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I am currently running StrongLifts 5x5 with Barbell Medicine's press plugin and the additional accessory work (dip/tricep extension, chin-up/curl). With warmup sets, the overall training session is running approximately two plus hours. I do not have set rest periods and try to rest only as long as needed to complete the next set. The accessory work was added gradually and the press plugin is relatively new.

I am happy with the results and continuing to progress but finding it difficult to maintain that length of training session while managing family, work, proper diet and sleep. Is it possible to split it over more days or multiple sessions within the same day?

  • You're doing two strength programs with additional accessory work? What is your ultimate goal? – DeeV Dec 2 '18 at 3:32
  • I saw it as one program; the plugin being an alternative to resetting. A bit pithy but I don't have a particular goal. Middle age. No competition dreams. Just trying to stay ahead of the end, I suppose. – amosbeamer Dec 2 '18 at 3:40
  • @DeeV It's not two strength programs, the press plugin replaces all the pressing movements in the original program. – David Scarlett Dec 2 '18 at 23:43
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    @amosbeamer how long are your rest periods, typically? Can you quantify "only as long as needed to complete the next set"? E.g. If you are needing 10 minutes between squat sets, that'll definitely result in a very long workout. – David Scarlett Dec 2 '18 at 23:45
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The explicit intent for Stronglifts 5x5 is to be a beginner's strength program that exploits linear progression to get people used to performing the big three lifts (squat, deadlift, bench). It does this by starting off really easy to give people time to learn the basic movements then it slowly ramps up little by little each training session. It does this very well despite being very plain and boring.

Because it starts off so easy and it's so plain and boring, people will often supplement it with other stuff. Then they stop progressing in SL because the other stuff makes them too exhausted.

SL actually does become incredibly hard and exhausting after a few months on the program if you continuously increase the weight each training cycle like it's designed. Because of that, I would say that on days you do SL, do SL as prescribed with the additional bench sets that are prescribed in the Barbell Medicine's press plugin. The overall length of the session shouldn't be longer than an hour, maybe 90 minutes tops if you have long rest periods (you don't currently, but you'll probably increase it as weights get heavier).

Since SL is only three days a week, you can do accessory work on the days in between. You can get away with not doing legs or ab accessories since you're squatting three days a week and sometimes deadlifting twice a week. So that limits what you can do. Overall the accessory day would be about 45 - 60 minutes.

So overall you would go from doing 2+ hours three days a week to about 1 hour five days a week. Or more accurately, one hour three days a week plus two optional one hour days.

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If you are using SL 5x5 plus 2 other programs you are not doing SL 5x5 routine anymore - your overall program is whole different beast all together.

2hr a day in the gym? It will only ever work if you are using steroids.

Take a step back, reconsider your goals and options and pick a program that you can progress for at least 12-16 weeks while feeling great. Too much stress and over-training will flood you body with cortisol and you will get shit results (unless of course you are using steroids, which I do not recommend).

I admit that SL 5x5 may be boring, so I would only recommend 1 more accessory exercise per each day. For example, 1 bicep exercise on day one and 1 chin-up exercise on day two.

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    "2hr a day in the gym? It will only ever work if you are using steroids" - this is a ridiculous claim. Can you back this up? I've been working out for 2hours a day, 4 to 6 days a week for years... And I know many others that do the same thing. – MJB Feb 8 '19 at 14:06

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