cliffs at the bottom
Brief Personal History
I started SS at the end of Feb this year after a 6 month run of self made BBing splits, convinced that it would be a magic pill that would take me to the land of strength. Forget starting weights. These are my actual strength gains.
My starting actual 5RMs were 155lbs squat, 175lbs bench, 115lb press and 247.5lbs deadlift. Nearly 9 months later, after also doing The Greyskull LP, I was much stronger. On my last day of LP, I was squatting 275lbs, benching 205lbs, pressing 155lbs and deadlifting 325lbs, all for 5 reps. Nothing special for someone finishing SS or GSLP. Pretty average, but not too shabby, considering I had no coaching.
I may have taken a while to finish too, but the point is, I got there. I exhausted my linear gains and I believe that qualifies me to speak on the method of training that is Linear Progression. I learnt that neither program was a magic pill. THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL
So What Is The Point Of This Thread And Who Is It For?
As you can see, I spent an excessive amount of time on LP. I made a lot of mistakes.
Which means I worked out a few things along the way.
This thread is of educational value to you if you are considering starting, or have recently started, a linear progression strength program ie. The Starting Strength program, The Greyskull LP or any other good beginner LP.
Iím hoping this thread can be made up of contributions from experienced LP trainees who can dispense theyíre advice for the less experienced to benefit from!
So let's get to the meat and potatoes...
Things I Learnt The Hard Way So You Don't Have To
First off, you need to make sure you've read the book on your chosen program. Seriously.
With that done, you'd think that the road ahead would be easy, right? Wrong.
The problem with text books, is they're all a bit... textbook. If only there was something a bit more... anecdotal. Well, here it is. If I'd read a few threads like this one I'm writing now, I think I could've saved myself a few months. Iím not claiming this to be the definitive thread on LP. It is merely a piece in the puzzle of how a lifter can approach and learn from novice programming. If you have experienced the grind that is LP, I urge you to contribute your advice and the lessons you learnt. Itís not for the fainthearted, and if a novice lifter can read this and find his or her way towards strength, that would be a blessing for all involved.
Here's what I learnt...
Learn to squat YOUR WAY - Not only do you need to squat with correct form, you need to squat with suitable form. This means form that makes you feel strong and comfortable. In fact, this goes for every lift. You need to experiment with grips, hand and foot placements, setups, gaze and any other variable you care to name.
When you encounter an issue with form on a lift, the best thing you can do is film your sets for personal viewing, and also post vids in the exercise forum for critique. Some of the advice will be confusing as itís common to be overloaded with things to fix. Focus on one or two things at a time and take it one step at a time. You need to feel the alterations one by one, not revamp everything and start from scratch. See the exercise section sticky on form check vids to get the best quality feedback.
BELT UP Sooner Rather Than Later - I see it all the time. People don't want to wear a belt until they're squatting at least 2 and a half plates. They don't get kitted out, they stall around the 2 plate mark a couple of times, then they bail on the program. All because they think they're cheating with a belt.
Honestly, you need to drop this attitude. This was nearly me. I finally gave in to getting a belt and I haven't looked back since. And guess what? I can now squat and deadlift more than ever beltless. Make the switch sooner rather than later. If youíre worried about your core, do some back extensions on a day youíre not deadlifting. That's what I did.
IMO, the ideal time to start wearing a belt is once your back starts to round on reps at max effort, but your form is good enough to maintain a natural arch throughout a lift just below max effort.
For example, you'll get to a point with your deadlift where you'll start worrying about your back. Unless you're lucky you'll either do yourself some damage, or you'll stay too far within your limits to progress. Belt up and you'll see another month of progress, minimum. Just do it already. Thereís a good sticky in the exercise section on belts.
While Weíre On KITÖ Ė Iíd recommend buying some good footwear. I have a pair of heeled Do Wins that I squat in and I very rarely come up on my toes now. If youíre squatting in trainers, you should give barefoot a shot until you can afford proper footwear. Compressible soles are a nightmare for squatting. Try deadlifting in either deadlift slippers or barefoot. I deadlift barefoot and probably always will.
Also, buy some chalk. Itíll give you better grip on deads, itíll stop the bar slipping around on your back during squats and it can also stop the bar spinning in your hands on squats too. It costs next to nothing so itís the best value investment youíll make.
I know nothing about gear apart from that itís almost worthless for increasing raw strength. Personally I wouldnít go near it unless I was planning to enter a geared meet in the near future. Itís not something a novice trainee should concern themselves with.
MICROLOAD your pressing Ė I personally could not have made as much progress on my pressing without getting microplates. It enabled me to increase the weight on bench and press by 2.5lbs a session, making progression much more sustainable. Yes, itís another expense, but itís not much. If you canít sacrifice 2 hours worth of wages to give your pressing a better chance of progress then how serious are you about your training?
DIET Ė From my experience, and as a result of the advice I got on these forums when I was stuck, the best way to drive progress other than getting your form pat down, is to eat in a decent calorie surplus. Youíre gonna put on a little fat, but youíre gonna get strong. Just donít go overboard. Monitor your weight gain, and keep it in check, but make sure you are gaining weight.Eat and make progress now. Take advantage of linear gains. You will never see them again. Eat and claim them now, and lose some weight after if you need to.
Nearly all the most successful LP trainees have taken this approach, but there are still those who disagree. If youíre already overweight, Iíll admit Iím not sure of how you should approach it. Personally, I would set about losing weight and getting body fat at least to mid teens before starting this, whether thatís with a crash diet, p90x or whatever. Taking charge of your diet and losing fat now will give you a longer bulk when you start on LP and would increase the potential of the program IMO. Aim to gain weight at a rate of 1-2lb a week to take care of your nutritional contribution to the program. Falling short of this is slightly less harmful than overdoing it. Try not to overdo it. See the nutrition forum stickies for more info.
SUPPLEMENTS Ė I take creatine for increased training performance, a strong coffee pre workout for energy if Iím tired, protein powder as a flavor enhancer in my morning shake, ZMA for testosterone replenishment while sleeping, a multi vit for general health and fish oil for joints and bodily functions. I wouldnít even use protein powder if I could flavor my own shakes with something cheaper. Food > supplements.
Thread: A Lifter's Guide To LP