest power gym.

THANKS so much for making an effort to respond and explain your side to me, i really do appreciate it. And if you think i was too emotional, i apologize, but its really all cool to me. Smiling
patrick

Robert McAdams's picture

KISS 5x5...

I start all my athletes (football) on a Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) 5x5 routine. I simply get them to lift a weight that is "comfortable" for 5x5 and teach them correct technique. If they complete the 5x5 they go up 5-15lb for the next workout (3 wkts per week). Utilizing higher repetitions (8-15) for beginners or kids only encourages shallow squatting, cheated reps, poor technique, etc (too much fatigue without experience). I'm not talking about a higher percentage (>75%) of 1RM to start. They usually start around approx 60-70% and progress to a "Drop Weight 25lb" (didn't complete set convincingly) at near 80-85% depending on the kid. After big decrease, they only increase twice a week at 5lb (Mon/Fri) with a medium weight 5x5 (85% of Mon/Fri weight) on Wed. After 4 weeks of that total, I have them do work-up 5x5 (work-up to big 5) for 4 weeks with same "go up slow" or "big drop" mentality, continually increasing weight over 8 weeks. This gets a beginner into a non-beginner status very well in approx 4-6 months. That is 2 5x5 cycles seperated by a few weeks of lighter weight, higher reps (2-3 sets of 8-15 reps). I trained with Mark Rippetoe and Glenn Pendlay in Wichita Falls, TX for a few years.

Hope this helped,

Robert McAdams
www.robertwmcadams.com

Not to get too much off

Not to get too much off topic, but speaking of squats I notice that one of the trainers at my gym often starts off beginners doing box squats. For years I never would have agreed with that because I always believed in doing full squats. But now I look and realize that there actually is a good reason for doing it. The fact is that most athletes just won't do full squats and do them right. They never will. I have no clue why. But thats just reality. They would be much better off learning good box squats and doing them heavy as opposed to doing regular squats with garbage form. Box squats are certainly higher than full squats, but they are still better than quarter squats. The box is there. There is no more excuses.

Robert McAdams's picture

Box Squats...

I don't have a problem with box squats for PL or even OL as as training variation. Both of those sports require a love of squatting low... But I cannot stand it when coaches have athletes (who cannot squat 250lb below parallel) box squatting 365lb to a 1/2 squat for sets of 8 while yelling "ROLL BACK!!!"...
Kids will squat low when coached to do so. Most coaches refuse to force them to do so because blowing a whistle and setting a box up allows them to "just do it" (laziness). Box Squatting is fine as an auxillary for highly trained PL/OL, but should never be used as a "squat replacement".

Robert McAdams
www.robertwmcadams.com

Take a look in just about

Take a look in just about every gym you go to and tell me how many people you see doing full squats. At most fitness centers I went to I was the only one who did them. At my gym in college which was big and had a real lot of people, I could count the number on one hand the amount of people who did full squats. At the gym I go to now I am the only one who does it.

That is why these days, if I were to train someone, I wouldn't waste my time or breath trying to tell them to do squats right. Why bother? They never listen anyways. If it were a someone who was dedicated enough and wanted to do it right, I would tell them. But that is rare.

Take a look in just about

Take a look in just about every gym you go to and tell me how many people you see doing full squats. At most fitness centers I went to I was the only one who did them. At my gym in college which was big and had a real lot of people, I could count the number on one hand the amount of people who did full squats. At the gym I go to now I am the only one who does it.

That is why these days, if I were to train someone, I wouldn't waste my time or breath trying to tell them to do squats right. Why bother? They never listen anyways. If it were a someone who was dedicated enough and wanted to do it right, I would tell them. But that is rare.

I suppose i`m just plain

I suppose i`m just plain lucky as a track athlete to have been around the collegiate Weightlifting team beggining in my freshman year till graduation.

Scientific training for foundational strength for jumpers back then (early 1980`s) required majority of Squats to be done partial as you never jump from a full squat position (Principle of Specificity). But i spent majority of Squats going FULL (especially off season and early pre-season, and some parts of the in-season) due to the influence of the Weightlifting team (as well as power style and full squat cleans and snatches. I still "enjoy" FULL squats!).

"Principle of Individual Differences"

This principle is an acknowledgement that we all have different genetic blueprints. This is one of the seven "Grandaddy" laws. David Q. Thomas, Ph.D. hit the nail on the head when he acknowledged that we are all different and no one size fits all exists in the fitness/strength/sports world. At 67 I superset various exercises and complete 48-54 sets in an hour and lift heavier than most of my younger friends (20-45) and feel this is a part of my own unique genetic blend. I appreciate the very intelligent conversation that exists on this forum and know that many of you have quite different approaches to reach your goals via weight training and nutrition. May God Bless You All...... G L M

@ George: That sounds a lot

@ George:
That sounds a lot like what Vince Gironda promoted - great for oxygenating the body! Also promotes hormone release like no other workout. Surely an 'honest workout' for you.
Cheers!

I actually agree with

I actually agree with everything with what you said. The 5 x 5 rippetoe talks about is just common sense. Don't do 10 reps because by rep 7 the form is shot and the squats get higher and higher. If someone can only do 100lbs for 5 reps make it their a goal to do 3 out of 5 sets with 100lbs. If they can do tha add weight next work out. This training works great if you have a coach watching. It does not work good if they lifter is on their own. I'd recommend 10 reps on accessory exercises like hamstring curls.

I use the box for beginners to properly push their hips back and teach depth. I typically use a low box 11-12 inches and when they get good at hitting depth I usually pull the box out.

I don't recommend using a box all the time even for powerlifters. It is only good if you use a canvas suit that stops you dead in the hole.

I actually agree with

I actually agree with everything with what you said. The 5 x 5 rippetoe talks about is just common sense. Don't do 10 reps because by rep 7 the form is shot and the squats get higher and higher. If someone can only do 100lbs for 5 reps make it their a goal to do 3 out of 5 sets with 100lbs. If they can do tha add weight next work out. This training works great if you have a coach watching. It does not work good if they lifter is on their own. I'd recommend 10 reps on accessory exercises like hamstring curls.

I use the box for beginners to properly push their hips back and teach depth. I typically use a low box 11-12 inches and when they get good at hitting depth I usually pull the box out.

I don't recommend using a box all the time even for powerlifters. It is only good if you use a canvas suit that stops you dead in the hole.

It depends on the pharmacies

It depends on the pharmacies you're taking to get like that. I don't know. the best solution is to try some sites., because what they have in stores are not the best ones, from the market.