Prasanna Natarajan

Stronglifts caveats you should know about

While StrongLifts is a great weight training program for both men and women, I think there are a few concerns about it that you should care about.

There’s a thing called (inguinal) hernia. It’s a condition where your abdominal muscle tears and your gut protrudes from that opening when you lift heavy weights. The only way to treat it is to push the gut in, and stitch the muscle with a mesh in place. You won’t be the same person ever after the treatment. It could happen to anybody, especially people after age 40. It doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder with six-pack abs or a 50 year old who has never worked out ever. If you lift a weight that’s beyond your “easy” zone, you run a high risk of getting hernia.

The StrongLifts site doesn’t say about that! Not all people get it though, but do you want to take the chance? Just google and find the correlation between lifting heavy in gym and hernia.

So, the caveat here is, even though Mehdi of StrongLifts might convince you that squatting 100kg or deadlifting 150kg is an achievable and desirable goal, you might want to think for yourself here. Here he says he squats 190kg and deadlifts 220kg with just at 74kg bodyweight. You might be tempted to push yourself further seeing this. But don’t!

But who am I kidding here? I don’t listen to this advice myself. For about a month I was stuck at 55kg squat, and thought I’ll settle with just that, but yesterday I thought I’ll give 60kg a try. I did the last 4 sets successfully with it. It felt like my ass got upgraded with a nitrous power booster. And then I went on to deadlif 70kg, another PR. It felt great.

But I need to stop! And you too. Our body is gross inside, but it’s the vehicle that carries us around throughout our life. Nothing is more disempowering than making a doctor stick a knife in our body. It will never be the same.

So, stop!

The second caveat is just an extension of this. The StrongLifts app and program wants you to keep increasing the weight each workout. But I think once you reach a certain point, it’s more than enough to stop there and keep doing the same weights forever.

Right now I squat 60kg, but I think I can go till 80kg, a little more than my bodyweight. And I might deadlift to 100kg, from my current 70kg. That’s about it.

The main benefit I seek here is it’s ability to keep my weight in check while also keeping me strong. These target weights will keep me winded and in shape without having to go further.

It also saves a lot of time. Lifting heavier means more rest time between sets. I already spend an hour in the gym now. I don’t want to spend more. I want to focus my energy and attention on other parts of life like career and creativity. I don’t want to be obsessed with this. At some point, working out should just be like brushing teeth. It’s mandatory, but can be done mindlessly, focusing on other things.

Lifting heavier means you’ll have to eat more to gain and maintain that strength. But that will make my blood, nutrients and energy to be spent on digesting the food most of the time, instead of going up to my brain. I won’t be alert, sharp and lightheaded most of the time. But I’m overthinking this here maybe. This situation can happen if I become really big, like 90 or 100kg from my current 75kg. But still I like to eat less and keep my body easy to maintain so that more energy is available for pursuing my bigger goals.

So, lift, but make sure you don’t lift too heavy and risk getting hernia and just plateau at some point to focus your energy elsewhere in your life.