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Starting YOUR Strength

STARTING your STRENGTH

 

Mark Ripptoe made the quintessential “starting from scratch” layout to build fundamental strength. While its design is meant literally to start from nothing and build to something, that doesn’t mean your intermediate or advanced lifters cannot implement this program. Being an avid fan of the three core barbell movements, this program is a staple for me when addressing someone’s strength and baseline knowledge of the lifts. The same goes for this program in comparison to the many others out there, if followed strictly you will develop incremental strength, plain and simple.

 

There are two phases to this program (3 if you get technical). The first phase focuses solely on the three staple barbell movements: press, squat, and deadlift. The biggest mistake when starting at this point is biting off more than you can chew. Mark Ripptoe himself says, “It is a rare trainee that starts out too low.” He knows as well as most that the program is either underestimated and/or overrun by an ego. The idea of Starting Strength is to build each workout. When you take into account that you will squatting and deadlifting three times a week as well as a form of press three times a week, you have to respect how fast the numbers can build and work against you. The program is built around 5×3 for all lifts except the deadlift, it respectfully gets 1 set for 5 reps. The sets listed are your working sets, not to include your warm up sets. How you get to the working 5×3 is completely up to you, but keep in mind it is just to warm up, the true energy should be spent on the working sets. For absolute beginners starting at the bar isn’t ridiculous at all. The weight is to be increased by 5 pounds for upper body movements and 10 pounds for lower body movements. So let’s say you started with the bar for all your lifts. Monday would be 45 pounds across the board, Wednesday would be 50 pounds for the press and 55 pounds for the squat and deadlift, Friday would be 55 pounds for the press and 65 pounds for the squat and deadlift. You can see how the numbers can compound and catch up to you if you start with too high of a weight. Overall it is up to you. Starting lower gives the body more time to acclimate, increasing flexibility and balance over the course of the lifts, and makes the chance for burnout in a short period of time less likely. All that said, it doesn’t mean you cant start with weight that you feel comfortable with and ride it out from there. After all, it takes time and experimenting to find what genuinely works for you.

 

 

PHASE 1

 

Week 1

 

MONDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

WEDNESDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Deadlift

 

FRIDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

 

Week 2

 

 

MONDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Deadlift

 

WEDNESDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

FRIDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Deadlift

 

These two weeks can cycle for 4 weeks, 6 weeks, sometimes in excess of 8 weeks depending on the lifter. General rule of thumb is to continue the program until you hit a 5×3 that becomes a bit of a challenge. It really is that simple. This phase doesn’t push for accessory work. This means no additional lifts to “better” your progress. The progress will continue if you have the patience and fortitude to stick with it, until you reach an actual plateau. Once you have made the decision to move to phase two you will see an identical layout with the exception of power cleans in place of deadlifts on a daily rotation.

 

 

PHASE 2

 

Week 1

 

MONDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

WEDNESDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Power Clean

 

FRIDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

Week 2

 

MONDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Power Clean

 

WEDNESDAY

-Squat

-Press

-Deadlift

 

FRIDAY

-Squat

-Bench Press

-Power Clean

 

This phase tends to offer a little more give when it comes to accessory work. Anytime I have implemented this for an athlete I prefer they remain stuck on the basics, meaning utilization of pull-ups, dips, barbell rows, sprints, and/or other foundational skills that will translate to performance as a whole. One must remember that the focus remains on the lifts.

 

No matter what the program one decides to run with it remains pinnacle that you STICK WITH IT. Starting Strength has been around and will continue to stay around because it produces results. Keep in mind that this isn’t the whole Starting Strength explained, this is a snap shot of the idea and fundamentals. While it may vary from trainer to trainer as to how they implement it, the core concept remains the same in that, it all revolves around a slow and steady approach that keeps the basics as the focus.

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