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Stronglifts or calisthenics

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

May 1, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Stronglifts or calisthenics

Stronglifts or calisthenics

Stronglifts is the better program if you like metal and to train indoors. This is the path to strength, but not necessarily the cutest looks. If you want to get toned and impress at the beach calisthenics might be the better way to go. 

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What is your why 

Before we go into the details of Stronglifts and calisthenics I would like to ask you a couple of questions 


  • Why do you compare Stronglifts and calisthenics?
  • Why do you want to build muscle?
  • Why do you want to get stronger? 
  • What happens when you do? 
  • What happens when you don’t?


These questions might seem trivial. Some might find them intrusive. Whatever you think they are vital to achieving your long-term success. Why are there so many New Years resolutions that people do not follow through with? They say they want that better body and lose 20 pounds. When they see no results by February they give up and the daily routine takes over. This has a reason. Most people think and act like this: 


  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 


This way of thinking sets you up for short-term focus and is unlikely to get results. What you want changes constantly during a day. You want food, a toilet, heating, praise, love, and respect depending on the situation just to make a few. To execute a long-term focused plan start thinking and acting like this: 


  • Why do I want this 
  • How do I get it 
  • What do I need to do to get it 


This little shift will make you feel more fulfilled and see more meaning in your daily activities. As an added bi us it will also become easier to convince others if your way of thinking as you are able to explain the underlying motivation. If you are not convinced yet look up Simon Sinek's TED talk on the golden circle. He makes a very compelling case.




Stronglifts is one of the most known beginner programs with a barbell out there. You will train three times a week using the following exercises: 



You will squat each session and rotate all other exercises. The program is started from an empty bar except for the deadlift and row. The aim is to complete a complex of five sets by five repetitions for each exercise. The only exception is the deadlift which is programmed in with 1x5 per week. If you complete 5x5 repetitions you go up in weight. If you fail three times you deload 10%. The Free Stronglifts 5x5 App does a brilliant job at tracking this. If you are interested in more details on the program read my review of Stronglifts 5x5.


The biggest advantages of Stronglifts are its simplicity and effectiveness. It is easy to follow and execute. The injury risk is minimized as you start from an empty bar. Rock solid program with only minor drawbacks. 


The biggest disadvantages of Stronglifts are its lack of specificity and marketing. The marketing clearly overstates the gains you will make. While this is true for almost any program out there it is demotivating for beginners. Stronglifts is also not ideal if you are very small and light or big and strong. You will either over- or undertrain as the templates does not adapt for that. 




First of all, it is apples and oranges to compare Calisthenics and Stronglifts. Calisthenics is a group and style of exercises while Stronglifts is a specific program within the realm of the training style of powerlifting and weightlifting


So it would be more appropriate to compare a calisthenics program over a certain time with Stronglifts. That being said I do see the need to compare. 


Calisthenics mainly focuses on body weight exercises to tone your body. Pull-ups and dips are the main stakes in the routines. 


The biggest advantages of calisthenics are that you can do it almost anywhere at a minimum cost and that it creates very impressive physiques. 


The biggest disadvantages of calisthenics are that process can be quite slow and that it needs good body awareness. Not everyone brings the consistency or fluency to the table. 


Should you do Stronglifts or calisthenics 


If you like climbing, hiking and generally being outdoors I think go with calisthenics. There are these hyper kids that seemingly can climb on anything without hurting themselves. If you were one of those go with calisthenics. 


If you are like me and don’t like anything hectic, enjoy the grind and want to be the strongest without caring too much about appearances go with Stronglifts 


Further reading 




Topics: Lift stronger, Stronglifts 5x5, Fitness, Strength