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Old 09-29-2010, 05:21 AM   #1
Mahir Barbaro
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Default Am I a Beginner?

Brief history: I've strength trained for football since my freshman year of HS (i'm 24 now), and about 10 months ago I was at my highest weight of 190lbs while on a fairly standard body building program. Through a series of events (diagnosed with major depression and in an intense program with the US Navy), I dropped to 160lbs in three months, and have been steady at my current weight of 170lbs for about 6 months. My question is this: since I've been focused primarily on conditioning, 5k-10k running, and leanness (word?) for 6 months, should I consider myself a beginner and start with a program like Starting Strength (just saw this on t-nation http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...ll_beginners)?
Or due to my experience with weight lifting for football and general body building will I not be likely to experience the rapid weight/strength gains, and therefore should do a periodized plan like 5/3/1?
Goals are size and strength as fast as possible (i still remember what it felt like to be man sized ), with a keen eye on not overtraining due to the depression thing. Oh ya and I'm 5'11". Any help is appreciated!
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Old 09-29-2010, 06:09 AM   #2
Steven Low
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This can be answered by looking at your stats.

Height, weight, lift numbers in the core lifts (squat, DL, bench, press... also pullups, dips, rows if you prefer as well as Oly lifts)?

If your squat/DL isn't above about 1.8-2x bodyweight, and bench isn't above around 1.5x and press half of that then it's likely you're still a beginner

No need to get fancy... lift numbers basically decide whether you can still do linear progression in most cases
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Old 09-29-2010, 06:36 AM   #3
Geoffrey Thompson
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What Steven said, and also, it should sort of be the default to try linear progression first. It won't work for long (maybe only a few weeks) if you're not a "beginner", but it will help you find what level you're at and get you acclimated to real, dedicated strength training without "overtraining". I mean, if your squat is in the high 300s and you're squatting 3x per week, I don't think going back and trying "linear progression" is a great idea. It just won't work. If you're squatting once per week at that level, backing up a bit and using linear progression to "find your level" and get used to squatting 3x per week could be good - won't work long, but could be good. If you're not in the mid-to-high 300s, yeah, you should give linear progression a shot for however long it works for you, which may or may not be very long.

Yeah, that article was written for you. You're a beginner.
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Old 09-29-2010, 08:31 AM   #4
Arien Malec
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While it won't hurt to do 5/3/1, starting with linear progression is a better first bet. The nice thing is that both are self-correcting, and there's almost no way to start too low.

Pick a weight that you can do for 3x5 in your sleep. If you start at 65% of max at a max of 300#, you are doing your max for 3 sets of 5 in 6 weeks. Reset once or twice, and then switch to 5/3/1.

The worst that will happen either way is 2 months of a suboptimal program.

Eating big will stave off overtraining, as will planned breaks.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:38 AM   #5
Peter Dell'Orto
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Go with the advice you got here - regardless of your numbers. Try a linear program like Starting Strength and just see where it gets you. Start light and work up.

Once you start stalling out, re-set with the weights a little lower and try again.

After that stops working, look at something like 5/3/1.

Linear progression is so fast and easy you may as well try it - if your body doesn't respond like a beginner or doesn't for very long, at least you find that out quickly. If it does, you make the fastest progress. I say to ignore you own lift stats because it's hard to tell - my bench, squat, and deadlift aren't anywhere near what gets tossed around as results from Starting Strength, but I'm beyond getting much out of linear progress. On the other hand I have a client in his late thirties who finished his first deadlift workout after a long, long layoff with a nice set of 5 at more than my 1-rep max and just kept progressing linearly week after week for months. So why not go for a linear program and find out quickly where you are at?
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:03 AM   #6
Gant Grimes
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If you have to ask, yes. I don't know how it can be stated any simpler than the article.

Numbers do not matter. Experience does not matter. Bodyweight does not matter. Percentages do not matter. The only thing that matters is whether you can add weight to the bar every damn time you train. That's it. You might crap out at 2.5BW squat or 1.0. It doesn't matter. It doesn't F'n matter.

Work up to a heavy set of 10 on squats. That's your 3x5. Since you're malnourished, just kick it up 5 pounds each time. That will drag it out a bit so your strength gains aren't limited by your emaciatedness. Reset one time and keep going. When you reset the second time, train 3 weeks on and 1 off. That will prolong your linear progression and get you used to the 531 cycles.
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Old 09-29-2010, 10:34 AM   #7
Mahir Barbaro
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Wow thanks for all the quick responses guys. Lotta good help. I realized after I posted that Mr. Rippetoe used my exact height and weight as his example for a beginner that needs his program. LOL. That, and being called emaciated by Mr. Grimes and seeing that my #s aren't in the range Mr. Low posted is really all I need.

Last question though: in the article Mr. Rippetoe doesn't say anything about percentages or pounds to increase by, he just mentions adding a bunch of weight really fast. Is this just a guess and check until I find a weight I can't steadily improve on? Actually scratch that question, I should just go buy his book and find out for myself. Reading is knowledge. I'm just excited to get started on getting some size back! Thanks again for the help.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:05 PM   #8
Geoffrey Thompson
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The answer is in the book, but here it is: 10# on the squat might work for a couple weeks, after that, 5#. 5# on the bench and the press works for a little while, then 2.5#. 20# a couple times on the deadlift, then 10# might work for a while. Keep in mind that you'll be deadlifting once per week. I don't really think there's much of a point in doing smaller increments on the deadlift.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:22 AM   #9
Gant Grimes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahir Barbaro View Post
Last question though: in the article Mr. Rippetoe doesn't say anything about percentages or pounds to increase by, he just mentions adding a bunch of weight really fast. Is this just a guess and check until I find a weight I can't steadily improve on? Actually scratch that question, I should just go buy his book and find out for myself. Reading is knowledge. I'm just excited to get started on getting some size back! Thanks again for the help.
Read my third paragraph again and again. You should be adding 5 pounds a session to your squats. You may find that you can only squat twice a week also.

SLow's numbers aren't gospel, but they are a range that most of the population will fall into regarding finishing your novice period. At any rate, you're not there yet. That should make you happy, as novice gains are the best.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:30 AM   #10
Steven Low
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gant Grimes View Post
Read my third paragraph again and again. You should be adding 5 pounds a session to your squats. You may find that you can only squat twice a week also.

SLow's numbers aren't gospel, but they are a range that most of the population will fall into regarding finishing your novice period. At any rate, you're not there yet. That should make you happy, as novice gains are the best.
Definitely agreed.

There are some freaky people who START wiith a 2x bodyweight squat and get it up to 3x for example.

But yeah, just add weight each workout (5-10 lbs depending on how the last session felt -- easy or hard) and youll be fine.
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