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Stronglifts vs Greyskull

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Feb 1, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Stronglifts vs Greyskull

Stronglifts vs Greyskull


GreySkull and Stronglifts are both beginner programs. If you just are about to start, go with Stronglifts. If you already know your body and limits around a barbell you can sprinkle in a Greyskull cycle. 


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What is your goal 

Before we start let me ask you a couple of questions:


Whatever brought you here it is important that you know your goals. What is your main focus during training? Clear goals will get you clear results. Fussy goals get fussy results. To have clearer goals it can be helpful to dig deeper on motivation. In fitness there are three main fields of motivation: 


  • Looks 
  • Performance 
  • Health 


If you are all about looks you will have a hard time. The competition you are up against uses every trick in the book. Photoshop, supplements, peak photo shoots with drip feeds of pictures. You think these models and superstars look perfect all year around. This is the picture that their agencies want you to perceive. Reality is a little different. Be prepared to be hungry, angry and tired when you chase these looks. Constantly starving yourself and is neither healthy nor creates good athletes. But you don’t care about that as the main goal is to get on the cover. 


If you are all about performance the picture shifts. Now you pick all the exercises based on how they help in your sports rather than how they make you look. Diet will take a back seat to fuel your admonition. The main driver of success will be intensity. The more intense and long your training the better the results. You will keep pushing until you can not go any further. This will lead to injury and some unpretty sights. That will all be forgotten when you make it to the top of the leaderboard. 


The last group is mainly interested in health. You will for balance in everything you do. The extremes are avoided. Burn out and injury seldom occurs as you do not push yourself hard enough. You will enjoy tea and yoga and watch the crazy and athletes pass by in their miserable lives. 


As you are comparing Greyskulls and Stronglifts you are probably at the beginning of the journey to a performance-driven schedule. Pause and think what you specifically want to achieve by this. 




Stronglifts is one of the most famous beginner lifting program out there. With Stronglifts you will train three times a week using the following exercises 



You will squat every training day. All other exercises will be rotated. All exercises except the deadlift and row will start from an empty bar. Except for the deadlift the goal is to complete five repetitions for five sets for the day. The deadlift is programmed in with less volume at 1x5. 


Once you complete 5x5 you increase the weight for the next session. If you fail a particular load more than three times in a row you reload by ten percent. The free Stronglifts 5x5 app is a great way of tracking your progress. 


The biggest advantages of Stronglifts are its simplicity and clear progression path. You will always know whether you are having a good or bad day. The next step based on performance will also always be clear. 


The biggest disadvantages of Stronglifts are its lack of specificity and marketing. If you deviate far from average in size or strength or both Stronglifts will be not ideal. If you are small and weak you will overtrain. If you are big and strong you will undertrain. The marketing of Stronglifts suggests that this easy to get ripped and strong like a bull on Stronglifts. That is a bit of an overstatement. A middle of the road program gets you average results. If you don’t pair Stronglifts with avoiding diet your results will also be poor.








Greyskull is also a beginner lifting program which is less Popular than Stronglifts 5x5. You will train for three days a week. Each day you will either bench press or overhead press. You will squat two times a week and deadlift one time a week. The exercises you will perform are:



As with Stronglifts GreySkull works with sets of five but at a lower overall volume. You will only do three sets each day per exercise except the deadlift where you will only do one. The big difference is that autoregulation is introduced via the last set. 


The last set of each GreySkull day is as many repetitions as a possible set. This means that you do as many reps as you can until you feel like you would fail the next repetition. Autoregulation is a concept that many beginner programs overlook. It means that you can push yourself on any given day to progress faster. On bad days the autoregulation will jump in and scale things back. 


The biggest advantages of GreySkull are that it is simple and still provides autoregulation. This will help to keep things interesting and not go stale. 


The biggest disadvantage of GreySkull is that it needs a bigger ability to be able to regulate yourself. There is a reason why many fans of GreySkull did Stronglifts or starting strength before. They now understand the dynamics of training better and prefer a program with autoregulation.


Should you do Stronglifts or Greyskull?


That depends on your goals and personality. If you need a program that is easy to follow and requires little to no thinking go with Stronglifts 5x5. I also think if you are an undertrained teenager with barely any muscle on Stronglifts is the better bet. There is less risk of being too smart for your own good. 


If you are a well-built trainee who already knows their body and limits try GreySkull. The more it is clear that you want to compete as quickly as possible, the better GreySkull will be for you. If you work with a powerlifting coach who has not the time or does not see the need for an individual program yet you will be well off to pick GreySkull instead of other linear programs.


Further reading 


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