Get Bigger And Stronger with Stronglifts.com

by Brett and Kate McKay on January 17, 2008 · 25 comments

in Health & Sports

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The market is saturated with materials on exercise and fitness. Books, magazines, and videos all promise that they have the newest and most effective workouts that will turn you from a chump to a champ. Unfortunately, most of the stuff is crap and it makes your life more complicated than it needs to be.

Thankfully, there is a site dedicated to promoting a no frills workout that produces results. StrongLifts.com is authored by a guy named Mehdi from Belgium.

Every week, Mehdi offers great advice on strength training, nutrition, and motivation. However, the core of StrongLifts.com is the StrongLifts 5×5 workout. The routine consists of simple exercises that are designed to increase your strength, increase your muscle, and reduce your body fat.

Why every man should use the StrongLifts 5×5 Workout

1. You don’t need much equipment for the StrongLifts workout. Just a gym that has some barbells, plates, a bench, a power rack (for squats), and pull up and dip bars. That’s it. No machines, no girly rubber balls, and no elastic cables.

2. Moreover, the exercises themselves are simple. You’re doing basic strength training lifts like the squat, bench press, and deadlift. You won’t be doing any complicated or awkward moves. Just the tried and true exercises that have been proven to work for decades. And the set and reps formula is elementary: 5X5=5 sets of 5 reps each.

3. Each workout works your whole body and consists of compound exercises that hit multiple muscles at the same time. This is the best and most efficient way to lift weights. Many men’s magazines show you exercises designed to isolate a specific muscle. This is inefficient and a waste of time. The more muscles you activate in a workout, the stronger you will get and the more fat you will burn.

4. You get results. The workout is designed so you can push yourself and get stronger and leaner each week. Each workout out you’ll be adding a small amount of weight. Before you know it, you’ll be bench pressing cars over your head. Because strength training increases muscles and muscle burns more fat, you’ll also get leaner. After a couple of months with this workout and a proper diet, you can kiss your belly and man boobs goodbye.

My Results Using the StrongLifts 5×5

To give you an idea how effective the workout is, here are my results after doing the StrongLifts 5×5 for four weeks:

  • My body weight has stayed the same (190 lbs), but my body fat percentage has gone down 4%
  • I’ve increased my bench press 5×5: 155 lbs to 5×5: 190 lbs. An increase of 35 lbs.
  • I’ve increased my squat from 5×5: 190 lbs to 5×5: 245 lbs. An increase of 55 lbs.
  • I’ve gone from being able to do 1 stinking pull-up to being able to do 6.

The last time I was putting up weight like this was seven years ago when I played high school football. The way things are going now, I’m confident I can surpass what I lifted back then. My entire body is also toning up in general. Despite not doing any isolated exercises, my body is getting bigger and more defined.

Time to get crackin’

Are you ready to man up your workout routine? Head on over to StrongLifts.com right now. Yes, right now. Subscribe to their RSS feed or email updates, so you’ll get their latest strength training tips and, best of all, their FREE ebook on How to Build Muscle & Lose Fat Through Strength Training. It’s 55 pages full of useful information.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aaron Benwell February 26, 2008 at 5:29 pm

I’m a 16 year old Junior at Lakeland High School. I play football, and wrestle. I can’t seem to get any bigger, when i was 13, i weight about 98 pounds. Then i started to work out, and gained about 60 pounds. And last year i was working out, and my testicle blow up, and i lost about 25 pounds of all muscle. I’ve been working oteven harder, and eating more. And ive even increase on my speed and agility. But i can’t seem to get back to my regular size of 170. I weight 157 pounds. Do you have any advise for me so i can get back to my regular size and bigger.

Thank you,

Aaron Benwell

2 Brett February 27, 2008 at 10:20 am

@ Aaron-

Your testicle blew up? Man, I don’t even want to imagine the details of that.

I played high school in football and wanted to put on muscle too. What worked for me was eating a mix of quality protein and carbs 6 times a day (about every 2-3 hours). You say you are eating more, and that is good, but you may need to up your intake even further. Putting on muscle requires a surprising amount of calories. Just make sure you are eating good stuff so you don’t put on flab.

Also, start taking creatine. Creatine is not a miracle worker, but it will definitely help you build more muscle. It really helped me in high school.

Other than that, I recommend you peruse http://www.stronglifts.com. Medhi is the real expert on this stuff. Right now he has a great article about what to eat to gain muscle, and he has tons of other great posts about getting strong. Check it out and good luck.

3 Aaron Benwell March 3, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Alright I will try that. And tell you how it works.

Aaron!

4 anthony May 2, 2008 at 8:28 am

im about 17 i weigh about 135 5’5 and bench 210 squat around 300-400 pounds…i took creatin alst year and it helped alot i bought cheap version from walmart lol only 20 bucks for a huge thing and i gained like 20 pounds then over the summer i stopped it and now im just 135 before i was as strong prob. mabe stronger sucks ive went through whey protein muscle milk, everything and havent gained a pound i cant say i eat a huge amount but i do eat alot i need somethin else then just that to gain weight and muscle…i work out every sat. monday. wed. thursday. for a long time now and i havent seen ne difference in size than last year last year i was huge from creatin from friggin walmart n now i take creatin monohydrate n doesnt even do the same effect n its like 60 for a tiny bottle its crazy…all i need is to gain alot of weight n muscle n keep it all i dont wanna stop workin out for a month and have it all go away u knoo? any suggestions? been a hassle for quite some time now i wanna get big idc ill get fat either way i wanna gain alot of weight

5 Anthony Altieri May 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm

im about 17 i weigh about 135 5′5 and bench 210 squat around 300-400 pounds…i took creatin alst year and it helped alot i bought cheap version from walmart lol only 20 bucks for a huge thing and i gained like 20 pounds then over the summer i stopped it and now im just 135 before i was as strong prob. mabe stronger sucks ive went through whey protein muscle milk, everything and havent gained a pound i cant say i eat a huge amount but i do eat alot i need somethin else then just that to gain weight and muscle…i work out every sat. monday. wed. thursday. for a long time now and i havent seen ne difference in size than last year last year i was huge from creatin from friggin walmart n now i take creatin monohydrate n doesnt even do the same effect n its like 60 for a tiny bottle its crazy…all i need is to gain alot of weight n muscle n keep it all i dont wanna stop workin out for a month and have it all go away u knoo? any suggestions? been a hassle for quite some time now i wanna get big idc ill get fat either way i wanna gain alot of weight

6 Kian May 16, 2008 at 6:01 pm

There needs to be some more information added to this article.
First and foremost a 5×5 plan is a great program for some people, but for those just starting to lift weights it has serious potential for injury. Most people lift weights extremely poorly, and reading instructions on-line or even looking at pictures and video will only help some of the problems.

I mean this in no offense to Mehdi and what he is done, but a lot of the information given on his website goes against modern science, biomechanics, physiology, and exercise science. If you were to follow his advice on how to perform a dip you would end up with an increased forward head posture, increased tightness in the neck and lower back, and most likely develop a shoulder injury.

I’ve worked in the fitness industry as a trainer for over 4 years, and before that worked in gyms all up and down California, which is arguably the mecca of the fitness world (modern body building was started here). I’m an ACE CPT, STOTT SPX, C.H.E.C.K APD, have a B.A. in communication studies, and am in the middle of a Masters program in Exercise Physiology. I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve seen enough injuries caused by poor form that could have been prevented by good instruction and I don’t want a good group of people who are trying to promote the benefits of manliness to be tainted with misinformation that could be potentially harmful.

I would suggest to those who are interested in getting into training to meet with a well certified personal trainer (look for someone who’s been in the industry for a while and is either ACE, NASM, OR CSCS certified); suck up your pride and learn how to do things right. Sure it may be expensive, but think of it this way 70-90 dollars with a trainer or a couple hundred grand with a surgeon, chiropractor and physical therapist when you slip a disc, or develop chronic back pain.

For those of you who have been training for years I would still say get a session, most trainers will give you one free one, and if they can’t teach you anything new then you’re set. Odds are you’re doing something that’s going to mess your body up, so fix it.

-Kian

7 notanexpert June 5, 2008 at 9:47 am

I would take it easy with the creatine since it can have negative side effects and is only a temporary fix.

On the other hand quality protein supplementation did wonders for me both in high school football and mma. The benefits of various types of protein have been discussed ad nauseum on other sites. The brand I finally decided on was Optimal Nutrition (ON). For a post workout meal I mixed half ON whey with half Gatorade bought in bulk @ Costco (the best blend of cost effectiveness and just plain effectiveness).

As to lifting for sports I know the power lifts are the most popular, but it has been my experience that nothing beats the O-lifts. I was first introduced to Olympic lifts when I ran track and I never looked back. Nothing beats a qualified coach for learning these lifts, but if there’s no coach in your area, there are videos from jim schmitz that are invaluable.

some links you might find useful:

nutrition:
http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/nutrition/index.htm

o-lifts:
http://www6.mailordercentral.com/ironmind/prodinfo.asp?number=1203

general:
http://www.t-nation.com/ (may be nsfw)

8 Dennis R March 21, 2009 at 10:40 pm

i am a 22 yrs old guy i am doing professnal body building, my weight is 63 kg so i want increase my wight with great musels size please give sum sugessition

9 Rocco March 29, 2009 at 3:28 am

Stronglifts 5X5 is a great programme to use if you are just starting out, but once you start shifting some serious poundage it ceases to be useful as it is no longer possible to get 5X5 reps with a heavy weight – you keep stalling and your progress bottoms out (I speak from experience here). I found that once I reached this stage cutting back to 3X5 and adding weight each week rather than each workout worked better – I’m no fitness expert however, so perhaps there a better ways.
I also feel it is not possible to learn to lift by watching videos on the net – get yourself down the gym and book a session with a quality personal trainer as it will be money well invested. An old Polish guy who used to train Olympic athletes (or so he claimed) showed me how to squat and dead correctly and I’ve had no back or knee problems so far(touch wood).

10 Northwesthuskie March 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm

creatine isnt great for putting on muscle it jus provides a hypertonic reaction in ur body to make ur cells keep more water which make u look bigger then u lose the water n become extrememly dehydrated…… if u want to gain weight im really vacant with suggestions but i can say muscle milk will def. help make u stronger!!!

11 Jack June 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

Hey, I’m 15 years old, I’m 6’3 and weigh 206lbs i workout every week 4 times a week. I want to be bodybuilder and everyone says that i’m big enough but my workouts arn’t showing enough results. I want to be ripped like Arnold was in the 80′s. Sum one please help me…

12 Alex July 12, 2009 at 1:47 am

great post thanks

i have heard about this program many times before. maybe i should take a look at it.

13 ArtF October 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I am a firm believer in the Stronglifts program and I thank you for pointing me in the right direction with this post. I started Stronglifts back in Feburary and have only good things to say about the results and my overall weight and health. Your doing men a great service, amigo.

14 Jake January 21, 2010 at 5:48 pm

These 5×5/rippetoes type programs are really just good for beginners or people just interested in general fitness. You really need to take it to another level for better results, and yes I may do a more traditional bodybuilding routine but I squat 575lbs and deadlift 660lbs naturally, not bad for a pure bodybuilder who “isn’t as strong as guys who lift for functional strength” as is commonly believed. Though I am for mostly only compound lifts there are a lot of other ways to add intensity and size/strength then sticking to a generic 5×5 routine and simply adding weight week after week.

Definitely buy a scale (food and for yourself) and keep a daily worksheet of your food, if you’re not making gains the key is not in randomly adding more protein or carbs here or there but in looking at this as a science and calculating what needs to be modified….. if you aren’t doing this you are running along blindly hoping for the best.

15 Parth February 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

Frank Malone – I don’t see any supplement ads on Mehdi’s website.

16 Toning Abs March 17, 2010 at 9:44 am

Doing compound lifts for five sets of five reps is a great a balance between strength building and superficial muscle hypertrophy. Done this way, your hypertrophy won’t be purely sarcoplasmic, which results in fluid-filled muscles that look big but don’t have a corresponding increase in actual strength. Instead, the 5×5 method promotes myofibrillar hypertrophy: hard, dense muscle fibers that increase strength and size (with no puffiness).

17 wtf00k May 12, 2010 at 5:10 am

Commenter Kian first shoves his qualifications in our faces and then advises us to consult a ‘certified personal trainer’. Does he realize that the vast majority of these so-called trainers working for chain-gyms (24 hr fitness, gold’s gym, bally’s, planet fitness, YMCA) know abso-fucking-lutely nothing about effective training, despite their bachelors or masters degrees in exercise physiology?

“I’m not trying to brag…” Dude, you have a bachelors in *communications studies*. That is not bragging… that is embarassing.

18 John Blair May 21, 2010 at 11:39 am

Everybody has a program. The stronglifts program works…usually. Different bodies respond to different training, and some people just don’t like some training. For me personally, I think it’s a pretty good program and I switch back to it about once or twice a year. But any program where you eat plenty of protein and carbs, work out hard, and get plenty of sleep, means you’ll get bigger and stronger. Try the program and if it does not work for you, do something else. Just an FYI: I see a lot of guys at the gym that are doing forearm curls instead of deadlifts and doing the leg press instead of doing a squat. These types of guys give me great advice that doesn’t work. These are the same guys that talk shit on internet forums and can’t bench press their own body weight. Personally, I try to get my advice from the guys who are benching over 400 lbs and squatting over 600. These are the guys who understand what it takes to really get stronger. Most (good) gyms contain these guys and they’re usually a lot nicer than the bodybuilder types that are half-assing it over on the elliptical machines. My advice: Don’t listen to the internet know-it-alls. Bust your ass in the gym, get 8 hours of sleep a night, eat clean and see a nutritionist about how many carbs and grams of protein you need to actually put on muscle.

19 Personal Training Melbourne June 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I suggest slowly getting into weight training before going for the heavy stuff. I have done this 5 x 5 training myself and found doing compund exercises certainly assists in overall strength and muscle gain.

Cheers
Max

20 Lil' Ectomorph January 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm

As far as good form is concerned the program does quite a bit of instruction. Starting with an empty barbell each session so that your practice form before each 5×5 lift.

21 Max March 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I’m 18 years old, 174 cm and weigh 71 kg. Gonna get my body fat percentage checked out tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I’m starting the 5×5 programme. I hope it lives up to its promises.

22 Paul May 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

I’m doing StrongLifts too! Anybody in the Olympia WA area doing it? Went from a 95 lb squat to 180 lbs in 6 weeks! This program really does work. Not only does it make you strong as an ox, but you also start to look like a stud too. Eleven years of Army PT and gym training and never made progress on my biceps until I started doing this workout with no curling involved.

23 Zachary Hill June 5, 2013 at 9:08 am

I just started this program thanks to you guys! I’m on my second week! I workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and I was curious to know if light lap swimming on Tuesday and Thursday would help or hinder gaining muscle mass/strength and recovery? I’ve lost close to 50 lbs in the last two years following the Primal Blueprint, so I’m not so much worried about losing more weight but gaining the strength I’ve lost from my sedentary lifestyle.

24 Jim August 17, 2013 at 8:17 am

I liked this strong lifts program better when it was called Starting Strength and was 3 x 5 working sets, 3 days a week.

25 Nacho August 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Started doing stronglifts 5×5 about 3 weeks ago. I’ve missed a few workouts, but continue to add weight each time. Great for core strength and compounding only makes you stronger.

Stay thirsty my friends!

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