T Nation

How's This Routine For Raw Strength?


I want to increase my lifts(mainly bench) and I was wandering if this routine looks good or not. It's a Bill Starr program

squats- 5X5(do 4 progressivly heavier sets of 5 with your 5th set being your 5RM)
Deadlifts- 5X5(do the same as squats)
Bench Press- 5X5(do the same)
Incline DB Press-2X12

Hyper Extensions- 3X10
Lat pulldowns- 4X10
Shoulder press- 5X5

Squats-warmup to 3 reps with 5 more pounds than you used on Monday. On the following Monday use this weight for your 5th set.
Dumbell rows-5X5
Incline Bench-5X5


I've seen worse. You can probably make gains on this. I would change the leg exercises up for sure. I'd say squat once per week, and do deads on a different day (possibly with front squats). On the third day try a different exercise - maybe bulgarian squats.

Also, I'd say do pullups instead of lat pulldowns.


Upside: full body work, limited training in the gym

Downside: you are using the same rep ranges on your muscles in almost every workout. 5x5 is great, but 5x5 bench, 5x5 shoulder press, etc. spells burnout for your joints and your muscles.

Also, if you are really interested in Raw strength then you could use more work in the 1-3 rep ranges.

For me personally, one of the best workouts that combines strenght and size gains is the singles club by Chad Waterbury. Simple and straighforward, and the singles work really preps you for the right mind set and physical neural activity for moving big iron. His strenght focused meso cycle is also very good. I would say if you want strenght and size, try the singles club routine, if you want to primarily focus on strenght with minimal weight change, Strenght focused mesocycle. Do a search on both articles. Good luck!


I could go on forever about why this routine is so great, and how long it's been around, and how much success Bill Starr had as a lifter and as a coach. But, I'll focus on some key points:

1) Squats. Preferablly deep OL full back squats on Monday and Friday. IMO, you should add light Front Squats on Wednesday; work-up to moderately heavy set of 5.

2) Slow progress. Start some 20-25lbs under your true 5 rep max in the first week, to allow yourself to accomodate to higher frequency of work. Don't be greedy, use 5lbs steps, and if you don't have such small weights, "repeat" the same weight for two weeks, but, try to be more explosive and tight second time around.

3) Heavy/Light/Medium. Monday is reserved for PR attempts, but as I said, allow a few weeks to get a head start. Wednesday is light, so make sure you get all the sets and reps comfortably. Friday's squats should not be a 3RM attempt, but something you can realistically expect to take for 5 reps next Monday. If Monday was hard, and you perhaps got only 4 reps, then use that same weight on Friday for just 3 reps. Be conservative with Inclines and Rows.

4) Deload week. Some people can keep on adding weight to the bar for weeks on this routine, but I'm not one of them. Every 4th or 5th week I have to do a light week, where I go just 2x a week (drop Friday) and not do the top heavy set on any exercise. Then next week I go a bit lighter then my old PR, and repeat...

In conclusion, this is a great routine, and you shouldn't worry about any other one until you feel you really own this one.


Id say Starr 's routine is a bit too much. YOu could make great progress training two days a week using using about 4-5 exercises a day.
push press
rows -barbell or dumbell
abs and lower back exercises

Bench Press
Squat rack bench press
Deadlifts ,cleans , snatches ( which ever you like best)
Chin ups or pull downs
abs and lower back exercises

Try reading Brooks Kubik 's Dinosour Training or Brawn by Steward Mc Roberts ( i think thats their names)
if your natural , I think two days of training are far better then three days


Another good book is Paul Kelso's Powerlifting basics texas style. Its simple and to the point.


Great advice from slotan. If you make his mods, you'll do better than as outlined.

Also, during the deload weeks me mentioned, be sure to do a bit of external rotation specific work as well as ab and low back work (lighter weight, high reps) to make sure everything's keeping in balance.



Is this straight from bill starr or has it been modified? This is much like a program I did (and will be doing again soon) that took my squat 5RM squat from 215-->265 in about 6 weeks

The main difference from what I did and what you have is wednesday was this:

Back squats or lunges 3x8
Good Mornins 3x8
dips or shoulder press
verticle pulling
Tricep extensions

Also friday had no dips and barbell Rows instead of dumbell.


This Starr's routine would be ideal for someone who spent some time on the routine you outlined, but his gains stopped.

Think about it: instead of working up to one heavy set, in 4-5 exercises, 2x a week, you now try 3x a week, but you have some ligher days/exercises. You also add a little volume by using 4 warm-up sets. That's a logical next step - you try to do more in a week, but gradualy.

That's why I also said that it would be a good idea to lower the weights when starting Starr and work up back to PR level in 3-4 weeks - so you can adapt to higher workload. Plus, if you can handle that only for 3-4 weeks in a row, you do one light week to allow yourself to completely recover.

Ultimately, you improve both your strenght (5RM) but you also improve your work capacity, meaning not only can you lift more in pounds, but you can tolerate more sets too.


As soon as you can manage it I would switch from 4x10 lat pulldowns to chins or pull ups. If pull ups are too easy you can always add weight.


so you guys think it's a little too much volume?? should I switch the shoulder presses to 3X5 or something?? thanks a lot


As you mentioned , you want to improve on all your lifts , with emphasis on your bench press. Therefore I recommend doing some close grip bench press (MAKE SURE THOSE ELBOWS STAY IN CLOSE TO YOUR BODY!)

If you want your bench to go up ,work on your tris.Close grip is the best because its sport specific to the bench press
If you want to focus on your bench press ,why are you squating twice a week?
Why not have a max day bench and a speed day bench ,similar to westside.

On your heavy days bench days ,do floor presses and close grip
On your light days , do bench press (8x 3 or 3x12 )and maybe some light dumbell shoulder press( 3 x 8)

How long have you been lifting?


Try the routine, and if 5x5 on presses feels too much, cut it to 3x5. Or, you can start with less weight for 5x5, like 10-12RM.

You have enough bench work as it is: heavy 1x5 on Monday, plus DB Incline, then shoulder work for balance on Wednesday, then rep work Incline, plus some direct tricep work. Rowing is needed for balance as well.

As I said, try the routine as written. If you see some problems, you can always add or drop a set or change exercises (like Close-grip Bench instead of Dips).


I have been lifting on and off for 3 years but have only been really serious for the past 6 months. I am 5'8" and weigh 145 and my max bench is 205 right now. The reason I am squatting twice a week is because my legs are tiny compared to the rest of my body.


Best post in this thread goes to:


And the best thing for your bench?


Dan "Eat up, Mr. Buck forty-five" McVicker