Welcome to the stronglifts 5x5 training program. If you’re joining us from the first of this two-part article, by now you know how to create a 5x5 workout for a specific fitness goal. In addition, you also possess a grounded understanding of the many fitness benefits associated with 5x5 training. So, you’re ready to dive straight into the program.
For those that have found their way here from a related search, it might be helpful to learn the fundamentals of the 5x5 workout methodology before starting the Program. This way you’ll know why the workouts are comparatively short and feature certain exercises. However, it’s not essential that you do as this article outlines everything you need to know to get started.
Stronglifts 5x5 program overview
So now that we’ve looked at how to create a 5x5 workout and the fitness benefits of strength training, it’s time to dispense with theory and get practical. Below we have created a stronglifts 5x5 training program.
The stronglifts 5x5 program is comprised primarily of barbell compound movements – squats, deadlifts, hang cleans, etc. As explained in a little more detail below, such exercises are widely recognised for their superior whole-body strength-building qualities. Delavier, the author of Strength Training Anatomy, tells us that ‘The squat is the number one bodybuilding movement because it involves a large part of the muscular system.’
If you can integrate the program into your exercise regime, these are just some of the fitness outcomes you can expect:
Stronglifts 5x5 Training Program fitness outcomes
Whole body functional strength
Improved power in the muscles of the posterior chain
Enhanced athletic performance
Increased lean muscle mass
Improved musculature and physical stature
Improve one rep max
Stronglifts 5x5 4-Week Training Program
How to get started on the stronglifts 5x5 training program
You can approach the program in two ways. The first is to complete one 5x5 workout three times per week. Once the week is up, you’d progress to the following workout. Though some might find it somewhat monotonous sticking with the same workout for a week, this approach does enable you to tighten your performance on the exercises. Also, a succession of practice runs will enable you to establish optimal weight ranges for each lift.
The second way to approach the program is to interchange the workouts throughout the week. For example, you might complete workout 1 on Monday, workout 2 on Wednesday, and workout 3 on Friday. The fourth workout, completed on a Saturday, could be a low-intensity session used for active recovery.
Of course, the above outlines are merely suggestions. There are many alternative ways that you could implement the program. At a minimum, the program could form a framework around which you construct your own 5x5 training plan.
What’s the right weight for a stronglifts 5x5 workout?
It’s tempting to pile on the weight in the first week of starting the program. This is a mistake that’s best avoided. Here’s why.
Going too heavy early on can increase injury risk. Also, for beginners and intermediate trainers, a heavy workout may result in severe DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) which could impair your performance for the remainder of the week.
A more prudent approach would be to increase the weights incrementally with each successive week. One way to do this is by using your one-rep max (1RM) as a marker.
By way of example, you could calculate (as a percentage) four ascending weight ranges that build up to your 1RM. Each percentage would be scheduled across the program. So, let’s say that your deadlifting 1RM is 100kg. Here’s how you might apply the above formula:
Week 1: Squat 5 sets of 5 reps @ 50% 1RM (50kg)
Week 2: Squat 5 sets of 5 reps @ 60% 1RM (60kg)
Week 3: Squat 5 sets of 5 reps @ 70% 1RM (70kg)
Week 4: Squat 5 sets of 5 reps @ 80/85% 1RM (80/85kg)
The same calculations, of course, would have to be conducted for each exercise that features in the program. It’s unlikely that your deadlift 1RM is the same as your hang clean 1RM.
If you have yet to establish your one-rep max, deciding what weight to start with will require a spot of experimentation. Ideally, you should select a weight that you can comfortably perform 5 reps on. Use this weight as a marker for the above formula.
Exercises used in the stronglifts 5x5 training program
To increase the effectiveness of the program, so that it more rapidly promotes strength gains, it has been populated exclusively with compound exercises. Compound – or ‘multi joint’ – exercises cause the ‘greatest stimulation of the muscle fibres and should form the basis of strength- and mass-building programmes,’ (The Complete Guide to Strength Training).
As well as causing the ‘greatest stimulation’, compound exercises also engage one or more major muscle groups. Of deadlifts, Delavier says that as well as working ‘virtually every muscle’ they also ‘build a terrific hip, lower back, and trapezius muscle mass,’ (Strength Training Anatomy). In exercise terms, this means you get more bang for your buck.
Another reason why compound exercises have been selected for the Program is that they require minimal equipment to perform. The entire Stronglifts 5x5 4-Week Training Program can be completed with an Olympic barbell, a range of bumper plates, and barbell safety clips.
But what if you don’t have access to an Olympic barbell? Does that mean you won’t be able to access the Program? Not at all. As stated in the introduction, the exercises can be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands.
Stronglifts 5x5 Training Program FAQ
We thought it might be helpful to conclude this article by answering a few 5x5 training frequently asked questions. If you have a question that does not feature in the FAQ or would like further clarification on the 5x5 methodology, pop it in the comments box below and we’ll answer it as soon as we get back from the gym.
How long should I do 5x5 training?
Strength training places a lot of stress on the body – the joints and connective tissues especially. To give the body time to rest, recover and repair strength programs should be broken up with periods of low-intensity training.
For example, concluding the 4-Week 5x5 Training Program, you could complete another week just at a reduced intensity – say, 50% of the weights used during the program. Alternatively, you could switch exercise methodologies for one week before initiating another strength training cycle.
For a comprehensive overview of how to cycle your strength training program, see the brilliant book NSCA’s Guide to Program Design.
Stronglifts 5x5 training benefits
Throughout this article, we have reviewed a broad range of 5x5 training benefits. We’ve seen how 5x5 workouts can promote strength gains and an increase in lean muscle mass. Furthermore, we looked at how developing strength can slow the aging process and the rate at which muscles atrophy.
But there are other benefits to implementing a 5x5 training program.
A structured program can improve training consistency. One of the most oft-reported barriers to exercise participation is a lack of motivation. Many factors contribute to the waxing and waning of motivation. However, a recognised remedy for this barrier is a training program. Having a program to follow is a simple way to boost motivation and keep us committed.
Is 5x5 a good program?
If your training objective is to increase muscular strength and size, then 5x5 is a good program. The simplicity and flexibility of the 5x5 method make it easy to implement. In addition, it can be applied to a wide range of exercises. These attributes make 5x5 training accessible to a wide range of people.
However, a 5x5 program has its limitation. For some, it might be a bit restrictive. Weeks of performing 5 sets of 5 reps could become a touch tedious – and training tedium is associated with exercise disconnection and declining participation.
If you enjoy cross-training or concocting workouts on the fly, then a 5x5 program is probably not for you. But you could mix up your routine with the occasional 5x5 workout.
Enjoyed the stronglifts 5x5 training program?
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