Using The Stronglifts 5×5 Training Program For Greater Goals

Making things simple when you are a beginner is the only way to see real size and strength gains going forward.

Stronglifts 5×5 is currently one of the most prominent and popular workouts on the web today but does it match up to your goals? find out here.

There are two ways to approach a workout on any given day. You can just walk in and do a random approach, likely meaning training as hard as you can for a certain number of exercises or you can follow a preplanned program in which exercises, intensity and volume are gradually manipulated over time. Picking the right program will help you to make significantly more progress with less injuries rather than just pushing yourself really hard day in, day off.

There are many good training programs out there, one of the most popular ones at the moment is Stronglifts 5×5. Many people the world over are giving this simple program a go but like any workout program it does have its pros and cons, is it right for you? let’s take a look and see if it can help you make that decision.

The Stronglifts Breakdown

With Stronglifts, the trainee performs five multi-joint barbell lifts per week; the deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press and bent-over row. This is a three days per week program that employs an A/B split, meaning there are two different workouts (Day A and Day B) alternated throughout the training week with a rest day between each training day.

Day A lifts are the squat, bench press and bent-over barbell row. Day B lifts are  the squat, overhead press and deadlift. You are squatting each time you train.

Each lift is performed for 5 reps for 5 sets except for the deadlift which is only 1 set of 5. This does sound strange but according to the Stronglifts website doing more would beat you up too much and squatting three times per week will build many of the same muscles as deadlifts.

None of these sets are taken to failure, this is not a bodybuilding program but one designed to increase strength by training in a pretty low rep range, the goal is to lift the amount of weight you lift by 5 pounds every workout as much as you can.

The 5 sets do not include the warm-up sets, the 5 working sets will contain the same amount of weight for each set.

The Stronglifts program is not really for more experienced lifters but does excellently for newbies.

A two-week training cycle looks like this:

Week 1

Monday: Day A

Wednesday: Day B

Friday: Day A

Week 2

Monday: Day B

Wednesday: Day A

Friday: Day B

The 5 X 5 Approach Is Not New

The 5×5 loading approach is revolutionary to the new lifter who discovers it but the lifting world has been adopting it for decades. The late Bill Starr popularized the 5×5 technique in his 1976 book ‘The strongest shall survive: Strength training for football’, although bodybuilder Reg Park allegedly wrote about the technique in the 1960’s.

Since the golden age of lifting, the only difference between bodybuilding and power lifting was diet. Athletes and lifters have been using the 5×5 technique to build bigger, stronger frames. Whilst Stronglifts 5×5 may well worth be considering, the concept isn’t actually new.

If you are wanting to be in the best shape of your life, it is time to start some new explosive techniques.

Nuts And Bolts Of The 5 X 5 Technique

The program’s loading begins with 50% of your 5-rep max for each lift so you will have to know or discover what weight you can do for only 5 reps then use just half of that, this might seem very light but you are going to add weight each week.

During the workout, you add 5 pounds to the bar for each lift or 2.5 pounds per side. The deadlift is the only exception here, you add 10 pounds here or 5 per side, add weight however if you reach 5 reps for all 5 sets (the deadlifts are only 1 set).

The programme carries on with this progressive overload scheme until failure with a given weight for 5 reps, the strategy here is then to use the same weight for the next workout instead of increasing the weight on the bar.

Failure to achieve a 5×5  with a certain weight for three consecutive workouts calls for a deload, this means decrease the weight by 10% for the next workout.

The deload is only employed for a single workout, not a full training week, now dust yourself off and try again. Keeping thorough records of weights and reps is important for tracking progress.

Advantages Of 5×5 Stronglifts

The Stronglifts 5×5 protocol has a number of advantages, especially for beginners, which is important. Many beginners start off their bodybuilding career with an overly complex bodybuilding workout regime or some outlandish Eastern bloc strength training ritual, no matter what the goal, complexity is a beginner’s enemy.

Simplicity is part of the program in several ways, for one the trainee knows exactly how many days per week to work out and what exercises to do on a given day, there is no guessing.

A little bit of maths means that the trainer can plan weights weeks in advance, saving mental energy.

It’s 5×5, or 1×5 with five lifts, three times per week, liberating your brain.

Simplicity preludes practice, since the program only has five lifts, three of which are done three times per week, there are many opportunities to practice becoming a good lifter. Frequency of practice, good practice on these core lifts is of utmost importance to beginning lifters.

The good points continue with an emphasis on strength building.  Even if a newbie’s goal is to become a huge bulky guy, strength get’s a body bigger faster. You will build a bigger, stronger foundation faster with this approach.

The program is also devoid of any fluff or machines, load a barbell, train hard and then go home. Many people’s lives outside of the gym are sitting and consuming. Stronglifts 5×5 gets people active and on their feet, no machines or seated exercises, this trains you to lift heavy.

Building bigger arms does not always mean spending hours in the gym to achieve this.

Program Disadvantages

The simplicity we have talked about above could also be seen as a negative from a different perspective, intermediate and advanced lifters typically need greater complexity to maintain continued gains. This can mean exercise variations or maybe how the exercises are loaded. Always doing 5×5 or adding 5 pounds to a barbell per workout won’t work for people already used to rocking a barbell.

Once past newbie status, lifts need increased volume to gain size and Stronglifts does not offer this volume or offer enough intensity to make a strong lifter stronger. Eventually a lifter must put out sets of 3, 2 and eventually 1 rep around their 90% rep max and above to get stronger.

Some exercise reasoning may also be too simple, as an example, the program explanation says that there is only 1 deadlift set as deadlifting is too taxing and deadlifting more than is comfortable can actually be detrimental. The program creators argue that squatting instead will improve your deadlift as it trains the same muscles is strictly not true.

Squats and deadlifts are different movement styles, requiring different ranges of motion from muscles and joints. This in turn means the nervous system approaches each one differently so it doesn’t mean it will make a lifter better just doing the other one, it is true that each exercise recruits similar muscles but in a dissimilar way.

In order to keep making gains, it is sometimes essential to change up your workout plan now and again.

Recommendation

The Stronglifts 5×5 Training program is great for beginners but is probably not a good choice for intermediate or advanced lifters. Simplicity and practice pays off for the less experienced individuals, experienced lifters need a little more complexity to make continual gains in size and strength.

 

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