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Starting Strength workout variant + realistic strength goals/expectations

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  • Starting Strength workout variant + realistic strength goals/expectations

    I have just come back from some time off at the gym. I hurt my already damaged shoulder joint by trying to OH press too much. Anyway, everything feels ok now, so I am going to try SS again, but this time limit my pressing and not move up weight in the press until I am really ready.

    My main goals are still general fitness > strength > hypertrophy > endurance in that order. As such, I am going to try and combine some steady state moderate cardio (as prescribed in PB finess) and sprints into my week as well, without feeling like I am exercising all the time.

    I just wanted to hear opinions on whether I should do a 3 day SS routine, or try and modify it to 2 days?

    If I did 3 days, my week would be something like this:
    Monday - Squat, Bench, Row, Dip
    Tuesday - Fast Walk 20-30 mins
    Wednesday - Dead, Clean, Chin, Light Shoulder work
    Thursday - Maybe some walk/jog
    Friday - Squat, bench, Row, Dip
    Saturday Night - Sprint
    Sunday - Relax

    Really, it isn't that bad and is only about 5 hours exercise a week. But on top of work, uni and trying to really knuckle down and get my diet right, it is a fair amount of time. And fitness is only a side hobby.

    Also, I have set myself some goals by the 15th December (my 20th bday) but don't know if they are realistic. At the moment I can squat 75kg which is about my bw, for 2-3 sets of 5 reps, bench 70kg for the same and do 2-3 sets of dips with an extra 10kg and chins with 2.5kg. I said i wanted to get my squat 1RM to 100kg by my bday and all my others by 10kg... is this realistic?

  • #2
    your routine looks pretty good, particularly if strength is your primary goal. you may find yourself wanting to back off a bit once the weight gets heavier, so you could probably cut down to just the monday and wednesday lifts if you wanted...i think you'll be fine 3 days a week though. you may want to throw a little core work in on one of those workouts too.

    as to your goals...they are definitely reasonable if you stick to the program. you'll probably need to shovel some serious amounts of food down your throat to get there, but 25kg increase on squat in 2 months seems reachable. good luck.


    • #3
      My hunch is that you may not be allowing enough recovery time in light of your goal timeframe. Squats and benches, if done heavy, deserve separate days IMO. Cleans are likewise tricky and I wouldn't attempt them after deads. Heavy deads and squats will also rock your legs pretty hard and merit a bit more separation in terms of days. You may want to look into walking and traction (sledgehammer, kettlebell) on your off days rather than jogging or sprinting.

      I do think your goals are realistic, although the shoulder is an X factor, especially for the bench and dip.

      Glenn recently started a discussion on push/pull splits which may be of interest to you. My own routine is in that thread:

      Good luck reaching your laudable goals!


      • #4
        Yeah I was also unsure as to whether a push/pull split would be the way to go... I just decided in the end to try not overthink it to much and actually just start something! I get the benefits of push/pull, but there must be a reason old Rippetoe did SS the way he did... The Push/pull would also force me to do rows and deads same day, which I find puts a lot of stress on my hams and lower back (I THINK I'm doing it right ).

        I am already struggling at the weights I'm doing and even though I don't eat an enormous amount of food, I eat like the average teenage male and don't let myself go hungry which I figure should be plenty. Bacon, eggs, yoghurt for brekky, protein shake, nuts, carrots for smoko, fair sized lunch, protein shake after workout, big dinner. So, even though I'm eating, I find it hard to have a long gym session and find it hard to keep increasing the weights past bw. This is the main reason I am considering 2 days.

        And how come sledgehammer and kbells on off days instead of walking? That seems way too much for me when I am having a hard time breaking my 75kg squat plateu as it is. I have a kbell but I usually only muck around with it as a toy on wkends for some fun.


        • #5
          I had a good soul search before going to the gym this arvo and ended up deciding to cut down to just 3 exercises per session, with the big lifts all on seperate days. So Monday - Squat, Row, Rear Delt work (rehab for my shoulder), Wed - Bench, Dips, Presses (more rehab stuff to try and build up the muscle and tendons around my bad joint), Fri - Deadlift, Chins, Shrugs, Ab work.

          This isn't really a push/pull style routine, but I do think it will be best for me. I have a large amount of back and shoulder work to try and sort out what is going on with my shoulder by strengthenign the areas and reducing the imbalance between the front and back of my shoulders.

          I did the Wednesday workout this arvo and felt really good! I was able to get 3 sets of 5 on bench using good form at BW. Then 3 sets of 7 of weighted dips with 7.5kg as I still had heaps left in the tank. I was able to really visualise what I was doign while dipping too. And then I did some light pressing with 10kg DB and shoulder felt good. No joint discomfort


          • #6
            It depends on how you feel. Two days a week will get you strong, and so will three days. If you are able to rest enough, and with good quality, go 3. If you need more time to rest, go two.


            • #7
              If you're a novice lifter, your schedule looks fine. I wouldn't call it a SS variant, since Rip is pretty adamant that what you are doing is YNDTFP (You're not doing the f'ing program).

              Timothy: Rip has you squatting 3x a week, increasing the weight each day, including on the deadlift day, and benching on a squat day as well, so this isn't too much. It all depends on your goals. SS is just that: starting strength. If you want a powerlifting routine, then you'll want to separate your bench and your squat, but if it's simply to get stronger, it's fine to squat first and then bench. At a certain point, you won't be able to do that.

              Robbie: An alternative approach is to keep what you are doing, but vary the intensity. So, your first squat/bench day, squat heavy, bench light with higher reps, and then switch it for your second squat/bench day. That gives you more volume than if you're only squatting 1x week, but it's a little easier. Or, have a heavy day for both squat/bench and then a lighter volume day (that's more of a Texas Method approach). That will also help your hypertrophy goals.