Okay I get it. You have been lifting for a while. Maybe 3 months. Maybe 6 months. Maybe a year. You want to spice it up. You want to see more progress. You just want a change for once. When should you change your program? For most people who started strength training, Stronglifts is a very fundamental program that many use at the start. Although I do not recommend it, it is in fact what many people start out with. So when should you move on?
If you have been following Stronglifts seriously and consistently, with progressive overload, you can stop it when you do not see anymore linear progress. In other words, 6 to 9 months of real training, not circlejerking.
Why should you trust me?
I also did a variation of Stronglifts 5×5 when I first started out lifting. In the future, I will write an article about how to start out strength training as a beginner. But, for now, I will just say that I did Ice Cream Fitness 5×5, for about 7 months, before I switched over to a variation of 5/3/1.
Just some background
In primary school, I loved to play soccer with my void deck buddies. However, when PSLE came, I stopped playing soccer and I never really started playing any sports from that point. So I was completely focused on CSGO for my Secondary 1 and 2 days. (Although it was very unproductive, I would not say I wasted the time.)
In Secondary 3, I wanted to change all that.
I spent a whole year researching and delved into lifting the next year. I started out with what is now warm up weights for me. Bench pressing 10kg and squatting 20kg. I did not really dare to touch the deadlift at all because of how hard it was. As time passed, I realised that my progress began to pick up. I researched more on technique and began to fix it.
As I got better, I also became more confident at the gym, and I began to talk to the frequent gym-goers there. Soon, I managed to make friends with many of the experienced lifters there and gain their knowledge.
I still remember the day I hit a one plate bench press, I was so happy. I was actually jumping for joy. However, little did I know that, at that point, it was when my progress began to slow down. From the beginning till about 5 months in, I managed to add weights weekly, progressing linearly. However, as the weights got heavier, I realised that linear progression was no longer possible for me.
I simply could not lift the heavier weight week by week.
I could not progress linearly anymore.
It was time that I switched off.
I began researching the Internet again. Asking people for their advice and when they switch off of 5×5. Back then, replies were not that common, and I still realised there is not a particularly concise post that answers this question directly.
I decided that instead of a daily undulating periodization (DUP), I had to switch to a weekly undulating program. This is when I switched to nSuns 5/3/1, a program with volume turned to the maximum. I will review it in a future article.
Anyways, I have come to the conclusion that the best time to stop Stronglifts 5×5 is when you have done it for about 7 months.
At the 5 month mark, I basically could not progress from workout to workout.
Within the 2 months, I tried to increase my caloric intake, because I thought that was the main problem. However, it took me 2 months of experimentation and trial and error, to realise that this program was no longer suitable for my body type level of advancement.
However, you must understand that everybody’s body works differently.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.
For the record, when I switched away from this program, my 1 rep maxes were
Bench press – 80kg
Squat – 100kg
Deadlift – 90kg (Yes my deadlift was still pretty weak)
These values are estimated as I did not really record down my progress weekly on an excel sheet, unlike what I do now.
Stop stronglifts when you stop progressing linearly.