T Nation

Bill Starr & Dual Factor Theory


Has anyone here used the classic "old" Bill Starr program (Squat, Bench & Power Clean)?

I've twice attempted this recently while incorporating the Dual Factor Theory (Accumulation/Intensification).

It only takes two-three weeks for overtraining to rear it's head in the form of poor sleep qualities etc. and a chronicly sore back. I have a strong back (DL 640 w/ trap bar & 565 with Oly bar).

This classic routine is not very high in volume even at the peak of the Accumulation Phase let alone with the decreased volume of the deload and Intensification Phase.

I guess the 5X5 is too much for my aging (35 y/o) body ;^)

My diet and recovery techniques are optimal so as to not be a limiting factor.

I guess I'll drop the volume further and see what happens. I will also try spreading out the frequency.

Any input?


I did a classic Big 3 workout in November/December. I was sore all the time, but my numbers went up each week. And thats with unoptimal nutrition and sleep.

I have a nutty schedule on my real job, lots of hours, sometimes no days off, and I have a volunteer coaching job I work on all my days off. My IT bands flared up but those were old issues. My lower back would be sore, but as soon as I got in the rack and started up again the blood flow I guess loosened it up.

I just turned 31, and yea the program hurt my body, aching alot. But the numbers went up each week! I did Endurathon and BCAA during the workouts, post workout shakes, and lots of anti oxidants. Im going to do another run at a modified Big 3 in Feb.

The nice thing is the guy I coach under trained under Bill Starr in college, and afterwards training for the olympic trials with him. Add in T-Nation, MILO, and my old best buddy Steve Plisk and I am lucky to have alot of resources to manipulate workouts.


As you can see, there aren't a whole lot of replies to this thread. I wonder if this routine is as forgotten as I think it is.

OK, I see that you were sore here and there. Squatting three times a week tends to do that ;^]

Did you feel classical overtraining symptoms? Since this was the second time with the same results, I cannot help but think a need to cut back somehow. I guess I can always do the most logical thing... which is reduce frequency. That seems the most logical because 15 sets per workout sure isn't a heck of a lot of volume.

Maybe I will do the M-Th-Su/Wed-Sat-Tu schedule I had worked out on paper.

I have a Strongman contest to prepare for this summer and I really need to focus more and more on the implements. I may have to put off this 9 week program until after the summer show.

Thanks for the input.


actually, this is pretty much one of the most widely used programs to date. i have yet to see the Nation discuss it. find any boards with Glenn Pendley (Pendlay? can never remember). he's quite popular among the strength coach and PL world, and seems to be the main guy who does what you're looking for.

although, he's not the only one who uses it. as i said, it's quite popular, but i have yet to see it discussed on this site.


Yes! You are exactly right. I was not very clear before. It DOES seem forgotten HERE but certainly not elsewhere. I have read Glenn's stuff quite a bit but thank you for the info.

It's really too bad that we don't see much of it here. From what I know, this was about as widely accepted as any program in history.

Plus, I don't see too much about Accumulation/Intensification here at all.

There is a guy called "MADCOW2" on another site that has written extensively on the subject as well.


Sometimes I had to take an extra day off between, and Id do sled pulls, or light cardio, speed ladder, hurdle drills, or light olympic lifting complexes. I cant afford it, but massage will help speed recovery.

Yes I did feel classical overtraining symptoms, but like I said even though Id go to gym with "how the heck am I going to triple a 365 front squat today, my IT bands feel like dried out gumbands (pittsburgh word), my back hurts, and I feel lethargic as heck..."...then Id pop some Spike, lather up with speed ladder and hurdles, get in the rack and somehow the first few sets hurt, but the heavy sets felt strong, and doing back off's felt phenominal with decent weight. I only ran it 5 weeks then due to working ridiculous hours over the holidays (Im patrol, supplemental SWAT), had to back off and was still doing cleans, deads, squats, chins, and close grip bench, but lighter weights. I am going to start up again in Feb maybe but only do 5 weeks at a time. I need to get more conditioning in and my IT bands cant take it unless I get some therapy. But I felt great mentally because my numbers went up each week.

I also was thinking of running Haladrol or Superdrol, tons of anti oxidants, and throwing down BCAA's (Aminoval, plus standard BCAAs generic GNC brand, and quick charge Aminovital) throughout the day to see if it helped.

Please let me know how it works out if you start doing strongman stuff as well. Id love to incorporate some of that stuff as conditioning for my SWAT quals coming up in spring, and a competition next October. I HATE conditioning, so doing strongman type stuff would keep me conditioning and having fun.


Also, Im totally guilty of rushing out of gym or going back to coaching after the workouts instead of stretching. I can tell the difference when I do a thorough dynamic warmup, with a very long static stretch post workout in recovery.

Yes, I feel jazzed up nervous system interupts sleep on the program. I do this sort of program more because its a way of life I love and makes me happy despite all the pain and soreness that might come from it. Due to break and renovations at the college gym Ive been forced to Golds for a few weeks and its drivng me nuts. I just take a rack and try to stay there as long as possible doing whatever power moves I can (even with the crappy non rotating bars). Today I did snatches, squats working up to a few heavier sets, a back off set, then a pause squat set at 315. RDLs, good mornings, and for fun some Hammer machine deadlifts where you can pop your hips through. Upper body sticking to close grip, chins, overhead press.


I use foam rollers to roll out my IT bands. and yes it really, really hurts, but it is worth it when they stop hurting. I haven't done that kind of training since college. But back then we did it all the time and yes I was sore all the time.


I'm getting psyched about getting back in my gym and implementing some changes. I'm going to stick out the 9 weeks, five of which is 1 Deload week and 4 weeks of heavy triples. I will just take that extra day off when needed. I will also try 3x5 DL instead of the usual 5x5 and check my progress.

And speaking of progress, I just checked... I put on four lbs in those last two weeks! Hmmmmm, maybe I'm not so overtrained after all!

Another modification I am going to make is switch flat bench for militaries. Flat bench is 2x/week and military presses is 1x/week. That will be reversed as Strongman requires more of that type of strength.

Seems good on paper!

Thanks for the contributions.