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Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition

Mark Rippetoe, Jason Kelly · 13 HN comments
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Starting Strength has been called the best and most useful of fitness books. The second edition, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, sold over 80,000 copies in a competitive global market for fitness education. Along with Practical Programming for Strength Training 2nd Edition, they form a simple, logical, and practical approach to strength training. Now, after six more years of testing and adjustment with thousands of athletes in seminars all over the country, the updated third edition expands and improves on the previous teaching methods and biomechanical analysis. No other book on barbell training ever written provides the detailed instruction on every aspect of the basic barbell exercises found in SS:BBT3. And while the methods for implementing barbell training detailed in the book are primarily aimed at young athletes, they have been successfully applied to everyone: young and old, male and female, fit and flabby, sick and healthy, weak and already strong. Many people all over the world have used the simple biological principle of stress/recovery/adaptation on which this method is based to improve their performance, their appearance, and their long-term health. With over 150,000 copies in print in three editions, Starting Strength is the most important method available to learn the most effective way to train with barbells -- the most important way to improve your strength, your health, and your life. -- Why barbells are the most effective tools for strength training. -- The mechanical basis of barbell training, concisely and logically explained. -- All new photographs and improved illustrations of all the lifts, and the biomechanics behind them. -- Complete, easy-to-follow instructions for performing the basic barbell exercises: the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, power clean, and the power snatch. -- Revised instruction methods for all six lifts, proven effective in four years of seminar, military, and group instruction. -- How the human body adapts to stress through recovery, and why this is the foundation of the development of strength and lifetime health. -- How to program the basic exercises into the most effective program for long-term progress. -- Completely indexed. -- The most productive method in existence for anyone beginning a strength training program.
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I was in your spot 8 years ago. Long time surfer, skater, wakeboarder whose body started crapping out. This book changed my life:

Strength training with barbells fixed all those aches and pains in my knees and joints that braces and doctors and physical therapy couldn't. When I started squatting, I suddenly stopped being afraid to walk down stairs. My posture improved. I noticed I had way more endurance when riding, and it made ever part of that, from carving to pumping, easier and better and more powerful.

For me personally, resistance training with weights is better than almost any other exercise for managing ADHD. I don't know what it is, but something about lifting keeps me focused and calm for a few days after a workout. Cardio never really did that for me.

I’ve been following this program for six months. Love it for its simplicity. Great official app. I am sure the book is great, but the app makes getting to the gym and just getting started and staying on track so easy.
The SL 5x5 website and random videos for form are plenty, the book is not really necessary.
Starting Strength is amazing. One of the best books I've ever read.

Would recommend getting a personal trainer who knows proper lifting to help you learn the techniques. This could be one off sessions (repeat once weights start getting heavier / the lifts change then), rather than a full on and expensive program. Alternatively, just video yourself and check your form - and compare with good lifters on youtube.

A hint for choosing a PT: If they have their clients stop the squat above parallel, you probably want to look for another.

Was going to also suggest coupling with the Stronglifts program, which has a fantastic app as well that'll become your personal couch. It's free, but well worth paying the annual fee. I bought it before this was introduced, but am also subscribed to support the dev.

If you start out at the base barbell level, things will be very easy to begin with to let you focus on your technique, but then as you get further into it (sooner than you'd probably like) things will get heavy enough. The app controls the programming, and does a good job at it.

A really good feature is how after you've used it for a few weeks (10 sessions) it'll start to suggest deloading if you've missed a week or two. If you're not 20 anymore then following those recommendations is strongly recommended.

Just riding does very little for me either, so I'm the same boat. (It helps me lift more though!)

I cannot recommend this enough. The app is so simple and the workouts are around one hour (with heavy lifts).

I highly recommend Mark Rippetoe's book Starting Strength[0] to learn the mechanics of the lifts. StrongLifts is a sorta rip off of Starting Strength.


Careful with that:
Hey bud. Instead of sending $8 a month to have information that is already accessible to you regurgitated to you with pretty UI try this instead...

Do you walk? If you don't, start there.

A study of sedentary, overweight men and women (aged 40 to 65 years) showed they lost body fat and weight when they walked or ran 12 miles a week during an 8-month study, without changing their diet. A control group of non-exercisers all gained weight and fat during the 8-month study."

Do you sit at a desk a lot? You probably have poor posture associated with it. Do any yoga, at all. Literally any program.

Here's one from my favorite online yogi -

Do you want to lift weights? For $8, one time, you can order Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. -

This book will teach you how to lift the weights, as well as how to program the lifts, which is twice as much as this app is claiming to do. At 1/12th the price for the first year, 1/24th the second, and 1/36th the third, etc..

Rippetoe's stuff is pretty good. The first book on why barbells and getting started:


After a few months you'll exhaust that (perhaps just take it out of the library?), and need more intermediate-level information:


Otherwise, some others have suggested a few Reddit threads; see also /r/fitness.

Starting Strength is an excellent book for getting started with lifting.

Doing these two things has worked extremely well for me:

1) Doing deadlifts. This is a strength-training exercise:

2) Seeing a good chiropractor about twice a month. (You might need to shop around - I can elaborate on how to select a quality one if people want)

You asked about an app. I actually corrected my earlier posture and lower-back problems using the above and not any kind of app to remind myself to get up and move around; the above helped even though I routinely sat 1-2 hours at a time, in a deep coding trance, without moving around. Recently, though, I started using BreakTime (a macOS app) to remind me to look away from the screen, mainly because I believe it's healthier for my eyes. This is a $5 app I've been quite happy with.

All the above is in the anecdotal "works for me" category. Good luck in your effort to find what works best for you!

Edit: The video link above gives a rough sense of the exercise, but the fine details matter greatly, so if you decide to do it I highly recommend studying the relevant chapter of this book:

Edit 2: More about chiropractors: Few are MDs; the ones I've worked with all went through a 4-year, post-bachelors program. In my experience, chiropractors fit on a spectrum, going from ambulance-chasing quacks to gifted, remarkably effective healers. You want the latter. Only way to find out is to pay for about 3 visits; if you and your body are consistently feeling better physically and emotionally by then, you've found a good one. If not, stop, and go find another. So far, the best I've found lean towards alternative medicine (which was really surprising at first... I'm trained as a physicist, and was REALLY skeptical.) Can't say that's a general rule though. Again, all this is my experience; better to get your own experience and evaluate based on that, instead of blindly deciding based on something you read online.

Is your chiropractor an MD? I've been skeptical about chiropractors after reading the Wikipedia entry on the practice [1]. As someone with back problems, I've taken chiropractor recommendations from colleagues, and looking into them, they were too alternative medicine for my taste.


There seem to be plenty that lean toward non-mainstream practices. However the one I go to was fully planning to have a career as an MD but converted to chiropractic after it helped him with his own health. He tells me that building core muscle strength is the long term solution, not constant adjustments.
At the very least, never let them touch your neck. A friend of mine had a stroke and died after having a neck manipulation.
Thanks for sharing this. I was surprised as well to learn that many chiropractors aren't medical doctors.
I've really enjoyed Mark Rippetoe's writing about the difference between Exercise and Training.

From the gloss for Practical Programming for Strength Training [1]: "Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout or right after you're through. Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to produce that goal."

He emphasizes that a realistic means of progression is one of the most important aspects of any training program.

Practical Programming and Starting Strength [2] (which is a better introduction to these ideas for novices) are together the best analytical discussion of physical training that I've seen.



Yes, this is exactly what I'm getting at :) Have read all his stuff. Seems lots of HNers have. It's a highly analytical approach that tends to appeal to hackers I guess.
May 25, 2014 · jds375 on Fitness Crazed
Here's a link to Starting Strength[1]. I highly recommend it for people looking to bulk, tone, and put on some real muscle. It did wonders for me and I'm sure it will for you too. I also recommend doing these powerlifting exercises (such as squats, bench, and deadlift) with a focus on FORM first instead of weight. It'll prevent you from getting injured and payoff when you start lifting real heavy weight. I highly recommend these videos to teach you powerlifting form[2][3][4]. Also, the nice people on r/fitness over at reddit won't mind giving you a form check if you post a video of you lifting. Seriously, start now. It'll change your life.





I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but before starting a serious deadlifting / squat / snatch / jerk routine, please please go to a trainer. You need instruction for correct form. The aforementioned exercises will work very well for you, but if performed incorrectly they can permanently injure your back. If money is a concern, there are often private trainers (I can give references in sf) not associated with a gym that are very affordable -- eg $65/hour in sf, much less expensive elsewhere.

NB: a good trainer can, at minimum, perform those exercises for reps with more than bodyweight. Many gyms -- 24 hour fitness and crunch come to mind -- employ "trainers" who appear to hopefully have read a book but are wildly unprepared to train others in exercises that can destroy body parts if performed incorrectly.

I've always been interested in the Starting Strength program, but was intimidated by gyms and the equipment, so I did this recently. I'm not too far from Wichita Falls, so I was able to find a personal trainer who was very familiar with Rippetoe and his work and had even been trained by him before.

It was definitely a worthwhile investment. After a month and a half of coaching with a personal trainer, I feel a lot more confident with going to a gym or using my own equipment now. I'd still be going to the same trainer if I could fit it into my schedule.

As someone who started with Starting Strength about a year ago, and who goes to a gym in Manhattan with lots of trainers around...

Nope. The book is far superior to any of the trainers I've encountered. The book has so much detail on each exercise, it will take you weeks to absorb it, but if you read relevant parts before/after each workout, to make sure you're doing everything right, you'll probably wind up with much better form and technique than a random trainer's personal opinions.

And if you don't already know the correct form/technique, then how on earth are you going to evaluate which trainer you can trust? Answer: you can't. The book is the way to go, if you can be conscientious about reading it thoroughly, constantly reviewing it, and following what it says.

As someone who started lifting a year ago: you don't know what you're talking about, but don't let that stop you from giving others advice that could hurt them.

For the rest of people interested in getting strong: get a competent trainer (one easy evaluation metric is, as I mentioned, their deadlift maxes; greater than 500 pounds makes avoiding injury w/o good form very unlikely; or participation in powerlifting events; etc).

>>As someone who started lifting a year ago: you don't know what you're talking about, but don't let that stop you from giving others advice that could hurt them.

I have been lifting for five years and I can conclusively state that you are grossly misinformed about this issue.

Fact: the vast majority of trainers out there are shitty. The problem with relying on them as a beginner is that you cannot recognize the shitty ones from the good ones. Simplest example: most trainers will tell you not to go below parallel when you squat, which is just wrong advice. But as a newbie, you aren't in a position to question them. So you will learn wrong form and will be more likely to develop muscle imbalances and injuries.

Therefore, your advice of relying on a trainer to show you good form is potentially far more harmful than using the book as a reference.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Your main point is that one requires instruction to attain the correct form. That can be achieved by reading the book and properly following it, or seeing a competent trainer, or both.

There are some good trainers who can help, and there are certainly many who are worse than useless.

As for the book, it has hundreds of pages explaining in great technical detail exactly how each exercise is to be performed and some useful photos are also included. There's no reason why you can't get the form down properly using the instructions in the book, and maybe even have a friend record your form so you can check it against the photos.

I've read the book many times, looked at reputable youtube videos, had people with perfect form try to correct mine and still have trouble understanding how to do the lifts perfectly. My brain just turns off during the workout and takes a while to come back. Starting Strength's 30 pages per lift are also overwhelming. I really only need a checklist of 30 things per lift and have to figure out which to emphasize for my crap posture, knees out, chest up, etc.

My numbers should be better, 2.7 years, 185 BW, 400 lb deadlift, 275 bench, 275x5 squat, 150 OHP. All thanks to crappy form, not understanding how to do the exercise properly. People with hunchback posture have a lot more to think about than those with good posture. I got to 375x5 deadlift within 1.5 years. But my form was already crap at 245 and I had no idea because I only checked with video at 225. Also filmed myself and couldn't tell what I was doing wrong, looked ok as far as I could tell at the time. But it was wrong. My idea of how to deadlift/squat/OHP was fundamentally wrong at 1.5 year mark. Bench needed major corrections.

You might be doing it wrong too, you can get away with it for a long time.

A trainer at some globo gym like Planet Fitness, Bally etc. won't promise correct form for 300 lb deadlifters, even if they pull 500 lb themselves. They're just there to make total novices feel comfortable.

If you want proper training you need to find a freeweight focused place like a powerlifting gym, maybe crossfit and pay whatever obnoxious price they charge for personal attention. Train a few months there to get started. Or hope you're not as dumb as me and rely on youtube and books.

I agree with the person you responded to. The advice I've received from "certified trainers" on deadlift and squats has been far inferior to 1) looking up proper form online and 2) comparing that against my form in the mirror, or video I took of my lift with my phone.

Save the money, skip the trainer, watch some of Rippetoe's videos, record yourself, and improve. Of course if you have the money to spend, and will feel more confident with a trainer, then by all means do that. But be responsible for your own health and still do your own homework.

It always seems weird to me when someone shits on another person's credentials without stating their own.
Well, my max deadlift comes pretty close to 500lbs and I have been lifting for far longer than a mere year and I'm sorry to say that you are wrong.

You don't need to go to a trainer. I learned everything I know from reading, watching videos and having my form critiqued. It's actually better to go to a good powerlifting gym and make friends with some strong people, but you don't NEED to. At least not until you get to pretty elite levels.

In fact, going to a the typical trainer at the gym is a waste of money, effort, and is MORE likely to get you hurt (like rhabdomyolysis for instance). Half of those guys will just have you balance on a bosu ball while doing some arbitrary movement, and rake in your hundred+ dollars an hour. You might go home more sore than a 30 minute lifting session, but you effectively wasted your time, and probably simply decreased the likelyhood you'll even go back.

No, lifting weights isn't some magical or super technical thing (unless you are doing Olympic lifting, then, then I'd suggest getting a coach, not a trainer).

Edit: FWIW, if you can find a trainer that can DL 500lbs that is at a regular gym, I'd be liable to eat my hat. Now show me that same trainer that actually trains his clients with a routine for beginners as good or better than Starting Strength, and I'll eat my hat without ketchup.

Deadlift of 507lbs raw (no belt, just chalk) here, been training for 4+ years.

When I started, I lucked out when I started training and got a trainer who started me on light squats and barbell bench. Then after a while I made friends with the strongest guys in the gym who have been training for 15+ years.

I dont think you need to find a hulking trainer - my advice would be to find a trainer who has been training for a long time. By that stage they have realised that slow, steady, consistent progress is much more important than just quickly posting huge numbers. They are much more likely to know the benefits of maintaining good form because they will have suffered, and recovered from, injuries.

P.s. I know a trainer who can DL over 500lbs - though he trains mostly women, he does get them deadlifting. They dont do anything like SS because they have different goals.

Another similar workout plan is Stronglifts 5x5[1]. I have never done starting strength but I am a fan of stronglifts and it has a free app that does wonders at the gym for tracking your progress.


I figure Stronglifts is more accessible because of the rows instead of powercleans (which are hard to do right), and as you as the app is great.
Same here. Rippetoe's book was fantastic for me, especially in helping to to have good form, but the Starting Strength 5x5 was the workout that actually stuck with me. IMO they compliment each other extremely well.
There's also a great Starting Strength Wiki:
Mark Rippetoe changed my life. I second this recommendation. And I've only learned to squat and bench properly so far. Looking forward to (if you'll forgive the pun) picking up the other lifts.
Rippetoe's workout is not as simple as the article portrays "built around five old-fashioned lifts" and all that. The rumors people may have heard are true, he really does write sixty pages on how to squat properly without hurting yourself, and other exercises.

The article also has a strong style over substance aspect wrt "photographs were so poorly shot". No they're actually pretty awesome if you're trying to learn how to do this safely. Its like complaining that an engineering blueprint of a perfect engine camshaft doesn't capture the fluffy marketing message of the car, well, yeah, that's kinda not the point...

Its interesting how SS has taken over the field. I've been lifting on and off (mostly off) for about 30 years and will certainly start back up again sooner or later, and its interesting watching how the field has almost universally crystallized on SS for the noobs. In like, the 80s, there was a lot more variety and a lifter might start on machines or freeweights fairly randomly.

I have the same sort of, and similar length, history with weight training.

I believe that's because it's pretty widely accepted now that free weights are more effective than machines. And, the difference is large enough that even people outside of weight lifting circles have a vague awareness of this. In the 80s, it was still really popular to use machines because they were "safer" (which is not necessarily true), they isolated specific muscles for training (mostly true, but not actually optimal), and they seemed easier than learning proper form for lifting free weights (it's still pretty easy to do it wrong with a machine).

That said, my first exposure to weight training was via a Gold's Gym book that I got at a garage sale, which also focused solely on free weights. I think the gym rats have always known iron was superior to rubber bands and elaborate systems of ropes and pulleys.

> it's pretty widely accepted now that free weights are more effective than machines.

I don't buy that. The people who say that stuff are the same ones who go on about stabilizer muscles, when there's no such thing. Machines are safer than barbells. For overhead and pull-down stuff the good machines minimize dangerous shoulder stress. Barbell squats and deadlifts quite simply are somewhat dangerous and even very experienced people manage to tweak their backs.

Between you believing the deadlift has no athletic benefit, and thinking machines are more effective than free weights, I'm wondering what your background in fitness is. I think the debate about safety is reasonable though.
I didn't say machines are more effective. I said they're safer, and that free weights are not magically more effective than machines.

I also didn't say the deadlift has no athletic benefit. I said it is fetishized and its usefulness is blown out of all proportion. It's seductive because a beginner can rapidly increase loads. But mostly it builds mass that is not very useful for real sports and impairs endurance. Always betting against the puffed up fighter has been a reliable betting strategy.

If you want to spend your training capacity building up to a 500# deadlift, go for it. Just don't kid yourself that it's particularly impressive or will help you do much else other than deadlift.

Your comment said you doubt the increased effectiveness of free weights over machines, which seems hard to doubt. Like I said, I think debating the claim that free weights are safer is totally fair; it seems the real conversation is about which type of safety the other is talking about.

As for the deadlift, I get your point. I do think that you are making it an either-or thing, in that you're either piling on mass with the deadlift or your not getting stronger. Athletes don't do starting strength, they should be using the deadlift as part of a well-rounded training routine rather than trying to set PR after PR. I agree with you that a singular focus on deadlifts/squats for most athletes is detrimental, but that doesn't mean it has no place whatsoever. I'd also bet against the athlete who focused on it in such a way.

Anecdotally though, I've found the deadlift to be very functional for me. And who are you to say that someone moving from 135 to a 350lb deadlift, and then maybe to 500lbs isn't impressive? I'm impressed with anyone that can motivate themselves to some sort of physical goal.

I think it's your derision that I find most off-putting. Deadlifting is hard work that takes time, so kudos to anyone that sticks with and improves themselves in a way that makes them happy. Yeah, almost everyone can do it, but most people don't. Is running a marathon impressive? What about a triathlon? Biking a century? Or are the only things worth being impressed by the things genetics make impossible for the masses?

Machines ARE safer strictly with respect to sitting in the machine.

Outside the machine, I have personal experience that your shoulder, leg, and arm muscles might be able to trivially lift a mere concrete block but your back muscles (luckily in my case not a ligament) were not strengthened by the machine to a similar level leading to quite a bit of pain and damage. Which is the short version of life experiences explaining why I'll probably never go back to machines in the future.

Given an infinite number of machines, presumably one for every muscle or so, and an infinite amount of knowledge such that you strengthen your back to always be 5% stronger than your arms or whatever, then machines would be safer than free weights. Of course given spherical cows I'd have the same level of knowledge and safety of free weights.

You certainly could hurt your back without any relationship to strength training at all. Or even hurt yourself after freeweights. But it is more likely after machine work.

There is also a practical matter of scale. Lets be realistic. A really bad day of lifting won't be much worse than naturally happens to fat couch potatoes every day, so its no really big deal. On the other hand a "really bad day" of bicycling means getting turned into grease under the wheels of a truck, or a "really bad day" of hiking means hunters find your body after a couple months. Its not in practice a serious concern, compared to other human activities.

Not that opposition to machines is some kind of amish / historical re-enactor philosophical opposition. Not using a squat rack when squatting is probably an excellent way to hurt yourself. Someone should invent a machine or technique to do bench presses safely while alone.

Unless your rail thin and a teenager, I'd avoid Rip's diet advice. It will undoubtedly get you fat.

Lyle McDonald's is, as far as I'm concerned, the best nutrition resource on the internet. Lyle does a great job of taking clinical research and boiling it down to practical applications for people who train.

Diet != losing weight. The GOMAD (gallon of milk a day) diet is not designed for you to lose weight. It's designed to maximize daily caloric intake, which in turn maximizes speed of recovery.

Once you're done with starting strength, you switch to something like IF (intermittent fasting) to cut the excess fat. Then you end up with lots of muscle and no fat.

You can either lose fat or gain muscle. It's incredibly difficult to do both at the same time.

"difficult to do both at the same time"

With right combination you can do it. Targeted Keto/IF combination seems to be quite effective. Sheds fat while maintaining (or gaining) muscle mass and minimizing the impact of the diet to your strength levels. I've dropped +25kg BW while gaining +5kg of muscle mass and gaining/maintaining my big-lifts. I noticed that going from Stronglift 5x5 to Madcow really helped my recovery. Mostly as my body couldn't keep up with the heavy squatting and deadlifting too many times during the week.

Yup. But if you're doing both at the same time, you are not maximizing your gains. You could be increasing strength much faster, then cut much faster afterwards.
But I would assume that heavy cut will end up eating your gains too?
GOMAD is also specifically designed for teenagers with no fat or muscle that don't know how to consume 3000 + calories/day (and I believe Rip usually wants them in the 4-5000 range). What I'm saying is that this is an inefficient approach for almost everyone outside that demographic that has any sort of interest in improved appearance (i.e. almost everyone).

Your body can only build muscle at a certain rate, and the rest of the caloric surplus is going to be converted to body fat. So what I'm saying is if you are willing to pay a little bit of attention to macro nutrient intake, you can gain muscle with much less of the associated body fat that comes with bulking.

This way, you have to much less to cut. More importantly, you learn how to eat properly which is essential for long term success.

The point is to have a caloric surplus. Because then you can guarantee maximum recovery.
That's true. I really needed to bulk so it worked for me (gained 30 pounds in about half a year). That being said, for those looking to control weight and do something more manageable I would definitely recommend McDonald's guide.
I also think the focus on squatting and dead lifting does not produce very aesthetic results for a lot of guys. Some people have twiggy legs and benefit from putting on some lower body mass. But a lot more guys who progress to intermediate squat and deadlift numbers wind up with over sized thighs and glutes and frankly it doesn't look good. Nor is it very "functional" outside of the lifts. That kind of bulk definitely slows you down on the court/track/field.

People get caught up in stuff like the deadlift because you build up to what seem like big numbers. But the fact is, it's not very impressive. Most guys can get there. And it's not very useful, athletically speaking.

I think Rippetoe's original schtick was built around bulking kids up for certain positions on high school football teams. Having an extra 20# to throw around at age 17 is going to really help a lineman. I'm a bit skeptical about the wider reverence the Rippetoe approach gets these days.

"the deadlift [...] is not very impressive, [...] and it's not very useful, athletically speaking."

That is probably the most false statement I've ever read on the internet. Which is saying something. Athletically speaking, there is no single exercise better than the deadlift. With the squat coming in at #2.

If you play tennis, box, run 400m, or play basketball, then pursuing a heavy weight deadlift routine is going to compromise your performance. Sometimes it might help build some strength, but beyond a limited amount sinking a lot of training capacity into it is going to slow you down and compromise endurance. This is not remotely controversial.
All of those exercises demand explosive strength from the legs. Which is what the deadlift is very, very efficient at producing.


This guy is doing a 47 inch box jump... out of a pool. This is what deadlifting does.

I know people who were able to dunk in high school as teenagers and were very explosive. Than they started weight lifing regime, lifted hard for a decade (solid weights on compund movements), still can't really dunk no more, while they should be even more explosive.

Thing is, pylometrics is still nr. 1 for most explosivnes and also olimpic lifting, but not classis weight lifting, strength is not power.

+EDIT: This guy on the video does far more than just DL to achive what he does, he is also very competent at calisthenics, he does one leg hill jums and other extremely difficult exercises ... Claiming this is a product of solely DL is misinforming.

Agreed. Mark Rippetoe's diet will make you gain body fat. In his defense, he mentions this several times in the book, writing things approximately like, "People are in love with their visible abs. This diet will break your affair off."
Dec 30, 2013 · crazygringo on [Missing Story]
2-3 times a week, strength training, following "Starting Strength":

Just a few sets of bench presses, shoulder presses, squats and deadlifts, a couple times a week, seems to do wonders for both appearance (and posture) and mood (hugely). Because it's so efficient, and actually feels good, going to the gym is something I now actually look forward to.

another dark secret: form is not the #1 priority. youtube is full of videos of people doing crossfit with horrific form and the instructors seem more focused on getting folks to "do" the exercise rather than "do it right".

it seems like crossfit doesn't quite appreciate how easy it is to destroy a knee, or your back, from improper deadlift or squat form. done properly, they are fantastic exercises. improperly, they are dangerous.

>> another dark secret: form is not the #1 priority.

Depends on your gym, at my gym if you have bad form during a workout, you will be stopped, corrected and if necessary scaled down until you can get it right. Of course my gym doesn't routinely post videos to youtube.

For anyone interested... if you want good posture, if you want to really be in shape, there are a million fads out there, but the best book by far is "Starting Strength" [1]. (It's also one of the best-selling on Amazon.)

It essentially focuses on just the squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and (later) power clean, devoting around forty pages to each, and explains why you really don't need much else. They're quite difficult to get right, but the incredibly in-depth explanations will especially appeal to programmers who like understanding how things work.

I say this just because the book completely changed the way I approach the gym, and it mirrors what the article author says about the exercises he used.


They also have a youtube channel where Rip coaches all of the lifts in the book and gives advice on where to go when you aren't progressing and what to do in terms of accessory movements.

Yes, count me in as a Starting Strength lover. Excellent book. Started squatting at 95 lbs. at the end of March, today I'm squatting 200 lbs. (I do other exercises, of course, but just an example of the types of gains can be made with the right knowledge and persistence.)
There's also Dan Johns Mass Made Simple

Both books are really good.

I can vouch for Starting Strength and CrossFit.

CrossFit 6 days a week, 2 hours a day. Come into work ready to take on the world!

Does lifting weights really fix your posture if it's already bad? Also, where do you guys read about proper eating?
Depends how bad, consult a doctor. Mine was kind of shitty, and it did fix it, but that's because I only progressed my lifts if I had 100% perfect form throughout all sets and reps. about diet and how to work with macros.

That book was responsible for me finally achieving my 400 lb deadlift. Great book.
What is the main focus? Is the goal pure strength, mostly mass or a combination of the two? Right now I'm interested in training strength (as opposed to training for size, like body building).
I can vouch for Starting Strength. If your body sucks, read this book. A lot of it will go over your head, and you don't need to read every single page, but once you start, really focus on nailing the three lifts.

I went from 45lb on the bar for all lifts to:

350 squat

475 deadlift

260 bench

290 powerclean

180 snatch

225 c&j

315 front squat

(the last 4 lifts are because I starting getting seriously into pure olympic lifting).

In under a year. I didn't use any drugs, but what I did do was post a massive wall-wide calendar on my wall, and in each day were checkboxes for: daily 5g creatine, daily sleep , daily macros (protein/fat/carb), daily fish oil.

I used a calorie counting application to make sure that without fail, every single day I got 300g protein, 400g carbs, around 150g fat (300x4 + 400x4 + 150x9 = 4100~ calories). I gained about 90lb, gained a ton of strength, then did a 2000 calorie cut still while powerlifting and then sprinting twice a day every day to cut weight fast.

Absolutely changed my life. I unlocked the greatest super power of all: controlling how I feel day in and day out. No more irritation, no more snappy emotions, no more all nighters and wasting 2 days recouping. I am able to put on weight whenever I want, and cut it whenever I want.

It's really incredible the shift you notice when you nail your diet and exercise down to a solid routine. You are much more stable throughout your daily tasks.

In the end, paying extreme attention to the trifecta and literally never once straying from it for a year (sleep/nutrition/exercise), it locked me into a proper mindset that I am able to sustain and not wane off of. Meaning I wouldn't have a new goal every single day, I wouldn't waste one day feeling extremely down in the dumps like I used to (used to be suicidal/suffer from extreme depression). No episodes, just focus.

Start getting strong, it will absolutely change your life and empower you.

How is your c&j 290, but your powerclean 225? Squat clean for the c&j (judging by your front squat numbers)?
Whoops, my mistake, other way around. Squat clean for the c&j yes.
No worries, thanks for clarifying. Impressive numbers -- great post and thanks for sharing.
You sprinted twice a day? Can you tell me what a sprint workout was like for you? If I do just five 200 meter sprints in a workout, I'm fairly exhausted.
30 second sprint, 1 minute walk, rotate until you can't move. Then do it again. Oh, and do it a few more times. Then do that every morning and every evening. You will shed weight like no tomorrow.

Note: SPRINTING, not steady state cardio. As intense as you can for 30 seconds, then walk. That's all.

What do you mean by rotate (sprint for one minute and walk for 30 seconds?), and by a few more times (10 minutes, 15 minutes)?
Sprint to your maximum potential for 30 seconds, then immediately slow down to a walk, and walk for a minute. Once that minute is up, back to the sprinting for thirty seconds. Keep rotating between 30 second sprints and 1 minute walks until you are exhausted.
If you can do 4 of those you're doing well. The key is to expend every little bit of energy you can for those 30 seconds, super burst sprinting till absolute failure.
Before anyone runs to the gym to buy a membership to copy the above, what rfnslyr did takes intense dedication and focus and he likely has very good genetics. Compound exercises that SS teaches are the best method for gaining overall body strength and mass. Just remember that working out is 75% nutrition and 25% lifting. If you don't eat right you wont make gains.
> Just remember that working out is 75% nutrition and 25% lifting. If you don't eat right you wont make gains.

Does that hold for strength, or mostly for building muscle? Does training the central nervous system really rely that much on nutrition as opposed to exercising/lifting?

Oh buddy yes. Try it while eating shit and not maintaining any ratios and tell me how you feel / how long you last.
> If you don't eat right you wont make gains.

The golden rule (unless you're in highschool and rancid with hormones).

It really does take dedication. I had every day, every meal planned, at what time, at what time i wake and sleep, etc.

Allocate X amount of meals you are comfortable with eating per day (I like to eat four). Buy 7 x 4 containers. I like to eat two snacks a day too at work. 2 small containers x 7. So I got containers, 28 large, 14 small (for yogurt + fruit).

Protein - lean meat (beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, various fishes)

Fat - honestly just straight olive oil poured into my meal, makes it all nice and wet and makes it go down easy.

Carbs - anything carby, though I abided strictly by sweet potato for carbs. I want more carbs? Weigh out more sweet potato mashed, so easy for carbs. That and bananas are my two go to source.

4 meals a day, 4000 calories. 1000 calories/meal. 1 meal consists of 3 macros. Fat has 9cal/g, carb has 4cal/g, protein has 4cal/g. 75g pro, 100g carb, 30g fat. That's per container. Now I have 4 of those for every day + 2 snacks of whatever I want (this was my "cheat" meal, so fruits or some sort of yogurt, or some celery to be dipped in nutella, etc, something to keep me sane).

That's all there is to it. Then gym 3x a day, and monitoring my sleep with Sleepcycle every night and

Exercise hacking! I might do another full year of strict dieting and lifting while documenting it all.

That is some incredible dedication!

> Then gym 3x a day,

Did you mean 3x a week? Also, did you do much experimentation with your macro levels? And how would you adjust things given feedback from your sleep tracking?

Thanks again for this anecdote, it's really inspiring.

I meant gym 3x a week. I did do experimentation. For a few months.

I started at 2000 calories for two weeks. Noticed weight loss, kept adjusting 300 per two weeks to see fluctuations. 2300 still losing, 2700 still losing, 3000 I gained a bit, 4000 I gain a lot of fat. When working out intensely, biking, and sprinting, I only gain a bit on 4000.

During this time I ate zero sodium outright, only whatever the food contained. No condiments, just fresh cooked without spices or anything to get true calories and weight down.

Yes. While I have nitpicks with some of the form advice that Rippetoe gives, I think his book is meant for, and very good for, any beginner to strength training and powerlifting.

2 years ago I was pretty weak and had a lot of lower back and knee problems. I did Starting Strength for about 6 months (as a beginning linear progression program, it's not meant to be done longer than that) and then I switched to Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program which is a more intermediate program with cyclical progression and monthly deload weeks.

In that time, I have gained over 20 pounds of muscle mass, added over 100 lbs each to my max squat and deadlift, my posture is much better, and my back and knee problems have almost completely gone away.

If you are interested in free weights, Starting Strength is the best book out there. In free weights you have to be extremely careful about your form otherwise you could seriously injure yourself. This book goes deep in the human anatomy and mechanics to teach you how to approach free weights.

And SS is mentioned (along with Practical Programming) in the essential fitness library graphic from the article:
This article and this DVD really set my fitness regime over the last two years.

The DVD is a great guide to the six or so major movements in weightlifting and I found it was much easier to visualise what I was meant to be doing.

I got serious in May '11 and by Jan '12 my personal bests were a massive improvement over where I had started, and I found that I was really enjoying tracking my progress and getting strong and fit.

I'd gone from benching 80 kgs to a 1 rep max of 120kg, and squatting 90kg a 1 rep max of 160kg.

I found the major contributor to my improvement was - consistency (3 times a week, every week), and - focussing on getting the biggest impact for your time in the gym.

Even if you just squat and deadlift, I believe you're doing much more for yourself than by focussing on what most people do - tricep pulldowns and bicep curls.

I plan to switch back to weight training around March and give that a try for a couple of months to see if I can find a way to make that work better.

Try Starting Strength ( ). Most people (read: me) dick around in the gym with bicep curls and nautilus machines, which is a mistake.

I got basically no results while doing that, and my improvements have been dramatic since I started SS.

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