It's time to change up my routine for "lifting heavy things." I'm getting bored with it and not seeing much in the way of gains anymore. I've seen Stronglifts 5x5 recommended here, so I am looking into it. I understand it involves alternating between these two workouts:
A couple things don't make sense to me:
It really depends on where you're starting from.
Primary movers for the bench is obviously your pecs, secondary is tricep. Primary for barbell row is your back, secondary is bicep.
The Stronglifts 5x5 is not primarily concerned with being a bodybuilding routine. It is a functional routine used for developing strength by focusing on big movements. If you're worried about increasing your calf size, you'll want to do isolation work on your calves. Ditto your abs, though it's been my experience that very few people actually need to do ab work (and squats are definitely a strongly "core" exercise for your abs/quads/hamstrings/back...basically everything in your body).
If you're doing 5x5, you aren't hitting your 1RM. 25 reps of a reasonable weight (such that it's tough, but not failure) won't lead to overtraining. Your legs will be sore for the first couple weeks, but you'll adapt. If you find your lifts getting worse, or experience other overtraining symptoms, then address it. I find that people generally worry about overtraining when it's generally unnecessary to do so.
Pretty much any barbell exercise you do standing up will work the abdominals. If you do squats properly, they will work almost your entire body.
I just got the Starting Strength book, which is the basis of the StrongLifts program. I'd recommend getting it. It's an amazing reference for powerlifting that will answer just about any question you have on the subject.
I did SL for a solid 6-7 months and set personal bests in every lift. While I believe I have been fitter before, I've never been that strong.
Every lift you do is compound, so there is no need for isolation work. You do not need to target your abs because the simple act of stabilizing yourself with weight above your head (OHP) or stabilizing the torso while bent over (rows) will take care of it for you. Also Deadlifts, Squats, and bench use massive amounts of core (when done correctly).
The quads are BIG muscle systems, and the 5lb increment is small enough that you will not over train. I was doubtful too, at first, but I went from 185lb squats to 275lbs and only stalled a couple of times at the end (and on those occasions I just squatted the previous weight and went up 5lbs on the next work out).
I stopped because I was having chronic shoulder pain issues (I now suspect my rotator cuff was too weak) and I was also starting to get a little knee pain. That and I just ran out of hours in the day to keep lifting (I was getting married, it was my last semester of college, and I was in the middle of a move). Remember that muscle grows faster than ligaments, and there is a difference between DOMs and injury.
I'm in my second week. Remember the rows aren't just arms - it's back and legs for stability. It's the same with the press; it works your core muscles. If you're worried about recruiting your whole body try to read something by Pavel Tsatsoline about tension doing exercises. Even if you're following stronglifts I recommend the book "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe. It's a little dense but it's got all the info you need to start barbell training.
On your second question: one thing I found that worked for both me and my husband regarding squats and sore quads was either 1) stalling on the weight. Instead of upping 5# every workout, aim for 5# every week, whether you're doing 2 workouts or 4 workouts each week. 2) reducing to 3x5 once you're getting up near previous maxes.
And regardless of the schedule that the program provides, never ever hesitate to take a couple days off if you need it. Work through the DOMs in the first few weeks, but don't be a moron.
There are conflicting opinions on squats.
bottom line is it WORKS, I'm a dedicated user of the system, was an athlete my whole life and work family etc stopped me for almost 9 years from working out, and I got fat!!! It killed me, and I stumbled on the 5x5 system on a paleo site when I became a paleo follower almost a year ago, went from 245 lbs at 20% body fat, to 225 lbs at 10%, I'm ripped & healthy again thanks to this.. I will say that if u follow the system it works, and you will not be tired or stall out until the last weeks of the first 12 weeks of the program at worst or u may never stall, I know I didn't, but many do, so deload & rebuild. The big deal is that your thighs are the largest muscles in the body, and the exercises built along w them are designed to build your core strength, but because you're using your largest muscle groups your body is releasing testosterone, which is actually strengthening and building muscle across your whole body. I also train 2 days of hard cardio every week, and as long as you don't kill yourself, eat right, and make sure you are getting the right caloric intake your body will react in an amazing way!!