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  • Starting Strength Questions

    Last Wednesday was my first Starting Strength session. Specifically:

    M-W-F

    Workout A
    Barbell Squat 3x5
    Chest Press 3x5
    Deadlift 1x5

    Workout B
    Barbell Squat 3x5
    Barbell Press 3x5
    Power Clean 5x3

    So far, just one week in, it's going great. I am already seeing some definition popping up (I'm ~20% body fat but am fortunate to have a good shape/body structure underneath the fat). I'm feeling stronger everyday, which I thought wouldn't happen after doing CrossFit for 4.5 months and struggling with that (particularly the weightlifting as, I believe due to the high reps/time competition, I wasn't able to get my technique right or ever increase weight).

    Questions for those with weightlifting experience, particularly with this program but any compound beginner one like this:

    1. I'm concerned that this type of program is focused solely on being a power lifter/breaking strength records.
    I honestly could care less what my deadlift PR or squat weight PR is. I'm lifting weights because I understand it's the best program for health and day-to-day fitness. While getting stronger is great, my real true goals are:

    - Get more muscle definition (vs simply building muscle mass)
    - Better overall health

    Does this type of program still make sense? In addition to the above 3 days per week, I also do minimum 1 hour of 'move slowly' and one or two times per week I'll do HIIT cardio. I also eat 95% primal.

    2. The warm-up progression for each lift, as prescribed in the SS guide, is awfully time-consuming/lengthy. How strict should I be with progressing through the multiple warm-up sets, before getting to my working sets?

    mark
    A Forty-something Fat Guy's Journey Towards Real Health | Low Carb Learning

  • #2
    I'm biased, but I think you have plenty to gain from SS. Muscle definition is a function of muscle size plus reduced body fat, but getting stronger is always important. SS is a novice barbell program (which is what you are), designed to build up a good base of strength. That strength will make future goals that much easier to achieve - even bodybuilders start with this, because a good strength base means you'll use heavier and therefore more effective weights on a hypertrophy program.

    But your muscles will grow, especially if you eat enough. And you will PR at every workout, because that's what linear progression is. Give it a year, follow the program, and re-assess from there. Also, check out the Starting Strength forum, because lots of really great coaches (even Rip himself) hang out there and give advice and address technique.

    Comment


    • #3
      Btw - do the warmups as prescribed. It might feel like overkill at first, but it really counts when the lifts get heavy.

      Muscle definition and overall health will come as you get stronger. You don't have to train like a powerlifter - SS isn't that kind of program anyway, it's a novice program. Just do the lifts, focus on form and keep adding weight. You'll do great.

      You didn't mention if you have the book, or if you're just getting the routine off the internet. I highly recommend the book, because all of your questions are answered therein.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies.

        Haven't bought the book - just been going off of what the website says. Biggest problem so far is my lack of shoulder/arm flexibility - it downright hurts somewhat to do back squats because getting the bar on my back is not easy for me. I am going to look for some sort of super-stretch for that on youtube now so that I can focus more on the form. I got some instruction while a CrossFit member and I saw an SS video clip on it so I know I'm doing it right - it's just that I'm so inflexible that it is difficult. On the positive side....5 months ago I tried it and couldn't get the bar on my back at all. That's when I joined a CrossFit box to get some training. Unfortunately we just didn't lift very much so after the first month I never really got any opportunity to get better at it, hence quitting that and doing SS on my own now.

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        • #5
          This sounds similar to the 5x5 workout on Stronglifts.com that I was doing a while back. I loved it. It's a great way to build real strength. I think this type of workout is excellent, assuming you can stick with it for a long time.

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          • #6
            you'll use heavier and therefore more effective weights on a hypertrophy program

            Comment


            • #7
              Strength is health and will create definition. If you just want to get bigger aka bodybuilding...most good bodybuilders have a good strength base.
              Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
              PS
              Don't forget to play!

              Comment


              • #8
                Its already been said, but the book is fantastic and has a ton of information. Best $30 I have spent on fitness.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dirlot View Post
                  Strength is health and will create definition. If you just want to get bigger aka bodybuilding...most good bodybuilders have a good strength base.
                  Agreed. My understanding is that hypertrophy programs are not that useful until you have a base of strength laid down first. A beginner program will build strength fairly simply, and then you can pick something more complicated that fits your specific goals.
                  “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                  Owly's Journal

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                  • #10
                    Thanks.

                    My goal is simply to increase muscle definition. I'm fortunate to have a natural V shape and good shoulders. After only 3 SS sessions I'm noticing a nice improvement in the definition in my shoulders.

                    I don't really care about ever being able to lift heavy weight for the sake of lifting heavy weight, but if it is the proper/fastest way to attain and maintain muscle definition then I'm on it : )

                    Here is my weekly fitness routine, which is basically the PBF routine (in my mind):

                    Daily: lots of moving slowly/play. I have an active 8 year old soccer player and we play around kicking the ball, etc., almost every single day. I also will often go to on 2 to 3 mile walks in the evenings when I have the time. I also joined a gym and enjoy putting in my earbuds and listening to podcasts while walking for 45 minutes on the treadmill. I know treadmills get a bad rap but I like them, and will more so in another month or two when it starts to get real cold outside here : )

                    Starting Strength: 3x per week. I think at some point I'd rather just do it twice per week, but for the time being I'll stick with 3x as prescribed by Rippetoe. I enjoy these workouts, especially the power cleans : ) My flexibility is an issue so the squats aren't all that fun, but the progress is exciting.

                    Once per week minimum, and sometimes twice per week, a HIIT/"Sprint" session:
                    The gym I joined is primarily a squash club, so I can play during off-peak hours if I like (peak hours would require a full membership which is double the cost). If you've never played squash: it is absolutely physically demanding. Particularly when you're always out of position like I used to be when I played years ago : ) Aside from that as a 'Sprint' session, I will either:
                    a. Do intervals on a cardio machine (I did them on the elliptical the other day, but next time will try the bike)
                    or
                    b. Take a cardio class at my gym such as "Spin". I know those classes aren't too popular around these parts, but the one time I tried it the instructor basically just had us doing interval training.

                    Also, every Saturday morning (starting with this past week), I will be doing the "Beginner Yoga" class at my gym. I did it last week and it was pretty hard but my inflexible body can only benefit. Looking forward to it!

                    What do you think of my routine? Too much?

                    I have about 10lbs of primarily belly fat that I'd like to lose. So building muscle mass by eating more is not something I'm willing to do. I still need to cut body fat.

                    mark
                    A Forty-something Fat Guy's Journey Towards Real Health | Low Carb Learning

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have been doing StrongLifts for the past 7 weeks, exactly as recommended in the website. But I also had the book (Starting Strength 3rd ed.) and the Starting Strength DVD. Nowhere in the StrongLifts website or literature you will find a better description of the lifts and the proper technique. And the DVD is an excellent complement for the book. After reading the book, and checking startingstrength.com, I became convinced that I should change to SS, which I just did this week. So, I can say, from my limited experience, that the book (and the DVD) are essential. Almost any question you could think of is answered there. And you won't be treated nicely in the Starting Strength forum if you ask something that is in the book.

                      About doing this for general fitness, let me tell you about my experience training for Tough Mudder (Austin, 10-6-12). During the late spring and summer I did a little bit of sandbag workouts, a little running (mostly sprints and Tabata intervals). The last 6 weeks before the race, I did nothing but StrongLifts and a Saturday track workout. I did much better than I could ever had dreamed. I climbed 10' walls on my own, did the dreaded monkey bars without falling, crawled on the mud, etc. I've been a runner for a long time, so the 12 miles didn't worry me, but all the climbing obstacles were much easier than I had hoped. And, my times during my track workouts were better than when I was just running. I would probably run a slower 10 K than before, but my sprints are significantly faster than they had been in years.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks OscarC.
                        I've been doing SS for the past 2.5 weeks and it's gone well with one major exception: the pinched nerve in my neck is not appreciating the back squats. Part of it is due to the strain I'm putting on my shoulders/arms due to my lack of flexibility in those areas. I had resolved to just sticking with it and fighting through the inflexibility but my neck is hurting and I simply cannot do proper form due to the inflexibility. I just posted a new thread today on this forum asking for advice on alternates to the back squat. I had thought about posting it to the SS forum but you know how that would have gone - "There is no substitute!" I agree, but there's no way I can continue fighting through this as I'm concerned it'll make things worse.

                        Stinks, because I was making major gains up to this point. But I don't want to risk it anymore. I'll continue to do everything but the back squats and will find some alternative movements to take the place of that one.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mark2741 View Post
                          Thanks.

                          My goal is simply to increase muscle definition. I'm fortunate to have a natural V shape and good shoulders. After only 3 SS sessions I'm noticing a nice improvement in the definition in my shoulders.

                          I don't really care about ever being able to lift heavy weight for the sake of lifting heavy weight, but if it is the proper/fastest way to attain and maintain muscle definition then I'm on it : )
                          Why would you want to just puff up without also wanting to be strong? There was a guy on this season's Survivor who had huge puffy muscles but was oddly very weak. Why would anyone think that this is desirable?

                          The more I learn about weight training the more weird stuff I learn. I think from now on I'll be looking at these muscular guys and wondering if maybe they aren't nearly as strong as they look. I mean, I really truly never knew. It's like some secret world of guys. I thought only women were so weird as to not care at all if their bodies are functional.
                          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                            It's like some secret world of guys. I thought only women were so weird as to not care at all if their bodies are functional.
                            You would be amazed, my buddy just told me the other day while lifting that strength was a side effect of getting bigger. I asked if he meant it the other way around, nope he just wants to be big and doesn't care about strong.
                            "Go For Broke"
                            Fat Kine-230/24% @ 6'2"
                            Small Kine-168/9%
                            Now- 200/8%
                            Goal- 210/6%

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wanderlust View Post
                              You would be amazed, my buddy just told me the other day while lifting that strength was a side effect of getting bigger. I asked if he meant it the other way around, nope he just wants to be big and doesn't care about strong.
                              I'm substantially stronger than lots of guys I see with way bigger muscles than I have. Obviously, some guys are both big and strong, but I regularly outlift much bigger guys, or they ask me to spot them on weights I have no problems with.

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