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I Think I'm Going to Drop Starting Strength


When I first got here, I was advised to pick up starting strength by rippetoe, which I did.I've been on starting strength for 8 weeks now, and I definitely have improved. The problem is, I don't think the improvements I am seeing are necessarily the ones I am going for.

I have been very impressed with starting strength in these few weeks I have been using it. It really does work. The problem is, the more I go along with it and the more I learn, the more I think its not what I should be doing. If I was aspiring to be a competition weightlifter, or even if how much weight I lifted was important to me, I could see it being a more ideal program. Neither of these applies to me though. I just want to add full body mass at a reasonable rate. I don't really care how much weight I lift, as long as I look decent and gain some mass.

I have increased the weight I work out with significantly in cleans, squats, and dead lifts. I have not hardly improved in military press, bench press, dips, or chin ups though. I have gained weight, but I have serious problems keeping up with the diet. I fall way short, and I am pushing my financial and time limits as it is. I work about 30 hours a week and am in my last semester of college for my undergrad accounting degree.

I just went back and reread the newb guides stickied in this forum, and think I would benefit more from creating a program using that guide than continuing starting strength. I plan on including pretty much all the workouts that SS has in them, I just think I would benefit from more isolated exercises to target my goofy messed up muscle groups. Am I wrong? Feel free to tell me I am an idiot.

Thanks for all the continued advice and information.


Your not an idiot.
I do think this is a good program though and I wish I had started with something like this. Although strength is not your first priority you will not get a bigger more muscular body while useing light weights.

If you really want to you can take the advice in the stickies the stuff in there is solid. You are not meant to stay on SS forever but 8 weeks is not very long. Most likely it is your nutrition letting you down. If you are not used to eating a lot then it can take time and effort to accomodate eating enough to gorw optimally.

I know where you are coming from financially (I'm also a student) but you have to make it a priority. There are quite a few food threads around (some gems in the alpha cell) that have good tips on how to get in enough food cheaply. You need to sort this out if you want to change significantly though, no program will make you gain significant muscle without adequate food.


Even if you are not trying to be a weightlifter, progressing on lifts is the basis of any program & is required to achieve physique goals as well. For example, if your bench press hasn't moved in a month, sorry, your chest and triceps probably haven't grown.

If you want to do a more bodybuilding style program I think that's fine & is probably what most here do. If you want to develop arms then by all means add in some direct arm work... don't feel obligated to squat and deadlift above all else if that's not what you want to do. (of course they should still be included but, hopefully you know what I mean)


How is changing to a different routine going to improve your lackluster diet? You cannot out train a bad diet.

Best case scenario: You get your diet in order.
Worst case: You roll with what you got and keep plugging away trying to hit more weight and more reps with an inconsistent diet.

It's not the routine holding you back its the diet my friend.


I would echo what you are saying here, but both things are clearly holding him back. Starting Strength is not a bodybuilding routine in any way, and if the OP wishes to build a big aesthetic physique there's no reason for him to be doing a program centered around improving the back squat at the expense of everything else.

But yeah it sounds like you are blowing off your poor diet, which is going to hold you back more than anything else.


I'm not under the illusion changing programs will make up for my lack of calories. I probably should not have even mentioned it since one thing has nothing to do with the other thing. My diet is in as much order as it can possibly be in until december 13th when I graduate college.

I want to change routines because I don't understand why I want to keep increasing my squat, dead lift, and power clean weights when I couldn't care less about them. Starting Strength seems to center around increasing how much you lift asap, and I don't care how much I lift. All I care about is no longer weighing 120 lbs and looking anorexic lol. I'm not looking for a get rich quick workout scheme, and I'm not looking to compete in weightlifting.

Am I wrong here? If I am, just tell me I am and I will continue starting strength and shut up haha.

Thanks again guys,


Gallon Of Milk a Day


You're wrong, gaining strength while you gain weight is what you need to do to have the mass that you want.

Lift increase for reps + weight gain with roughly the proper nutrients = muscle

You can lift however you want as long as you remember that moving more weight WILL build muscle so you should definitely be interested in it.


"Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder....

but don't nobody wanna lift this heavy ass weight!! I do, though." - Ronnie Coleman (for those who don't know)


Add in some isolation work, easy as that. If you're still making gains, don't change programs. But if it's obvious that you need to throw in some work for biceps or calves or whatever, do it.


First off let me say I don't think you are wrong but you are right for all the wrong reasons. If that makes sense.

While I do agree that cleans are bit over the top, from a bodybuuilding aspect, they are useful to get to know motor patterns and how your body works with increasing loads. That said, I'd drop these too being in your shoes.

I have to disagree with you though if you do not think increasing weight in squats, deadlifts and their variations (hell any movement) provide no benefit to the goal you are trying to accomplish, that being increasing your body weight hopefully with more muscle than fat. I also do not agree with you down playing the role of diet. Show me one person powerlifter or bodybuilder that went up a weight class that didn't increase the amount of food they ate while not using hormones.

I do agree that for a bodybuilder starting strength leaves out a lot of muscle groups but its the principles that work. More reps or more weight, and plenty of food. I just don't want you thinking that changing your routine is going to magically make you gain 140 pounds of muscle.


I think they key arguments have already been made, but I'm sure everyone would agree; how can you dismiss any program after a few weeks? SS or 5x5 is some serious bang for your buck, especially if you're short on time. Second, how do you know muscle groups are messed up and why would isolation exercises be the answer? Maybe soft-tissue work is what's needed. Not calling you an idiot here, just make sure that you're making decisions based on some actual evidence.

Squats and deads will progress way faster than the other movements for most people and a lot of that comes down to percentages. Think about it this way. If you squat 200# this week and 3 weeks from now you're squatting 240#, that's 40# up, a 20% gain. Now if you're pressing 60# and 3 weeks later you press 72#, that's only a 12# increase, but still 20%. And to go from say 2 chins to 4, can be a long road, depending where you start. Be patient. (Apologies if my math is off, but you should still get the point.)

In your situation where you're having problems eating enough, school + work (a little stressed, no?) and I'm guessing not getting tons of sleep, development will be slow regardless of what you do. Personally, I'm barely training this month compared to the past because my recovery is not there due to working a lot of extra hours this month, school and the flu last week. You may be in the same boat.

I would make the argument that getting stronger, whole body stronger, first is the way to go. Get some overall mass and strength up, then get specific.


That's actually what I'm going to do as soon as I start my new job in a few weeks. I just graduated and money was/is tight so I knew I wasn't going to really make any significant gains. I've read a lot on SS and will start it as soon as the cash flow situation is in check. I've read interviews with Rippetoe where he says that he has seen people gain anywhere from 40-60 lbs OR MORE from it. If you think about what an extra 40-60lbs would look like on your frame (mine is only a bit bigger) your going to look way better off even if your goal is BBing. It will be "easier" to gain the weight where ever it goes now and bring up the lagging parts later. (I say "easier" in quotes because nothing about this is easy.)


That is completely retarded.

First of all, the amount of weight you gain is 100% determined by your food intake, NOT what program you are doing. So acting as though Starting Strength "put 50lbs on someone" is ridiculous.

And what makes you think that creating lagging bodyparts on purpose is anything other than moronic? Why do you think your calves, or shoulders, or biceps are going to magically be easier or faster to develop than your thighs or chest were?

So you're going to do what exactly, spend a year on a program that revolves around the back squat, trying to build up big butt and thighs, and let bench/military/dead/power cleans put muscle wherever your body happens to let it go? And then spend another year "catching up" all of the muscles that get left behind by doing a silly program?

Rather than just training EVERYTHING right from the get-go, getting bigger and stronger than you would otherwise, without wasting time or begging for an injury...

A lot of you guys seriously have your heads jammed right up your asses.


Show me someone who ate right and spent their time in the gym curling and doing tricep "kick backs" opposed to someone doing squats and deadlifts who also ate right. Who do you thinks going to gain more muscle?

You could argue that due to the increased muscle mass inevitably gained from training big muscle groups (leg/back) you increase testosterone hence making it easier to put on muscle in other areas. But more simply mastering movements like the squat and deadlift will make you stronger in every movement you do, period, allowing you to use more weight on shit like shrugs, allowing you to build bigger shoulders quicker.

I refer to my earlier points. Big compounds movements like squats and deadlifts for beginners are going to get you bigger. I imagine the OP is nowhere near big enough to worry about how big his calves are in comparison to his hamstrings, or if his rear delts pop enough, judging from his post and apparent lack of knowledge, i'm thinking he needs to gain alot of weight before he can think about looking good.


Why do you idiots always try to make this argument as though I'm recommending people NOT squat and deadlift and only do "curls and kick backs"? What the fuck is that?

The guy who will be bigger and stronger than both of those two is going to be one that trains EVERYTHING.

How about you "show me" either of those people that exist in real life?

Yeah you could argue that... if you had any evidence of it whatsoever, which you don't. How about I argue that the bigger you get, the more invisible fairies sprinkle dust on your biceps that makes them grow more easily once you can squat a subjective amount of weight?

Why do you think "mastering" the squat and deadlift makes you suddenly strong at everything? Why do you think shrugs are supposed to make your shoulders bigger?

Unless by "mastering" you meant... you can lift impressive poundages because you ate right and trained all your muscles to handle it... In which case NO FUCKING SHIT everything got stronger because you TRAINED IT. How about you show me someone who has "mastered" squats, who has only ever squatted and done nothing else? (hint: powerlifters who are any good at their sport at all train EVERYTHING)

Eating is going to get you bigger. Doing squats and deadlifts along with that is going to make your thighs, glutes, and back bigger.

And again with the ridiculous examples? The world of strength training is not separated into two camps where in one you do "squats and deadlifts and just gain weight", and in the other one you only do "kick backs and curls while worrying about whether your real delts pop".

There is this middle ground where you train everything evenly so that you can be big, strong, proportionate, and not get injured because of imbalances and weaknesses.


That is basically what I would be doing. When I started SS, I was told to stick to it exactly... so I have. I didn't really see how that would be a full body workout program when I started it, but I trusted the general opinion that SS works.

I'm not saying it doesn't work, I'm just thinking its not right for my goals.

I have some really odd muscle issues. For instance I'm a big time bowler, which means my right arm is WAY stronger than my left arm. And my arms are much stronger than my chest, which means my bench is a lot of arms, and not much chest. Watching me do bench press, military press, dips, and chin ups is comical. Its 80% my right arm doing the work and 20% my left arm doing the work. Its VERY noticeable when I do dumbbell exercises. Will that eventually even out if I just keep doing barbell training?

You guys keep pushing the diet, and trust me... I get it. I'm not blowing off what you guys are saying. I am putting A LOT more effort into my diet than I am into my weight training, because (for me anyway) it's a lot harder to manage. I am gaining weight, I'm up 10 lbs in the 8 weeks I've been on SS. It's not great, but if I can sustain that, I will be very happy in 6 months or so.

I guess my real question simplified a lot is: Can I do more stuff in the gym without sacrificing weight/muscle gain? Can I throw in some dumbbell flys, calf raises, etc... and not fuck up my entire program?

Thanks as always,


With a lot of focused effort, yes, but I would recommend more dumbbell work than barbell until you get it evened out some.

Just make sure your lifts are going up along with your body weight. There have been several who gained the pound-or-so a week but half-assed it in the gym and their physiques really showed it.

Absolutely. SS is only three days a week for about 45 minutes. Your recovery capacity should outgrow that very quickly. Flyes would be great for you since you're an arm-dominant bencher, and there are other muscles that are neglected by SS.


I completely agree with you here and for sure, people take a program like SS and go completely overboard with it treating it like it the be all and end all. You can't do it forever, or even that long. Supplemental movements are key for injury prevention and often for blasting through plateaus.

I don't think given the OP's situation where he's obviously got minimal time that sticking with a very simple, basic program with minimal movements is a bad thing for now. What I've seen people do, and have done it myself, is trying to do too much too soon. Now I'm not referring to the OP here, but if you have someone new to training who is having a hard enough time getting to the point where they can perform 3 basic movements (leave the PC out) safely, adding 4 or 5 more movements might not be the answer. Plus, without a decent assessment to identify possible imbalances, what do you add in?

Personally I will certainly admit to having my head partially in my own ass here because I've come in and given advice without clearly understanding the OP's goals. How can anyone recommend one thing over another without knowing where the person wants to go? All I did here, was guess and I'm not the only one and that's not the way to go.

OP, could you give us more information on your specific goals?


I want to look good naked.