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Advice on Goals - Strength & Aesthetics


I have been doing Strong Lifts since April. I did not make linear progress as stated by a program. I should have been able to squat 100kg by June but I cannot do that till now.

My stats (all 5x5):
72kg and 175cm height.

  • Squat @85kg
  • Deadlift @100kg
  • Bench @60kg
  • Row @55kg (stuck here forever)
  • Overhead press(45kg) - the only lift closer to intermediate according to StrStd.

I gained weight consistently starting @65kg in April and currently at @72kg.
I eat around 2.7k calories, the target was 3k but since I was adding weight, I see no reason to up the intake.

Now, I have bad sleep for years. I am able to fall asleep alright but I always wake up every night and then stay in some kind of half-asleep state. I went to doctors but NHS sucks in UK and since I am young they did not bother to do anything about it except sleeping pills. I did not take them. Not expecting advice on this one since it is weird issue.

The issue of concern is lagging upper body. I understand why - Strong Lifts make T-rexes not V shaped human beings. The answer is obviously volume for upper body. Now, during summer I can attend gym frequently but next school year will be very hard hence realistically I cannot expect to be able to hit the gym for more than 4 days a week, if I try really hard, maybe 5 days. Also I will need my mental resources a lot and after legs day I tend to want to nap and have cloudy mind.

So, I found Candito's 6-week program, almost finished week 1. However, people online claim that their bench still lagged so they added volume. I find that upper body work is easy to recover from for me no matter how much I killed muscles in the gym that day.

Therefore, I request advice from you on this: a maximum of 5-day per week program which focuses on Strength and Hypertrophy. I examined my goals honestly and that is what I crave.

I know that I am beginner and have linear gains to squeeze out but as stated, linear progression just did not happen for me.


I think you need to analyse why the program didn’t work for you. Lack of sleep is maybe a factor, and is certainly something you should be looking to solve regardless of whether it affects your physique or not. Eough quality sleep makes everything better.


[quote]Pterodactylus wrote:
I gained weight consistently starting @65kg in April and currently at @72kg.
I eat around 2.7k calories, the target was 3k but since I was adding weight, I see no reason to up the intake.[/quote]

What changes did you make to your diet to increase your bodyweight from 65 to 72? You obviously increased calories, but what approach did you take to do that?

Be careful with this kind of thinking. Make sure that the changes you make are based on the results you see with your own training. Just because something worked for someone else, or didn’t work for someone else, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience.

Frankly, I would suggest using Greyskull, and spending your time milking reps in your final set. Greyskull is built around doing 3 sets of 5 for overhead press, bench press, and squats, and 1x5 for deadlifts. On the last set, you do as many reps as you can with that weight.

So, let’s say you start with the bar for your overhead presses. The first session, you do 5 reps, rest, 5 reps, rest, and on the last set, you manage to do 13 reps. Things aren’t really that heavy, but you just run out of gas.

Next session, you increase the weight, and go 5, 5, 11. Keep doing that, and eventually you’ll be doing 5, 5, 5.

Now that you’re at 3x5, you need to put in a different kind of effort, because the weights will feel heavier. Keep pushing the 3x5 for as long as you can.

Eventually you won’t be able to get all 5 reps in the last set. Stick with it for a few sessions. So maybe you go 5,5,3. Next session, 5,5,4. Next, 5,5,4. Again, 5,5,4.

Ok, so you’ve hit a small plateau. Nothing to get worried about. This is where the Greyskull “reset” comes in.

Let’s say you were at 50kg, so you drop 10% to 45kg. This doesn’t mean things get easier. Now, your goal is to get as many reps on your last set as you can squeeze out. This is what will help you grow and build muscle.

So you check your log for what your sets looked like last time you did 45kg, and you see that you did 6 reps on the last set. This time, you need to do AT LEAST 7 reps.

Next session, you add weight so you’re at 47.5kg (or so), and you do the same thing. Repeat, repeat.

Each time you move into 3x5 territory, you shoot for a higher peak. The first time your peak was at 50kg, next time, 55kg, next time, 57.5kg.

Every single session, you need to be lifting more weight, or doing more reps with a weight you’ve lifted before.

You’ll need to keep an accurate log to know how much you’ve lifted. You’ll need some place to check to see how many reps you did last time at a given weight.

If you read the Greyskull manual (you can find a copy online on Scribd if you search), you’ll see that he also includes a number of “plug-ins” that allow you to tailor additional lifts to your goals; curls, pullups, etc. That way you can get 5 days if you want. Unlike Stronglifts, Greyskull alternates between “strength” and “hypertrophy” approaches in a self-regulating manner.

I think this will fit your goals well.


Dude. After three months as a beginner, you can bench your body weight, squat well over your body weight, and military press well over half your body weight.

You’ve done really well in a short amount of time, but I gotta wonder what the heck you expected?


x2 JayPierce.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time and persistence a lot of lifters have put into their lifting. I being one of them. You may be surprised.


x3 to what JayPierce said. You’ve done really good.

My suggestion was just one way to go moving forward. If you believe in Candito’s program (I haven’t looked at it myself, but I’ve heard god things), I’d give it an honest shot, without modification.


I might be underestimating the progress that should have been made but I mainly had reference points from reddit Fitness sections and it seemed to me that people were mostly doing better than me in the comparable period of time so I assumed something is wrong due to my slower progression.

The way I see Candito’s program is that it has all those compound lifts and I can add accessories that I want. And I should be trying to improve on all of them and just follow set weights in main program. However, I will take into account Greyskull method’s approach and that will require to track everything since I tend to forget how many reps I lifted if I fall short. Sometimes I can do more but there are days when I feel weaker than usual and fail. I guess it is normal.

Another question I have is balance of push/pull.

For push part: bench press, overhead press, curls, dips.
Pull: pull-ups, db rows.

Pull ups are hard for me since my back muscles are really weak and I am aware that if push part overpowers pull then I may end up with hunched posture. I never used any machines and don’t really know good back exercises apart from seeing people sitting there and rowing a cable. I am concerned because even though I go hard on pull ups I do not feel my back unlike chest, delts after workouts.

Any advice on this?


Pulling/back exercises:

Barbell Rows
Dumbbell Rows
T-Bar Rows (Landmine Rows)
Chest Supported Rows
Lat. Pulldown Machine
Band Pull Aparts
High Pulls
Dumbbell Pullovers


I think technique in rowing is extremely understated. We hammer technique on benching, squatting, pressing, DL’ing and pretty much every other lift, but nobody really discusses the finer points of rowing.

Don’t keep your shoulders pinned back. Let the weight pull your shoulder blades forward until you feel a stretch in your mid-traps, then start the concentric phase with a forceful retraction of the shoulders, followed by the pulling hard with your elbows (don’t think about your hands or the weight, think shoulders and elbows). Do this with any and all rowing motions (and pullup variations), or your traps won’t get the work they need.

If your traps are the weak point in your pullups and rows, don’t worry. They usually respond really well and will catch up in no time. Use lat pulls until you can do a pullup correctly, with your entire back contracting hard and your chest touching the bar.

IF you want a well-developed back, that is. If you just want to ego out on how many pullups you can do, all you need to do is pull your chin above the bar, which doesn’t require strong lower traps at all.


If want upper body volume/gains look up kingbeef thread