On a scale from the simple to the very complex strength-training program, the Stronglifts program is on the simple side, as it contains just five different exercises. But don't think that simple equals easy. If you follow the program to the letter, you'll work hard and progressively increase the weight you're lifting as you gain strength. While many exercisers perform the Stronglifts workout using a barbell, dumbbells are acceptable options as well.
Grasp a pair of dumbbells to perform dumbbell squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms hanging naturally at your sides and your palms facing your body. Inhale as you squat, bending your knees and sliding your hips back. Keep your arms straight and continue to face forward. Stop descending when your thighs are about parallel with the floor. Exhale as you rise and resume the starting position.
Lie face-up on a bench with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor to do bench presses. Hold each dumbbell next to your shoulder with your elbows bent and pointing toward the floor, and your palms facing the far end of the bench. Exhale as you press the dumbbells straight up above your shoulders until your arms are extended completely. Inhale as you lower the weights slowly to the starting position.
Perform dumbbell rows using one arm at a time. Balance yourself with your left leg on the floor, and your right hand and leg on top of a bench. Align both knees below your hips, place your right knee and shin flat on the bench, bend forward from the waist so your torso is horizontal, and extend your right arm in front of your head with the palm on the bench. Hold the dumbbell with your left arm extended straight down from your shoulder and your palm facing the bench. Exhale as you lift the weight up and slightly back until it contacts your left side, midway down your torso. Your upper arm should be parallel to the floor or travel just a bit farther. Inhale and return to the starting position. Perform the exercise with both arms to complete one set.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand to do dumbbell rows. Hold the weights above your shoulders with your upper arms horizontal, your elbows pointed away from your sides and your palms facing forward. Exhale as you extend your arms over your head so your hands are above your shoulders. Pause for about one second before returning the dumbbells, under control, to the starting position.
Perform deadlifts with dumbbells by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasping the weights so your palms face your body, then partially squatting so your knees and hips are bent while your torso leans forward. Your thighs and upper body should form about a 90-degree angle while your arms should hang straight down from your shoulders. Tighten your abs, keep your back straight and exhale as you rise to an erect position. Keep your arms straight and the dumbbells close to your body. Inhale as you lower yourself slowly into the starting position.
- Alternate two different routines to perform the Stronglifts program. Each routine begins with squats, but the first workout also features bench presses and rows, while the second includes overhead presses and deadlifts. You're supposed to perform one set of five deadlift repetitions, but five sets of five reps for the remaining exercises. Do three workouts per week.
- You can be injured if you do an intense weight-training workout using poor form. Consult a trainer to make sure you're lifting correctly.
- Speak with your physician before beginning the Stronglifts routine, or any new exercise regimen.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.