I had started Starting Strength (SS) on mid January, 2013, and have continued 3 workouts/week since then (I think I missed only 2 workouts when I fell sick in between). But, while introspecting if I was progressing correctly today, I happened across this article by Rippletoe, which had the following lines:

if you’re three months into the program and your squat has gone up 50 pounds, YNDTP (You're Not Doing The Program). If you’re 3 months into the program at 10% bodyfat and you have only gained 6 pounds, YNDTP. If you’re 3 months into the program at 30% bodyfat, your waistline has not gone down 4 inches and your squat is not up 175 pounds, YNDTP.

I realized that I would immediately fall in the first category (my squat went up from 70lb to 120lb since I started, with a bodyweight increase from 145 to 159lbs).


  1. I had a problematic lower back in my childhood and hence didn't want to aggravate it by rushing too quickly in the beginning, hence I wasn't pushing myself too hard in the beginning (this was also the first time I started a strength program)
  2. I also did not look too closely at what I had been eating and more importantly, what I should have been eating. I've only done so for the past week or so, and have realized I didn't eat properly before!

So, at this juncture, what should I be doing? The following seem to be the options:

  1. Keep eating properly, and continue the program.
  2. Deload, and start at a lower weight - but if so, should I be starting from the very beginning (the empty bar) and work my way up? Some pointers on effective deloading, if thats the remedy needed, would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Give SS a rest for a definite period, and then start from where I left off, eating and resting properly in the meantime.

Further details: My age is 28, I'm 5'11" and prior to starting SS, had only completed a C25K program (to build up my cardio capacity).

Let me know if additional details are required for a well-crafted answer!

EDIT: I was asked to elaborate on my fitness goals, which are as follows:

  1. From the SS program, I want to be able build sufficient strength to do standard powerlifts (squats/presses/deadlifts) in multiples of bodyweight - e.g DL 3x my body weight, Squat 2x my body weight etc (I assume these are standard strengths since I've seen most people be able to perform in the gym)

  2. Once I've achieved that, I'd want to move on to a mix of cardio/weight training, so as to get into a defined body shape that I can maintain then onwards.

  3. Ideally, I'd like to be able to finish the first step in 6-8 weeks, so I'm looking at what I should be doing to accomplish that...

  • Perhaps you can add some detail on your overall goals, e.g. if this is for the purpose of general well-being, there shouldn't be any time pressure. On the other hand, if you have a specific goal in time, it is a different matter.
    – FredrikD
    Apr 28, 2013 at 14:12
  • @FredrikD - Added some more details, hope its useful!
    – TCSGrad
    Apr 28, 2013 at 17:09
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    @TCSGrad 1.5x bodyweight squat is a more realistic goal, especially given the timeframe. As far as the program, how is your form on lifts? If you think it's lacking, deload 20% and go at it; if not, just continue as is and eat properly (MEAT!).
    – VPeric
    Apr 28, 2013 at 22:04
  • How did you Not Do The Program? Were you not adding weight every session? Were you failing and deloading every two weeks? The reason Rip says 50 pounds over 3 months is YNDTP is because it's logically inconsistent with the program as written. So if you weren't doing the program...what were you doing? Apr 28, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    About point 2, the initial workout of Starting Strength is not the empty bar. The initial workout has you find the weight at which the bar speed starts to slow down, and then gets you to use that weight for 3 sets of 5.
    – user4644
    Apr 30, 2013 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Progress at the rate which you feel is safe. If you have back problems, fix them while working out as hard and heavy as possible while not aggravating those problems. Once they're fixed, add back in the weight or exercises that you took out.

Eat in accordance with how heavy you're lifting.

Drop the long-term multiples-of-bodyweight goals. Just focus on safely getting stronger now.

  • I agree about the irrelevance of long-term relative strength goals. As a novice, it only matters that are able to lift more each workout.
    – user4644
    Apr 30, 2013 at 21:59
  • "Eat in accordance with how heavy you're lifting" - I didn't quite get that... I'm eating consistently at 15% over my maintenance calories w.r.t my body wt/fat %... How do the weight I'm lifting can be factored in there?
    – TCSGrad
    May 1, 2013 at 2:08
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    @TCSGrad You shouldn't base your calorie intake based on what you believe is maintenance. You should base it on what is needed in order to make consistent, predictable progress on your lifts. If you're reliably adding 5lbs to your squat every time you go to the gym, there's no need to eat more. If you start plateauing, the first thing I would try is increasing your calorie intake.
    – user4644
    May 1, 2013 at 2:58
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    @TCSGrad I don't count calories or maintenance yadda yadda. Just make sure your digestion is operating properly, you're never hungry, and you're eating enough animal protein. I recommend grass-fed meat and milk, pastured poultry and eggs, potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables galore, and salads. If you're squatting heavy then you'll put the food to good use; if not it'll just go into the toilet. May 1, 2013 at 3:40
  • This is a good answer. Safety is of paramount importance.
    – Geek
    May 2, 2013 at 13:18

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