Why StrongLifts over GreySkull for beginners?

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October 17, 2018

Just curious. Looking forward to the discussion.

I personally think there's something to be said for AMRAP.

Post Information
Title Why StrongLifts over GreySkull for beginners?
Author weakandsensitive
Upvotes 20
Comments 60
Date 17 October 2018 09:31 PM UTC (2 years ago)
Subreddit askMRP
Link https://theredarchive.com/post/203884
Original Link https://old.reddit.com/r/askMRP/comments/9p2v4j/why_stronglifts_over_greyskull_for_beginners/
Similar Posts

[–]FixYourselfFirst10 points11 points  (6 children) | Copy

The best routine is the one you can stick to consistently.

The target audience here is married men, likely overweight and out of shape. Half of them will never visit the gym. Many will quit the gym in the first month. Simple and structured is better here.

IMO, SL5x5 is just a little simpler, with only two different 'days' and a free app for tracking. I do agree that the deloading plan is bad. I'd rather switch to an intermediate program sooner than SL5x5 recommends. GSLP fixes some of the issues with the deloading. AMRAP in GSLP is objectively better. I'm not convinced the increased complexity of GSLP is worth it.

Note that /fitness wiki has a good entry on what is wrong with SL5x5. Most of the issues don't apply if you do SL for only 3-6 months.

[–]FoxShitNasty831 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy

Looking at what's next after 5x5, 1 hour max per session 3 times a week but still simple so I can just turn up and lift. Looking at 5/3/1 but would appreciate some direction

[–]mindfulbutgutlessRed Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Check out "the bridge" by barbell medicine

[–]FixYourselfFirst1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

Read over 5/3/1 for Beginners.

There's different programs designed for different objectives. Do you want strength or muscle size, or a combination of the two? Is your target being in the top 5%-10% of men your age, or do want to hit 1% and possibly compete? /r/Fitness has a great curated list of recommended routines to pick from.

[–]FoxShitNasty830 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Thanks Mate, this is the programme for me. I like how the sets ramp up enabling you to focus on form whilst working the sets and pushing the reps. Barbell rows have fucked off which is good news. Looking forwards to deadlifting more.

[–]weakandsensitive[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

Note that /fitness wiki has a good entry on what is wrong with SL5x5.

Thanks for that link. The archived post explanations echo what I was thinking in my head about why I think GSLP is superior to SL5x5.

[–]hystericalbonding1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

I think they push GSLP so much because they miss Phrakture - previously active mod in /r/fitness and contributor to fitnesscirclejerk.

There are many alternatives. n-Suns programs are very good 5/3/1-based programs for guys with more time. Stronger by Science has a bunch of free programs for guys at all levels

Most successful coaches seem to employ something like AMRAP, RPE, or reps in reserve in their programs for drug-free lifters.

[–]johneyapocalypseThe one that says "Bad Motherfucker"5 points6 points  (6 children) | Copy

I'm traveling and only have a minute but I ran across a couple new articles that talked about training to failure. They studied both (1) strength and (2) muscle volume, and found no difference - across three different studies - between training to failure and quitting "while you still had a few in the tank."

In other words, whether you stopped at failure or not didn't actually matter.

While not necessarily specific to your question these studies are applicable considering the difference between the two programs.

I've been lifting for ages - a long ass-time - and have a solid foundation. I agree with what dude below said about giving newbies a game plan.

Personally, I'm not a fan of strong lifts. I lift for aesthetics, not strength, though over the years - through sheer repetition - I've become strong.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy

What to you is the difference between training for strength and aesthetics? How would the plans differ?

[–]innominating1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

If you are lifting for aesthetics and you are naturally bottom heavy (wider hips and thighs) then you would minimize squats and maximize OHP, BP, and weighted chins in order to increase the size of your upper body in relationship to your lower body. If you are lifting for strength, squats would likely be your best lift relative to your body weight and so you would maximize that to raise your overall number.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

How did you know I’m bottom heavy?

At this point I am more interested in aesthetics. I still workout legs... just because. But ideally I need to build up my upper body to be more proportional. I’m doing this program right now.


[–]FixYourselfFirst0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

In general:

Strength = 1-5 reps, lower reps of higher weights increases strength the most.

Aesthetics = 5-12 reps, higher reps of lower weights builds muscle volumes more.

Endurance - 12+ reps, lots of reps increases muscle endurance

[–]Carpenter48750 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast the other day and they had a fighter/trainer on there who was saying we should stop repping out to failure, and stop going balls to the wall every workout. Thought it was meh until he said (paraphrasing): Look at all the best boxers/fighters in other countries. Russia beats us everytime, and when you look at how they practice, it's very lighthearted and they go about 50%. But, they do that everyday, and they seem to enjoy it more. If we go only 3- 4 days a week (even if you go more, factor in vacation time), they still end up practicing/working out at least 20-40% more than we do, and have bigger gains over time.
If you're interested, I'll see if I can find the episode. He put it much more intelligently than I can relay, but it was something that stood out to me.

[–]johneyapocalypseThe one that says "Bad Motherfucker"0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

I saw that episode too - between the episode and the articles I'm looking at things a little differently. Maybe won't try to burst a blood vessel every damn time in the gym.

[–]Willkuer_2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy

SL makes you focus on only a few exercises and aims for strength increase - which you need as a newbie. It is sufficiently short to not skip it because of sudden realization that going to the gym now would totally kill your time plan. It creates very clear goals which you accomplish if you stick to the program.

I started with body weight and basically lost some months because everything I learned was how to properly do push up variations. Then I did SL and achieved some goals but somehow did not advance. Recently switched to some split workout after consulting a trainer and see further improvements but now I am lifting also more volume (if you want to lift more - lift more) but each muscle group less often per week.

I think investing time into SL was a good decision. Bodyweight was a poor one. Neither will lead me to where I am going to be.

[–]Reach180Red Beret4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy

Doesnt matter dude. Pick something simple and do it consistently.

5x5 is simple. Its 'good enough'. 'Good enough' is all you need.

As long as you are doing the main compound lifts, and sticking in the 5ish rep range @ 65-85 %, you'll get stronger. The program that keeps you interested is best.

[–]mitch2you802 points3 points  (6 children) | Copy

Biggest appeal to SL is the free app and the simplicity. Greyskull or 5/3/1 for beginners would give a more balanced routine. The "every day is leg day" of SL is one of it's main criticisms

[–]SteelToeShitKickerRed Beret7 points8 points  (4 children) | Copy

Having an app ready to go is key. I'm not doing spreadsheets in the gym.

[–]mitch2you802 points3 points  (2 children) | Copy

When you're ready to move on, check out regimy. Great app that's almost as easy. As long as you're doing one of the built in workouts. I've tracked 5/3/1 BBB and n-suns 4 day program using it. And it works great.

[–]freshona0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

FitNotes. Free, you can create your own workouts.

[–]SteelToeShitKickerRed Beret0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Looks interesting, I'll check it out, thanks for the tip.

[–]rocknrollchuck0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Simple Workout Log. Completely customizable as far as exercises and routines. You download the exercise list they provide, and then you can add additional ones yourself. You also put your own routines together from the exercises you have in the app. It takes more work to set up, but your routine will be exactly what you want, using the exact names you've chosen for each exercise. It also backs up to the cloud each time you exit the app.

They have it for Android, not sure about iPhone.

[–]helaughsinhidden0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

The "every day is leg day" of SL is one of it's main criticisms

This is one of the reasons I like it!

[–]screechhaterRed Beret2 points3 points  (2 children) | Copy

Makes no difference.

Form is key even using machines.

Pushing like hell is where the results come from.

[–]Red-Curious0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

And pulling. Gotta balance the pulling in there too.

[–]screechhaterRed Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

On my sausage

[–]mindfulbutgutlessRed Beret4 points5 points  (0 children) | Copy

You should definitely check out body by Jake. Perfect for beginners.


[–]RedPill-BlackLotusRed Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Because beginners need structure and direction. Thoes are solid programs well established.

Reading comprehension failure here. My bad.

[–]BryanW651 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Starting Strength is better for beginners than Stronglifts. Difference is 3 sets vs. 5 sets. It might not seem like much, but as a novice 3 sets of 5 is sufficient to cause the stress, recovery, adaptation cycle. So why waste your time doing an extra 2 sets, especially if you are old and sensitive to (excessive) volume?

Once you reach the end of your novice progression, then you need to move to intermediate programming like the Texas Method, 5/3/1, HLM, etc. I recommend Practical Programming for strength training if you are looking for intermediate programming ideas.

[–]hack3geRed Beret1 point2 points  (7 children) | Copy

Here's my take based on my experience with both.

I did 5x5 first and definitely gained strength but then I started to hit plateaus where I would reset and then only get back up to the point I was at prior to failure. I also wasn't seeing as much mass gain as I would have liked - it was there no doubt but I still felt like I was leaving something on the table.

I was researching intermediate programs when I came across GSLP and I figured why not give it a try for a few months. My results on GSLP have been better than I could have hoped - bench is up 40 lbs, deadlifts up 80 (I hadn't stalled here yet), row is up 30 lbs, ohp is up 20 lbs. I'm visibly thicker to the point where guys who were calling me ripped before (was 10% BF, 5'8", 155lbs - which /u/rian_stone told me was small and clearly he was right) are now asking how I got so huge so fast (probably around 12-13% BF & 170 lbs). My diet did change as I upped my calories so YMMV and some of the gains might purely be from eating more.

I personally can't argue with the results but I have a theory on why this program worked well for me. I seem to have gotten a ton out of the AMRAP portion so when I reset after a failure my AMRAPs are in like the 10-15 rep range and then slowly scale down as weight increases but those extra reps seem to make the heavier weights feel way lighter in a way that a normal 5x5 program doesn't work. Also, I seem to recover quicker and don't feel as lethargic when I do BJJ or muy thai in the evenings that I lift.

Also for those saying its easier with an app - you can download a program called "Personal Training Coach" and GSLP is one of the programs it supports - works just like 5x5 app.

[–]Rian_StoneMod / Red Beret0 points1 point  (6 children) | Copy

deleted What is this?

[–]hack3geRed Beret1 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy

Yeah I'm happy you called me out on my bullshit as I would have just keep trying to get leaner - I thought a six pack was the end state but in reality its more about a dominant frame and presence - funny how that is true both physically and mentally.

Shits been amazing throughout every part of my life - guys in BJJ tell me I feel 50 lbs heavier in side control, people can't sprawl on my takedowns as easily now and of course there is the look in the wife's eyes when I pick her up, throw her over my shoulder and carry her up the stairs to our bedroom with zero effort.

I used a few calculators to figure out my maximum muscle potential and its somewhere between 185 - 200 lbs @ 10% BF which is still crazy to me but considering I was 350 lbs at one point I guess my body is just built to carry more mass. Its going to take me some time to get there but I've split it out into smaller goals - first is bulk to 180 lbs then cut to 10% then repeat until I'm content with my size.

Also for anyone who was overweight before and dieted down take some advice from me - don't be afraid to bulk. If you get your body down to < 10% BF then you should bulk. Your body is much more resilient at that BF and as long as you bulk clean you won't gain much fat. I was paranoid about getting fat again but it just won't happen as long as you are strict with your diet plus you will learn that it is so much easier to cut than bulk and if you have done it before its simple to do it again. I no longer worry as I know that if I get past the level of leanness I'm comfortable with I can just cut back down in 6-8 weeks.

I thought I had reached my potentially physically but now realize I had barely scratched the surface and I'm fucking amped about the possibilities.

[–]Frosteecat0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

I'm curious what you used for your "max parameters" calculations. I've heard my ideal weight range @30 lbs from doctors. This can't be right. I've been at the low end and felt emaciated...now I'm pushing the other end and hoping to find a decent set of numbers so I can track progress realistically with lifting, cardio, diet etc all factored in as well. For now I just lift and that's working...want to fine tune a bit.

[–]hack3geRed Beret1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

I used this one:


This is also a good article on the subject:


Everything is a spectrum so take that into consideration - its possible you are a low responder or high responder and then the values will be off by a percentage higher or lower but it should give you a decent idea in terms of targets.

Also please don't listen to your doctor - they are fucking retarded. Back in the day I was running 120+ miles a week training for marathons and I got a letter from my doctor saying my blood work showed I should do more cardio. At that point I realized he was a lazy moron and really I was responsible for my own health apparently. The bullshit they use for BMI and other weight calculations don't take into account muscle mass. For example, my current BMI is 26.2 which is considered overweight - maybe I'm wrong but I am pretty sure someone overweight doesn't have a six pack.

Now a word of caution, don't bullshit yourself - you will over estimate your BF % by 5-8% for sure. I got tested and I was 10% but could have sworn I was around 8% - bump this up to the 15% range and you could easily be 20%+ which does make you fat. If you want a rough idea find a place near you with a bod pod or get a dexa scan - I'd recommend it for sure if you are just starting or trying to decide how to proceed.

[–]Frosteecat0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Thanks a lot for the links. I'm not into micromanaging, but the numbers (and doctors as you noted) out there are all over the place. I'll look into those links--appreciate it!!

[–]470_2_700_nm0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

Do you mean the difference between SL5x5 and GSLP?

[–]Rian_StoneMod / Red Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

deleted What is this?

[–]JDRoedellRed Beret1 point2 points  (2 children) | Copy

I’ve never done greysSkull but I’ve heard it’s a LOT of volume and takes a long time in the gym each session. May be too much for a new guy. I’m doing PHUL now and like it.

[–]short_n_harsh_dude3 points4 points  (1 child) | Copy

Lot of volume.. well I guess that you're talking about the weight section plus the frequency method? Then yes. Not sure about the long time in the gym, it's only three exercises 2x5 + AMRAP. I've been running GSLP for the past month and my workouts are done within 40 minutes max.

[–]JDRoedellRed Beret0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Ok, maybe I’m confusing it with something else I looked into. Maybe I’ll try it next

[–]ParaXilo0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Personally liking leangains reverse pyramid training. Quick and short. Planning to do it 3-4 times per week for at least 6 months.

I liked SL and GS as well though.

[–]bogeyd6Mod / Red Militia0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

SL5x5 is more of a set a personal maximum every time for months on end. Success builds upon success. When you leave the gym and you can walk back into the gym a day later makes a big difference. You quickly outgrow it, but most men who come here look for the easy way out.

[–]UnlimitedEgo0 points1 point  (9 children) | Copy

I think Stronglifts is killing by back. I'm doing a modified bent over row so it's not going from the floor. My squat form I felt was good - but lately I've been wondering.

[–]Reach180Red Beret1 point2 points  (2 children) | Copy

Just do dumbbell rows. I wouldn't sub anything else on the program, ever. But for this exercise, just get the reps in.

[–]UnlimitedEgo1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

I don't own dumbbells. Basement gym. Good advice though.

[–]Reach180Red Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Bands? Pull ups? Any pull will do. Home gym guys have to get creative sometimes.

Look up landmine rows - since you probably don't have the landmine attachment, just stick the end of your barbell in the corner of the room, load up the opposite end of the bar and row. ProTip: Wrap a towel around the end that's in the corner to protect your barbell and your floor.

Or, I made an adjustable DB for my home gym with 1" weights, some hose clamps, and a 24" gas pipe. Cost me $7 + .50 per pound.

[–]redwall920 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Deload. Fix your form. Get a buddy to watch your form. Post a vid over to the fitness sub for a form check.

Stronglifts isn't killing anything.

[–]helaughsinhidden0 points1 point  (4 children) | Copy

Mine too, my OHP form on the track was the problem I think. Took off about 5 days to recuperate while traveling for work.

[–]UnlimitedEgo0 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy

On the track? Aka on the program?

[–]helaughsinhidden0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

Maybe using the wrong word, perhaps a "smith machine" is the right term. It's where the bar slides up and down at a very slight incline on a track.

My gym (PF) doesn't have Olympic free weights, but just several "cages" like this: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RH9yIsMoUsE/maxresdefault.jpg

[–]UnlimitedEgo0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

Ahh, I use a power rack.

[–]helaughsinhidden0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

power rack

I wish they had those instead and thought about changing, but honestly, if my gym where any further away I wouldn't get in there often enough. I just have to keep working on technique.

[–]mattizie0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

I've stuck with 5x5 but added curls and triceps extensions to better target arms.

What's great about it is that its a lot of bang for your buck, and especially when you're just starting, you can be in and out of the gym within 30 minutes.

[–]helaughsinhidden1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

you can be in and out of the gym within 30 minutes

Well not exactly. You should be doing some warm ups too. The free version doesn't give you a recommended warm up but you should be adding a routine. I've been doing just the bar for 10x3 (practicing form), then 50% for 10x3 (loosen my body up) and 75% for 5x3 (warm up my muscles) before starting the workout itself. I don't know if that's a "good" workout but it seems to have helped me and I hurt the next day less often.

[–]mattizie1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

My warmup is stretching, 15 seconds each leg, just bending down, then pushing against a wall in lunge position to get a stretch in my legs, and also so I can bend my foot back more for more range of motion in my squat.

From there it's a warmup for each lift of 5 reps starting with just the bar, and then adding 20kg until reaching desired weight. No rest in between.

For the deadline day, it's 5mins warmup, 30 seconds per set of 5 lifts plus 90s rest in between. 10 minutes for squats, 10 minutes for overhead press, and then then 1 set of deadlift. Total 26 minutes when just starting out. Add in time waiting, finding weights, and general shit, and you're at about 30 minutes. 40 minutes for he alternate day.

Of course, when you start lifting heavy, and you have a 3 minute or 5 minute rest between sets, or if it's busy and you need to wait for the rack, then that can stretch out to a 90 minute workout. But when just starting, it's possible to be in and out in 30 minutes.

I'm by no means an expert, so you do you.

[–]LeanFatso0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Start with it to get your ass on the gym. It's easy to track and execute.

After you get used to the gym and it becomes a real part of your life you change to something more focused on what you want (Strength/Resistance, Aesthetics, etc).

I did SL for 7-8 months and got really bored with it, tried another program, didn't like and now started with nSuns (which I have been enjoying a lot).

[–]jacksarmy0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

/r/fitness stopped advising stronglifts and Greyskull with the frequency method should give you a better upper body, which will give a sexier look

[–]hystericalbonding0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy


It depends on ability to learn form, and ability to feel when form is starting to break down.

People who are new in the gym are mostly there to learn form. That requires submaximal reps. Novices are also frequently poor judges of how many reps they are from technical failure. Once they've learned the lifts and have the ability to feel the difference between form breakdown and just working hard, then AMRAP is great. That may take a few weeks, or someone may forever push themselves beyond technical failure and get into trouble.

Hard core red pill guys may prefer Greyskull because the author is very masculine, buys in to NLP and other concepts espoused in PUA, and doesn't act like a pussy. But if that's what you're aiming for, then 5/3/1 for beginners may be even better.

Volume is an issue more in the intermediate stage.

[–]gameoflibidos0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

agree with what most everyone is saying here... just want to add that both StrongLifts and GreySkull are powerlifting routines.

Look up youtube videos of olympic powerlifters. Specifically Lasha Talakhadze , who holds several powerlifting world records. His body type I'm pretty sure is not your goal. So make sure to make a plan going forward that includes powerlifts but you also need to alternate with high rep workouts that are specifically for hypertrophy. (Which is intended specifically to make muscles larger) Powerlifting will make your muscles stronger and denser but won't necessarily grow them a ton.

[–]ReddJiveRed Beret0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

I did SL at the start. I was a powerlifter in my younger days though. My gains were pretty quick as the body never really forgets.

I stayed on it for a long long time. Last summer I was doing SL every day. Yeah yeah yeah I know but it worked for me. I stayed on SL longer than most but the gains were still coming. I switched to Madcow just because, but soon I hit the 400 barrier i always hit. Injury came up as history showed. I always got hurt around the 400-450 range. Always.

That's when I got a coach and put my training in his hands. In 8 months I am nearing 600 pound range with the 3 major lifts, with a good shot at it by February. We will see. HIs workout program is destroying me. BUT No injuries.

As said earlier. Consistency and diet. Overall though know your body. Some don't respond to SL and find it difficult. Others hate the tediousness of it.

Finding a good trainer who's body looks like the one you want and has hit the goals you want is also key I think. He/she will know exactly how to train your body to get there.

You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea.

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