Stronglifts 5×5 update

So I’ve been doing a bit of a modified Stronglifts 5×5 routine in the gym for the past four months (missing a week here and there) and thought I’d give an update on how it’s been going and if I think it works. Just in case you didn’t catch my initial post on this routine, give it a read!

I’ve been using a little book to note down every time I go to the gym, which exercises, how much weight, how many reps and how much cardio I’ve done. I’d strongly recommend doing this or using some kind of app on your phone. It’s a useful tool to track your progress so you know where you’re at for the next session. Looking back through mine, I started on the following – Squat – 55kg, Bench Press – 40kg, Barbell Row – 40kg, Over Head Press – 20kg and Deadlift 50kg.

For every successful 5 set of 5 reps each, I bumped the weight up by 2.5kg unless I failed a set in which case I would repeat the same weight next time around. My current stats are – Squat 120kg, Bench Press – 72.5kg, Barbell Row – 70kg, Over Head Press – 45kg and Deadlift 95kg.

My weight has remained relatively the same which I think is down to some fat loss and building more muscle. If you are looking for a routine for size, I would say this isn’t for you. However, if you want strength, the gradual increase of weight session after session really worked for me – previously I could have done between 90-100kg Squats but at my current rate, I think I could max out at about 140-150kg but already pretty happy I can do 120.

I might keep on going with the Stronglifts 5×5, however it is only recommended to go for about 12 weeks so might change it up. If you have any recommendations for a 3-4 session per week gym routine, I’m all ears!

If you’re looking for some gym safety tips or maybe some inspiration to get yourself down to the gym, I’ve got you covered!

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Watch out – the beast is about

Staying Safe in the Gym

Whether you’re a pro lifter, cant get enough cardio or somewhere in between, going to the gym is a great way to get in shape and increase your fitness. However you should always take some precautions when going to the gym, especially if you haven’t been in a while or going for the first time. Below I’ve got a few tips which help you stay safe and avoid injury.


 

1. Fuel up before the gym

It’s a common misconception that going to they gym on an empty stomach will help you burn off excess fat. If you do working out hungry can cause dizziness and low blood sugar. Your best bet is to have some carbs about 30-60 minutes before working out. I usually have some oats with honey, super quick and easy to make!

2. Warm up

On a daily basis I see people coming into the gym and going straight into lifting heavy weights or hitting some cardio hard. You may get away with it once or twice but it’s always best to start with some light cardio/weights to get your body warmed up and ready to exercise.

3. Bring the right shoes

Your feet are what connect you to the ground so it’s important to wear the right footwear for what you’re doing. Cardio fanatics, get yourself to your local running shop and ask for advise on what will work best for you to keep you going comfortably for longer. I personally like a good pair of Nike 4.0 Flyknit’s which you can get pretty cheap from the outlet stores. Weight lifters, get some trainers with a flat sole to give you good firm base. A relatively cheap option is a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor’s.

4. Good form

You can link this in with number 2. In your warm up you should practice good form for your lifts or cardio of choice. Exercising with poor form can cause joint stress and over work muscles. The internet is awash with videos, diagrams and forums to help show you what your form should be like for the exercises your doing. Do a little research and it’ll help massively.

5. Keep hydrated

This is such an elementary concept but you will often see people come without water and even go their full workout without having a drink. To keep your body cool as you work out, you will sweat, and as you do, you’re losing water through precipitation. Go buy yourself a bottle and top up before you start your work out.

6. Cool down/stretch

Just as it’s important to get your body ready to exercise, it’s also important to wind down as well and give your muscles a stretch to avoid any delayed onset muscle soreness. Most cardio machines will have a cool down mode at the end of your session. Don’t skip it, let your body calm down and I always find giving my legs a good stretch helps too.


That about wraps it up for the basics of safety. There are plenty of other micro tips but in my opinion, these six are the ones you will need to keep you in tip top form. Stay safe out there!

 

Gym Inspiration

Just a quick one. I wanted to share something I heard in the gym yesterday which I thought was pretty motivational and a good outlook on fitness.

A pair of brothers go to my gym and yesterday the older brother was just about to start some Deadlifts where as the younger had just finished some Tricep Extensions. The older brother asked to use the gloves the younger one was using for better grip and after putting them on he remarked “These gloves are pretty sweaty.” In most situations, I think you would be relatively offended or perhaps embarrassed but they younger brother replied “That’s what hard work is.”

I thought this was awesome and a great perspective to have.

Stronglifts 5×5 so far

I want to start off by saying I’m not a gym junkie. I’m just a regular guy trying to get my fitness up where I can. I was bored of my gym routing I had going on and was looking for something a little bit different to try out. One of my friends recommended the Stronglifts 5×5 routine and this is how I’m getting on so far.

Broken down to its core, the Stronglifts 5×5 plan consists of 5 reps and 5 sets for compound exercises, except for Deadlifts, that’s just 5 reps with 1 set. Make sure you take just enough rest time until you feel like you can do the next set, don’t mess about. You start off with lighter weights to begin with and gradually increase as you successfully complete sessions. There are 5 exercises involved which are split into Workout 1 and Workout 2. You run on a 1/2/1 then 2/1/2 basis, working out 3 times a week.

Workout 1 – Squats 5×5, Bench Press 5×5, Barbell Row 5×5

Workout 2 – Squats 5×5, Overhead Press 5×5, Deadlifts 5×5

I’m currently 5 weeks in, out of the recommended 12 weeks, and so far my feedback is pretty positive. One thing to note – initially starting on lighter weights and just doing weights with no other exercise felt a bit lacking. After my first session, I figured it needed some cardio and other weights to be added in as I was only be in the gym for about half an hour if that and felt like I hadn’t done enough.

Tip – get a notepad to write down what weights you’ve lifted or use the app available on Android and iOS to keep track.

I’ve thrown in 10 minutes of cardio to warm up, the Stronglifts 5×5 regime, some work on biceps, triceps and abs finishing with a further 10 minutes of cardio. Depending on what your goal is, you could mix it up a bit too but I found myself craving a bit of cardio and to push myself more earlier on.

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How you feel after your first gym session

The good thing about this plan is how you begin to feel stronger after a few weeks and as you bump the weight up successively, it doesn’t feel like you’re straining yourself but the weight is comfortable to move. I used to find squats a chore prior to starting but now I quite look forward to them and now the weight is starting to get heavier, the effort feels like it’s paying off.

Tip – get over the cringiness of having to look at yourself in the mirror and practice your form while on the lighter weights.

The routine recommends eating bulky from the get go. I wouldn’t recommend this as the weight is light so eating too heavily wont be utilised by your body like it would be if the weight was heavy. I’d say as the weight increases and you feel the need to eat more, either because you feel hungry or you feel the weight justifies it, then bump up your food intake. Listen to your body, it will tell you when its hungry.

I’m enjoying this routine so far and it is a pretty good one for all fitness levels, especially beginners. So if you’re looking for something a bit different, give it a blast!