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I'm aware of what the report says but was advised to post the question. I am also interested in the responses more so that I can figure out how to proceed with my own gains.

One of the main draws I had to SL 5x5 was the 45 minute workout time, but now since things are getting a little tough, the rest time between heavy(relatively)sets is really drawing out the length of the workout to 1.5 hours easily. I was just advised recently by Dave Liepmann that this was normal and he also said that he changes the programming when this occurs.

I'm wondering if it's "time" to switch to SL 3x5 even though my lifts aren't THAT high?

For reference:

Squat: 230 DL: 175 Bench: 185 OHP: 110 Rows: 110

I would like to alter the programming so I can get in and out but I'm not sure I'm at the "level" to be doing SL 3x5 yet? Or could I be wrong? If it's not necessary I'm willing to continue putting in the long hour at the gym.

See, as far as rest times are concerned I typically don't need 5 minutes until my 4th or 5th squat, and the OHP has been incredibly hard. One day I'll pump out the sets easily and then when I go to increase the weight, the 5lb minimal increase will be extremely challenging in comparison. I'll try 2-3 minute rests but sometimes I feel that even that isn't enough.

On a typical squat for me I'll do final warmup-2-min-Set1-2min-Set2-3min-Set3-4min-Set4-5min-Set5.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The StrongLifts report, page 48, says the 5x5-to-3x5 switch often occurs around a squat of 200 pounds:

My own analysis of hundreds of training logs and surveys of StrongLifts Members shows that most guys usually need to switch from 5x5 to 3x5 once they hit the 200lbs mark on the Squat. Now before you fix on this number – many StrongLifts Members got way past that.... Instead of fixating on that 200lbs mark, use the deloads to figure out when to switch from StrongLifts 5x5 to StrongLifts 3x5. You should switch to 3x5 after you deload 2x on a lift.

So you're almost, but not quite, at the point where orthodox SL says to do three work sets instead of five. (This change does not affect the warm-up sets.) But 3x5 is a fine program, and there's nothing wrong with switching now.

Personally I like workouts that last 1.5 hours. However two hours can be draining, as can 5x5. In the past I've solved this by switching to 3x5 and/or further splitting the workouts, roughly like:

  • A: squat/pull-ups (in your case, barbell rows)/accessory work
  • B: deadlift/overhead press/accessory work
  • Rest day
  • Repeat. Note this breaks the A/rest/B/rest/A pattern!

Two side notes:

  • it's generally not advised to take a 2-minute rest between the final warm-up and the first work set. Warm-ups are generally bang-bang-bang, taking only the time necessary to switch plates.
  • if there's any way to make a 2.5 pound increase for the overhead press, do it. It makes progression in that lift so, so, so much easier. I filled socks with 1.25 pounds of sand and taped them closed in a loop. Other people use magnets and washers. Find a way.
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I did a 3x5 today for my workout and honestly felt pretty good after. I think that I would rather go straight to 3x5 than to deload because I really just don't like being setback. I altered my OHP after reading more about the form on the StrongLifts site after my first work set and found that squeezing my shoulder blades/lats together and bringing my elbows more forward gave me a stronger base to lift off from. Also, I wanted to let you know that I focused on tightening my core through each exercise today and definitely felt it getting sore as I was working through my sets. Good stuff! –  Christopher Bruce Feb 20 at 1:48
Would running on off days kill my gains? –  Christopher Bruce Feb 20 at 15:06

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