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For those weightlifters out there – from beginner level right up to advanced – the 5x5 Stronglifts Program is one of the best and most proven ways to build muscle fast and increase strength quickly. It is a workout program that is not necessarily time consuming (3 one hour workouts a week) which makes it do-able for people who have a lot going on, very effective at building muscle quickly as well as improving your health, fitness and general confidence!
It is especially beneficial to people who are looking to start lifting weights as it is simple yet very effective beginners workout routine. The 5x5 Stronglifts Program allows new gym users to learn some of the big lifts and build a great foundation for further weight training. I, myself, am an advocate of this training program for gym newbie’s as it helped me understand the benefits of proper technique as well as seeing confidence boosting results (more of this later)! However, it is not designed specifically for a beginners workout and is still very effective even if you are seasoned weight lifter so read on to find out more!
As a side note, if you want to learn more about weightlifting then check out this article about Olympic Lifts: Advantages of Using Olympic Lifts in your Weight Lifting Routines.
Before explaining the breakdown of the 5x5 stronglifts workout, here are short descriptions of the lifts and weightlifting exercises that are incorporated.
Squats – One of the best whole body weight exercises out there, the squat mainly targets the thighs, glutes and hips muscles.
Bench Press – Another favourite of gym users, bench works out the Pecs, triceps and deltoid muscles. The grip on the bar that you have determines the extent to which you work these muscles.
Bent Over Rows – The B.O.R.’s main muscle group target is your back, in particular the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids.
Deadlifts – Another excellent lift that targets much of the body’s muscles, although main areas of focus are the back and legs.
Overhead Press – Hits the muscles missed by the deadlift, mainly working the shoulders as well as upper pectoral muscles.
Chinups - Chinups are an optional extra that can be added to the 5x5 workout if you want to add it in. They are added if you want to target the arms muscles a bit more.
For all of these weight lifting exercises, proper technique is paramount and essential for helping you build muscle quickly and to 'get big fast'. If you are unsure about the correct form or how to complete any of these, then look online as there are plenty of helpful videos and guides as how to do them properly.
Now we move onto the actual 5x5 Stronglifts Program you will be following in order to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each session at the gym you will do three exercises and aim to achieve 5 sets of 5 reps. It is a progressive workout so every session you increase your weight by 2.5kg every time (1.25kg on each side) if you manage to successfully make 5 sets of 5 reps on the previous weight (this applies to each individual exercise). For example: if you manage to successfully squat 50kg overall, then next gym session you should increase the weight you are squatting to 52.5kg by adding a 1.25kg weight on either side of the bar. The only exception is the deadlift where you should add 5kg (2.5kg each side) after each successful 5x5 attempt.
You should aim to use the gym 3 times a week going every 2 days. For example: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The idea of the workout is to alternate between the two workout choices which are listed below.
Bench Press 5x5
Bent Over Rows 5x5
Overhead Press 5x5
(option to do 3 sets of chin-ups at the end of this workout if you want to work your biceps more)
Therefore a typical week might be like this: Monday Workout A, Wednesday Workout B, Friday Workout A. Then the next week would be the opposite way around and this then continues to alternate.
There are some things you will notice from the two different workouts. Squats are repeated in both Workout A & B – this is because your legs need less recovery time and so you are able to perform this exercise more frequently than the others. Another thing that you might question is that you are only required to do 1 set of Deadlifts – this is because deadlifts work many muscles and allow you to lift bigger weights than the other exercises in the stronglifts workout.
Progression Of 5x5 Stronglifts
As previously mentioned this workout program is progressive and aimed at building muscles quickly and gaining strength through the gradual increments of 2.5kg per successful workout. This means that the program is not limited to anyone and can be adapted to fit your current level of ability. For beginners looking to use this program is highly recommended that you start off easy. Determine a starting weight that you feel comfortable with and are not visibly struggling. You should use the first few weeks of the program just easing yourself in, learning the proper technique as this is crucial to remaining injury free and lifting big in the future.
Diet During 5x5 Stronglifts
What you eat during the period that you are lifting weights is a crucial part of maintaining and increasing your muscular strength. These are few tips for your diet whilst you are following this training plan which should help you achieve your goal of building muscle and get stronger.
Drink lots of water – You will lose water during your strength training workout due to sweating and this can affect the time it takes for your muscles to recover. It can also help with hunger as an empty stomach will make you obviously feel the need to eat.
Eat Breakfast – This helps to alleviate hunger cravings throughout the day and means you are energising right from the word go.
Eat frequent small meals – It is recommended that instead of having the set breakfast, lunch and dinner, you try to eat smaller meals every 3 hours or so. This is beneficial because it makes you less hungry as smaller meals will decrease your stomach size and it helps to keep cravings away as you are not going long periods without eating. Each meal should look to contain a source of protein to help promote muscle growth. This is why many weight lifters buy protein powder and have protein shakes to icnrease their protein intake. For a list of great 'superfoods' read this article.
Well that concludes this guide on the 5x5 Stronglifts Program, hopefully it has provided you with enough information to be inspired to go out there and start building muscle quickly and getting stronger than your peers! Feel free to ask any questions if you have any and I’ll do my best to answer.
If you don’t like gyms and wish to work out at home then there are lots of great free weights and accessories here that could help you train at home and build muscle quickly.
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