Choosing which training programme to start with when you are a beginner is very challenging. In this article I aim to provide valuable informations for beginners considering starting the Stronglifts 5x5 programme.
No spam – just thoughtful training advice
No. Stronglifts 5x5 is not the optimal programme for beginners.
A beginner is someone who hasn’t yet mastered all the skills required to perform the movement patterns within resistance training correctly. This means that if they were asked to perform a hinge, squat, push, pull or core exercise they are not be able to do it with complete technical competency or they may even not know what these movement are.
With this definition of a beginner, using the 5x5 strong lifts programme makes no sense. This programme uses some of the most complex movements of each movement pattern. For example, the deadlift is a very technical exercise that most beginners will not be able to perform well. So if they were to perform it in the 5x5 protocol, with poor technique, they will simply be loading poor positions and putting themselves at risk of injury.
The best way to get yourself to an intermediate level is to use resistance training with simple exercises. This way you can get stronger, whilst learning the skills required to be good at all the movements within resistance training. Below are examples of exercises that a beginner should be using to take their first steps towards getting stronger. These are very different from those in the stronglifts 5x5 programme.
Our application, Programme, provides these exercises at appropriate weights, allowing beginners train to become intermediates.
When you feel competent in all the movement patterns, then you should put emphasis on learning the actual exercises that are performed in the 5x5 programme. This might mean doing a month or two of training with very light weights while you nail your technique. Then, once you can perform the exercises with precision, you should consider starting a protocol like 5x5 strong lifts. If you start too soon, you will simply get strong in poor positions. If you take your time, you will build high levels of movement virtuosity, giving you a great base to get strong from.
Everyone needs different amounts of time to get from beginner to intermediate. If I am coaching a very athletic high school student, it might take a few sessions before they move well. Whereas a sedentary 45 year old might take 6 months. So you need to make good decisions for yourself and make accurate assessments of your abilities. A good way to access your movement is to record videos of yourself doing the movements and compare them to those in our videos to see if they are similar.
Making good decisions about which training styles you’re going to use when starting resistance training is really important for your long term success. Take your time and research which ever training style you chose to use and make sure it’s the best one for you. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.
This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.