My StrongLifts 5x5 Results
6 years ago I was a newcomer, browsing the internet looking for the perfect workout routine I can perform with minimal equipment as there wasn’t a gym nearby my house. After much searching, asking people for recommendations and trying to pick myself up some cheap equipment I discovered this ‘Stronglifts’ program created by a guy known as Medhi. After reading through the forums of his site and seeing countless skinny men gaining not only strength but also decent amounts of size quickly I decided to give it a try…
What can you expect from StrongLifts 5x5? Size and strength gains in short.
Check out my results and thoughts on just under a year spent following the program below.
A Quick Refresher...
The StrongLifts 5x5 workout regime and progression I followed for 9 months was as follows:
Bench Press 5×5
Barbell Rows 5×5
Shoulder press 5×5
I trained 3 days a week, with my workout days being Monday/Wednesday/Friday.
Monday - Workout A
Tuesday - Workout B
Wednesday - Workout A
Monday - Workout B
Wednesday - Workout A
Friday - Workout B
As per Medhi's guide I aimed to add 5lbs to each lift per workout with the exception of the deadlift which was an additional 10lbs added per workout.
I progressed linearly the majority of the time I spent on StrongLifts, with the majority of my trouble coming from the shoulder press. Upon hitting a plateau I'd go back down to the weight I was last able to perform my full 5 sets with before attempting again in the following session.
My Results (BEFORE)
Before starting the Stronglifts 5×5 program I had literally never lifted a weight in my life, I was a skinny 135lbs, roughly 16% body fat and struggled to lift the bar (20kg).
It's worth noting that, like many skinny guys who decide to follow a strength based beginners routine I coupled it with GOMAD.
The GOMAD diet, short for 'gallon of milk a day' had me chugging down an additional 2,400 calories ontop of the 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) that I was already consuming, this played a large part in the drastic increase in weight apparent over the 9 months of me following StrongLifts.
My Results (9 MONTHS LATER)
Weight: 175lbs, similar body fat (16%~)
Squat – 90kg (198lbs)
Bench – 70kg (155lbs)
Deadlift – 100kg (220lb)
Row – 60kg (132lbs)
Shoulder press – 45kg (100lbs)
Would I Do StrongLifts Again?
That depends on the scenario...
Would I Do StrongLifts Again Now?
At this stage I wouldn't consider going back to StrongLifts - since finishing the 5x5 workout regime years ago and experimenting with push, pull, legs and a body part a day split regimes I've found that training one body part per day in the low rep range (4-6) for 3 sets on several exercises has netted me the best bang for my buck in terms of size and strength gains now that progress is relatively slow with my newbie gains long gone.
In order to apply progressive overload and continue to grow I need to be lifting damn heavy, and performing multiple compound exercises for 5 sets of 5 reps a piece is too high volume for me to be able to do so.
Since performing sets at around the 90% of my 1 rep maximum level I wouldn't go back to the 80 - 85% utilized for the StrongLifts 5x5 regime.
Am I saying it's a bad program and that I wouldn't recommend it? Not at all!'
Is it the best workout regime for an advanced gym-goer? Probably not.
Would I Do StrongLifts Again As A Beginner Knowing What I know Now?
StrongLifts 5x5, Madcow or even Starting Strength should form the beginning of any overweight, skinny or otherwise guy that decides to join the gym with the goal of getting big and strong.
Instead of wasting time performing high repetition sets of bicep curls and other isolation exercises like most newbies do the time spent grinding out heavy squats, deadlifts and presses is extremely valuable as you'll drill correct lifting form into your brain via the sheer amount of repetition and lack of variety thee routines entail, not to mention you'll be making the most of your newbie gains when it comes to size and strength since you'll be following a regime that actually works as opposed to a butchered variation of an arm day that you borrowed out of a men's health magazine.
Is The 5 By 5 Workout The Ultimate Strength & Size Builder?
From my personal experience and research I'd say no.
The sheer volume of the 5 by 5 workout regimes such as Stronglifts are too high to be effective.
I aim to work in 85 - 90% of my 1RM when performing my heavy compound movements at the start of my workout - as these sets require an extreme amount of exertion you should not be able to get out more than 3 sets at that weight.
If you're able to lift the weight for 5 sets of 5 reps with a minute or two between sets you're not lifting heavy enough.
Instead of working in a 5 by 5 style of programming I recommend (and personally follow) a 3 sets of 4 - 6 reps approach.
Give it a try, the biggest concern that guys have when looking at this spartan style of training is the low volume
"SJ, am I even going to grow considering I'm only doing 3 sets of such low reps?!"
Provided you're lifting heavy enough (e.g. 90% of your 1 rep maximum) the answer is yes, more than if you were following a 5 by 5 workout.