T Nation

Should I Do Starting Strength?

5/3/1, other 5x5 programs… they all require minimal equipment (a barbell, squat stands and a bench), and focus on the core lifts.

Honestly, very few of the recommended routines around here require much (if any) in the way of machines. And for the ones that do, there’s always alternative exercises.

I’d pick 5/3/1 over starting strength.

Why the lack of support for SS? Five years ago when I was on here everyone was telling to do it, but I didn’t because I had no access to squat rack. What’s so special about 5/3/1? Keep in mind, I’m a clueless lifter so the simplicity of SS is appealing.

[quote]Digity wrote:
Secondly, my first venture into weightlifting was a joke. I would do squats in the smith machine, because I had no access to a squat rack at that time. I also didn’t know shit all about form. So, I was definitely working out suboptimally and probably eating like someone who was working out correctly. You add those two together and you get a guy with moderate strength gains along with a bunch of fat.

This time around I want to do shit right. So, maybe eating and getting fat isn’t such an issue for me as long as I’m seeing good numbers in my lifts. Last time I wasn’t. I think that’s the bigger issue I have. I think getting too attached to my physique will just hinder me so I’m thinking I need to loosen that attitude a bit and be okay with some fat gains.
[/quote]

I understand what you are saying, and you are half correct. You are correct about the part of you not training correctly. That part is clear.

But,

at the same time you are trying to say that everything you don’t know about nutrition is going to be cured by better form. That’s obviously a load of bullshit.

I wouldn’t want you losing gains because you’re too proud to realize that there are things you might be wrong about or might not even know.

Here is a video series you can watch to at least get started. You don’t have to count calories to be skinny, you just have to know enough not to be fat.

[quote]Digity wrote:
Well, I didn’t appreciate his tone calling me a super-procrastinator (i.e. lazy). Why is that okay for him to say?[/quote]

Why isn’t it?

You said you gave up because things didn’t go well. That is being lazy.

The first three months that I ran SS, I gained 13-15lb and didn’t get much stronger. It pissed me off. I realized that the whole “eat a shit-ton” doesn’t mean diddly squat when you’re not moving a whole lot of weight to begin with. So I took a different approach. Things improved.

When you hit problems you either work around them or find a way to blast through. Anything else is being lazy and unmotivated.

[quote]
Maybe if he wasn’t being an ass I wouldn’t either.[/quote]

He wasn’t being an ass.

[quote]
I apologize for being an ass…I can be a bit sensitive at times. I’ll try to do better next time. This is why I’ve tried to avoid forums for years now…they bring out the worst in me.[/quote]

Then stop being sensitive. That is an issue with you, not others.

And taking avatars to be representative of the individual is silly.

[quote]Digity wrote:
Why the lack of support for SS?[/quote]
It’s not a lack of support, it’s just people giving different suggestions. Starting Strength is a solid program, but it’s ideally for rank beginners with no prior lifting experience. Someone who’s trained, even half-assedly a while ago, is more “at risk” of early strength plateaus. Also, in your case, you’d be going from poor squatting to squatting three times a week.

5/3/1 checks every box you listed as being a reason for wanting to do Starting Strength. A focus on the basic exercises, simple progression, strength focus, etc. 5/3/1 is also more adaptable to added cardio and/or added volume, making it “easier” to shift focus to fat loss or muscle building.

Regardless, there’s no one right answer or best program. Do whatever you’re going to do, but go balls out and don’t make excuses.

Then do Starting Strength. Fine. Just actually do it. As written, not tweaked/adjusted/adapted. Stay on point with your nutrition to avoid getting fat again.

But didn’t you do Starting Strength a few years ago or not?

[quote]Digity wrote:
Why the lack of support for SS? Five years ago when I was on here everyone was telling to do it, but I didn’t because I had no access to squat rack. What’s so special about 5/3/1? Keep in mind, I’m a clueless lifter so the simplicity of SS is appealing.[/quote]

Because you have the goal of preserving your physique, and starting strength is “imbalanced” for the sake of an aesthetic physique. Most notably, arm training is ignored.

Secondly, SS is finite. Eventually you hit a point where you can no longer progress using the methodology and need to switch to something else. The core of 5/3/1 can basically be run forever – the core that focuses on the squat, bench, deadlift, and OHP – and yet there’s room in the program for variety with everything else you do.

[quote]Digity wrote:
Why the lack of support for SS? Five years ago when I was on here everyone was telling to do it, but I didn’t because I had no access to squat rack. What’s so special about 5/3/1? Keep in mind, I’m a clueless lifter so the simplicity of SS is appealing.[/quote]

5/3/1 is a better program because it is more flexible, weight increase is slower and as such much more sustainable.

That being said, I personally think 5/3/1 is too slow for newbies. I’ve done both, and I’m of the conclusion that a modified SS (basically 10lb a week for squat/deadlift, 5lb a week for bench/ohp) up until you hit a big-fat wall that you can’t break for weeks is better. You get better gains and you’re lifting more (which means more practice).

I mean, I’ve hit numerous walls with my squats. I just kept changing stances and bar positioning to see what works. I used to squat low-bar, wide stance, like Rippetoe teaches. My back started to kill me when I got to 235lb. So I switched over to high-bar, really narrow stance. Got to 215lb before my posterior chain basically said fuck you.

Now I squat with sorta high-bar, slightly wider than shoulder stance. Currently worked up to 215lb and my back is fine. My posterior chain is also a lot stronger.

(Mind you, this was over a period of months where I occasionally had to stop lifting due to various bullshit that made me completely lose and restart my squat)

If I was on 5/3/1, then I wouldn’t have had enough practice to do all that. It would have taken years to do all the tweaking I did in just the last month and a half.

Just do SS and get your nutrition in order. You want to do it and it will only take like 6 months to run through… it’s not like it’s going to hurt. But like above, run it exactly. Buy the book and read it.

531 is the popular program (not saying it’s bad) nowadays, so people are going to support it… plus Wendler is on T Nation now, so we can all have a big circle J.

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
Just do SS and get your nutrition in order. You want to do it and it will only take like 6 months to run through… it’s not like it’s going to hurt. But like above, run it exactly. Buy the book and read it.

531 is the popular program (not saying it’s bad) nowadays, so people are going to support it… plus Wendler is on T Nation now, so we can all have a big circle J.[/quote]

I support 5/3/1 for his case because he’s concerned with his physique and has limited equipment, and the assistance work in 5/3/1 will help in those regards. I personally think SS is a poor choice for most beginners, especially someone without bumper plates.

Yeah, I’m not anti-531 at all (never tried it), but he seems to already have his mind made up.

I figure 6 months is not a big deal. He’ll probably be disappointed physique-wise at the end, but he’ll at least have some strength and form to then move on… even if he stalls out early. It’s not like SS is a ticket to Baskin Robbins or anything (do these even exist any more?).

I bet he comes back now more interested in 531 now that he was given “permission” to do SS.

I think until you build a reasonable amount of strength you can’t go wrong with a variation of a 5x5 program where you start light and add to the bar each session. Plus as the other’s have said monitor what food you eat and then you won’t put weight on, in fact if you look at the main author of the strong lifts 5x5 he’s not big at all so it must be possible.

[quote]magick wrote:

[quote]Digity wrote:
Well, I didn’t appreciate his tone calling me a super-procrastinator (i.e. lazy). Why is that okay for him to say?[/quote]

Why isn’t it?

You said you gave up because things didn’t go well. That is being lazy.

The first three months that I ran SS, I gained 13-15lb and didn’t get much stronger. It pissed me off. I realized that the whole “eat a shit-ton” doesn’t mean diddly squat when you’re not moving a whole lot of weight to begin with. So I took a different approach. Things improved.

When you hit problems you either work around them or find a way to blast through. Anything else is being lazy and unmotivated.

[quote]
Maybe if he wasn’t being an ass I wouldn’t either.[/quote]

He wasn’t being an ass.

[quote]
I apologize for being an ass…I can be a bit sensitive at times. I’ll try to do better next time. This is why I’ve tried to avoid forums for years now…they bring out the worst in me.[/quote]

Then stop being sensitive. That is an issue with you, not others.

And taking avatars to be representative of the individual is silly.[/quote]
Yeah, I gave up. I have a history of giving up when the going gets tough or when things don’t go my way. I’m not like that when it comes to my career. In that area, I’m pretty persistent and strive to do my best, but in other areas of life I don’t have the same drive. Last year I started to change. I started taking up things that I found challenging, but I stuck with them even through the rough parts. What I learned is that when I stuck to stuff I eventually could get over the hurdles and progress forward. I gained confidence from that so now I’m trying to bring this new attitude to my lifting. My old attitude and outlook on lifting was bad and I think I was lifting before for all the wrong reasons.

Okay, I guess I’m just being overly sensitive, because I know I’ve failed a lot in this area of my life. I guess Rampant touched a nerve.

Who is that in his avatar then?

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
But didn’t you do Starting Strength a few years ago or not?


[/quote]
No, I never followed through on that. I vaguely remember that, but I do recall not really having a deep motivation. After my 6 month attempt I made two or three half-assed attempts to get back into lifting.

This time is a bit different. I hate going to the gym and dealing with people so I went and spent $500 on my own equipment. I have everything in my basement so no excuses about not wanting to go to the gym, etc. Everything is easily accessible.

Also, lately I’ve been making a lot of other healthy lifestyle changes and sticking to them for over a year. For instance, I quit alcohol, gave up television and meditate daily. I’ve been doing all these for about a year now. Previously, I would never stick to these things so I’ve learned to become more and more disciplined and the thing I discovered is that there’s a certain joy in discipline that’s even better than being lazy. I think that understanding is making me want to push myself into weightlifting.

Look, if I quit again please ban me from this forum and ridicule the shit out of me, but this time I want to do this seriously and do it right.

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
Yeah, I’m not anti-531 at all (never tried it), but he seems to already have his mind made up.

I figure 6 months is not a big deal. He’ll probably be disappointed physique-wise at the end, but he’ll at least have some strength and form to then move on… even if he stalls out early. It’s not like SS is a ticket to Baskin Robbins or anything (do these even exist any more?).

I bet he comes back now more interested in 531 now that he was given “permission” to do SS.[/quote]
Last time I was on here actively Westside was the rave. That’s the program I went with and got the lackluster results. However, I think that had to do more with me than the program. Still, that experience makes me hesitant to hop onto the latest rave here.

Part of me just wants to know/say I did SS…although, I need to research 5/3/1 more to make an informed decision.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
Just do SS and get your nutrition in order. You want to do it and it will only take like 6 months to run through… it’s not like it’s going to hurt. But like above, run it exactly. Buy the book and read it.

531 is the popular program (not saying it’s bad) nowadays, so people are going to support it… plus Wendler is on T Nation now, so we can all have a big circle J.[/quote]

I support 5/3/1 for his case because he’s concerned with his physique and has limited equipment, and the assistance work in 5/3/1 will help in those regards. I personally think SS is a poor choice for most beginners, especially someone without bumper plates.[/quote]

Why bumper plates? Any other reason than being too low for very light deadlifts?

Bumper plates allow you to drop the weight correct? Is that why, because you want to drop it when doing the deadlift? Can I use a mat instead? I currently have rubber cast iron plates.

BTW what does “5/3/1” stand for? I found an article, but I’m confused. Thanks for all the help. I feel like I’ve gotten off on the wrong foot here, but hope it’s water under the bridge.

I don’t believe a deadlift should be dropped. The bumper plates would be for the power cleans. A beginner generally does not have the strength to clean 135lbs from the start of their training, and if you use iron plates smaller in diameter than 45lbs, you will be training a different motor pattern compared to when you eventually do move up to 45lb plates (basically, a deficit power clean from the floor). Bumper plates allow you to bypass this by being able to train with the correct motor patter due to the uniform diameter of the plates. They also allow you to train a power clean without the eccentric, which is ideally how it should be trained (but Rippetoe does say this is not necessary).

[quote]Digity wrote:
BTW what does “5/3/1” stand for? I found an article, but I’m confused. Thanks for all the help. I feel like I’ve gotten off on the wrong foot here, but hope it’s water under the bridge.[/quote]