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Thread: Ladies- 5x5 StrongLifts? page

  1. #1
    Ally415's Avatar
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    Ladies- 5x5 StrongLifts?

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    Who of the females have experience with 5x5 here?
    I'm 22 years old, and have been doing 5x5 for a little less than half a year now. I've seen better body comp, but my progress has been veryy slooww.

    I can't seem to add 5 pounds to each lift! That's so much each week! Isn't it?

    I've read of many comments saying that 5x5 felt very taxing to some of the females doing it. They switched over to 5/3/1 which I'm thinking of starting.


    Could anyone share their experience with 5x5?
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    I started Stronglifts 5x5 in September so tomorrow will be my last workout in the first 12-week session - not a lot of experience but happy to share!

    I'd been doing Body Pump for a looong time before that so was used to the exercises and form; when I switched over to 5x5 I started on slightly lighter weights than I'd been using in Pump, and complained to my husband that it felt too easy - with the 5lb adds that didn't last long! I've had a few stalls along the way where I had to deload slightly for a couple of sessions to build up strength before starting to add again; I've also had days where I've managed my first set with the 5lb increase, then had to drop it back down to finish the rest.

    My husband has definitely managed the increases in weight without as much trouble as me; depending on the exercise he lifts 45-100lbs more than I do, and the 45lb difference on squats is only so small because he's had lower back problems in the past. Unlike me he has done similar programs before, so started on heigher weights to begin with and hasn't really struggled or stalled like I have.

    It is a taxing workout, but I like that. I don't mind feeling the aches in my muscles later in the day (totally different to DOMS from Pump), it just reminds that I've worked hard. I do think it would be very tough to do alone though - I certainly wouldn't have seen as much progression without a buddy/spotter to push me and give me the confidence to try a weight knowing I won't drop it on my head if I fail! I've also found it helpful having a back support for squats, and lifting straps for rows and deadlifts.

    Don't have my progress sheet to hand so can't give numbers, but I am now squatting and deadlifting more than my own bodyweight, and am going to try my first set of unassisted pull-ups tomorrow (not a 5x5 exercise, just something I wanted to achieve). I've seen far more gains in terms of strength increase/body fat reduction in 12 weeks of 5x5 than I did in years of Pump.

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    I did strong lifts, then 3x5, then Madcow, then Wendler's 5x3x1 during last >3 years. I stayed with 5x5 for about a year (which is I think a good period of time to build the base).

    Basically, I used ankle weights to load 1-2 lbs instead of 5 lbs increment.

    I would not switch to 5x3x1, but to 3x5 to start with after you did a deload and reload cycle 3 x at least on 1 lower body lift. The upper body will likely stall out at about 50-75% BW and will just stay there almost indefinetly for a regular Jane (well, me, who is middle-aged and athletically pretty poor). For squats, about 110% of the BW should be achievable, and deadlift of about 1.5 BW. However, if 5x5 is starting to exhaust you to unfunctional, try 3x5 first, the 5x3x1. Hope this helps!
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    I'm doing starting Strength (3x5) and I can't keep up with the 5lb jumps, either. I got washers so I an add a pound or 2.5. I'm thinking maybe I should even consider jumping weights only once a week instead of every time. I also was considering more sets like Stronglifts. Something to make the strength stick. I spend more time regressing and working back to where I was than I do going forward.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Current squat: 170 x 3. Current Deadlift: 220 x 3

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    Leida's Avatar
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    Another thing to try is increasing rest period between the lifting days to 2 days, so you lift on the 3rd day. Or do light squats only (or no squats) when you had 1 day recovery, or do the light squats, no squats/deadlift then heavy squats day. That way the legs do not get overtrained - that method is employed in the Madcow, and is very effective. In In my experience, having 1 day between the lifts is often insufficient for the muscule recovery. I just started the lifting every 3rd day schedule (with Max/Failure schedule) and cannot yet comment on the improvements but my lower body seem to be in a better recovery state.
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    KatiePotato-thanks! I've also been trying to do unassisted pull-ups included in the program. Another goal of mine! I wonder if its a problem that I didn't start with a much lower weight at the beginning. I sort of started the program with a weight that was tough.

    Leida- I do feel weaker in my upper body than my lower body. I love working out legs! I'm not feeling "exhausted" from 5x5, but I'm just not progressing as fast as I'd like. I feel its time for something new. thanks for the tip I think I will do 3x5 instead.

    sbhikes- we just need to keep finding out what works for us!
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    I found that the SL5x5 became very exhausting when the squats started to get close to BW, for me it was about 116-120 lbs. About that time a 5x5 squat 3 x a week was getting me into fog of being always tired. 3x5 was really good solution at that point. If you simply not progressing fast enough micro-loading (ankle weights, ping-pong balls, helium balloons...) might be a better option.

    My fastest strength gain was on MadCow, but oh, lord did I crush after the 3 weeks.
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    I'm doing 531 now and loving it, but I've been lifting for quite a while. I think something like 531 is generally better once you've made the beginner gains you can get on something like Stronglifts or Starting Strength (I started lifting at a CF gym with a more strength-focused program, though, so I never did either).

    Adding 5lbs to each lift weekly is maybe doable for most women for the lower body lifts for a while. The upper body stuff probably not so much (I can't imagine putting 5lbs a week on my OH press at this point). Anyhow, the Stronglifts and SS programs are written with men in mind, so the gains that guys make on those are going to be different. You might need to microload, or it may just take longer. Also, after training frequently for 6 months with ever-increasing loads, you might consider a deload to give your body a break.
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    Not a lady, but my wife did Stronglifts with me for about three months and was getting a little frustrated towards the end of if. She got a little frustrated watching me add weight every week, and bouncing back and forth between 45-55lbs on the OHP.

    I think she liked lifting (and she's pretty strong), but some smaller plates would have helped her a lot, I think. The mental aspect of failing and redoing your last workout was getting to her. Adding lower weights could maybe have allowed for a longer progression before dropping back.

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    Interesting...thanks a lot guys.

    Yea adding in 5 pounds every time to OHP just does not seem doable at all for me.
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