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My Take on Rippetoe's Beginner Program

rippetoe’s program consists of the bare essentials. all compound moves that works every single muscle group. it has a solid fundamental foundation to branch out from. such as the squats will indubitably lead into lunges, which will lead into bulgarian squats and other leg variations.
unknowingly, ive been ‘using’ rippetoe’s program for awhile and always advocated it to friends and clients. i agree with the simplicity of it; i myself use only these exercises

pull ups
squats
deads
bench
row
miltary

i only just started working on my arms (curls, extensions)

however, i do not condone the templates used in rippetoe.
before some of you start to cry and moan let me explain. ive been haunted by some because i believe that 3 x 12 would be much better for a beginner. why? because high repetitions for a beginner introduces the movement to the entire central nervous system.

it gives the lifters body more opportunities to make mistakes without high risk of injury.
my clients perform squats with light body bars for at least 3 weeks before they stand inside a power rack. during those three weeks their weaknesses are accessed and corrected. such as hip imbalances, neutral spine position, feet placement, hand placement, hip and shoulder elevation, etc. all of these components are paramount if they were to lift heavy loads properly. from there, i work their reps down to about 10 then 8 and then ultimately 5 - 6 reps per set…
this can take anywhere from 2 - 3 weeks.

another reason why starting with high reps is smart is muscle memory. repeating a movement many many times makes one more comfortable performing it in any condition. (diff parameters)
if one is comfortable performing a lift, he/she can focus more on moving the weight instead of running a check list in their mind while trying to move a weight. do you think pedro is really thinking about mechanics when hes throwing a fastball? or better yet barry zito? (cuz hes got a better fastball, im still a mets fan though) they dont. hence, they can adjust the speed and movement of the ball at will.

the high school athletes that i train can skip the 3 x 12’s because most of them have experience with certain movements.
but for a 40 year old mother of two who hasn’t had time to workout in 10 years, i start them from scratch. i just dont see the benefit of them trying to perform heavy loads so soon.

and ill end with this. i dont like telling people what to do.

i only offer suggestions and opinion.

The program it tells you to start light for the reasons you listed. You’re not supposed to start with heavy weight or anywhere close to your maximum weight. I don’t see how you would benefit using higher reps. Just lower the weight enough and do the 5 X 5 the way it was written. You’re also talking about 36 reps instead of 25 reps. That’s too many for this program imho.

It would be 15 reps, not 25 or even 36 as suggested.

Before you make any more posts giving your “training advice”, will you please present a list of your clientèle and also a picture of yourself with the following stats: height, weight, age, bench, squat, deadlift. Those lifts should be done with proper for (proper depth, no bounce, cheating, or hitching).

Postural issues and imbalances should be assessed and corrected before an individual embarks on a serious weight training program.

For your point about motor learning, Rippetoe has people on this program perform 5 sets of 3 3 times per week. What do you think is going to be more effective, moderate load lifted for 15 total reps 3x per week or very light load lifted for 36 total reps 3x per week? For most beginners, the weight that they can lift for 12 reps is going to be so light that they will not learn to perform the movement under load. Dave Tate has said that “anyone can lift with good form with 40% of their max.” Having someone do a squat with a weight that they can hardly feel is going to do them zero good when they get under a weight that is in the least bit challenging. Another thing to consider is the fact that many beginners can reach what the perceive to be muscular failure when, in fact, they are no where close. That weight that they are lifting for 12 reps may actually be a weight that they can lift for 20-25. This means that you will have them performing 3 sets of 12 with their 20rm. This is supposed to promote motor learning?

Now, are you going to respond to this like an adult or are you going to follow the trend from your other thread and tell me that my mom is ugly?

[quote]TheDudeAbides wrote:
It would be 15 reps, not 25 or even 36 as suggested.[/quote]

You’re right the program is for 3 x 5. I had 5 x 5 in my head when I posted that. So now he’s suggesting 36 reps as opposed to 15.

[quote]AmandaSC wrote:
I don’t see how you would benefit using higher reps. Just lower the weight enough and do the 5 X 5 the way it was written. You’re also talking about 36 reps instead of 25 reps. That’s too many for this program imho.[/quote]

perhaps i am the only one who doesnt believe 3 x 5 is sufficient enough for beginners. i would love an explanation on why 36 reps would be too much?

and as a side note…

tito ortiz, jens pulver, randy couture, ronnie coleman, dexter jackson, mike mahler, mentzer, mariusz pudzianowkski, chuck liddell, jelena abbou, stan mcquay, jay cutler… just some of the athletes that utilize high rep schemes. ronnie is notorious for his 3 - 4 x 12’s. mentzer went up to 20 reps in some of his exercises. tito, randy go up to 25 reps. chuck liddell goes up to 15 reps on high pulls and power cleans. besides the success i see with people at work, world class athletes utilize the same method and thrive off of it. whether it be for hypertrophy or strength. in addition, i find it good to use once in awhile to achieve higher volume in my workouts. i personally use 3 - 4 x 8’s, 5 x 5’s, 6 x 6’s, and 6 - 10 x 3’s.

swimmers with awesome backs. hikers with awesome wheels. climbers with nice upper body. boxers with their shoulders. cross fit. HIIT. gymnasts with awesome everything.

I don’t disagree with your approach for the 40-year old woman, but I don’t agree with all your reasoning.

The important reason to start the inexperienced, weak, older lifter on very low weight is to give their joints some time to ramp up.

To focus on motor learning, though, 3X12 isn’t necessarily best. First, the motor program the brain uses to lift a light weight isn’t the same as to lift a heavier weight. So all the practice in the world with light weight is still not learning how to lift a heavy weight. Different muscle fibers are recruited. Second, doing 12 reps generates significant fatigue. That’s not bad in all cases, but not necessarily good for motor learning. Third, there is a sequence effect in learning and memory, where the FIRST item is remembered best, followed by the last. With 3 sets, there are only 3 of those powerful first reps. And last reps might not be as well executed since there is fatigue. Therefore, doing more sets with fewer reps is preferable; you get a larger learning effect with more first reps.

Therefore, I would do, say, 6X6 or 7X5 or 8X4 instead (assume keeping number of reps about the same).

To further improve motor learning I would perform multiple sets 2X per day. Higher frequency = faster motor learning.

Finally, motor learning appears to be consolidated at night. Motor programs which are learned by one part of the brain get ‘transfered’ to another part during sleep. So doing a few sets every day should be even better than doing more sets 3X per week.

This is exactly what I’m doing to learn a new motor pattern for some lifts. I squatted with a faulty motor pattern for years and years. To learn a different recruitment pattern following an injury, I’m doing several sets of low reps, twice a day, every day.

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:

tito ortiz, jens pulver, randy couture, ronnie coleman, dexter jackson, mike mahler, mentzer, mariusz pudzianowkski, chuck liddell, jelena abbou, stan mcquay, jay cutler… just some of the athletes that utilize high rep schemes. ronnie is notorious for his 3 - 4 x 12’s. mentzer went up to 20 reps in some of his exercises. tito, randy go up to 25 reps. chuck liddell goes up to 15 reps on high pulls and power cleans.

[/quote]

All ELITE athletes. Just because an elite athlete utilizes higher reps doesnt mean that it is ideal for the rank beginners that you described in your initial post.

I agree with Andersons that Higher frequency (not higher volume) = faster motor learning.

[quote]andersons wrote:
I don’t disagree with your approach for the 40-year old woman, but I don’t agree with all your reasoning.

The important reason to start the inexperienced, weak, older lifter on very low weight is to give their joints some time to ramp up.

To focus on motor learning, though, 3X12 isn’t necessarily best. First, the motor program the brain uses to lift a light weight isn’t the same as to lift a heavier weight. So all the practice in the world with light weight is still not learning how to lift a heavy weight. Different muscle fibers are recruited. Second, doing 12 reps generates significant fatigue. That’s not bad in all cases, but not necessarily good for motor learning. Third, there is a sequence effect in learning and memory, where the FIRST item is remembered best, followed by the last. With 3 sets, there are only 3 of those powerful first reps. And last reps might not be as well executed since there is fatigue. Therefore, doing more sets with fewer reps is preferable; you get a larger learning effect with more first reps.

absolutely. i agree with the notion that there should be many sets included in a beginners workout. however, not everyone has the need to lift excess weight. please read this carefully before you respond.
the biggest influence in my training philosophy are my clients, which are mostly everyday people with jobs, bills, kids, and other hobbies. its extremely hard for them to carry around fish oil and mixed nuts with them everywhere they go, although i do always remind them to. with that said, they are not looking to break PR’s every month or be stronger than the lifter next to them. many of them do get into it. i haven’t had a client yet that disliked deadlifts. as a matter of fact, one old man i was training finished his sessions and got his own 300lbs olympic weight set… just so he can deadlift at home! lol i dunno, i find that funny.

now if we were talking about training a strength athlete, or even a high school football player, it’d be a completely different story. when people say BEGINNER, im assuming absolutely clueless about everything. its just a habit from work and not wanting a lawsuit over my head.

[/quote]

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
ZeusNathan wrote:

tito ortiz, jens pulver, randy couture, ronnie coleman, dexter jackson, mike mahler, mentzer, mariusz pudzianowkski, chuck liddell, jelena abbou, stan mcquay, jay cutler… just some of the athletes that utilize high rep schemes. ronnie is notorious for his 3 - 4 x 12’s. mentzer went up to 20 reps in some of his exercises. tito, randy go up to 25 reps. chuck liddell goes up to 15 reps on high pulls and power cleans.

All ELITE athletes. Just because an elite athlete utilizes higher reps doesnt mean that it is ideal for the rank beginners that you described in your initial post.

I agree with Andersons that Higher frequency (not higher volume) = faster motor learning.
[/quote]

the bodubuilders that i mentioned also use 5 x 5 6 x 6 etc. for example, ronnie always condones 12 reps for bench presses, but only goes up to about 5 reps on dead lifts. and you, stronghold, almost killed yourself because you thought 3 x 12 was so useless.

in other words, what worked and works for the elite athletes i mentioned are high reps… AND low reps.

i dont know about yourself, but before i was doing weighted pull ups with 90lbs, i was doing high reps of pull ups. 15 reps or so.
in the hungarian oak blast mentioned in a T-Nation article, the wrestler utilizes TUT and high reps for strength and size.
certain muscles in the body require high repetitions for growth, such as your hamstrings.

and also, elite athletes perform squats and power cleans… so does that mean a beginner shouldn’t use them?
not here to make you look stupid, im here to make you think.

Why don’t you buy Rippetoe’s books?

There’s a nice EMG readout on page 295 of Starting Strength that defends his position on utilizing sets of 5.

Oh it’s this topic again?

Just my thoughts.
When an elite athlete selects a 12 rep weight it would be far closer to a 12RM then a beginner. The beginner wants to make sure they can make it through the first 8 or so and will only really struggle on the last few. Now is the struggle vs fatigue? or vs muscle failure? My guess is fatigue. An elite lifter has the mental toughness to push through tougher sets.

[quote]Stronghold wrote:
Before you make any more posts giving your “training advice”, will you please present a list of your clientèle and also a picture of yourself with the following stats: height, weight, age, bench, squat, deadlift. Those lifts should be done with proper for (proper depth, no bounce, cheating, or hitching).
[/quote]

This is a fair request that you haven’t addressed. What makes you think you’re so smart, mister? I’m not saying you aren’t smart, but Rippetoe at least has some background in lifting, coached some successful athletes, owns a respected gym, and has written some of the most used and highly recommended books for weightlifting beginners. True, he’s not god, and he might be wrong about some stuff, but the general consensus of a great many people who are as smart or smarter than you is that he knows what he’s talking about.

Less is more.

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:

the bodubuilders that i mentioned also use 5 x 5 6 x 6 etc. for example, ronnie always condones 12 reps for bench presses, but only goes up to about 5 reps on dead lifts. and you, stronghold, almost killed yourself because you thought 3 x 12 was so useless.

in other words, what worked and works for the elite athletes i mentioned are high reps… AND low reps.

i dont know about yourself, but before i was doing weighted pull ups with 90lbs, i was doing high reps of pull ups. 15 reps or so.
in the hungarian oak blast mentioned in a T-Nation article, the wrestler utilizes TUT and high reps for strength and size.
certain muscles in the body require high repetitions for growth, such as your hamstrings.

and also, elite athletes perform squats and power cleans… so does that mean a beginner shouldn’t use them?
not here to make you look stupid, im here to make you think.

[/quote]

The problem is that youre trying to apply what ELITE athletes do to what beginners should do. You dont see the disconnect there? Im not saying that if elite athletes do it, then beginners shouldnt. You seem to lack basic comprehension skills. Beginners should perform squats and power cleans IF and only if they are able to perform them correctly. You arent making anyone here look stupid besides for yourself if you think you are demolishing anyone with your flawed logic here.

You are trying apply fringe examples to common situations. Just because 1 thing works for 1% doesnt mean it will work for the other 99. 3 sets of 12 is nowhere near the same sort of volume used in the leg blast program. Did they teach you anything about how the body reacts to different durations of work (ie, number of reps) in that 3 hour weekend personal training class? Where are you certified?

Actually, the hamstrings do best with heavy weights and low reps…Charles Poliquin has talked about this before…but Im sure youre going to say your opinion is more qualified than his too, right? The quads and low back are too areas that CT and Poliquin have stated respond best to high rep work.

By the way, I didnt “almost kill myself” because of anything. I said you were wrong and you came in blazing with childish insults. Grow the fuck up or shut the fuck up. One of the two Junior.

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:

swimmers with awesome backs. hikers with awesome wheels. climbers with nice upper body. boxers with their shoulders. cross fit. HIIT. gymnasts with awesome everything.

[/quote]

Hikers with awesome wheels? Most hikers Iv seen weigh 150 lbs and eat granola.

Cross fit utilizes low reps in their training.

How does any of this, however, apply to what BEGINNERS should do?

The answer is: it doesnt.

A great example:
One of my friends recently started lifting with us. whenever he squats and goes beyond about 7-8 reps his knees start to twist in and his ankles come off the ground. I think it’s better to stick with the way ripp made his program on this one.

ZeusNathan made some decent points.
I don’t know why Stronghold went off (link, anyone?).
Rippetoe has a great reputation, but he’s not God.

I recommend Rippetoes to beginners for three main reasons

  1. at 5 reps/set, the trainee is still focusing on the lift. at higher reps, focus wanders.
  2. You can make strides every week in poundage. I think this is important. I think progression is one of the main things people keep coming back to the gym for. People like it when they face challenges and are rewarded the next session/week by being able to squat more.
  3. Most everyone on this forum can agree with it, so it becomes the ‘catch-all’ beginner program that one member recommends and no one nay-says. I mean, if a newb asked for us to critique is program, and one guy was like ‘FULL BODY!’ and one guy was like 'UPPER LOWER SPLIT! and one guy was like ‘DO BOTH! WHILE JOGGING’… You can see how confused the beginner would be.

I like the way this is shaping up. Good topic.

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http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=2081495

[quote]Otep wrote:
ZeusNathan made some decent points.
I don’t know why Stronghold went off (link, anyone?).
Rippetoe has a great reputation, but he’s not God.

I recommend Rippetoes to beginners for three main reasons

  1. at 5 reps/set, the trainee is still focusing on the lift. at higher reps, focus wanders.
  2. You can make strides every week in poundage. I think this is important. I think progression is one of the main things people keep coming back to the gym for. People like it when they face challenges and are rewarded the next session/week by being able to squat more.
  3. Most everyone on this forum can agree with it, so it becomes the ‘catch-all’ beginner program that one member recommends and no one nay-says. I mean, if a newb asked for us to critique is program, and one guy was like ‘FULL BODY!’ and one guy was like 'UPPER LOWER SPLIT! and one guy was like ‘DO BOTH! WHILE JOGGING’… You can see how confused the beginner would be.

I like the way this is shaping up. Good topic.[/quote]

  1. everyone keeps saying that after 5 reps that the trainee will lose focus or their form will deteriorate. if their focus is that short, they shouldn’t even lift weights… as a matter of fact, they shouldn’t even drive to the gym.
  2. hellz yea. every single one of my clients, old young fat skinny does deads… heavy. and every single one loves it.
  3. yea, if it were only that simple. there would be no need for this forum. hell we wouldnt need to talk.