StrongLifts 5×5 is a 3-day strength training plan developed by coach and author Mehdi Hadim.

It’s popular among new weightlifters and those returning to training after a layoff because it’s straightforward and helps you gain strength and muscle quickly.

In this article, you’ll learn what StrongLifts 5×5 is, plus everything you need to know to follow the StrongLifts 5×5 program, including the workout routine, how to schedule your training, the exercises, rest times, and progression scheme involved, what to expect from StrongLifts 5×5 results, and more. 

What Is StrongLifts 5×5?

StrongLifts 5×5 is a strength training plan designed to help those who have just started lifting or are coming back to training after a layoff gain muscle and strength quickly.

It draws inspiration from Bill Starr’s influential 1976 program, Bill Starr’s 5×5, which emphasized building full-body strength using compound lifts rather than focusing on isolated muscles.

The program revolves around five big compound exercises: the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and barbell row.

You perform these exercises over three weekly workouts on non-consecutive days.

The “5×5” in the name refers to the program’s structure: For each exercise (except the deadlift), you perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions. The goal is to use a weight heavy enough that completing each set is challenging but still allows you to maintain proper form throughout.

One of the key aspects of StrongLifts 5×5 is progressive overload, which means you are encouraged to incrementally increase the weight you lift by a small amount (typically 2.5-to-5 pounds) each time you complete all 5 sets of 5 reps for an exercise. 

Adding weight this way forces your muscles to grow stronger, helping newbies rapidly gain muscle and strength.

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The StrongLifts 5×5 Program Overview

Here’s everything you need to know to get started with the StrongLifts 5×5 program.

Workout Routine

The StrongLifts 5×5 training program centers around 2 workout routines. It doesn’t prescribe a “rep range;” instead, it gives you a rep and set target of 5 sets of 5 reps of every exercise except the deadlift (which you do for 1 set of 5 reps):

StrongLifts 5×5 Workout Routine

Schedule

You train three days per week on the StrongLifts 5×5 program. How you schedule these workouts is flexible, though you must leave at least one day to recover between workouts. 

Given this stipulation, most people default to the following schedule:

Week 1: 

  • Monday: Workout A
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout B
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout A
  • Saturday: Rest 
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 2:

  • Monday: Workout B
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout A
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout B
  • Saturday: Rest 
  • Sunday: Rest

Exercises

The basic program focuses on five barbell exercises to train all your pushing, pulling, and lower-body muscles:

  • Pushing Exercises: Bench press and overhead press
  • Pulling Exercises: Deadlift and barbell row
  • Lower-Body Exercises: Squat (and deadlift)

In more advanced iterations of the 5×5 program, you can add “accessory” exercises to the routine. 

Accessory exercises complement the program’s main exercises by targeting muscles that may not receive enough stimulation otherwise. They also enhance muscle growth, improve performance in primary exercises, and prevent muscle imbalances that could hinder your progress.

Examples of these accessory exercises include the dip, pull-up, Romanian deadlift, hip thrust, and skullcrusher

Rest

The StrongLifts 5×5 program advises resting 3-to-5 minutes between most sets. Specifically, rest around 3 minutes if the last set felt challenging but doable, and rest around 5 minutes if you struggled to get 5 reps in your previous set. 

Before attempting a heavy set of deadlifts, rest anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on how gassed you feel from the rest of the workout.

Progression

You use a simple “linear progression” scheme on 5×5: after completing 5 sets of 5 reps for an exercise (or 1 set of 5 reps for deadlifts) with good form and through a full range of motion, add weight in your next workout.

Initially, men should increase the weight in 5-pound (total) increments and women should use 2.5-pound (total) increments. As progress slows, you can switch to smaller increments if you or your gym has smaller plates.

If you fail to complete 5×5, keep the weight the same in your next workout and focus on completing all reps and sets. If you fail to progress after three workouts for a specific exercise, deload, and then reduce the weight by 10% when you begin training heavy again and focus on form and gradually working back up.

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What to Expect from StrongLifts 5×5 Results

If you’ve never lifted weights, or you’re returning to strength training after time away, StrongLifts 5×5 will help you gain significant strength and muscle for the first 3-to-6 months, provided you eat enough calories and protein

Beyond the 6-month mark, however, your progress will likely slow, and the workouts may become repetitive and boring. At this point, you may want to switch to a more advanced version of 5×5 (of which there are many) or to a different strength training program altogether. 

In other words, StrongLifts 5×5 is an excellent program for building a foundation of strength and size. However, Stronglifts 5×5 results are often short-lived, so you shouldn’t expect to follow the program forever.

StrongLifts 5×5 FAQs

FAQ #1: Is StrongLifts 5×5 good for beginners?

Yes, StrongLifts 5×5 is an excellent strength training program for beginners looking to gain strength and muscle rapidly. That said, it heavily emphasizes heavy compound weight training, which may not align with everyone’s preferences or goals.

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FAQ #2: Can you get jacked from 5×5 StrongLifts?

If you’re new to strength training, you can expect significant improvements in your physique in as little as 12 weeks on the 5×5 program, provided you eat enough calories and protein.

That said, 5×5 is primarily a strength training program. While you’ll gain muscle as part of the process, you may want to follow a program more geared toward hypertrophy if getting “jacked” is your main aim. 

For an effective bodybuilding program that prioritizes muscle growth over strength, check out this article:

Hypertrophy Training: Best Workout Program for Hypertrophy

FAQ #3: Is 5×5 enough for hypertrophy?

Provided you take your sets close to failure on 5×5, the program contains enough volume (sets) to spur hypertrophy. It also emphasizes progressive overload, which is vital for building muscle. 

However, 5×5 isn’t optimal for hypertrophy primarily because it doesn’t contain enough exercise variety. A program that allows you to train your muscles from multiple angles, through different ranges of motion, and using a variety of rep ranges will likely produce better results.