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I'm planning to put my wife on the Starting Strength 5x5 program starting next week. She's 28 years old and has no experience with weight training.

Is it a good idea to go ahead and start with the program or should I put her through some general workouts before starting the program? If the answer to this question is yes, then what sort of general workouts should I put her through?

I am myself an intermediate lifter and I don't remember how I started weight training in my early days.

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I assume that you mean either the Starting Strength or Stronglifts 5x5 program. Either of those programs would be fine for someone who is new to resistance training, though I would also incorporate some additional GPP with either one (e.g. 20 min of low intensity steady-state cardio on a bike or rower before/after each session).

For some unsolicited opinion, this program is a better one for beginners: https://www.barbellmedicine.com/blog/the-beginner-prescription/

It has a wider variety of movements and rep ranges, includes recommendations relating to warmups, weight selection and GPP, and also introduces autoregulation as a training concept from the beginning.

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SS (Starting Strength 3x5, 5x5 is the SL StrongLifts template) isn't inherently bad but for a perfect beginner such as I was when I first lifted, I think it would have been better if I had done any other program with a more emphasis on assistance, mobility and conditioning.

Mark Rippetoe will always answer that the best way to learn to squat is to squat, and that novices have so easy progress that even with only a 3x5 squat each training you will be able to grow your legs. It may be true, but it lacks the mid-term vision where you'll be quickly adding more weight to the bar that your movement patterns or your articulations will lag behind and you will eventually plateau way harder than if you were doing a less specific program.

A more balanced program like 5/3/1 for example may sounds full of "useless stuff" like assistance exercices, mobility drills or even conditioning recommendations but it's those things that will build the "base" that will then be used to lift heavy weights. It may even helps your joints to be better prepared to push on the compound exercices. For example, I had lot of pain in adductors at first when squatting heavier in SS that I never had after I properly train them a bit more on assistance exercices.

Also, SS will often respond those problems with things like "Eat more", "Sleep more", but your recovery has its limit too, even if you are a beginner.

To me, SS is better for people who has an already muscle & fitness base and want to introduce themselves in strength training, like football, soccer, basketball players. Or after a pause of few weeks/months, linear progression like SS or SL is better to quickly back to your previous weights.

I would however strongly encourage you to watch his videos on form and read the book for the form explanations which is really helpful, helping you understanding bar path, center of gravity on exercices like deadlift, etc.

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  • Strongly agree with this advice - I'm not someone who was naturally athletic and when I started 5x5 programs I stalled a lot and almost injured myself. Would definitely recommend more accessory and mobility work than these programs give. Jun 17 at 19:44

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