Starting Strength & Running for a Newbie?

I’m a 25yr old, 6’2" @240lbs, and I’ve just started Starting Strength. I work in IT, and my level of strength, fitness and body fat screams “works with computers”. To top this off I was a heavy smoker (all but quit now) and consumed a heroic amount of recreational drugs and alcohol during the last 6 years.

After 3 weeks, I have made good progress and the novice program fits nicely with me. The weight lifting part is coming along very smoothly (although I’m only squating 65kg and deadlifting 80kg, which I realize is terrible at best). But I need to add cardio to this as I simply do not have a job or hobbies which are in any way physically demanding. I’ve started to walk about 2 miles instead of getting a bus home after work, which is good. But I want to get back to running again. I know this will impact my strength gains, its a price I’m whiling to pay atm.

My question is, would running 2000m on a treadmill 3x’s a week after my work out be enough? (It takes me around 18mins) Or would I be better off doing it 2x’s a week on my rest days? Or would it be better still to do 40-60mins 1 day a week? My preferred cardio is running on treadmills. I’ve ready a few posts here that suggest this is worthless, but given my physical state would 20mins of running after my weights session not be beneficial, at least initially? I do plan on moving on to kettlebells in 3-4 months but currently they would kill me.



If I were you I’d do the 2x a week on rest days. My reasoning is so that you are not completely unactive during those days. And as your weightloss stalls add running after your workouts. But remember to have your diet in check as well.

I’d recommend doing a HIIT session immediately after one of your strength sessions once a week. You’ll probably see better fat loss gains AND endurance gains with this. At that point, incorporating steady-state cardio is pretty optional.

Whoever thinks that 40-60 minutes of running per week is worthless for a person who has a lot of bodyfat and is completely out of shape??? Does anyone really think that?

That’s absolute nonsense. Reasonable amounts of cardio is a tried and true means of shedding fat. And if you are inactive and deconditioned, of course it is beneficial to get your cardiovascular system into shape.

For YOUR situation – 240, high bodyfat, desk job, out of shape – do 20-30 minutes of cardio every day. Well, 6 days a week. Whenever you can do it on days off lifting, and after lifting on lifting days.

I am pretty sure that SS does not call for a lot of cardio. On the contrary, SS does not go well with a cut at all. Making the gains you will be trying to make while on SS calls for an excess of calories and growth. Just because you think cardio is needed for a guy in this shape (which I agree with you on) does not mean it fits with the SS program.

Go read the SS book or at least the primers before answering on something like this. Sure, you can do some cardio, but do it on off days and do not go overboard. Whether SS is the program you need to be on right now might be a different question entirely.

Let’s get one thing straight, are you training, currently, to gain strength(read as muscle mass) or do you want to cut fat, or a combination of the two? You cannot train for limit strength and cardio without degrading the quality of both. My advice would be this.

Finish doing your Starting Strength routine, in order to get the lifting patterns down, then move into a Waterbury 10x3 style program. I have used his 10x3 For Fat Loss multiple times to lean out while maintaining strength, and it is a great 4 week program. Just some food for thought.

And btw, adding 30 mins of cardio a day/5 days a week or whatev ain’t gonna hurt your strength gains right now, because you ain’t that strong yet.

I should probally clarify my position somewhat. Back when I was 18 I was in a similar position health wise, never had any interest in sports, naturally chubby and lacking any athletic ability. So I spent the spring and summer before I went to university doing weights, running, tae kwon do and free-diving, and dropped from 17stone to just under 10stone in around 7 months (ironically, only to find that girls thought I was too thin). At my peak fitness I could run 3 miles in about 20mins. Initially I started doing some weight routine from a magazine but then discovered Pavel Tsatsouline’s 5x5 barbell stuff, dropped the running and after 18months I was doing 250KG dead lifts, 150kg squats and had started Olympic lifting routines. My weight never really went above 12stone during this period. But after about 24months, I’d stopped working out all together and was partying most of the time, relying on drugs and not eating much to keep my weight down. Once I’d finished university, stopped the coke and mdma habit dead, cleaned up and got a job, my weight slowly increased until recently, when I decided to re-visit the gym.

The reason I chose starting strength was while I like Pavel’s stuff and its worked before, its hard to glean a clear idea of exactly what constitutes a good routine for a newbie. I prefer heavy, low volume stuff over other styles lifting I’ve tried. When researching what I should be doing, I read multiple forum posts all recommending starting strength for novices. The logic that you should focus on a few core exercises to build up a basic level of strength before doing anything else seems very sound to me, and frankly I’m enjoying it. So far, I have no complaints about this, while my weight hasn’t actually dropped by more than a few kilos yet, my bodyfat does seem to be dropping already and my girlfriend has commented on an improvement. I view it as a 3-6 month warm up period before mixing it up a little, with an eye to kettle bells (again, the logic seems sound here, for a newbie).

I suppose that what I am ultimately aiming for could be described as a military physique. My question about cardio amounts to “will 20mins of light running after a starting strength session cause problems?”, and is there something that would be a better fit? As I have said, I know that with strength training running isn’t going to be of great help, but if its just a case of a trade off and not a route to injury then I can live with this. Given that until recently I was chair bound for pretty much my entire day, I feel that my heart also needs a work out.

Thanks to everyone for your input, it is very helpful.

You were doing 250kg deadlifts and now all you can do is 80? what were you in a hospital?

Your best bet is to mix up the cardio as much as possible. If your not and your only going to stick to one method… say treadmill running then 2 or 3 days a week is good do it whenever. Doing it is better than not doing it, if you can fit cardio in every day then mix up the modalities. Sitting on your ass then coming back and doing cardio every day while overweight screams overuse injury which will sideline you in the long run.

No, just immobile for 90% of the day, walking to the smoking area was my main form of exercise. Given that I’m finding it very easy to add weight atm I may not be pushing myself hard enough however.

yea in that case running after your workouts won’t hurt abit. if at all possible try cardio in the morning upon waking up, but that can be hard with people’s schedules. after a while, say a month of running 3 times a week, maybe throw in a kettlebell workout on top of the runs, while still lifting heavy weight with low volume. do that, clean up your diet and get your sleep and you should see marked improvements rather quickly.

then after you do that for a while, and really commit to changing your lifestyle, you can begin to test different training regimens. but for now keep it simple.