Stronglifts 5x5: is it effective?

Samantha Reveley reviews the Stronglifts 5X5 workout programme and talks us through the pros and cons of the app and routine.

Samantha Reveley
6th November 2017

It's no secret that the physical fitness industry is growing, and with the rise of affordable gym memberships more people than ever are getting themselves into the gym to transform their bodies. Many people are turning to training programmes to guide their daily workouts and help them achieve their fitness goals, with the StrongLifts 5x5 programme being one of the most popular, freely available strength programs on the internet.

The StrongLifts programme is a whole-body workout program carried out across three days of the week. The program consists of two workouts, both incorporating compound movements using a barbell. The first workout is a squat, bench press and barbell row, and the second workout is a squat, overhead press and deadlift. Trainees do five sets of five reps with the same weight; for example, for a squat you would lift 20kg for five repetitions, rest for 90 seconds and then repeat until you’ve done five sets before moving onto the next exercise.

The goal of the programme is to build muscle, gain strength and develop good muscle definition. Trainees should start light to ensure they lift with proper form and progressively build the weight across each workout. It is usually recommended that around 2.5kg is added to each side of the bar bell for each lift. Trainees continue to add weight for each set, as long as they can complete the five repetitions for each set. If they are unable to complete five reps, then the weight is dropped down until they can do so. This progressive increase in weight helps your body to build strength and muscle across twelve weeks.

Image Credit: Flikr @thoroughlyreviewed

Image Credit: Flikr @thoroughlyreviewed

The training program is simple, and easy to follow with there being a virtual encyclopaedia of guides, walkthroughs and forums available online to support beginner lifters through the programme. The workout is effective if your goal is to build muscle and strength, as well as improve muscle definition. While the simplicity of the programme is a major strength for beginners, it can be considered a negative from the perspective of more intermediate and advanced lifters as the exercise routine is not varied enough to enabled them to challenge their body enough.

It is simple to follow and allows trainees the flexibility to manage the weight increases at a level which matches their ability and own strength gains across the programme. For the more intermediate and advanced lifters, the programme is unlikely to be as effective as it does not offer enough variation to enabled a continuation of gains to both size and strength. While a more complex programme with more variation would be more suited to more experienced lifters, the simplicity of the programme offers a great and effective introduction for beginners.

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