T Nation

Are Stronglifts & SS Gains Suspect?


So I know a few people who went from doing split routines, who were capable of squatting near 200lbs who then jumped onto one of these programs.

They now squat around 250lbs ish which to me means they gained 50lbs on their squat which is awesome.

However I have noticed rip and mendhi like claiming people went from 40lbs to 200+lbs on squat when in reality most people who start these programs are squatting at least 150lbs anyway, they act like they progressed in a linear fashion but really that first 150lbs was not gained, mist of them were already squatting that before jumping of the program.

It seems like there is no point starting with the bar or excessively low just to avoid stalling by using numbers so light that you are not really gaining strength as they are below your working weight. why not start under your 5 rep max and start stalling and deload than spend months building up to weight you can do with ease?


The weight on the bar should be a secondary concern regardless.

Are you in this for the number on the bar or for development of strength as well as muscle-mass?

If your squat numbers range between 40-150 lbs for the working-sets, then usually that goes hand-in-hand with lack of experience, and lack of proper form. That is the primary concern, always.

The only "exception" would be Power-lifters, but that's truly an "exception" because in practice they have impeccable form, but such form isn't required from them in competitions(in order for a rep to count).

So starting at certain % of your 1RM, even if that means squatting 95 lbs for your working sets, is not a bad idea. It is actually a good idea. It is actually the only idea that resonates with most trainers, I would imagine as I'm not a trainer myself.


Taking it one step further,

the reason for why a majority of beginners/intermediates start stalling on their squat progress, or any exercise for that matter, is because of improper form, and not "oh shit I started with too much weight too fast" or "I started with not enough weight 3 months ago so now I'm stalling".

A majority of people who 'get over the hump' or 'crush their plateau' don't do so because "oh i started eating more veggies" or "this new pre-workout helped me take it to the MAX, BROO", it's because they were smart enough to scrutinize their own form and make improvements to it.

Again, I'm not a trainer but you don't need certificates to take in data, opinions, and then make conclusions that are logical.


Hey I am not arguing with linear progression at all, my question was abou false claims of adding 150lbs to their squat when in actuality they have added 50lbs or lower.

I get starting light and getting the form down but I don't get acting like these people go from squatting a bar to squatting 200lbs because that is clearly untrue.


oh... sorry dude I misunderstood but now I also lost interest :C


They might be using it for false advertising, but as you said, the real value is that it gives your body time to learn the movements before actually subjecting it to heavy weights.

For the most part, it takes a lot of work to get people to go to the gym in the first place. Advertising, even disingenuous advertising, persuades people that they, too, might actually be able to get in shape. A lot of people want to be in shape, but don't truly believe they can do it. Some people have the internal drive; some people need a bit more persuading.

With something like Starting Strength and StrongLifts, by the time people are actually lifting challenging weights, they've now built the habit of going to the gym, they've gotten over the anxiety and anything else keeping them back, and they're at a point, mentally, where they can actually start making improvements with their lifts.

They're no longer thinking "oh, maybe I should just do cardio, that's what everyone else is doing" or "I'm too skinny and everyone's looking at me" or "maybe I should just do P90X". They're no longer trying to convince wives/girlfriends (or boyfriends/husbands) that they're going to be spending time away from home after work a few times a week. Etc.

There's a lot of challenges to overcome when starting out, besides just the challenges of the weights themselves.

But yeah, if it weren't for all of that... and learning form... I'd think probably 20lbs under 5RM is a decent place to start.


I am about to start stronglifts. It will be the first program I have done since stopping working out after becoming disillusioned with bodybuilding programs that did not help me at all.

I used to squat 75KG for 5-8 reps, 3 to four sets so I am going to start my squat at 60KG and go up 2.5KG per workout. Stall, deload and keep trying to gain more strength. I think the problem with SS and stronglifts is that people confuse what a total 100 pound beginner should do and what someone who has lifted for awhile on bodypart splits should do.

I am not afraid of stalling on this program because starting with the bar and stalling at 65kg on the overhead press and starting off at 50kg and stalling on the overhead press at 65kg is the same, but one has you actually stimulating growth and building strength and the other is a pointless month or two wasted building up to the same inevitable stall.

Stalling is good, it means you are trying, you just deload 10% and try again once you get back to the weight you failed on.

Also Rip < Dan john


Superficial minimal plausibility serves as the foundation for many towering skyscrapers of bullshit.

e.g. Somebody does 5x5 with the bar on week one; increases the weight used in a linear fashion; and reaches 5x5 with 250 lbs in a few months: it is "superficially minimally plausible" to say that his squat increased by 205 lbs within those few months.


Excellent post.


First, wow didn't know Dan John died! RIP indeed.

Second, any relatively well designed resistance training program will produce results (especially in a novice) if the person performing it:
1) works hard and maintains some degree of progressive overload (it must increase in difficulty/intensity as the lifter's body adapts and improves itself)
2) eats enough calories to fuel their bodies during their workouts and to give their bodies enough energy and raw materials to rebuild itself better/adapt (this is where most "hard gainers or people who don't see results fail)
3) rests enough between each stimulus/working out the same muscle to allow their body enough time to super-compensate

It doesn't matter if it's Stronglifts, SS, Westside, DC, Thib's Layer System, 5/3/1, a classical body part split, etc... They will all produce results in direct correlation to how well or poorly they do the above 3 things. Yes, the results will be somewhat different due to the programs being designed for different primary purposes, but they will all produce results.


Umm, Sento "Rip" stands for Rippetoe...just sayin. :slight_smile: I would be crushed if Dan was actually dead.


Oops! Lol...ummm...my bad. Glad DJ is still around.


You had me scared there for a second. I didn't realize you mistook Rip for Rest in Peace. You son of a...! :stuck_out_tongue:


Sorry to scare you like that dude! :stuck_out_tongue: