Is StrongLifts 5×5 a Good Weight Lifting Routine for Women?

Squats for StrongLifts

The squat is the foundation of Stronglifts 5×5.

The jury is in, and here’s what they’ve decided: women need to lift weights. No fitness guru with any real knowledge can deny this. Cardio is great and all, but weight lifting should be a part of any woman’s well rounded routine.

With that in mind, we’d like to take a look at a simple, no-frills weight lifting routine that’s gaining popularity with beginners all around the world. It’s called Stronglifts 5×5.

What is StrongLifts 5×5?

StrongLifts is a beginner’s weight lifting routine that’s meant to keep things simple. Rest assured, there aren’t a million lifts for you to master. Instead, you only have to learn 5 different compound lifts. In other words, these are the lifts that work the biggest and the most muscles. No wasting times trying to focus on small muscle groups.

Essentially there are 2 full body workouts, and you go back and forth between the two, three times a week, resting in between. The workouts are as follows:

  1. Squats, Overhead Press, Deadlifts
  2. Squats, Bench Press, Bent Over Rows

Why Are Some Women Hesitant to Start Stronglifts?

The most common thing said is “I don’t want to get bulky like a man.” Let me assure you, this fear is unfounded. Unless you lift, eat, and take hormones like a bodybuilder, you aren’t going to look like a man. Instead, you’ll lose body fat, develop a nice round butt, and balance out your body.

Do You Need to Be on a Diet to Do Stronglifts?

No. In fact, in many cases, being on a weight-loss diet during Stronglifts is probably a bad idea. Why? Because you need to make sure you are getting enough calories to keep up with your lifts. If you aren’t enough, you simply will not get stronger.

Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t be eating healthy. In fact, you need to focus on lean proteins, complex carbs, and high quality fats. In particular, make sure you are getting enough protein to help build muscle and burn fat.


The Pros for Women

There are quite a few positives here in respect to women. Let’s take a look:

  1. You start with nothing–Face it, most of us aren’t starting off very strong. The fact is, starting with an empty bar makes this program accessible to nearly any girl. And there’s no need to feel week or ashamed, because we are all starting out with no weight on the bar.
  2. You only have to learn a few lifts–Since women typically don’t lift, odds are you have no clue what to do with a barbell. This program teaches you a few basic lifts only. No complexity necessary.
  3. You practice form over and over–The light weight at the beginning coupled with the sheer volume of lifting forces you to practice your form, allowing you to stay safe and stave off injury.
  4. Focus on the butt and thighs–Perhaps the biggest benefit here is the fact that this program is so squat-intensive. There’s no way you can do this program right and NOT get the butt and thighs you dream of.
  5. Increased bone density–Especially when we hit 30, we start to lose bone density and increase our risk of Osteperosis. Lifting heav can help curb that.

The Cons for Women

While this program can do wonders for you, there are a couple of negatives.

First, weightlifting can tear up your hands. And for women concerned with keeping their hands soft (hey, I don’t wanna waste that mani), this can be an issue. Luckily, StrongLifts 5 X 5 doesn’t have to tear up your hands. You just need a good pair of weightlifting gloves to protect you as you lift.

I recommend the Meister Women’s Fit Grip Weighlifting Gloves for a few reasons:

  • They fit well. They’re designed specifically for a woman’s hand.
  • They’re cute. Aavailable in pink, turquoise, and black.
  • They’re comfy. The palms are padded.
  • They’re effective. The no-slip grip makes holding heavy weights easier.

Get your own pair by clicking the picture to the right.

Another con comes from one of the benefits actually. Many women are cardio junkies. Face it, we love to hit the open road and run for hours. It’s therapeutic and helps keep us trim. However, the sheer amount of squats you do in this program can put an end to all that running. There’s no way you can squat heavy three times a week and keep up with a heavy duty running program. That’s not to say that building those glutes and quads isn’t going to help your running, but you’re definitely going to have to dial things back if you get serious with StrongLifts.

Bottom Line, is StrongLifts Right for a Woman’s Weight Lifting Routine?


Man or woman, if you are a beginning lifter, this is a great program for you. Follow the program as written, and you are sure to see results!

Beginning the routine? Check out our other StrongLifts info for women!

Get Tips for StrongLifts 5×5 for Women in Your Inbox

Sign up to our mailing list and get more woman-specific information on StrongLifts 5×5! Just enter your email below.


Looking for a cardio workout that’s fun and easy on the joints to supplement your StrongLifts? Check out this review.

Have questions? Email us at womensfitnesshq at gmail dot com and ask. We will respond with any help or advice we can give!



16 Comments on "Is StrongLifts 5×5 a Good Weight Lifting Routine for Women?"

  1. l have never heard of and cannot find an “Overhead Rows” that is what you have up above as part of the 5×5. Do you mean bent over row?

  2. I have been doing stronglifts for 7 months now and it is the most awesome programme ever. I was very intimidated at first going to the weight section where I was the only female there. But with time I got used to it and now feel confident walking into that section.

  3. Sounds like I’ should give it a try!!!

  4. Just started this week, excited i am 51 year old grandmother

  5. Can’t wait to start

  6. Thinking about trying because lifting appeals to me…a little skeptical because I am very overweight. Is this the right program for me to start with?

    • This is one of many programs you could try. The best course of action is to start with changing your diet, and from there go with a program like stronglifts mixed with cardio. We recommend you speak to a doctor before beginning.

  7. The photo shows her holding the bar at her neck. It should be held lower down her back.

  8. How long is the workout maintainable?

    What if I have a physical issue with benching. Can I use a macHine to chest press?

    • WomensFitnessHQ | December 3, 2018 at 10:41 am | Reply

      This workout is maintainable for quite awhile assuming you follow it properly and deload properly when necessary. As for the physical issue, make sure to talk to a doctor. The advantage of free weights is that it exercises all the smaller stabilizer muscles and gives a full body workout, where as the machines just targets one specific area.

  9. I just recently started strong lifts, my question is, do I just continue to progress at the 5 lbs increments each workout until failure and then unload some weight?

    I have had a few stalls but I continue to press on.

  10. I have been lifting weights for a while and decided just to go back to basics. For a woman will this workout help burn bodyfat?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.