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Stronglifts 5×5 – Free Beginner Strength Training Program

Stronglifts is another great free strength training program. It is based heavily off of both Starting Strength and Bill Starr’s 5×5. The main difference between this program and starting strength is this program features Barbell Rows instead of Power Cleans. This program is very popular on the internet, and has thousands 0f testimonials that shows it works.

Stronglifts 5×5 is simple and efficient, but it is also intense. 5×5 squats will push you to your limits, especially as you move to higher weights.

Workout A

Squat 5×5

Bench Press 5×5

Barbell Row 5×5

Workout B

Squat 5×5

Overhead Press 5×5

Deadlift 1×5


You will rotate each workout on three non-consecutive days per week. So the first two weeks would look like:

Week 1

Monday: Workout A

Wednesday: Workout B

Friday: Workout A

Week 2

Monday: Workout B

Wednesday: Workout A

Friday: Workout B


Beginning the Program

This program is designed for sustained linear progress.  Preferably, you should already know how to perform all of the lifts correctly before starting the program. If you do not have experience with one or more of the lifts, spend some time practicing  the exercise before you start training with heavy weights. If you do not know how to perform any of the exercises correctly, and don’t own the Starting Strength book, take a look at my post about the best videos for learning the form for each of the exercises.

After you have learned proper form,  it is time to determine the starting weights for each of the lifts. This is very important, as it determines how you will progress over time. The process of determining starting weight takes place during the first two workouts and it is from there that progress begins.

During the very first workout the first set of squats begins at 45 lbs (an empty barbell) and a set of five is performed. If this is completed easily with your best form, ten pounds are added to the bar for the next set. If bar speed does not slow and form doesn’t break down, ten more pounds are added to the bar and another set is performed. This process continues until either form breaks down er or the bar speed slows more than the preceding sets, whichever comes first. This is your starting weight. Once this occurs the trainee rests and performs two more sets at this weight, for a total of three sets of five reps (3×5) at the starting weight.

The bench press is the next lift to be performed. Follow the same process as you did for the squats. Again, once the starting weight has been found two additional sets are performed for five reps at that weight.

Starting weight for the deadlift is also found by the same process. However, you will not complete the two extra sets, because the program calls for only one set.
The second workout marks the first step of linear progression. A general warm-up is done and then you will warm-up specifically for the squat. The warmup for any of the lifts should consist of 4-5 sets, moving up in increments to your work set. So, if you were working up to your work sets at 225 lbs, your warm-up could look like:

Squat (weight x sets x reps)
Warm-up:45 x 5 x 2
Warm-up: 95 x 5 x 1
Warm-up: 135 x 3 x 1
Warm-up: 185 x 2 x 1
Work Sets: 225 x 5 x 3

After the warm-up the work sets are then done. Because the squat weight was established during the previous workout, 10 lbs are added to the previous day’s working weight.

The press weight is established next, beginning again with an empty bar and continuing until form becomes problematic or bar speed slows, and two more sets are done at that weight.

The power clean weight is determined last. It is important to learn the lifts properly in the beginning, so the power clean should only be performed after you know how to properly execute the deadlift. If the trainee can perform the deadlift properly he should establish his power clean form at the end of the second day. This is done, again, by beginning with an empty bar and performing sets until the weight alters form. The power clean is usually done for five sets of three reps, but it might be helpful for the trainee to begin with three sets of five reps (as with the squat, bench press, and press) to get uninterrupted practice while the weight is low. After two or three sessions of power cleans the 5×3 scheme should be employed. Don’t be concerned if you don’t progress beyond an empty barbell for the first few workouts while technique is still being articulated. It is much safer to have incorrect form with just 45 lbs., rather than incorrect form with more weight. Likewise it is much easier to correct technique with 45 lbs. than it is with a heavier weight.

Each workout you will attempt to add weight to the bar for each lift. Add 5 pounds each workout to your bench press, overhead press, and rows. Add 5-10 pounds each workout to your squat and deadlifts.

What if you get stuck?

When you get stuck, which will eventually happen, you can simply try the same weight again for your next workout. After you get stuck at a weight 2-3 times in a row, lower the weight by 10% and continue from that weight normally.