StrongLifts is a brilliantly simple yet effective app aimed at making you stronger over time by focusing on just 5 key barbell exercises.
It’s central premise is that in order to get strong, focus on five moves – squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press and bent over row – and ditch the rest.
It’s genius lies in its startling simplicity. There are only 2 different alternating workouts patterns, done 3 times per week. The first is squats, overhead press, deadlift. The second is squats (again), bench press, bent over row. Each exercise is usually performed 5 times, 5 sets (5×5). And that is it.
Once installed, expect to receive daily emails from creator Mehdi for a week or so providing motivation, tips and answers to FAQs. The views expressed in his emails are splendidly dogmatic – it’s basically Mehdi’s way or the highway – but they make a ton of sense. Don’t have the equipment? Sell some stuff on eBay. Can I start heavy? No. Etcetera.
When you first start out, the weights are surprisingly light, forcing you to concentrate on form, using in built videos to help (all in the amazing free version). Once you hit the wall – and YOU WILL KNOW when this happens – you will yearn for the good old days of squatting a measly 50kg, so don’t rush. If you are lacking in equipment (heavy enough barbell, squat rack) you will eventually hit the point where you need to decide how to proceed, i.e. buy the stuff, take it to the gym, or move on. I know what Mehdi would say to the last suggestion.
The paid version offers guided warm-ups, a plate calculator for the arithmetically challenged, assistance exercises (i.e. other moves to complement the workout), different set/rep schemes and the ability to export workouts.
By rights, this app should be really boring. But the combination of simple moves, incremental improvement and clean design makes you come back for more.