T Nation

Upper Lower or Starting Strength?


Kk, not gonna waste your time. 16 years old, 5'10, 135 pounds, skinny and weak, need to get bigger and stronger. I've lurked this site for a while and have read many articles, so I have a general idea of some training concepts, methods etc. After researching, it's come down to either an upper/lower split or starting strength (both geared towards mass and size). I've heard great things about starting strength as well as upper/lower splits.

I was just worried about how starting strength looks a little unbalanced (and dw, im not just talking about "teh gunz and abzzz"), and upper/lower looks like it's a little more balanced, but i've still heard great things about both. (p.s, i've trained for a couple months with the typical 4 day bodypart split, so im not a COMPLETE beginner and now the techniques for the majority of exercises, and i gained about 10 pounds and some strength-yes i was 125 before, but never really ate enough to gain quality muscle). Which training method do you guys think will be more beneficial to me?


Btw, i've got my eating planned out, can't forget about that. I will be aiming for about 3000-3500 cals per day, divided into 1g protein/bodyweight, fat and lots of carbs.


You didn't really tell us exactly what your goals were.

See, if you had said "my top priority is to have a big bench, squat, and deadlift, and I don't care if I look like a spider with a big butt" then I'd say go ahead and do Starting Strength (but be prepared to deal with a lagging bench press).

Or if you had said "my top priority is to get to 200lbs of solid bodyweight with 17 inch arms, with my powerlifts being a means to that end" then I'd say run screaming from Starting Strength and just train with a traditional program.

Sometimes these threads start and the OP gets lots of great advice, and then we all find out they only want to weigh 155lbs with abs and don't care about anything else.

If you have specific, numerical goals that you are looking to achieve, then it becomes pretty easy to decide which plan to use in order to get there.


Ok, sorry about that. I look very skinny because of my taller nature (just measured, im actually 5'11 and a half), but I want to get to around 180-190 pounds in recent years, ultimately around 200ish pounds. Im basically looking to just get big and muscular, but i still do wish to have some strength to back it up, as I am quite weak now. (bench- 100 for 3x8 , squat 110x5, OHP only 75x5 and deadlift 135x5)

I honestly have "teh abz" right now, play lots of sports and did tons of core exercises before (and a lower body fat doesn't help :P), but i could honestly care less, i just want to get huge like my cousins (they started off like me, they're now currently 210-220 pounds and strong as hell).


To clue you in on something that a lot of beginners don't quite get: there is no such thing as a big muscular dude that ISN'T very strong.

Your chest will look a certain way when you can bench press 225 for reps, and it will be bigger when you can do 275, and 315, and so on and so forth. No one gets to having a 50 inch chest yet can still only rep 225lbs. It just doesn't work that way.

This does not mean, however, that you must do a "strength" program like SS, or train like a powerlifter. It just means that the driving force of any bodybuilding program is still going to be progressive overload (not just attempting to move more weight from point A to point B, but being sure to make the actual target muscle group stronger so that it is stimulated to grow).

My advice? Do a simple 4-way split or something like that, basic freeweight stuff and just stick with it. Get used to the idea of eating a pound of meat every day, and meet a protein quota EVERY day without fail if you want to make any real progress (I would say 1.25 grams per pound of bodyweight minimum).

Most of the guys who fail at this do so because (a) their diets suck. Even the ones that understand good eating habits, for whatever reason, don't commit to eating enough EVERY DAY for months on end (b) their gym intensity sucks. They bounce around from program to program, they only leave the gym sweating and satisfied once in a while instead of every time.

Don't be that guy. I have never seen anyone fail because of bad genetics, or because they didn't have a perfect routine, or because their diet wasn't super clean. Ever.

I would also say avoid listening to internet hype and trying to grasp what training "gurus" are saying, since 99% of that shit is as lame as kettlebells and bosu balls and will be out of fashion just as quickly. If you feel lost, just refer to the sticky in the bodybuilding forum "The Best of T-Nation", which was created to showcase how the real guys of this website actually got big and strong (hint: they all did pretty similar stuff).


Ok, thank you very much. And that does make a lot of sense, but a lot of these "strength programs" claim that you won't be that strong if you get big by training regularly, which is stupid if you think about it. And you're right, there are soooo many articles i have read (i really like to basically read up on EVERYTHING), which have complete opposing ideas and are both backed up by "experienced" trainers, so it is a little confusing. I know for sure that my gym intesity is good, for ex. if i'm the one working out with my friends, i'll always be the one pushing them and myself to finish the last sets, and I do always stick to the program I am on, but i almost know for sure that my diet is lacking. I really need to find a way to get in my calories, do you think protein shakes, lots of milk/water, bannanas and peanut butter sandwiches could be good fillers in between my 3 main meals? Thanks a lot for the advice, it's much appreciated


The diet advice I give to anyone who asks is always the same (because it works and is affordable):

Eat 1lb of meat, half a dozen eggs, and two protein shakes every day. It doesn't matter how you make them or if it's in one sitting or 10 sittings or if you want to eat goose eggs, as long as you have met that quota by the end of each day you'll be sitting around 225-275 grams of protein.

The rest of your diet will be composed of whatever cheap tasty carb sources you want (experiment and find a few you can stick with day in and day out. Peanut butter would be perfectly fine if you want to down a spoonful after each meal). Obviously the less sugar you eat, the cleaner your gains will be, but your top priority here should simply be to meet the quota above, and then consume enough calories on top of it to gain weight at around 3-5lbs a month. For a good month or two I ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese, every day. Nothing wrong with that.

I follow my own advice obviously, and just for reference I spend around $200-250 a month on food while meeting this quota every day (as a 200lb working student with a baby on the way that isn't too shabby).


Ok, now that i know what i need, i think it'll be a little easier to plan what i need to eat for the day. So for example, how do you think this will be for an average day? (btw im going for a gallon of water per day)

Breakfast (7:20)
3 whole eggs, fried
2-3 slices of bread
Banana, milk
Peanut butter

Mid-Morning (9:30) (in between 1st and 2nd period of class)
Protein shake
peanut butter

Lunch (11:40)
8oz steak
Peanut butter

Mid afternoon(1:30)

After School:(4:10)
Steak sandwich (bread and steak, along with cheese)
small bowl of mac and cheese

Dinner: Some chicken/meat dish (carbs and protein)



That could work fine, although personally I would never make my daily diet that precise. Typically I will always have - in the fridge cooked and ready - a 10oz steak, 6-8oz of some form of chicken (bbq, salsa, grilled), and I make sure to never run out of eggs or milk. The carbs I eat when bulking are really whatever I feel like having (just trying to eat a few hundred grams of whatever carbs as early in each day as I can).

I'm assuming you live at home and probably don't get much of a choice in what's served for dinner, but that is fine. If you can get yourself at or over 200 grams of protein for the day before dinner time, then whatever is served will just be adding to your surplus.