Get stronger, build muscle, and burn fat. No complicated workouts that take forever. Just three exercises, three times a week, 45mins per workout.

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**This article details an exercise program, not a diet program. Diet is of course a major aspect to seeing desired results in the gym, so please do your research on the specific macro nutrients, calorie deficit/surplus diet that would be best suited towards your desired results.

For men and women trying to attain results in the gym, the amount of workout programs available around the web seem endless, and each one seems to boast about the same “guaranteed” results within a specific and usually unrealistic time frame.

But most of us really don’t have the time to dedicate our lives to diet and exercise 24/7, and so most of these programs don’t apply to the average person looking to stay fit with a busy lifestyle.

There is one program, however, that I found to be so easy and effective that it deserves the spotlight it has already garnered. It’s specifically great for people new to using weights.

It’s called the “strong-lifts 5×5″ protocol, and here is how and why it works.

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Back To Basics


Strong-lifts 5×5 uses five free weight compound exercises: the Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Overhead Press, and Barbell Row.

You do only three of these exercises each workout, three times a week, for about 45 minutes per workout. The Squat is performed in every workout, three times a week.

5×5 stands for five sets of five reps. These are the sets and reps you do for every exercise (except for Deadlifts,  doing lots of these in the beginning will beat you up).
Your goal is simply to add weight every time you work out. Here’s how: start light, focus on proper form, and add 5lb to each workout for as long as you can. This is the simplest way to get stronger – fast.

Who This Program Is Designed For

A heavy, compound exercise program is great for anyone looking to build muscle and strength as efficiently as possible, it’s that simple. Men and women who try this program will likely be pleasantly surprised by the speed at which they build muscle compared to other ‘boot-camp’ or muscle ‘isolation’ style programs.

The 5×5 program is garnered towards men and women looking to incorporate compound exercises into their workout regime but who don’t know where to start. The program starts light, so beginners can slowly build the muscles required to do each compound movement with proper form.

Why It Is Superior To Other Weight-Lifting Programs

Besides being very straight-forward and easy to follow, the 5×5 program works fast because it solely utilizes heavy, compound exercises. No isolation, no high reps, no machines, no failure training, no “pump.” Compound exercises use more muscle groups at once, it’s as simple as that.

You’re getting stronger by training LESS and doing LESS.

The program was originally pegged by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mentor, Reg Park, and since then has experienced a renaissance thanks to a man named Mehdi, the founder of the website Stronglifts-5×5.

Here is a summary of why Mehdi fully believes in this type of program:

Lifting weights burns calories. Your body burns energy to lift weights. The heavier the weights, the higher the intensity and the more calories you burn, especially if you do full body exercises like Squats. This is why lifters can eat more than average people without getting fat.

Lifting weights boost your metabolism. They call this “afterburn” or EPOC. You burn more calories the hours after you’re done lifting weights. This helps you lose fat.

Lifting weights builds muscle. Cardio doesn’t. Nor does a low calorie diet. Only lifting weights does – the stronger you get, the more weight you can lift, the more muscular you’ll be.

Lifting weights prevents muscle loss. Low calorie diets and excess cardio BURN muscle. This leads to the unhealthy skinny-fat look. Yet lifting weights builds muscle and prevents muscle loss from dieting, aging, etc.

It improves your health and appearance while losing fat. Lifting weights makes you look slimmer. Muscle is denser than fat. So by lifting weights you’ll build muscle, lose fat, and look slimmer than before – at the same weight.

Summary of How This Workout Looks

The program has only two different workout days that alternate each time you work out, called “Workout A” and “Workout B.

You train three times a week, alternating between workouts A and B, and resting at least one day between two workouts. You never train two days in a row because your body needs days off to get stronger. Here is how they look:

5x5 A5x5 B

For people new to strength training, be sure not to start too heavy or you’ll get sore legs and feel like skipping workouts in week one.

Start light to let your body get used to Squatting three times a week. Remember, you’re adding 5lb per workout or 60lb per month on Squats. The weight will increase fast, so no need to start too heavy.

If you’ve done free weight exercises like Squats, Bench, and Deadlifts before, with proper form, start with 50% of your five rep max.

If you’ve never used free weights, haven’t lifted in years, or you have no idea what five rep max means, start with these weights:

  • Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press: 45lb. (That’s the weight of the empty Olympic bar).
  • Deadlift: 95lb. The empty bar with a plate of 25lb on each side.
  • Barbell Row: 65lb. The empty bar with 10lb on each side.

If these weights fee or look “easy,” just keep in mind that you’ll be adding 5lb each workout. That means you’ll Squat 110lbs in four weeks, 175lbs in eight weeks, and 220lbs in 12 weeks – for 5×5! That’s more than what most guys Squat in your gym. Think long-term and you’ll get stronger.

A Guide To Each Exercise



Bench Press


Barbell Row

Overhead Press

For far more information regarding the 5×5 program, check out Mehdi’s website, Stronglifts 5×5.

See reviews of the 5×5 program: Gym Talk, The Art of Manliness, Muscle & Fitness

Have you found results using the Stronglifts 5×5 program? Share your story with us in the comment section below!

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