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I suggest reading this entire post, and possibly the following post if I require more than one. It will be worth your time. Do not be lazy. Do not under utilize or outright waste your time (an hour or more per visit) at the gym for lack of spending a little bit of time reading to figure out what the hell you are doing, and why.





What is it?


Starting Strength is a lifting routine written by Mark Rippetoe. Actually, it is a few different but very similar routines. More on that later. It is also a book called Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training that is often referred to as SS:BBT. It was written by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore. There are two editions of the book with a third one planned, last I checked, for sometime in 2011. IMO you want the most recent edition available.








More on the books:


The routine is mentioned in the book. However, that is not what the book is about. The book's primary purpose is to instruct the reader in the basic barbell lifts as well as some common accessory movements. It goes into great detail when explaining not only how to properly perform the lifts but also why they should be performed that way, common mistakes and methods for avoiding and even correcting these mistakes. For this reason I highly recommend the book as a primer to training with a heavy barbell even if you have no intention of ever running the program.





Look for it from the Aasgaard Company. They are the publisher and the seller.


http://aasgaardco.co…ore.php?crn=199





His books are also on Amazon.


http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no…ppetoe&x=0&y=0





Note: Other than SS:BBT there is one other book I universally recommend to just about everybody, beginner or not it does not matter…and that is Bill Starr's The Strongest Shall Survive. It is even available from the Aasgaard Company. How convenient.








Who is it designed for?


The Starting Strength programs are primarily designed for skinny male teenagers who want to get bigger and stronger, especially for athletic purpose. However, it can and does work very well for ANY novice who wants to get stronger on the basic/core compound movements. This could be a brand new lifter, somebody who has been ‘going to the gym’ for years but never followed a solid and GOOD routine or an iron veteran returning from a lengthy layoff.





If you can keep up with the rate of progression and want to get stronger SS should be a consideration. However, the rate of progression is very aggressive and copious amounts of food and sleep help substantially. It is possible to run SS while on a cut (that, a caloric deficit where you lose bodyweight) if you are, no offense intended, overweight/fat enough and especially if you are also a complete newbie to weight training. On that note, here is a brief article about this (and more) written by Mr. Rippetoe:





http://startingstrength.com/articles…n_rippetoe.pdf








Can I also build muscle and gain size while on Starting Strength?


Yes, you can. If you follow the program properly you will gain muscle. As a general rule if one lifts heavy weights and gets stronger while doing so (IE, lifting heavier weights as time goes on) while eating properly (adequate calories and protein) their muscles will grow. While it is true that the type of weight training used by strength athletes and body builders are different from one another the fact is that at the novice stage those differences are less significant. If your are primarily after looks and not strength or performance you may want to venture into the Workout Programs section and look for All Pro's simple beginner's routine. It is currently in a sticky at the top of the forum.








How long should I follow SS?


There is no set answer to this question. A good rule of thumb is that you should follow the most simple programming you can get away with. Thus you should run SS for as long as you can make gains. Nobody can tell you how many pounds you will be able to lift following SS. If you really want somebody with experience to be able to tell you when it might be a good idea to move on (or add or subtract from the program) there is, IMO, only one good option: Keep a journal. Make a journal in one of the journal sections here on bb.com. Enter every workout. Record information such as day, date, weight sets and reps performed, rest periods between sets, bodyweight, how the sets felt subjectively and any and all notes that might be of use to you or somebody else in the future such as amount of sleep, notes on your diet, hydration, supplements taken or skipped, body stat measurements, etc.








How do I verify correct form?


Unfortunately precious few personal trainers will be of any help. The same can be said regarding your typical fellow gym goers. Very few people perform these lifts even half correct, and in fact you will be lucky to see any number of people doing any of the lifts as described by Rippetoe. Other than the bench press, that is, and even then most guys (err, bros) will be buddy lifting (spotter is pulling up on the bar for every rep so nobody knows how much the lifter is doing), doing a partial ROM (most likely for no good reason other than the ego boost from heavier weight) or their ass will be off the bench. None of those things are what you will be doing.





But anyway, the answer is to take video, upload it to Youtube or your host of choice and post it on bb.com for feedback. If you are following SS it would be acceptable to post it in this thread. It is always acceptable to start your own thread in a forum. I suggest the Exercises or Powerlifting/Strongman forum if you are serious about getting it right.





Seriously, two of the best things you can do regarding useful feedback are keeping a journal (I keep one here on the site and my own physical journal…I personally highly suggest this method) and taking videos. Save them in folders on your computer and you can track your progress. Load them to Youtube and you can get outstanding feedback here on the forums.








What about diet?


This, in part, depends on your current condition and individual goals. SS is generally best run on a calorie surplus. If you have not yet read the above link titled (the clarification written by Mark) scroll back up and do so. A good rule of thumb is to consume at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. For a bulk (calorie surplus where you gain bodyweight) you will often see 1 lb of bodyweight per week. For an underweight novice on SS Mr. Rippetoe will suggest an even higher rate of gain than this, at least initially. There is a nutrition sub forum here on bb.com, I suggest browsing around in there at some point, but the most important factors to watch are number of calories above/below maintenance and protein.





Do not, however, rely solely on running the numbers using online metabolic rate calculators and estimates of intake. Do use them as a baseline, if you want, but the most important and accurate measurement to determine if you are eating the correct amount is scale weight. The best time to take a measurement is first thing in the morning. Your body weight can and does fluctuate by several points or more throughout the day. Track it over time and look at it on a weekly and monthly basis. Personally I weigh myself at the gym when I arrive and then at multiple times during my workout. As I generally lift at about the same time of day after having consumed about the same amount of food/water this is fairly consistent. And I record the upper/lower numbers in my journal for that days workout and later enter it into my bb.com journal.





Useful link: www.fitday.com





Do not forget to sleep!


Sleep is very important. The big three are diet, routine and rest. In order to get good, solid and consistent results you need to do a reasonable job getting all three of these correct. 6 hours of sleep a night is almost surely not going to cut it.








On to the actual routines!





Here are some routines.





They are listed as sets x reps. Thus 3x5 is 3 sets of 5 reps. 1x5 is 1 set of 5 reps. 5x3 is 5 sets of 3 reps.





You will always do a warmup. More on that at the bottom.





The original/classic Starting Strength


If a bb.com regular says “SS” or “Starting Strength”, this is what they are likely referring to:





Workout A


Squat 3x5


Bench 3x5


Deadlift 1x5





Workout B


Squat 3x5


Press 3x5


Power Clean 5x3





Training days are 3 per week on non consecutive days. A typical Mon/Wed/Fri works well for many although the particular day of the week should be whatever fits your schedule best. I spent a lot of time lifting on Sun/Tue/Thur, for example.





No, you cannot skip the weekend and fit 7 workouts into a two week period instead of 6.





Use good judgment here. Sometimes life gets in the way of consistent training. Pick up where you left off. It might be reasonable to lift Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun if you are going to be unable to lift/keep your schedule later that week. Always go back and forth between the two, even if you get the days of the week out of order.





Practical Programming Advanced Novice





Week A


Monday


3x5 Squat


3x5 Bench Press


Chin-ups: 3 sets for reps or add weight if completing more than 15 reps





Wednesday


3x5 Squat (lighter weight, use 80% of Monday's)


3x5 Press


1x5 Deadlift





Friday


3x5 Squat


3x5 Bench Press


Pull-ups: 3 sets





Week B


Monday


3x5 Squat


3x5 Press


Chin-ups: 3 sets





Wednesday


3x5 Squat (lighter weight, use 80% of Monday's)


3x5 Bench Press


1x5 Deadlift





Friday


3x5 Squat


3x5 Press


Pull-ups: 3 sets





There are no hard and fast rules for chinups and pullups. Some people will not add weight until they get 3x15 at bodyweight. Some add weight when they get 15 reps on the first set. Still others might alternate back and forth, week to week, between three sets for reps at bodyweight and adding weight for for 3x5.





The Onus Wunsler


Workout A


3x5 Squat


3x5 Press


1x5 Deadlift / 5x3 Power Cleans (alternate every other A session)





Workout B


3x5 Squat


3x5 Bench Press


3x10 or 5x10 Back Extensions


Chin-Ups: 3 sets














CONTINUED BELOW

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What weight do I start with?


http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wi…_First_Workout





The First Workout


During the very first workout a general warm-up performed walking on a treadmill is all that is necessary. The first set of squats begins at 45 lbs (an empty barbell) and a set of five is performed. If this is completed easily with the trainee's best form, ten pounds are added to the bar for the next set. If bar speed does not slow and form does not break down, ten more pounds are added to the bar and another set is performed. This process continues until either form begins to falter or the bar speed slows more than the preceding sets, whichever comes first. This is the trainee's starting weight. Once this occurs the trainee rests and performs two more sets at this weight, for a total of three sets of five reps (3x5) at the starting weight. For the squat, a typical starting weight is in the neighborhood of 85 lbs.





The bench press is the next lift to be performed and the process of adding weight until form breaks down or bar speed slows is repeated. Again, once this weight has been found two additional sets are performed for three sets at the starting weight.





Starting weight for the deadlift is similar but because it is done for one set, once the starting weight is determined no further deadlift sets are performed. Also, the deadlift must start from a standardized height. If bumper plates are not available to the trainee and a deadlift of 135 lbs is too heavy, other plates may be stacked under the bar to elevate it to the proper height. After the deadlift weight is established the first workout is done and the trainee takes the next day for rest and recovery.





The Second Workout


The second workout marks the first step of linear progression. A general warm-up is done and then the trainee will warm up independently for the squat. After the warm-up the work sets are then done. Because the squat weight was established during the previous workout, 10 lbs are added to the previous day's working weight, so a trainee who squatted 85 lbs is now squatting 95 lbs.








Personally they way I describe it to people is that if you know how much weight you can legitimately and positively move for the prescribed worksets already then you should consider starting at a weight that will have you hitting your current ability in the 3rd or 4th week. Do NOT start at your current ability/limit. Start under and work up.








When do I add weight/how much do I add?


You add weight every single session. As long as you completed all of the prescribed reps the last time that exercise was performed you add weight the following time. This means you add weight to the squat three times per week on the classic program, for example. Add 10-15 lbs to the deadlift and 5 lbs to everything else. If you do not get every rep (with decent/good form) simply repeat the weight the next time. If you fail to complete all of the reps after 3 attempts remove weight from the bar (a rest) and work back up. I typically suggest removing two weeks worth of progress.





As you progress it will be more and more difficult to add weight and get all of the reps. At some point in your lifting career, possibly while on SS, you will want to microload. The term microloading refers to adding weight in increments of less than 5 pounds. I use chains I made at Home Depot for about $14. With them I can add 1.25, 2.5 or 3.75 lbs at a time. This comes in very handy for the press, especially.





http://stronglifts.com/madcow/Topics/Microloading.htm





Other common options include known weight magnets, possibly from stereos/speakers, that you stick to the bar or plates or anything else you can think of with a known weight that can be attached to the bar. Sometimes adding 5 lbs to the press is just way too much.








How long should I rest between sets?


You should rest as long as is necessary to get all of the reps. This could be as long as 10 minutes…yes, 10…betwen sets of heavy squats. Generally for heavy, limit sets your rest will probably fall between 5-8 minutes. Rest as long as necessary to get the reps. Please do not ask why you are stalling when you are resting 1:30 or 2:00 between sets. This is a STRENGTH routine. You can lift more weight if you rest longer between sets. This allows you get to stronger, quicker.








The Lifts


One of the best sources for information on how to perform the lifts is the book. It is highly recommended! Also the wiki page and Youtube. Just search Youtube for something like “Mark Rippetoe Squat”.





The wiki:


http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wi…_Strength_Wiki





Describing the lifts is beyond the scope of this post or my writing ability. Use the book, the wiki and youtube to learn them. Use videos posted/linked here on bb.com to get feedback. If you have a specific and semi intelligent/informed question about a lift, just ask.








Speaking of lifts, I don't want to do cleans


And why not?





If you say “injury risk” I must point out that the deadlift carries the highest risk of injury, mostly due to form deficiencies, and in fact Bill Starr writes “OMIT THE DEADLIFT” as a direct result of this. Not only that, but the bench press is the absolute most dangerous exercise you are likely to perform in a gym setting. People can and do DIE performing the bench press. Speaking of which…never ever use a thumbless (aka suicide) grip when benching. Wrap your thumbs around the bar! And read the book, it goes into depth about how to safely bench. And not kill yourself.





If you say “it's hard to learn” I say “so what?” Some things in life are hard. I am of the opinion that one should learn to power clean when running SS, if for no other reason, than to make yourself learn something that may not be exactly what you want to do. Even if you move on from SS and never do them again I believe you will be a better lifter with more rounded experience for having put the time and effort in. And you just might come to like them.





If you say “I don't have access to bumper plates” I say “you don't need them”.





A little on where I am coming from…I have never had a had a coach or trainer for anything. I have never in my life, not once, used bumper plates. While my power clean form is not very good, they ARE power cleans and I have power cleaned as much as 225 pounds. I have also had to dump the bar a few times. Yes, it was loud. But nothing bad happened, nor should it have. If your gym is very against that then be a little more conservative if you are not sure you will be able to get the rep and practice catching at the thighs. You can use your thighs to absorb a great deal of the force very easily. Another reason the clean is good to learn from the start, IMO, is that it gets you accustomed to having the bar on your front delts in a clean grip, which comes in handy when you start front squatting later in your lifting career.








Bill Starr has written that if your routine only allowed for one exercise, the power clean would be best. Bill Starr knows. The power clean can be learned without a coach or experienced trainer. That certainly would make it easier but many, many people have learned to power clean without a coach or trainer by their side. Read the book, read the wiki, look up Mark's videos on youtube, get video and post it here for feedback.





I am of the opinion that (almost) everybody on SS should do the power clean.








If you insist on avoiding the power clean


The acceptable substitute is 3 sets of chinups and then either 3x10 or 5x10 back extensions. There is not accepted/approved substitute. You are of course free to train as you see fit, but do not call the program Starting Strength if you do so. If you know what you are doing you aren't going to be asking for permission anyway.








Warmups


You should always warmup before lifting weights. Always. Rippetoe says to start with the empty bar for at least your first set. The idea is to start with an empty bar (where applicable) and ramp the weight up. If the trainee is particular small/weak, an empty 45 pound bar may be too heavy to use as a warmup. It may even be too heavy for a workset! A proper warmup will start light and work up to a weight close to workset. The purpose of warmup sets is to prepare the lifter both physically and mentally for the heavy worksets to come, without being so much that they interfere with the worksets.





So start light (empty bar at the most) and do a set (or more) of 5 reps. Then add some weight and do another set. When you begin to approach your workset weight reduce the number of reps. No two people are likely to do the exact same warmup. I have pretty well determined how I like to do my warmups. I start with an empty bar. Then I go back and forth between adding 25s and 45s until I get close. The heavier the weight I am using the more wearmup sets I will do.





For example, personally if I am going to squat 315 I might do:





45 x 5


95 x 5


135 x 5


185 x 3


225 x 2


275 x 1


315 workset(s)





If I was to bench or press 135 I might do:





45 x 5


95 x 5


115 x 2


135 worksets





If I was to bench 245 I might do:





45 x 5


95 x5


135 x 5


185 x 3


225 x 1


245 workset(s)





You get the idea. I tend to do a little bit more in the way of warmups if my workset is only one single set of 5 and a little bit less/lighter if I am going to do 3+ sets of 5.





There is a warmup calculator tool you can download from the Wiki that is not a bad starting point.





Ripp says to do a full body warmup prior to beginning the first lift as well. A little time on a rowing machine, elliptical, bike or even a treadmill will work. Or you can just ride your back to the gym. You get the idea.








So which routine should I do?


As the name implies the Advanced Novice program is a little bit more advanced than the other two. It only has heavy squats twice per week rather than three times per week and deadlifts are only once per week rather than 1.5x per week. Personally I would rather slightly modify it to put power cleans on Monday and either chinups or pullups on Friday…possibly alternating back and forth. However if you want to do an unaltered routine without power cleans the Advanced Novice program is a good choice.





Generally, for a rank novice, I would suggest the original A/B routine. The Onus Wunsler is good for the high rate of progress while getting 3 different pulling exercises in. Deadlifts, power cleans and chinups.








What about cardio?


Cardio is good for you. The problem is that working towards multiple goals at one time will necessarily reduce your rate or progress with each one individually. If you want to do cardio…why? If it is to lose weight remember that that is simply calories consumed vs calories burned. As such cardio is not absolutely necessary to cut. If you want to get better at that particular form of cardio or you need a high level of cardiovascular fitness for a sport (basketball, track, football, whatever) you will have to prioritize. For best results with the weights cardio should be avoided or extremely limited during SS.





If you decide it is worth doing make doubly sure your diet and rest are in order and accept that it probably will interfere with your recovery from the weights (and the weights will interfere with recovery from the cardio!). I have not done much cardio while on SS myself. If I were to do so I would try to only do cardio on “Saturday”. Or I would do the Advanced Novice program with light squats on Wed and make my second cardio day (after Saturday) be on “Tuesday”. But as I said I have not actually done this myself.

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Only 5 reps of deadlift?


Only one working set of 5 reps of deadlift, yes. This is enough. Heavy deadlifts take a lot out of you. The more weight you lift the more you will realize this. Do your warmups (you may not need a lot of warmup for them having already squat) and then the one workset of 5 reps. Didn't feel like “enough”? Oh well. Add 10-15 pounds the next time and do it again. If you keep adding even so much as 5 lbs, even if you are only deadlifting once a week, it will get heavy. Do not rush things.





This is a marathon, NOT a sprint.





It is always better and easier to make smaller jumps and avoid missed reps/getting stuck than it is to get yourself unstuck.








Can I replace any of the exercises with something else?


Other than the previously mentioned chinups and back extensions in place of power cleans (if you MUST)…no, not really. If you have a very good reason, born of necessity, then do what you have to do. But do not sub something because you think it will work better or just happen to prefer it. If you know what you are doing, just do it. If you feel the need to ask for permission you probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place.








Can I add an exercise (like curls or abs)?


The short answer is no, do not add anything. Your recovery capacity is going to be taxed by this program once it gets going and anything else you do will tap into that. Remember that a large aspect of recovery is systemic. If you really feel that you must do curls for your biceps then do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on your last lifting day of the week. Do them standing with a straight barbell.





Do not add significant ab work. It is possible to do som light to moderate ab work as a warmup or immediate post workout. If I don't forget I will link one of Rippetoe's little writeups on abs here later.








What about chinups and dips? Aren't they in the program?


Yes and no. In the classic A/B Starting Strength the five main lifts are it. However, in some cases chinups are added to the B day and dips are added to the A day. However, they are only intended to be added if and when doing so will aid in the progress of the main lifts. This can be a tough call to make. I generally suggest waiting 4-6 weeks, while making progress on the lifts, before adding them. And if you are having problems keeping up while doing them one of the first things I will suggest is to drop them.





They generally done for 2-3 sets and not pushed very hard or taken to failure. Weight may be added if you are getting a lot of reps.








What equipment do I need?


In order to do everything listed for all three variations you would need:





An olympic barbell with plates


A squat rack or power rack (or at least stands)


A bench


Enough floor space to work with the bar on/from the floor





A smith machine, which is the device with a “barbell” that is held captive in a track, is not acceptable for these programs.





For lifting heavy weights in general a squat or power rack is what you really, really want to have. You can get by without them, but it will be difficult as you will have to alter pretty much any established program that is out there. It is always possible to clean the bar into place and do front squats, or do zercher squats or hack squats, but the best bang for you buck is a heavy barbell back squat and for that you need a rack or stands.





Stretching


It is generally not recommended to do static stretching before lifting. You may choose to do some dynamic movements or stretches as part of yoru warmup. If you want to do static stretches to improve flexibility they are best done post workout and/or on off days.

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You may now post.

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I am actually motivated to do this.

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tybg

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Dat google





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When Mark Rippetoe designed Starting Strength, he made it in a way that would allow the typical scrawny guy to bench 225lbs, squat 315lbs, and deadlift 405 lbs in just 6months. It wasn't intended for everyone. What I mean by that is that it focuses more on improving strength, rather than building a great physique. I hate how people try to shove this routine down your throat as a beginner. Sure it's a good routine, if you want to be a fat cow at the end of those 6 months. But if you're looking to build a great physique, a 3 or 5 day split will suffice.





If you're just looking to become a power lifter or are training for football or any other contact sport and are looking for strength, this is the routine for you. (If you're willing to look like shit)

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Last time I started my strength was at the lumbridge tutor?