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At 22 years old and 325 lbs (mostly fat) I rather desperately want (and need) to lose weight. However, I'm not a big fan of running. I do some biking, but I've been reading up more about weight lifting to lose weight, and have decided to start the Stronglifts 5x5 program.

What I was wondering is, is that enough on its own? Should I go for longer bike rides on my off days? Are there other weight lifting exercises I should include as part of my routine, or would that be too much with the stronglifts? I have access to a local gym that does have the equipment required, as well as other free weights and machines.

Weight loss is my key goal, but I would like to get stronger, which is another reason I desire to lift weights.

Just for information, I am attempting to eat a healthier diet as well (less junk food, more vegetables etc.)

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No matter what else, you should at least WALK FOR 35 MINUTES A DAY, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Start today - now! –  Joe Blow Sep 22 '11 at 18:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As a beginner is about the only time you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time. So, my suggestions for getting started:

  • Keep your diet in check. Nutrition helps you lose the weight while still getting enough energy to get your work done. 1g protein per pound of body weight. Stay light on the carbs, only post workout if you can do that.
  • Pay attention to the program. It's 1x5 on deadlifts, taper your warmups (two of the most common mistakes I see on people following this program).
  • Make your conditioning work for you, not against you.

In the beginning, the weight will feel light. Really light. During this time focus on form, in about a month's time you'll start to feel the weight getting heavy. You are building anaerobic strength, you don't want to do aerobic conditioning.

So, when you do your conditioning, do it after you lift and on the same day. Focus on high intensity intervals. It's better to use a crosstrainer, a rowing machine, or an elliptical machine because they get the upper and lower bodies involved. Go hard for a minute then go easy for a minute, and keep the cycle until you can't go any more or 20 minutes are up--whichever comes first. This is important: when you are having trouble doing the SL workout, you'll have to back off the conditioning. Also, rest on your rest days! You will only hurt yourself and start stalling sooner if you don't give your body time to rest and build the muscle you are asking it to do.

You will be hungry after the session. If you limit your carbs only to after you work out, you will be doing good. Protein will be more your friend while you are trying to lose weight and get stronger. Anything your body doesn't use to build stronger muscles will be used for energy later. It helps you feel full longer, and keeps you from overeating.

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What do you mean when you say to "taper" my warmups? –  Brett Lewis Sep 23 '11 at 12:18
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Tapering warm-ups means reducing the number of reps as you near the work sets. So if you'll be doing 5x5 of 200, your warm-ups might start at 5 reps of 45 pounds (maybe two sets), then 3 reps of 95#, then 2 reps of 145#, then 1 rep of 185#, then 5 sets of 5 reps of 200#. This reduces the amount of work spent on warm-up, maximizing the effort you can put into your work sets. –  Dave Liepmann Sep 23 '11 at 20:06

Stronglifts starts out very light, but once you reach significant weights, you will need every precious hour of rest and recovery you can get. Heavy squats done 3 times a week (plus deadlifts and all the rest) are demanding enough on the body that doing extra biking or running will ruin your lifting progress and leave you feeling lethargic and weak.

If you eat carefully, Stronglifts and similar lifting programs alone should help you lose weight. Lifting is commonly associated with gaining weight or bulking up, but if you eat carefully, you should be able to get stronger as you lose fat mass.

If Stronglifts is too easy in the beginning (or if it becomes too hard later) you can also look into Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength. The difference is that SS starts heavier, uses 3x5 instead of 5x5, and while squats and deadlifts are used in both, some other lifts are different.

Regardless, the key is to keep to your schedule, keep an eye on what you eat, and learn the lifts well. If you do that, your weight should figure itself out.

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I follow a version of the 5x5 program and have found it VERY helpful in developing strength with a side benefit of additional calorie burn (during/post workout). If your real focus is on weight loss - and I'll assume it body fat (BF%) loss you're looking for - you should really focus on your diet. A complete exercise program + diet is key to any weight loss (bf%) goal. The type of exercise is less important than the fact that you are including exercise in your bf% loss program.

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+1 Focus on diet for weightloss. The extra calories burned through exercise are nothing compared to those that can be cut out of the typical western diet. –  Christopher Bibbs Sep 22 '11 at 15:55

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