Roger W. wonders what to do once you’ve completed your 12-week StrongLifts 5×5 “test-drive”. Quote from his email…
Yes we have decided to give StrongLifts 5×5 a try.
My: age/body-weight/height/ and Squat
IS: 44/165/5’9″/and about 135lbs confortably
Starting with the bar felt a little too easy but if I hit 225 in 12 weeks 5×5 I don’t think I’ll care. My only question is what happens after 12 weeks ? Do we just keep adding 5lbs?
Yes, you just keep adding 5lb everywhere as long as you can. StrongLifts 5×5 is NOT one of those muscle magazine BS workout of the month where you do this 12 weeks and then jump to the next “flavor of the month” workout. As long as you’re able to add weight to the bar, you should stick to the program.
Here’s why: the number one thing that builds muscle is gaining strength. So you don’t need to switch reps or exercises in order to “confuse your muscles,” that’s all broscience, just keep adding weight and your muscles will be confused. Also, the bigger the weights you lift, the more calories burned and the more fat loss.
Obviously, you won’t be able to increase the weight by 5lb every single workout forever, but you will for longer than most guys think is possible. Assuming you don’t have technique issues holding you back, the Overhead Press and Bench Press will usually be the first lifts where you’ll stall, Squat next. Solutions:
- Switch to 2.5lb increments. 5lb on a 100lb Press is a 5% increase vs 2.5% when adding 2,5lb. Switch to 2,5lb increments when you start struggling to get 5×5 on the Bench and Press. If your gym doesn’t have 1,25lb plates, get a pair of fractional plates from Iron Woody to take with you to the gym. Note that you should stick with 5lb increments on the Squat and Deadlift, because you don’t have the same % issues.
- Deload. If you fail to get 5×5 with the same weight for 3 workouts in a row, deload for that exercise. Take 10% weight off for that lift only, and add 5lb (2,5lb on the Press/Bench) every workout again. Make sure you lift as fast as you can with the lighter weights and focus on technique.
- Switch to 3×5. After you had to deload twice on a lift, you switch from 5×5 to 3×5 for that exercise. When that no longer works you switch to 3×3 and then 1×3. This drops the volume (stress) while increasing the intensity. There will be less technique practice, but by this time you should have had plenty.
Only after you milked everything out of StrongLifts 5×5 should you switch to Madcow 5×5. If you switch before this, you will make slower strength and muscle gains because you’ll lose the advantage of adding weight every workout.
If all this sounds Greek to you, just download my StrongLifts 5×5 apps. They keep track of your workouts and progress, check when you fail and tell you when to deload, and also tells you when to switch to 3×5/3×3/1×3. Downlaod them for free here.