About Stronglifts and Mehdi

I’m a lifter, coach and author from Belgium, a small country between France, Germany, and the UK. In 2007 I created Stronglifts. I’ve written everything on this website and in the newsletter.

I’m best known as the “5×5 expert” for creating the ultimate resource on the 5×5 workout. My in-depth guides have been used by coaches and personal trainers to help their clients get results. Clinicians in the British Journal of Sports Medicine have recommended the Stronglifts app to promote resistance training for patients.

Mehdi Stronglifts

I’ve been lifting weights for 25 unbroken years, and coaching for 17 years. Lifting changed my life and so I believe everyone should do it. My mission is to help you build strength and muscle efficiently. I love to debunk myths, counter fear mongering, and simplify training.

How lifting weights changed my life

Before I started lifting weights, I never did sports. Mom took me to judo once but I started sneezing because I was allergic to dust. She never took me back. I mostly sat inside playing video games, reading books and watching Dragon Ball. As a result, I was skinny, weak and underweight. My frame is naturally small with long arms and legs. Below you can see how I looked after training 5x/week for six months 25 years ago, compared to today.

Mehdi Stronglifts Before/After

I hated gym classes as a kid because I was so bad at them. Once we had to climb rope, and I couldn’t do it. The gym teacher yelled, “Come on, you sack of potatoes! Get up!!!” It made no difference – I just didn’t have the strength. All the other kids laughed at me. I always tried to find excuses to skip gym classes to avoid embarrassing myself.

One day I lost armwrestling to all my friends. Then I lost to a girl. They did pushups next and I couldn’t do one rep. That same girl could. They all laughed again. Girls can be strong but guys are expected to be stronger. I had never thought about strength before. But that day I felt less of a man. Something clicked inside. I was sick and tired of being weak. I never wanted to feel ashamed like that again. I decided to get stronger.

I came home that evening and started doing pushups. I couldn’t do one rep so I had to get on my knees. Somehow I stuck with it. Three years later I could do 70 reps in a row on my knuckles. My chest and shoulders got bigger. Girls noticed. When three friends joined the gym, I followed them to train my skinny legs. They quit after a few weeks. I never did.

I’ve now been lifting for 25 unbroken years. I’m much stronger, more muscular, and in better shape in my 40s than I was in my 20s or even my teens. I used to be the weakest person in the room who couldn’t even do one pushup. Now I’ve Squatted 440lb, Deadlifted 509lb, placed on the podium in local powerlifting competitions, and won a few medals. My body-weight increased from a skinny 135lb to a muscular 185lb. I finally got six pack abs.

Mehdi competition powerlifting

All this took my confidence through the roof. The iron molded me into a different person. It taught me that if I put my mind onto something and do the work, I will get results.

My friends noticed the transformation. I became known as “the guy who lifts”. They often asked me for advice. I never charged for anything. My mentor had helped me for free too. Besides, I had a stable job in a big IT company. Lifting was simply a hobby. I was extremely passionate about it, but I had never thought of making a living out of it. My studies were in mathematics and computer science. If you had told me that I’d turn my passion for lifting into a profession and profitable business one day, I would have called you crazy.

Why I created Stronglifts

Early on I realized that some people in my gym were naturally stronger. They had an easier time lifting heavy and building muscle than me. Being a bookworm, my instinct was to read everything I could get my hands on. I thought that training smarter, harder and consistently, could compensate for having a lack of natural advantage in the gym.

Most fitness advice does not work for drug-free lifters who aren’t genetically gifted. Most information is irrelevant for 99% of lifters. There’s an endless focus on minor details that have limited impact on overall progress. These detract from the fundamental training principles that actually matter but that most people neglect. It’s not about getting pumped, sore or any of that. It’s about getting stronger. That’s how you build muscle.

My mentor got tired of my rants. One day he told me to start a website. I thought it was a dumb idea at first. There were too many websites about lifting already. Yet I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Eventually I realized that most websites had complicated routines that didn’t work. They weren’t created to teach people how to train properly to get results. They were made to sell expensive, bogus supplements advertised by steroid-lifters.

On May 1st 2007 I started Stronglifts. 12 days later I quit my job. Stronglifts wasn’t making any money yet. But I had savings from working for years. That could support me for a while. Besides, I was bored at work and needed a change. I believed that if I focused on helping people get results, everything would work out fine eventually.

One month later I released a free guide on the 5×5 workout. Even though I didn’t invent this program, Stronglifters found my guide helpful. They called it “Stronglifts 5×5“… and then it went viral somehow. This website drew more than 1.5 million unique visitors each month at some point. People from all over the planet emailed me saying that Stronglifts changed, and sometimes even saved, their bodies and lives. I held Stronglifts seminars in the USA, UK, and Australia. I was invited to speak at events. I never expected any of that.

Mehdi Stronglifts speaker

17 years later, I’m not done yet. I’m just getting warmed up. I continue to improve Stronglifts to help you get results. Start by signing up to my daily email newsletter. I will teach you everything that I wish I knew when I started lifting weights 25 years ago.

Keep it simple,

-Mehdi Hadim

P.S. My main message is indeed to keep it simple. Many people complicate their training by focusing on unimportant details. While getting stronger and building muscle requires hard work, the process itself is quite simple. There are only a few things that you need to focus on. My newsletter is a daily reminder to concentrate on the big picture.

Click here to sign up to my daily newsletter for free.

P.P.S. Maybe you’re wondering how I make a living giving away so much information for free? Well in 2011 we created an app that does all the thinking for you in the gym. It tells you which exercises to do, with how much weight, which plates to add to the bar, how long to rest between sets, etc. You can focus 100% on lifting while the app does all the math.

Today the app counts more than 100,000 5-star ratings worldwide. Apple even featured it in one of their Super Bowl ads a few years ago. Once you try it for a few workouts, you’ll find that you simply can’t train without it anymore. It’s incredible. Download it here.

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