If you have ever been to a gym, trained with a barbell, or wondered what the best way to get stronger is, then there is a good chance you have heard about StrongLifts.
StrongLifts 5×5 is a basic training program that helps lifters increase their basic strength by introducing them to key lifts, volume and frequency.
But how effective is StrongLifts 5×5?
We downloaded the StrongLifts app, had a crack at a few workouts and took a deep dive into the StrongLifts brand, and today we will be reviewing the pros and cons of the StrongLifts app and program to help you decide if it is the right choice for you. Let’s dive in.
StrongLifts is a 5×5 (5 sets by 5 repetitions) training program focusing on 5 key movements.
- Bench Press
- Barbell Row
- Overhead Press
StrongLifts started as a website out of Belgium, by a trainer turned blogger, known affectionately as Mehdi, in 2007. Mehdi began producing content on his website to teach people about the benefits of lifting heavy weights and to help them build strength and muscle.
Mehdi has since amassed a loyal following, after his ‘Definitive Guide To The 5×5 Workout’ went viral. Medhi tuned his site’s app development, creating StrongLift 5×5. The StrongLifts website hits over 1 million monthly website views, with over 90,000 people receiving daily workout tips via email and over 150,000 reviews across the Apple and Google Play stores for a 4.9 star rating.
Our Experience With Stronglifts
I first came across the StrongLifts application in my early 20’s, bright eyed, bushy tailed and about 20kg lighter. My friend showed me this cool program that he was going to try to help him get ready for summer. Although it tells you to start lite and build your way up, my friend was already a few sessions in, so I was thrown into the deep end, and spent the next few days walking like I had a pole stuck, well, you know where…
Downloading StrongLifts started with a few questions about your personal circumstances,
- What is your main goal?
- How many sessions do you want to do per week?
- How experienced are you? (Beginner, intermediate, advanced)
- What type of equipment do you want to use?
How Are The StrongLift Sessions structured?
The StrongLifts program is broken up into 2 sessions made up of key lifts, giving you estimated load targets based on your weight and experience.
Barbell Row 5×5
Over Head Press 5×5
I personally really enjoy this structure and I absolutely love the exercise selection. It is common for fitness apps to throw you in the deep end with exercises. Asking you to do something crazy like a single leg lateral jump squat, straight off the bat in the name of ‘variety’ and ‘keeping it fresh at the expense of technique and safety.
However, as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, I like many other coaches out there would expect my clients to take time perfecting these key movements before letting them progress to anything more extreme, for the sake of safety and sustainable progress.
It may not be flashy and could may even be a little bit boring but the StrongLift program is simple and effective.
The StrongLift application is extremely simple. It offers a basic but specific service, to help users become stronger. The platform is essentially made up of three key features.
The workouts section which allows you to access your daily programs.
Then the tracking section. Which is made up of the history, graph and calendar functions. These functions are essential when you are trying to increase your strength because it provides you with simple platform to track your overall workload and ensure that you are overloading (increasing the volume or load) periodically. It may sound simple but it is something that many new lifters and even other fitness platforms take for granted and ensures that the interventions you have put in place to get stronger are pushing you towards your goals.
Lastly the videos section. When you sign up for StrongLifts Pro, you will gain access to over 100 tutorial videos helping you stay safe and master your technique. I personally really enjoy this feature. Similar to the tracking section, it is simple but commonly overlooked. Good, biomechanically sound technique is not only the key to staying safe and healthy in the gym but it is also the key to smashing your performance goals.
StrongLifts Free vs Pro
StrongLifts offers a 7-day free trial of their premium service StrongLift Pro. After that a StrongLift Pro subscription will cost you $48.99 per year. A subscription to StrongLift Pro will gain you access to,
- Basic Workout Program
- Fully Customizable Workouts
- 100+ Educational Videos
- Warm Up And Plate Calculator
Is StrongLifts Pro Worth It?
StrongLifts Pro is NOT worth it. The StrongLift caters mostly to new lifters who are looking for a simple and easy introduction to heavy lifting. Although StrongLift Pro offers users customization options and educational videos, I think this added layer of complexity takes away from the simple, straight forward structure that makes the StrongLift platform so effective for beginners.
What We Like About Stronglifts
StrongLifts is one of the most simple fitness applications I have come across. Although it does not offer a lot of features, it is incredibly easy to follow and it nails the few features that it does offer.
Excellent For Beginners
StrongLifts is an excellent fitness platform for beginners. It is the perfect introduction to consistent heavy lifting, volume, load and programming.
Key Movement Focused
My favourite thing about the StrongLifts program is that it focuses on key compound movements. So many fitness apps are centered around high intensity, flashy exercises in the name of variety and ‘keeping it fresh’ at the expense of good technique. However, mastering these key movements is the first thing any new lifter should do and it will have an exponential effect on your future training.
Great Free Version
The free version of the StrongLifts platform is absolutely jammed packed with value.
Not Great For More Advanced Lifters
The StrongLifts program is simple and effective. And novice lifters will get a lot of value out of the platform. However, more advanced lifters require more complex, varied and intense programming.
I absolutely love StrongLifts simple and easy to follow structure but it could definitely become boring.
The Bottom Line
Stronglifts 5×5 is a training program designed to help users increase their strength by giving users a easy to use platform to introduce them to basic programming, key lifts, volume and frequency.
StrongLift is a simple and effective program for beginners to start heavy strength training. The basic design is a great way to learn and master major compound movements while getting a taste of consistent frequency, volume, overload however StrongLifts may not offer enough complexity or variety for more advanced lifters.
The Stronglifts program was one of the first programs I used growing up, and to this day it is one of the first suggestions that I make to clients or friends trying to get into heavy strength training.
Is StrongLifts good beginner program?
Yes, StrongLifts 5×5 is a great beginner program. Giving new lifters a simple introduction to volume, load and heavy lifting. However the simplicity that is so valuable for beginners is less useful for more intermediate and advanced lifters. Advanced lifters require more program variation, complexity and intensity to continue to progress.
Can StrongLift 5×5 get you ripped?
Yes, you can get ripped using the StrongLift 5×5 program. It does NOT matter what type of resistance program you employ, as long as you are completing some form of resistance training, consuming high amounts of protein and in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat while maintaining your muscle mass.
Will StrongLifts build muscle?
Yes, although Stronglift 5×5 is widely considered a program to development muscular strength. You will continue to increase your muscle mass if you continue to progressively overload the total volume x load of your resistance program.
How do I cancel my StrongLifts subscription?
- Go to settings.
- Click your profile at the top of the screen.
- Click Subscriptions
- Click StrongLifts
- Click Cancel Subscription/Free Trial
- Go to the Play Store.
- Click your profile at the top right corner of the screen.
- Click ‘Manage your Google account’.
- Click Payments and subscriptions.
- Click StrongLifts
- Follow the prompts.