A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

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KenDowns
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A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by KenDowns » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:53 pm

This is kind of inspired both by my own experience and Diana's thread on Boot camp.

I like Stronglifts, it was a great program. I think Mehdi is a pretty good writer. He's the perfect kindergarten teacher, staying focused on beginner issues and never getting distracted by other stuff.

But he stresses heavily that you should try to stay on the program as long as possible, which is kind of like telling people to stay in kindergarten as long as possible. Because I found his program so effective in the beginning, I assumed he knew what he was talking about here too. But maybe not. This advice may be fine for a 25 year old gifted male, but for the other 99% of the population what is the result of this?

Well, the period where I made undisputed linear gains on squat was 4/26 - 5/29, exactly 16 sessions, where my 5x5 went from 115 to 190. Then I failed on 195. From then until now my progress has been paltry, and only now have I, with the help of folks here, worked out why. I now know my squats are not going to go anywhere until I get my legs stronger, and that means accessories.

But on Stronglifts, once you get to the brutal stage, it takes at least an hour to do 3 heavy lifts per session every single session and the idea of more work after that is horrifying. The only way to continue making progress is to get off the program.

What if the advice were different: "Once you stall after a period of long progress you may have hit limits that you will not be able to deal with just by hammering the main lifts. Find an advanced program that spreads out the work and lets you fill in the gaps."

That little paragraph above in quotes is an amalgamation of the advice I've been given here. I don't want to blame Mehdi for decisions I made, but I just think he owes it to his readers to get much more thoroughly into what graduation means, when to do it based on age, sex, body type, and so forth. It would have given me even more reason to recommend him, instead of recommending with the warning, "just watch out, he's going to tell you to stick with it long after it's appropriate."

Final rant: The worst thing about it is that I did not even ask questions here that led me to consider leaving the program until well after it wasn't working. I guess that's the part I blame Mehdi for :evil: I eventually take the advice given here (even if I'm a bit stubborn and ask a lot of questions), and it has always worked, but if he had not told me repeatedly to stick with Stronglifts as long as possible I would have asked those questions sooner. Arg and double arg. That is the core of the rant, right there.

To end on a happy note, once I asked the right questions and took everyone's advice and went with 5/3/1, the huge change was maintaining complete focus on only one lift on a given day. This has resulted in immediate improvements in Press, a confident diagnosis of a long-standing issue with squats, happy uninterrupted progress on deads, a resumption of progress on chins, and a happy major progression on rows. Not to mention, as I told Diana, the workouts are more fun than they ever were, with variety and something interesting to do each day.

OK, end of rant, had to get that off my chest, thanks for listening.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:23 pm

It's like I cant help reading your posts, albeit disturbingly.

I didn't really think you stalled long on SL. I read this as if you should have departed ways much sooner, had you only felt the freedom from Mendhi to do so. How long is "well after it wasn't working"

Also, doesn't he suggest going to 3x5, after a couple resets?

And, were you eating enough to support a pure strength program? Maybe Mendi does not emphasis that like SS does.

And of course there is the obligatory "no kidding" response to your post.

I'd say SL served you well, not that you disagree with that in general. You just discovered a bit later than some would, and earlier than others would, that one size does not fit all. From his point of view he needs to push us to stick with it to try to make sure we dont quit before we really should. He realizes those that give it 100% may still have to seek another program, like you did. But if he says:
"give it a whirl, it should work for quite awhile, or not so long, not sure, keep at it, see what ya think.... post on forums, help older ladies with the program, converse about results, find out about 5/3/1, its more fun... but yeah, stick with SL5x5 for a bit, or so.." Most all would quit way before potential reached. For what he is trying to do, I cant fault him, much

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by The_dog_mom » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:27 pm

As the aforementioned person I sort of agree with Ken. I say sort of for 2 reasons. One it took me a bit longer to realize my gains. I did not understand that I was stronger than I thought so the beginning of my program was more about gaining confidence rather than strength. Once I got over that hump is when I saw great gains and now I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall and I am losing the confidence I once had.
But he stresses heavily that you should try to stay on the program as long as possible, which is kind of like telling people to stay in kindergarten as long as possible.
To continue with Ken's kindergarten analogy do we really need to drink from a sippy cup that long?

Oscar Wrote:
post on forums, help older ladies with the program,
:-) you always find a way don't you.

EDIT: Oscar I sure wished you lived near me because you would make a great training partner. I would love to kick you butt in the gym or at least die trying:wink:

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:32 pm

The_dog_mom wrote:EDIT: Oscar I sure wished you lived near me because you would make a great training partner. I would love to kick you butt in the gym or at least die trying:wink:
you really should set higher goals for yourself.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by KenDowns » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:40 pm

Oscar you must be losing your touch, I handed you this on a silver platter:

"So Ken, how long you expect to be doing 5/3/1?"

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by digger » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:29 pm

SL, has become more difficult for sure. Squat is now 240lbs and a reset is in the near future. Its still working and I hope it will continue to work @ 3x5. But if it doesn't I'll ditch it in a heart beat for an alternative that will.

One of my biggest problems in life is that I always see greener grass, I am forcing myself to stick with this until I am absolutely sure that my ego is not part of the equation.

Its very gratifying to lift the weight, that is trying to beat me. I scream and yell and say, told ya so.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by KenDowns » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:38 pm

digger wrote:Its very gratifying to lift the weight, that is trying to beat me. I scream and yell and say, told ya so.
Sweet.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by nygmen » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:53 pm

digger wrote:
One of my biggest problems in life is that I always see greener grass,

So, you are married too? ;)


Ken,

It is my pleasure to watch your evolution in thought processes. Very interesting to watch from the outside looking in. Particularly when you are having similar "struggles" that I had mentally.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:22 pm

KenDowns wrote:Oscar you must be losing your touch, I handed you this on a silver platter:

"So Ken, how long you expect to be doing 5/3/1?"
1. I dont go for the easy ones all the time
2. I've never been with one program for 30 days
3. I'm not all about the jokes
4. zinger alert....
nygmen wrote:[Ken,

It is my pleasure to watch your evolution in thought processes. Very interesting to watch from the outside looking in. Particularly when you are having similar "struggles" that I had mentally.
I'm waiting for that ultimate epiphany of epiphany's: "I still know relatively nothing, really"

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by digger » Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:27 am

nygmen wrote:
digger wrote:
One of my biggest problems in life is that I always see greener grass,

So, you are married too? ;)

Nope, see that's the problem. I'm always mowing someone else's lawn and getting caught :lol:

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by KenDowns » Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:27 am

Oscar_Actuary wrote:I didn't really think you stalled long on SL. I read this as if you should have departed ways much sooner, had you only felt the freedom from Mendhi to do so. How long is "well after it wasn't working"
hmmm (digging through old logs)

Made uninterrupted linear progress on all lifts for first 8 weeks, stalled on squat and row that week, and Press the next week. (Note: i'd worked up to a big bench relative to other lifts before doing SL, so it never stalled). Deadlift never stalled. After a stall I would deload 20% and resume, typically gaining 2-3 sessions past the stall point before stalling again.

Continued with Stronglifts for 7 weeks before Pete kind of broke the spell when I asked a question about it and I realized that going back 20% to gain another 3 sessions was getting me less than 5#/week on squat. I was better off on an intermediate! So I went to Madcow, which begins with a 4 week deload from the SL numbers, but soon realized it was "SL part two" and that's when I stopped looking to Mehdi for further programming advice.

So I think of it this way:
- 8 weeks of progress
- 7 weeks of progress slightly above what I might have made on 5/3/1 (to be fair I didn't know about 5/3/1 at this time and had not asked any question that would cause anybody here to suggest it)
- 4 weeks wasted on Madcow repeating the last 7 weeks of SL

I cannot and do not blame Mehdi for what I knew myself: I knew he was touting the success stories, "this guy kept with it for 9 months!" So I figured, "What does that mean for me, 6 months?" I never dreamed the answer was two.

I also cannot blame Mehdi that I had now caught "progress fever" and because of it I failed to do the most simple arithmetic and realize at the second stall that this was now a very slow progress program for me.

The only thing I'm ranting about is that he tells you in his writing that he analyzes logs all of the time, looking for ways to improve the program. He also says he worked in IT, so he or somebody he knows could have run some basic bell curves on age, sex, weight and give us a clue how long we can expect the program to be optimal. Not only does he not do this, he does the opposite, telling everybody to stick with it as long as possible.
Oscar_Actuary wrote:Also, doesn't he suggest going to 3x5, after a couple resets?
Yes he does, but once I hit the 3x5 stage he had lost credibility with me, and I was beginning to itch to get out of kindergarten.
Oscar_Actuary wrote:And, were you eating enough to support a pure strength program? Maybe Mendi does not emphasis that like SS does.
I had modified sleep and diet long before starting Stronglifts:
- Aug 25th, 2010 beginning of "I ought to get in shape"
- November 2011 began "eat real food" diet
- Jan 2, 2011 log says, "diet, 2nd attempt, week 1". Ouch, guess I'd had some trouble!
- April 7, 2011, begin Stronglifts
Oscar_Actuary wrote:You just discovered a bit later than some would, and earlier than others would, that one size does not fit all.
Au Contraire! One-size-fits all worked great, probably for about as long as anybody else in my age/sex/weight category. It's the lack of "exit" signs that cost me time, the sign that says, "For 45-50 yr old males who tend to the skinny side, average duration of optimal gains in this program is..."
Oscar_Actuary wrote:From his point of view he needs to push us to stick with it to try to make sure we dont quit before we really should. He realizes those that give it 100% may still have to seek another program, like you did. But if he says:
"give it a whirl, it should work for quite awhile, or not so long, not sure, keep at it, see what ya think.... post on forums, help older ladies with the program, converse about results, find out about 5/3/1, its more fun... but yeah, stick with SL5x5 for a bit, or so.." Most all would quit way before potential reached. For what he is trying to do, I cant fault him, much
I don't know. I tend to be in the crowd that figures the quitters are going to quit anyway and the determined ones are going to learn what's BS and what's real and keep going. He helps a lot with that by clearing away huge amounts of BS and giving you just what you need for a foundation, but then he tosses his own bs in front of you: "everybody everywhere of every sex, age, and weight should do this absolutely as long as possible." It just ain't true.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by The_dog_mom » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:31 am

Ken has got me thinking. Recently I added some complex routines to my workout both after my SL and on days off.
I haven't added a ton just some kettlebell work with 10#'s.

The day after each workout I am so sore in places that obviously don't get worked, for one my abs from planks, and my triceps (well that makes two) I don't notice any soreness in my glutes or quads. I find it difficult to beleive there can be further progression without developing these other muscles.

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:53 pm

KenDowns wrote:I cannot and do not blame Mehdi for what I knew myself: I knew he was touting the success stories, "this guy kept with it for 9 months!" So I figured, "What does that mean for me, 6 months?" I never dreamed the answer was two.
Oscar_Actuary wrote:Also, doesn't he suggest going to 3x5, after a couple resets?
Yes he does, but once I hit the 3x5 stage he had lost credibility with me, and I was beginning to itch to get out of kindergarten.
I appreciate the response

Even 6 months, increasing Press 30#/month, one would realistically know that is not likely for genetic normal folks.
I didn't see where you talk about putting on plenty of mass to support a program like this for longer term progression. That would have to matter. I will stall even more, when I actually try to lose weight again, but for awhile, getting stronger has been the goal, while ignoring too much, my health.

I sorta see that you feel duped. Like Mendhi hooked you with a simple program, almost dumbing you down. Taking your need to think away. And then it hit you a bit late, and you resent him. He spoon fed you but kinda tricked you at the same time. Jim W doesn't doumb you down as much, you feel more empowered.

I think the biggest problem is the imbalances you'll create staying with it for a long time. And boring.

How old are you??

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Re: A bit of a rant on Stronglifts

Post by Dub » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:09 am

It has been two weeks since I began the SL program, and was already sceptic about the whole issue. I think it's very personal how this stuff works. I have always thought it was obvious that you can't go on with the same program for several months. Atleast my mind needs something new and different every now and then, and the progress doesn't last forever. I think Stronglifts is just one of the good programs you should try out. But it's not the only good one. After reading all of the hypeguide that came with the program, I'm left with the feeling that it is the only program that gets you progress. Every tale has the same routine: Do months of some different program and make zero progress. After starting the 5x5 their results pop up for tens of kilograms. Now either these people don't know a thing about gaining strength or muscle, or the hypes are greately over exaggerated. Maybe the stronglifts just causes motivation to rise, and makes you more aware of the results you gain. I mean when you have the support of "tens and thousands" of "normal people" you might believe that this is the only thing that works for you. Until it stops working.

I said earlier that my mind doesn't quite cope with sticking with the same program for so long. I've told you before that I like to test and try out different programs to see what really work for me. And at the same time I just might recommend these programs to others too, as that will be my job in the future. It just grows to be a bit boring to repeat five lifts for half a year. I lose motivation even tho I might make small progress. I'm not these guys who do it so seriously, I'm not going to compete in powerlifting or anything like that. I do it for my health, and because it's fun and also a bit amazing to see what you can do with your body, and how you can modify it.

And about my stronglift feelings; it still feels light, not as light as before but it still takes one or two weeks when the true lifting starts. I still don't want to rush things though, I just wait and see if the progress will happen at all. Sets still last only for about half an hour and that sometimes de-motivates me a bit, since I've grown into that 45 minute minimium mark of a set.

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