T Nation

Starting Strength: Almost 8 Weeks In


I started the program on the 2cnd of January meaning its basically 8 weeks on friday since i started.

I posted here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/just_an_introduction

Basically my figures were around (w/o barbell weight):
80kg deadlift 8x3
50kg smith squats 8x3
50kg smith bench 8x3

Around 2 weeks into starting strength i bought a power rack and have been training at home since.
(including 10kg 7ft barbell weight, this is included on my totals, as i am trying to reach at least 'decent strength' from the 'Are you strong?' article)

Deadlift: 110kg 1x4.. 5 next session
Squats.. deep and painful: 85kg 3x5
Bench.. good rom and form: 63kg 3x5

Weight: from 157 to around 164.

I was wondering what sort of gains have others seen in the 12-week period and especially if you have noticed any specific areas of greater gain, because I would be lying if i said i thought this program was improving my body vastly, and despite it going against everything I've learned, i cant help thinking my arms just arent growing as quick as they could especially on this program (yes, i know its only 8 weeks, yes im going to probably get flamed for saying this). I realise i have put on weight, but if anything its starting to make me believe in more bodybuilder style training for my goals: looking good. (still using the proper exerices mind you, just with added ones for hypertrophy/volume training)

Either way i'm sticking it out till I'm at a decent level of strength, I just want to know the general opinion here on my progress and see if I'm being naive/stupid/idiotic with how fast i want to see a big difference and need someone to give me a beatdown.

& Don't have anything picture worthy yet, i'm leaving that until I've done some hypertrophy training for awhile after this... probably wise.


If your arms aren't growing, add some arm work. When I ran starting strength, I started with a bench of 155, my squats were 185, and deadlifts were 195, all for 5. After 8 weeks, I had gained around 10lbs, and my lifts were 200lb bench, 240lb squats, and 305 for deadlifts, again in the 5 rep range. I continued with SS for another month, and then moved on to a 5x5 routine while doing a see-food bulk. I topped out at 245lbs, with a bench 1rm of 250, a squat 3rm of 330, and a deadlift 3rm of 340.

I added 4 inches to my arms and about that much to my waist. It works well for me, but I'm much more interested in lifting and looking like a strongman/powerlifter then a bodybuilder. Also, my arms grew without any real direct work, but I know a lot of people have to work them directly. After 8 weeks, you should have an idea of how well the program is working for you. If you aren't heading towards your goals, change things up.


That's a good increase you got going there.

Times the weight by 2.2 to convert to lb.

I started on SS with

Bench 1rm - 67.5kg
Squat 3rm - 115kg
Deadlift 3rm - 140kg
Press 2rm - 47.5kg

Finished after 8 weeks, due to deciding to row

Bench 3x5 - 72.5kg
Squat 3x5 - 135kg
Deadlift 1x5 145kg
Press 3x5 - 50kg

I was doing

M - Weights - 3000kcals
T - Circuits 60mins - 2750kcals
W - Weights - 3000kcals
Th - Run - 2500kcals
F - Weights 3000kcals
Sat - Off - 2500kcals
Sun - Row 60mins - 2750kcals

I am about 6"1 at 80kgish

Was always eating 1+g/lb protein, recorded using FitDay. I did the specified weight training to the letter, using a spreadsheet from the wiki.

That's about it really.


Well, you've made good weight and strength gains. Rippetoe intended for people to stick with the program until they're no longer seeing strength gains (which translate into muscle gains). From there, you move to an intermediate program like Bill Starr's 5x5 or the Texas Method.

If you want your arms to grow faster, designate one of your workouts an 'A' workout and the other a 'B' workout. Throw in some bicep work on the 'A' workout and tricep work on the 'B' workout. The rest of your bases should pretty much be covered with the original program.


@ ninjaboy:
Thanks a lot for your results, that's some good progress and i suppose relatively i'm not doing massively worse so far, i just expected to be shot down on the idea of arm work as rippletoe reccomends (in the book) doing only the prescribed exercises in starting strength and nothing else to gain strength fastest.

@ echelon101:
Thanks alot, very interesting that the cardio work didn't slow your performance/increasing the weights. I know everyone claims to be a hardgainer, but im definitely an ectomorph as I have small wrists/hands etc., so i'm avoiding cardio as much as possible. Diet wise i always get 200g+ protein for a 163 bodyweight, and plenty of carbs to bump the calories up some, good fats/vegatables/fruits probably arent getting enough of a say though, as well as a lack of fish oil, anybody else exeperienced a big difference when taking their diet to the next stage?

Thanks, I'll definitely stick it out for awhile longer, i did think this program lacks enough volume for serious arm or calf building for example, and I have other clear weaknesses like my upper chest, but I was put off any added arm work as it's against what rippletoe reccomends in the program.. in the real world though, if i add 1-2 biceps exercises in a. and 1-2 triceps exercises in b. (3x8?) my recovery should still be suffecient to not have a negative effect on my bench figures for example next session? I know this is all relative to things but generally would you expect to still be able to increase the weights at a similar level?




My cardio was pretty intense

Tuesday circuits were burning me around 800kcals a hit (HR monitor), someone counted 200 press ups in a session.

Thursday was a 30min UT1 (about 75%) run

Sunday was 60min row although I had to cycle 60mins there and back.

My deadlift/press/bench had all stalled. My squat stalled at 120kg, due to poor form etc, when everything was all going up so I dropped to 110kg for a week then it carried on going up to 135kg after.

During the two or so months I went through 10lbs of whey and 200 fish oil caps (3-9 a day).

In hindsight I can really feel the strength difference. This time last year I was doing my 5000m 15 seconds slower.

At your level I would not take into consideration if you are a hardgainer/ecto/meso/endo just eat a lot.


Just throw in the tricep work after the bench and bicep work after the rows. 1 or 2 exercises in the bodybuilding hypertrophy rep range should do it (12-15 reps). You could also throw in some upper chest work in the same rep range (again, after the bench). Make sure you do the bodybuilding stuff after all of your strength work.

Doing direct arm work will have negligible effect on your recovery: arms are a small muscle. When you plateau on one set of arm exercises, change them out for others.

Stick to SS as long as you're making strength gains.


Ecto's generally respond better to low volume. For now I would add probably just 1 exercise for 2 sets doing 6-8 reps. PRCal mentions working in the 12-15 rep range, which is fine for a more advanced trainee but I think your way to weak to bother with hyperthropy work at this point.

So at the end of a workout A, do something like 2 sets of standing barbell curls for 6-8 reps. And with workout B do another exercise for whatever body part you want to work with the same rep range.

Remember that more is not always better.

I recently changed my routine to one very similiar to SS, 2 compound exercises using 5x5 and 2 assistance exercises which is way lower volume then I had been working with for a long time. Without any direct arm work, my arms have grown 0.5 inch basically overnight and I have been stuck at 17inches for about 4 months, even after gaining ~20lbs and having a day dedicated to arms alone.

Also, don't worry so much about upper chest, lower chest, outer chest. Along with most people, I found that it all ends up delveloping fairly evenly when you start gaining some overall mass.

Remember Rippetoe has been training people for 30 years. If he says not to do something, there is generally a reason why.


@echelon101: Good to see an example of breaking through a stall, I am thereabouts progressing my lifts every session so for now i should be okay in that sense, we'll see.

I go through a lot of whey but the fish oil caps remain untouched, i have a problem with swallowing tablets etc.. not ideal for bodybuilding! haha.. ill learn eventually..

@PRCalDude: I'm definitely going to experiment with adding arm training, then i can see for myself if overall the effects are positive or negative.

@hardgnr: what would you suggest is a strength level when hypertrophy is "worth bothering"?

Obviously its a matter of opinion but reading the 'are you strong' article and also 'best exercises for size and strength' it seemed as if 110 dead, 110 squat, 92 bench was the standard it became "worth it".. but what your suggesting is in the real world maybe i'm best off sticking to starting strength at least till my gains on the major lifts stop progressing for the most part?

I won't go into the opinions and debates bodybuilding training vs. strength training, but the general opinion seems to be even if i'm not particurly happy with my body so far, I have gained weight, I have gained strength, and until that stops i should stay put?

If anyone disagrees please speak up. Also, maybe adding the arm exercises will give me more noticable progression visually, I guess i'll find out. Thanks so far guys


Check out this site:

If your above novice you can probably add in some hyperthropy work.

Just note that its hard to notice significant body comp changes if you weren't fat to begin with and aren't putting on much weight. I saw your goal is only 170lbs. You won't really have big muscles at that size.

And yes, if your gaining weight and gaining strength, your gaining muscle and so you should keep going with it as long as you can. Don't expect too much from just 8 weeks.



That is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for thanks.

4kg off novice press.
3kg off novice bench press.
around 3kg off novice squat.
around 5kg off novice dead
16kg off novice power clean.. this movement seems incredibly hard to learn alone, i figure it would be silly to increase the weight whilst my forms still terrible.

The following is based on my 5x3 working weight, bar the 1x5 deadlifts, so my 1RM is actually slightly above novice for everything bar power clean which would still be a good 10kg off for 1rm.

My goal was 170 pounds temporarily, but that was pessimistic for sure.. to put it simply its now as much as possible really, I certainly don't have to worry about "getting fat" cos thats just not going to happen.. something in the range of 187-193 would be very very nice (stuff of dreams), perhaps something like 184 is more realistic for the end of the year, thats a nice round 20 pounds in 10 months.

Side note: More of an experiment then anything, tried 2x8 barbell curls with light bar and 24kg making around 31kg.. second set did around 5 reps, had no idea what sort of weight i could curl since i've not done them for ages really.

Also: My t-page is actually right now, sort of forgot about it.


Well your not as far off as I thought.

Feel free to add whatever you want. To be totally honest you will never know until you try. What's the worst that can happen?

Test and Measure.


Ah yeah thanks. It's what i'm going to do from now.. starting strength while it works with some additional arm work as the experiment. I want to be on a bodybuilding program really, but I can handle this whilst i'm getting bigger and stronger, for sure.