So my gym buddy and I have been doing Stronglifts 5x5 for 2 weeks now, and I've got to say I'm shocked. We were busting our asses for about an hour a day doing a mix of cardio and strength, and losing weight at a decent rate (1.5-2 lbs each a week) but it was kind of rough getting in there so much. Well, he had mentioned this program, and all of it's supposed benefits and gains and my first thought, (being the skeptic that I am) was "Yeah, pull the other and it plays Jethro Tull." But, after looking into it, I decided to give it a shot for the recommended 12 weeks. While too early to sing its praises, I have to say that thus far, I am IMPRESSED. We're in and out of the gym in about 30 minutes, and it's only three times a week. We're both still losing weight at the same rate we were when we had cardio, and we've actually seen genuine physiology changes. (Nothing huge, but little stuff like an extra tone mark on an arm, or a little roll disappearing.)
Now then, I've struggled with weight for quite awhile, and while this certainly seems promising, I'm still wary and a bit of a disbeliever. So I'm going to throw my stats out for now, and I'll give this a little update every 2 weeks or so, and we'll see where I am after the three months. In the interest of keeping as few variables as possible, I'll be keeping to the same diet I've had for some time. (The only change then will be adding this exercise program.)
Truthfully, I'm quite hopeful. I've seen more results from this in two weeks than I did doing isolated and split sets for months at a time, and it's so simple it makes sense for it to work: but I never take anything at face value, so here's to a bit of optimism!
Starting Weight: 275 lbs
Current Weight: 265 lbs
Starting Jean Size: 42x30
Most recent 1RM: 200 lbs
Did you start with an empty bar the way the program calls for?
Yes. We decided if we were going to do it, we should do it right, even if it made us feel silly (and boy did benching an empty bar make me feel silly)
Yup, but it'll be better for you long run.
Here's the deal with the 30 minute workouts:
I'm going to assume these weights, even after two weeks, are still much too light for your abilities. So, you should be focusing on absolute perfect form and technique. With that assumption, I'm going to also assume you're not doing too much in the way of warm up sets. As the weight on the bar increases, two things are going to happen; you're going to need more warm up sets, you're going to need more recovery time between sets.
Your time in the gym will increase to about an hour again, once the weight increases to a proper working weight.
You are correct sir: it is early enough that none of the weight is a challenge yet, but the exercises (particularly squats) escalate rather quickly, and we will probably begin adding in the warm ups by the end of the month.
I'm quite glad we started with the bars though, because while we had no major issues with form, we did catch and correct several small mistakes that would have become troublesome or dangerous once sufficient weight was used. So if I take away nothing else from this program, it has given me proper form for my strength training.
So if I take away nothing else from this program, it has given me proper form for my strength training.
And that really is the beauty of Mehdi's program. Unlike a lot of beginner powerlifting programs, which start you at a working weight; Mehdi drops you all the way to the lightest manageable weight possible, and trains the neuromuscular functions. Neural adaptions are responsible for most newbie gains. You get "stronger" as you learn to move the weight. Even at elite levels, quite a bit of gains come from learning to leverage movements more efficiently.
It takes approximately 300~500 repetitions to learn something new. 3000~5000 repetitions to correct bad habits. Over twelve weeks with Stronglifts you'll be doing 900 reps on Squats, 400 reps on the others, but only 90 on deadlifts. Make sure you get your deadlift form down as you'll be increasing weight on that lift faster than the others.
Very happy for you guys, and look forward to updates.
As someone who's transformed from the other direction (too thin), I will say it is a huge boost to know you can re-shape your own form, and that there is no magic trick to it. Just a good program, a little knowledge, diet, rest and of course persistence.
But then, one day you realize you can't picture yourself not doing it, and persistence transforms into passion. You are hooked.
Thanks for the encouragement mate!
It is great to read this post because in a year or two, once I've seen the improvements I want to in body weight training, I'm planning to try the StrongLifts program. So I'm interested to see your updates on here about how it's going and the insights of the others.
Well, it's been about two weeks since posting this, so it's time for an update! We've been doing quite well with Stronglifts, and it continues to impress me with its efficiency.
I'm down about 5 pounds, which is nice progress while still being in the healthy/controlled weight loss amount. I'm down a jean size from a month ago (quite pleased about that) and my sleep schedule has noticeably improved (longer and deeper slumber, insomnia is way down.)
I also attempted my prior one rep max from a month ago. (Just to keep it a little more controlled, I did the 200 lbs again to see if there was a difference.) The previous 1 rep max was done prior to any lifting (aside from warm-ups), in a state of high energy and a general manly feeling. I managed it, but it was a fair bit of struggle, and it completely sapped my energy. The second attempt was done AFTER my lifting for the day, and quite frankly I wasn't feeling my best. Last nights 1RM was difficult, but I had far greater control, ease and speed in the rep than I had previously. I also was only slightly drained rather than fully depleted of power, and a 30 second rest and I was back to normal. I'm fully convinced that I could add another 10 lbs to my 1RM, but I have decided to use the 200 as a testing benchmark for now.
Overall, these strike me as significant improvements over the course of a single month, and I am very pleased with it thus far.
We also hit 100 lbs on the squats this week: while this is no tremendous feat of strength, our prior working weight was about 65 lbs, and this gradual incline/increased usage has made every set feel the same. The 100 lbs feels no heavier than the 65 once did, and in fact we manage the 100s with better form and ease than we did the 65s from our old workout. I put a large part of this on the emphasis on good form, but I am still incredibly pleased with the workload difference that we've hit without any lags.
Our injuries are non-existent since we ceased using the Smith/Nautilus machines (knee and shoulder strains were common) and our recovery time in all things physical is vastly improved.
Gentlemen: my skepticism is beginning to fade.
4 Week Mark
Starting Weight: 275 lbs
Current Weight: 260.3 lbs
Starting Jean Size: 42x30
Current Jean Size: 40x30
Most recent 1RM: 200 lbs (far less effort)
Great job so far. What's your height?
Short good sir.
I think the problem with this powerlifting oriented programs is that they don't give that kind of motivation as normal body building when I do 5 x 10 lateral raises e.g. and that sort of stuff and feels good, looks good in the mirror, I feel pumped and so pleasantly sore and proud the next day, all these keeps me going... Doing 5 x 5 would feel like power lifting i.e. a _sport_ i.e. a boring, discipline oriented thing, and I never did those.