StrongLifts 5×5 – Effective or Over-hyped?

The so-called program StrongLifts 5×5 has been around forever and many people have asked us whether it’s effective or over-hyped.

Let’s analyze.

1.Stronglifts 5×5 is based around the basics.


The cool thing about StrongLifts 5×5 is that you will learn how to squat, bench, deadlift and press.

The program provides enough frequency to get down the form of the exercises in question. Frequent practice is needed in the beginning in order to get used to the movements and build the need bio-mechanical moving patterns.

The exercises part of the Stronglifts 5×5 program are classics and have proven to be pretty damn fine over decades. However, one could build many other routines based around those very same lifts.

You don’t have to do StrongLifts 5×5 in order to learn how to squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press effectively. There are many other routines that can do the same.

Nobody has copyright rights over the basic barbell exercises.

2.Stronglifts 5×5 could take too much time.

Whoever told you that you can do 3 exercises per workout for 5 sets of 5 reps in a short period of time is most likely inaccurate. Once the weight gets somewhat heavier, your workout will take at least 1 hour. Maybe more.

Once the weight gets real heavy, the workout will take about an hour and a half. Maybe more. However, as far as we know at some point you are supposed to switch to 3×5 in order to shorten your workouts. At that point you are basically doing Starting Strength. Both routines are super similar in term of exercises, schedule and ideology.

3.StronfLifts 5×5 has become cultish.

A few years ago the forum on the Stronglifts 5×5’s site was free and quite useful to the beginners looking to learn the lifts and start their journey in the iron game. However, those days are over now and the ‘creator’ decided to make the forum private and accessible only after a payment.

The motif for that is that a close community ‘keeps the trolls away’ but is this really the issue and the cause? That idea has made the StrongLifts 5×5 super cultish. This is a serious fault in our book. There are many forums, including the one of Starting Strength, that are open.

Of course, you can make the argument about open software and shareware software. Sorry, but you will be wrong because in this case the open software seems to be at least as good as the shareware. Most of the time even better.

4.StrongLifts 5×5 is based on inaccurate information.

Most of the pages on the website of StrongLifts 5×5 indicate that the reason for Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s and Reg Park‘s massive physiques was the heavy 5×5 of training they did.

However, this is not the case. The truth is that both of the mentioned bodybuilders did much more than 5×5 workouts. They’ve experimented with everything and Arnold was notorious for his volume approach. Yes, he did some powerlifting competitions but most of the time he trained with high volume and did many exercises. His workouts used to take hours. Of course, he also took a good amount of Vitamin ‘S’ and so did Reg Park.

The idea that 5×5 workouts contain some sort of magic power that will turn you into an animal is laughable and based on bro-science and macho enigma. If you take two natural bodybuilders and make one train with 5×5 workouts and the other with bodyweight exercises ONLY, both will look similar in terms of muscle size after a year or so – especially in the upper body. The person training with bodyweight movements will most likely be leaner because calisthenics do not tolerate high body fat unlike the power lifts.

It does not matter how much you squat, you will never look like the people you see in the magazines naturally.

Final thoughts

StrongLifts 5×5 is a good starting point and will be more helpful to you than following Ronnie Coleman’s routine. This does not mean, however, that you should threat the routine as the holy grail because is just isn’t. It’s a well thought schedule for beginners which you can do for about 6 months before switching to something else that takes less time.

Note: The general stand of is that there are no perfect routines and everything is just a guideline that you may follow for a while, but at one point there’s always a need to make a change according to your personal needs, training history and ideology.

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