T Nation

A College Guy's Rippetoe Experience

hey guys, i just started Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Workout yesterday. to give a little background on myself, i have been working out off and on for the past couple of years, but i dont think that i’ve ever stuck diligently to a routine for longer than about 6 weeks at a time (i’m sure that a lot of you guys have had similar experiences. for some reason, during this entire period of time i have never done squats or deadlifts for longer than about 2 weeks (because they’re fucking hard). that’s all about to change.

14 September 2009

Vital Stats (Day 1):

Height: 6’1
Weight: 175
Age: 19

Measurements (Day 1):

Waist: 33"
Neck: 15"
Calves: 15"
Upper Arm: 12.75"
Quads: 23.5"
Chest: 37"

Goals to Hit Before December 25, 2009:
Weight: 195
Waist: 32

Lifts (Day 1):

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 155
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 135
Deadlift: 3 x 5 x 135

Cardio: 10 minutes of 4.5 mph walk

Comments: Workout was pretty easy, as I was letting myself get back into the groove. my squats and deadlifts should improve pretty quickly, as i’ve never done them consistently before. i misread the workout plan for the deadlifts, so next workout i’ll cut back to 1 set. bench press should go up pretty quickly too, as I was doing 3 x 10 x 155 at the beginning of the summer. right now i’m just trying to recoup the gains i lost over the summer.

Feedback would be awesome!

16 September 2009

Lifts (Day 2):

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 165
Military Press: 3 x 5 x 70
Pendlay Row: 3 x 5 x 135

Cardio: 10 minutes of 4 mph walk

Comments: Workout was tougher today, which I am pretty sure was primarily due to the squats. I was sore starting out, so the squats were a lot more difficult. Military press went fine, if a bit light. I will definitely be upping it next workout. My Pendlay row was the part that worried me. It was the only new exercise for me in this program, so that probably had a lot to do with it. I can tell that my form is messed up, because I feel myself not holding parallel and my quads were burning at the end of the sets, which I’m sure is not supposed to happen. Oh well, something to work on next time.

18 September 2009

Lifts (Day 3)

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 175
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 145
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 155

Cardio: 10 minutes of 4 mph walk

Comments: Workout was a bit easier today. All of my exercises are still progressing well. I was a bit stiff and sore in the bottom position of the squat, but stretching and warmup set took care of that. My form was pretty good on the squat, although ill need to figure out where to drop it on the power rack if I cant take finish a rep. Bench press was also easy, although Im approaching my PR (i was doing 3 x 8 x 155 before the summer) so it should get difficult soon. My deadlift is easy, although that makes sense since I started off low. It gives me time to work on my form though, so Im not complaining. I was able to include ab work for the first time today, and I feel like I got some good work done there as well.

20 September 2009

Vital Stats (Day 4):

Height: 6’1
Weight: 181 (although i unleashed a massive dump after my workout, so probably more like 180; also, some of this is probably water weight I would think)
Age: 19

Lifts (Day 4):

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 185
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 155
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 185

Cardio: none, forgot

Comments: Workout was about medium difficulty today. My squats are actually becoming semi-difficult now, although this workout, unlike last workout, I was able to focus and maintain proper form (last workout my knees tended to buckle inward a little when the going got tough). Bench press was good. I’m almost at where I was before the summer. Next workout I should set a PR. I’m going to start going up in increments of 5 on the bench press starting with the next A workout to keep up linear progression for longer. My deadlift I upped by 30 lbs this workout to get it somewhat challenging.

Right now the thing that’s being hit hardest by the deadlifts is my core, which makes sense since I basically have let my abs go to shit over the past year or so. A lesson: having a 6 pack due to low bodyfat is not an excuse to neglect ab work. I did ab work again today. Right now I’m doing an exercise where I lift myself in a half-chinup position and lift my knees to waist level and just focus on holding my body stiff. Seems to be working pretty well and soon I should be able to do jack-knives.

Also, I dont know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’ve been doing the GOMAD diet plan in additon to my normal intake. Today is my fourth day I think. Thats the reason for the large weight gain.

Good choice of program, I’ll be interested to see where you get. Any reason you’re doing rows instead of power cleans? Also, I haven’t seen many people squat ATG with a low bar position, are you going high bar and if so is there a reason?

Again, good luck. I’m right there with you, Tuesday is day 7 of my bastardised SS program.

In the process of Rippetoe’s myself. I used to do Pendlay Rows but have recently starting teaching myself the power clean. Already, even though my form isn’t perfect by any means I am seeing much better results than the rows. My whole upper back is really starting to develop and as everyone here says, this will translate much better to my other lifts than rows, which I have already noticed with my deadlift. Good job so far man, we have roughly the same stats. Do you ad chins or dips at all?

[quote]The other Rob wrote:
Good choice of program, I’ll be interested to see where you get. Any reason you’re doing rows instead of power cleans? Also, I haven’t seen many people squat ATG with a low bar position, are you going high bar and if so is there a reason?

Again, good luck. I’m right there with you, Tuesday is day 7 of my bastardised SS program.[/quote]

I’m not quite sure what you mean by low bar position. I’m just doing back squats, but going all the way down.

The reason I’m not doing power cleans is because it looks like a very dynamic lift that uses a lot of momentum. So since i didnt know how to do it, that momentum could mess me up. I may, in a few weeks time, switch in the power cleans and teach myself to do them, since I hate pendlay rows, but for right now I just want to get my base solidified.

I haven’t incorporated the dips and pullups in yet, but i probably will in a week or so. I have always included pullups and dips in my workout routines, but since i have a tendency to over-customize everything and then lose interest, i wanted to stick with the program pretty strictly.

i also forgot to add before pics when i started, but i took some tonight and this is it. abs are flexed but everything else is relaxed.

Honestly, do your best to buy/borrow/find a copy of the book. The form advice is invaluable, it’ll explain all about bar position and gives a very thorough description of doing the power clean.

As far as adding pullups and dips goes, see how you feel in a couple of weeks. There’s no way at the moment that I can finish a session of SS and then go and do some pullups, the squats alone nearly kill me. Extra work should be added very carefully so as not to slow down progression and as far as I’m concerned if you’re busting ass on the main exercises, then I wouldn’t worry too much about doing more.

22 September 2009

Lifts (Day 5):

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 195
Pendlay Row: 3 x 5 x 135
Military Press: 2 x 5 x 85, 1 x 4 x 85

Comments: This workout was tough for a couple of reasons, most of which were my own fault. The first and most obvious is that today was the first day I didn’t complete 3 sets of 5 of all my exercises. I forgot the weight I had used on the military press before (i didn’t check this journal before i went. Next workout, even though I’m sure I could do 3 sets of 5 of the military, i will back down to 80 to make sure and to delay deloading.

Due to improper breathing on one of my reps, I almost got stuck in the bottom on one of my squat reps, but I was able to complete the rep and then finish the set fine. The Pendlay Row was also really hard. Its still giving my quads and lower back a really good workout. My lower back is very tight right now. I looked up some more form videos, and i think that i was bending my legs too much, which should explain the quads to some degree, but as far as the lower back goes, i think that’s just because i’ve never done deadlifts before this program. So i’m going to lower the weight on the pendlay row some until my deadlift, which i think i have pretty good form on, increases my lower back strength enough to where this is no longer an issue.

I also tried to do the power clean with light weights, and its a definite no go. It put my back through a bender. I’m going to stick with the more controlled lifts until i can get somebody to teach me in person.

24 September 2009

Lifts (Day 6):

Squat (ATG): 3 x 5 x 215
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 160
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 215
Pullups: 1 x 4

Comments: Today was my toughest workout so far, which is explained when I go back and look at my previous workouts. If you notice, by not checking my previous progress, i jumped 20 pounds on the squat, 30 pounds on the deadlift, and 5 pounds on the bench press. So while i was able to finish all of my sets, it was very difficult. Ill probably only go up by about 5 pounds for my next squat and deadlift workouts, so I can make up for this week’s extra-large jumps. I also tacked on a set of pullups at the end of the workout, just for the hell of it, but I dont think im ready for the increased workload yet.

A new PR on the bench press! While 3 x 10 x 155 is probably still better than 3 x 5 x 160, since Ive never lifted 160 before, it was a big mental boost. I’m really looking forward to bench pressing my bodyweight soon.

27 September 2009

Vital Stats:

Height: 6’1
Weight: 184
Age: 19

Lifts (Day 7):

Squat (ATG): 1 x 5 x 225, 1 x 4 x 225, 1 x 2 x 225
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 165
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 225
Dips: 2 x 8 x bodyweight

Comments: Today was another tough workout. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can’t get 3 sets of 5 for my squats, probably due to the fact that I insisted on adding the normal amount instead of reducing it or staying the same. But I feel like I got a reasonable number of reps, so I think I can get 3 sets of 5 on this weight my next workout, and then start going up by 5 each increment from here on out. Another PR on the bench press! What’s even better is although it was reasonably difficult, I think I probably could have done 5 lbs more.

Deadlift was difficult, probably because I went to failure on the squats, but I got it done. My form is fairly good I think, but I think Im putting too much of a pause in between the reps; because each rep is so taxing, I’m having to pause like 4 or 5 seconds and take a couple of breaths in between each rep. Is this permitted? Abs went fine, and although I still am too weak to add the pullups, the dips didn’t pose a problem at all, so I’ll probably be adding them in from now on.

Good progress on bodyweight! I havent been able to do the GOMAD the past few days because I ran out of milk, but I plan on starting again today if possible (I drink 4 glasses per meal at the dining hall anyway, which amounts to about 1/2 a gallon, so it isnt extremely pressing). I plan on adding new progress pictures on October 13, a month from the day I started, but only 3 weeks from my first pictures, so I need to work hard for those.

29 September 2009

Lifts (Day 8):

Squat: 3 x 5 x 225
Military Press: 3 x 5 x 80
Pullups: 5, 3, 2

Comments: Squats were tough today, but I think the psychological boost of setting 225 up as 2 plates on either side and setting the safety rack bars higher (so that they could actually help me let go without me having to fall down) let me complete all my reps. I backed off 5 lbs on the military press to make sure I had it down, and nailed all of the reps on that.

I decided to switch the Pendlay rows for pullups. My main reason for doing this is that I know how to do them and can focus on the exercise itself instead of worrying about my form constantly. Plus I like them better.

1 October 2009

Lifts (Day 9):

Squat: 3 x 5 x 230
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 170
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 235
Dips: 1 x 8 x +10, 1 x 4 x +10

Comments: Squats were tough again today. I need to watch some videos to make sure I’m doing my stance right, and it’s not a bit too wide. Who ever thought “shoulder-width” could be so confusing? Bench press went great, I almost didn’t get the last rep, but I got it! Deadlift was pretty tough, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have to carry it off the bench press rack fully loaded before i start, and put it back on when I’m done. So it’s almost like 2 extra reps.

I added weight to the dips, and that wasn’t too bad. I should be able to finish 2 sets of 8 with 10 pounds added (not counting the belt) next workout. I have a question for you guys though: Ever since I’ve started doing dips, the limiting factor for me has been my left shoulder. I have no history of injury, but for some reason, the limiting factor on my dips is that my left shoulder starts to hurt a little, and then gives out. Is there any kind of exercise I can do to strengthen this? Is it my rotator cuff?

4 October 2009

Vital Stats:

Height: 6’1
Weight: 187
Age: 19

Lifts (Day 10):

Squat: 2 x 5 x 235, 1 x 4 x 235
Bench Press: 1 x 5 x 175, 1 x 4 x 175, 1 x 3 x 175
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 245
Dips: 1 x 8 x +0, 1 x 4 x +0

Comments: Another good weight gain for this week! It feels really good to weigh this much, as the heaviest I’ve ever weighed before is 180. Plus, 187 at 6’1 is the weight that stronglifts.com lists as when you quit looking “skinny”. Good thing I refuse to settle for just not looking skinny! Squats were better in form today i think, and i think i had a breakthrough. So far, in my mind, squats have been a quad-exercise. So when i would get tired at about the 3rd or 4th rep, my feet would shift from a 35 degree angle to more like parallel, which allows you to utilize your quads more. I have been neglecting the all-important “hip drive” and thus not utilizing my glutes to their full potential.

Today was the first day I haven’t been able to do 3 x 5 on the bench press, but it feels good. Before this program, the most i’ve ever been able to do was 155. My deadlift was okay, but i still need to work on my form. I have a tendency to not let the bar go down along my legs as I go down, and i think this is putting too much of the weight on my lower back. I will be sure to focus on that next workout.

Dips weren’t as good as last week, but I’m pretty sure this was due to my giving it my all on the bench press, so i’m not worried.

edit: I think i just found out what is wrong with my dips. it is indeed a rotator cuff issue, and the problem is that i have a tendency to go too deep. apparently, only going to parallel should solve this problem.

6 October 2009

Lifts (Day 11):

Squat: 3 x 5 x 235
Military Press: 2 x 5 x 85, 1 x 4 x 85
Pullups: 2 x 5 x +0, 1 x 4 x +0

Comments: Squat is progressing nicely; I feel like my core is strengthening, making it easier to lift the weights; i also am using my glutes more. My feet are still shifting a bit, though. The main problem with my squats right now is how TIRING they are. By about the 3rd or 4th rep of the second set, im panting, and this makes it difficult to hold my breath and keep my tightness.

My military press is frustrating. I did exactly the same today as I did two weeks ago. oh well. as long as my other lifts are progressing, i’m not going to complain.

my pullups are getting better, though still not near the standard i was doing back in may. then i could do about 3 sets of 10 at bodyweight. granted, im heavier now, but i think these will continue to get better. once i hit about 3 sets of 8, i will start adding weight.

8 October 2009

Lifts (Day 12):

Squat: 1 x 5 x 245, 1 x 4 x 245, 1 x 3 x 245
Bench Press: 1 x 5 x 175, 1 x 3 x 175, 1 x 4 x 175

Comments: Today was kind of a shitty workout. On the 3rd rep of my first set of squats i felt a strangely warm sensation in my lower left abdomen. that freaked me out, so i didnt go hardcore on the rest of my squats because i thought it might be a hernia. i probably could have gotten 3 sets of 5 had i really pushed myself, but i didnt want to test it. then, on my bench press, i didnt rest long enough before my second set and got stuck at the bottom of my fourth rep. i couldnt lift it high enough to reach the safety catch, so i had let the left side drop. of course it crushed part of my left hand, which is now bleeding a bit and probably going to be bruised. after that my grip in my left hand was weak, so i didnt even attempt the deadlift. i did some miscellaneous chinups and dips at the end to make me feel like my workout wasnt completely wasted, but overall it wasnt a good workout.

im going to the doctor tomorrow to see if i might have a mild hernia.

update: the doctor was able to get me in today. i dont have a hernia, i sprained my linguinal muscle. he said just take some advil and take it easy at the gym for a couple of days. so thats good news. and i dont lift again until sunday anyway.

here are progress pics from 2 1/2 weeks ago:

Before (180):

After (190):

im pretty satisfied with my bulking so far, honestly. i seem to have lost a BIT of definition (it looks like more, but thats because the lighting in the first one makes me look more ripped), but overall its not too bad. i have to say, though, 10 lbs doesnt look like as much as i thought it would. oh well! to 200!

11 October 2009

Vital Stats:

Height: 6’1
Weight: 190
Age: 19

Lifts (Day 13):

Squat: 3 x 5 x 225
Bench Press: 3 x 5 x 175
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 255

Comments: Another good week for weight gain. I haven’t gained any since my pictures a few days ago, but thats because the dining hall only serves 2 meals a day on saturday and sunday, so im not able to get my requisite calories. i backed off on the squat, making sure to go nice and deep; no sign of resurgence from my injury, so thats good. ill probably take it up 10 lbs next workout to work back into the groove.

Completion on the bench press! man, this felt good. i didnt think i was going to get the very last rep, but i dug deep and got it.

Deadlifts are starting to get difficult now. i still need to work on my descent.

wednesday will mark 1 month from my starting date. ill take measurements and weight and post it so that its easy to see my gains.