T Nation

Dark Days' Starting Strength Log


I started this log a month ago over at Bodybuilding.com

Since I started viewing this site, and after listening to The Fitcast (thanks Kevin), I have decided to move my journal over here.

Comments and questions welcome.

First post: 12-03-2008

After working out sporadically I have decided to get more serious about achieving my goals, and get back to basics.

The routine I will be following is derived from this thread:

I am 24. I am 5' 8", an ectomorph that weighs 143 pounds with approximately 9% bf.

I started working out about five months ago, with a starting weight of 128 pounds. I was focusing on a lot of isolation, sure I was doing squats (not properly) and occasionally deadlifts (also not properly) but my training had too much focus on accessory lifting and not the meat and potatoes of a workout, the compound movements. After a ton of reading I have decided that I will give Rippetoe my full attention and effort over the coming months. After I reach my genetic potential with this method I will introduce a different approach.

The Routine:
As outlined in the thread, I will be following a 3 day a week routine. Alternating between Workout A and Workout B.

Workout A:
3x5 Squats
3x5 Bench press
1x5 Deadlifts

Workout B:
3x5 Squat
3x5 Standing military press
3x5 Rows

I will be following a Mon/Wed/Fri routine. So a two week period would look like this:
Week 1
Monday - Workout A
Wednesday - Workout B
Friday - Workout A
Week 2
Monday - Workout B
Wednesday - Workout A
Friday - Workout B

Simple enough. If you read the thread about Rippetoe it is suggested that you do power cleans instead of rows, if you know how to do them, or have a coach, and have an Olympic friendly gym. I do not know how to do cleans, I do not have a coach, and I do not have an Olympic friendly gym with bumper plates et cetera, so I'm doing rows. I would rather do cleans, but whatever.

I will update this log to include each workout, as well as some additional information on my diet and any other information that I think is relevant.

Please follow this log and leave comments if you feel like doing so, I welcome criticism and support.

Keep lifting,


As we all know, sleep is crucial. It really can't be overemphasized. I will get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but usually 9. This is something I have not done in the past, but I have come to realize that I am pretty much worthless to the world the next day unless I get 8 hours of sleep.

Initially I will be taking in 3000 cals a day. I think I will gain on this. I'll revisit this number after two weeks or so, if i'm gaining then great. If I can stomach more food than this, great, I'll eat more. But for now this is a number I know I can do. I'm not too worried about macronutrient percentages (although I'm sure I'll calculate it based on what I've been eating) since I'm a skinny.

The only meals that I know will not change day to day are my pre / post workout meal, and the meal I have before bed.

Pre / post workout meals for now look roughly like this: 1 cup of oats, 35g whey protein, one tbs olive oil or two tbs peanut butter, 2 cups of water.

Before bed 1scoop whey protein, 1 scoop casein protein, 1tbs olive oil or two tbs peanut butter

Other than those meals, I plan on eating every few hours and taking in at least 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. As well as drinking at least a gallon of water a day.

Other than whey and casein (which are more of a staple than a supplement IMHO):
I take the Animal Pak multivitamin (because horse pills don't bother real men)
Fish Oils 2-3 times a day
A greens supplement (like greens +) once maybe two times a day
I also take OPC, ORAC, Acai, (all three for their superb antioxidant properties) and calcium supplements
At night I throw in 3mg of melatonin before I sleep.

As far as bodybuilding related supplements like Creatine, NO, pre workout stims and all that, yes I plan on taking them, and have taken them before. But right now, I'm just going to focus on the basics. Once I have a baseline established and I'm in my groove, I'll throw something else in.


Week 1 - Workout 1

Taking it real easy out of the gate.


Bench Press:


Man this dude is weak! Yeah yeah, actually just focusing more on proper form. I was doing squats wrong in the past (not deep enough) and was doing good mornings instead of deadlifts. Since I will be adding 5lbs to each time I press, and 10 to each time I squat and deadlift, I know it will catch up with me eventually. But for now just easing into the routine. Lifts felt good, I cant wait until I'm back in there on Friday.


Week 1 - Workout 2
Today was Workout B: Squats, Standing Presses, Rows

Got up at 5:30, had a shake that consisted of yogurt, a banana, whey and honey. Went to the gym at 6 am.

Squats after warmup sets:

Standing presses after warmup sets:

Rows after warmup sets:

Felt strong throughout the workout. Focused on form as the rows and standing presses are new to me. Could have used more weight, but hey this is going to be a linear progression, I'm not in a rush.

Just had my animal pak, about to have my post workout meal. Feeling great and ready to start my Friday. Can't wait until my next workout.

Weekend's almost here, woohoo!


Week 2 - Workout 1

Today was workout A

Squats: 135x5x3

Bench Press: 110x5x3

Deadlifts: 145x5x1

Felt strong and could have done more weight on all excercises. I have decided to start on creatine. While I'm doing this program I might as well give it all I've got right from the start. I'm taking MetRX creatine ethyl-ester for now. I have also started taking Animal Flex, the joint support product from Universal Nutrition.

My diet was a miss over the weekend, I didn't eat enough. I struggle with a weak appetite often, but I will find a way to eat enough to grow. How do you guys manage to eat enough?

I'm ready for Wednesday's workout!


Week 2 - Workout 2

Today was workout B: Squat, Standing Press, Rows

Squats went up 10lbs

Press went up 5lbs

Row went up 5lbs

Good workout. I'm determined to eat more! I know I've just been hitting my maintenance level lately for calorie intake.


Week 2 - Workout 3

Today was workout A: Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift

Added 10 to squats

Added 10 to Bench

Added 20 to Deadlift

Had a ton of energy, so I did 11 wide grip pullups at the end.

Good workout, squat is getting heavy. Since I'm adding weight each workout, I'm going to start adding 5lbs to bench and squat from now on. 10 each workout adds up quick. I think I can still handle +10 for the deadlift each time though. On workout days I'm trying to get in 3000-3200 calories, do you think that's enough? I'm aiming for a lb a week in weight gain.


Week 3 - Workout 1

Today was squat, standing press, row

Squat went up 5lbs:

Standing press went up 5lbs:

Row went up 5lbs:

Standing press was difficult on the third set.


Week 3 - Workout 2

Today was squat, bench press, and deadlift

Tried out Juggernaut preworkout supplement. Didn't have time for preworkout meal (shame).

Squats were up 5lbs




Bench went up 5lbs




Deadlift went up 10lbs


Did 11 wide grip pullups to end the workout.

Had Dark Matter supplement for post workout. I'd rather have real food, but today I'm short on time. I'll have to hustle in order to get my calories in for the day. Typically by this time I've already had 1000 calories, but so far I'm at about 300.

Anyway, good workout, I'll continue to increase deadlifts by 10lbs for each workout for now.


Week 3 - Workout 2

Today was squat, bench press, and deadlift

Tried out Juggernaut preworkout supplement. Didn't have time for preworkout meal (shame).

Squats were up 5lbs




Bench went up 5lbs




Deadlift went up 10lbs


Did 11 wide grip pullups to end the workout.

Had Dark Matter supplement for post workout. I'd rather have real food, but today I'm short on time. I'll have to hustle in order to get my calories in for the day. Typically by this time I've already had 1000 calories, but so far I'm at about 300.

Anyway, good workout, I'll continue to increase deadlifts by 10lbs for each workout for now.


Week 3 - Workout 3

Today was squat, standing press, rows

Had 5.5 hours sleep. Had some alcohol before bed, felt a bit dehydrated in the morning. Took Primed Ultra sample with with CEE pre workout, then 20 minutes later had 1 scoop of whey and 3tbs maple syrup. Workout was good, hit all my lifts. Standing presses were hard. I think I'll start dropping reps soon.

squat: 170x5, 170x5, 170x5

standing press: 90x5, 90x5, 90x5

row: 100x5, 100x5, 100x5

I think I need to check my form on my rows. They felt off. I've been deloading between each rep, as in placing the bar on the ground and starting again with the next rep. I'm keeping my feet about shoulder width apart, back flat, contracting my shoulder blades together and pulling my elbows back, is this correct? I grab the bar with a fairly wide grip as well. The reason why it feels off is because I'm supporting a lot of the weight with my lower back. It's not painful, but got me thinking about my form. If all else fails I'll just study some lifts on youtube or something.


Week 4 - Workout 1

Today was squat, bench press, deadlift

Squats up 5lbs: 175x5, 175x5, 175x5

Bench press up 5lbs: 135x5, 135x5, 135x5

Deadlift up 10lbs: 185x5

Didn't get enough sleep last night... Lifts were strong. I need to revisit my form on the squats, I am going parallel and maybe a little below parallel but I have a feeling I'm not going down as far as I should be. I might try to record a few sets and review it. I really like deadlifts, I can't wait until I'm pulling 300+lbs.

Still trying to focus on diet. You're not going to grow if you bust your butt one hour in the gym, and slack off with nutrition and rest for the other 23. Diet and rest are so much harder than lifting. I think that's why so many people don't achieve their goals. When you lift, you get a tangible feeling that seems to tell you you're doing something that's producing results.

When you eat right and get enough sleep, you might feel better, but noone could care less that you eat clean and get 8 hours of sleep a night. I think it's that determination and self control that separate those of us who do things, and the ones that just talk.


Week 4 - Workout 2

Today was squat, standing press, row

+5lbs to squat: 180x5, 180x5, 180x5

+5lbs to standing press: 95x5, 95x4, 95x5

+5lbs to row: 105x5, 105x5, 105x5

I'll stay at 95 with the standing press the next time I do it. The other lifts were easier and I'll add another five pounds to them on Monday.

I think I might get a set of 1lb and .5lb plates and use those to progress on my smaller lifts.

If you haven't heard of the Fitcast podcast, it's great. Check it out on itunes, or www.thefitcast.com I'm learning a ton from these guys.

Also if you don't know about T-Nation.com (and I didn't until a few days ago) it's awesome. To be honest, the articles on bb.com seem terrible compared to the info on T-Nation. I'm also thinking of becoming ASCM certified. I'd love to train people as a hobby.

Hope you guys are doing well,

Keep lifting.


Week 4 - Workout 3

Today was squat, bench press, deadlift

Squats up 5lbs: 185x5, 185x5 185x5

Bench press up 5lbs: 140x5, 140x5, 140x5

Deadlift up 10lbs: 195x5

I have a cold and did not feel like being in the gym. I barely ate anything yesterday but the lifts were still good today.



One Month Review:

How my lifts have progressed so far this past month.

Squats up 75lbs from 115x5 to 190x5

Bench Press up 40lbs from 100x5 to 140x5

Deadlift up 60lbs from 135x5 to 195x5

Standing Press up 20lbs from 75x5 to 95x5

Barbell Row up 25lbs from 85x5 to 110x5

I'm very pleased with this program. My diet has been off the last 5 days or so since I have been sick. But I have not missed a workout so far despite that. I estimate I've gained 2.5-3 pounds over the past month. I need to start keeping a food log, my goal is 3000-3200 calories a day but I know I've been missing it. I think the key is getting in the calories early in the day.

Very pleased with the lifts, I feel like most of the gains have come from the consistency of the training coupled with nervous system adaptation the the excercise. I was focused on my form on every lift. I'll most likely stall on the standing presses first, but deadlifts I feel I could increase to 300lbs within 4-6 months.

During the last 12 workouts at golds I saw one person do two sets of squats, and not a single person do deadlifts or rows. I recently read about an 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of your training should be compound lifts and 20 percent should be accessory excercises. However at my gym, most guys are doing concentration curls, tricep pressdowns, and curling at the squat rack Are there really this many clueless guys out there?

And when will women realize that they aren't going to have a killer body from just doing an hour of solid state cardio? And are the trainers knowledgeable or are they just catering to the expectations of their clients? I've witnessed maybe a dozen personal training sessions and the trainers have them doing tri-kickbacks and curls.

Am I right or wrong when I say that no matter what your fitness goal is (with the exception of a high level athlete training for a specific sport, read: .1 percent of the population), that if you get stronger, the results you seek will follow?

Week 5 - Workout 1
Today's workout was squat, standing press, rows:

squats up 5lbs - 190x5, 190x5, 190x5

standing press remained at 95, but this time I got all my reps - 95x5, 95x5, 95x5

rows increased by 5lbs - 110x5, 110x5, 110x5

Well that was all long and rambly, I'm out.


Week 5 - Workout 2

Typically I work out at 6 AM, but I had alarm issues this morning, so I went at 5 PM after work.

Today was squat, bench, deadlift

Squats up 5lbs: 195x5, 195x5, 195x5

Bench up 5lbs: 145x5, 145x5, 145x5

Deadlift up 10lbs: 205x5

Squats felt strong, bench was hard on the last rep of each set, deadlifts were easy.

Today's the first day I've ever lifted anything over 200lbs, anything that wasn't on a machine that is. I can definitely see myself deadlifting 400lbs within a year. It's got to be my favorite lift, I think it helps that I have really long arms for my height too.

Can't wait for my next workout on Friday. Come to think of it, I can't wait until I start a hypertrophy program with more volume. This starting strength stuff really seems to be working though... So I'm going to stick with it.

See you all later.


Week 5 - Workout 3 of 3 for this week.

Today was squat, standing press, rows

Squats up 5lbs: 200×5, 200×5, 200×5

Standing press up 5lbs for only the first set: 100×5, 95×5, 95×5

Row up 5lbs: 115×5, 115×5, 115×5

Then 6 wide grip pullups for the heck of it.

Legs were still pretty sore from wednesday's workout, but the squats were strong. Did some soft tissue work on hamstrings, glutes in between a couple of sets. I need to get one of the foam rolls. I also want to look into doing some scap circuits. Bought some Chuck Taylors to lift in, so far I like them a lot. The flat sole provides a nice base for squats.

I expected the gym to be pretty full since it's the start of the new year, but it turned out just the opposite. When I arrived at around 6:15 am, I was the third person there. Usually there would be at least 8-10.


Decided to start week 6 early, today was squat, bench press, deadlift.

Squat: 205x5, 205x5, 205x5

Bench Press: 150x5, 145x5, 145x5

Deadlift: 215x5

I may switch to wednesday, friday, sunday. I have been doing monday, wednesday, friday.

Squats still increasing but they're getting tougher. Deadlifts still good, adding 10 lbs per workout.

Bench has pretty much stalled, so I won't be adding any weight until I can do all three sets with 150.


Nice job! Running it exactly like it's supposed to be. Has your bodyweight gone up?

I would suggest keep trying increasing weight on the bench press, but change a couple things to help with that.

Use microloading: add 2.5 lbs to the bar, by making your own weights, or buying some. See http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/Topics/Microloading.htm

You could also increase your rest time. If you're resting like 60-90 seconds, try 2 and a half minutes or even three.


Thanks for the tips, I'll definately check that out. My bodyweight has gone up a couple pounds.

Right now I've stalled while taking in approx 3000 cals a day. I'm going to bump it up to 3400 and monitor my progress for the next few weeks.

So since I switched to a wed/fri/sun split, this post is workout 1 of week 6.

Yesterday was squat, standing press, rows.

Squat: 210x5, 210x5, 210x5

Standing press: 95x5, 95x5, 95x5 (really need to get some incremental weights)

Row: 120x5, 120x5, 120x5

I've stalled on standing press.