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Why are there so many squats in Stronglifts 5x5 ? [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 8, 2016 1:31:29 PM

Why are there so many squats in Stronglifts 5x5?

The main reason that there are so many squats in Stronglifts 5x5 is because it is one of the best movements for beginners to build a solid base from which they can go further.

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If you look at Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength or Greg Everett's book on Olympic weightlifting the squat is usually the first movement to be taught in depth. The reasons for that are its emphasis on hip, ankle, and knee mobility, which can be utilized in the Olympic lifts or other movements, and that the squat is a full-body exercise without being as heavy on the nervous system as the deadlift. In addition, it can also be done fairly save in a squat rack to start with, if done right.

In term of frequency you will do 75 squats a week when on 5x5. Compared to other beginner programs in crossfit or bodybuilding, this is actually not that much. Of course compared to intermediate powerlifting or olympic weightlifting programs it seems like way too much, but these fullfill other purposes. Another effect for beginners is that their rate of adaption is way higher and the learning curve a lot steeper than for most advanced lifters and therefore it makes sense to expose them to more volume.

Learning curve

This chart describes how performance increases for a certain task over a given number of trials or attempts, als known as the learning curve. The aim in lifting is to restart this process at every plateau by switching or resetting the program to achieve continous overload and therefore increase in strength and size of the lifter. Stronglifts 5x5 has been designed for beginners. Usually they can hit personal records every time when they step into the gym for a considerable amount of time. The learning curve for them accelerates quicker and the phase of steep acceleration covers a longer period in time. In my case this was about ten months. To take advantage of this effect you will find more squats in 5x5 than other intermediate lifting programs.


Another way of looking at this is the shown supercompensation model. While the curve looks relatively complex at first this means basically that at point B the ideal point in time has come to train the muscle group again for maxmised results whilst A is too early and C is too late. As beginners expose their bodies to a lesser stimulus per session due to less weight being moved point B comes in shorter intervals in time for a certain muscle group than for experienced lifters. While for beginners the interval for recovery is in the range of days, for more experienced olympic and powerlifters the recovery period might be weeks or even months depending on how far the lifter pushes the limit in a given session.

Professional powerlifters, for example, train an entire season to reach their peak performance. 


Compared to other programs like German Volume training or the deep water method Stronglifts 5x5 does not have a lot of squats. It just seems that within the program the squat is overrepresented when compared to the other lifts. The deadlift, bench press and overhead press are usually the bigger suspects for injuries (at least in my case). Other training programs across the board usually start with building good squat form to move on from there.That Stronglifts is written for beginners does not make a lot of squats a bad thing, but intentional and purposeful to the means the program wants to achieve, which is building general strength with free weights for beginners.


Further reading

Topics: Stronglifts 5x5, Squat, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman