Based on this site's recommendation, I got a hold of Starting Strength. It's clearly a spectacular book. But, as a beginner, I find it hard to make practical. It has lots of deep knowledge about what's going on.

But I'm looking for something directly applicable. (I know the book was originally written for coaches, not people working out on their own.) I'd like a basic program, with clear instructions on what to do and how to do it. And I'd like to know the basics as well of warming up, cooling down, programming, resting. I don't need all the theory yet - just a basic program, based on Starting Strength's principles.

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    Out of curiosity, which edition of the book do you have? Oct 28, 2011 at 16:43
  • The book is very technical. Watch starting strength videos on youtube about each lift and how to do them. These will give you the information you need without overloading you with too much info about anatomy as the book does. The book is designed for trainers so it will read at a more advanced level. The starting strength program though is very practical and great for building strength
    – Dude
    Dec 1, 2019 at 1:16

2 Answers 2


Ways To Get Less Information

The first edition of the book is much more coach-focused than the second. Perhaps you have the wrong edition for your situation? (The rest of my answer assumes that you have the second edition.)

If you're looking for less information as you get started, you could try StrongLifts 5x5 instead, or look through the Starting Strength wiki and distill the important parts. The basics of the program are in the wiki. The basics of the techniques are on the wiki. That's probably your best bet.

The Inherent Problem

But whether we like it or not, there's simply a lot to learn. You'll need to read the book at least twice, and re-read specific sections as you find necessary. The only shortcut would be a coach, training partner or gym that is well-versed in the program. Even then, you'll be doing a lot of learning. That is the essence of barbell strength training.

In This Part I Try to Answer Your Specific Questions

For warm-up, I rotate all my joints from fingers to toes (with particular attention to all the articulations of the trunk), then do five minutes of moving around (running, skipping, air squats, knee raises) to get my heart rate up. Then I start squatting with the empty bar. I think that's pretty close to what Rip recommends, but I got the specifics from Tom Kurz.

I don't remember any particular cool-down for the program. I advise against sitting down immediately, lest you get tight.

Resting means not doing anything strenuous. His forums are a fine place to learn exactly what that means, but essentially: if you play other sports, run, do extra lifting, don't eat enough, (or eat way too much and you're already overweight), go on long bikerides or hikes, you are not resting properly.

The program is pretty simple. (It's only complex if you want to pick a variant, and there's a minimum level of complexity necessary for it to be informative.) Work out three times a week. Start with squats, then presses, then pulls. Squats are squats. Presses alternate between bench and overhead. Pulls alternate between power cleans and deadlifts. For each exercise, do five reps with the empty bar, then add fifty pounds (or so) and do four, and so on with more weight and fewer reps until you get to your working weight, where you do three sets of five for squats and presses, one set of five for deadlifts, and five sets of three for power cleans. Keep track of how much you lift in each exercise. Each exercise gets five (presses, cleans) or ten (squats, deadlifts) pounds heavier in each workout for as long as possible. When adding ten pounds isn't possible, add five. When adding five isn't possible, add 2.5 if available, or de-load the bar 20% in your next workout and resume adding weight.

If you need any more information than that, then you should be reading the book.

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    The link to the forum should be startingstrength.com/resources/forum/forum.php. (I don't have privileges to just add two characters in an edit..) Oct 27, 2011 at 8:27
  • Thanks for pointing it out @MongusPong I fixed it for you :-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Oct 27, 2011 at 9:19
  • Super! "Resting means not doing anything strenuous". Does that mean aside on other than those 3 days, I can't swim or bike? When do I do my aerobic exercise? Oct 27, 2011 at 15:17
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    Technically, you don't do aerobic exercise. It's like the 1st commandment: your entire exercise regimen while on orthodox Starting Strength is...Starting Strength. The program treats a novice's linear progression as precious: doing any other exercise will limit how long you can add weight to the bar, and thus make the program drastically less effective. Standard practice is to do SS alone for as long as possible, then switch to a hybrid lifting/running or lifting/aerobic schedule. Oct 27, 2011 at 15:30

To call out exactly what the program is, because it wasn't immediately obvious with the 2nd edition book, check out the Basic Structure of the Program. Some of this information I had to extract from the "Practical Programming for Strength Training" book, where this is covered in the "Beginner Programs" section.

Essentially, for the first 2-4 weeks you are focusing on just the squat, bench, overhead press, and deadlift. Once you have that working well, you can incorporate the power cleans. After another bit, you can choose to switch to the Onus Wunsler variation of starting strength which incorporates some other assistance lifts.

The bulk of the information in that book provides the technical details of how to perform each lift, and troubleshoot it if you are having problems. As such, it makes a very good reference.

I learned that the Starting Strength 3rd edition will be hitting the bookshelves if it hasn't already, which purportedly makes things a bit more clear.

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