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  1. #1
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    Default Starting Strength: Gaining Strength Staying the Same Weight?

    I've been following the Starting Strength program for several weeks now with significant increases in size and strength. However, I'm discovering that I think I'd like to stay about the same weight, and simply increase in strength. Now, I know that PttP is designed pretty much explicitly for this purpose, however, I have followed PttP in the past, and I really, really love also doing squats, bench presses, pendlay rows, dips, and chins on a regular basis as part of my training. I particularly love the carryover that squats seem to have to my deadlifts, as well as my kettlebell work.

    Simply stated, is there a way that a person can enjoy the big three lifts, most notably squats, featured in Starting Strength, as well as the accessory work, while staying roughly the same weight, or would that be a case of having your cake and eating it too? I know that the strength gains would not be the same as someone who is gaining 5 lbs. a week, every week (which is what I did and discovered I don't want to do), but could the program be successfully followed by someone on a more *erm*, normal caloric intake diet, or is the program simply designed to require a higher than average caloric intake? Would recovery simply not be possible between workouts without mass quantities of protein, fat, etc.?

    In any case, I appreciate your input. I'm probably going to be taking some time to just focus on Super Joints and Relax into Stretch for a while, while I reset and figure out how to go about better meeting my training goals from here on out.

  2. #2
    Kai Johnson is offline Senior Member
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    You don't say what your current size, lifts and goals are and that may make a difference. Honestly...just follow a program that is designed to match your goals and do it.

    Sure...you can get stronger and stay the same weight to a certain point depending on where you are at. You can also gain size on PTTP if you want to. Diet is the factor here and the extra food is to keep your recovery up so your lifts can keep going up as well.

    Why not go over to the Starting Strength forums and ask the question? Rip will no doubt be less than gentle with you though if you ask this question just so you are warned ahead of time. Realize that he will expect that you've read the book, are following the program as written and have already searched through his forums where 100's of people have already asked the same question you are asking.

    Pendlay rows...dips? Are you really following SS as written or are you...diverging or replacing lifts by using someone elses programming? Those lifts are not in the SS novice or beginner programs.

  3. #3
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    You don't say what your current size, lifts and goals are and that may make a difference. Honestly...just follow a program that is designed to match your goals and do it.

    Thanks for weighing in here, Kai, as well as on the GOMAD topic in the Nutrition Forums.

    I'm pretty much 6' even, about 175 lbs. at the moment, squatting 205 x 5, benching 155 x 5, deadlifting 255 x 5, rowing 155 x 5, and pressing 105 x 5. I enjoy the practice of all of these lifts, and would like to be able to keep training all of them if possible, up to maybe a 2x bw squat, 1.5x bw bench, 2.5x bw deadlift, 1.5x bw row, and 1x bw press as starting points. I'd like to be able to do that while staying the same weight, i.e. not putting on too much mass at all.

    As far as a program that is designed to mach my goals, that's where my curiosity comes in. If I follow the training protocols of Starting Strength, will I be able to reach these goals reasonably, or is diet that leads towards lean mass and some body fat gains an absolute requisite of a program that has you squat 3 x 5 3x a week like Starting Strength does?

    Sure...you can get stronger and stay the same weight to a certain point depending on where you are at. You can also gain size on PTTP if you want to. Diet is the factor here and the extra food is to keep your recovery up so your lifts can keep going up as well.

    Why not go over to the Starting Strength forums and ask the question? Rip will no doubt be less than gentle with you though if you ask this question just so you are warned ahead of time. Realize that he will expect that you've read the book, are following the program as written and have already searched through his forums where 100's of people have already asked the same question you are asking.


    The reason I didn't go over to the Starting Strength forums, which I have been reading rather thoroughly lately, and ask the question, was that it seems to me that gaining strength and gaining weight are inextricably linked for Rippetoe when it comes to a "novice" lifter. A "stop being a pansy and put on some freaking weight" kind of thing. Things such as the following lead me to believe this:

    "You guys that worry about eating clean are actually merely bodybuilders looking for justification for your obsession with abs. You cannot get big and strong on 3000 kcal/day. And you cannot eat 7000/day and eat perfectly 'clean'."

    "Milk is quite literally better than steroids for a novice lifter to grow on, and no supplement produces the same effect."

    "It is because over thirty years of direct observation has demonstrated to me that when trainees drink one gallon of milk added to their regular diet and train in a progressive linear fashion, they gain significant muscular bodyweight, and those that do not drink their milk, even in the presence of progressive linear training, fail to do this. They also fail to continue progressive linear training for the same length of time, because this is facilitated by the steady weight gain. I understand that you're asking me if I have controlled for other factors such as failure to do the program correctly, and the answer is yes, of course I have, because I am not a complete idiot. Those that will not do the program are not being considered when I make these remarks, because that would be too f****** obvious a hole in my analysis. The difference in the milk drinkers is that THEY GET BIGGER THAN THE ONES WHO WON'T DRINK THE F****** MILK. Please tell me that you understand this now."

    So, I wanted to get the opinions of a community that contains many people who have probably followed the Starting Strength program for a given period of time, as well as many people who value wiry strength as opposed to gaining a lot of lean mass.

    Pendlay rows...dips? Are you really following SS as written or are you...diverging or replacing lifts by using someone elses programming? Those lifts are not in the SS novice or beginner programs.

    The rows are outlined as an acceptable, albeit inferior, substitute for power cleans, a substitution which I have no choice about making at my gym, as I quickly found out. 2 x 8-10 reps of Dips and Chins are outlined by many as being acceptable additions to Workout A and Workout B by many (probably pulled from the practical programming workouts), but are admittedly a "divergence" I suppose, so for the purposes of future considerations, we can assume I don't have to be doing them.

    Quite frankly, the more I read and re-read Starting Strength materials, I get the feeling that Rippetoe designed the program to be a strength-and-weight-(read lean mass and body fat)-gaining program by its very nature, and that I might just have to go back to a program that is designed, by its very nature, to be a strength-without-weight-gaining program (i.e. PttP). The loss is of the practice of all the lifts within the same program.
    Last edited by bradleytkay; 08-24-2010 at 06:20 AM. Reason: bleeping stuff out, in case it matters

  4. #4
    Kai Johnson is offline Senior Member
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    Well...you are best off asking the person writing the program your questions. Rip has been training novices for...what....30 years or so? I think he knows exactly what needs to be done. He is crusty, but he gets tired of answering the same questions over and over again. He knows what he's talking about. Pavel has mentioned similar things in the past for his strength and size programs (all you can eat buffets, etc.) so it's not just Rip saying these things.

    Milk is efficient for the program but if you work your diet around it not necessary. Have you read John Shaeffer's forum over there at the SS forums?

    6' (my height) and 175 is not very big for your height if you are planning on some real gains in strength easily.

    "Wiry strength" imo is not something that really means anything. It means you want to stay lean and skinny and get as strong as possible within that weight range...and that probably means not as strong as you would get if you gained some real muscle mass. I'm sure there are people here that would disagree with that, but that's fine.

    Yes the program is designed to make you big and strong. Consistency over the long term leads to results. If you don't want to get big then don't eat a lot. Your progress in the lifts will not be as quick as someone eating enough to support the strength and weight gain. Give it a shot and see what happens for yourself.

    As far as the rows go...Rip has the following to say about them:

    I heard there were Rows in this program. Where are they? Here is how Mark Rippetoe feels about replacing cleans with rows in a nutshell:
    My opinion about barbell rows is as follows: f**k barbell rows. Really. F**k them. Stop wasting time worrying about barbell rows and get your deadlift up to 500. By then you'll have your own opinion and you won't have to worry about mine. Powercleans are taught before rows and pull-ups are taught before rows and Rip has demonstrated as much in the gym. Rippetoe doesn't even teach rows to novices. The rows were a change made by kethnaab because the original workout in SS had power cleans and he felt that power cleans were too difficult to be learned without a coach.
    But with some of the new resources available (documentation, instructional videos and interactive video critiques), the power clean is definitely within reach of the novice trainee.
    But even if for some reason the power cleans cannot be done, rows are harder to learn than chin ups. For a novice, the easier exercise is preferred. Also, chin ups are way more of an arm exercise than rows and everyone wants bigger arms. Believe it or not, shoulder width chin ups with a supine (palms facing you) grip work both biceps and triceps. But, the power clean is, without question, the preferred alternative for complete novice and pull-ups/chin-ups are the next best choice and both can be done in the same program.
    So ideally, do the Power cleans, or both power cleans and chins, but if for some reason you can't (won't) do power cleans, the Practical Programming Novice Program leaves them out completely.
    Honestly if you don't want to listen to Rip and his TONS of experience then you may want to find a program that suits your goals. PTTP will make you strong just as any program as followed will make you strong. Maybe not in the same way though.

  5. #5
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    Well...you are best off asking the person writing the program your questions. Rip has been training novices for...what....30 years or so? I think he knows exactly what needs to be done. He is crusty, but he gets tired of answering the same questions over and over again. He knows what he's talking about. Pavel has mentioned similar things in the past for his strength and size programs (all you can eat buffets, etc.) so it's not just Rip saying these things.

    Yeah, I see your point. I may meander over there and ask him, after seeing if I can't find some others asking the same question first. If I can't take a thwomping over the internet, well, then I don't know what to say.

    Milk is efficient for the program but if you work your diet around it not necessary. Have you read John Shaeffer's forum over there at the SS forums?

    I haven't read that, but I'll look into it straight away.

    6' (my height) and 175 is not very big for your height if you are planning on some real gains in strength easily.

    "Wiry strength" imo is not something that really means anything. It means you want to stay lean and skinny and get as strong as possible within that weight range...and that probably means not as strong as you would get if you gained some real muscle mass. I'm sure there are people here that would disagree with that, but that's fine.


    I have submitted myself to the fact that I will in all likelihood never get nearly as strong at, say, 175 as I would if I went up to 225 or something. However, I think that with the knowledge I have gleaned over the years, I can be stronger at 175 than I was at 210 back in the day, and I would be pretty happy with that.

    If the past few weeks have taught me anything, its that I really want to be stronger, but I also want a smaller waistline, and to fit into my clothes more loosely, not more tightly. Now, I suppose those are conflicting goals, in that its pretty much a given that its easier to gain lean muscle mass and with it strength, whilst also putting on some body fat, and then shed the body fat later. That's something I'm not willing to do. That body fat makes me so unhappy that the other gains aren't worth it.

    Yes the program is designed to make you big and strong. Consistency over the long term leads to results. If you don't want to get big then don't eat a lot. Your progress in the lifts will not be as quick as someone eating enough to support the strength and weight gain. Give it a shot and see what happens for yourself.

    I think that this may be the route I go for a little while, i.e. cycling the weights up more slowly (ex. 5 lb. additions instead of 10 lb.) whilst keeping my body composition at a place that I am comfortable with, instead of going buffet style all the time to put the most possible weight on the bar each time in the gym. I'd wager it'll be a lot slower going, but I think I'll be happier in the process.

    As far as the rows go...Rip has the following to say about them:

    Honestly if you don't want to listen to Rip and his TONS of experience then you may want to find a program that suits your goals. PTTP will make you strong just as any program as followed will make you strong. Maybe not in the same way though.


    The version of that quote that I had seen simply said "My opinion about barbell rows is as follows: f**k barbell rows. Really. F**k them. Stop wasting time worrying about barbell rows and get your deadlift up to 500. By then you'll have your own opinion and you won't have to worry about mine.", by which I basically understood him to mean focus on your big three lifts and your others will take care of themselves. The proper substitution in the case of someone without access to a place to power clean is chin-ups then, eh?

    I don't want to come across as someone who "doesn't want to listen", although I if I'm honest that's probably what I am at some points in life. I suppose I want to come across as someone who is finding out his goals differ slightly from the results promised by the program, and who is wondering, therefore, if this program is still the best to meet his needs, or if another program would meet those needs better. Several weeks following Rippetoe's program has been enough to convince me that the guy knows what he is talking about, and that his program flat-out produces results, no questions asked.

  6. #6
    Kai Johnson is offline Senior Member
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    Just curious about your saying that you don't have space to do the power cleans. You don't need to throw the weights down to the floor (and you shouldn't do that anyway even if you use bumper plates). The weights can be dropped down to your thighs and then lowered like a deadlift to the floor. If you have a place to deadlift, you most likely have a place to do power cleans.

    One reason for the power cleans is that they will help your deadlift. They do more than that, but they are very specifically in the program for a reason.

    But regardless, over at the SS Wiki you can find each of the programs listed. The PP novice program does not have power cleans.

    Practical Programming Novice Program: Monday
    3x5 Squat
    3x5 Bench Press / Press (Alternating)
    Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps
    Wednesday
    3x5 Squat
    3x5 Press / Bench Press (Alternating)
    1x5 Deadlift
    Friday
    3x5 Squat
    3x5 Bench Press / Press (Alternating)
    Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

  7. #7
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    Yeah, its not a matter of space, so much, as it is a matter of the staff, I suppose you could say. I get grief for putting my deadlifts down from around the knees, and was verbally told that power cleans are right out.

    The split that I was following is the "Original Starting Strength Novice Program" as it is called on Starting Strength Wiki, which goes like this:

    Workout A
    3x5 Squat
    3x5 Bench Press
    1x5 Deadlift

    Workout B
    3x5 Squat
    3x5 Press
    5x3 Power Cleans (subbing rows)

    Workouts A and B alternate on 3 non-consecutive days per week.


    Looks like the "Practical Programming Novice Program" you listed might be a better option in a power clean-less environment, at the cost of only one set of deadlifts a every other week.

  8. #8
    Kai Johnson is offline Senior Member
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    Gotcha. I work out at home so I completely forget that gyms have silly rules about certain exercises, chalk, etc.

    The squatting will help your deadlifting so in the context of this program deadlifting 1 time a week will work fine for building your strength up. Just keep adding weight to the bar.

  9. #9
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJ43 View Post
    Gotcha. I work out at home so I completely forget that gyms have silly rules about certain exercises, chalk, etc.

    The squatting will help your deadlifting so in the context of this program deadlifting 1 time a week will work fine for building your strength up. Just keep adding weight to the bar.
    Yeah, I wish I had access to everything I needed to work out at home. Maybe in time. One of the main reasons I don't want to go away from a program that incorporates squats is that it seems to be the general consensus that squats carryover to deadlifts very well, but the converse is not the case. So, I don't really want to go back to PttPing myself along, losing out on carryover to my squat, as well as the ability to bench and overhead press in my program.

    Have you found it the case that deadlift does not carry over to squat in the same way that squat does to deadlift? In the same token could you say that swings don't carry over to squat very well, either?

  10. #10
    bradleytkay is offline Member
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    Well, I just read this (Are you guilty of these.....?) thread, on common training fallacies, and I'm probably guilty of over half of them. So, I should probably re-think a lot of things and approach a training program with a bit of a different attitude!

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