T Nation

Zep's Last Stand


I am going to use the next 8 weeks to do Starting Strength to gain weight/strength and build a better foundation. (For what? I dont know, but its nothing close to where I am now. I guess Ill know when I get there.)

A Workout:
1. Squat 3x5
2. Press 3x5
3. Deadlift 1x5
4. Chin ups 3xfailure

B Workout:
1. Squat 3x5
2. Bench Press 3x5
3. Power Clean 5x3

~The Diet~
I will aim for 4500 cal a day to start (Subject to adjustment). 3000 from food. 1500 from milk/protein shake mixtures.

Bulk of "Food" = Chicken, fish, eggs, lean red meat, turkey, cottage cheese, green vegetables, beans, fruit, minimal potatoes/corn/oatmeal, olive oil. As clean as possible.

I will aim for 1/2 a gallon of milk a day spread out among 3 servings of protein powder in between meals.

Very simple
Gain as much lean body mass/strength as I can in 8 weeks.

EDIT (6-17-11)
Workout has been slightly modified for isolation work and goals are now extended to until progress stops and the program has run its course entirely.


Hopefully, it will look something like this.


Day 1...

A Workout
1. Squat 3x5 @ 185
2. Bench 3x5 @ 165
3. Deads 3x5 @ 185
4. chins 5,4,2 @ bodyweight of 175 (weighed as I left gym on medical scale)

Time in gym: 50 min to an hour

Squats were disappointing as its not the weight I want to start with, and I feel like I broke form on a couple reps even lost balance on one. I may decide to stay at 185 and try to clean up form before I add weight. This is the reason I decided to do 3x5 on deadlifts instead of the 1x5 that was recommended. I figured it would help me get stronger. Pissed at pullups for obvious reasons. I just felt like I was totally out of breath after I would do 2 or 3. Squats and deads took a lot out of me. Bench went up with a bit of a struggle, but nothing bad. I didnt need a spot, nor did I feel like I needed one. I would have thought that I would have been a little bit stronger on my squat as I can leg press a lot compared to my squat, but it might boil down to inflexibility or lack of core strength. My wrists hurt a bit, but I am fairly sure that it was caused by my lack of shoulder flexibility which lead to my hands being in an awkward position during the squats. Ill work on form more next workout.

Time to sit back, relax, and watch a little monday night raw and kill some milk/chicken.




Those are some good starting numbers. How much weight training have you done before this? Also, I have about 10 weeks of experience with SS and a ton of research, and I have a couple tweaks/advice if you would be interested?


I have been lifting off and on since 8th grade. I never kept at it for long enough to break a 225 max on my bench which occured in 11th grade before football season. I was always the smallest kid on the line so I had to be creative with how I would play. Leg training was non existent if it wasnt on a leg press or lunges with dumbells. I then picked up cycling for a couple years because I quit football for a bunch of reasons. (I played from 1st to 11th grade and worked as hard as I possibly could, but politics are more powerful than hard work or skill at my old high school so I figured, hey why beat your head against a wall.) No weight lifting occured between my junior year in high school and the start of the second semester of my sophomore year of college. Even my training since I started again has been meathead workouts because, well I was lifting with meatheads. Also it hasnt been as consistent as I wanted it to be due to school. It is now summertime, and I am ready to go all out to reach my goals.

All advice is welcome, especially from people who are familiar with the program, and/or are larger/stronger than I am. I like Dave Tate quotes, and he said that "If you want to be where somebody is, then do what they did."



Care to elaborate on what this means? Any time I hear "meathead", I think of Planet Fitness. I personally do not want to look like I lift and belong at Planet Fitness.


If your goal is to gain as much body mass as possible, then you cannot expect to be able to eat a "clean" diet. Realistically, you will intake some "garbage" (processed foods). I don't disagree with your intent, but I also understand that it is not that easy. Much luck bud


Really good starting numbers. I did maybe 20 lbs more on each lift. I wouldn't worry too much about the chins. You got eleven reps, go for twelve total next time.

Thoughts on adding dips?


I'll keep my comments strictly to the SS part of what you're doing as that's where my experience is. First question: do you own Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and/or Practical Programming? Doesn't matter to me if you do, but if not, both contain much more info that you will find on the web about them.

Particularly PP, as it will lay out your plan for after the novice program also. I'm also a believer that if we are to use Mark Rippetoe's knowledge to improve ourselves the courteous thing to do would be to buy one of his books.

Anyway... Rip's method of squatting is to use a low bar-medium stance, you are doing this?

Even though it was lighter than you want, this actually implies that you started too heavy. Drop down until you have perfect form, as that will be very important when you get to the heavier weights. Also use all of your warm-up sets every day to constantly work on perfecting your form. Don't worry about starting lighter as you can jump 10 lbs per workout until that begins to get too heavy, then 5lbs, so you can go up over 30lbs a week for a couple weeks if you can handle it.

I would not do 3 sets of deads. Rip has some very specific reasons for doing 1 set. This stuff isn't rocket science and there is room for changes, but at least in my case Rip knows more about it than I do and you should definitely try to follow the program exactly at least for a little while.

Leg press is a different animal and has little correlation to your squatting strength. Oftentimes, we blame inflexibility or core strength but the real issues is your stance. Medium stance, toes out, knees out hard. The physiological reasons for this are in the book.

This usually is not a shoulder or wrist problem, but actually a problem with bar placement. Are you confident that you have the proper low bar position, and not high bar or something in between?

Sorry for the long post. I'm not the expert as I'm still going through the program also, but I have had some of the same issues as you. Feel free to take everything I wrote with a grain of salt or disregard completely.


Well, there was no leg/back work at all, we trained chest and bi's twice a week with really high volume, and everything else (shoulders/tris) got 3 sets of 10. Suprisingly, there was no ab work. Either way, it was better than nothing, and I did see some results.





I do have a copy of the book, I am 2/3 of the way through it. I am trying to use the recommended setup, but as of right now Im the lone ranger with this stuff, so its all a work in progress.

Ill see if I can get a video of my setup/form so you guys can see whats up. I never disregard advice.

I am seriously contemplating moving down weight as I write this. The reasons being put in my next post.

Thanks for the post.



I woke up at midnight from a 8 and a half hour nap haha. I am trying to reset my sleep schedule, if you cant tell Ive been posting at some really weird hours. Anyway, I am feeling really beat up right now. My back is fantastically sore (lower, upper, and wings), as are my legs. I am actually not sure how I'm going to suffer through today's workout. I feel handicapped. It feels good though, I can feel the deadlifts in my lats and traps.

I am having a really hard time admitting to myself that perhaps I started with too much weight, and Im starting to think that just because I can move the weight, doesnt mean that I should be. I am absolutely starving 24/7 now. Dude was right, at this pace its going to be hard to try to eat very clean, and I should probably settle for marginally healthy. Thats all I can think of to post right now. Im going to go back to sleep, hopefully wake up at 8, and get to the gym around 10 am with my newly adjusted sleep cycle.

All advice and critique is accepted and weighed. I am trying to get bigger/stronger, and am all ears to everything that people have to offer. I am here to learn. Im not sure if I quoted it here or not, but Dave Tate said "If you want to be where someone is, then you have to do what they did."

Thanks for all the input. Its really appreciated. I dont think most people are lucky enough to have hordes of people tryin to help them make progress, and I realize that you guys have nothing to gain by helping me get to my goal. For that I am thankful.



2 last points: it can be hard to get correct squat form as most people at the gyms seem to think that high bar is the only way, and will give advice contrary to what you should really be doing. I used to video all of my sets, including warm ups, and watch them right after. Even then it took me about a month to feel real comfortable, especially with bar placement. Now I still video all my work sets and watch for form breakdowns. If you need help with squat tech, the SS forums have tons of threads on it, and you can post a form check also.

Second, chins and pull ups are great, but remember that they are assistance exercises. They are there to make you better at your main lifts. If they make you sore, or make your recovery take longer then you should not do them. Easy to forget, but they are just assistance.

Good Luck!


Just woke up...WTF?

Ok, for the sake of not wasting everyones time, I am going to reset my weights.


My legs/ass/back are absolutely murdered. I am going to do arms/shoulders later tonight and redo my A workout on friday with the correct weight.



Good. It takes balls to admit you were wrong :slightly_smiling:

Were you struggling with the weight, or just sore? Soreness will happen. It is referred to as DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness. Part of the game, sometimes you have to work through it.


I would not skip doing pull-ups or chin-ups. I don't believe he has anything else for his shoulders. OHP alone is not enough. I'm talking about shoulder health and injury prevention, not just performance benefits. They are just assistance, but still necessary for a complete physique.

I find it hard to believe that doing pull-ups would be so taxing that training two days later is difficult.


Honestly, I feel like it was the deadlifts that lit my back up so well. I have a small weight set in my basement (90 lbs and a 20 lb bar). I went down to do my shoulder/arm work. Picking up the weight off the ground I could really feel my middle and upper back at work due to the soreness. I used to think people were nuts when they said that the deadlift works the back.



I feel like I was using my 7 rep max...



I am restarting tomorrow. Here is the new spreadsheet.