Starting Strength, Stronglifts 5x5 and Madcow 5x5 are popular and similar barbell strength training programs. They all use the same lifts and use sets of 5 and trains the full body 3 days a week. Starting Strength is for absolute beginners so the volume is low: 3 sets x 5 reps. Stronglifts 5x5 is for beginner - intermediate lifters so the volume is higher: 5 sets x 5 reps. Madcow 5x5 is for intermediate lifters. With heavy weights it becomes impossible to give 100 % effort on all 5 sets so the effort is ramped from 50% effort on the first set to 100% effort on the last set.
That means that one may only ever need one program with some minor modifications along the way.
I think these programs are great but one problem I have is that the workouts takes a long time. It is hard to give a 100 % on 3 big lifts in the same workout. Currently I am doing Starting Strength and spend ca. 90 minutes on each workout. Obviously this problem will only worsen as I move from 3 to 5 sets.
A solution I am considering is to split the program into lower body and upper body days and to train each musclegroup only 2 times a week:
- Tuesday: Benchpress, Barbell row (, arms)
- Wednesday: Squats (, abs)
- Saturday: Overhead press, Chin-ups (, arms)
- Sunday: Squats, Deadlift (, abs)
If I use 5x5 sets this will result in 10 sets per week for squat and 5 sets per week for benchpress. Which is slightly more than Starting Strength which has 9 sets per week for squat and 4 sets per week for benchpress. However the volume may still be a bit low. One simple idea I have for fixing this is to do 10 reps instead of 5 on the last set.
Another idea that I have for fixing this is to add 1-2 sets of an extra exercise after each main lift: - lunges after squats - dips after benchpress - incline bench after overhead press
I have also noticed that some criticize Starting Strength for causing "T-Rex like physique", meaning big legs but tiny arms. That is why I have added some extra "fluff" at the end of each workout: abs and arms. I was thinking maybe bodysaw and pallof press for abs and biceps curls and triceps extensions for arms and 2 sets x 10 reps.
My hope is that even with the extra exercises each workout will take ca. 1 hour.
What do you think of this idea?