T Nation

Give Starting Strength Another Try?


Hi guys, I'm new to the forums and I needed a bit of advice. I tried Starting Strength for a month or so back in summer and my squat went from 185 to 255. I stalled for a week while doing 205 3x5 and when i broke that plateau I started stalling on 215.

I got frustrated and deloaded for a week. After that I tried smolov and after the first week I was fried, I know it was stupid of me to try smolov at such a weak point in my lifts. So now I'm stuck, should I give SS another go or move to 5/3/1. You guys still think I can milk more from SS?

My lifts currently are
Deadlift: 315
Squat: 275
Bench: 175
I weigh about 160 5'9
16 years old



Either one will work fine. You just need to push past the plateau on SS, but you can definitely get more out of it. BUT, if you feel like changing things up, try 5/3/1. Both are great programs.


you tried SS for a month? one month?

eat more, bust through the plateau, then progress to whatever next level is recommended by your Supreme Leader.


i agree. the key to breaking through plateaus in SS seems to be recovering better. i.e. eating more and sleeping 8+ hours every night. decreasing all of your stalled lifts by about 10% and working back up from there also helps.


Edited that for you.


Personally I hated SS but OP:

Nothing (good) in life can be achieved by one month's application.

You need to commit to working out, forever. In that context, one month is as significant as the last time I blew my nose

I recommend you do 5/3/1, it's better. And missing weights one week is not a reason to get disheartened (see above re: training forever).


Thanks guys, I've decided to give SS another try, and about the recovering part, I just lack sleep, being a High School student and all, sleep doesn't exactly come with abundance. But that's just a stupid excuse, I'll try it again and this time, not jump the weight too much.
-Thanks guys, appreciate the helpful words

Edit: and the many reasons why i kept stalling was because my lower back was giving my problems during the 2nd-3rd set of squats. Anyone know how to help with that, or just rest more? I do foam roll and in my opinion I eat plenty for recovery.


eating more can help offset a lack of sleep. Prof X has mentioned getting 5 hours of sleep in dental school; Blackaggar gets up in the middle of the night to pound a shake; iirc Stu doesn't get all that much sleep either; and these are all guys in varying stages of advanced development. they all eat enough to grow/progress despite suboptimal sleep patterns. if you can't eat during class, probably the easiest thing you can do is keep shakes on you or in your locker and pound them between classes.

when I was still ironing out the kinks in my squat form, I was allowing my back angle to become too horizontal and my lower back was getting sore. as I've learned to push my knees out more, sit back more, and as I've progressed with my GM's and rows it has become a non-issue. getting big air for each rep also helps tremendously.

post your split, maybe moving days around would benefit you if you squat earlier in the week. post a vid of your squat working sets, especially the 2nd and 3rd. also, are you doing any assistance work for your lower back?


My squat form is pretty much what Rippetoe has taught, excusing a few mistakes during heavier sets, trying to fix that of course. I'll try and get a video up sometime later during a Friday workout maybe when I'm most sore and beatup.

As for the eatting thing, I chew up about 3 pounds of chicken breast, half a gallon more or less of milk, and i think about 7 or 8 cups of rice a day. Thats all I can eat without going crazy. There are days where I only eat half of that, but that rarely happens and its usually on a very tight scheduled day. I don't take shakes anymore only if I really need to get the protein in.

My split was mainly the SS program. I don't do any assistance exercises for lower back, knowing its sore enough.


is it low bar squat then? I've never squatted much with it but it wasn't fun when I did. I think he teaches that vs high bar squat to emphasize sitting back into the squat.

this is part of why I don't like SS. how are you supposed to address weaknesses and stay within the confines of the program? for instance, I knew my erectors were a weak point coming back from my injury so I do GM's after deadlifts. a few months later, problem solved, my back is stronger than it's ever been.

I suppose you can choose to stick with it, or ditch SS for something else that lets you address your weak points unless someone else has a better idea.

a lot of people DO say to stick to a program, but that's because so many people have program ADD and fail to progress as a result, not because the goalposts keep moving back (as they should) but because theyre all over the place. however, I totally agree with Bonez' advice that you should do whatever it takes to progress. if you feel that your lower back being sore is keeping you from progressing, I'd change things. if you can still make progress, then keep on keepin on.


Better idea?!?!

He did it for "a month or so"..... There is zero commitment in that sentence.

Do SS for 6-9 months. Learn how your body reacts, adapts, performs, etc.

Eat lots and monitor your weight. Not from the scale, but the mirror.

Have fun.

And be consistent.

Come back in 6-9 months for progress report.

Get educated. It's your body.


haha thanks! and yeah OP im also a highschooler and getting enough sleep can be hard. but i realized there are lot of ways to get more sleep in. i dont want to be mean but the first should be pretty fucking obvious: sleep during class. its highschool. 90 percent of whatever they tell you do not need to listen to because most of its all common sense. trust me. i dont care what classes you take. I take AP and honors classes and sleep half the time. otherwise if you care about recovery enough you WILL find the time to sleep. and if you cant get to sleep learn how. and if you cant then try smoking some week or something. i guarantee you know someone who sells it lol. again, youre in highschool.


the most horrible advice I have ever read in here :open_mouth:

To the OP: dont sleep in class, pay attention in school because you learn alot without knowing it + Its the foundation of knowledge you need at university or similar. Training at your level is just a hobby, treat it as such and find a way to make it compatible with the rest of what is going on in your life.


Lol, florelius, thanks for the advice. I know education is important, That's why if I have a load of school work to do on a certain training day, I'll skip the training day and rework the schedule. And no I don't smoke weed or drink. My friends do but I started lifting with that bodybuilding dream of every little teenage boy. So I did a lot of research on nutrition and the body before starting on my goal for strength.


dman, eat chicken legs instead of the breast, cheaper AND tastier!


The key here is your bodyweight. You only weigh 160 at 5 9? Unless thats solid muscle its going to be hard to lift any serious weight without gaining.


move on to Texas method or 5/3/1


160's a rough estimate, and I'm around 10-12% bodyfat, I'm a skinny guy. As of now I squat 235 3x5
Bench 140 3x5, So I guess I still have some more milking to do from SS.

  1. How do you try a program for a month? If you tried something for a month, you didn't stall or plateau. You didn't train long enough to really observe either of those things. The whole point of training is that over MONTHS and YEARS you can accumulate the results of small seemingly insignificant gains.

The biggest lesson I wish I could teach my 16 year old self about the weight room is to stop thinking about 4,6,8 week programs or whatever and think in terms of months and years. Everyone knows if they add ten pounds per month to their working weights they would be MUCH stronger in a year so why don't people do it? Especially when you're young and just starting training there's no reason you couldn't add 5 pounds every three weeks to your upper body lifts and 10 to your lower body lifts. You might think that's crushingly slow, but wouldn't you rather have a mid 400's dead, a 405 x 5 squat and a 225x5 bench in a year than keep dicking around and having yo-yo'd all your progress away?

It's like people are so seduced by these "add 40 pounds to your bench in six weeks!" programs that they forget the basics.

  1. How can you not eat right or sleep in high school? I was a boring kid, granted, but I got 8ish hours of sleep virtually every day. I know some people aren't privileged enough to get the chow they need at home, so I won't belabor that, just do what you can and realize it's probably not going to get easier when you move out and have to buy and cook your own food.

  2. Even as far as sleep and food goes, I work a 8 hour day plus random workouts and extra duty I have no control over, eat out of an institutional style cafeteria, have a bizarre sleep schedule with occasional overnight posts and I still manage to add 10/5 pounds per 3 week wave on my lifts so I highly doubt you can't do the same.

Starting strength is fine and I highly recommend 5/3/1 too. Best of luck.



Boom! Conor dropped some wisdom on you!