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FerrousMaverick

Basic Structure Of Starting Strength

28 posts in this topic

Rip outlines a good beginner's plan and the guidelines to customize the rep/set counts for your abilities. The Starting Strength release 2 book is excellent and well worth buying even if you do an alternative beginner's plan. The Starting Strength program is in three phases, as you progress through the program.

Phase I

This first phase is for people who are brand new to lifting, and it will last 2-4 weeks. Essentially you will be doing it until the newness of the deadlift is worn out. The deads will end up way in front of your squats for a bit. If you already know the lifts because you started with StrongLifts, or you are starting again after a long break, you can skip this phase and simply start with the second phase. Just do it longer than you normally would.

Workout A

  • Squats (3x5)
  • Overhead Press (3x5)
  • Deadlifts (1x5)

Workout B

  • Squats (3x5)
  • Bench Press (3x5)
  • Deadlifts (1x5)

Phase II

This phase will also last for about 2-4 weeks. You are introducing Power Cleans to the mix, and your deads will grow at about the same pace as your squats.

Workout A

  • Squats (3x5)
  • Overhead Press (3x5)
  • Deadlift (1x5)

Workout B

  • Squats (3x5)
  • BenchPress (3x5)
  • Power Cleans (5x3)

Phase III

This is the third and final stage of Starting Strength where you continue this until you can no longer make linear gains.

Workout A

  • Squats (3x5)
  • Overhead Press (3x5)
  • Deadlift (1x5)/Power Cleans (5x3) (alternating each workout A)

Workout B

  • Squats (3x5)
  • Bench Press (3x5)
  • Back Extensions 3x10
  • Pullups/Chinups 3xF (F= to failure)

On the exercises that are to failure, when you can do more than 12 in the first set you add weight. With back extensions, when you can do 3x10 for a couple weeks increase to 5x10. After that you can start adding weight.

Overview

The reason for learning the lifts in this order are: squats are very important and the foundation of any strength program. Bench is easier to learn than OHP. Deadlift helps learn the beginning movements of the power clean. Now, if for some reason you cannot do power cleans (such as injury or something like that), the barbell rows are a decent alternative--but you are giving up an explosive movement to do it. The barbell rows are considered an assistance exercise, and do get different areas of the body than the PC.

You will be working out 3x per week, so week 1 you will do workout A twice and week 2 you will do workout B twice:

Week 1

  • Workout A
  • Workout B
  • Workout A

Week 2

  • Workout B
  • Workout A
  • Workout B

Make sure you have a complete day of rest between each workout. For example a good schedule would be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Another alternative would be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. You can do just about any combination as long as there is a full day of recovery between each workout.

NOTE: the Power cleans are 5x3, not 3x5. In short these explosive lifts will drain you, and Rip doesn't recommend more than three in a set or form will suffer.

Starting Weight

You will learn all the lifts with an EMPTY bar. No exceptions. However, to find your starting work weight you keep adding 10-20 lbs each set (5 reps) until it feels like the next increase is going to hurt your form. Yes, it's subjective and it depends on your confidence, but form is absolutely imperative.

Dedicate one day to each of the lifts, both to learn the basic technique, and to be fresh to find your work weight. You'll get plenty tired as you are doing a full 5 rep set before you increase the weights. Some lifts you will be able to go by large increases (up to 50 lb/20kg) at first like your squats and deadlifts. Other lifts you should be much more conservative. If you've already had a head start with the Strong Lifts protocol, you may find that you go up in some lifts while deloading in others.

The idea is to have the heaviest load you can perform with good technique. If your technique falters or you are struggling with the set, use the weight from the previous set for your work weight. For an example, we will use a hypothetical overhead press session:

  1. set 45 lb (20kg)
  2. set 55 lb (25kg)
  3. set 65 lb (30kg)
  4. set 75 lb (35kg)
  5. set 85 lb (40kg)
  6. set 90 lb (42.5kg)
  7. set 95 lb (45kg) -- struggling

In this case, use the 90 lb set, not the 95 lb set as your starting weight. (note the kg numbers are not exact conversions of the pounds, but more like the progression you would use with metric weights)

Progressive Loading

You will be adding weight every time when you do these lifts. For most of the lifts you will be adding 5 lbs (~2kg) each time. You might be able to handle 10 lb increases from your starting weight on squats and 20lb on deadlifts for 3-4 weeks if you are in good shape and an older teen or young adult. However, it's more important to go up by a little and keep good form than get greedy and fail too early.

What to Do When You Stall

It's inevitable that you will stall. When that happens simply repeat the weight next time. However, if you stall three times in a row on a lift, you need to do something to get past that plateau:

  • Deload 10%. This helps your body recover, and let's you work on form.
  • Over the next workouts increase as you normally would (for example 5 lbs per session)
  • After you get past the weight you originally stalled at, cut your increases in half. For example, if you were going up by 10lbs (for deadlifts), go up by 5lbs. If you were going up by 5lbs, go up by 2.5lbs

Eventually even this will not be enough to continue making linear progress. When this happens, you have gained all the beginner strength you can, and you need to switch to an intermediate program.

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Deadlift set-up is very very different than the first pull of any Olympic lift.

The set rep scheme in SS is 3x5 (3 sets, 5 reps) and if Rip had planned this in such a way that you are forced to read his book (which is an awesome book BTW) it's better than having to pay money to join the SL forum.

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I personally think the book is well worth the money, and can save you from a lot of headaches learning proper form.

I think Rip's arguments about DL first is more to learn what you need to do with your core and keeping your back rigid during the lift than it is getting the bar off the floor. I'm going to have to go back and read the section on power cleans. Also, for the sets across, DL is not 3x5, but only 1x5 just like in SL.

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Definitely buying a copy of the book. And definitely doing this program for my next 12 week strength builder.

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Definitely buying a copy of the book. And definitely doing this program for my next 12 week strength builder.

I think that will be both of us. I have about three more weeks to go before I switch, but I'll be learning the PC before then. As far as your personal program goes, it is worth noting that the core program as I listed above would be augmented by assistance exercises as you need. I'm kind of reading things out of order for right now as there is just way to much to process all at once.

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Added the suggested beginning set/reps for that particular plan. To be honest, the book isn't trying to be prescriptive, but give you a set of tools to grow and work with. Also added notes about progression.

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Found this somehow:

startingstrength.jpg

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Added new sections. Starting Strength is actually three different plans that are run consecutively to

  1. teach the core 4 lifts (squat, bench press, overhead press, and deadlift)
  2. incorporate power (power cleans)
  3. maximize your results (one heavy day, one lighter assistance day)

Also added section on what to do when you stall with this program.

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Well how about another +1 to you then :)

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Found this somehow:

startingstrength.jpg

Are you a /fit/izen?

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Are you a /fit/izen?

A what? NO! Are you!? (lol)

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A what? NO! Are you!? (lol)

Haha.

The place I've seen that pushed around on is 4chan.org/fit, and they call themselves /fit/izens

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Haha.

The place I've seen that pushed around on is 4chan.org/fit, and they call themselves /fit/izens

Ah. No I stumbled across it through twitter

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Upon further examination, it turns out that in both the Wunsler variation (the last variation of starting strength) and in the Practical Programming book, the overhead press is in the A workout and the bench press is in the B workout. So it turns out that the /fit/izens also got it wrong.

In many ways this makes better sense. The heavy lower body day should have a lighter upper body workout, and vice versa.

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Upon further examination, it turns out that in both the Wunsler variation (the last variation of starting strength) and in the Practical Programming book, the overhead press is in the A workout and the bench press is in the B workout. So it turns out that the /fit/izens also got it wrong.

In many ways this makes better sense. The heavy lower body day should have a lighter upper body workout, and vice versa.

I guess I've been doing it wrong. Oh well, I don't think it makes that big a difference. It's been going well so far.

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I've been doing it wrong as well. I am going to switch tonight though. That means I'll have two bench sessions in a row, but since I deloaded 20 lbs, that puts me inline with the deload on overhead press as well. I should be hitting work weights with those lifts at the same time now.

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Berin, is this his 2nd edtion book? I got it on Saturday and I'm reading through it at the moment. I've flicked through a couple of times to find the bit on chin ups, but I can't see where the specifics in respect of programming are discussed, i.e. 3 x failure, then weighted once your first set hits 12 reps. Would you be kind enough to point me in the right direction (if you know of the top of your head). At the moment I'm doing 3x8 in the belief that was right (but like the internet versions of his program above, looks like it was wrong).

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Honestly, he spells out the program a lot better in the Programming for Strength Training second edition book than he does in the SS second edition book.

If you look at the Wunsler routine which is a picture of someone's hand scratching, that is the final phase of the SS protocol. That was confirmed by the Programming book. On one hand it's unfortunate that the information is split up like it is, but on the other hand they are both excellent resources and I highly recommend everyone to have a copy.

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He just made v3 of his book available in softback, hardback in a few weeks.

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I really enjoyed reading Starting strength. so I thought what the hell and went ahead and ordered his other three

I see on his site he does a training course in different States from time to time. has anyone here went to one?

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According to startingstrength-wiki (http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:The_Program) the Phase III is meant for people who cant recover/gain quickly. Have I missunderstood something or is Phase III for people who already pull very heavy and cant recover from that?

 


 

 

Rippetoe mentions another alternative program, where you do back extensions or glutes/ham raises instead of pulling on workout B. However, this is a variation targeted at women, older people, and people who are having issues with recovering from the heavier pulling lifts because they're not eating enough(as during a cut) or sleeping enough [...]

Workout A
  • Squats (3x5)
  • Overhead Press (3x5)
  • Deadlift (1x5)/Power Cleans (5x3) (alternating)
Workout B
  • Squats (3x5)
  • Bench Press (3x5)
  • Back Extensions/GHR 3x10
  • Pullups/Chinups 3xF

 

 

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If Phase III is what you quoted, then it is simply an easier plan than his normal SS template.

 

If you were reaching the peak of what you can achieve on linear progression, and this is the reason you can't recover, you'd look into an intermediate program instead -- Texas Method, 5/3/1, Madcow, etc..

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Sorry if I havent made it clear, I quoted Rippetoes alternate Version of the Program for "women, older people, and people who are having issues with recovering from the heavier pulling lifts because they're not eating enough(as during a cut) or sleeping enough". So Phase 3 is basically the alternative version (without the GHR option).

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