Gonna go for the 5x5's

Figured I’d start off here, since I’m thinking of going for the stronglifts 5x5 methodology.

Stats: 20 Y.o., 5’10, and 150 lbs. I used to weigh 135, and weigh 142-145 during race season (you’ll see in a sec).

Background
:

I’m a senior in college. Freshman year, I got into cycling after I decided that rowing wasn’t quite for me. I started racing my sophomore year. While training in april of my sophomore year I got into a crash that literally broke my face (orbit, nose, 5 teeth, and I needed to be stitched back together). The rehab was pretty long, but I got back to training and racing in the fall of my junior year.

I had a good season racing and did pretty well, but towards the end of this summer, I started having knee pain in my right knee. Well after many doc visits etc, they still don’t know what’s going on. After being inactive for a month (hard when you ride 200 miles a week), I decided to start lifting again. It’s been a while since I haven’t done it since freshman year. I figure that my knee pain might be caused by muscle imbalances so it’s time to start strengthening.

Now:

My body self image is a little out there because I’m a cyclist. I have a pretty defined lower body, but a relatively weak upper body. I’m looking for a program to add some muscle and definition to my upper body. 5x5 is the first ‘complete’ program I’ve found, so I want to go for it. I’m not a newcomer to pain.

I’m a sprinter so I have good neuromuscular power. I started weight training to stop myself going insane from boredom, but I actually like it so I’d like to start doing it a little more seriously.

I will admit that I have a goal to change my body shape by my birthday in march and get bigger, and I’ll have more numerical definitions once I start to see what I’m capable of.

I lift 3x a week, basically doing the same thing or variations of the same exercises. I do bench press, dumbbell overhead press (seated), dumbbell flyes/reverse flyes (super light weights like 10 lbs, do this as warmups), pullups/chinups, a core routine I made up (i love it), back extensions, calf raises, shoulder shrugs, and a couple of other things.

I’m against supplements that are prohormones etc, because that shit sketches me out. I do take whey.

I can currently squat like 120lbs (I do 3x10 because of my knee), and bench 155 (I do 3x7 with this weight).

I have a few quick (I think) questions
:

  1. If I do 5x5’s with squats and use lower weights and build up slower (because of my knee) will I still see gains albeit slower?

  2. I have my own core workout that I love, can I do this in addition to the program?

  3. How do additional exercises fit in?
    I ask because I want to learn to power clean, but do it with lighter weights for weeks till I learn how to do them properly.
    I also have other exercises that I like doing, and I’m wondering if I’ll lose anything if I do these, but do them after the workout so I don’t lose out on the 5x5s.

  4. Overhead presses scare me a little bit. Can I do seated dumbbell presses instead till I get comfortable enough? Or atleast start with a lighter weight barbell till I get the hang of it?

  5. I’m young and because of my endurance background, my muscles recover pretty fast. Can I do 2 blocks a week, I.e M/T on W off, R/F on, weekend off?

  6. I’m going to try start cycling again a little bit at a time as well. Will I be able to do this program at the right level if I’m riding easy endurance rides on my ‘off’ days. I want to keep at it to see how I can rehab things and how building leg strength with 5x5’s etc will help me with my riding.

  7. I want to gain strength and muscle mass/definition, but I don’t want to gain too much weight. I would like to settle in around 160-170 (at the most). Hoping closer to 160ish though. Maybe this will change in time, but I’d like to concentrate on strength as a % of Body weight instead of as the empirical number. Is this feasible?

Thanks for reading and all the help. I just wanted to put a bit of a personal perspective to my starting the program.

PS: This is me in a race. See, I can take some suffering.


First off, please refer to Mike Robertson’s article on 5x5. You have not provided what kind of 5x5 routine you’re intending to do. Are you referring to the original 5x5 ROUTINE created by Bill Starr, or are you referring to a rep scheme you will assign to key exercises you want to improve in?

I’ll repeat this again before I go further: Refer to Mike Robertson’s article on 5x5 training.

You’re asking for a lot of information and explanation here, but whatever!

  1. This is a redundant question. You’re asking if you’ll see gains slower if you add weight increments slower. What do you think? DUH!

  2. Yes. Most strength routines have quite a bit of core work. You can work your core 2 to 6 times per week, depending on how you plan your routine.

  3. This can’t be answered properly, because you haven’t provided us with your routine. So I have no idea if you can or should include power cleans. Power cleans can be used with a 5x5 scheme, considering that Olympic lifts shouldn’t be performed for less than 6 reps. (Yes, I’m aware that people include them in complexes now, but the weight used is very light, and those complexes aren’t being used to perfect skill or to progress in those lifts.) You can use power cleans in a dynamic lower body workout.

  4. a) Why are you scared?

b)You’re asking if you can use a light barbell until you perfect your form. What do you think?

c) You’re asking if you can use dumbbells. What do you think?

  1. Of course you can use a 4-day schedule, but not by using a 5x5 scheme in big exercises on all four days. Most strength trainers and powerlifters assign this rep scheme to 2 to 3 exercises in an ENTIRE weekly program. Again, you haven’t provided us with why you want to use 5x5 or how you plan on doing it.

  2. Nothing is wrong with low intensity cardio done 2 to 5 times per week for ANYONE weight training. But don’t plan on being a full-fledged cyclist and gaining strength and mass gains at an optimal rate. Again, why are you using this scheme. Many men who use this scheme–particularly powerlifters–seldom locomote faster than a WALK!

  3. a) Disclaimer for this one: I DON’T want to be a dick. With that being said, you have absolutely NO reason to worry about getting big, considering that you said you want to reach a bodyweight of 160 to 170 (and preferably a buck-60!). That right there… shows that you are undereducated in strength training and nutrition to begin with, and don’t realize that getting SIGNIFICANTLY bigger doesn’t happen by accident and is actually an exhausting, difficult task. AS IF guys walking around at average height 220 and above got there easily!

b) You ask if it’s possible to get stronger at a given bodyweight while remaining that weight. What do yo think? There are competitive 160 pound weightlifters and powerlifters. However, MOST average, ordinary dudes won’t put up impressive numbers without becoming bigger. Yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard of everyone’s friend who weighs a buck-60 and benches 315, and squats and deadlifts 500. Very, very rare! And this person was born with some great anatomical gifts, unlike the rest of us!

PS: It’s good that you can take pain, because 5 x 5 in the squat is painful. I respect your competitive endeavors.

[quote]
3) This can’t be answered properly, because you haven’t provided us with your routine. So I have no idea if you can or should include power cleans. Power cleans can be used with a 5x5 scheme, considering that Olympic lifts shouldn’t be performed for less than 6 reps. (Yes, I’m aware that people include them in complexes now, but the weight used is very light, and those complexes aren’t being used to perfect skill or to progress in those lifts.) You can use power cleans in a dynamic lower body workout.[/quote]

Just to clarify for OP here, that should be: “shouldn’t be performed for more than 6 reps”. 5 reps is as high as most push it before technique breakdown becomes an issue.

As far as number 4 goes, it is of course completely up to you. As far as starting off with light weight goes, that sounds like a very smart idea, as long as you are constantly raising that weight. To clarify, starting out with the bar is all right, but you need an emphasis on progression, 5*5 is a good simple routine to teach this.

Sorry I didn’t specify the 5x5 routine. Heh.

I was thinking of going with the 5x5 routine that stronglifts has pushed.

I followed up and read the e-book as well.

Workout A Workout B
Squat 5x5 Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5 Overhead Press 5x5
Inverted Rows 3xF Deadlift 1x5
Push-ups 3xF Pull-ups/Chin-ups 3xF
Reverse Crunch 3x12 Prone Bridges 3x30sec

I know my fears about ‘getting big’ are a little silly, but given the background I come from where the gospel is to be as small as possible while keeping strength. So, even though I know that it requires a lot of extra work to get big, it’s still an irrational fear that I have. Sometimes, it’s hard to leave that stuff in the past.

Is the stronglift program a good starting point?

I’m trying to figure out what muscle groups it doesn’t hit as hard or ignores and I can’t think of too many. Though I do want to learn to do cleans, and I will probably continue doing shoulder shrugs since I can do 3x10 at body weight (3x7 at BW for bench press).

This represents a complete 180 for all the kind of training I’ve done in the past but I’ll trust it. Thanks for putting up with me!

:slight_smile:

Did you refer to Mike Robertson’s article yet? If not, do so.

The Strong Lifts program is similar to Bill Starr’s programs. It can work and is a good starting point, especially for a beginner like yourself who’s small and relatively weak. But there are flaws to such simple, full-body programs that have a few exercises, particularly for intermediates and the advanced. Eventually, you will need a more complete program with more workouts and exercises.

The program neglects core work, direct arm work, and upper back work.

You still haven’t told us if you’re going to be a jack of all trades (eg, endurance, strength, AND size) or if you want to be a master of one. If you’re giving up being a cyclist, why worry about getting bigger?

I’m not a strength and conditioning coach, so I’m not well-versed with weight training for cyclists. However, I can’t see why a cyclist would be concerned with maximal strength. I THINK (again, I’m no expert) that a cyclist would benefit from 2 full-body sessions per week, with emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings, upper back, and external rotators, secondary to cyclists sitting on a bike for long stretches of time and the overemphasis on quad work in cycling. Sitting for extended amounts of time can weaken the glutes, hamstrings, and upper back.

So are going to do cycling seriously or just for added cardio here and there - 2 to 4 times per week, 30 minutes a shot?

Now, bricknyce:

I read the article and the program is similar. I think I’ll start it and go for it for 3-4 months and add my own core/upper body routine because that’s what I think was lacking as well.

I am away from cycling due to injuries, but I still want to get back to it in the future. Whether that’s going to be next year, or 5-10 years from now I don’t know, but it will happen.

In the meantime, I want to work on getting a stronger body because I feel that the majority of my injuries on the bike, i.e. the back issues I had when I started, and now the knee, are due to muscle imbalances and weakness. What better way to target this than by doing a good strength training routine!

As far as cycling goes, I’m a sprinter and we’re normally a more muscular breed. I’m an exception to the rule because I’m small and can put out more power than guys who weigh 30 lbs more than me. The races I like are flat and short, so I don’t lose too much by gaining weight. If anything, I’ll probably have a better sprint when I get back to training if I have more muscular strength, though this is debated in the ‘cycling world’.

I’m not approaching this as a strength for cycling thing, there are resources for them and I say to heck with it. If I need to cut weight in the future, then I’ll do that, but it’s not a concern for now.

I’ll probably start riding 30 or so mins before I work out for a warmup, nice and easy cardio, but in time (hopefully by the summer), I want to work back to doing 2-4 hour rides a couple of times a week. Probably on off days.

Eventually, I’m probably going to end up working the weights more in the fall/winter and lowering the amount of riding I do, and then amp up the riding in late winter/spring, while continuing to do 2 body circuits a week to not lose too much.

I’m never going to be a pro at any of this stuff, so I guess this is almost a more ‘jack of all trades’ deal. Although, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I could bench my bodyweight 3x5 (albeit it was on a smith since I didn’t have a spotter) within a month of starting to lift again.

Thanks.

[quote]The other Rob wrote:

[quote]
3) This can’t be answered properly, because you haven’t provided us with your routine. So I have no idea if you can or should include power cleans. Power cleans can be used with a 5x5 scheme, considering that Olympic lifts shouldn’t be performed for less than 6 reps. (Yes, I’m aware that people include them in complexes now, but the weight used is very light, and those complexes aren’t being used to perfect skill or to progress in those lifts.) You can use power cleans in a dynamic lower body workout.[/quote]

Just to clarify for OP here, that should be: “shouldn’t be performed for more than 6 reps”. 5 reps is as high as most push it before technique breakdown becomes an issue.

As far as number 4 goes, it is of course completely up to you. As far as starting off with light weight goes, that sounds like a very smart idea, as long as you are constantly raising that weight. To clarify, starting out with the bar is all right, but you need an emphasis on progression, 5*5 is a good simple routine to teach this.[/quote]

That was a mistake. Thanks for correcting. Some people think it’s even wiser to do no more than 3 reps in the Olympic lifts.

[quote]ridethecliche wrote:
Now, bricknyce:

I read the article and the program is similar. I think I’ll start it and go for it for 3-4 months and add my own core/upper body routine because that’s what I think was lacking as well.

I am away from cycling due to injuries, but I still want to get back to it in the future. Whether that’s going to be next year, or 5-10 years from now I don’t know, but it will happen.

In the meantime, I want to work on getting a stronger body because I feel that the majority of my injuries on the bike, i.e. the back issues I had when I started, and now the knee, are due to muscle imbalances and weakness. What better way to target this than by doing a good strength training routine!

As far as cycling goes, I’m a sprinter and we’re normally a more muscular breed. I’m an exception to the rule because I’m small and can put out more power than guys who weigh 30 lbs more than me. The races I like are flat and short, so I don’t lose too much by gaining weight. If anything, I’ll probably have a better sprint when I get back to training if I have more muscular strength, though this is debated in the ‘cycling world’.

I’m not approaching this as a strength for cycling thing, there are resources for them and I say to heck with it. If I need to cut weight in the future, then I’ll do that, but it’s not a concern for now.

I’ll probably start riding 30 or so mins before I work out for a warmup, nice and easy cardio, but in time (hopefully by the summer), I want to work back to doing 2-4 hour rides a couple of times a week. Probably on off days.

Eventually, I’m probably going to end up working the weights more in the fall/winter and lowering the amount of riding I do, and then amp up the riding in late winter/spring, while continuing to do 2 body circuits a week to not lose too much.

I’m never going to be a pro at any of this stuff, so I guess this is almost a more ‘jack of all trades’ deal. Although, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I could bench my bodyweight 3x5 (albeit it was on a smith since I didn’t have a spotter) within a month of starting to lift again.

Thanks.[/quote]

You’re on the right track.

You’re right; it’s best to cut back training to 1 to 2 full-body sessions during the season. I think you should check Defranco’s recommendations for full-body sessions during the season.

Good, do more work for the posterior chain–the lats, glutes, hamstrings, and upper back–to correct muscular imbalances and prevent injuries.

Wohoo, I’m doing something right!

Is there a link for defranco’s recs?

Thanks again.

His recommendation on weight training for in-season athletes is in his Westside Barbell for Skinny Bastards Part III article.

Warming up for 30 minutes with cardio isn’t recommended; 5 to 10 minutes is. Excessive cardio done before weight training negatively affects the weight training, not vice versa. My warmup is 5 minutes of running followed by 10 mobility drills and foam rolling.

Ah, I’m not considering myself in season.

I have a quick further question.

Here’s the workout I’m going for:

Workout A
Squat 5x5
Bench Press 5x5
Inverted Rows 3xF
Push-ups 3xF
Reverse Crunch 3x12

Workout B
Squat 5x5
Overhead Press 5x5
Deadlift 1x5
Pull-ups/Chin-ups 3xF
Prone Bridges 3x30sec

Does anyone see any issue with combining the workouts for a full workout 3x a week (Mon weds fri). Of course, I wouldn’t do the squats twice haha.

Or would it be a better idea to do A on monday and thursday and B on tues and friday.

Thanks!

The second choice you listed would have you fried in one week.

The first choice is OK. And I say that again because you’re a beginner. An intermediate or advanced person would likely be toasted with that sort of full-body routine.

Dude, I’m not being a dick in saying that your education in weight training is severely lacking, indicated by giving your second choice any thought.

Thanks.

Edit: To be clear. I was going to start with the stronglifts program (i’ve seen it mentioned on this forum before) and this was going to be for the first bit till the weight got to body weight or so on. I can do squats, deadlifts, and bench press at body weight (150ish), so if I’m starting this at 80-100 lbs for all the lifts, then I’m fine till the weight gets higher.

I’d prefer to do the monday (A) tues(B) weds (OFF) thurs (A) friday (B) weekend (OFF) thing till I have trouble recovering, which will probably hit once I get to my body weight a month or so into the program.

So, I suppose I’m still not a pro at this, but I’m not completely naive. I’m also used to endurance workouts, so it’s really really really hard for me to put all the training and racing aside and tell myself that not training everyday is better for me. When I’m cycling, every day is a workout or recovery ride. It’s hard to separate yourself from the doctrine you’re used to…

I don’t understand. You can squat, bench press, and deadlift 150 pounds but you’re using 80 to 100 pounds in each lift. Unless one is using a percentage-based periodization scheme or peforming speed work with a lift, I don’t know why they’d use about 60% of their max.

Where did you get that a routine is worth quitting because one has reached lifts equal to their bodyweight? Some people can bench over two times their bodyweight. When people achieve that, does it mean that their current program is no good anymore? Other things call for changing a routine, not just how strong one has gotten on a routine.

If you want to squat and deadlift four times per week, go ahead - as long as you can recover. I offer advice, but if something works for someone that I can’t see working, then they should continue doing it. What anyone says doesn’t matter with that; there are people making progress on the goofiest and strangest routines.

Hey, although im no one huge and im not an advanced lifter but im currently doing stronglifts too and I think i can answer a question or two that hasn’t been answered already. Im not sure if your question about power cleans was addressed but if you read the stronglifts 5x5 page on their website you should notice there is a slightly modified program that includes power cleans.

Also, if the program says 3x a week with at least 48 hours of rest between workouts why would you do Mon/tues/thurs/fri? Why not just stick with the actual workout. The weights go up fast enough and if you do 4 workouts a week with little rest you might burn out quicker, from my knowledge. Once again, im no advanced lifter but i hope i can be of some help.

Oh also OH presses aren’t anything to be afraid of.

[quote]Bricknyce wrote:
I don’t understand. You can squat, bench press, and deadlift 150 pounds but you’re using 80 to 100 pounds in each lift. Unless one is using a percentage-based periodization scheme or peforming speed work with a lift, I don’t know why they’d use about 60% of their max.

Where did you get that a routine is worth quitting because one has reached lifts equal to their bodyweight? Some people can bench over two times their bodyweight. When people achieve that, does it mean that their current program is no good anymore? Other things call for changing a routine, not just how strong one has gotten on a routine.

If you want to squat and deadlift four times per week, go ahead - as long as you can recover. I offer advice, but if something works for someone that I can’t see working, then they should continue doing it. What anyone says doesn’t matter with that; there are people making progress on the goofiest and strangest routines. [/quote]

Sorry. We seem to be misunderstanding each other.

I’ve never had a ‘program’ or anything over my just going to the gym and working different things over the week. I had a little bit of a program that a friend made me for arms, pecs, and shoulders.

I was looking for something more ‘regulated’. While searching on here, I found something about stronglifts. I checked it out and it looked like something that I could start. I would want to add some upper body stuff (probably biceps and shoulders) because I do a few things that I’d like to keep up with, but other than that I wanted to start it.

They recommend starting with just the bar because you move up pretty fast. So instead of just starting with the bar, I talked to some people on that forum (not bringing anything else up here) and they said it was fine to drop down to 100 lbs and just go from there or to start at the bar and double up on the increase.

I don’t want to start at just the bar because I’ve already progressed from there, but part of the ‘program’ is to instill the form in you. So I can compromise and start the 5x5’s with 2/3 of my weight.

That’ll allow me to improve my form, while still pushing up my max. I’m going to raise my deadlift and BP by 10 lbs each session till I reach body weight, when I’ll drop to 5 lbs per session. For my squat I might go a little more slowly because I want to do this partially as rehab for my knee. Plus, because of cycling my upper body lags behind my legs.

So I’m now starting a program of sorts, I’m just not going to start it with just the bar because I think that’s stupid. Starting the 5x5’s with 2/3 of the weight will allow me to check out my form, and continue moving up on the weight without stalling as soon as I would if I start at my body weight.

Why, would you recommend starting with:
A) Same weights and going with the same protocol they recommend so I stall sooner?
B) What I’m doing with slightly lower weight so the form sinks in while I do the program and such.

The downside with going up by 10lbs each time is that you WILL stall out faster, now im not expert but this seems to be the overall consensus in stornglifts as well as with other 5x5. It’s supposed to be a gradual increase in weight, nothing so rushed. Also after OH press, the bench is what usually stalls first, in my experience and from what i’ve heard of from others.

Once again im no expert, but i think it might be of some benefit to stick with the 5lb increases, thats what i did and its worked out fantastic, im now doing with reps with what was previously my one rep maxes.

Right.

I think it’s a little silly to start with the bar since I’m past that. So I’ll start with 100 lbs, ramp up faster, and then start the ramp up at the usual pace when I hit where I’m currently at.

Stronglift’s protocol is 5 lbs per increase. I have a feeling I’ll stall out at some point. I feel like I’ll progress to that point sooner rather than later since I’ll essentially be starting at body weight.

We’ll deal with it when it happens. At this point, any lifting is going to make me stronger and put on weight.

Onwards!

[quote]ridethecliche wrote:
Right.

I think it’s a little silly to start with the bar since I’m past that. So I’ll start with 100 lbs, ramp up faster, and then start the ramp up at the usual pace when I hit where I’m currently at.[/quote]

Yes I understand what you’re saying. But have you actually read the article on stronglifts and the FAQs?