Starting Strength (SS) is both a book by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore and a routine that was spawned by the principles expounded in the book. This is not meant to be a substitute for the book, which is an invaluable resource for form descriptions and troubleshooting. I highly recommend that your purchase a copy of Starting Strength for your personal library. A Starting Strength DVD illustrating proper form is also available.
The SS routine is designed for novice weightlifters. Whether you are a novice has nothing to do with how long youíve been lifting or how much you can lift. A novice is simply someone who can continue to make linear progress from workout to workout. Linear progress is the fastest way to get strong, so it is best to milk this method as long as you can.
There are many variations of SS floating around out there, but all of them focus on making linear progress on five of the most important barbell lifts. The following is the routine most people refer to as Starting Strength:
Workout A (sets x reps):
Bench Press 3x5
Workout B (sets x reps):
Standing Barbell Overhead Press 3x5
**This does not include warm up sets, which are an important part of any workout.
The routine has you in the gym three times a week, alternating workouts every other day. For instance, your first two weeks could look like this:
Monday: Workout A
Wednesday: Workout B
Friday: Workout A
Monday: Workout B
Wednesday: Workout A
Friday: Workout B
The pattern would simply repeat thereafter.
How to progress:
You progress by adding weight to the bar every single time you are in the gym. The amount of weight you add to the bar will vary depending on a number of things including: sex, age, weight, diet, experience, etc. General guidelines for a healthy man would be to add:
ē 5-20lbs to the deadlift
ē 5-15lbs to the squat
ē 2.5-5lbs to the bench press, overhead press and powerclean (Most gyms do not have weights that allow you to progress in 2.5lbs increments, so you will have to experiment with microloading. Visit you local hardware store and get creative with chains or washers in order to make smaller weights.)
Big jumps will be easiest for complete beginners. As you progress on the routine your progress will slow and it will be necessary to make smaller jumps. It is better to be overly conservative than overly aggressive with your increases.
Once you are unable complete the prescribed reps for a couple of workouts in a row you will benefit from a deload. Decrease the weight of your work sets by approximately 20lbs and work your way back up, restarting your progress.
Depending on your experience, you should be able to progress on this routine for several months. Once you are no longer able to complete the prescribed reps and increase the weight from workout to workout, even after a couple of deloads, the routine has run its course and you are no longer considered a novice weight lifter.
Rippetoe form videos: