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  1. #31
    HERE WE GO STEELERS!!!!!! kethnaab's Avatar
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    III. Programming
    **A. The basics
    **B. Stalling and Resetting
    **C. What to do after Rippetoe
    **D. General Questions
    *****1. How much weight should I use?
    *****2. What about sets and reps?

    What about sets and reps?

    Question - Can I add sets or exercises to this program? I think I should do more.

    You can do anything you want to do. You can squat on a swiss ball, you can bench monkeys wearing pantyhose, you can pick your nose and wear a cockring, it doesn't really matter to me. However, if you decide you're going to add a bunch of stuff to the program, chances are good you will screw it up.

    Why am I so confident? The fact that you would ask a question like this indicates that you lack experience with weight training because, if you were experienced, you wouldn't ask this question in the first place. You'd simply adjust it as your experience dictates.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 113-114, Practical Programming
    Since the trainee is both inefficient and unadapted, only a few basic exercises should be used, and they should be repeated frequently to establish the basic motor pathways and basic strength.
    Give the base program a shot for a few weeks before you start screwing around with it. It is designed so that initially it will be a bit easy, but as time progresses and you set several PRs (personal records - i.e. you are lifting more weight now than you were a few weeks ago), the program becomes very very challenging. You don't need to add more sets or exercises to the program yet.

    Question - Why lower reps on the main exercises and higher reps for the accessory exercises?

    The discussion of "why 5 reps for the main exercises" is covered in the "Why only 5 reps, doesn't that build strength and not mass" question.

    Why 8 reps (or higher) for the accessory exercises?

    Because there is no reason, on a program such as this, to do heavy 5-rep sets on dips and chins and hypers and curls. Your heavy work is done with the big 5 exercises. Give your joints a break, and help promote conditioning and overall development by going a bit higher on your accessory exercises.

    Yes, that means you shouldn't be maxing out on your curls

    Why 1 set of deadlifts, 5 sets of powercleans and 3 sets of everything else?

    The "3 sets, 5 reps of everything" is a basic starting point for newbs which works for most major primary exercises. 3 sets creates enough of a stress on the body so that homeostasis is disrupted, yet the workload remains tolerable, even for someone who is unfit and untrained. For the novice, 5 reps generally allows for the best possible mix of consistency in strength and exercise execution, as well as fatigue production.

    However, it is recommended to do 5 sets, 3 reps apiece, of power cleans, rather than 3 sets of 5. The reason lies in the nature of this specific exercise and it's technical nature. Fatigue is not the primary goal during the clean, rapid force generation and technical accuracy is. Because the exercise is the most mechanically difficult exercise to perform and it involves a tremendously large # of muscle groups, even moderate fatigue of the supporting musculature can have a prominently adverse affect on the trainee's ability to perform the exercise at all, let alone correctly.

    Lower rep sets are more appropriate once the trainee is able to perform the exercise with a base level of competence. Unlike most standard exercises in bodybuilding and strength training, fatigue is NOT the goal. Exact technical accuracy in exercise execution is far more important and fatigue is neither beneficial or even appropriate. Sets with lower repetitions, such as 1, 2, and 3 reps per set, are more successful at ensuring the lift is worked properly and that force generation is even and consistent.

    Deadlifts are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Of all multi-joint exercises, deadlifts may possibly be the easiest to perform correctly with the least amount of instruction. Aside from a few pointers about back position and grip, the exercise is, technically, incredibly easy because it is so natural. The 3 primary muscle groups used in this exercise, the glutes/hips, the thighs, and the back, are the 3 largest and most powerful muscle groups in the body. Additionally, the exercise is performed through what amounts to a somewhat reduced ROM and the hips and back are held in a mechanically advantageous position. As a result, tremendous poundages can be hoisted, sometimes by even the rankest of novices. Since this exercise is performed AFTER squats, and since squats can fatigue many of the same muscle groups, only 1 working set of deadlifts is required to achieve an appropriate training affect, and for most novices and even many intermediates, only 1 working set of deadlifts will be required to maintain steady progress in the exercise.

    Question - Why do 5 reps for a set, doesn't that only build strength, not mass? Can't I do 8 reps per set?

    The general idea that 1-5 reps builds power and strength, and 6-12 reps build muscular mass is a pretty widely held notion. Arguably, this statement is correct in many cases. However, we must once again consider our target audience. The untrained novice will be able to maintain better technique and more even and consistent force production with less reps in the same set because fatigue will become less of a factor (as will the lack of the almighty Jane Fonda burn!) Strength is built with 5 reps, and for a novice barbell trainee, strength is all that matters for his development because it leads rapidly to mass accumulation (assuming diet is in order).

    Granted, the newcomer wants 'teh big bicepts' and wants to get a pump like Arnold and wants a rippling 6-pack, and he wants to do all this while doing easy exercises and eating chocolate cake. Unfortunately, that is not possible, and in order for a novice to build his musculature, he MUST develop a base of strength before moving on to "specific hypertrophy work". The heavier weights that 5 reps per set allows means that the trainee will be able to more effectively load his skeletomuscular system. Since a newb really doesn't lift with anywhere near what his true strength and recovery would allow due to lack of motor skill and conditioning, the lower reps and heavier weight will do far more for him than "the pump" ever could.

    Will this program work if you use 4 reps instead of 5? yeah, probably. What about 6 reps per set instead of 5? Again, yeah probably. Even 8 or 10 reps will work because, after all, we are talking about a newb here, not a highly trained athlete with specific goals. Novices tend to suffer significant form breakdown after several reps, and 5 allows for a relatively brief, though challenging and productive set. many novices suffer severe form breakdowns on the last reps of an 8-rep set. Technique and lack of motor skill are the primary culprits, and anytime you reinforce poor form by repeating it, as an 8-rep set frequently does for a novice, then you are setting the trainee up for failure.

    "Everything works, but some things work better than others."

    It is Mark Rippetoe's opinion, and the opinion of countless knowledgeable and successful strength coaches, that somewhat lower reps (4-6) and the resultant base of strength that is developed will do more for a novice than higher reps and the "pump effect".

    In other words, 8 reps will probably work just fine, but in the long run, you won't progress as fast as you would if you worked the program as it is written, with sets of 5 repetitions.

    Since Mark Rippetoe probably doesn't own stock in "5 repetitions", and doesn't stand to benefit financially from promoting 5 reps instead of 8, it would be wise to accept the experience of someone who has been training for over 3 decades, and has been coaching youths for nearly as long. 5 reps per set isn't magic, nor is it voodoo. It is, however, effective, especially for novice trainees and as such is the recommended rep scheme for the majority of exercises.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 118, PP
    Fives seem to be close to optimal for the novice; they effectively stimulate strength gains and other forms of progress, without producing sufficient muscular or neuromuscular exhaustion to cause technique deterioration at the end of the set.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:04 AM.
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  2. #32
    HERE WE GO STEELERS!!!!!! kethnaab's Avatar
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    IV. Nutrition and Supplements
    **A. General Questions
    **B. Chubbies
    **C. Skinnies
    **D. Athletes

    Question - I would like a detailed description of exactly what I should eat and when

    Take it to the nutrition forums. A detailed discussion of nutrition and supplementation belongs there, not here. It is beyond the scope of this FAQ

    Question - What supplements should I take while doing Starting Strength?

    Vitamins, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), and a whey protein isolate or concentrate supplement are all good products for any trainee to take.

    Creatine and taurine are quite helpful and quite cheap but not necessary. Stay away from pro-hormones, NO-X supplements and anything that promises to "add slabs of muscle". Keep it simple for now, you don't need to spend the $$$ on something that won't make that much of a difference since, as a beginner, you will "add slabs of muscle" anyway.

    Diet and training are 95% of the equation. Supplements make up about 5% of the equation. For a beginner, it's even less. Don't obsess about supplements. Obsess about consistency in your training and consistency in your nutrition.

    Question - Generally, how should I eat?

    I am NOT going to get into minutae and specifics about this subject, because there are as many opinions about "how to make a fat guy lean" as there are fat guys on the planet.

    Go here to calculate your BMR. This calculator assumes:

    That you are not inordinately fat or slim, muscular or weak, athletic or untrained

    The biggest problem with this and just about every other BMR calculator on the internet is that they do NOT take lean body mass (LBM) into account. As such, they provides a "bell-shaped curve" answer. In other words, it'll get the average guy or gal pretty close, but if you are noticeably large or small, athletic or untrained, you will get skewed results.

    An easier way, and one that is about as accurate:

    If you are skinny or you are a teenager, multiply your bodyweight by 20. If you are a skinny teenager, multiply it by 22.

    If you are a chubba bubba and you want to drop blubber, you can probably get by with somewhere between 12-15 calories/lb of bodyweight, depending upon how old you are, and how long you've been chubby. Chubby's who are extremely strong naturally (the stereotypical "big Samoan mofo") will have faster metabolisms because of their natural base of strength, as will chubby teenagers. If that's you, err toward the 15. If you're an old fart like me, check what 12x does for you.

    Teenage athletic types will probably be able to eat whatever the hell they want. If you want to get extremely strong (football linebacker) and you want to gain weight, shoot for the 20-22x. Otherwise, shoot for 18x.

    Weigh yourself after your morning dump. Note this weight. Weigh yourself after a week of a controlled nutrition plan, and see what the difference is. If you've gained a lb, then you are approximately 500 calories above your base level daily, assuming you ate the same # of calories each day. It takes approximately 3500 calories above maintenance to add a pound of bodyweight in a week (3500 calories/7 days = 500 calories/day). This is NOT 100% IRONCLAD, but is a pretty easy and cheap way to get the ball rolling.

    If you maintained your bodyweight, then you are right at your BMR. If you lost a pound, then you are 500 calories under your BMR.

    From there, adjust your calories for your weight gain/loss goal. +500 kcal daily to gain 1-lb weekly, +1000 to gain 2-lb weekly (don't do this if you're over 25, you'll get fat), +1500 if you want to gain 3-lb weekly (don't do this if you aren't still growing in height, you will get fat, unless you are a mutant)

    Skinny dudes probably will want higher carb and fat levels, and can shoot for about 25-50-25 for their protein-CHO-fat ratios. This is NOT exact! Skinny dudes don't need to follow the "super-high protein" type diets. You simply won't build muscle all that fast. You'll need the carbs and especially the fats to keep your body from catabolizing muscle tissue to use as fuel, just make sure you have a steady supply of nutrients entering your body during the day. NO SKIPPED MEALS!!!!

    Chubbies will want lower carb levels and higher protein levels. give 50-30-20 or 50-25-25 a try and see how that works for you. Again, no skipped meals.

    Natural mesomorphs (i.e. athletic types, those who are naturally pretty strong and lean) can probably do best (or do real well) on a diet that is somewhere around 40-40-20 of protein-carb fat. To be honest, almost anything will work for these guys, as long as they have their caloric needs met throughout the day.

    Almost everyone can do pretty well on a 30-40-30 or a 33-33-33 type diet as well, assuming the carbs are clean (specifically this applies to chubbies).

    Are these absolutes? No, of course not; they are starting points. Use them as such. If you know that you don't respond well to those same ratios, then great! Congrats. You already know what to eat, why are you reading this?

    Let's do the calculations for a skinny 150-lb teenager.

    150lbs x 22kcal/lb = 3300 calories.

    25% protein = .25 x 3300 = 825 calories. 825 calories divided by 4 calories/gram ~ 205 grams PRO.

    50% CHO = .50 x 3300 = 1650 calories. 1650 / 4 ~ 410-415 grams CHO

    25% fat = 825 calories. 825/ 9 ~ 70-75g FAT.

    That is the BASELINE. You will almost definitely want to add to this, especially because you have to account for the extra calories you are burning during training. Chances are good skinnies will want to add to the carbs and especially the fats.

    Eating a ton does NOT mean you're absorbing a ton. You have to properly absorb your calories in order for them to be of use. If you are farting and crapping yourself every 10-15 minutes, then you added too many calories too fast. Scale back a bit and work your way back up. Too much too soon can overload your system.

    You also may have a food allergy (wheat gluten and dairy lactose are 2 major culprits here) There are volumes upon volumes written about diet, go read up and learn more for yourself.

    Question - What should I eat before, during and after a workout

    Go here and read up. The man knows his stuff.

    Question - I've been doing this program for a month and I've only gained 2 lbs. What is wrong?

    Eat more.

    Period.

    It doesn't matter what program you are on, weight gain is ENTIRELY dependent upon how much you eat.

    If you don't eat enough, then you will not get heavier, simple as that. The weight training program doesn't determine how heavy you get, it only determines how much of that "added heaviness" is muscle and how much is fat.

    Let me say this one again so that you understand.

    NUTRITION IS 100 PERCENT RESPONSIBLE FOR WEIGHT GAIN

    Your training plan will help determine how much of that weight gain is muscle, and how much is fat.

    Question - Why do I need to drink so much milk? What kind of milk should I drink?

    Why milk?

    1) It is VERY easy to ingest. Most kids can down a ton daily with cereal, pop tars, ice cream, protein drinks, etc, and for a skinny kid who is growing vertically as well as horizontally ( yeah puberty!), this is a VERY easy way to ensure you get your calories.

    2) Protein, yeah protein...tons of high quality protein, as well as calcium. 1% milk will have a nearly ideal macronutrient profile for a growing kid as well.

    Does this mean you HAVE to drink 1 gallon of whole milk daily? No. Is it recommended? Well, it sure is effective for adding necessary protein and calories while growing. If you are worried about the calories and fat, then drink skim. Note that Hola Bola, one of the best built natties on bb.com, drinks damn near a gallon of 1% or 2% daily. Granted, he is enormous, and has the resultant metabolic "advantage" of having over 200lbs of LBM, but he is also 25, not 15, and he isn't growing vertically as well as generally filling out.

    Skinny dudes and relatively lean, athletic dudes can probably get away with drinking 1% or 2%. For those painfully skinny early teens, whole milk. Chubbies should stick to skim milk, obviously.

    Milk isn't magical, although it is quite effective. Keep your calorie totals in mind when figuring out how much milk to drink.

    Question - If I eat too much protein, will I end up with kidney stones?

    Probably not. If you have healthy kidneys and you drink the necessary 1 gallon (preferably more - up to 1.5 gallons) of water a day, you should not have any problem whatsoever with your kidneys. Get your calcium, drink your water, and all will be well.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:06 AM.
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    "You can still go buy pink Ray Rice jerseys from NFL.com. Uppercut not included." - chlaxman

  3. #33
    HERE WE GO STEELERS!!!!!! kethnaab's Avatar
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    IV. Nutrition and Supplements
    **A. General Questions
    **B. Chubbies
    **C. Skinnies
    **D. Athletes

    Nutrition - Chubbies

    Question - Can I do a cut diet and do cardio while on Starting Strength?

    Ideally speaking, any initial weight training will be done with a minimum of cardio and while eating a caloric excess. This will allow for optimal muscle growth during the time in your training "career" that is optimal for that muscle growth. Less cardio = more calories for growth, hypothetically speaking.

    The need for cardiovascular exercise varies from person to person, and from goal to goal. Very few definites about weight training, bodyfat loss, muscular gain and cardiovascular exercise type/intensity/duration and their interrelatedness exist. However, the following can be stated unequivocably:

    *** Muscle builds most rapidly when adequate supplies of micro- and macronutrients are available at all times. This rarely happens unless you are eating a caloric excess.

    *** In order to burn bodyfat, you must take in less calories than you need. This generally will result in you taking in less micro- and macronutrients than you need to build muscle, even if you take every supplement on the market.

    *** Burning bodyfat while gaining muscular bodyweight is confined to mutants, younger (i.e. teenage) males, those who are new to the iron and those who have been previously well-trained, but are now out of shape and are relying on "muscle memory" to work a little magic while they get back into shape.

    *** Males will have a SIGNIFICANTLY easier time increasing their lean mass while reducing bodyfat than women. Younger guys will also have a significantly easier time of this. In fact, it is almost too easy for a younger guy (under 25) to make this happen for several years, and for a teenager, it's WAY too easy.

    Case in point...when I first got very serious about weight training, after a few years of farting around, I weighed 185. 2 years later after very serious weight training, I STILL weighed 185, but from the neck down, I looked like an entirely different person. My Mom accused me outright of using anabolic steroids, as did several of my friends (this was almost 20 years ago, before the general public really knew about steroids). I had added a good 500+ lbs to my squat, bench and deadlift in those 2 years, yet I hadn't gained a single pound. My chest and shoulders grew by about foot each, my waistline dropped by about half a foot, and my arms and forearms were almost 2x as big.

    Yet I weighed the same. That, my friends, is what happens when a young male with the proper bodytype (I am a meso-endomorphic type) lifts like a lunatic and eats solid and clean (and everything in between.... ). I was chubby when I started, and I was pretty damn lean when I was "done". So in essence, I managed to find a balance of calories-in versus calories-out that allowed me to pile muscle on while convincing my body that all that excess bodyfat I had stored up as a semi-lazy teenager wasn't necessary, but the muscle I was piling on WAS necessary.

    My basic advice to ANY teenager who starts lifting weights is to do the following

    1) Clean up your damn diet. Dump the chips, get rid of the french fries, lose the Pepsi/Coke/Dr. Pepper, and stop with the beer and pretzels on the weekends.

    2) Eat every 2 hours. It doesn't need to be a lot, but make sure you have a good 20-40g of protein in each meal, and make sure you eat some complex carbs and some fats with each of those meals. Don't stuff yourself, but eat good solid food or if need be, drink a healthy protein shake...not one of those "megaMass 4000". They are just piles of liquified **** that have 400g of sugar per serving and send your colon into a spastic fit.

    3) If you can manage to eat cleanly for a month straight, while taking in sufficient protein, carbs and healthy fats, you will add muscle at a rate that will shoot your metabolism through the roof. Just by eating clean, your body will become very efficient at burning bodyfat, and you won't NEED to diet or do an excess of cardio in order to burn bodyfat. Just eat healthy, lift like your life depends on it, and do some light cardio for your health, and the bodyfat will melt away.

    4) As a teen, you should REALLY take advantage of the time when you can add muscle the best. Dropping 10 lbs of bodyfat is easy compared to adding 10 lbs of muscle. Ask anyone who has been around the iron game for any period of time. It's much easier to lose bodyfat than to add muscle. The more muscle you have, the EASIER burning bodyfat will be. So take this time to eat clean and add muscle, and wait until late spring before you start worrying about your abs.

    So, to sum it up, do a bit of cardio for health, clean your diet up, and lift hard and heavy. You will burn way more bodyfat than you can imagine by doing this.

    Here is a specific diet that I used with great success for recomp (bodyfat loss + strength gain). I'm a natural fatty with a good bit of muscle, and I was getting back into shape. I was 5'9, ~15-18% bodyfat, 215ish lbs.

    0600 - 25g Isopure + water + 4g creatine + 4g taurine
    0630 to 0730 - cardio
    0800 - 1/2c slow oats + 25g whey + 25g casein + 1c skim milk
    1030 - 4-6 oz dead animal + "dinner starch" + veggies
    1300 - 1c skim cottage cheese + 25g whey + 25g casein
    1500 - preworkout drink (50g whey)
    1530 to 1700 - lift
    1700 - 50g dextrose + 40g whey + 4g creatine + 4g taurine
    1700 - 4-6 oz dead animal + dinner starch + veggies
    2100 - 1c skim cottage cheese + 2T ANPB + 2c skim milk

    2-3g fish oil caps with each non-workout associated meal. On days I didn't lift weights, I cut the 1700 dextrose out. The meat sources were either 95% lean ground beef browned, rinsed and drained, round steak, turkey, chicken (breast AND thighs), and fish (salmon or tuna or perch). "Dinner starch" was either 1/2 yam, 1/2c lentils or 1/4c brown rice. If I had a coffee grinder, I wouldn't have bothered with the dextrose, I just would've ground up some oats, cooked them in water, and added them to the protein drinks pre and post-workout. That is definitely adviseable.

    I varied the exact meat and starch sources but the overall serving size was measured. This provided enough variance to keep calorie totals fluctuating enough to prevent adaptation, and it also kept things interesting. Some days, I would have the salmon, steak and ground beef along with the lentils. Those days were higher calorie totals and protein. Other days, I ended up with chicken and turkey breast along with lean fish, so my totals were lower.

    The results were that in 4 months, I went from 211 (severely dehydrated) to 212 with a drastic muscle mass and strength increase, coupled with a 4" loss in my midsection measurement. Also note that I went from a dehydrated 211 to a 212 using 8g creatine + 8g taurine daily, both of which are associated with cellular volumization. In other words, you usually gain a lot of weight. The recomp probably allowed me to switch out a good 5-8 lbs of muscle for an approximately equal amount of fat.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:07 AM.
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    "You can still go buy pink Ray Rice jerseys from NFL.com. Uppercut not included." - chlaxman

  4. #34
    HERE WE GO STEELERS!!!!!! kethnaab's Avatar
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    IV. Nutrition and Supplements
    **A. General Questions
    **B. Chubbies
    **C. Skinnies
    **D. Athletes

    Nutrition - Skinnies

    Question - I'm skinny and I want to get huge, what should I eat?

    You are going to need to eat like mad. Unless you eat junk food and drink Coke and Pepsi constantly, you don't eat enough. As Mark Rippetoe said, he tells his kids that they have to drink a gallon of milk each day and get kicked out of an all-you-can-eat buffet at least twice weekly.

    Do you have the ability to eat 3500-4000 calories EVERY day without consuming tons of junk food? Nothing wrong with eating pizza and a double cheeseburger (or two!) every day, as long as you keep lifting hard.
    Dump the candy, soft drinks, donuts, cookies, etc....stuff that is high in calories with no protein or nutritive value. You want *quality* calories.

    Convince Mom to buy seven pounds of the 93% ground beef, and finish off an entire Hamburger Helper box with a pound of ground beef daily, as well as 2 or 3 peanut butter and banana sandwiches and as much milk as you can stomach. Don't like hamburger helper? Go for a box of mac-n-cheese along with your ground beef, but put down 1 lb of beef and 1 box of starch per day at least. Don't like mac-n-cheese? Make a bunch of spaghetti noodles or some rice or corn and peas, baked beans, potatoes. And eat dead animal. Lots of it. Don't want to eat a pound of ground beef? EGGS! Eat them! All of them!

    The grocery bill is going to knock mom for a loop. Do your chores, wash the dishes, keep your room clean, etc, and Mom probably wont' freak out too much.

    Make no mistake. The best weight training program will make you strong, but it won't make you big. Weight lifting does NOT make you big. It makes you strong. Eating properly is what makes you big. If you eat a ton of calories without the weights, you get fat. Eat a ton of calories WITH your weight/strength training, and you get big, strong muscles.

    Follow me here...your bodyweight is determined by diet (how much you eat). The proportion of fat and muscle you have is determined by your training.

    Here is a sample 4000(ish) calorie diet, that is quite clean. It is approximately 25/50/25 for calories.

    breakfast ~ 820 kcal - 52/103/22
    2 egg whites + 2 eggs = 22g pro, 3g CHO, 14g fat = 333 kcal
    1.5 cup oatmeal = 15g pro, 78g CHO, 3g fat = 295 kcal
    2 cup 1% milk = 16g pro, 22g CHO, 5g fat = 195 kcal
    3 fish oil capsules - 0/0/3 = 27

    mid-morning snack ~ 525 kcal - 26/58/24
    1 banana = 1/30/0 = 125 kcal
    2T All Natural Peanut Butter (ANPB) = 9/6/16 = 200 kcal
    2 cup 2% milk = 16/22/5 = 195 kcal
    3 Fish oil capsules = 0/0/3 = 27 kcal

    lunch ~ 640 kcal - 44/54/25
    4 oz turkey breast - 30/0/1 = 200 kcal
    2 slices whole grain cracked wheat bread - 6/52/3 = 260 kcal
    slice whole fat swiss cheese - 8/2/8 = 112 kcal
    T olive oil - 0/0/13 = 117 kcal

    preworkout - 400 kcal - 25/75/0
    3/4c glucose - 0/75/0 = 300 kcal
    1 scoops whey - 25/0/0 = 168 kcal

    postworkout - 510 kcal - 50/75/1
    3/4c glucose - 0/75/0
    2 scoops whey - 50/0/1

    1 hour postworkout - 642 kcal - 38/91/14
    4 oz round steak - 28/0/8 = 276 kcal
    3/4c (uncooked) Brown rice - 9/79/3 = 379 kcal
    3 fish oil capsules + pile of rabbit food - 1/12/3 - 77 kcal

    final meal - 709 kcal - 40/59/32
    1/2c cottage cheese - 15/9/0 = 96 kcal
    1/2c plain yogurt - 15/19/0 = 136 kcal
    2T ANPB - 9/6/16 = 204 kcal
    3 fish oil capsules + sliced banana - 1/25/3 = 104
    1T olive oil - 0/0/13 = 117 kcal

    265 pro, 506 CHO, 102 FAT = 4206 kcal total
    26% protein, 51% CHO, 23% fat

    As a skinny, you won't really need to eat that clean, but it is to your benefit if you do.

    Question - I need help eating that many calories. I don't really like to eat that much "health food", but I want to gain weight. Please help.

    Here are a few easy "tricks" that I used back in the day when I was lazy and didn't need to cook for anyone but myself.

    1) Brown 1-lb. ground beef and/or George Foreman a pound of chicken
    2) Make a box of macaroni and cheese
    3) Mix the 2
    4) Get a jug of milk
    5) Drink milk and eat the chow
    6) Makes 2-3 meals

    Hamburger Helper - oh hell yeah! Just use 2 lbs of beef, and make 3-5 meals out of it

    Peanut butter and banana sandwiches + milk = bulk food extraordinaire

    Egg Sandwiches = scrambled eggs + cheese + whole grain bread and salsa = YUM! Turbo charged musclechow.

    1) Stick 4-6 eggs into a skillet, cover
    2) Let eggs get cooked on one side
    3) Flip it over carefully, and cook the other side
    4) Throw it on 2 pieces of toast or bread with salsa

    Buy some extra virgin olive oil and take a T of it here and there throughout the day. Great antioxidant properties, great nutritive properties, and helps you get in some healthy calories. Oddly enough, it tastes decent as well.

    Keep a jar of All-natural peanut butter and a spoon with you. Eat a tablespoon every hour or 2, depending upon how many calories you need to fill in.

    You get the message. Be creative. You're a skinny bastard, have some fun gaining weight while us fatties eat green beans and lentils. You need calories more than you need exact super-health-type foods.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:09 AM.
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    IV. Nutrition and Supplements
    **A. General Questions
    **B. Chubbies
    **C. Skinnies [/b]
    **D. Athletes

    Okay, you guys are the scourge of the training world. You're in a borderline "newb" status for almost your entire training life. Guys like Ed Coan and the majority of the bodybuilders and professional lifters are either natural mesomorphs or primarily mesomorph. You will possibly be able to maintain a linear periodization routine for your entire life. We respect you, but we hate you (we = normal people) because we envy you.

    You naturally maintain a lower bodyfat and higher muscular ratio. If you eat too much while training, it will probably go to muscle. If you don't eat enough, you will probably burn a lot of bodyfat.

    You suck, but you are blessed. Eat whatever you want, you'll still make progress, and we will all envy you.

    Here is an adjustment to the basic skinnyboy (ectomorph) diet I posted earlier. Still about 4000 calories, but more protein

    breakfast ~ 645 kcal - 55/77/13
    4 egg whites + 2 eggs = 29g pro, 3g CHO, 14g fat
    1 cup oatmeal = 10g pro, 52g CHO, 2g fat
    2 cups 1% milk = 16g pro, 22g CHO, 5g fat
    3 fish oil capsules - 0/0/3

    mid-morning snack ~ 713 kcal - 51/46/25
    1/2 banana = 1/15/0
    2T All Natural Peanut Butter = 9/6/16
    2 cup 1% milk + scoop whey = 41/25/6
    3 Fish oil capsules = 0/0/3

    lunch ~ 500 kcal - 44/54/12
    4 oz turkey breast - 30/0/1
    2 slices whole grain cracked wheat bread - 6/52/3
    slice whole fat swiss cheese - 8/2/8

    preworkout - 400 kcal - 50/50/0
    1/2c glucose - 0/50/0
    2 scoops whey - 25/0/0

    postworkout - 510 kcal - 50/75/1
    3/4c glucose - 0/75/0
    2 scoops whey - 50/0/1

    1 hour postworkout - 721 kcal -77/52/20
    8 oz round steak - 56/0/16
    1/2c (uncooked) lentils - 20/40/1
    3 fish oil capsules + pile of rabbit food - 1/12/3

    final meal - 505kcal - 65/46/24
    1c cottage cheese - 39/18/0
    2T ANPB = 9/6/16
    2c 1% = 16/22/5
    3 fish oil capsules - 0/0/3


    392 pro, 400 CHO, 95 FAT ~ 4025 kcal total
    39% protein, 40% CHO, 21% fat

    Again, however, you probably won't need to eat that clean.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:10 AM.
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    V. Cardio Questions

    Can I do cardio for fat burning while on this program?

    Cardio is something that should be done by everyone on the planet, just for general health. If you are a chronic chubb-dogg (like me!) then cardio should be a daily habit at least once, sometimes twice a day.

    The key is in modulating the intensity and duration so as to positively affect your barbell training, rather than negatively affect it. The chronically chubby will notice a DRASTIC difference in the body's ability to process calories, especially carbohydrates, if consistent cardio training is added to a consistent weight program. Frequently, the chubbage will melt away while the muscle gets packed on. It is a natural characteristic of the endo-meso somatype to be able to add muscle while losing bodyfat if calories are clean, protein is relatively high, and cardio is performed daily. In many cases, adding some cardio will actually enhance barbell progress because of the positive "CHO-useage" effect cardio has on many naturally bulky trainees.

    Skinny dudes REALLY need to be careful of this, however. A brisk walk is all that is needed, just enough to keep the heart healthy. Mesomorphs, being the bastards that they are, can probably get away with very little cardio at all, and they will burn bodyfat simply by switching from 2% to 1% milk (Yes Hola, I'm talking about you...bastard!)

    The biggest mistake a novice can make is to undertake a new barbell training routine and then add in a ton of high intensity cardio. This will exhaust the trainee far earlier than what would normally occur, and the hindered muscular progress will be reflected in hindered metabolic increases. More muscle = faster metabolism = more calories and fat burned during the day.

    Burning calories through exercise is 1 way to get leaner. Adding muscle, which increases BMR, is another. Since the novice will experience the most rapid muscular bodyweight increases, it makes sense for them to focus on barbell training rather than excessive cardio, even if they are chubby.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 204 Starting Strength
    A program of this nature tends to produce the correct bodyweight in an athlete...if he needs to lose bodyfat, that happens too...they will notice...looser pants at the waist, legs and hips staying about the same, shirts that are much tighter in the chest, arms and neck, and faster strength increass than their skinny buddies. Their body composition changes while their bodyweight stays close to the same, the result of a loss in bodyfat due to their increasing muscle mass.
    As a personal attestation to this, I got serious about training during my first year of college. As described in various other places, I maintained my bodyweight for the first 2 years of serious training, yet my strength, LBM, and the resulting BMR shot through the roof. I didn't "diet", didn't do a lot of cardio, yet bodyfat melted from my body as muscle accumulated on my frame.

    Chubbies need to take advantage of these novice gains. You only have 1 real chance to make this happen. Milk it for all it's worth! Keep cardio to a minimum as a newb, just enough to keep the heart healthy.

    Question - I want to bulk but I want to stay in good shape. Can I do some cardio during this program?

    Not only can you, you should! However, the emphasis is going to be on LIGHT CARDIO. You must be VERY careful not to overdo this. Start the program with a brisk walk in the mornings on non-training days and preferably some strength-oriented GPP as part of your barbell sessions as described in the GPP post. Increase time/intensity/speed on the cardio/conditioning/GPP in a very conservative manner. Monitor your barbell progress closely. If it seems like your gains slow down as you increase the conditioning work, then drop back on the conditioning!

    There are frequently advantages to doing some cardio work while trying to bulk.

    1) It increases appetite, especially when done in the morning. Makes me hungry like the dickens.
    2) If done at a low enough intensity, it can help enhance recovery by bringing more blood into the various areas of the body that need it, especially if the exercise contains a very mild or no eccentric component (some ellipticals, bikes, and sled pulling share this similarity)
    3) Cardio frequently has VERY positive effects on carbohydrate utilization and insulin sensitivity, especially for the chronically chubby.
    4) Your heart is a muscle too, take care of it!
    5) Good cardiovascular conditioning can ensure that rest periods between sets aren't unnecessarily long. Moving quickly between sets, assuming no loss of strength occurs, can significantly enhance the overall training effect.

    In the end though, consistent and very close monitoring of barbell progress is of utmost importance. Keep in mind that the goal is to add muscular bodyweight and strength. As long as recovery between training sessions is complete, then the cardio can and should be continued. If it interferes with progress, then it needs to be reduced or dropped entirely.

    What is GPP and how do I incorporate it into my training routine?

    GPP stands for "General Physical Preparedness", and it is a type of exercise that provides for strength development and conditioning. Start with once a week for no more than 5 minutes after a weight workout. As conditioning improves, you can add a minute per session up to a (probable) max of 10 minutes per session, once per week. You can add a second GPP/conditioning workout during the week, but start this additional workout easy (5 minutes) and work upward in time as described above. Once the trainee hits 10 minutes per training session, add weight to the sled, swing a heavier sledge/axe, or do what is necessary to increase the resistance.

    The goal is to use this as a "strength and conditioning" session, in that order. "Faster" or "longer" are not necessarily better, in the context of the program, depending upon their goals. The trainee should get very winded and tired, but he should not be "sprinting" during the training, as this can end up having a seriously negative affect on recovery.

    GPP/strength conditioning training workouts can be a very useful adjunct to the trainee's workout program, but extreme care and caution must be taken so that the training recovery rate is not adversely affected. The athletically gifted might be able to do 15-20 minutes 2 or even 3 times weekly with little or no adverse affects. They are mutants. Most trainees will not be able to break 10 minutes once or twice weekly without a negative affect on their strength development and especially (if desired) bodyweight increase. Like accessory exercises, GPP/conditioning should be used to ENHANCE advancement in the core benchmark lifts (the big 4 - squat, bench, deadlift, press and the row/clean). If it interferes with the advancement in said lifts, then the additional work is both unnecessary and detrimental.

    Question - Should I do cardio before weight training or after? Or should I do it separately from weight training?

    Depending upon your goals and your exact cardio exercises and methodology, generally cardio is best kept separated from your weight training. The exception is the trainee who does cardio immediately postworkout while drinking a PWO drink.

    An additional exception is a "strength-based" cardio program, a.k.a. "GPP" or "Strongman training". It is strength training with a endurance aspect, for the most part. This type of strength training is well-suited for immediate postworkout.

    Whatever you do, do NOT do cardio BEFORE your weight training. This will hinder your strength and workout stamina, and that isn't cool at all.

    Question - Can I run 5 miles per day while on this program?

    Not if you want to recover from your barbell training sessions. Running can be very very harsh on the knee joints when combined with thrice-weekly squatting. Additionally, the catabolic tendencies of distance running contraindicates the use of a daily 5-mile run in conjunction with a strength and mass-building program like the Rippetoe novice workout.

    If daily running is a necessity for you, then you will want to consider looking into a barbell program with less leg work.

    If, however, you have been running for years (i.e. cross-country runner, marine/soldier, etc) and your body is used to the exercise, then you should be able to work it into your schedule. Understand that excessive cardio WILL HINDER YOUR GAINS.

    Question - Can I do HIIT on my off-days?

    Not if you expect to recover fully for your weight training. HIIT is fantastic for conditioning and fat loss, but it can dig into recovery when on a full-body routine. The amount of direct leg work in the novice Starting Strength program is rather immense, and HIIT is difficult to perform without hitting the legs pretty hard.

    If fat loss is your primary goal and HIIT is how you plan on achieving it, then a different weight training protocol might serve you better.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:10 AM.
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    VI. Routine-Specific Questions, Part 1


    Why so few exercises? Don't I need to hit the muscle from every angle?

    Why, when you are an infant/toddler, does Mom and Dad teach you how to walk? Why don't they teach you how to do a backflip first? Why not teach you how to tiptoe through the tulips, or do the watusi? Why doesn't Dad teach you how to breakdance?

    We'll assume, for a moment, that Mom and Dad actually know how to teach you to do those things. Why don't they teach you? Don't advanced gymnasts know how to do backflips, can't dancers do the watusi? Why don't they teach you to do those crazy moves that the breakdancer does? Why are they intent on making you take a step first before you start jigging and jiving?

    The question seems stupid, doesn't it? Obviously you learn to walk before you can run, and certainly before you backflip or dance.

    Yet new trainees want to trick before they can even stand up properly. 12 variations of curls, at least 5 bench presses involving dumbbells, various angles, and even machines, lord knows how many lat exercises with cables...all of these things end up in the novice's training program, each steps on the toes of the other, and the overwhelming complexity of it all frequently renders progress to zero when it should be flourishing.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 114, Practical Programming
    Since the trainee is both inefficient and unadapted, only a few basic exercises should be used, and they should be repeated frequently to establish the basic motor pathways and basic strength....(the) core strength and power exercises develop the foundation of strength and motor control that will allow for later inclusions of more technically demanding exercises, because they utilize all the muscles in the same coordinated fashion that more advanced exercises do
    A novice is, by definition, STILL LEARNING. Once you've learned the basics, then you can progress to the more complex. Until you have learned the basics, progress will be minimal and attempts at such will be borderline worthless.

    How will you learn better...by trying to master 20 different new things of varying complexities, and practicing them maybe once per week? Or learning 5 new things of basic complexity, and doing them several times per week? Would a person learning to play the piano learn a super complex song, and practice it once weekly, or would they learn a few notes, and practice them as often as they can? Would a person learning a foreign language try to understand the technical knowledge behind dangling participles and present perfect tenses, or would they learn how to construct simple sentences using a few basic words?

    Answer these questions, and you will be able to answer the question which spawned this post.

    Why should I stay on the base program as long as possible? Won't I grow better if I get on an advanced pro-type routine, or at least an advanced version of this routine?

    Imagine if Wolverine was an avid weight trainee on steroids and 10,000 clean calories per day. He would recover insanely fast, he would have nearly limitless energy, and he would lift weights daily and recover daily, and get stronger daily. That is the ideal (a.k.a. "the dreamworld").

    Ideally, you will make "linear progress" on every single weightlifting exercise for your entire weight training career. In other words, you could lift weights everyday, and EVERY time you went into the gym to lift weights, you would be able to use more weight than you did last time, because you would be fully recovered, just like Wolverine on juice. With every single workout, you make consistent progress in strength and size....that is linear progress. Ideally, you would lift weights every single day, the same exercises every single day, and you would be able to make linear progress on these exercises without ending up broken, battered and overtrained. In other words, you be like Wolverine on steriods and a clean 10k calorie diet.

    This is the ideal, but it is not something that any human being can maintain for any period of time. The body simply cannot recover that rapidly. On page 189 of Starting Strength, there is a very simple, but very telling graph that demonstrates the "rate of improvement" and "need for complexity" in training graphed in comparison to each other. Initially, the "need for (training) complexity" is very low as the "rate of improvement" is very high. As you near your "genetic potential", the "need for complexity" increases, as your "rate of improvement" slows. It makes sense. The bigger and stronger you get, and the more experienced you are with weight training, the more challenging and complex your training needs to be. But when you just start out, you don't need a whole lot of fancy stuff, just the basics.

    So what does all that mean? It means that this program is ideal for someone who is still in a rapid improvement state. As you get bigger and stronger, you will eventually "outgrow" this program. How long do you use it?

    You use it until it stops working. I describe this in detail in Section III. The program is, in Rippetoe's own words, "the () novice workout" (Figure 4, page 193, Starting Strength). As long as you are adding weight to the bar in your exercises, stick with the program.
    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
    ...if progress is being made on these exercises, your trainee is getting stronger and your objective is being accomplished.
    Don't fix it if it ain't broke. Your goal now is to milk this program for all its worth.

    The ice skater who is stepping on the ice for the first time doesn't need to be taught how to do twirls and flips and jumps and spins, they simply need to learn how to not fall on their tookus. Nothing fancy, just the basics. As long as their skating gets better each time they step on the ice, why introduce fancy stuff? Once they are obviously ready to move on, introduce advanced ideas to their training.

    The iron is no different. If you add weight to the bar, and the bar goes up in the proper path, then you keep doing it because it works.

    You can use this program for as long as you are adding weigh to the bar, simple as that. Nothing will get you stronger, faster, than linear progress on a simple, high frequency program like this, without some form of chemical assistance.

    Question - How long does this workout normally take?
    As you progress with your development and you get nearer to your genetic capabilities, your training will, by necessity, become more complex and possibly more lengthy. As a result, your workouts will take longer, because you simply have to do "more stuff"

    For a novice who is just starting this program, 20-30 minutes for Workout A and possibly shorter for Workout B, are all that will be needed at first. As you get stronger, you will need longer rest periods. As you add weight to those top 3 work sets, you may need an extra set or 2 per exercise for warmups. As your conditioning improves, you may find it possible and even desirable to add some of the accessory work. As a result, you may end up using a full hour for the meat of the workout in addition to the accessory exercises.

    However, for you newbs who do the first few workouts and think "damn, that was easy, I was done in half an hour", don't sweat it, the workout is pretty easy...at first. It WILL catch up to you.

    Question - Why does it seem that some people bash this program?

    1) HIT Jedi's hate anything that isn't HIT, and several of them have created several accounts that they use to bash anything that isn't HIT.

    2) Some people don't know how the hell a newb should train. They freak out when they don't see 2 or 3 variations of "teh bicept curls for teh gunz" and think the training program is garbage, because it "doesn't isolate everything". Many also feel that machines are better for novices, and that creatine is poison. Run, don't walk, away from these people.

    and the main reason:

    3) Oversaturation - You see Rippetoe workout questions everywhere. Some people who never knew jacksquat about the program in the first place get annoyed when they see the questions all the time, so they irrationally and ridiculously hate the program. It's kinda like hearing a song on the radio all the time that you've never actually listened to, you just have always turned the station within the first 5 seconds of the song starting. After awhile, it gets annoying, especially when some people try to push it on EVERYONE, even if this style of training doesn't suit their goals or experience level. It is a function of both the "know-it-all" mentality that many youths have, as well as the "internet icon" theory of training "expertise", whereby a 15-year old with low self-esteem who is desperate for respect reads some books and declares himself a training expert, despite never having felt 3 wheels across his shoulders. When these internet icons decide to parrot and support a program, those far more knowledgeable get pissed off at him, and come away with a bad taste on their mouths.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:11 AM.
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    VI. Routine-Specific Questions, Part 2

    Routine-Specific Questions, Part 2

    Question - Should I take all my sets to failure?

    Failure training is a potentially useful tool, but it is generally reserved for someone who is a bit more advanced. Failure training in the trained athlete can, if used properly and judiciously, be a beneficial technique to help elicit strength and muscle mass gains.

    However, failure training for a novice is generally not going to produce the intended effect and is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Training form/technique tends to break down significantly in the novice who is exercising to failure, which can lead to injury. It can also reinforce technique flaws since you will consistently perform improper technique. What you do over and over becomes ingrained in your basic motor function. If you tend to have a ****ty bench when you hit failure, the more often you hit failure, the more often your technique is compromised, the more often the improper technique is reinforced.

    Additionally, novices have a much greater incidence of asymmetric balance, i.e. "my left arm is stronger than my right arm!" This results in significant asymmetric loading during pressing and pulling exercises, which can end up shredding a shoulder/rotator cuff or tearing up the trainee's spinal erectors because of an imbalanced load on the spine.

    Advanced trainees should use caution when using failure training due to the resultant CNS stress. Planned breaks or 'cruises' are necessary in order to maintain steady progress. This generally won't be necessary in the novice trainee because they simply don't have the strength or workload capacity to outdo their own natural recovery abilities. Intermediates, and especially experienced trainees who are getting back into shape DEFINITELY need to be wary of this, however.

    As a result, you should never need to take any of your sets to failure as a novice. You only count repetitions that you complete 100% on your own. If your spotter touches the bar AT ALL, then the rep doesn't count. If your technique isn't solid (i.e. if you bounce the bar off your chest, or don't go deep enough in the squat), then the rep doesn't count.

    Your first set should be a slight challenge, your second set a reasonable challenge, and your third set of each exercise should be quite difficult to complete, but you SHOULD be able to complete it with no assistance from anyone else, while maintaining proper technique.

    Question - Isn't squatting 3x per week going to be overtraining my legs? Isn't this program going to be overtraining my body as a whole?

    No. As a newb, you won't have any problem with this because you are primarily limited by poor technique and lack of efficient motor function. This means that you will be using far less weight than you have the strength to handle.

    Additionally, your conditioning is such that you won't be able to stress yourself enough in one session to preclude you actually recovering in time.

    Question - How can I train if I don't have 3 nonconsecutive days during the week to train, I can only train M, Tu, Th, F?

    NOTE - the following is NOT addressed by Rippetoe in the book. As such, take it as the advice of me, Kethnaab. It is NOT the advice of Mark Rippetoe.

    With that in mind....

    If you cannot train on 3 nonconsecutive days in a week, then you have a bit of a problem. There are tons of options available to you, I will list briefly a few of them here. Go to the section that deals with "variations to the program" for more info.

    If you can only train M-T-Th-F for example, you could do this program on Monday-Thursday (Workout A and Workout B) then do a bodyweight only workout on the weekends. For example:

    Monday - Workout A
    Squats - 3x5
    Benches - 3x5
    Deadlifts - 1x5

    Thursday - Workout B
    Squats - 3x5
    Standing Presses - 3x5
    Cleans/rows - 3x5

    Saturday
    Chinups - 3x10
    Dips - 3x10
    Hyperextensions - 3x10
    Abs - 3x5

    You could also look into other alternatives, such as a push/pull or upper/lower type setup which is quite easy to fit into a M/T/Th/F schedule.

    If you can only train 3 consecutive days, i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and you can't train from Thursday through Sunday, then I'll call BS. You're making excuses. Quit being lazy and figure out a way to get to the gym on those other days.

    Question - How fast should I move the bar up and down? What repetition speed should I use? Fast or slow? Should I pause the weights during the motion?

    Repetition speed gets a lot of talk, especially from the "Super-slow" HIT crowd. Repetition speed is not something to obsess over. Don't believe the hype about "TUT" (time under tension). It is one of several factors that influence muscular growth and development. The Superslow crowd believes that it is the "be-all/end-all" of training, and will use weights that a 9-year old girl could use, so that they can spend 10 seconds in a slow-motion contraction.

    If you want to be weak and slow, then by all means, have at their training methods. However, if you want to be strong, powerful, and quick, then you will be better served by a program that encourages this type of development. Training is both general and specific, and if you specifically train in a slow motion method, you will get very good at being very slow.

    Now, specifically onward and forward to the exercises.

    The eccentric (or lowering) portion of the squats, presses and rows (Deadlifts and cleans will be discussed separately) should be "controlled". Not excessively slow, but under control. It should not look like you are dropping the bar, but you shouldn't spend all day lowering the weight.

    The concentric (or raising/lifting) portion of the exercise should be controlled, but fast. Attempt to accelerate the bar during your heavy sets. Doing so can improve force production/generation and can result in greater/faster/better strength gains. Note that it is a CONTROLLED ACCELERATION.

    Acceleration != Heaving
    Acceleration != Swinging
    Acceleration != Bouncing

    (!= is the same as "does not equal")

    When you perform a heavy set of the bench press, you lower the bar under control (don't count the seconds, just lower it under control), touch the shirt but not the chest (picture being told this, then picture how you would respond if given this type of instruction) pause briefly (if you wish...discussed in the Exercise section), and then press hard to full lockout. No bouncing off the chest, no heaving of the butt into the air, no kicking of the feet, etc. Make your muscles do the exercise.

    The name of the game is control. The squat is somewhat unique as far as the eccentric portion because you can use a certain technique to activate a VERY strong contraction of the hamstrings, allowing you to use significantly more weight in a manner that is safer and provides better muscular and strength development. If you want to find out what I'm talking about, then [url=http://www.startingstrength.com]buy the book[/url.

    Deadlifts are unique because they start with the concentric (raising) portion of the lift, and the eccentric portion is generally best left as a separate element. Although there are a variety of deadlifting techniques "on the market", the basic deadlifting technique described in the book requires a powerful raising of the bar, then a semi-controlled (although usually much faster) lowering of the bar.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
    As long as a modicum of control is exercised, (the deadlift weight) can be dropped as fast as the trainee is capable of doing safely, with the back in good position according to our previous analysis
    Better to use bumper plates for this if possible. If not, you may need to use rubber mats to pad the fall of the weight. Do not provide an excessive amount of resistance to the bar on the way down (it can be used, but that discussion is best left for another place with a different set of goals).

    As for the power clean, it is a different movement entirely, and is an animal unto itself. You start the exercise with a basic deadlift, but once the bar clears the knees, you attempt to toss the bar into space as you try to jump to the moon (slight hyperbole here). This is a "fast exercise". There is a certain level of control, but make no mistake, you are trying to move the bar as fast as you possibly can. You can AND MUST accelerate the bar during the concentric phase to the point where you are basically throwing it.

    As for the lowering of the bar, if you watch olympic lifters who are doing cleans, they simply allow the bar to drop out of their hands from the rack on their chests and the bar bounces around once it hits the platform. They don't even try to control the bar on the way down, they let go of it. Doing power cleans, obviously, pretty much requires bumper plates and an Olympic-friendly gym.

    The same ideas go for the accessory exercises. Control both the positive and negative portions of the exercises without bouncing, swinging or heaving.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:11 AM.
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    VI. Routine-Specific Questions, Part 3

    Question - How long should i rest between sets, exercises, and during warmups?

    This is a strength program first, and a "mass and conditioning program" second. As such, you rest as long as necessary between sets.

    During the warmup, rest between sets will be minimal. You want to get blood into the area, raise the temperature of the associated musculature and connective tissue, take some time to practice the exercise with lighter weights, and increase tissue elasticity. With the useage of light(er) weights during your warmups, you can use a shortened rest period. You may only need to to rest long enough to change the plates between warmup sets. However, once you get to the "meat and potatoes" of your workout (i.e. the "3x5 work sets"), you rest as long as necessary.

    If you are poorly conditioned, you may require several minutes between sets, especially on the squat, deadlift and power clean, as these are particularly taxing exercises. Once you are "in shape", you can probably get by with no more than 2-3 minutes between sets. However, once the weights start getting heavier, you may take upward of 5 minutes between sets, especially when you are setting PRs (personal records) in the squat, deadlift, row and/or power clean.

    Resting between exercises is not something you really need to worry about. You will need to change weights, change stations, get a bench set up (or a power rack set up) or whatever. The exercises are chosen so that you are alternating primary areas of work, so that you don't really need to overthink this aspect of resting.

    For example, you are trashed from your squats, and you have bench presses next. Well glory be to God, you get to lie your happy ass down on a bench and do some light warmup benches with an empty bar! While your legs (and possibly breathing and overall body) recover from the squats, you are lying down on the bench, happy as a pea in a pod.

    Again, don't overthink rest periods between sets or exercises. Move between exercises as quickly as you can, however, DO NOT compromise your performance. If you can get 5 reps after resting 2 minutes, but only 4 reps if you rest 90 seconds, then rest 2 minutes. If you need to rest 3 minutes in order to get that 5 rep set, then rest 3 minutes. If you need 5 minutes of rest before you can reasonably get the 5th rep, then take all 5 minutes. Strength and weight-on-the-bar increases are more important than your heart rate while lifting weights.

    NOTE - the next portion is NOT ADDRESSED BY MARK RIPPETOE. As such, it is coming from me, Kethnaab, the oaf behind the keyboard. Take such advice for what it is, the words coming from an ornery old staff sergeant who has spent too much time training young soldiers and not enough time at home sleeping.

    Rest between accessory exercises is thoroughly up to you. You can do your accessory exercises as part of a circuit, resting only long enough to move one station to the next. i.e. do your set of dips, then immediately walk over to the chinup bar and have at it, then immediately walk over to the slant bench and do your situps, etc.
    Or you can do all your sets normally, i.e. do a set of dips, rest, do another set of dips, rest, do your last set of dips, move on to chinups, lather, rinse, repeat.

    Don't overthink this part either. You can use the accessory exercises for conditioning purposes if you like, which circuit training lends itself to nicely. You can use the accessory exercises for the purposes of strength improvement, which means you are going to hang some weight from you and do some heavier sets. This will require longer rest periods, just as with the main exercises. If you are trying to do some "bodybuilding" style work here, you will want to keep your rest periods relatively short, between 60 and 90 seconds. It is up to you.

    ACCESSORY WORK IS JUST THAT...."ACCESSORY WORK". IT IS NOT A PART OF THE MAIN WORKOUT, AND SHOULD BE USED ONLY BY EXPERIENCED TRAINEES. AS SUCH, YOU SHOULD HAVE ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. If you have a ton of questions to ask about accessory work, chances are pretty good, you probably don't have the experience necessary (and as a result, the conditioning necessary) to really need to do the accessory work. Accessory work is for people who NEED accessory work. If you are new, you don't need accessory work (yet).

    Question - When I'm done, I don't feel tired and I don't have a pump. Is something wrong?

    Not at all. This routine is not about "getting the pump". It is about adding weight to benchmark exercises so that you get stronger. The pump is not a part of this program. Strength and muscular development is. Although Arnold thinks the pump is as good as cumming, many of us beg to differ. The pump has SOME type of correlation/relationship to growth...maybe...or maybe not. It certainly isn't a necessity, and it certainly isn't worthless, but it is far from being important enough to worry about.

    In many a typical "bodybuilding" workout, especially a bodybuilding workout that is augmented with anabolics, the pump can be a pretty interesting experience. Although it CAN be indicative of potential muscle growth, it is not, in any way, shape or form, DIRECTLY tied to muscle growth.

    In other words, muscle growth and "the pump" are not directly related. You can have one without the other. You can build tremendously large, thick muscles without getting much of a pump.

    You'll notice that some of the leaner powerlifters and strongmen out there are incredibly well-developed and powerful. I'm willing to bet they don't conduct their training with "the pump" as a goal. it might be a side affect, depending upon the phase of training and the specific exercise, but it certainly isn't their target.

    You want a pump? Grab a Campbell's soup can (I like Chunky Steak'n'Potatoes, myself) and start curling it. Curl it for 10 minutes. Bet your biceps feel tired! Bet you have a helluva pump! Bet you didn't do a damn thing to make your biceps bigger or stronger!

    Get it? Pump != Growth

    Bottom line - don't worry about the lack of the pump. If you really need to get a pump because it is just like cumming, find a pretty lady who is willing and able, or get some vaseline and spend some quality personal time with yourself.

    Question - How long should I rest between accessory exercises and sets?

    Accessory exercises can be done separately, i.e. do all your pullups, followed by all your abs, followed by all your back work. Or, it can be done as a circuit, i.e. do a set of pullups followed by a set of abs, followed by a set of GHRs, then repeat this triple-exercise for 2 or 3 circuits. If you do your sets separately, you should rest no more than 90-120 seconds between sets and exercises.

    The first few workouts have been incredibly easy, am I doing enough? I thought this program was supposed to be hard?

    Remember, in order to grow bigger and stronger, you merely need to disrupt metabolic and physiological homeostasis. If you have been sitting around playing Nintendo for your whole life, you don't need to do much of anything to disrupt said homeostasis, since the only exercise you've gotten, aside from great thumb action, has been walking to the refrigerator.

    As such, the first workouts are going to be submaximal (For safety reasons as well as conditioning/growth reasons), and they will end up relatively short. As you progress in strength, your workouts will become increasingly difficult, simply due to the added weight being used. By starting off relatively easy, this also reduces the incidence of crippling DOMS, and tends to result in less injuries and better exercise technique being learned by the trainee.

    Question - I don't get a burn in my muscles, just an ache. Am I doing something wrong? Shouldn't I feel a burn?

    This program is not a "burn in the muscles" type of program. Jane Fonda wanted to feel the burn when she did her aerobic tapes. If you take a 12-oz can of Chunky Soup (The soup that eats like a meal), and curl it for 20 minutes straight, you will feel a burn. If you flap your arms like a dodo bird trying to fly, you will feel a burn. None of those things will provide any type of growth.

    Although "feeling the burn" in a variety of exercises can be beneficial, it is unnecessary at this stage of training, and as such, is not going to be a result of this type of training. No, you aren't missing out on anything, other than a burn. If you want to feel a burn, light yourself on fire.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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    VII. Will This Program Meet My Goals? Part 1

    How do I know if I am a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter?

    Mark Rippetoe discusses this specific question in Practical Programming, and although I don't want to steal his thunder, I will give some basic insight here.

    Beginners come in a few flavors...the "completely untrained couch potato", the "athlete with no barbell training", the "haven't trained in ages but used to be in shape" and the "trainee with a small bit of training experience". There are a few other types of beginners, but I don't particularly care to dig into that. What is important is the single characteristic that undeniably proves that you are a beginner...

    Progress is measurable from workout to workout. Note that I'm not talking about the guy who does chest once per week, and gets progress between chest workouts. I'm talking about straight linear progress, where everytime you step into the gym, you lift more weight on the same exercise as the previous time you stepped into the gym. That is what the novice program is designed to do, make you lift more weight on the same exercise (or a very similar exercise) each time you step into the gym. The volume and workload that a novice is capable of performing is within his capability to recover from workout to workout. As a result, he is able to make rapid progress with only 1 day of rest between workouts.

    You walk into the gym monday, and you squat, press and pull from the floor. You walk into the gym Wednesday, and you squat, press, and pull from the floor. You walk into the gym Friday and you squat, press and pull from the floor. Each time you squat, you use more weight than the day previous.

    A beginner will eventually begin to stall on lifts and resetting (discussed in Section III - Programming) simply doesn't provide effective weight advancement.

    The workload and volume necessary to elicit a "training response", i.e. disrupt homeostasis, is now large enough that you cannot recover day to day. So the next step becomes weekly progression, rather than the daily progression of the novice. You set up your training in such a manner so that you measure progress week to week. A lot of the better-designed bodypart splits use weekly progression as a means toward gains. Perhaps this week you do a "heavy" press workout and a "light" press workout. Next week, you want your heavy workout to be a few pounds heavier than this week's heavy workout, and you want next week's light workout to be heavier than this week's light workout (unless "light" happens to be a "recovery" workout). Stalling still occurs, and linear periodization and resets can usually get past stalling. Simple volume and intensity manipulation schemes will work to keep the trainee progressing.

    Once this type of basic weekly progress stops working, despite proper nutrition, rest, recovery, exercise resetting and linear periodization, the advanced and elite athlete will need to progress to a more complex scheme known as "dual factor" or "two factor" periodization. This type of training is more complex, and involves extensive periods of "downtime" where you lift submaximal weights, and you build toward your previous maxes in an attempt to inch past them. More complex volume and intensity manipulation is necessary, and progress is measured in monthly phases as well as yearly planned cycling of said volume and intensity.

    Is this a beginner's only program, or can intermediates do this program as well?

    The basic novice program is for beginners only. However, intermediates can use the program with excellent success by incorporating a few small adjustments, as seen in Section III - Programming, for more info.

    Question - I'm an experienced lifter getting back into shape, and I'd like to adjust some things on the Rippetoe program. Is this okay?

    As an experienced lifter, you should know what it is you need to do and what you can't do. If you have injuries or weak points that need addressing, address them. The basic template of this program is still very valid. If you want to make adjustments, then by all means, use your experience and personal knowledge to do so. You, more than anyone else, will be qualified to make these adjustments, assuming you are actually experienced.

    Of course, if you really WERE experienced, you wouldn't ask this type of question, you'd already know what to do, so you probably should just do the basic program as it is written and progress from there.

    I do have a section that provides ideas for adjustments to this program. If you don't already have some pretty good ideas about how you could adjust it yourself, then don't bother because you aren't quite as experienced as you might think.

    Question - I did Rip's routine for a few months, but it is time to change things up. What should I do?

    Head on over to Section III - Programming

    Your questions have answers there.

    Question - I'm 38 years old. Is this program only for young guys and teenagers, or can an older guy use it as well?

    This program was designed with the young teenager, new to the weight room, in mind. Mark Rippetoe considers kids his "bread and butter", and as such, this program is geared to them. Many a 14-year old aspiring fullback will benefit from this style of training, but an old fart like you (and me!) can benefit as well.

    If you are new to the weight room, and you are interested in getting bigger and stronger, this program is undeniably for you. At 38 years of age, however, you may need to make some adjustments. Squatting heavy 3x weekly may not be for you, and you may need to make some adjustments to the exercises because of injuries or issues you have due to your age and the time you've spent living life. Please see the section under "Exercises" that deals with exercise substitutions, as well as Section III - Programming

    The general rule of thumb for the young kid is "don't fark with the program!" but "mature" folk can get away with it out of necessity. If you weren't old enough to reelect (or try to vote out) Slick Willy, then don't mess with the program!

    Question - I'm new to weights and I want to get mass, but I don't like to do squats or deadlifts. I'm not injured, how can I work around this?

    You're a pussy. Go find some old lady to carry your groceries and help you across the street.. You'll want to find another hobby while you're at it, perhaps knitting.

    Question - If I follow this program exactly and eat perfectly, can I gain 80 lbs of muscle in 6 months on this program?

    Realism is a difficult, yet beautiful thing. The reality is that a teenage athlete with the ideal levels of natural ability and motivation who eats like mad and is still growing in height may very well see some incredible lean bodyweight gains. 80 lbs of muscle in 6 months is not "incredible", it is ridiculously insane. 30 lbs of muscle in 1 year is fantastic, even for a teenager.

    Pubescent males obviously will gain significantly more lean bodyweight in that time, assuming their caloric intake is high enough (it probably isn't). The fact that they are growing vertically as well as muscularly allows them to put on ridiculous amounts of lean bodyweight. If you go through a serious growth spurt when you start this program, and you eat everything that is dead (and kill the stuff that is still alive, then eat it), you MIGHT be able to gain 80 lbs in a year.

    But don't count on it.

    Question - I'm a girl, can I do this program?

    This program is a strength and muscle-developing program. There is no law that says 'teh wimmens' need to use pink dumbbells or do easy exercises. If you want to do pink DB kickbacks, I suggest you check out the local Curves, or perhaps wear some real skimpy clothes and go to a Bally's. make sure you have your makeup on properly, make sure you wear some perfume, and make sure you expose your breasts. Follow my advise as outlined here, and I'm sure you'll find several trainers that will help you with your pink kickbacks.

    If you want to be strong, then do this program. If you want to socialize, then please look elsewhere.

    Question - Is this a good program for someone who plays (fill in blank with sport)?

    This program is not a sports-specific program. It is not designed to make you fast. It is not designed to help your vertical leap, It is not designed to increase your discus throw distance, and it is not designed to help your jump shot.

    It is designed to help you get bigger and stronger, period, end of story. If you are new to weight training, and it is advantageous in your sport to be stronger and/or bigger, then this program makes for an excellent off-season strength and conditioning program. Teenage wrestlers, football players, hockey players, and other younger athletes who will benefit greatly from increased strength and conditioning will benefit the most from this program. I cannot guarantee that it will help you golf better, nor can I guarantee that it will help you throw a 95-MPH fastball, but I can guarantee that it will make you bigger and stronger if you do the program properly.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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    VII. Will This Program Meet My Goals? Part 2

    Question - Will this help me get built like Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Will this help me look like an Abercrombie model?

    It depends. If you are a skinny bastard, then yes, this will help. If you are a chubby hubby who is already bulbous, then chances are good you won't ever achieve the lean, angular look of Brad Pitt because you simply aren't built that way. Anna Nicole Smith can diet and liposuction herself to her heart's content, but she'll never be built like Charlize Theoren. If you're a big husky fellow, embrace your inner oaf and stop trying to look like Brad Pitt.

    Besides, if you succeed, you might end up with half a dozen adopted children from all corners of the globe.

    Question - Wouldn't a 3 or 4-day split work better than this? Don't you need more recovery?

    A 3 or 4-day split won't work better for a novice.
    It might work better for an intermediate, but probably not.
    It probably would work better for an advanced trainee.
    It definitely would work better for a bodybuilder preparing for a competition.

    Let's look at a typical 4-day split.

    Day 1 - Chest/triceps
    Day 2 - Back/biceps
    Day 3 - Delts/traps/forearms
    Day 4 - Legs
    Day 5 - off

    So in the course of a 15-day period of time, using a 4-day split you would train 12 days, rest 3 days, and squat, bench, row, and deadlift 3x.
    Using the Rippetoe novice program, you would train 6 days, rest 8 days, squat 6 times, and bench, row and deadlift 3x.

    So you end up training 2x as many days, So you squat half as often and you bench, row, and deadlift the same number of times. Yet you end up training 2x as many days (12 versus 6) and you rest less than 1/2 as often (8 days versus 3).

    As a novice, you will need the extra rest times for recovery, especially if you are to maintain consistent progress on the benchmark exercises. Someone more experienced and better conditioned with a barbell will have much greater success with a split-type program than the novice.

    Was Mike Mentzer right when he said that HIT is the best way to train? Wouldn't HIT be best for a beginner?

    No, and no.

    HIT is completely wrong for a novice. In fact, it's the exact OPPOSITE of what a novice needs.

    1) HIT relies on failure training. A novice lacks the ability to focus himself so that he can train with the necessary intensity, and he lacks the technique mastery of the exercises to train to failure safely.

    2) HIT relies on very brief, infrequent training. There is a certain amount of skill and neuromuscular coordination necessary in order to do the exercises properly. If you wanted to learn how to play the piano, would you practice your chords once per week for 20 minutes at a time, or would you do it more frequently for longer periods of time?

    By the same token, how will you learn to do squats properly? By doing warmups and 3 sets of 5 reps, 3x per week? Or would you learn faster by doing 1 set this week, then 1 set the next week?

    If you are an experienced trainee, and you want to give HIT a try, then go for it. It tends to work for people who have been overzealous for a long period of time, and even then, it isn't working because HIT is a great program, it's working because HIT is serving as a deload from the higher volume training that increased fitness in the first place.

    Question - Pros don't train this way. Ronnie Coleman doesn't and neither does Ed Coan. What makes this so good, and why don't pro's train this way?

    Comparisons from one person to another form the basis of all lifting sports. A bodybuilder compares himself to Mr. Olympia, a powerlifter compares himself to the record holder in the squat, Olympic lifters compare themselves to the best at their weight division, etc. For an experienced lifter, comparisons can be beneficial in this respect, as they can provide motivation and a tangible, obvious (although sometimes mobile) goal.

    What is NOT beneficial is for a young, novice trainee to compare him or herself to the self-same Mr. Olympia or champion powerlifter/weightlifter/strongman. Why?

    1) Do you have the same pharmaceutical regimen as the professional you are comparing yourself to? Their ability to recover will be greatly enhanced because of the almighty "better living through chemistry". If you aren't living better via chemistry, then you simply cannot do what they do and expect it to be beneficial.

    2) Do you have the same training experience that the professional does? They've been training awhile, they have learned how their body reacts, and chances are good they have professional assistance as far as nutritionists and trainers who can assist them. They know exactly how THEIR body will respond. You do not know how your body will respond, because you have not trained anywhere near long enough or hard enough to have a clue. Most of you will not have a trainer, or at least a knowledgeable trainer, so there is no way you could possibly juggle all the variables of a complex workout scheme by yourself.

    3) Do you have the same genetics that the professional has? Not everyone can be Michael Jordan no matter how much they practice basketball. Not everyone can be Alfred Einstein, no matter how much they study. Not everyone can deadlift like Ed Coan, no matter how much or how hard you train. Chances are good that you won't be able to use the same training program that a professional uses, even if #1 and #2 above are identical to the pro. You simply don't have the genetic makeup. If you do, you will most likely find that EVERYTHING works for you, and then it won't matter much what workout program you choose.

    What this boils down to is that a novice or beginner does NOT need to train the way a professional does. Not only would it not benefit you, it will probably HINDER your progress. Many a newb has attempted to do the infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger double-split workout, and has gotten buried within 2 weeks, despite the best intentions and nutrition.

    When you start off, you are FAR away from your genetic potential. As a result, the need for training complexity is rock bottom, and your rate of growth and development will be sky high. As you progress toward your genetic potential, your gains will slow down drastically, and the need for complexity in your training will increase just as drastically.

    Take advantage of the "novice" status and use the simplest program, as the simplest program will yield the best results for you. Later on, when you know your body better and you have developed the conditioning and knowledge to make significant adjustments to your training, you can do so in a much more informed state of mind and a much better physically conditioned state.

    Should I do WS4SB, WS4BB, 5x5 intermediate, 5x5 advanced, HST, HIT, or Rippetoe?

    That depends. Rippetoe's "well-known" programs are designed specifically for novice and intermediate trainees. Both 5x5 linear/intermediate and HST make for natural progressions of what Rippetoe uses for his programs. WS4SB has a variety of somewhat technical and sport-specific training methods which may or may not suit your goals (And may or may not be unnecessarily esoteric). HIT...well...HIT might work for you if you have very very poor recovery, or if you are using bodybuilding pharmaceuticals, but I wouldn't count on it. WS4BB is an advanced program only, and it is recommended that you run a 5x5 advanced first, as it is also a relatively high volume training routine.

    Beginners and early intermediates should stick with the Rippetoe programs. Intermediates can start to use the 5x5 intermediate, HST, or WS4SB, or one of the variations I describe in Section III - Programming. Advanced trainees can modify HST to suit their needs, or they can try the 5x5 advanced or the WS4BB. If you want to use WS4BB, then you shouldn't need to ask questions on it. If you have to ask questions, then chances are good you aren't ready for it.

    Question - Can I do (exercises) on the off days?

    No.

    Your "off days" are just that...they are "off days". They are necessary for growth. If you are so advanced that you think your arms, abs and traps are "weak points", then you shouldn't be doing this program.

    But realistically speaking, your arms aren't "weak points", your ENTIRE BODY is a weak point. So train your entire body. Once you have developed your entire body and made some progress in strength and overall muscular bodyweight, then start worrying about minutae.

    Does Rippetoe's novice program work my inner pecs and 'teh biceps peek'

    This is a novice program. As such, there is no "bodypart specialization". You can't work your "inner pecs" because you don't have ANY pecs. Similarly, your biceps peak is lacking because you can't have a peak in your biceps if you have no biceps.

    If you are developed enough to be able to honestly assess that your biceps peak is weak relative to the rest of your biceps, or that your inner pecs are lagging, then you need to use a more advanced program.

    Chances are good, however, that you simply need to add muscular bodyweight in order to bring up your "inner pecs and teh bicept p3ak"
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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    VII. Will This Program Meet My Goals? Part 3

    Question - I'm 15 years old, 5'11, 135 lbs. Will this program help me build up teh bicept p33k?

    Kid, you weigh less than my left ass cheek. Worry less about your biceps peak and more about putting on some muscular bodyweight. Even if you develop a pair of 15-inch "guns", you will look like a skinny geek when you put a t-shirt on. You will have outstanding success by putting on 20-30 lbs of muscle. Your shoulders and back will fill out, your chest will bulge, and lo' and behold, your arms will grow as well!

    At 135 lbs, you don't need to worry about your peak. Your biceps peak isn't your weak point, your entire body is your weak point. Train with that in mind.

    If you simply must Must MUST have a biceps peak above all else, then I suggest you do the following workout:

    5 sets barbell curls
    5 sets DB curls
    5 sets concentration curls
    5 sets spider curls
    5 sets EZ bar curls
    5 sets Hammer Curls
    5 sets Incline curls

    do this workout 3x daily for the next month, and don't bother me until you're done with the entire month. Now go away.

    and stay the hell out of the squat rack while you're doing your curls, mmmmkay?

    Question - How can I get big only doing 3 exercises per day? Where is all the isolation work?

    How many exercises are necessary to get big? Is it advantageous to do more of a less-effective exercise, or is it advantageous to focus on the most effective exercises?

    The gyst of this routine is three-fold

    1) Focus your efforts each day where they provide the most "bang for the buck" - i.e. each day, focus on the squat, a press, and a pull from the floor

    2) Add weight to the bar and get stronger in those exercises gradually, and you will get big and strong all over your body

    3) By learning only a few exercises rather than several exercises, you can progress toward mastery of those exercises more rapidly because your attention isn't divided.

    Isolation work is added later in the program, once a base mastery of the truly important "benchmarks" has occured. Anything that takes focus off of the main exercises, or slows progress on the main exercises, is "bad". Anything (legal, moral, and healthy) that helps advance progress on the main exercises is "good". If isolations don't help advance progress, then they are "bad". Since most novices lack the conditioning and the discipline to incorporate isolation exercises into their program without significant amounts of supervision, isolation exercises, for the rankest novice, are "bad", generally for the first week or three.

    There is nothing inherently evil or immoral about isolation exercises. In order to obtain a fully developed physique, isolation exercises are not only desirable, but necessary. However, the novice is nowhere near having a "fully developed physique", so this point is moot.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 114, Practical Programming
    Since the trainee is both inefficient and unadapted, only a few basic exercises should be used, and they should be repeated frequently to establish the basic motor pathways and basic strength....(the) core strength and power exercises develop the foundation of strength and motor control that will allow for later inclusions of more technically demanding exercises, because they utilize all the muscles in the same coordinated fashion that more advanced exercises do
    Does this program have enough hamstring work? What about traps and forearms? And what about teh bicepts?

    Hamstrings are addressed directly with the deep, full squat. When you lower your hips while maintaining an upright torso position such as in the full squat, your pelvic girdle will pull the hamstrings into a nice stretch. This will elicit an incredibly powerful contraction of the hamstrings at the bottom of the full squat, and in fact, once you go past parallel, your hamstrings take on a very large share of the load, both in hip extension as well as knee joint stabilization. Additionally, all pulls from the floor will activate the hamstrings to some degree from significant (Deadlifts) to moderate (cleans/rows)

    Traps and forearms both will get hit hard and heavy during deadlifts, cleans and rows. Traps get additional work from overhead presses as well as squats (gotta hold that bar on the traps!)

    Teh bicept gets hit from the rows, as well as chinups. Some people will develop elbow flexor strength and size pretty rapidly from the rows and chins. Others will find they need direct work. Direct biceps work is added in somewhere around the 3rd or 4th week, so don't fret, you'll be able to do your precious curls soon enough.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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    VIII. General Weight Training Questions, Part 1

    Question - Do I really need to squat if my legs are already big?

    First off, 3/4 of the people who ask this question are pussies. Don't be afraid of the squat. Learn to embrace it.

    Having said that, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and we'll assume you are part of the 1/4 that isn't afraid of the squat. Determine what your goals are. If you want to get as big as possible, all over, then you will most definitely want to become a master of the squat. Your physical structure might not be ideal for the squat. You may have zero aspirations of becoming a powerlifting squat champion. You might not really give a flying fig how much you squat.

    But if you SERIOUSLY want to be as large as you possibly can, all over, then yes, you will squat, even if you already have big legs.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, page 19
    There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand nd toughness, and overall systemic conditioning as the correctly performed full squat.
    Squats spur full body growth when combined with full body training much better than full body training without squats.

    If you want to look like some Abercrombie model, then find another program and enjoy your nice, easy training style. If you are serious about adding muscle to your frame, then get under the damn bar and make it happen.

    Question - Why do the Bally's trainers tell me that this Rippetoe thing is a fad?

    Because the majority of Bally's physical trainers are clueless. This isn't a "Bally's" thing as much as it is a "commercial gym fitness trainer" thing. Some of the trainers are incredibly developed and very knowledgeable. They have a serious interest in fitness, and weight training specifically. They have done their homework and have practical as well as book experience that they use in their training methodologies.

    They are the exception rather than the rule, however. Honestly, consider the source. A nationally known and world published trainer who has been lifting weights, training people, and running a weightlifting center for 3 decades probably knows more than the guy who took a class, studied for a few hours, and got some type of basic "athletic certification".

    If you are a trainer at 24-hour Fitness or whatever and you take your job seriously, don't get your panties in a wad, save the hatemail, keep the flames to yourself. Instead of getting pissed at me, take some time to increase the competence and knowledge of your coworkers, because they are mostly idiots.

    Question - What do "sets across", "pyramiding" and "ramping" mean?

    Sets across is a method of weight progression where all work sets are done with the same weight for the same repetition # during a given session. i.e. "3x5x225" means you do 3 sets of 5 repetitions per set with 225 lbs for all of your work sets. This method tends to be very effective at both strength and muscle mass accumulation. The volume allows for mass accumulation and the repetitions, if low enough, provide for good strength development.

    Ramping is a method of weight progression where all work sets are done with the same # of repetitions, while the weight increases. For example, "315x3x5 ramped" means you will do 3 ramped sets of 5, with 315 being the heaviest weight you ramped up to.

    i.e.

    bar x 5 = warmup
    135 x 5 = warmup
    185 x 5 = warmup
    225 x 5 = warmup

    255 x 5 = ramp set
    285 x 5 = ramp set
    315 x 5 = ramp set

    Notice that the lightest "ramp" set is still heavy enough to get a training affect, as it is 80% of the 5-RM (more on RM and its uses in the "Programming" section). The idea is to ensure you get to a nice heavy weight at the end of the ramping, but to use moderate weights and reps to get a bit of volume for workload increases and mass accumulation.

    Pyramiding is an old-school bodybuilding type weight progression scheme where you start with a lighter weight and do a bunch of reps, then gradually increase the weight while lowering the reps. Its effectiveness is entirely dependent upon your goals and your exact methodology.

    1 method of pyramiding for a bodybuilder, used as an example:

    Warmups, then...

    225 x 12
    245 x 10
    260 x 8
    265 x 4
    270 x 1 or 2

    Note that the 12, 10 and 8-rep sets essentially obliterate the trainee, and that 2 more sets are performed, but with notably submaximal intensity (%age of 1-RM)? Since "heavy/hard" 8-12 rep sets are good for mass building, a good pump will occur, and the trainee will make some size gains for a period of time, but without some volume/intensity manipulation (or proper chemical assistance), the trainee will quickly stall on a program such as this. It can be VERY effective for periods of time, especially for well-trained individuals, but frequently the training emphasis ends up being placed on the lighter weights and higher reps, which burns the trainee out, rendering their last few sets too light to be of real use.

    In many cases, a better way would be to do your warmups, then

    275 x 8
    255 x 10
    225 x 12, 10

    Notice that in the 2nd method of weight progression, the total workload is higher, the # of reps performed above 75% of 1-RM (Which could be estimated to be 315~325ish here) is much higher. The maximal 8-rep set is only 260 in the 1st progression method, and tops out at 270 for a rep or 2. A total of 3 sets are performed in the target rep zone of 8-12, and they are performed with less weight. In the 2nd method, more sets with notably more weight are performed in the target rep zone of 8-12 because fatigue is less of a limiting factor.

    It simply makes more sense to train heavy when you are at your strongest, and as you fatigue, use less weight. The 2nd method is frequently referred to as "reverse pyramiding". You may also hear reference to "down sets", "burn sets", or "back off sets" to describe the lighter sets performed after the top weight.

    Question - I want to setup a home weight room for my son (or for me) in my garage, so I can do this program. What do I need?

    1) A power rack - get one that has solid spotter pins as well as easily adjustable, well-constructed J-hooks to hold the bar in the rack. Preferably, get one with a chinup/pullup bar attached. It should be at least 2" tubing, and the holes should be spaced no more than 2" apart. Some very nice racks, especially those made by Williams (sold at EliteFTS.com) have 1" spacing in the bench press area, which can also be useful, as well as costly.

    2) An adjustable bench - This specific program doesn't require any adjustments of the bench because you will only do flat benches and standing presses during the novice stage. As you advance, however, an adjustable bench will be very useful. Make sure the bench isn't "wobbly" in the decline or incline position, and that it locks solidly into place at any angle. Ensure that several angles are useable, and for maximum value, ensure that the bench can be set to a completely vertical upright position for use as a seated overhead press seat. If you have the space and the cash, get multiple fixed angle benches. Start off with the flat bench, and as you advance in your training, pick up a seat, a low incline, and a decline.

    3) Iron 300-lb barbell set. This is pretty standard, it contains a basic 84" 45-lb bar, a pair of 45s, 35s, 25s, and 10s, 2 pairs of 5s, and a pair of 2.5s. This is not an industrial strength barbell set, it is a basic beginner's barbell set, and will serve it's purpose for at least a year for most people, several years for others. The bar will eventually bend, and you will want to invest in a quality bar. In the meantime, weigh the plates once you get them to make sure they are accurate. If you are going to be performing olympic lifts, then prepare to spend the $$$ on a quality Olympic set with bumper plates. They are expensive, yet they are completely indispensible and necessary for the aspiring O-lifter.

    4) Flooring - A few layers of plywood covered with a heavy floor matting will go a long way toward preserving your garage floor. It is also helpful to have several cheaper "singles", pieces of floor that you can move around and position to provide additional protection, especially where the plates touch the floor on deadlifts, cleans and rows.

    5) Plate racks - best bet is to pick up 2 A-frame types, and keep one on either side of the rack with one of each pair of weights you have on each A-frame.

    6) If you end up buying a few bars (trap bar, Safety Squat bar, curl bar, triceps bar, basic Olympic bar), then get yourself a bar rack as well. Bars and plates lying around your gym are dangerous.

    7) Chalk - don't ask. Just buy it. You can get a chalk tray if you like for convenience sake, or you can just toss it into a Tupperware container.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:13 AM.
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    VIII. General Weight Training Questions, Part 2

    Question - How much does the bar weigh?

    The basic 84" (7-foot) Olympic bar will weigh 45 lbs. The variation that typically comes with metric weights is going to be 20kg (44 lbs)

    Curl bars, triceps bars, fat/thick bars, Safety Squat bars, trap bars, etc. all vary greatly in weight, so you are best served by weighing them yourself.

    Question - Will this program help me punch harder, I want to be a UFC champion?

    Learning to punch harder is as much a function of technique as it is pure physical strength. This program will make you strong. If you are extremely strong, but your punching technique sucks, then you will punch like an oversized puffball, but you'll look pretty strong doing it.

    Strength is always a good thing, and assuming you know how to punch properly, then this program can help you punch harder simply by making your muscles stronger.

    Question - I bench more than I squat or deadlift. Is this okay, or is this weird?

    Yes, it is weird, but it is not all that uncommon. The bench and curl jockey mentality that pervades the typical youth culture certainly lends itself to greater development of that associated musculature despite the inherent relative weakness of the pectoral girdle and elbow flexors/extensors when compared to the hips and legs. I mean, when people say "make a muscle", they don't mean "flex your hamstrings".

    Evenly developed people have a stronger deadlift than squat, and their deadlift and squat is much higher than their bench press. If you can bench more in skivvies and a t-shirt than you can deadlift or squat, then you have some serious muscular imbalances. This program will help you correct your weirdness.

    Question - Should I work out in the morning, in the afternoon or the evening?

    This is going to vary from person to person. There is a bit of evidence that suggests weight training is ideal in the later morning/early afternoon timeframe, especially for adults in their 30s or older, but I would worry less about this and more about what works better for you. Some people train best on a stomach without much food, others train best with several meals in their bellies. You need to find out what works in with your time schedule and your meal planning best.

    Question - I'm sore after my first workout, should I skip the next workout?

    No, assuming the soreness is basic muscle soreness. If the soreness was felt during or immediately after the training session, then seek medical advice because you might have an injury. If, however, the soreness didn't seem to be problematic until several (i.e. at least 8-12) hours after the training session, then it is probably Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A good (and common) indicator is that you feel fine when you go to bed, and wake up the next morning with a serious tightness in the muscle that hurts (yet feels good) as you stretch.

    DOMS is very common, especially upon the initial undertaking of a training program. Since the volume on the Starting Strength program is quite reasonable, it is almost guaranteed that the soreness isn't actual serious damage. Just continue to work through it for the first several workouts. Chances are good that after the first weekend of rest, you will be fine. In fact, training through the moderate soreness you should feel after the first few workouts will help condition you so that DOMS isn't such a problem after future workouts. The soreness is merely your body's way of saying "you were a Nintendo-playing couch potato for too long."

    Interestingly enough, skipping workouts due to DOMS is a GREAT way to guarantee you will continue to get sore after your training.

    Train through the basic DOMS. If you have acute, severe DOMS which interferes with basic ROM, then that is a case-by-case basis that needs direct, rather than indirect (via the internet) attention and advisement.

    Question - My doctor says that I'm too young to lift weights, and that it'll stunt my growth. Is this true?

    Yes, it is true, weight training in youths causes the stunting of the youth's growth...if, by "stunting of growth", you mean "will help the youth develop thicker, denser, stronger bones, muscles and connective tissue."

    Weight training will not stunt your growth. This myth arises from a few poorly conceived, poorly conducted studies which demonstrated that some young weight trainees suffered from fractures "related" to weight training.

    What they neglected to mention is that almost all cases were the results of unsupervised, excessive loading and poor technique.

    So essentially, these studies demonstrated that using too much weight and poor technique can cause injuries in adolescents....
    just like it does in adults.

    As long as the training is supervised by a competent (And preferably knowledgeable and sensible) adult, incidences of injury are very infrequent when compared to other youth sports, such as football, soccer, basketball and track and field.

    Question - I can squat a lot more than I deadlift, and I've done both for awhile. What should I do?

    Squat deeper! Unless you are a mutant with stumps for arms or tiny hands, you should be able to deadlift more than you squat after a significant period of training on both lifts.

    Assuming your technique on both lifts is fine (this is rarely the case, it's almost always due to poor squat depth), examine what your weakpoints are in the deadlift, and you can make adjustments from there.

    If you are weak immediately off the floor, you might notice that after a few reps of a lighter weight, your hands start sliding around. If this is true, then you need to use a mixed grip (one overhand - pronated, one underhand - supinated), and get yourself some chalk. Your body will not pull from the ground what your hands cannot grip securely. Your body will sense the "weak" grip, and your hips and legs simply will not fire optimally, and the bar will sit there on the ground.

    For a good demonstration of this, find a weight that is about 5 lbs more than your max deadlift with a double-overhand, chalkless grip. Chalk up, use a mixed grip, and notice how easily you rip it from the ground.

    If you notice your lower back rounds frequently, then you need to lower the weight a bit, using a weight that does NOT cause your lower back to round, and get some training volume in so that your lower back gets stronger and becomes conditioned.

    The lower back MUST stay contracted solidly, so that your upper body can remain stiff and rigid, thereby transferring power from the hips to the bar. Power has to go through the body, and if the body simply isn't rigid, then power transfer will not occur, and the lift will fail. Your knees will end up locking out, and your hips will fail miserably at trying to lift the weight via your flimsy upper body.

    Oh yeah, you can also cripple yourself by destroying your spinal disks.

    For more information, get Starting Strength and read up on the deadlift and squat chapters. There are 84 pages dedicated to the performance and execution of these 2 lifts alone, so I won't attempt to reproduce it here. Don't be a cheap bastard, go buy the book.

    Question - I can lift <this many> pounds. Is that good for my age, height, weight, sex, experience and astrological sign?

    Go here and see where you rank.

    What should I do if I have to skip a workout?

    Don't. The workout takes ~45 minutes. You'll spend more time watching TV than that today, so don't blow off your workout ya lazy sack a beans!

    If missing a workout is unavoidable, then it is unavoidable. Push that training session to the next possible day. Hit it up, and no more excuses for missing a workout! The most important factor in training for beginners is CONSISTENCY.

    Question - Should I do a "deload"/"active rest"/"cruise" period after 6 weeks on this program?

    No. Stay with this program for as long as it works. Once your lifts all stall, you will reset your lifts and continue on again until you have to reset once again.

    Reset no more than 2x before you begin to make adjustments to your training, discussed extensively in Section III - Programming, as well as Practical Programming

    Question - How do I know if I am overtraining? When should I deload?

    Overtraining is one of the most misunderstood phenomena in all of weight training. Overtraining is a SYSTEMIC event, not a local one. You won't overtrain if you do biceps every day. You will overtrain if, over a period of weeks, you train so hard for so long that your body gets overcome by fatigue and you are unable to recover from your training.

    Symptoms of overtraining vary widely from person to person. Severe appetite and energy drops are probably the most common. Aches, fatigue, restless sleep, muscles that always feel fatigued, odd body temperature (odd compared to what you are normally), etc.

    For me, I know it's time to deload when I don't want to eat. For you, it might be different.

    Remember, it takes SEVERAL WEEKS of hard training before overtraining can possibly occur, and for a beginner, the chances of overtraining on this program are almost 0. You simply will not be lifting enough weight to truly tax your system. You will end up resetting a few times and cycling off of this program before you will overtrain from it.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:13 AM.
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    VIII. General Weight Training Questions, Part 3

    Question - Does this program build mass, or does it only add strength?

    The bodybuilding magazine world is wrought with huge, vascular, "pumped up" fellows with bulging musculature, ripped abs and pecs, and enormously wide delts and backs. Yet there seems to be a disconnect between the size of their muscles and the amount of weights some of them move. Unfortunately, common sense takes a back seat to fantasy and silliness, and the result is that the novice trainee sees the pro on the cover of a magazine and now believes that he can get "big and hyooj" without making progress in their strength. This is a fallacy, for several reasons.

    First, we must define what a "bigger muscle" is. Your muscle, after a workout, is probably slightly bigger than it was when you started the workout. Think about what happens when someone does a few sets of curls, his biceps looks bigger. This happens for a variety of reasons, but for simplicity's sake, we'll just deal with the increased blood flow. That is "the pump" that has been discussed elsewhere. Intermediate trainees know this all too well, and they flaunt it to best advantage. Some keep light dumbbells in the back seats of their cars, and prior to encountering members of the opposite sex (or perhaps the same sex, depending upon which side of the plate they swing from), they will do some "pump sets" to make themselves look nice and 'swole'. However, this effect is short-lived, just as the flushing of your face from a hard workout is short-lived. It does not represent true "muscular size".

    For our purposes, we will define 'a bigger muscle' simply as increased muscle tissue. It is beyond the scope of this discussion to detail the difference between myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, except to say that additional myofibrillar hypertrophy is what results in "more muscle tissue", and is the type of size that causes the majority of muscular size and density in the vast majority of Homo sapiens sapiens. This is the type of growth we concern ourselves with. In the future, you can concern yourself with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy when you have been training for, perhaps, a year(ish). But for the novice, you need to understand that you MUST get stronger in order to get bigger.

    Why do I need to get strong, I don't care about strong, I care about mass. Ronnie Coleman is bigger than the powerlifters, strength isn't really necessary, is it?

    I'll make this as brief as possible.

    1) The majority of powerlifters need to eat somewhat limited/controlled calories because they want to remain in their weight class for competition. They want to be as strong as possible while minimizing their overall bodyweight. As such, they eat with this in mind.

    2) Lean muscularity coupled with vascularity and small joints creates the illusion of much greater muscular size, whereas smooth musculature and large joints create the illusion of much less muscular size. This is ESPECIALLY prominent in pictures, so bodybuilders, even if they have much less muscle mass than powerlifters, frequently look more "jacked".

    3) The type of person who is going to be extremely successful in powerlifting will have very specific structural "abnormalities". Great deadlifters will have longer arms, great squatters and deadlifters will have shorter legs, great benchers will have shorter arms, etc. What is a guarantee is that a champion powerlifter will have a large, blocky waist and thick joint structure. A bodybuilder will have a smaller, more wasp-like waist, coupled with much smaller joints.

    4) Powerlifters are frequently endomorphs with some mesomorph tendencies. As such, they will respond to training much more differently than the average bodybuilders, whose body has to be adaptable to losing bodyfat easily and rapidly.

    Moral of the story? Don't compare powerlifters to bodybuilders. If you add 50 lbs to your bench without changing your technique, do you honestly think you won't have thicker pecs, delts and triceps?

    On a side note, the last 2 Olympias, Dorian and Ronnie, are (or were) widely considered the strongest high-level bodybuilders of their respective times. By now, you've probably seen Ronnie's 800-lb back squat and deadlift, his 585x6 front squat, his 200x12 DB press, his 495 x 10 barbell rows...that is strength.

    "Strength" != "1-rep max". Don't get them confused. "Stronger" means that your muscles can move more weight for any given rep range than they could before.

    Question - I have injuries, can I do this program?

    Under no circumstances should ANYTHING I say be construed as medical advice. The only real advice I'll give you is to find a competent physical therapist/orthopedic/sports medicine doc who lifts weights. If the doc doesn't lift weights, I guarantee that he will give some retarded diagnosis because he probably still thinks creatine is poison and that lifting will stunt your growth.

    With that said, if you have injuries, then don't do stuff that hurts your injury, simple as that. Don't "train through the injury", because you'll only make it worse. Get fixed, do a thorough rehab, and THEN think about your training routine.

    If you are injured, you work AROUND the injury, not through it.

    Question - I don't have a spotter, can I still do this program? What can I do?

    A power cage is the answer. Spend 5 minutes during your warmups checking how deep you go on your squats and presses, and set the spotter pins accordingly. Just about any workout is very do-able without a spotter, if you have a power rack. Lack of a spotter is frequently advantageous since many people end up relying on their spotters far too much. If your spotter seems to always get a great pump in his delts and traps while you train chest, then you're probably using the spotter too much. Since NO REPS COUNT if they are touched AT ALL by anyone other than the lifter, there is no real need for a spotter.

    How do I warm up properly for my training sessions?

    Rippetoe recommends that you first warmup by doing a few minutes on the bike prior to starting your workout. The idea is to get a general increase in body heat and metabolism (no, not for fat burning). This will help prevent injury, as a warm group of muscles and tendons are less prone to injury. You should also do warmup sets for each exercise, although less warmups are generally necessary later in the workout, as the squat and press will get most of the body warmed up relatively well.

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
    As a general rule, it is best to start with the empty bar (45 lbs.), determine the work set or sets, and then divide the difference between them into even increments. Some examples are provided in figure 5." (pg. 196)
    For example (weight x reps x sets)

    Squat
    45 x 5 x 2
    95 x 5 x 1
    135 x 3 x 1
    185 x 2 x 1
    225 x 5 x 3 <--Work Sets

    Bench Press
    45 x 5 x 2
    85 x 5 x 1
    125 x 3 x 1
    155 x 2 x 1
    175 x 5 x 3 <--Work Sets

    Deadlift
    135 x 5 x 2
    185 x 5 x 1
    225 x 3 x 1
    275 x 2 x 1
    315 x 5 x 1 <--Work Set

    Press
    45 x 5 x 2
    75 x 5 x 1
    95 x 3 x 1
    115 x 2 x 1
    135 x 5 x 3 <--Work Sets

    Power Clean
    45 x 5 x 2
    75 x 5 x 1
    95 x 3 x 1
    115 x 2 x 1
    135 x 5 x 3<--Work Sets

    Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
    The warmup sets serve only to prepare the lifter for the work sets; they should never interfere with the work sets. As such they should be planned with this in mind. The last warmup set before the work set should never be so heavy that it interferes with the work set, but heavy enough that it allows the lifter to feel a heavier weight before he does the work sets. It might only consist of one or two reps even though the work sets are five or more reps.
    (emphasis mine)

    Note that in all cases, as you get closer to the actual working weight, you do less reps in your warmups. The idea is to get the feel of progressively heavier weights in the hands/across the back prior to beginning your maximum weight sets.

    I will offer this one caveat...stronger/larger lifters may have a serious issue trying to warm up with an empty bar while doing squats. I personnaly cannot perform a squat with no weight on the bar, I need at least 185 or I can't balance properly. You may find it necessary to add, perhaps, a 25 to each side of the bar during your warmups in order to maintain proper technique.

    Question - How do I stretch properly?

    Like this

    DC Extreme Stretches are used after each exercise, when the muscle is warm.

    NEVER stretch a cold muscle, make sure you are warmed up first, and only do very light stretches before and during exercise. Save the serious stretching (i.e. 30+ seconds per stretch) for after your exercise, and on your off-days (highly recommended to stretch on the off-days). Avoid serious static stretching before your training. Use some light stretches between sets to keep limber, but don't overdo the stretching between sets. Just stretch enough to keep blow flow steady and to keep the muscles loose. Pay special attention to shoulder girdle and pectoral flexibility, as well as hamstring flexibility.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:13 AM.
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    VIII. General Weight Training Questions, Part 4

    Question - Do I REALLY need a squat rack? I have a Weider 110-lb plastic weightlifting set and a bench at home. Can I still do this program without a squat rack?

    No. With a 110-lb plastic weightlifting set, no bench, and no rack, you can do a little bit of nothing, and a whole lot of nothing.

    Start mowing lawns and save up your money. Do the dishes. Get a paper route. Come wash my car. Whatever. But if you're serious about gaining muscular bodyweight, then get some real equipment. Uncle Joe's 110-lb plastic poptarts won't make you big and strong. Iron will.

    Question - Should I use a weightlifting belt, knee wraps, or gripping straps?

    The purpose of a weightlifting belt is to provide more efficient stabilization of the torso and lower spine while doing exercises such as the squat, deadlift, clean and row. As you progress in your training to more intense poundages, a belt will eventually become a potentially useful tool. For beginners, squatting and deadlifting without a belt, assuming you are using proper technique, is beneficial because it forces your torso and core stabilizing muscles of the midsection and lower back to get stronger.

    HOWEVER...since most people don't have a knowledgeable coach to observe them, I feel very uncomfortable recommending that people skip the belt, so I will take the easy way out.

    1) If you have someone watching/coaching you who knows how to perform the exercises properly, then skip the belt, and tell him to be very watchful of your technique, and have them watch for anything, such as lower back rounding or hips tucking "under" that will be indicators of a potential injury.

    2) If you do not have a coach, then do your warmups without a belt, and make sure you do at least your last 2 work sets WITH a belt. You may very well be able to get away with skipping belt use during the first set of your

    3) IDEALLY, a novice will not use a belt at all until they are moving much heavier poundages. However, I don't want a lawsuit because some knucklehead tried to perform a rounded-back good morning with 100 pounds too much, and tells the orthopedic surgeon "but kethnaab said I should squat without a belt", so I'll say now, to avoid lawsuit, that not only should you use a belt during ALL squats, you'll use a belt during every single exercise you do, and in fact, you shouldn't do any exercise at all because you might drop the bar onto your neck or something...and that would be bad [/personal responsibility]

    But seriously, do as much work as you can without a belt, but do NOT push it if you don't have a competent coach. When in doubt, wear a belt. If you decide to use a belt, get a powerlifting belt Notice the belt is the same height throughout the entire length, and only "tapers" inward near the buckle? That is the key. Don't get one of these kind of belts, with the wide back and super-narrow midsection.

    As for knee wraps, they are completely unnecessary for now. If you are an older type and you need some support at the knee joint, I recommend you pick up some neoprene "sleeves", such as these. They should be loose enough so that you can comfortably keep them on throughout your entire workout. They should provide a minimal amount of spring while keeping your knees warm and they should also help your knee track properly. Excessively tight sleeves and/or wraps that are wrapped wrong are going to be worse for your knees than nothing at all.

    Grip straps are a no-no also. You'll want to develop some grip strength now because if you don't develop it now, you stand to develop a serious strength deficit. Nothing wrong with a more advanced lifter using them at the proper opportunity, but a newb has no need for straps.

    Question - Should I start off a program by using machines to develop some basic strength first, then move on to free weights later?

    It's very commonplace to recommend machines when a trainee first starts out. Assuming the OP is not a 75-year old woman with osteoporosis, and is, in fact, a young guy or gal (young meaning younger than about 50 or 60), then I'm going to have respectfully but adamantly disagree with this concept. The initial training of a novice, regardless of age (aside from extremes), really is best served, IMHO, by ensuring they move on to basic movements ... bench, military, rows, squats and deads. These are good base exercises and hit virtually every muscle, directly or indirectly.

    See, there are several problems when you start off with machines:

    1) Development of the prime movers (i.e. pecs, delts, lats) without developing the strength of the associated stabilization musculature (i.e. rotator cuff, spinal erectors, etc)

    2) Reinforcement of non-natural motor skills - you learn to do the exercise in the ROM (range of motion) that the machine allows. This will NEVER be a natural range of motion. Starting a novice off with this will reinforce a very negative muscular recruitment pattern which must be un-learned prior to mastery of the basic exercises. In other words, you have to "unlearn" the motor recruitment pattern from the Cybex chest press before you can really learn how to bench properly. The same goes for other exercises as well.

    3) Lack of workload conditioning - one of the primary reasons a newb gets bigger so easily when they are new is the rapid conditioning aspect that free weights have on the body. Obviously neural improvement is far more rapid and prevalent in the novice, but the drastic increase in conditioning from "Nintendo-playing couch potato" to "hey, I train 3 hours per week" is enormous, and this results in some pretty substantial strength and muscular gains, aside from the basic improvements in neuromuscular coordination.

    Free weights and strength-type conditioning (i.e. sled/log dragging, sledgehammer work, farmer's walks, etc) are far more suited to this, and take advantage of this far better than any type of machine

    There's nothing wrong with a more advanced trainee adding in machines, especially near the end of a workout. They are useful for adding volume to a session once you are "smoked" from heavy barbell and dumbbell work, and can be used especially well to focus on weak spots because machines are generally very physically easy to use.

    Potentially great and useful tool for a more advanced trainee, but definitely not good for the novice.
    Last edited by kethnaab; 12-23-2006 at 04:13 AM.
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    Additonal info on squat form from Rippetoe...

    This is the first thing Mark teaches on a squat and it's covered in Starting Strength. To this day, I use it as a warm up. This will not only get your knees pointed in the right direction, it will also help to stretch out.

    1. Without a bar, squat all the way down.
    2. Put your left elbow inside your left knee and your right elbow inside your right knee.
    3. Clasp your hands together between your knees.
    4. Your elbows will be pushing your knees outward and you'll feel a stretch inside your thighs.
    5. Make sure that your feet are pointing in the same direction as your knees.
    6. If your hams aren't touching your calves, stay in this position for a few seconds and stretch yourself out.
    7. Stand up, thinking about lifting your tailbone first. Don't push with the legs as much as you think about lifting the tailbone. This is the first movement out of the bottom of the squat.
    8. Repeat
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