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Mass vs. Strength? Stronglifts 5x5?


So I've been training on and off for a year and a bit, seeking to add mass to my skinny frame, have made some slight gains using a split bodypart routine, chest mon, back tues, legs thurs, shoulders on fri.

But I became worried that I wasn't doing any of the big lifts, no bench press, no squats, no deads. Also, going to the gym 4 times a week just started to get on my tits.

Upon browsing the interwebs, I stumbled upon stronglifts 5x5 read it and it seemed like a good program to introduce me to the main lifts, but upon looking at pictures of the author, and reading threads and shizzle, I'm worried I may have been fed bullshit.

Basically the questions that I'm wanting answers for are:

-Are mass and strength polar opposites, or, will getting stronger in all the basic lifts, equate to me putting on mass?

-Mehdi doesn't look like Arnie, he has a better physique than me, but not really the ideal physique I would be looking to attain, does this mean that stronglifts 5x5 isn't a good program?

-If not, what program would you suggest for someone that has pretty much never squatted, benched or deadlifted any weight in their life?

Thanks for reading, any input from any source will be greatly appreciated.


I would say that 99% of the big guys on this website taught themselves how to squat, bench press, and deadlift by reading magazines, watching youtube videos of professionals, and observing others bigger than them in the gym doing them.

If you have an understanding of the basics, and the ability to actually push yourself and not be a total retard, then you don't need to follow a program - especially not one centered around the powerlifts if you have bodybuilding goals. Yes they are usually staples of a good muscle-building routine (along with several other exercises), but you said yourself that the 5x5 guy doesn't look the way you would want to look.

If you want to look like Arnold, why don't you read Arnold's books and follow his advice (which happens to be excellent)?


As Mr Poular said it really depends on your goals.

If you want to look like a Arnie you need to follow a bodybuilder type program, if you want to lift big weights you need to follow a powerlifter type program. (Yes, yes I know there is some cross-overs but in general)

I learnt exactly the way suggested by Mr Popular said (Thou I am by no means one of the big guys). You have to read, read and read somemore. It takes time to get it right but the more you practice the better you get.

As for wondering if strength training = mass? strength will bring mass but not the same level as a bodybuilder type routine, it is a different style of training using different methods.

You need to let us know what you want to achieve then we can maybe point you in the right way.


Arnold believed in the core lifts and getting stronger to build a base, and also competed as a powerlifter. He also used a 5x5 program to pack on mass.


Because supposedly, according to 5x5 at least:

'Some of the most accomplished bodybuilders started training for strength using heavy compound
exercises before getting into bodybuilding. Examples: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger was a competitive powerlifter for years, his best lifts: Squat 215 kg, Bench 200 kg and Deadlift 310 kg. That's a sick Bench
Press/Deadlift compared to his Squat which explains why Arnold's chest and back were his best
body parts while his legs never were that great. The lesson this teaches you is that if you have a weak body part, you should focus on getting it stronger.'

So I figured (if this is indeed true) I'd focus on getting bench, deads and squats up to a semi respectable level before switching to a more hypertrophy focused program


also depends on your current strength levels now. can you at least bench body weight? dead/squat 2x bw? if yes - do whatever you want dude,


No chance could I bench bodyweight atm.

So you'd suggest waiting till I can bench bw, do deads + squats 2xbw before switching to a hypertrophy focused program? Would stronglifts 5x5 be a good choice in that case?


5x5 is a real good program to start with because of the emphasis that it puts on the core strength compound movements. With that being said, I have a friend who started with 5x5 and isn't making much progress, so I can't say that I've seen the program actually work. But I do like the fact that it teaches you the basics. Maybe follow that for 3 months or so and then move on to something else?

I've also heard people mentioning that Starting Strength is a good program, so you may want to look into that, from what I can tell it seems to be similar to 5x5.

I've been doing 5/3/1 and it's working very well for me, but it's definitely not a good program for a beginner because you should be working on max rep calculations as a beginner because you will make much quicker progress than 5/3/1 is designed for when you are first starting out.


Your looking at this like a two sided coin..You can get "strength" on the big lifts (deadlift, squat, bench, overhead press) then do accessory exercises for "size". Yes, you do the accessories after your big lift.

A lot of this has to do with what your diet looks like, you can get stronger without gaining weight...but you won't get bigger. You can only get bigger if you eat enough.


if you can't move an appreciable amount of weight, bodybuilder-style workouts in the higher rep ranges probably won't help you as much as they could.

the big compound lifts utilize the most muscle and therefore will produce the most size, provided you are intaking enough protein and eating in a caloric surplus.

while "starting strength" may swing a bit too far in the direction of neglecting isolation work, the principles are pretty good. if you are benching 315, there is no way you can have a shitty chest. if you're deadlifting and squatting 405, chances are you're going to have some size.

read all the stickied threads and go from there


Complete and utter bullshit.

You are referencing Arnold as an example of someone who TRAINED LIKE A BODYBUILDER to get big and strong, occasionally competed in powerlifting competitions (not his main focus), and with that in mind you decide to focus only on the powerlifts?

In order to get stronger in the bench, deadlift, and squat, you need to make the muscles involved bigger and stronger. How does that not register with you as "hypertrophy" training? What makes you think splitting up your body logically and training with a comprehensive list of exercises means you somehow won't be getting much much stronger?

What reasoning could there possibly be for focusing on developing these three lifts alone, when you aren't a powerlifter, and could logically get bigger and stronger by doing ALL the basic bodybuilding exercises?

Arnold Schwarzenegger (and every other successful golden-age bodybuilder) spent the same amount of time doing barbell curls and lateral raises, as they did doing bench presses and squats, because when you are a bodybuilder you aim for complete symmetrical development. Powerlifting is NOT the "daddy" of bodybuilding, and you absolutely do not need to reach some ARBITRARY level of performance in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SPORT in order to start bodybuilding with an intelligent program.

This bullshit is like saying you must learn to throw a football a certain distance before you can start training all-out for basketball. Are there similarities and valuable training tools common to each sport? Yes. That doesn't mean that one sport must DEPEND on the other.

One of the commonalities between powerlifting and bodybuilding is that yes, making a muscle stronger while giving it enough nutrients will make a bigger muscle, but beyond that these two sports are polar opposites in many ways.




i'll second that motion.



You switched to a bodypart split but stopped doing "the big lifts". Fail.

You want to get bigger and stronger but dont like being in the gym 4 days a week. Pussy.


I think he meant "shouldn't be working by max rep calculations"? I'd agree with that. 5/3/1 adds five lbs every three to four weeks, where a beginner should be able to add at least five per week. And how are you supposed to know what 90% of your 1RM is when you've barely lifted before?

It would be a good follow-up to Starting Strength, though.


No. There are tons of people using Arnie's programs, and they don't look like Arnie. It's a decent enough program to follow while you're learning your body.

Starting Strength still gets my vote. Just the right amount of volume and frequency, and you start at rock bottom and work your way up. Add a little bit of accessory work and you're good to go.


Arnold did all the basics and often (benches, squats and deadliftis) very strong dude. You get bigger when you get stronger over a specific rep range and eat a surplus of calories, the basics are great lifts because they use a lot of muscles and you can move a lot of weight on those lifts and increase the weight pretty frequently.


I had good progress with Bill Starr 5x5 as a beginner.


pics of said progress.


What if he had strength progress? He is very vague in defining "progress" to simply ask for pics.


absolutely. my bad.

examples of said good progress.