StrongLifts 5×5 is one of the most popular barbell programs on the Internet. The core of the routine is absolutely the same as Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength and more and more people are joining the club. Since the program targets beginners many wonder:
Should a fat person do StrongLifts 5×5?
How fat are you?
If you are really fat (above 40% BF), your main priority should be losing weight through diet and some exercising.
You can still do StrongLifts 5×5, but in our humble opinion it would be better to focus completely on cutting down the fat and then start StrongLifts 5×5 or other barbell program once you are 20-25% BF.
StrongLifts 5×5 is not the best routine for cutting fat regardless of what the brainwashed fans say. When you are above 40% BF chances are you will have really hard time learning how to squat properly because of the extra mass. You can still do it, probably, but it’s better to become more athletic in order to learn proper mechanics faster and easier.
Fat helps you lift more weight
If you are really fat and you decide to do StrongLfits 5×5, you will find out that as you lose weight your strength will go down as well, especially on the upper body exercises – overhead press, bench press, barbell rows…
That’s because upper body and barbell movements in general are heavily dependent on personal bodyweight and your strength drops as your bodyweight goes down. That’s why powerlifters actually get so fat – because they want to lift more and more weight and being fatter helps you do that.
In the powerliftng world being 25% BF is like being 10% BF in bodybuilding. In other words, you are leaner than 80% of your competition. People like Dave Tate have been notorious for their poor dietary habits which are solely stimulated by the desire to put more ‘biscuits’ on the bar.
If you get caught in the number game, chances are you will be less willing to lose fat later on because with that fat will also go away some of the ‘biscuits on the bar’ and nobody’s ego likes that. That’s why it’s wiser to get leaner before entering a hard to break relationship with the ‘biscuits on the bar’.
What’s an ‘ok’ body fat to start StrongLifts 5×5?
About 20-27% BF for males and a little more for females seems to be about right. You still won’t be as lean as you would probably like to be but the mechanics of your lifts will not be affected.
Of course, once you go down to 10% BF you will still lose some strength. It’s inevitable unless you are on steroids. Naturals bodybuilders have really hard time maintaining strength and work capacity on a cut.