Program Review: StrongLifts 5×5 – Beginners

TL;DR – Nothing special, and it’s fantastic.  9/10 would recommend. Grab the app here. See the full run down here.

A Day: Squat 5×5, Barbell Bench 5×5, Barbell Row 5×5, (Dips 3×10)
B Day: Squat 5×5, Overhead Press 5×5, Deadlift 1×5, (Chin-ups 3×10)
Parenthesis are my addition and not part of the original program.

StrongLifts 5×5 is an introductory program that does a great job combining enough volume with enough intensity. It alternates on an A/B/A B/A/B rotation, which makes sure you’re getting equal amounts of everything. This looks like (Mon-Sun formatt):
A-rest-B-rest-A-rest-rest-B-rest-A-rest-B-rest-rest (2 week cycle).

As a beginner, you don’t need to be getting 15,000lbs+ of volume per workout anyways, you really just need something that pushes you harder than the last session. This program functions off linear progression, meaning each workout goes up in difficulty by a set amount. Squats would go up by 10lbs every other workout, bench by 5lbs, and deadlift by 10-20lbs. It’s simple, quick, and doesn’t require a whole lot of know-how. Here’s my list of pro’s and con’s.

Pro’s:

  • Focuses on major compound lifts
  • Extremely Simple
  • Short Workouts
  • Good mix of Volume/Intensity
  • Achievable progression
  • Doesn’t major in the minors

Con’s:

  • Chest is somewhat neglected.
  • Doesn’t do curls to impress the other bros in the gym (who doesn’t want a gym bro swooning over their massive curls?)

The great thing about this program, like I said, is its simplicity. If you are a beginner, this will be the best and easiest introduction into weight lifting. I would not modify anything as a beginner. This will build a very basic foundation of strength that is necessary going forward.

Follow this until you stop making consistent strength gains and you’ll be ready for a slightly more complex program. Weight lifting rewards diligence and discipline, but it also builds it. Take this as an opportunity to improve yourself physically, but most importantly as a person.

Aside: I would recommend buying the app or at least using the free version to track your workouts. Buying the app comes with special features, and honestly I tracked my workouts with pen and paper for the first year. It totally works, but I’m also messy and don’t mind spending $5 to never have to waste my time again. Unless you’re unemployed, there’s no reason you can’t afford $5 for a simple app that reduces time spent on recording things (unless you want to learn and watch your own trends, then go for it).

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