Stronglifts 5x5 Program: Guide To The Best Beginner's Routine [Spreadsheets]

by Nader Qudimat
Updated June 11, 2023
Experience Level
Linear Periodization
Made for beginner level strength training
Perfect stepping stone to higher level programs
Uses only compound lifts
Straight forward 3 day per week 
Beginners may find form for lifts challenging to learn

Bottom Line

Stronglifts is made with one purpose in mind:

Strength training and muscle development for beginners. 

When you're just starting out in the gym, smaller exercises will have little to no effect on your strength or muscle. 

Compound lifts are a must if you want to maximize your time in the gym. 

This is how you do it, and you can't go wrong by choosing StrongLifts 5x5. 

You need to save the spreadsheet to use it as your own, (see instructions for saving here).

Click Here For Spreadsheet 

One of the most common issues in the gym is that beginners will use any routine they find.

The problem is most of these routines are not made for their level. 

StrongLifts is one of the most efficient programs for someone who is at a novice level. 

The reason for this is because it's a compound lift-only program with 3 training sessions per week. 

There are no other exercises other than the main compound lifts. 

You'll not only get stronger with this program but you'll also build muscle. 

And it works very well at this. 

StrongLifts 5x5 Program Overview

The StrongLifts program is a 3 day routine with a specific rep range for each lift. 

This type of program has been around since the 1960s, made popular by Reg Park. 

Coaches like Bill Starr and Mark Rippetoe have made variations to the program since. 

But none of have been ideal for beginners. 

The StrongLifts 5x5 is made for beginners and it's one of the best to use. 

It uses linear periodization and doesn't vary exercise much. 

Made to make quick gains, the program is meant help pack on mass and strength as fast as possible. 

You can find the 2 versions of the spreadsheets below...

StrongLifts 5x5 Pound Version

This is the StrongLifts pound version:

StrongLifts 5x5 Kilogram Version

This is the StrongLifts kilogram version:

StrongLifts App

Since the program came out, StrongLifts came a long way. 

They keep innovating to maximize their reach. 

So luckily you can get the app, that's available for both iOS and Android:

The apps are well supported and have thousands of positive reviews. 

You can use it to log your workouts and keep a record. 

The StrongLifts 5x5 Workouts

There are two workouts to the StrongLifts program. 

Workout one uses squats, bench press and barbell rows.

And workout two uses squats, overhead press, and the conventional deadlifts.

Both workouts will use 5x5, meaning 5 sets of 5 repetitions, with the exception of deadlifts which is done with 1 set of 5 reps.

The goal of this program is to focus on the main lifts and increase the weight lifted in each workout for all lifts. 

This allows beginners to make fast gains in strength and muscle. 

The compound lifts will work the full body through only a few exercises.

StrongLifts is uses three sessions with two workouts, workout one and workout two. 

See the workouts below:  

Workout One

The first workout uses squats, bench press and barbell rows. 

The barbell rows are done from the ground, they are known are pendlay rows. 

All exercises in this workout are done for five sets of five repetitions. 

  • Squat: 5x5
  • Bench Press: 5x5
  • Barbell Row: 5x5

Workout Two

The second workout still uses 5 sets of 5 reps except for one exercise, deadlifts. 

Here's how the workout looks like:

  • Squat: 5x5
  • Overhead Press: 5x5
  • Deadlift: 1x5

Alternating Workouts

Since this is a 3 times per week program with two workouts, you'll be alternating between workout 1 and workout 2.

Here's how a typical week would look like:

  • Workout 1
  • Workout 2
  • Workout 1

Then the second week:

  • Workout 2
  • Workout 1
  • Workout 2

The third week would start back with workout 1. 


StrongLifts strategically uses compound lifts in a simple structure to help maximize "noob gains".


Squats are one of the best exercises for strength and muscle development. 

It works all the muscles from the feet to the upper body, abs, and back.

StrongLifts uses a frequency of 3 times per week for squats. 

Bench Press

There isn't a better exercise for the chest than the bench press. 

Not only is this great for chest, but it also works triceps, delts and biceps. 

Contrary to the barbell row, the bench press is a pushing exercise.


Next to squats, the deadlifts are the one of the best exercise for overall strength and muscle development.

It's a posterior chain exercise that works everything from the backside of your legs to your back and traps.

It'll help build a bigger upper back. 

Barbell Row

Like the deadlifts, the rows are important for the overall development of the back. 

It works the core, traps, lats, and even the rear delts. 

This version is the pendlay rows, so you'll be able to row more as you'll return weight to the ground between each rep. 

Overhead Press

While bench press does work the anterior deltoids (front), the overhead press will help develop overall shoulder size. 

It also works the triceps and engages the core, making it a great way to improve your abs and arm size. 

FAQs about StrongLifts 5x5

You have questions, we have answers (hopefully).

Let's start with...

What Is The StrongLifts Program And Does It Work?

If you're a beginner, then StrongLifts is one of the best 5x5 programs you can go with. 

This program will work for any new comer to the gym. 

The reason for this is because it simplifies things and uses only the main compound lifts which will be responsible for 100% of your muscle and strength gains. 

It's inspired by 5x5 programs that have been in use since the 1960s. 

So yes, it does work, and it is a compound lift program only that consists of 5 sets of 5 reps.

How Many Weeks Should I Use StrongLifts For?

As long as you progress after each workout, then you should stick with StrongLifts until you do. 

Assuming you're eating and recovering properly, if you stop progressing by workout, then you're likely ready to move on to something made for weekly progress

However if you stall on StrongLifts then you should first try the next step, see below...

What If I Plateau On StrongLifts?

If you're failing and falling short on the reps with your 5x5 sets, then you should keep the weight the same but decrease the reps to 3.

Increase the weight next workout and continue to do so.

This should be the case only if you were doing a little less successfully. 

For instance, if you were doing 135lbs for 5 reps previously, but failed to do 140lbs for 5 reps, then the next workout you should aim for 3 reps. 

Then the next workout, you'll do 145lbs at 3 reps.

This should only be done for the lifts you've been struggling with. 

If you've plateaued on 3 reps then you'll aim for 5 sets of 1 rep, or use different rep ranges for each of the workouts in the same week. 

A program like this GZCLP will automatically calculate this for you, which makes it a good alternative if you've plateau on 5 sets of 3 reps. 

Another good program is the Texas Method, a program that's designed to be done after completing StrongLifts 5x5. 

Greg Nuckols has explained in much greater detail in this topic here

StrongLifts 5x5: The Perfect Beginners Program

As a beginner, I don't think you'll find a better program. 

Whether you're after fat loss, muscle or strength, this is easily the best for any beginner. 

It uses compound lifts and simplifies things by using a straightforward 5 sets of 5 reps scheme. 

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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