Don't expect 5x5 StrongLifts to turn you into a bodybuilder overnight.
Gaining 20 pounds of muscle with any program isn't easy. The 5x5 StrongLifts program is relatively simplistic in its nature: use major lifts, lift heavy weights and keep the workouts short. While this may be a solid foundation to build a program on, you may still wonder if it is possible to gain 20 pounds of muscle with 5x5 StrongLifts. Yes, it's possible if you have good genetics, a relative lack of training experience and impeccable nutrition.
The amount of time someone has been lifting intensely plays a huge role in how much can be gained from a new program. When an individual starts lifting weights, they generally experience improved "wiring" of the neuromuscular system and shock to the metabolic systems involved. This allows for a pretty generous amount of improvement over the short term. Over time, however, the law of diminishing returns sets in and gains begin to slow. So, if you've been lifting for some time, the likelihood of gaining 20 pounds of muscle is highly improbable.
Regardless of what many gurus say, genetic potential does factor in to how much muscle can be gained. While there's no concrete way to determine better genetics for gaining muscle, it can be observed rather easily by looking at yourself and your family. Whether or not you have good genetics for gaining muslce, gaining 20 pounds of muscle on 5x5 StrongLifts is not likely if you're older than 40 or a female. There simply isn't enough testosterone to help promote that kind of muscle growth.
Nutrition For Gaining Muscle
If you're hell bent on gaining 20 pounds of muscle, it's important to eat like you mean it. This means eating plenty of high-quality protein and always eating 200 to 300 calories more than what's required for your level of activity and size. This creates an anabolic environment in the body that's conducive to gaining muscle. Besides general nutrition, it's vital to consume high-quality protein and fast acting carbohydrates immediately after lifting to maximize the repair of the broken-down muscles.
The 5x5 StrongLifts program alternates between an "A" and "B" workout three times a week. The "A" workout has you squatting, bench pressing and performing barbell rows for five sets of five reps. Workout "B" is similar in that you perform squats and overhead presses for five sets of five reps. The main difference is that you only perform one set of deadlifts for five reps. Since most muscles get worked during the workouts, muscle gains should be relatively evenly distributed throughout your body.