12 Jun 2019
Okay, first things first: if you’re starting out on your muscle-building journey, chances are you haven’t the foggiest notion of what Starting Strength is.
Well, it’s a book by Mark Rippetoe; a book with all the twists and turns of classic Stephen King horror. But this is no novel; these are very real bodily twists and turns, and it will be a horror story if you don’t read this book from cover to cover.
Why? Because Starting Strength is a book for beginners starting out on their muscle-building journey; strength training for dummies if you like (with all due respect). And while we’re not in the habit of promoting commercial products, we can do so unashamedly here. Starting Strength is an excellent book for any beginner who wants to get stronger.
Well, there’s a Starting Strength third edition, a pretty good indication of the book’s longevity and popularity. So yes, in this case, you can judge a book by its cover. A lot of people swear by this, so much so that even advanced lifters still use the program. Goes to show that you really can use this for a long time.
Let’s now take a look inside.
For a start the Starting Strength program stops you from going like the proverbial bull at a gate, rupturing yourself in the first week and, as a result, haemorrhaging your enthusiasm forever.
Just as importantly, Starting Strength stops you from attacking your weight training like a timid mouse only to wonder why you look still like an undernourished rat.
The Starting Strength approach takes what you lift in your early workouts and tops it up in an ingenious, systematic way through practical programming. What does that do? Basically, it stops your muscles from going into cruise control when they’re comfortable with a certain weight; the Starting Strength system keeps your body guessing so you never plateau. It keeps you on a pathway to linear progression.
Believe it or not, it starts with no weight on the bar; yep, no weights at all.
“Why?” you cry, indignantly. “I can’t gain strength with an empty bar!”
No, but you can gain a crippling injury if you do not know how to employ proper form when you get to those heavy weights.
By taking you by both hands, getting them properly positioned on the bar and showing you how to do four initial core exercises – squats, overhead press, bench press and deadlift – the program ensures you learn the perfect form from the start.
Correct technique is absolutely critical; without it, you’re just an injury waiting to happen.
Then you add weight. The book tells you exactly how to work out your starting weights for each exercise and when to add weight as your strength, conditioning and confidence grow.
And that’s one of the great things about Starting Strength; your strength won’t hang around in the starter’s ranks for long. You’ll lift heavier and heavier weights way faster than you might expect and each new weight and reps milestone will stoke your enthusiasm for more. Just be sure to adhere to the four basic exercises throughout your training sessions.
Again, if you want to make the most of this program, follow it from start to finish because it never sits still and follows a scientific process designed to build strength and minimise your risk of injury. Each phase adds new exercises – power clean, chin-ups, pull-ups, back extensions – until you’re lifting more weight than you ever imagined.
If you jump off halfway through because ‘You get it now’ you’ll never see the twist at the end because it will be you; an agonising twist you never saw coming.
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