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?
While there are more involved routines for women like Strong Curves, 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:
- Squats, Overhead Press, Deadlifts
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Or to get the lung burn with cardio like Cize or Insanity. 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.
What If I Don’t Have Access to Weights?
You can’t do StrongLifts without weights. That said, if you don’t have weight access, you might want to try TRX bands for strength training. They’re relatively inexpensive, can be used in your home, and allow you to use leverage and your body weight to get a goo strength workout. Learn more in our TRX workout video roundup here.
And if you want to mix strength training with HIIT, you could try getting your hands on an adjustable kettebell. Learn more about that in our Empower 3-n-1 Kettlebell review.
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!
Have questions? Comment below!