If we’re discussing fitness programs for women that help both build strength and your muscles into a defined, lean shape, then few can compare to the 5×5 stronglift, especially for people who are just taking their first steps in the gym for building muscles.
However, like all practical gym workout routines, there are a few key details that you should keep in mind when considering what routines you want to try.
Going into a new exercise or workout program blind is the quickest way of not just getting disappointing results, but potentially getting yourself hurt or injured.
So, with that in mind, here are the facts that we think you should be aware of about this program, for every step of the way, from pre-planning to execution and cooldowns.
What Is A 5×5 Stronglift Routine?
Before we even get into the facts that you should know about this routine, we should properly explain what exactly a 5×5 stronglift routine entails.
Generally speaking, the 5×5 workout routine consists of 5 different types of barbell lifts, that you do for 5 repetitions.
This gives users a full-body workout, rather than simply focusing on a few sets of muscles like other workouts can often do.
Before Starting 5×5 Stronglifts
Even before you start the 5×5 stronglifts for the first time, there are important factors that you’ll need to consider.
An Exercise For Everyone
Many people often associate 5×5 stronglifts with a workout routine for men.
However, this is not the case. Given that most 5×5 workout routines are based on starting from an appropriate barbell weight for the user, this routine is also perfect for women to try and get into shape with too, as well as if you’re younger or older too.
Not A Bulking Exercise
This is a crucial one to understand with this type of exercise. There is a commonly held myth that simple routines like the 5×5 stronglift are the best way to go with building larger and more powerful muscles.
This is simply not true. The 5x stronglift exercise routine is not designed to help you bulk and build muscles. This is a workout that will build and strengthen lean muscles.
There are other barbell routines if you’re looking for that effect.
You Need To Nourish Your Body
This seems like an obvious point, but many people will often be surprised by just how tough even a starting 5×5 workout can feel.
It’s a feeling that can leave to embarrassment and burnout very quickly, two of the biggest killers to building a healthy workout routine.
And a good portion of that is because, at least starting, many of us don’t take care of our bodies well enough!
Making sure that your body is well nourished and well looked after are things that can help you get a good start to your workouts.
Getting plenty of vitamins and minerals is essential, as well as making sure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
Protein is essential for building healthy muscles, so grab some good protein powder for your workouts.
It is not just nourishment that you need for your 5×5 workout routine. You also need to make sure that you’re resting enough, too. Like, light’s out sleeping, kind o resting.
Sleep is a vital part of recovery for your body after a workout, as your muscles recover and build when you are resting them.
If you find that your workouts aren’t getting any easier, or are even getting tougher, it could very easily be that you’re not giving your body the time it needs to rest.
If you haven’t rested well, then you at least need to consider trying some light pre-workout warm-ups to get your body ready (more on that later).
Great For Bone Health
5×5 stronglift workouts have been proven to help increase bone density, leading to better overall bone health, as well as combatting age-onset osteoporosis.
So, that line that we had before about it is great for all ages wasn’t hyperbole. It’s genuinely a good exercise for older and aging women, too!
Work Hard, Study Hard
Make sure that you read up on the basic lifts that you’ll need to do for your 5×5 stronglift workout, as well as know how to track your reps and progress.
Workout routines in general need a good amount of dedication to help these routines become… well, routine!
Plus, not knowing how to do a lift properly is the quickest way to injure yourself or someone else, so you want to avoid that!
Facts To Remember Before A 5×5 Stronglift Routine
So, you’re deadset on doing a 5×5 stronglift set. Great to hear! From this point, these are the most important steps that you need to take into consideration.
Properly Warm Up
We mentioned before that light pre-workouts are good if you didn’t have the chance to properly rest between 5×5 stronglifts.
However, it’s just as important to warm up for workouts even if you’re well-rested.
Not only does it improve overall performance, but it will also prevent easily avoidable injuries, such as serious muscle tears.
Plus, they get you into the right headspace for a good workout too!
Remove Unnecessary Clothing
Even people who haven’t stepped foot in a gym have probably heard some of the awful tales of people getting untied hair, clips, or even rings stuck whilst lifting weights in gyms.
So, if you want to avoid the same issue for yourself, make sure that you leave all unnecessary clothing and items away from your lifting spot, either in a secure locker or at home.
This includes pretty much all jewelry such as rings, as well as any loose, baggy clothing.
Get Kitted Out
Following on from the last point, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re appropriately dressed for the gym too.
Make sure that you’re wearing a light and comfortable t-shirt or tank top, yoga or tracksuit pants or sports shorts for your bottoms, as well as supportive undergarments like sports bras and athletic underwear.
You’ll also want to keep your hair relatively short, or, if you do have long hair, make sure that it’s fastened back.
Keep an eye out for a good pair of sports shoes that will give you great traction while lifting, too.
The best shoes for a 5×5 workout will also have just enough padding to support your feet, but not too much so that you don’t feel grounded or well-connected to the gym floor.
Start On The Lower Weights
This is a common sense principle, but one that can often be forgotten if you’re eager to see results, especially if you’re a newcomer to the gym.
Starting at the heaviest weight you can lift, or even your rep maximum (or RM) without proper practice, is the quickest way to wear out and even tear muscles.
When starting with the 5×5 stronglift routine, it is best to start conservatively with your total weight, or at the very least around 80 to 85% of what your RM is.
Starting with lighter or even no weights also gives you the chance to properly practice your form too.
Squatting For 5×5 Stronglifts
Stance Is Key
Making sure that your legs are in the right position when lifting is crucial to not overworking your muscles.
Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width length apart from each other, that your toes are pointed slightly outwards, rather than forwards, and make sure that your chest is up.
This squat posture will be crucial for getting the most out of a lifting workout.
Make Sure Your Form Is Right
There are plenty of parts to your form that you’ll need to consider while lifting.
Making sure that you’re going past parallel is one of the big ones, as many people simply don’t go deep enough with their squats to get the most action out of them.
For a helpful indicator of this, see if your thigh crease is below your knee. This will be a great indicator from your viewpoint.
You’ll also want to avoid a butt wink while squatting, which is when your pelvis will rotate your lower back so that it is arching too far up when you hit the bottom of the squat.
This can lead to lower back pain that many people often associate with squats and lifting, which is not supposed to happen.
Pushing Up From Your Squats
It can feel like a lot of effort to straighten back up from the bottom of a squatting position. Make sure that you’re using your heels for maximum effectiveness.
Thigh Gaps ≠ Fitness
Don’t try and aim to have a thigh gap when exercising with the 5×5 stronglift routine. While some women do have thigh gaps, a lot of women’s bodies just don’t.
In any case, building the muscles that you’ll need to work your legs and upper body aren’t going to be done with thin, skinny legs.
What they will give you are strong, powerful muscles, and a great butt!
Planning Stronglifts At The Gym
Avoid Smith Machines
Sure, they might be safer, and technically support your lifts when practicing with a smith machine at a gym. But they don’t teach you the form that you’ll need to get the most out of this program.
Stick to the bench press, and if you’re concerned about safety, make sure that someone is spotting you.
Try Not To Stray from Routine
There can be a strong temptation to try out different gym exercises and equipment when doing a new routine (especially if your current gym item is being used by someone else).
Well, we’re here to tell you that listening to that little voice that wants to try everything isn’t helping, unfortunately.
Most other gym equipment won’t fit with your 5×5 stronglift plan, which will decrease the overall effectiveness, and lead to worse results. Just stick to the plan, and stick to
Don’t Try This At Home
If you take nothing else away from this section, just remember that stronglifts like this should only be done in the gym, and not at home.
Not only are gyms built to have more than enough space for you to work out, but there are also usually people to act as spotters if you are working out there, in case something goes wrong with the form.
So, unless you are just using something relatively light, like a 15-20 pound standard bar, you should avoid using heavy workout equipment at home.
Facts About Aches & Pains
A Little Soreness Is Normal
When you’re just starting with your 5×5 stronglift workouts, you’re going to feel a little sore after finishing. There’s no way around that fact.
Don’t worry, though. Once your body has gotten used to the workouts, this general soreness should fade away (especially if you’re eating and sleeping well).
No Pain, No Gain? Wrong!
After those first few sore workouts, you may find that you’re not feeling as sore or tired after each workout. This is just your body acclimating to the new routine.
So, don’t worry that feeling fine means you aren’t putting the work in.
And especially, don’t feel like this means you have to immediately start packing on more weights to your stronglift routine. It’s a common mistake to make that soreness equals results.
Don’t Let Soreness Stop You
That being said, do not skip gym day if you’re feeling a little sore from the previous workout still. That’s a surefire way to lose track of your progress and lose motivation.
Try your best to not skip a workout day, and make sure that you are well-rested and prepared for the next one.
Back Pain Issues
The only place where you should be concerned about feeling any pain is in your lower back.
Considering that this is a leg and upper body workout, you shouldn’t be feeling soreness or pain in your lower back during or after a workout.
As we mentioned before, pain here means that your form probably needs some work, so make sure to keep track of your form and wear that ache is coming from the treat.
Tips For Wrapping Up
Don’t Just End Your Routine
Simply packing up and going home is one of the worst things you can do after a workout. Your body needs to slowly come down from that high-energy workout, ideally with some gentler reps or stretches.
Keep At It, Even If You Fail
Look, it’s bound to happen at some point in the program. Eventually, there’ll be one rep day when you just don’t meet the target or you stall.
Don’t hang the bar up and call it a day. Finish the reps that you had planned, then plan for the next workout day. Any workout day is salvageable, so long as you don’t give up.
Making sure that you have video footage of your lifts is a great way to spot where issues in your form might be coming up. It’s often a lot easier to spot issues when you aren’t in the middle of the action too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are 5×5 Stronglifts A Good Workout Routine For Women?
With all the precautions we have talked about, and the myth-busting that we’ve done, we would still recommend trying out the 5×5 stronglift routine for women, especially if you’re new to barbell workouts.
What Skill Level Are 5×5 Stronglifts Best For?
You may find that in some exercise routines, some are better suited for more experienced gymgoers and athletes, and vice versa.
So, where do 5×5 stronglift routines fit into this?
Well, thanks to its simplicity and easy plan to follow, it is a phenomenal workout for beginners that simply want to build lean muscles.
However, for intermediates and experienced lifters that want to seriously build bulk and muscle, more complex routines need to be followed.
In short, if you’re a beginner, the 5×5 stronglift routine should cut it for you. For those with a little more experience, this is primarily best for a warm-up routine, but not much else
What Exactly Is Repetition Maximum (RM)?
We’ve mentioned this abbreviation and term a few times throughout this piece, but we never actually explained what a repetition maximum is.
A Repetition Maximum (or RM) is the total amount of repetitions you can effectively do with a specific weight before you aren’t able to, usually to a rounded number, such as 5, 10, 15, and so on.
This makes it different from 1RM, which is the maximum weight that you can take in a single lift. That number might be significantly higher, but it is just for the one lift.
Remember, this isn’t a single intensive weightlifting competition. This is a sustained exercise that you have to be able to keep up for a few lifts at least!
Knowing your RMs is crucial to getting a better understanding of your current maximum, as well as a way of gauging the overall process that you’re making so far with your workouts.
All of these facts should come in handy for your upcoming 5×5 stronglift program!