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Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe-Starting Strength FAQ

Training discussion on Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe-Starting Strength FAQ, within the Bodybuilding Forum; III. Programming ** A. The basics, Part 1 ** B. Stalling and Resetting ** C. What to do after Rippetoe ...


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Old 01-14-2007, 10:18 PM   #21
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III. Programming
**A. The basics, Part 1
**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?

The basics, Part 1

Question - What is "programming"? What does it mean?

Programming is the logical, planned methodology developed for a workout routine used to reach pre-determined training goals. It includes all variables of training, such as exercises, days performed, sets/reps/weight/volume/workload, planned rest periods, and can even get as detailed as movement speed and rest between sets.

Programming is and should be, very simple for the beginner. It is necessarily more complex for the well-trained. What this means is that if you are a newb to training, you don't need some complex scheme or workout. A few basic exercises performed a few times per week with steady upward progression in weight is all that is necessary. As you get closer to your genetic limits through training experience, your programming will become more complex.

There is one basic law which guides programming development:

*** Use the LEAST COMPLEX PROGRAMMING possible at all times.

Only advance to more complex programming when absolutely necessary.

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest mistakes made is violating rule # 1. If you violate rule #1, it is a guarantee that you are slowing your gains down. You may still make gains, but you will not be making them as fast as possible if you are able to use less complex programming.

Simple programming = beginner = workout-to-workout progression and planning
Somewhat complex programming = intermediate = weekly or biweekly progression and planning
Complex Programming = Advanced = Monthly or quarterly progression and planning
Very complex programming = advanced/elite = Semi-annual or annual progression and planning

If you can make progress from workout to workout, then there is no need to use programming that is designed for week-to-week advances. You are slowing yourself down.

Question - What weight should I start with during the first week?

The weight you use is going to be determined by the amount you can do for 5 repetitions with proper execution and technique.

The way the "first day" is explained in Starting Strength, the trainee warms up with the bar, then adds a bit of weight and does a set of 5. Continue to add weight and do sets of 5 until form/technique breaks down. Keep the weight there, correct the technique problems/weak points, and perform 2 more sets with this weight. That is your first "3 sets of 5" workout for that exercise.

However, since we're talking about the internet, where 99% of all novices do NOT use proper technique, it has proven itself to be useful to advise that the trainee drop anywhere from 5-15% off his 5-RM, and start his next workout using that weight.

Yes, this is low. It allows for a certain fudge factor that is present when dealing with a novice's ability to evaluate his own technique performance.

Generally, if a newb says "I benched 135 x 5 for the first time, my technique was great!", what he really means is that "I benched 135 x 5, but I probably should've only used about 120 or 125"

Be on the safe side, start lighter than you think you need to, and go from there. This also helps develop a base of conditioning with slightly less weight than absolute max, which helps reduce initial DOMS.

Let me say that one again.

Start off using weight that is LOWER than you think you can handle, and progress upward. It is better to use weight that is too light than weight that is too heavy.

Question - How much weight should I add from workout to workout?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 122, Practical Programming Editorial Copy
for young males that weigh between 150-200 lbs., deadlifts can move up 15-20 lbs. per workout, squats 10-15 lbs., with continued steady progress for 3-4 weeks before slowing down to half that rate. Bench presses, presses, and cleans (edit - and rows) can move up 5-10 lbs. per workout, with progress on these exercises slowing down to 2.5-5 lbs. per workout after only 2-3 weeks. Young women make progress on the squat and the deadlift at about the same rate, adjusted for bodyweight, but much slower on the press, the bench press, cleans and snatches, and assistance exercises.

The general rule of thumb developed by me (for internet instruction purposes):

1) If you get all 3 sets of 5 with proper technique, then move the weight up as described above.

2) If you get all 3 sets of 5 with proper technique, but bar speed was exceedingly slow on the last few reps (i.e. you busted a nut trying to complete your reps), then you may end up stalling if you add the full amount. Err on the side of "lower". i.e. don't add 20 lbs to the deadlift, add 15. Don't add 10 lbs to the press, add 5 (or even 2.5), etc.

3) If you get the first 2 sets of 5 with proper technique, but you only get 4 reps on the 3rd, then determine if it was a "recovery deficit" (4 hours sleep last night/skipped meals, etc) or a "technique deficit" (body wasn't tight during presses, leaned forward too much in squat, etc). If the strength or technique deficit was an anomaly and/or is easily correctable, then you can probably add the normal amount of weight as described above. If the weight just felt dog heavy, then add only a bit more, or even keep the weight the same for the next workout. Better to get your 5/5/5 next workout then get a 5/5/3 or a 5/4/4 with a heavier weight.

4) If you get at least 12 or 13 of the reps total (i.e. 5/4/4 or 5/4/3 or 4/4/4) then keep the weight the same for the next workout.

If you get something strange like 5/5/2 or 5/3/4 on your 3 sets, then you probably just need to be more mindful of rest periods. Best to use 3 minutes between pressing, cleaning and rowing work sets and up to 5 for squats and deadlifts if necessary. For now, use a little too much rest rather than too little rest.

If you can't get at least the first set of 5, or if you are missing 2 or more reps each on the 2nd and 3rd sets, then you are using too much weight, assuming you recently started training.

If you had been making progress, but then all of sudden, you have several workouts in a row where you can't add weight to the bar for an exercise and get your 5/5/5, then see the sections on "stalling"

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:19 PM   #22
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III. Programming
**A. The basics, Part 2
**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?

The basics, Part 2

Question - What are the basic considerations in programming

1) Exercise

Back squats, front squats, lunges, and leg extensions all train the quadriceps. If you have done these 4 exercises, you know darn well they have a VERY significant impact on the body overall. An exercise's affect is both "local" and "systemic".

Leg extensions have a very high level of "local" affect. The burn is brutal, and for a few minutes afterward, you may have trouble walking. If all you did for your legs was some hard leg extensions, then today you'd feel it, but tomorrow you'd probably be fine. Your leg extension workout will have zero affect on the rest of your body.

On the opposite end, back squats may not produce the specific localized burn that leg extensions do, but you may end up walking like a duck for upwards of 3-4 days afterward. When you're done with a squat workout, your legs and hips are tired, but your entire body is a bit tired as well.

2)Volume and Workload

Volume = sets * reps
Workload = sets * reps * weight used

3 sets, 5 reps, 200 lbs

3*5*200=3000 lbs of workload.

Generally, exercises performed with lighter weight can be done for a high # of repetitions, which may make things seem like higher reps = higher workload, but, you can't JUST take workload into consideration without also including:

3) Intensity

This is defined as % 1-RM. It is not "perceived exertion", nor is it "difficulty". This is the officially used and quantifiable definition for intensity.

So our above example, 3x5x200=3000

This may very well work someone who can only bench about 230 lbs (200 lbs / 230 lb max = 87% intensity). However, if you can bench 300 lbs, then a 200 lb bench is only 66% of your 1-RM, so it doesn't do much.

It is helpful to adjust our basic workload equation with the intensity factor to get "adjusted workload"

For example:

230-lb bench press: 200lbs. = 87% 1-RM:
Adjusted workload = 3*5*200*87% =~ 2610

300-lb bench press: 200lbs. = 66% 1-RM
Adjusted workload = 3*5*200*66% ~ 2000

Notice the "Adjusted workload" for the stronger athlete is ~ 25% less despite using the exact same weight. This VERY important when determining heavy/light/medium days, as well as recovery days in a "volume-recovery-intensity" type scheme (both discussed later)

In order to keep warmup sets out of the equation, anything < 60-70% 1-RM is not used for purposes of workload calculation, unless several sets and/or reps are performed of said exercise.

4) Scheduling

For the general trainee, this is pretty flexible. For the specific athlete (i.e. a PL or football player), scheduling is one of the most important considerations and can possibly become the overriding determinant.

Joe Average lifts weights because he wants to. Joe Halfback lifts weights so he is better on game day. Joe Powerlifter lifts weights to be stronger for a competition. As such, the schedule and planning of training must suit the exact goals of the trainee.

5) Variation Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 168-171, PP
The intermediate stage is the place where most athletes make their biggest training mistakes...Many intermediate trainees get caught up in an endless cycle of “changing routines”, constantly messing with the weekly schedule of exercises, sets, and reps...variety lies in the way the basic exercises are applied, and not in a bunch of new exercises.

Translation - Just because you're not doing the core program, doesn't mean you shouldn't use core exercises. Do not change your primary workout stimulii from "squats-benches-rows" to "leg extensions - Nautilus flyes - Soup can curls". That isn't variety. That's stupid. Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 173 PP
Variety for variety’s sake is pointless. All training must be planned, and success must be planned for, and all the variety in the world is no substitute for correct planning.

Translation - "Different" isn't always better. "Better planning" will equal "better", however.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:19 PM   #23
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting, Part 1
**C. What to do after Rippetoe
**D. General Questions
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?

Stalling and Resetting, Part 1

My bench is stuck now, and it won't go up. Why did I stall?

You will "stall" on some exercises faster than others. This is going to be a function of the following:

1) Experience with each exercise - if you have been benching for years or even months and you are only now deadlifting for the first time, you will stall on the bench long before you stall on the deadlift, unless you make enormous weight jumps on the deadlift. This is the most typical "reason" for the bench stalling so soon.

2) Mechanical Complexity of each exercise - the mechanical complexity of the squat is far greater than that of the bench press. You have far more going on in each of the involved joints with the squat than with the bench press. As a result, you will hit a wall on the bench press before the squat.

3) Musculature involved with each exercise - You use far more musculature in the deadlift and squat when compared to the press. This means that you have a larger host of potential weak points in the deadlift and squat that gets fixed with training. As your weak points get stronger, your lift will get stronger, so you will "stall" later in the program on this exercise because you have a greater # of potential weak points to address (and improve). The press is much easier to perform properly, so technique will be a limiting factor for a much shorter period of time.

4) Total "upper limit" of the exercise - this is a function of the musculature and complexity of the exercise. The more you can POSSIBLY lift on an exercise, the longer it will take to reach your genetic potential, and thus the longer it'll take before you actually stall. Generally, your strength will be as follows, from strongest to weakest (once you are "fully and proportionately developed")

Deadlift > Squat > Bench press/power clean > Barbell row > Standing press

What this means is that, once you are "fully and proportionately developed", assuming you don't have any type of injuries, oddities in your structure (i.e. super-short, stumpy arms; very small hands/weak grip; genetic deformity/malformation of your spine, etc), or problems with your mindset (i.e. you're a pussy who is afraid to squat or deadlift), your deadlift will end up being your strongest exercise relative to the others, and your standing press will be the weakest.

Now that you can recognize that it is normal for your presses and rows to stall before you deads and squats, you must determine WHY you are stalling.

There are 4 different reasons for stalling, in addition to the basic guidelines above. Rip mentions 2 of them in Practical Programming, I'm going to expand that to 4 due to the questions I've seen asked via the internet.

Are you stalling because:

1) You aren't doing what you are supposed to be doing for recovery? This includes dietary considerations (enough protein/carbs/fats? Enough vitamins? Enough water? Skipping meals or eating every 2-4 hours?) as well as rest considerations (go to sleep at 10 PM or 1 AM with an 8 AM class that morning?)

2) You aren't adding weight properly. Yes, I'm talking to you greedy bastards who decide that you can jump 10 lbs between bench workouts, or you decide to add a 25 to each side of the bar for your next squat workout.

3) You have recently added exercises (such as dips/chins/arm work) or made your own adjustments to the program in whatever manner.

4) You are doing everything right WRT rest, recovery and weight progression, but you are simply advancing closer to your genetic limitations.


#1 is easy to fix. Get your ass to sleep on time, eat properly. Don't change anything about your training for at least a week until you have made 100% sure that you got your 8 hours of sleep, and that you ate your necessary calories EVERYDAY, didn't skip meals, got proper protein/carbs/fats during the day and at crucial times (especially post-workout, breakfast, and before bed). You screwed yourself on this one, but this one is easy to fix. Fix it and progress as normal until #4 describes you.

#2 is easy to fix as well. Drop 5 lbs on your presses and rows (and cleans, drop 10 lbs on your squat and deadlift, and start back up. This time, however, be sure to only add 5 for presses/rows/cleans, and add 10 for squats and deadlifts. This will USUALLY fix the issue, depending upon how rapidly you added the weight. A problem exists when you were adding weight to exercises that you had no business adding weight to. We'll get to you folks in a moment, because you may have induced overtraining (systemic overtraining, not "biceps overtraining" or "pectoral overtraining", both of which are misnomers)

#3 is usually pretty easy to fix as well. Stop EVERYTHING, strip back to the basic 3 exercises for the day, add a set or three of abdominal work, and THAT IS IT. Make sure you have #1 above in line, and train for a few weeks with only the basic 3 and the ab work. You greedy bastards were CONVINCED that 10 sets of barbell curls and triceps pressdowns wouldn't hurt, and instead of teh big gunz and teh bicept peak, you got your asses buried! Good for you. Listen next time ya damn teenage know-it-all! (Yes, I was a teenage know-it-all.) (Hell, I'm a middle-aged know-it-all...nothing's changed, I'm just older and fatter!)

#4 is a "true stall". In other words, you are a coach's dream because you listened, did exactly what you were told, put forth full effort and intensity, you took your training (and especially your recovery/rest/nutrition) seriously, and yet you still hit the inevitable wall. See the questions regarding stalling and resetting.

Question - How do I know if I've 'officially stalled' and need to reset?

The following serves as an example. The #s are not exact, but they ARE representative, so if the weight change differences seem to describe you, then it applies to you, even if the exact poundages are different.

This assumes the average 150-200 lb teenage male. Make adjustments if you are older, smaller, or female.

Here is how training progression might look from week to week, assuming rest/recovery is ideal. When I say "bar speed", I'm making reference to your speed of movement in the concentric portion, i.e. are you really struggling and barely getting that last rep (bar speed very slow) or are you making that last rep nice and solid (bar speed good)

Squat:
135 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
145 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
155 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
165 x 5/5/5 (bar speed very slow)
175 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - note missed reps workout after "bar speed very slow"
180 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good) - note 5lb jump = no missed reps + good bar speed, therefore, try a 10-lb jump again
190 x 5/5/5 (bar speed very slow)
195 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good) - note slow bar speed = 5lb jump = no missed reps + good bar speed
200 x 5/5/5 (bar speed slow)
205 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - note attempt to correct bar speed and missed reps by very small incremental jump
207.5 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - missed reps, small jump, bar speed slow
210 x 5/4/3 (bar speed very slow) - more missed reps, very small jump, very slow bar speed, keep weight the same
210 x 5/3/3 (bar speed very slow) - again, missed reps with NO boost in weight used, attempt one more time
210 x 4/4/3 - time for a reset

Note how the weight progresses. 10-lb increments with steady bar speed means more 10-lb increments. Bar speed slows down or missed reps = half the increments (down to 5 or 2.5). Smaller incremental jumps in weight should eliminate missed reps as well as produce good bar speed. If you are missing reps, even after the smaller incremental jumps, then keep the weight the same. If you cannot hit your 15 reps even after keeping the weight the same for three consecutive workouts, then it is time to reset.

Bench:
135 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
140 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
145 x 5/5/5 (bar speed slow)
150 x 5/5/4 (bar speed slow)
155 x 5/5/4 (bar speed slow)
160 x 5/4/4 (bar speed very slow)
162.5 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
165 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
167.5 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow)
170 x 5/4/3 (bar speed very slow)
170 x 5/4/3 (bar speed very slow)
170 x 4/4/4 - time for a reset

Deadlift:
135 x 5/5/5
150 x 5/5/5
165 x 5/5/5
180 x 5/5/4
190 x 5/5/5
200 x 5/5/5
210 x 5/5/4
220 x 5/5/3
225 x 5/5/5
230 x 5/5/5
235 x 5/5/5
240 x 5/5/4
245 x 5/4/4
250 x 5/3/3
250 x 4/4/4
250 x 5/3/3 - time for a reset

By now, you should get the idea. Once the bar slows down, make note that you will probably need to reduce the weight jumps pretty soon. When you start missing a rep here or there, assuming you are resting and recovering properly, then you'll need to reduce the weight jumps. Once you start missing reps in multiple sets or multiple reps in one set, then keep the weight the same. If you can't get your 5/5/5 after using the same weight for 3 workouts, then it's time to reset.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:20 PM   #24
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting, Part 2
**C. What to do after Rippetoe
**D. General Questions
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?

Stalling and Resetting, Part 2

I stalled on an exercise, what should I do? How do I "reset"?

First, if you haven't read "My bench is stuck now" as well as "How do I know if I'm officially stalled" then do so before proceeding.

Okay, assuming you read the above, and you are in "class #4" and you have 'officially stalled', then proceed as follows.

We'll use our stalled squat example:

Squat:
135 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
145 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
155 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good)
165 x 5/5/5 (bar speed very slow)
175 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - note missed reps workout after "bar speed very slow"
180 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good) - note 5lb jump = no missed reps + good bar speed, therefore, try a 10-lb jump again
190 x 5/5/5 (bar speed very slow)
195 x 5/5/5 (bar speed good) - note slow bar speed = 5lb jump = no missed reps + good bar speed
200 x 5/5/5 (bar speed slow)
205 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - note attempt to correct bar speed and missed reps by very small incremental jump
207.5 x 5/4/4 (bar speed slow) - missed reps, small jump, bar speed slow
210 x 5/4/3 (bar speed very slow) - more missed reps, very small jump, very slow bar speed, keep weight the same
210 x 5/3/3 (bar speed very slow) - again, missed reps with NO boost in weight used, attempt one more time
210 x 4/4/3 - time for a reset

Again, note that we started with 10-lb jumps. We started missing reps shortly after bar speed slowed down. This isn't so much causitive as it is indiciative. Finally, we obviously hit the wall because we could not reach the 5/5/5 requirement despite using the same weight for 3 consecutive workouts.

How to proceed? Proceed by dropping 10% from your stalled weight, or as follows:

~~~~~
210 x 5/4/3 (bar speed very slow) - more missed reps, very small jump, very slow bar speed, keep weight the same
210 x 5/3/3 (bar speed very slow) - again, missed reps with NO boost in weight used, attempt one more time
210 x 4/4/3 - time for a reset

170 x 5/5/5
180 x 5/5/5
190 x 5/5/5
200 x 5/5/5
210 x 5/5/5 - back to previous missed weight during 2nd week
215 x 5/5/5 - note reduced weight advancement, only 5 lbs instead of 10 per workout
220 x 5/5/5 - etc.

Question - What happens if I've gotten a lot weaker in a couple of my lifts? Should I just reset?

Chances are good that a basic reset won't work. If you've actually regressed in your training for a few workouts, i.e. something like the following:

165 x 5/5/5 (bar speed very slow)
170 x 5/4/4 (bar speed very slow)
172.5 x 5/4/4 (bar speed very slow)
175 x 4/3/2 (bar speed very slow)
175 x 4/2/2 (technique breakdown)
175 x 3/2/1 (bar weighed "a ton")

then a simple 10% drop won't cut the mustard. You will need a more intensive "reset"". If it only happens on one exercise, while your other exercises are progressing along, then no biggie. We can just do a bigger reset. If it is happening on a few of your exercises, or if you have already reset once or twice, then you probably need to do a deload and make a switch to your training planning and progression. That's right Willie, you're no longer a newb!

Anyway, the 'more intensive reset' would look something like the following:

175 x 4/3/2 (bar speed very slow)
175 x 4/2/2 (technique breakdown)
175 x 3/2/1 (bar weighed "a ton")

Do only warmups
160 x 5 (weight felt kinda heavy)
160 x 5/5 (weight felt a bit heavy on 2nd set)
160 x 5/5/5 weight felt pretty light
165 x 5/5/5 weight felt pretty light
170 x 5/5/5 weight felt pretty light
172.5 x 5/5/5 weight felt a bit heavy
175 x 5/5/5 weight felt properly challenging
177.5 x 5/5/5 weight felt properly challenging

A few points of note.

1) Do not skip a workout (yet). Just do the exercise, but stop at the warmups. Don't do a full "work set" yet.
2) The first workout will be 1 set of 5 with ~10% less weight than the previous stall point.
3) The second workout will add a 2nd and 3rd work set, but only if the weight feels pretty light.
4) Once 3 work sets @ ~10% less than previous PR are established, move upward in normal increments, workout-by-workout, until you get back to the previous stall point
5) Proceed with the smallest weight increments beyond the stall point

This is an obviously more intense backoff period than a basic reset, and will usually only be done once before a full-on deload and "upgrade" to the programming is necessary.

How often can I reset before I know it's time to move on?

Generally only 2 resets for the squat and perhaps 1 for the deadlift will be done before it's time to move on. As long as these 2 exercises are still moving up, however, there is no need to change programming. If you need to do a "bigtime reset" as described above, or if you are stalling on multiple exercises at once, then it is time to move on as well.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:20 PM   #25
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting
**C. What to do after Rippetoe, Part 1
**D. General Questions
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?

What to do after Rippetoe, Part 1

Question - What do I do after the Rippetoe novice program stops working?

Simply put, what do I do, how long do I do it, and when do I switch up?

The following progression will be SPECIFIC to individuals who have NEVER LIFTED WEIGHTS BEFORE. This is not for the older guy who is getting back in shape, this is for the kid/guy with very little or zero barbell training experience. This is a slight adjustment from the original writeup I did. Mark Rippetoe and I discussed progression via conversation, and he also has a large portion of "Practical Programming" dedicated to this type of question, so here is where things stand now.

"Base Novice program"

Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5

Workout B
Squats - 3x5
Standing Press - 3x5
Lighter pull from floor (rows 3x5 or cleans 5x3)

Why so few exercises? Why so little sets and reps? Why not add a few things right off the bat? Where the hell is the arm work? Check the Table of Contents, Section V. I address all of that specifically.

You progress on the base novice program for as long as you can add weight to the bar every workout. If you stall on one of the lifts but continue to progress on the other 2, you can make some "adjustments" to that specific troublesome lift (See Table of Contents - Section III - Programming - stalling and resetting), but continue to drive on with the other 2. Understand that 99% of you will stall faster on the presses and lighter pulls than you will on the squats and the heavy pulls (i.e. deadlifts).

Once you become tolerant to the volume contained within the base novice program, you can begin to judiciously add exercises. For some completely untrained/unfit/unathletic people, and especially for those who are "more mature" (i.e. an old fart, like me), you could end up sticking with this basic program for several weeks. For the naturally strong or the fit athlete involved in strength-oriented sports such as football, hockey, wrestling, martial arts, etc, this initiation period may only be 2 weeks, and you will be ready to tolerate added work.

At this point, 2 bodyweight exercises can be added.

Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5
DIPS - 2 x 8-12

Workout B
Squats - 3x5
Standing Press - 3x5
Pull from floor (rows 3x5 or cleans 5x3)
PULLUPS/CHINS - 2 x 8-12 - (3 sets of pullups/chins can be done if you do the cleans instead of the rows)

You add dips to Workout A and chins to workout B. Which should you do, pullups or chinups? How wide should your hands be? Why 8-12 reps? See Table of Contents, Section II, under Accessory Exercises.

Give this a few weeks. Most people, if they introduce these 2 exercises correctly (i.e. you don't rush it, and you maintain proper nutrition/rest/recovery) will be able to make a few months worth of solid progress with this exact template. Eventually, however, most of you will get impatient and will INSIST on adding some direct arm work. Here is how you should add it.

Friday workout only
curl - 2 x 8-12
triceps extension (TriEx)- 2 x 8-12

Notice it's not added to Workout A AND Workout B? notice it's not always added to the SAME workout all the time? You add it to the Friday workout because you will have an extra day to recover from the training. Exact techniques on the curls and extensions is further discussed in Section II, Accessory Exercises.

Abdominal work is desirable. Abdominal work can be added carefully from the time you begin the training. Do NOT overdo this, as your midsection will take a pounding from the squats, deadlifts, and pulls from the floor. You do not want your midsection tired while performing these lifts or you can injure yourself. As a result, I highly recommend you start off with 1 set of abs per workout during the first week, and add no more than 1 set of abdominal exercise per week. For more specific advice regarding abdominal training, once again, head over to Section II.

For additional training of the posterior chain (i.e. the lower back, the glutes and the hamstrings), you can add back extensions, aka "hyperextensions", reverse hypers or GHR (glute ham raises). BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN ADDING THIS TRAINING. It's not supposed to be exhausting, so don't make it so. You probably won't need this for a LONG time. Regardless, 1 or possibly 2 sets of 12-15 reps, not to failure, should be sufficient. Of course, head to Section II for more specific information regarding these exercises and their proper application.

If you add ALL this stuff, this is how it will look. Note that it will probably take several months before you really need to work up to this level and volume (and complexity). For God's sakes, DON'T START OFF WITH ALL THIS STUFF!!! Do the BASE NOVICE WORKOUT for as long as possible. The less work you do in the gym at the start, the more energy you have for recovery. The more energy you have for recovery, the better you will grow. You only need to add the extra "stuff" once the original "stuff" no longer sufficiently stresses your body.

Monday - Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5
Dips - 2 x 8-15
GHR - 2 x 12-15
Abs

Wednesday - Workout B
Squats - 3x5
Standing Press - 3x5
Pull from floor (rows 3x5 or cleans 5x3)
Pullups/chins - 2 x 8-15 (3 sets if you do the cleans)
Abs

Friday - Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5
Dips - 2 x 8-15
Curls - 2 x 8-12
TriEx - 2 x 8-12

Once again, you MUST be able to add weight to the bar on your main exercises. If you add the exercises and you aren't able to recover, or you aren't adding weight to the bar on your main exercises, then this is not the answer.

Question - How long should I do this program?

"Until it stops working" is the frustrating response I have given on several occasions. This is obviously an overly simplistic way of describing things, so I will attempt to describe it further here, and give a method to the madness of the slightly more advanced programming necessary for the intermediate trainee.

As I stated earlier, only 2 resets for the squat and perhaps 1 for the deadlift will be done before it's time to move on.
You will probably reset the press a few times before it is time to change programs. As long as the squat and deadlift are still moving up, however, there is no need to change programming. If you need to do a "bigtime reset" as described above, or if you are stalling on multiple exercises at once, then it is time to move on as well.

Question - How can I do an offload/deload within the confines of the program?

Try this as a 'Rippetoe deload', for a week (even 2):

Monday and Friday

Squats - 3 ramped sets up to top set of 5 (i.e. warmups + 185 x 5, 225 x 5, 275 x 5)
Bench - 3 ramped sets up to top set of 5 (i.e. warmups + 135 x 5, 165 x 5, 205 x 5)
Pendlay row - 3 ramped sets up to a top set of 5 (i.e. warmups + 95 x 5, 125 x 5, 155 x 5)
Abs - weightless situps or leg raises, 3 x 10

No accessory work, aside from a few sets of abs to keep them tight, and even this is optional.
Instead of 3 sets of 5 ("sets across"), do what amounts to 1 work set of 5, as described above, by "ramping" your weights, i.e. doing 5 reps per set, but adding weight each set up to your top weight.

This will keep you training, but will give you a much needed break. Workout time should not exceed 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Your intensity will still be "high" because you'll be hitting a heavy weight at the end of the workout, but your total workload (both actual and adjusted) will be quite low, because only 1 set will be of substance with each exercise.

This is one way of deloading (one of several). Other methods might include only doing 3x3 on Monday and Friday with your previous 3x5-rep weight, another method might be doing only main exercises on Monday, and then only Assistance exercises on Wednesday and/or Friday.

A straight "deconditioning" means you take a week or two completely off. No training at all. This is pretty good for the advanced lifter who can read when they've really pounded themselves into the ground, but is generally less useful for the novice and early-intermediate trainee, who probably hasn't built up enough systemic fatigue to fully benefit from the time off. In other words, I wouldn't try a straight deconditioning yet.

I did the dips and stuff, added the arm work and the GHRs, and now, after a few months, it's time to move on. What now?

You have already progressed past the initial workout scheme (with added stuff):

Monday - Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5
Dips - 2 x 8-15
GHR - 2 x 12-15
Abs

Wednesday - Workout B
Squats - 3x5
Standing Press - 3x5
Pull from floor (rows 3x5 or cleans 5x3)
Pullups/chins - 2 x 8-15 (3 sets if you do the cleans)
Abs

Friday - Workout A
Squats - 3x5
Bench - 3x5
Deadlift - 1x5
Dips - 2 x 8-15
Curls - 2 x 8-12
TriEx - 2 x 8-12

and it's time to move on. You have reached the point where you are in a Catch22 with linear progression. What to do now?

Time to move on to the Intermediate stage.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:21 PM   #26
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting
**C. What to do after Rippetoe, Part 2
**D. General Questions
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?]

What to do after Rippetoe, Part 2

Moving on to the intermediate stage

Now that you have advanced in both conditioning and strength, you require more of a workload each training session to disrupt homeostasis. However, the weight you use and the workload you require is too much for you to recover from in only 24-72 hours.

Progression and planning will no longer be from workout to workout, it will be from week to week. Congratulations, you have advanced to the next stage, that of the intermediate!

There are TONS of different things you can do. Chances are good you will want to branch out and play with a bunch of fancy machines and cable exercises and set up a 5-day bodypart split and give teh bicepts their own day, etc. If you want to do that, then go for it, but you'll need to look elsewhere for that type of info.

After speaking at length with Mark Rippetoe, and reading through the appropriate chapters of the Editor's copy of Practical Programming, there is quite a bit of info on intermediate programming, which picks up, in detail, where Starting Strength left off.

Generally, after several months of consistent, hard training with proper rest, nutrition and recovery, progress will eventually stall and daily workout-to-workout progress will no longer be possible. The body is simply conditioned to the point where the amount of stress necessary to disrupt homeostasis is greater than the body's ability to recover in a few days. Additionally, the amount of weight being used is going to be much higher than it was when training first began.

In other words, in order to get the "training affect", you need to pound yourself harder than you can recover from. Your workout abilities have exceeded your recovery abilities.

A simple training period (training period = period of training and recovery whereby homeostasis is disrupted by training, and sufficient time is allowed to recover and progress) no longer is comprised of 1 workout, but of several. By this point, the trainee, now at the intermediate stage, may have some specific direction or specialization they desire, and may have decided that he/she wants to become a powerlifter or a football player or a bodybuilder or a track/field athlete, etc. As such, more complex training protocols are going to be needed.

Rippetoe describes in great detail several methodologies for progression in Practical Programming. I will reproduce a very few of these here so as not to "steal his thunder", as well as give a few of my own that I didn't see him mention. He discusses, at length, 4, 5, and 6-day per week training routines, upper/lower, push/pull, and variations on the Starr model. I will discuss and explain the application of a few here.

Question - What are some very basic adjustments I can make to the program?

Here are some more examples using substitution semi-core exercises. Some are mentioned in PP, some are of my own design. All are obviously intuitive for the experienced individual or strength coach.

Incorporating front squats, doing more chinups, all sets 3x5, cleans 5x3, deadlifts = 1x5, chinup/pullups = 3x8-15

Week 1
Monday: Squat/Bench Press/Chinup
Wednseday: Front squat/Press/Deadlift
Friday: Squat/Bench press/Pullup

Week 2
Monday: Squat/Press/Chinup
Wednseday: Front squat/Bench Press/Row or clean
Friday: Squat/Press/Pullup


Front squats, deadlift variations

Week 1
Monday: Squat/Bench Press/Chinup
Wednseday: Front squat/Press/Romanian Deadlift
Friday: Squat/Bench press/Pullup

Week 2
Monday: Squat/Press/Chinup
Wednseday: Front squat/Bench Press/SLDL
Friday: Squat/Press/Pullup

Once an increase in volume is possible, adding a single "backoff" set of 8 repetitions after the 3x5 is done can also be useful (not needed for regular deads or cleans)

So, here we have the "Bodybuilder" variation

Week 1
Monday: Squat 3x5, 1x8/Incline Bench Press 3x5, 1x8/Chinup 4x8-15
Wednseday: Front squat 3x5, 1x8/Seated Press 3x5, 1x8/SLDL 3x5, 1x8
Friday: Squat 3x5, 1x8/Incline Bench press 3x5, 1x8/Row 3x5, 1x8

Week 2
Monday: Squat 3x5, 1x8/Incline Bench Press 3x5, 1x8/Chinup 4x8-15
Wednseday: Front squat 3x5, 1x8/Seated Press 3x5, 1x8/SLDL 3x5, 1x8
Friday: Squat 3x5, 1x8/Incline Bench Press 3x5, 1x8/Row 3x5, 1x8

General guidelines about accessory exercises still apply.

Understand that you should be using heavier weight each time you hit the same specific exercise, in some way or another. The workload must go up consistently until a reset is necessary.

Question - What about the Bill Starr/Madcow 5x5 and stuff? Can I do them next?

Sure. They are excellent training programs!

Bill Starr-type 5x5 workouts
****************************
"Beginner's" 5x5

Monday (Heavy Day - > 85%)
Back Squats: 5 x 5 Ramping to max set of 5 reps across 5 sets
Bench Press: 5 x 5 Ramping to max set of 5 reps across 5 sets
Deadlifts: 5 x 5 Ramping to max set of 5 reps across 5 sets

Wednesday (Light Day - <70%)
Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday's weight
Bench Press: 5 x 5 using 60% of Monday's weight
Pullups: 5 x 5 Ramping to max set across 5 sets

Friday (Medium Day - 70-85%)
Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday's weight
Bench Press: 5 x 5 using 80% of Monday's weight
Rows: 5 x 5 Ramping to max set across 5 sets

Each Monday should be heavier than the previous. As such, Wednesday and especially Fridays will be a bit heavier as well, from week to week.
*******************************
The well-known "Intermediate 5x5" and "Advanced 5x5 by Pendlay" can be found at Madcow's website

**********************************
Another of Bill Star's workouts, this time with a bit more variety and choices:

Monday (Heavy Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Bench Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Deadlifts: 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Bent-Over Rows: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Incline Dumbell Press: 2 x 20 (light weight)
Calf Raises: 3 x 30

Wednesday (Light Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 using 50 lbs less than Monday or Lunges: 4 x 6 ramping to limit
Good Mornings: 4 x 10 or Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 4 x 10
Standing Overhead Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Dips: 2 sets, when you can do 20 reps, start adding weight and drop the reps back to 8
Curls: 3 x 15

Friday (Medium Day)

Back Squats: 5 x 5 ramped, using 20 lbs less than Monday
Incline Bench Press: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Shrugs: 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Clean High Pulls 5 x 5 ramping to limit
Straight Arm Pullovers: 2 x 20
Chins: 4 sets to failure

You can choose either of the optional back exercises and stick with them or set them up as follows and alternate:

Odd weeks: Monday - Deadlifts, Wednesday - Good Mornings, Friday - Shrugs

Even Weeks: Monday - Bent Rows, Wednesday - SLDL, Friday - Clean High Pulls

After two or three weeks, you can add in back-off sets (lighter weight, 8-10 reps) on all of the pressing exercises, squats, and lunges. No back-offs for any back movement. Should you want to work more on any back exercise, do another top-end set.

If you get 5 reps on your top set, add weight next week.

**************************************

Overall, note that Wednesday is a "recovery" day, where you do a workload that is going to be noticeably lighter than either Friday or Monday's workout. it's not just %age of 1-RM, it is also "effort".

Page 150 of Practical Programming - Editorial Edition, has a great table which shows %-1RM and how it corresponds with repetitions and difficulty.
On Wednesday, you might only use 70% of your 1-RM, but if you do 4x10 with it, that is going to be HARD, even if it is "low intensity". If you only do 3x8 with that same 70%, that would be a "medium" type workout, and 2-3x5 would be a "light" workout. This is VERY VERY important and is darn near worth the $15 "preorder fee" of PP alone.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:22 PM   #27
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting
**C. What to do after Rippetoe, Part 3
**D. General Questions
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?]



What to do after Rippetoe, Part 3

Question - What are some other ideas for effective training once the novice program has worn its welcome?

How about VRI - Volume/Recovery/Intensity? Rippetoe describes this basic programming methodology as one of the most effective for the intermediate trainees. The advanced trainee can also use this, with the obvious adjustment to training periods (i.e. instead of weekly, monthly or bi-monthly, etc)

This intermediate training program variation should look rather familiar to those who have made their way around the various internet training sites.

We'll call this one "V-R-I", which, of course, stands for Volume, Recovery, Intensity. The premise is simple...you don't have 1 single workout, you have a week's worth of workouts. Each session builds on the previous session, and influences the next session. The weekend is used for final (and full) recovery. I'll give some examples that Rippetoe doesn't give specifically, but still fit in with the general design. If you want to get his exact workouts, go buy the book.

Session 1 of the week is going to be the "stress" workout, where volume at an appropriate training intensity (%age 1-RM) is used to stress the body. This is the "meat and potatoes" workout of the training period (week). Session 2 is going to be an offload/recovery workout, where you use easier exercises, submaximal intensity-of-effort and submaximal weights, as well as reduced overall volume. This session is NOT to be skipped. Session 3 is going to be PR day. Intensity is low, volume is high. The specific exercises do not necessarily have to be the same. Appropriate substitutions can be used. Note that from one week to the next, you should be increasing your workload on the corresponding Monday and Friday workouts. If you do 5x5x200 this week on volume day, next week you should be doing 5x5x205 or perhaps 5x6x200 or 6x5x200.

What would a Volume-Recovery-Intensity workout plan look like?

In the following example, which is of my own specific design based on PP Chapter 7 Editorial Copy, take note of several things:

1) Sets x reps are used as examples, not necessarily as specific recommendations and certainly not as requirements. Take a look at overall workload
2) Each day is organized as "squat/press/pull from floor"
3) Monday will be the highest workload, Wednesday will be the "lighter" variation of the Monday exercises and will be done with less volume, and Friday will be the heavy day where you hit it hard and heavy, but only ramping to a single max workset
4) "Assistance" exercises are introduced (seated press, front squat) - note that assistance exercises are NOT the same as accessory exercises. Assistance exercises can be considered "semi-core" exercises because of their ability to stimulate large amounts of muscle mass across multiple joints. RDLs, barbell rows, chinup/pullups, dips, and front squats are mentioned in PP. They also allow for consistent and accurate workload comparisons between the exercises. For example, the deadlift is the core exercise. The RDL and bent rows are semi-core exercises. The hyperextension and GHR would be accessory exercises. Note - the phrase "Accessory exercise" is NOT used by Rip. It is, however, a generally known, recognized, and understood term which describes "lighter/easier" exercises which can be done to add a bit of volume to an area needing a bit of extra emphasis, without throwing overall workload #s out of whack.

Monday (Volume)
Squat - 4x8
Bench - 4x6
Barbell rows - 4x8
Accessory: Abs + lower back

Wednesday (Recovery)
Front Squat - 3x5
Seated press - 3x5
Power cleans - 5x3 (or pullups, 3 x 8-15)
Accessory: abs only

Friday (Intensity)
Squat - ramp to max set of 3 or 5
Bench - ramp to max triple
Deadlift - ramp to max single, double or triple
Accessory: Abs + Direct arm work + lower back work

Note how Monday becomes a day where you do a lot of sets and reps (5x6, 5x5, 6x3, 4x8, etc).
Wednesday is a day where you use "lighter" substitution semi-core type exercises for less volume
Friday is 'PR day'. This day will be pretty short because only 1 "work set" is being done, so you can fill in a bit of volume with arm work and the like.

Another variation, similar to the above, but with DBs and some other exercise choices incorporated:

Monday (Volume)
Front Squat - 5x5
Incline DB Press - 5x6
Bent Rows - 5x8
Accessory: Abs + lower back

Wednesday (Recovery)
Lunge - 3x8
Seated DB press - 3x5
Pullups - 3x10-15
Accessory: abs only

Friday (Intensity)
Back Squat - ramp to max set of 3 or 5
Barbell Bench Press - ramp to max triple
Deadlift - ramp to max single, double or triple
Accessory: Abs + Direct arm work + lower back work

Question - What about push/pull, upper/lower or powerlifting type routines?

Push-pull workouts require that you separate the body into 4 "functional groups"

Upper body Push
Upper body Pull
Lower body Push
Lower body Pull

You then begin training with this in mind, picking 1 to 3 appropriate exercises for each.

Examples:

Upper/Lower push:
Bench Press
Overhead press
Dips
Squat

Upper/Lower pull:
Chinups
Rows
BB Curls
Deadlifts

This is obviously the most simplistic version. It is quite effective, remarkably so. It is also very useful in "reverse", i.e.

Upper Push/Lower Pull:
Bench
OH press
dips
DL

[b]Upper Pull/Lower Push
Chins
Rows
BB Curls
Squats

You would do these on alternating days, i.e. Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. You can't do these 2 days in a row, because you can't deadlift and squat on consecutive days, usually.


Upper-Lower workouts tend to be a bit more balanced, as opposed to push-pull, which tend to be upper-body dominant. They also lend themselves easier to performing on consecutive days, i.e. Monday-Tuesday/Thursday-Friday, as well as allowing for weekly progression of "heavy/light" training

Examples:

Upper - Monday (heavy)
Bench Press - 3x5
Barbell row - 4x5
Standing push Press - 3x8
T-Bar Row 4x8
arms

Lower - Tuesday (light)
Squats - 2x10
SLDL - 3x10
leg extensions/curls - 2x15
calves

Upper - Thursday (light)
Incline DB press 2x10
BTN Pullups - 3x10
Seated DB press - 2x10
Chinups - 3x10
arms

Lower - Friday (Heavy)
Deadlifts - 3x3
Front squats 4x5
calves

Don't sweat the exact reps or sets, you make these adjustments as you need. I listed them just as very simple examples, without specific endorsement.

Both of these can fit nicely into a VRI (volume-recovery-intensity) type template as well.

The standard PowerLifting type routine is also very beneficial. If you don't want to be a powerlifter, simply use slightly higher repetitions (i.e. instead of 1-5 reps, use 5-10 reps, etc)

Sunday - Press + assistance (possibly a lighter press day)
Monday - Squat + assistance
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - Press + assistance (possibly a heavier BP day)
Thursday - off
Friday - Deadlift + assistance
Saturday - off

Question - How do I include speed work in the programs?

Buy Practical Programming. He discusses this (and tons of other stuff) quite a bit.

Hey, I can't type out everything! Buy the book ya cheap bastid!
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:22 PM   #28
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III. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting
**C. What to do after Rippetoe
**D. General Questions, Part 1
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?

General Questions, Part 1

Question - What is linear periodization? What is dual factor periodization? Which type does this program use?

This program relies on "linear progress", which means that you will track progress from workout to workout. You are untrained, so you can disrupt homeostasis and cause a "training effect" with very few sets (3, for example). The benefit of this is that you can recover quickly from only a few sets. What this means is that you can do an exercise today, "trash" yourself because of your poor conditioning with a pretty easy workload, then come back in a few days and be fully recovered. It simply doesn't take much to cause the necessary training/recovery stimulus when you're new to the weights. This is the benefit of being an absolute novice/beginner. As you progress in your conditioning, you might be able to add a set here or there or perhaps an extra exercise for a set or 2 (such as dips), and still progress from workout to workout.

Eventually, your strength and conditioning will be such that more than only a few sets will be required to disrupt homeostasis. You will be better conditioned, and you'll require higher volume and workload to get the training effect. Unfortunately, you won't be able to recover as rapidly, and as a result, a workout scheme slightly more complex than "add weight to the bar each time" will be required. Linear periodization is what the successful intermediate will use during this period. They are stuck halfway between the rock and the hard place. They have enough conditioning to recover pretty quickly between workouts, but they require far more stimulus to disrupt homeostasis and produce a training affect. Instead of progress being workout-to-workout, progress ends up being week to week. Interestingly, this is where the majority of trainees end up, toiling about in "intermediate-ville" for the majority of their training lives, because they can't use "anything" to grow, like they did when they were newbs, and they really aren't going to get a lot out of the typical professional bodybuilder's training regimen at this time either. Regardless, there will come a point when even linear periodization isn't going to be enough.

Dual factor periodization is an incredibly effective technique that can result in great strength and development advances for a very well-trained athlete who has hit the wall in their training progression after years of hard, consistent training. Not only can they not make incremental weight increases on their exercises from workout to workout, they can't even make increases from week to week, and a certain level of "down/backoff" time needs to be planned into what amounts to a semi-annual or possibly annual training cycle. The workouts aren't taken from day to day or even week-to-week, they will be taken in larger periods, such as a month or 6-week period. The workouts are organized to provide cumulative stress to the body over several weeks and many workouts.

If you are considering this program, then the need for such complexity is miles away. You need to do the basics, you need to practice the basics, and you need to add weight to the bar every workout, consistently, for as long as possible.

Once you have spent some time in the iron game and your training has progressed to the point where you can't reasonably add weight (or repetitions) to the bar without specific planning and workload manipulation, then you will require some form of periodization. That is beyond the scope of this program, and, for now, is unnecessary. It will be something to look forward to in the future, and hopefully for you, FAR in the future. The longer you can milk the "basic linear progress" (i.e. add weight to the bar every workout), the farther you'll get and the quicker you'll get there.

Question - Do I do all the exercises together, or do I do 1 set of squats, followed by a set of benches, etc?

You don't switch back and forth between exercises, which is circuit training. Circuit training is when you do a single set of squats, followed by a single set of bench presses, followed by a single set of deadlifts, then repeat this "circuit". That is not appropriate for this program.

You do ALL of your squats, followed by ALL of your benches, followed by ALL of your rows.

Circuit training can be used for the accessory work if you like, but your main work is done 1 exercise at a time. You completely finish all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next exercise.

Question - How do I determine my 1-RM and 5-RM (1 rep max and 5 rep max)?

Before progressing further, it is of importance to understand that the novice CANNOT and SHOULD NOT perform a 1-RM for any exercise.

1) Their technique cannot possibly be proper, and this opens the trainee to a host of potential injuries and mishaps (Train wreck waiting to happen)

2) From page 162, Practical Programming Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
(Novices) lack the motor skill to perform a valid one-repetition maximum effort on any barbell exercise. They have only been performing the movements a short time, and have not had a chance to develop the motor pathway of the movement to the point where the effort can be the focus instead of the movement pattern.

In other words, a newb's 1-RM is useless for programming purposes. Nothing positive can be derived from performing a 1-RM. It is not indicative of the trainee's actual strength, and a 1-RM is not useful as a training stimulus because it lacks the necessary volume to cause any type of homeostatic disruption, which results in a training/adapatation response. A newb's 1-RM will be more indicative of how well he performs the movement, rather than how strong he is.

For this program, the way you deterine your 5-RM is to perform your 5-RM.

Let's say you "estimate" that you can probably do 200 lbs for a set of 5

You would do a warmup and slowly pyramid up to the max set as follows:

bar x 10
95 x 8
135 x 5
165 x 3
185 x 1

200 x 5
if that felt pretty easy, then shoot for 205 or 210 after a long (5 minute) rest.

For funsies, you can use the Brzycki equation to determine your 1-RM approximation.

1RM = Weight ÷ ( 1.0278 - ( 0.0278 × # of reps <5> ) )

You can use this info to:

1) Calculate intensity for whatever percentage of your 1RM you deem appropriate
2) Reverse the formula to back out your maximum weight with any number of reps

Weight = 1RM X ( 1.0278 - ( 0.0278 × Desired number of repetitions ) )

An alternative equation is as follows:
1RM = Weight × ( 1 + ( 0.033 × Number of repetitions ) )

The corresponding reversed equation is:
Weight = 1RM ÷ ( 1 + ( 0.033 × Desired number of repetitions ) )

This last information, regarding Brzycki, is only for fun. You won't need this, and I include this only to keep novices from attempting to do their 1-RM so they can brag to their buddies. It probably won't work, but hey, I tried.

Question - Can I take a week off without losing all my strength?

Generally, it is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED for beginners to take a day off of scheduled training, let alone a full week. The initial months of training are where you lay the foundation for strength development and conditioning. Usually there won't be a real reason to avoid training, the reasons end up being personal in nature. If you are dedicated to progress and you really want to get bigger and stronger, then don't blow off even 1 single workout, let alone an entire week. If you are making consistent (even if it is slow) progress in your training poundages while maintaining proper form/technique, do everything you can to NOT miss a workout.

Eventually you will get sore or tired, or progress will stop coming along, or your family will be coming up on a vacation or some such. If this is your situation and you know you won't be able to train for that week, then see the sections on "deloading" and overtraining for further information.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:23 PM   #29
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II. Programming
**A. The basics
**B. Stalling and Resetting
**C. What to do after Rippetoe
**D. General Questions, Part 2
*****1. How much weight should I use?
*****2. What about sets and reps?


General Questions, Part 2

Question - What is dual factor periodization? I don't understand this stuff.

Understand that the necessity for dual factor periodization is A LONG WAY OFF! You are either a beginner or an intermediate. This information is provided FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. It is NOT provided as a way for a beginner or intermediate to train!

With that understanding, we have to define a few terms first as they relate specifically to this subject.

Fitness - the resultant physical ability of the body to adapt and respond positively to external stress

Fatigue - The decreased capacity or complete inability of an individual or a bodypart to function normally because of excessive stimulation or prolonged exertion - note fatigue can be very temporary as a result of acute stimulii (i.e. biceps get fatigued from a set of curls) or fatigue can be sytemic and cumulative (i.e. the body and its systems are fatigued from hard training over a period of weeks/months)

Performance - the degree of excellence resulting from physical activity, i.e. your ability to bench/squat/dead/chin/row, etc (remember, we're talking SPECIFIC to weight training here) or, for bodybuilders, the body's ability to demonstrate muscularity

Overtraining - The act of training too often/too heavy/too long, which causes the body's recuperative systems to become overwhelmed so that you can no longer recover from training. Performance is DRASTICALLY reduced, as a result, as the body cannot combat what proves to be excessive and chronic fatigue.

Overreaching - the planned process of inducing mild systemic overtraining followed by a planned period of systemic fatigue reduction, with the purpose of dramatically increasing performance

Please note, this is for information purposes only. As a novice or even an intermediate, you simply will not need this type of extreme planning in your programming. Now then, onward and forward..

Dual factor theory, simply put, involves planning your workouts with the knowledge that fatigue and fitness both affect performance. As you train, you build up your fitness level. Imagine if you were Wolverine...you could train several times a day, everyday, and get stronger and faster constantly. Your fitness level increases, and for some time, your performance level increases as well. You are more energetic, you don't get sore as often, you become stronger/leaner/faster/more muscular, etc. Life is good!

However, we AREN'T like Wolverine, and fatigue reduces our ability to train at peak performance. As a result, we train for a period of perhaps 1-2 hours, then we take a day (or more) to rest before training again. The purpose of the break is to reduce fatigue to a level which allows us to train again at (or near) peak performance, be it the ability to bench 5 more lbs or the resultant ability to demonstrate muscularity.

Over the course of weeks (and possibly, for beginners/intermediates/genetic misfits [Hola, I'm talking to you here!] months) your training results in an increase in fitness, but it also results in the systemic accumulation of fatigue which begins to overwhelm the body's recovery mechanisms. Anyone with experience who has trained for a period of time and then begins sufferieng from the symptoms of "overtraining" can attest to this. After anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks of hard, intense, consistent training, most people begin to suffer the classic symptoms of overtraining, i.e. loss of appetite, weakness, achy joints, extreme fatigue, problem sleeping, as well as the annoying and frustrating strength deficits in the gym.

You are overtraining. Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it?

Except.... overtraining is a BEAUTIFUL thing!

Why? An easy correlation can be made to a guy who runs

If dude runs 5 days per week, 10 miles per day for several weeks, he is going to become extremely fit, but he will get tired due to what we call overtraining. For awhile, he was able to train this way and continue to get faster (increase in fitness accompanied by an increase in performance). However, after several weeks of this, he simply cannot recover from his running, and he gets slower. His fitness has increased, but he has been overwhelmed by fatigue which results in REDUCED performance.

Now, imagine if, after 4-6 weeks of doing 50 miles per week running, he cut back to 3 runs per week at 5 miles per day. Essentially, he just went from 50 miles weekly to 15 miles weekly.

He's still running, and one could argue that, because he's running only 5 miles every other day during the week instead of 10 miles daily, he's probably running a lot faster than he was if he was still doing 10 miles. He lowered his overall volume and workload (total miles ran) and frequency (days running per week) but upped the intensity (his running speed during the 5 mile is faster than his running speed during the 10 mile)

Because he spent weeks accumulating tons of fitness from his hard workouts, these 15-mile weeks where he runs 3x per week are like a walk (or cruise!) in the park for him. His fitness level was accustomed to handling 50 miles per week, but now he's only running 15 miles per week.

As a result, the fatigue that also accumulated during those 6 or so weeks of 50-mile running is now able to dissipate, even though he's still running each week. Hear what I'm saying...he drastically REDUCED his training load, yet he IMPROVES his performance! He cut back on volume and frequency, and now he sees increases in his athletic performance because fatigue dissipates and his fitness is allowed to "show through". Because he is still training, he isn't becoming deconditioned, so to speak, but he is training easier and less often, so his drastically increased recovery ability, garnered from months of hard training, is able to help him recover from the reduced (But still challenging) intensity and workload.

You can be in great shape, but if you're flippin' tired, you can't perform that well. Unfortunately, it takes ALOT OF HARD WORK over a period of time to get into great shape, and that hard work causes fatigue to accumulate.

Check the stupid picture/graph I drew. It represents "general fitness level" with a blue line and "general fatigue level" with a red line, with "performance" being the green arrow drawn between the difference. As you exercise, your general fitness level increases, as does your fatigue accumulation. Unless you are a Mentzer-drone, you train more often than 2 or 3 times per month. As a result, fatigue WILL accumulate (and this is a GOOD thing!)

The harder you work, the more your fitness goes up, but it is accompanied by an increase in fatigue accumulation (Loading/accumulation phase). How you perform is not based SOLELY on your fitness level, but it is based on a (very non-mathematical, but rather theoretical) equation that basically states:

"Performance = Fitness - Fatigue"

Put simply, your performance will be dictated by your level of physical fitness, coupled with how tired you are.

Your FITNESS might dictate that you can PERFORM a bench of 300 lbs, but because you're FATIGUED (tired), you can only PERFORM a bench of 250 (random numbers chosen purely for illustrative purposes)

Eventually, you get to the point where you are thoroughly busting your ass and you are starting to see that fatigue overtakes you (overreaching/overtraining phase). At this point, fatigue has "won" (albeit temporarily) so many trainers will just quit for awhile (a week, sometimes weeks, sometimes several months). This is the ultimate in "missed opportunities".

The thinking man's trainer decides to take advantage of this by PLANNING to do this, using "Dual Factor periodization". He improves his fitness using increasing levels of volume and/or weight and/or frequency and once he notices that fatigue has overtaken his body's recovery ability, he drastically cuts back on his frequency and/or volume and/or intensity. This allows for an active rest, so fatigue dissipates. however, he is STILL TRAINING, and his fitness levels continue to climb (or at least stay the same) while he 'rests'. Fatigue dissipates, his fitness level stays the same or improves, and performance shoots through the roof.

After a period of time...perhaps a "cruise" of 1 or 2 weeks, or perhaps an "active deload" of 2-3 weeks, or a "strategic deconditioning" period of 10 days, you are still "in shape" because you've been training, but you are well-rested, and you are ready to attack the weights again.

Hopefully all that babble made sense. If not, check out the following links:

Dual Factor Theory
Planned Overtraining

Hopefully they will explain what I failed to make sense of (never end a sentence with a preposition).

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:24 PM   #30
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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?

How much weight should I use?

Question - The first set seems really easy. Should I add more weight for the next few sets?

This really depends on the individual. As a newb, your ability to properly guesstimate the amount of weight you need for your first workout is going to be pretty piss-poor. Usually anywhere from 5-15% below your best 5-RM is reasonable for someone who has an experienced eye watching them. An unconditioned novice will require a greater drop for their 3x5 than a conditioned athlete who is inexperienced with weight training. If you are training by yourself, you'll probably want to start with closer to 10-15% less weight than your 5-RM.

Assuming you have calculated this, and you do your first few workouts progressing in weight with each workout, if you get to a workout where the first set of 5 feels stupidly easy,

1st - Make sure you counted the weight properly (oh yeah, adding a 5 to each side means I add 10 to the total weight, not 20)
2nd - Make sure you have added 5ish pounds to the press/row/clean or 10-15 lbs to the squat/deadlift from your previous workout

If that is also true, then just keep the weight, do your sets, and make a mark in your notebook to increase the weight next time by perhaps an extra 5 lbs above what your normal incrementing is.

in other words, if your last workout was 200 lb squats, and this workout, 210 lbs felt stupidly easy on the first set, do your other 2 sets with 210, and write in your notebook "Use 225 next time".

It is better to slowly and progressively add weight than to pile it on like a madman. Take your time, growth takes time. If you rush it, you invite injury and halted progress.

Question - Is it better to use heavy weights and "loose" form or lighter weights and proper form?

If you cannot do the exercise properly, then you are using too much weight, period. Cheating is a technique that you might see some professional bodybuilders use, and even some advanced trainees as well. However, cheating is a technique that, oddly enough, requires quite a bit of knowledge to properly apply.

Until you can answer this question for yourself in a logical fashion, you should avoid cheating. There is a time and a place for a bit of "body english" in your exercise execution, but you need to find this answer out for yourself through experience. As long as you need to ask this question, then the answer is always "use the lighter weight"

If I deadlift a lot of weight and bench a lot of weight, how heavy should the dips and hyperextensions be?

Honestly, it doesn't really much matter. The dips and hypers (and chinups and arm work) are all accessory work. They are unnecessary, they are additional fluff that can make the pot sweeter, but they aren't something to obsess over.

Use enough weight with the dips and hypers so that you can get a training affect, but DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, add so much weight that it interferes with your next workout. Usually, most novices will NOT need much in the way of the chins, dips or arm work or especially hypers, as the lower back gets hit pretty hard with the squats, deadlifts, rows and power cleans. After a month or maybe more, the body will probably be able to tolerate the increased workload, and some additional work such as this is possible and perhaps even desireable.

Add weight judiciously. Add weight carefully. Add weight slowly. A little at a time this workout, a little at a time next workout, small increments. If you are not sure if you should add weight (or if you are not sure if you should add the accessory exercises) then DON'T. You probably don't need the extra weight yet.

Question - How can I add weight for dips, chinups, pullups, pushups situps, and hyperextensions?

For dips and chinups, get a dip belt
For pushups, stick some weight in a backpack.
For situps and hypers, hold weight across your chest/back.

Question - Where can I get fractional plates so that I can go up in 2 and 3 pound increments? All I have are 2.5lb plates

http://store.yahoo.com/workoutideas/hagrwiflolpl.html

http://www.prowriststraps.com/inc/sdetail/36737

http://www.hypertrophy-research.com/...croweights.pdf

Question - I squat way more than I deadlift, what gives?

Normally proportionated people with balanced development will always deadlift more than they squat.

ALWAYS.

If you squat more than you deadlift, then 99% of the time, the answer to this lies in one of the following:

1) You aren't squatting deep enough
2) You aren't squatting deep enough
3) You aren't squatting deep enough
4) You aren't squatting deep enough
5) You aren't squatting deep enough

If think you are squatting deep enough, then chances are good that one of the following solves the mystery:

6) You aren't squatting deep enough, no matter what you say (post Videos?)
7) You need chalk
8) You hate deadlifting because you're a wussy
9) You hate deadlifting for some other reason, but you're probably a wussy
10) Your grip sucks

Yes, I'm being funny. However, it is biomechanically impossible for an injury-free individual of balanced development to squat more than they deadlift without excessive lifting equipment assistance.

PERIOD.

If you really do squat more than you deadlift, and you honestly have trained both with equal intensity and effort, then I'd drop an entire paycheck that you simply haven't evaluated yourself honestly.

If you have posted a video of your squats, you own chalk, your grip is strong, and you like deadlifting, but you still squat more than you deadlift, it is probably one of the following:

11) You have very small hands
12) You have insanely stumpy arms

#11 is common in very short, stocky women. Short = small hands, stocky = short fingers.

Guys? I don't want to hear your excuses, unless you have injuries. Just admit you're being a puss with the deadlifts and move on.
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