Gym Opinions: The Truth about Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine

Rogelio gives his opinion on the Starting Strength routine by Mark Rippetoe. He dissects this fitness routine & criticizes the Power Clean advice with tips and other useful advice for beginners venturing into the world of gym training.

I would like to offer my opinion to you guys on the Starting Strength weight training routine which has been popularized by Mark Rippetoe. I have been intending to write on this program for some time since I am a fitness enthusiast and my background is in Olympic weightlifting. I love anything to do with strength (both physical and mental) so reading training routines is, let’say, one of my hobbies!

The Starting Strength routine is a weight training program which calls for training with a full-body emphasis 3 times per week using the Squat, the Power Clean and the Press exercises as the core to the routine. It came to light with coach Mark Rippetoe from Wichita Falls and it has gained popularity from both weight trainers and bodybuilders alike.


Mark Rippetoe from Starting Strength during a Crossfit seminar

Mark Rippetoe is an interesting guy


Now, before I proceed with my opinion (i.e criticize) on the Starting Strength program, let me say that this strength program works. It builds muscle as well as strength, there is no denying that. I also praise Mark Rippetoe for bringing some sense to gym goers and popularizing full-body training and the use of compound exercises such as the Squat. Starting Strength is built upon long-term progression and it is no wonder that it works because any program or routine that satisfies this element of progression over an extended amount of time will ensure results.

Starting Strength has become popular due to the internet, and these days most members of online fitness forums have either given Starting Strength a go or have heard about it (online fitness forums being one of the carriers of the Starting Strength word). In fact, the widespread of Starting Strength has surprisingly allowed average gym goers to emphasize more strength training in their routines and tamed the bodybuilding nonsense that many gym beginners tend to be bombarded with by Mickey Mouse personal trainers, stupid online experts who rely on steroids for their gains or hilarious supplement pushers promising overnight “pump-aholic” results. Personally, I think Starting Strength has made a positive impact in average gym goers who just want to put on some weight on their 120lbs frames.


Bodybuilder Lee Priest doing bicep curls

Starting Strength has helped to shift the “bicep curl” gym mentality to Squats and Power Cleans


That said, I have seen and tried countless of strength routines, and I have got myself a solid strength foundation by following several principles that I either learnt from Olympic/Strength coaches or that I acquired through my own experimenting (as you guys know, I love being my own Guinea Pig!). Starting Strength is just another routine, it is not the Holy Grail of strength training as so many Starting Strength advocates would have you believe, and it is not the only way to get stronger if you are just a simple gym goer who just wants to look good naked!


Weightlifter Dimas doing a Snatch in competition

There are many ways to get strong other than Starting Strength


My criticism to the Starting Strength routine boils down to these 3 issues:

1) Starting Strength is a mere reinvented version of much older proven routines such as The Strongest Shall Survive by coach Bill Starr, nothing more.

2) Mark Rippetoe thinks he can teach the Power Clean with his own “jump and shrug” made-up technique, a technique  that is incorrect and futile to building impressive numbers in the Power Clean.

3) Starting Strength has become a cult and their advocates try to convince everyone that it is the only way to get strong.

I don’t have anything against Mark Rippetoe, I actually think he is a decent coach, but, being myself an Olympic lifter, I facepalm myself everytime I read the “jump and shrug” Power Clean parrot line, either from Mark Rippetoe or from one of his Starting Strength followers. The “jump and shrug” line is part of the incorrect Power Clean advice that Mark Rippetoe has ingrained in all his followers; with his following consisting of about 95% gym newbies. Starting Strength has thus become something akin to a cult (just like Crossfit), and cults, as we know, tend to be annoying as hell because cultists go out of their way to convince everyone that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.


A meme making fun of the "jum[ and shrug" advice of Mark Rippetoe in Starting Strength

This is how I feel when I happen to read a “bro” parroting Mark Rippetoe’s advice on the Power Clean


Allright everyone, let’s open the can of worms:

1) Starting Strength is a reinvented version of other strength routines

The first time that I read Starting Strength, I laughed out loud (LOLed), and I didn’t laugh out loud because the text describing the routine had some good jokes inside. I didn’t know who Mark Rippetoe was (he is practically unheard of as a coach outside the US) nor did I know that Starting Strength was supposed to be a popular strength program. I laughed because as soon as I read the Starting Strength routine I immediately thought of coach Bill Starr and his superb The Strongest Shall Survive program. Mark Rippetoe’s program is nothing more than a reinvented version of Bill Starr’s program, it even shares the same exercise pattern for crying out loud!

For those not aware, coach Bill Starr popularized a solid strength routine in the 70’s called The Strongest Shall Survive that was advertised as packing on bulk (muscle everywhere) and overall body strength. This routine was an eye opener for those in the field of applied strength training in sports as The Strongest Shall Survive was successfully used in American football and players got very strong and bulky on coach Starr’s routine. People packing on 40lbs of weight, most of it muscle, in short amounts of time was not unheard of because Bill Starr, having being an Olympic weightlifter himself, intelligently based his routine around the Power Clean, the Full Squat and the Strict Press. With Starting Strength, Mark Rippetoe has cheekily added a few things here, removed a few stuff there, put it a label, started the marketing engine, and off he went with his Starting Strength routine. It worked.


The book the Strongest Shall Survive by Bill Starr

The Strongest Shall Survive owns Starting Strength in every way


Starting Strength does work, of course it does, but it works because the routine that it was spun off from, The Strongest Shall Survive, has been working for about 40 years already. Starting Strength brings nothing new to the strength arena, other than being marketed to average gym-goers and people who haven’t performed a correct Power Clean or Squat in their life (i.e. gym newbies). Thing is, practically any decent strength program will work on these two fitness populations because both average gym-goers and fitness newbies tend to be weak and will obtain strength gains by merely following a few training rules. I can think, straight off my head, of about 20 weight training programs that will work just as well as Starting Strength in packing muscle and strength in beginners, including my own Manly Strength program.

Point is, do not become blinded with all the hype surrounding Starting Strength, it works just as well as other strength routines and will be of benefit if you are at a stage where your strength levels in compound exercises such as the Squat are weak to begin with. If you are a seasoned lifter, there are better strength routines out there.


A Crossfit man doing a squat on top of a Swiss ball

These are the type of people who’d benefit from Starting Strength


2) Mark Rippetoe thinks he can teach the Power Clean with his own made-up technique

The Power Clean is a great strength exercise. It builds power, overall strength and a sense of coordinating the body as a single piece when applying force. The Strongest Shall Survive used the Power Clean as one of its key elements and so does Starting Strength. The difference comes when we compare both coaches and the manner in which they teach and advice how to perform the Power Clean.

Bill Starr was a former Olympic weightlifter in the 60s and 70s who had walked the walk before talking the talk. He lifted big weights and taught the Power Clean from his humble Olympic weightlifting origins. He depicts how to perform the Power Clean in his book The Strongest Shall Survive, with his Power Clean instructions being enough reason to go and buy the book (you get to see black and white pictures of men with moustaches doing Power Cleans, priceless!).

Mark Rippetoe, on the other hand, has zero experience in Olympic weightlifting and teaches an incorrect form of the Power Clean, as one would expect from someone who has no relevant Olympic weightlifting experience. Mark Rippetoe teaches a weird “jump and shrug” method which is, to put it bluntly, silly. The way he teaches the technique to the Power Clean is unlike that taught by actual Olympic Weightlifting coaches (and I have been under the wing of several international Olympic coaches) and he teaches a “jump and shrug” motion for the Power Clean which is just something he made up to make Starting Strength look like a novel and pioneering method.

Of course, if you are someone who is not familiarized with Olympic weightlifting and fall under the two categories of gym goers he targets with Starting Strength (i.e bodybuilders and beginners), then you will fall for his Power Clean shenanigans. I am not claiming that you need to have perfect technique on the Power Clean to coach it but you should at least have a solid understanding of how it is performed. There is no discussing or trying to innovate here, guys who have won medals (you know, like been to the Olympics and brought medals home) perform the Power Clean as it is intended to be performed for optimal power and strength development as dictated by Olympic weightlifting dogma. There is no room to try and be different and try to pioneer nonsense, unless you do that to try and give yourself an unmerited competitive edge to sell your routine.

Mark Rippetoe has power cleaned 275lbs. I have done more than that at a lower body weight, and I recently power cleaned 275lbs after a mere 4 weeks of doing Power Cleans and getting back to lifting weights. I teach the Power Clean from the lessons that I obtained from Olympic coaches while he teaches the Power Clean with his own technique, which no one else uses or coaches. The truth is in the pudding, and you should not follow Rippetoe’s advice on the Power Clean if you want to become remotely strong on this exercise. I have a very strong opinion on this matter because, unfortunately, there are plenty of people both online and offline giving incorrect advice on the Power Clean and bastardizing a very useful lift; coach Rippetoe should have known better. My thoughts on this issue are shared by others, especially Olympic lifters, and beginners to the fitness arena are easily being misled by Rippetoe’s Power Clean shenanigans, which in turn continues to propagate power clean folklore.


Weightlifter Rogelio performing the correct technique for the Power Clean

For the love of Bambi, there is no “jump and shrug” in the Power Clean!!!!


3) Starting Strength has become a cult

Seriously, what’s up with that. I have yet to find anyone in real life doing Starting Strength but it seems as though every online fitness forum has a troop of members fighting their own battle against society and convincing the rest of humanity that Starting Strength is the only way to go. What’s even more laughable is that these same blind people take whatever Mark Rippetoe has said as gospel and will repeat everything like parrots without consideration to questioning what they repeat ad nauseum.

You like to go to the gym and want to build some muscle? Starting Strength, they answer.

You are a bodybuilder and want to build some muscle in the off season? Starting Strength, they reply.

You want to lift some weights to get in shape? Starting Strength, they scream at you.

You want to get stronger in the Power Clean? Starting Strength and “jump and shrug, bro“, they respond.

Of course, this whole cult-like status is powered by Rippetoe himself who has separated himself from conventional smiling and gentle fitness coaches and proudly made his way with a “take no prisoners” attitude that all pseudo-hardcore gym warriors love to hear and read about. As a matter of fact, Rippetoe was affiliated with Crossfit not until that long ago for the moneyz (for which he also took some heavy criticism) and is one of the men responsible for Crossfitters having the worst Power Clean technique out of all gym populations. Then, he left Crossfit and the shizzle hit the fan, which made for some online fun dramas. He has a loyal following because of all of this, to the point that many fitness forums are starting to have an anti-Starting Strength crowd to fight the SS nazis (as they call them).

Moreover, Mark Rippetoe has ensured to provide the program with other integrated goodies such as nutritional extremism in the form of advising his Starting Strength trainees to drink a gallon of milk a day, regardless of the fact that 50% of them turn overnight into overweight potatoes, or calling those who don’t agree with him a range of pejoratives. It goes with the persona and his primary audience loves it. Can’t argue with the marketing, I guess.


Weightlifter Rogelio doing a Press as outlined in Starting Strength

Due to my Olympic weightlifting background, I have been doing Presses, Power Cleans and Squats before many SS nazis had even touched a computer keyboard


Bottom line, Starting Strength is one of the ways to get strong and gain muscle but it is not the only way, much less if one has a decent strength and muscle base. It is a program that works because it is based on another much older program that too worked. Mark Rippetoe, as much of an interesting character as he may be, took it too far trying to invent his own form of the Power Clean and addresses Starting Strength to beginners, which smartly allows for masking any deficiencies of the program and his advice. The fact that most of Starting Strength practicioners are beginners makes for an awesome pool of trainers who will follow him blindly and continue to snowball the Starting Strength cult with incorrect information so long as they are zombified from the insulin response to the gallon of milk that their god forces them to consume every single day.

“Jump and shrug”. LOL.

All the best.


P.S: Make sure to check out our strength training section (which includes my popular Power Clean tutorial) and our fitness section.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where to get the epic book The Strongest Shall Survive, simply get it from HERE!

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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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104 comments for “Gym Opinions: The Truth about Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine

  1. Joel
    December 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Good article, I’m also a former weightlifter and cringe at some of the stuff toured by “gurus” about how to perform the competition and power lifts.

    I think you left out one other thing, however: not only is SS not the only way to gain strength, it’s not even a particularly good way. These beginners would gain strength using practically any other program, and probably do better as well.

    • Rogelio
      December 11, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for the comment. Beginners will gain strength and muscle mass on just about anything, even when no load progression is there (eventually they’ll need it, though); Starting Strength is a way to get there (i.e. gain strength and some muscle). However, I personally think that Starting Strength does not take advantage of the ability of a beginner to absorb a lot of volume. Likewise, frequency (and volume) of several lifts is not conducive to gaining good form and technique (especially with regards to the power clean). Not to mention that Rippetoe’s power clean advice is not what’s taught as proper form in weightlifting and he’d be laughed out of any weightlifting hall for spouting his power-clean technique advice. All you have to do is watch any of Rippetoe’s videos teaching the power clean to see how his depicted experienced trainees (in the videos) all have serious flaws.

      The power clean is a black-or-white lift for a non Olympic weightlifter. Either do it frequently (and with decent form) or don’t do it.

      Rippetoe is right in many things and his books are solid references for common-sense training. But there are some tidbits that are open to debate (or plain wrong, and I’m not the only one pointing them out).

      Thanks again for your comment.

  2. Matt
    November 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve read this article a couple of times over the years and fortunately or unfortunately the “cult” status of starting strength is growing. Starts to really get silly where the SS members all the sudden become Ridley Scott or whiskey fans as a result of Rippetoe indoctrination. Basically parroting everything and not discovering anything for themselves or stepping out of the starting strength box. Lot of great strength coaches out there and NONE completely agree on everything. He’s done a lot for the strength community but the vast majority of SS followers don’t really look fit despite being strong. I.E Mark Rippetoe . Other strength models promote being strong while still having decent muscle mass without fostering a “dad bod”. I personally sacrifice maxing out my powerlifting total at 1300 at 205lbs to maintain 15% bf, having more muscle mass, and not pushing it with joint injuries.

  3. Pablo
    November 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Hey Rogelio.

    I read you article because I also was a little curious about the “jump and shrug” technique in the power clean. I’m a total beginner when it comes to lifting and all my “research” has come from youtube videos and google and I have not seen a lot of jumping when I watch actual olympic lifters perform the power clean. So Mark Rippetoe might be wrong on that one.

    That being said I felt there was a little cocky tone in the article and it made me feel I had to defend Mark a little. First I totaly agree that some of the things in the book sound crazy, like drinking a gallon of milk to gain mass for skinny people. In the book that is an advice to skinny people that struggle with gaining weight, and you failed to mention that in your article. It might still be a crazy advice but you didn’t lay all the facts on the table.
    Also you said that Mark Rippetoe has never been an olympic lifter. Wich is totaly true but you could also have added that Bill Starr was his mentor and that he was a competitive powerlifter from 1979 to 1988. If his book is similar to the one of his mentor I guess the mentor has done a good job teaching his student. Well to a point at least.

    Mark Rippetoe say in his book that the program is intended for beginners and intermediate lifters that have been gone from the weights a long time. Even tho I have many years of boxing behind me and I’m not new in a gym, I’m still a total beginner when it comes to the sweet science of weightlifting, and Mark Rippetoe’s book has helped me understand how to perform a correct squat, deadlift, press, benchpress etc. Most important the book tell’s me in detail why it has to be done that way. Now thanks to you and my own research I understand that his version of the power clean is wrong and I have to look elsewere on how to perform it correctly.

    As many others I find starting strength to be useful but I didn’t know this had grown to be a cult. It’s only another trainingprogram that works well. Like many other programs out there.

    Anyway I just wanted to tell you that I liked your article and made me open my eyes a little, but that you should get all the facts on the table and not only the ones that benefits the article.


  4. Renato
    August 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Also interesting..

    Mark Rippetoe advocates lower volume for older guys/women.
    When you’re in your late 40’s and older,60, then your body can tolerate less volume.
    He strongly advices not to do 20 nor 10 reps.
    Only 5 reps, also for the joints.

    Bill Starr on the other side, advices to go lighter in weight and higher in reps when getting older and the joints start to give problems.
    20- 25 reps.

    Jack LaLanne felt fine doing high reps . So did Serge Nubret.
    Frank Zane.
    But they were not about lifting maximum weights most of their lifting career.

    Then again.
    What good does that heavy lifting bring when you need douple hip replacement like Lou Ferrigno or Ronnie Coleman and powerlifters have had.
    That’s not healthy living in my book.
    I lift to look good, to feel good, and to last long.

    • Rogelio
      August 24, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Great point! I do, however, believe that strength training can be done until one’s own ability to tolerate the intensity. It may be until one is 40 or 60, but strength training is the healthiest thing a male could ever do in his life. That, with a remotely healthy diet, will transform a man. I actually believe that strength training surpasses a mega-healthy diet in terms of importance for male health.

      A moderately-healthy diet (and not an obsessively-healthy diet) plus strength training is the key to health. This isn’t me saying this as something that is breakthrough; the guys in the 1920s were saying this and preaching what they said. Just read what guys like Arthur Saxon were saying back in those days. Basic strength training plus a natural diet; guys like Bill Starr got their knowledge from the legacy of these guys and the (at the time) current work of the American and British weightlifters of the 1950s like Reg Park.

      Repetitions of 10s and 20s do still build strength so long as you increase the weight progressively. The key is to not become a gym “couch potato” like many guys do in their 40s and older do when they join a gym; keep working focused and ALWAYS keep adding more weight since extra volume is less tolerable due to the decline in testosterone levels, among other consequences of aging. Even if increasing the weight lifted means that it’s only an extra 5 pounds every 6 months. And, most importantly, enjoy your lifting, whether it is Olympic weightlifting (my favorite style of building strength), Rippetoe’s weight training routines, powerlifting, Crossfit or bodybuilding. If you enjoy lifting weights, you will maintain your enthusiasm for weightlifting or weight training until your deathbed.

      Again, great point, Renato!


      • Renato
        August 24, 2015 at 3:50 pm


        Actually, this is also what Bill Starr preached in the Ironman magazine.
        When do you go lighter? You know when you have to go lighter.

        And that’s it. Just listen to the body. Or as Clarence Bass says, if it hurts, don’t do it. Go lighter, or change something. But don’t workout through ‘bad’ kind of pains.

        I love working out.
        I don’t do explosive lifts. I do more of a bodybuilding style of workout.
        Dumbbell flies, dumbbell curls, bench press, even wrist curls, the ab wheel roll-out etc.
        All those exercises.
        I totally agree on how this is the best thing a man can do for his body.
        And also healthy eating yes :-).
        And sometimes a not so healthy snack.
        Of course.
        My workouts last around 75 to 90 minutes.
        Not what some or many advocate, 60 minute maximum for testosterone/cortisol .
        But I feel fine and burn some calories along the way.
        Running is not my cup of tea.
        I’ve got my dumbbells very near me in my house so…



      • Renato
        August 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

        I want to add, I don’t do anabolic steroids. It doesn’t fit in a healthy way of life, and besides, using drugs for some more muscle? Not my priority. Health is more important.

        And I am not a bulky kind of person.
        My goal is to be the stronger me, than when I wouldn’t work out.
        The better, more fit looking me, than when not training.

        My rep ranges aren’t 20-25 by the way.
        I go and do many reps.
        That can be 15, but also 6.
        But mostly somewhere between 4 and 20 I would say.

        I think that a guy like Ronnie Coleman and many others would have looked much, much better when they wouldn’t have used muscle enhancing drugs.
        And it would be much healthier as well.
        Those bloated bellies aren’t very attractive either, innit?

  5. Hiren Vadhadiya
    July 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Hey Rogelio,

    I know you’re a busy man and have a lot on your plan, but if you could please take some time out to read my previous comment and help me with it, it would come a long way for me and would be forever grateful for your help. I really want to get in shape before college starts.

    Thank you,
    Hiren Vadhadiya

  6. Hiren Vadhadiya
    July 3, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Rogelio,

    Thank you for letting me in on this, I am a newbie to the gym and Mark Rippetoe starting strength was recommended to me by a buddy who is pretty big and couple years older than me. So now reading this, I have a couple of questions for you. First, is this the right program for me? I am currently 19 (turning 20 this year) college student. I have almost 2 months left before college starts and I would like to be in shape by the time it starts, I want to have a flat stomach and reduce my body fat while gaining muscles and getting cut/lean at the same time. That being said, I currently weigh 179 pounds, 5’9 in height and according to US Navy formula) Calculator my body fat is abt 22%. But in lamest terms I have a bit of belly that is noticeable when I wear tight cloths (I could email you my body pics as well). my metabolism is alright, not too skinny, but not obese either. So me telling you my goal and my current body state, is this a good program for me ? I have completed doing a week of it today. My buddy recommended this program cause its a full-body work out and not a split- workout and so i have heard that a full-body work out is much better when your just starting. Is ther another program that would give me more efficient/better results in the time I have? I mean I am going to continue working out after 2 months but I just want to go back and people be like “wow who is this new man?” I am basically trying to change my entire life style and the way I live.

    My second question is nutrition, what does my diet need to be like ? I am a vegetarian but eat eggs. also, my parents are from India, and I grew up here in Canada, so my mom cooks a lot of oily food but i try to tell her to reduce the amt as much as she can, cause I cant afford to eat out everyday. what is your suggestion on that? Also, protein shake? do I need to start taking that now ? if no, then when should I start ?
    My friends have always been made fun of me cause I am “fat” even though I am not and its about time I show them who the real man with curly hair is. So your help would be much much much appreciated. You seem like someone who knows what they are talking about, I feel there is way to much info on the internet and I would like one good source that’s it. Oh and yes I have access to a full gym membership and will for a long time. Hope to hear from you soon.



  7. Sud
    February 19, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Hi Rogelio,

    Very interesting article. Thanks for shedding light on Starting Strength, it was quite insightful. I am a gym noob who has been on and off weight lifting for about 4/5 years. I started off the Stronglifts program 2 years ago. Now I switched the Starting Strength program, mainly because it is just simple – 2 types of workouts…not too much to think about besides lifting.

    I’m quite intrigued by the whole wrong Power Clean technique preached by Mark Rippetoe. My question is simple: what is the correct technique? The Power Clean is the one thing I’m really struggling on grasping the technique on. I’m essentially just practising with an empty bar. Any advice on the proper power clean technique? Or where I could find information/videso about it? I’m trying to avoid getting a personal trainer for a one-off session to teach me the proper power clean technique…because 1) $$$$ and 2) personal trainer might have the technique wrong himself!



    • Rogelio
      February 19, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Sud,

      I wrote a power clean tutorial here at Manly Curls; I recommend you check it out here:

      The powerclean is a variant of an Olympic lift (i.e. the “Clean”), so you want to learn the powerclean from Olympic weightlifting coaches who have trained successful weightlifters. While I’m not such a coach, I’ve been trained by some of those successful coaches, so I know the cues and the overall pattern of a powerclean. My technique is not 100% perfect especially when I’m tired (all my weightlifting and power clean videos are after dozens of sets with anywhere from 250lbs to 275lbs as I like to record my lifts at the end when I’m tired to spot where I’m failing), but what I preach does follow the teachings that are taught by successful Olympic weightlifting coaches. My power clean guide includes some power clean videos, and you have have a look at my Youtube channel for more power clean videos (search in Youtube for manlycurlsDOTcom).

      Never deliberately jump on the powerclean. Never! And never do those donkey kicks that are promoted by the Crossfit guys. Triple extend, then dive down like you mean it and catch the bar so solid that even if anyone tried to push you, you would not budge.

      Lastly, 99.99999% of personal trainers do not know how to perform a correct powerclean. They usually teach you to do a reverse bicep curl from the floor (I’ve seen that too many times). At least with Rippetoe’s powerclean he’s teaching you to start the lift with your legs and not with your biceps. My advice for you is to try and find a weightlifting hall near your location and try to train there at least once per week. People in the Olympic weightlifting scene (not Crossfit!) are nice folks and always welcome newbies, so definitively try to find a weightlifting hall around where you live. What you’ll learn there is priceless.

      Hope that helps!


  8. jsp
    January 10, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Rippetoe’s overhead shoulder press is different as well. In one of the videos he says to bow the hips forward “as far as you can” and then snap them back as you thrust the weight overhead. This seems like either an outright stupid or extremely advanced technique but certainly doesn’t fit in a book for beginners. In his online videos it’s clear people are confused with his variation of this lift and tentative about doing it without injury.

    • Chris Adams
      March 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      I don’t see how anyone can be confused how he explains how the press. It’s very simple and any beginner should be able to do it.

  9. JSP
    January 10, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Rippetoe’s overhead shoulder press technique is different as well. In one of the videos he says to bow the hips forward, “as far as you can” and then snap back as you thrust the weight over your head. This seems to me an either outright stupid or extremely advanced lifting technique. Either way that variation of the lift doesn’t belong in a book for beginners. In several of his videos it’s clear people are confused about the meaning of this technique.

  10. xiaolei
    December 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Rogelio,

    Really appreciate your site and tips. One suggestion though, could you make a link to on your front page? Keep up the good work.



    • Rogelio
      December 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Hey Xiaolei,

      Thanks for mentioning it although the category was/is already in the front page; it’s on the (right) sidebar, just under my second book (The Men’s Hair Book, yellow/black cover; the text for the category is “Strength”). I’ll certainly take your comment as feedback though as I always like to hear how my visitors find the browsing experience of my site, so thanks again!



  11. Brian
    December 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Hello. I started a program similar to Starting Strength called Stronglifts. I have two questions: 1.) What is your opinion of the Stronglifts program? I know it is also a repackaged, marketed program based on already existing programs, but do you have any other critique(s)? 2.) I have watched hours and hours of videos on how to perform a squat. Rippetoe is the only person I found that teaches you to put your thumb on the top of the bar, keep your wrists straight, and push the bar into your deltoid shelf. He says this reduces wrist and elbow strain, but I also found that it makes your elbows push out more horizontally than other techniques, which then causes the back angle to be lower and makes it more difficult to keep the chest upright than if the elbows were more vertical. What is your opinion on this?

    • Rogelio
      December 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Brian,

      Rippetoe is (or was) a powerlifter an teaches his kids powerlifting-themed exercises; in fact his squat technique is not what many powerlifters use. Rippetoe is also the only “coach” advocating jumping in the power clean (throw in Crossfit “coaches too), so take what he says with a massive grain of sodium chloride.

      My opinion is, “simply squat”. Do it as you want to do it so long as 1) You don’t injure yourself 2) You don’t cheat. Personally I advocate Ass-To-Grass squats, or at least as low as flexibility allows; and that’s the style of squats I do despite I have the natural flexibility of a 93-year-old granny. The Olympic squat has been practised for 100 years and is a proven method to develop strength, stamina and flexibility. When in doubt, follow the basic principles.

      If the Rippetoe squat style bothers you, then don’t do it. Put the barbell higher up in the traps so you can keep the elbows down and torso more vertical. About Strong Lifts, I have heard of it but never really looked into it as I don’t care about rehashed programs (other than giving credit to Bill Starr for SS). My only interests are progressive overload, frequent full body heavy training (up to 5 times per week), food and watching videos on Youtube of Soviet Olympic weightlifters.

      Happy squatting.


      • Dani
        September 8, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        Does Bill Starr include the deadlift in the book. What do you think about the exercise in general?

    • James
      January 9, 2014 at 6:18 am

      For what it’s worth stronglifts was my introduction to lifting and I thought it was fantastic. I’m still a noob and can only barely squat 500 but I’m proud as hell about every pound. I’d recommend it, then madcow, them 5/3/1. In reference to giving credit I believe the stronglifts guy talks up bill Starr a lot in his booklet thing.

  12. frank
    July 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hey would you agree that Starting Strength is the best program for someone who wants to increase their squat as quickly as possible? For example, someone who weighs 180 who can currently only squat 160 x 5 and has a short-term goal of a 1 rep max of 1.8 times their bodyweight(335 x 1) and a main goal of 2.4 times bodyweight(440 x 1). From reading forums it seems that people have put over 100 pounds on their squat within a couple months because you add weight to each workout. Or, are there other programs that are more effective for someone who wants to increase their squat in this way

    • Rogelio
      July 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      My friend, just add weight to the barbell; when you can’t add more, rest for a week then go at it again the next week.

      Careful with what people say on forums; many like to inflate how much they lift; if there is no video, be skeptic. Many claim they can squat XXX amount, yet they do quarter squats. Have a look at my lifting videos; you see how low I go? That’s how a squat is done. A full squat with double bodyweight is a long term goal for you; say a year. I’ve squatted (full ass to grass) double body weight for 20 reps, which is a nice goal to shoot for; but by then you will be a killing machine and no jeans can fit you.

      Serious, pick a program, squat all the way down and stick to the program for a year. Just don’t do power cleans if you do Starting Strength.


  13. Nicolas
    February 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Hello man, I wanted to ask your opinion about my workout. I am a 17 years old boy, 6 feet, and 132 pound (about that) so I am pretty skinny and I am trying to gain muscle and weight. I have a very fast metabolism, so it is hard for me to gain weight. I eat A LOT, but I eat very healthy (lots of fruits and veggies, good quality meat, lots of fish, etc…) Here is my workout, tell me what you think of it. What would you recommend? I also don’t drink alcohol or smoke.

    3×10 push-ups
    3×10 Dumbbell flyes (10 pound per arm)

    3x 7x6x5 Biceps Curls (20 pound per arm)

    Abs and Obliques
    3×10 Leg Raises
    3×20 Trunk twists
    20 Side bends (20 pounds per arm)
    3×10 Cross crunch

    20 Lunges (20 pounds per arm)

    3×20 Toe Raises (20 pound per arm)

    • Rogelio
      February 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Nicolas,

      What’s the frequency of your workout (i.e. how many times a week do you do the above workout). Also, do you have access to a gym with free weights, an Olympic barberll (Long barbell with revolving sleeves) and a squat rack?


      • Nicolas
        February 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        I workout every other day (monday, wednesday, friday, sunday, tuesday, thursday…) and no, I don’t have access to a gym :(

  14. Tbone
    January 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Very helpful site.

    Just a few points I’d like to throw out there. SS may not be the BEST Olympic trainer thing out there but for most people it’s the best they’ll ever get as far as learning the basics. I know it helped me ALOT. Especially to learn the deep full squat and the deadlift etc. As far as the PC there does seem to be many ways to teach the lift. One method is “Jump and Shrug”. The tripple extention is at the end of a vertical jump. The method may be made up but not by MR as this method has been around a long time even in European Oly gyms, but ALL methods are made up, and it helps the absolute NOOB to stop pulling the bar up with the arms and shoulders and teaches how to use the legs and hips to get the bar moving up explosively. Just as you attempt to teach with your method. A great way to instill this concept is to compare it to a vertical jump, as almost anyone knows how to jump and can use this mental image. One coach you mentioned, Mike Burgener, also uses this EXACT analogy to teach the PC and he trains CrossFit coaches as well. This is usually the best method to teach beginners or non weight-lifting athletes.
    The other method is the “catapult” or “extend and drop” which seems to be your prefered method and in my opinion prolly the better method for serious weightlifters who want to handle serious weight.

    • Rogelio
      January 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      HI Tom,

      I respect your opinion and I assume you have read my comments apart from the article. It won’t change the fact that Mark Rippetoe doesn’t know how to teach the proper technique to handle big weights in the power clean and the technique used in Crossfit is, for the most part, hideous too.

      If you want to follow Mark Rippetoe’s power clean dogma, by all means, do so.

      All the best.

  15. Eddie
    January 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Hey Rogelio. All this uncertainty about the power clean is why I’ve replaced it with the Pendlay row. I know that everyone says that there is no replacement for the power clean because it’s just THAT important, but I know myself well enough to know that if I’m unsure what I’m doing is effective I’ll probably just quit. So I just started the Kethnaab version of SS which uses rows instead of power cleans.

  16. Ray
    December 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    100% agreed especially the last paragraph. Never seen anyone on starting strength do a decent power clean, not even Rippetoe himself lol I think Bill Starr getss to little recognition for what he has done for modern-day weight training by the way.

    • Rogelio
      December 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Ray,

      Well, you certainly are right about the power clean comment. I get a lot of guys asking me about power clean technique, and those doing Starting Strength are the ones with the worst technique of all (just as bad technique as those doing Crossfit).

      Bill Starr should be selling millions of books if the world we live in were a fair world.

      Thanks for commenting.

      All the best.

  17. Eric
    November 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I’m really confused. I have a copy of “Starting Strength,” and in the chapter on Power Cleans the authors explicitly don’t teach the shrug. They go into great detail why they don’t teach the shrug. So is there a way to teach the jump-and-shrug without teaching the shrug? When the authors say there is no reason to focus on the shrug because it happens naturally as part of the rest of the movement, is that actually an insidious subliminal code to get me to practice the jump-and-shrug without realizing it? What am I missing here? I’ve seen other people teach a jump-and-shrug technique, but I was able to recognize it, because they said I should jump and then shrug before I racked the bar. Please help me sort this out. Thanks.

    • Rogelio
      November 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Eric,

      The “jump and shrug” cue was later revised. The shrug does in fact occur as part of the triple extension, but it is more of a natural cue than the rest of cues to follow for the power clean. The cue to “jump” in the power clean is a faulty one, and you should never aim to jump in the power clean. You should simply thrust your hips forward as the barbell reaches knee length to commence the second pull while keeping the arms with the elbows flared out. Ignore anyone whose advice includes actively jumping in the power clean: the jump occurs naturally as part of the triple extension and setting up to catch the barbell, and some lifters don’t even jump as in have the tips of their toes leave the ground.

      Hope that helped sorting out your enquiry.

      All the best.

      • Roger
        December 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

        Hi Rogelio, thanks for all the great articles! I am trying to learn the power clean and came across your site. You mention several times that one should not “jump” as part of the power clean. However, I wonder if this is really just a matter of semantics. In your power clean tutorial, you say “The triple extension is … the consequence of exploding the barbell up into the air… All your points of flexion (ankles, knees and hips) are straightened…” I don’t think anybody disagrees with that, but isn’t a vertical jump the same thing as an explosive straightening of the ankles, knees, and hips?

        Further to this, you provide an illustration in which one tries to throw a loaded bag into the air as high as possible. If one tries to throw the bag with just one’s arms, the bag doesn’t go very high. If, however, one engages the hips and legs, then the bag can be thrown much higher. But wouldn’t the bag go the highest if one were to actually perform a vertical jump and jump as high as possible while throwing the bag? I know that if I were to try to throw a loaded bag as high as possible, I would crouch down, and then try to explosively jump up and throw the bag.

        As the previous poster Eric mentions, the SS book explicitly does not teach the shrug. It does, however, teach the jump, but at least to my untrained eye, an explosive vertical jump seems to be essentially the same thing as an explosive triple extension. Could it be that you and Rippetoe are actually advocating the same thing but are just stating it in different ways?

        • Rogelio
          December 8, 2012 at 11:43 am

          Hi Roger,

          There is no jumping in the power clean. I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at with the vertical jump, it doesn’t make sense. The elevating of the tips off in the air in the power clean (which is what many people think is actively jumping) is so as to split the legs wider, there are many weightlifters who do NOT go up in the air when triple extending; I’ve actually trained with 2 lifters (one who could clean 190kgs) who would not leave the floor. Furthermore, the mechanics of a vertical jump is not akin to how you get to the triple extension in the power clean, the power is created differently in both motions, thus the comparison is irrelevant. If anything, the vertical jump would be akin to the jerk, not the clean.

          About the bag, no. Please read the paragraph of my tutorial again: the bag is started from the floor, you don’t (vertical) jump from a crouched position, do you. Secondly, it is the power of the hip thrust that gets the bag or barbell flying up, NOT any vertical jumping that you are alluding to.

          Like I’ve said repeatedly, any elevation off the floor when performing the triple extension is irrelevant. Many people think of this as actively jumping, which is WRONG. Semantics? I rather teach a newbie to get his hips forward explosively than teach him to jump because this will ingrain bad technical cues, which is coincidentally what all my Olympic coaches have taught me. In fact, everyone whom I’ve seen doing the power clean with the silly jumping cue has a below-mediocre power clean; everyone who does Starting Strength and who follows Rippetoe advice on the power clean has bad technique and below-mediocre power cleans (and I help out a lot of guys with their power cleans, many coming from Starting Strength and not getting past 200lbs). If you want to get good at the power clean, get a weightlifting coach to show it to you.

          All the best.

          • Roger
            December 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

            Thanks for the reply, Rogelio. In terms of feet leaving the ground, your feet will of course leave the floor if you jump with light weights. However, with heavy weights, your feet will not necessarily leave the ground even if you jump as hard as you can.

            It is perhaps relevant to note that it is not only Rippetoe who advocates jumping. Greg Everett teaches a “jump and bump” in this Olympic weightlifting book and from what I can tell, he is a respected OL coach. Glenn Pendlay, one of the OL coaches you reference in your power clean article, also teaches a jump in his YouTube clean tutorial.

            I’m really not trying to be argumentative with you and am honestly just trying to learn the proper technique to do a clean/power clean. There seem to be various opinions on the matter from various reputable sources and I’m just trying to figure it all out. It is interesting that you mention that the mechanics of a triple extension are different from that of a vertical jump. I actually came to that same conclusion myself earlier this week before you had replied. I am currently experimenting with the various techniques that I have read/seen and will hopefully find one that works best for me.

            Thanks for all you help!

          • Rogelio
            December 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

            Hi Roger,

            I appreciate any comments; the thing is that I have gone through everything you have asked in my previous comment (and also in comments to other people).

            The technique with light weights is the same as with heavy weights, you’re wrong if you think that your feet will leave the ground with lighter weights. They don’t, and someone with good technique knows how to maximise his lifting even with light weights; the lifting technique and motion is always the same regardless of weightload. Please, if you are going to argue about this, at least have a bit more of a solid knowledge base.

            The jumping that you keep finding ways to go on about is ineffective because you go up in height instead of going down when the barbell has had all the power imprinted, which wastes the precious split second that you have to get down under the barbell. The correct technique is to finish the triple extension and then dive down. This is how all Olympic coaches have taught me the lift, and it is certainly how I teach it because that is, indeed, the right way to do it. If you are wasting time going up in the air when the barbell is already flying up, you are not going to maximise the lift, which equates to not moving big weights no matter how strong your posterior chain may be.

            Since you are a beginner to the lift, this is what I recommend you:

            1) Don’t split hairs. If you are still not convinced with my tutorial, then by all means, use Rippetoe’s technique. Splitting hairs only leads to getting more confused. Do whichever technique you prefer, but, just do it.

            2) Spend time under the barbell. This way you will learn how the power clean requires a speed component that requires the lifter to maximise his technique. Only by spending time under the barbell, will you appreciate this speed component if you want to move above-mediocre weights.

            3) Don’t take what you read or watch online for granted (including my tutorial). The jumping that you are referring to with those coaches is a semantic issue, for I know at least Pendlay doesn’t advocate jumping actively (other than the natural leaving off the ground that may occur). However, for those videos you allude to, he may very well use the jumping not as a cue, but to illustrate that feet need to be split (which semantically equates to a jump). All coaches I have trained with have never referenced jumping, but they have all referenced diving under the barbell. I have never trained with Pendlay, and I only reference him for further weightlifting content because he is, after all, a weightlifting coach (something that Rippetoe isn’t and never has been). And for what is worth, I rather have my readers learn from Tommy Kono or one of my coaches, but they either don’t have a website or don’t speak English.

            Pick your technique and train hard.

            All the best.

  18. Andy Ellis
    October 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm


    I have a question that I am having a hard time finding relevant information on. The question is kind of a two-parter. It has to do with best practices for older lifters, and how to design a routine more geared toward maintenance than gains. First a little background:

    I am early 50s. I about 6′ tall, and a year and a half ago, I weighed about 240 pounds – 50 to 60 pounds overweight and no exercise. Long story short, I cut crap out of my diet, did cardio and starting strength, and lost about 55 pounds in 7 or 8 months. Great gains on SS. All that is fine.

    It is not, nor has it ever been, my intention to make muscle gain for its own sake. I would like to be fit and strong, and stay that way – but I am not prepping for competition or any particular sport. Accordingly, any muscle I put on gets used almost exclusively in the weight room. Unmaintained muscle turns to fat, and I don’t need to go there.

    Not entirely sure where to stop, but I am at 185 pounds now; not sure of 1RMs but I would estimate deadlift at 340 5RM; bench about 170 5RM, squat around 260 5RM.

    Especially due to the deadlift seeming VERY VERY heavy, I am thinking I would like to move to a routine of maintenance that will allow me to keep what I have. Almost everything I see is about gains, or making gains and then moving on to sport-specific exercises.

    What do you recommend for maintenance? I do very much enjoy these full body workouts (squats, deadlift) as well as the bench (I do standing press as well, but those numbers are really low).

    • Rogelio
      October 23, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Andy,

      First of all, allow me to show you my admiration for what you have done and are doing since building and maintaining one’s health should be a priority at such an age. It is never too late when it comes to fitness, and my hat goes off to you for showing such determination and dedication. Let me address your enquiry.

      You don’t need to be preparing to compete as a powerlifter/bodybuilder to be doing the big 3 exercises as you’ve been doing with Starting Strength (SS). In fact, these compound exercises and training with a full body emphasis is how the oldschool lifters used to train, and they would all go on to their 60s and 70s and would still train with compound exercises. Never underestimate the ability of properly executed weight training to provide health and strength.

      You will never gain too much muscle. For starters, excess muscle (or any muscle) doesn’t turn to fat; this is a huge myth that has been going around for too long. Muscle tissue and adipose (fat) tissue are totally different body tissues, and you’d need more than a metabolic miracle to convert muscle into fat. Thus, remove that belief from your mind: when one loses muscle, the muscle is literally peed away and basal metabolism goes down (muscle burns calories), so if one maintains the same intake of calories as he did when he had more muscle mass, one would then end up gaining fat, and hence why people associate losing muscle mass with muscle turning into fat.

      My advice is, as simple as it may sound, to keep doing what you are doing. Keep aiming to add more to the barbell over the long term and keep a healthy diet. At your age, your ability to gain muscle is impaired due to lower testosterone levels (compared to your 20s), so even if you trained like a maniac, you’d be very lucky to gain 10lbs of muscle mass.

      With regards to the deadlift, this is the only issue in which I would suggest you to change things. If the deadlift is feeling very heavy because it irritates your tendons and ligaments, I would advise you to change the deadlift for barbell rows; the latter are much more forgiving than the former when it comes to lower back stress, and at your age, an injury to this area could have some serious consequences. Thus, merely change this exercise (deadlift for barbell rows) but keep doing barbell squats and presses as suggested by SS. This should be your maintenance routine.

      Lastly, one improves the most when one enjoys what he does. If you enjoy doing all these compound exercises (I don’t blame you, I do too), then so be it and continue doing them. When done properly, these exercises will strengthen your whole body, which will then have a carryover to the rest of your life. If, however, training with heavy loads worries you, then instead of doing sets of 5 reps do sets of 15 reps although the risk of injury is very similar with both rep formats. But do keep the exercises that you do and your focus on building strength.

      Feel free to let me know how you get on with it.

      All the best.

  19. Corey
    October 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I can see some of your points, but mostly disagree with your article.

    Yes SS is bill stars program rehashed (Bill Starr trained Mark). However, what is wrong with that? how many people would of looked back to a book from the 70s for training advice in this day and age?

    also, what other program is better for a novice then one that has linear progression? SS is the only program I know out there that would have got my squat up to 315×5 in a few months from 135. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this program and it is helping a lot of people get strong.

    do have to agree on the jump and shrug though, but most of your hate is unnecessary.

    • Rogelio
      October 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Corey,

      The point of this article is to show the reader that there is more to Starting Strength. The majority of those using SS are beginners to strength training, and they don’t know the history of the physical activity that will change their bodies and lives. If you read the rest of my articles, you will notice that I write tongue in cheek because having people look at other options when they are brainwashed is hard enough as it is.

      I don’t hate at all; I’m actually glad that bicep curl bros are now considering doing squats instead of leg extensions. If I were to hate, I would actually channel my efforts to destroying those guys who take steroids to fool people into thinking that they got their gains from their silly routine/knowledge/pimped supplements (you know, like that shortcutabs guy on Youtube); those are the guys to “hate” (if anything).

      Linear progression for a beginner, done with whatever routine, is what works. Even split bodybuilding routines will work, despite they don’t take advantage of a newbie’s ability to adapt to pretty much any physical stress without risking overtraining.

      All the best.

  20. Jj
    September 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    What do you mean by you’re not supposed to “jump and shrug?”

    • Rogelio
      October 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

      “Jump and shrug” is a faulty cue that is used to teach the power clean.

  21. sergey
    September 24, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Hi Rogelio,
    First of all, I apologize for my English, it is not my native language.

    Your criticism seems reasonable, but there are things that make it a bit questionable. You criticize technique of barbell clean, as it does not correspond to the Olympic practice. However, squat in the book is not quite Olympic, too, if I understand correctly.

    Military press technique described in the book looks very different to what I saw in videos from earlier Olympic competitions, but it seems safer because it minimizes stress on waist.

    In other words, perhaps “not-Olympic” technique is more safe, but does not allow to achieve maximum results.

    I would sacrifice results for health, as most people training in gym.

    I’ll be glad to know your opinion about my thoughts.

    Your website is very helpful and encouraging! Thanks!

    • Rogelio
      September 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Sergey,

      Thanks for passing by and commenting. Your English is great, I understood your comment without a problem!

      Let me address your questions:

      1) Rippetoe teaches a squat technique that is different from that of an Olympic squat. I personally don’t share it as I believe it is in a beginner’s interest to squat Olympic style as the Olympic squat develops flexibility and doesn’t allow for cheating the lift. I know of powerlifters who don’t approve of his squat technique either, but the squat allows for preference in technique and can be approached in a less strict manner than the power clean. I have trained with guys Olympic squatting 250kgs after cleaning 200kgs so, needless to say, the Olympic squat builds tons of strength and is not difficult to perform.

      2) The videos you have seen of the Olympic press (what you refer to as military press) are videos taken in the 1950s and 1960s. Back in those decades, the press was performed with a quick flicking of the hips (hip drive) which got out of control, so the the Olympic press was removed from the Olympic weightlifting schedule in 1972, leaving the Snatch and Clean & Jerk as the competition lifts. Do the military press as Mark Rippetoe suggests; you can also check out my press tutorial here:

      Absolutely, health comes first. The thing is, good technique, as exemplified in the power clean and Olympic squat, will actually build better health and a stronger body that will be resistant to injury.

      If you got any more questions, let them know.

      All the best.

  22. Todd
    September 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Your points about clean technique may be valid but your criticisms about SS being stolen from Bill Starr are way off base. The reason that you thought of TSSS when you read SS is because he based it on TSSS. Rip himself has always admitted that he was trained and inspired by Starr and that his program is based largely on TSSS. “But all of my training comes from Bill Starr and the old guys back in the ’50s. I’ve not invented anything here. All I’ve done is write it back down. If you look at writings from years ago, like Stuart McRobert, and Bradley J. Steiner in Ironman, and Bill back in the Strength and Health magazine days, they’ll all tell you the same thing.” – Mark Rippetoe in an interview with T-Nation.

    • Rogelio
      September 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Todd,

      I am fully aware of Rippetoe claiming that Bill Starr was a major influence in his work. However, I want my readers to be aware of routines which are much older than Starting Strength and which have been working for decades. Personally, whether Rippetoe credits Bill Starr or not, I don’t care: Starting strength brings nothing new to the table and much of Rippetoe’s claimed fame comes from using and spinning the works of others which date to decades before and which many newbies (and not so newbies) to the weight training arena are not aware of.

      Starting Strength could have been left as a free routine posted on a forum and that’d be it, mostly because every strength/powerlifting-oriented gym that I have been to has a generic beginner routine which is basically Starting Strength minus the cleans. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one complaining about this. There’s nothing special about Starting Strength and I did a spun routine of TSSS when I started weight training and made huge gains as a beginner by following coach Starr’s simple methods and emphasis on progressive overload.

      Thanks for passing by.

      All the best.

  23. Nick
    August 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I’m very glad that I found this educational article. I’m beginner in weight lifting, although I’ve been lifting before, but only for 5 months. I’m planning to return into lifting soon. My primary goal mass and bulk, however im planning to do strength routine for 3-6 months, because my lifts are quite weak for beginner.

    In this article you undirectly mentioned “Strongest Shall Survive” program as much better alternative to SS. But there even more strength programs around – Stronglifts 5×5, Madcows5x5, Bill Hurr’s 5×5, modified versions of SS and so on…Thats quite a lot to choose from!

    My main question to you is which strength programm would better suit me? Should i stick with SS or should i pick any other from one of those? Or program really doesn’t matter that much, because they all are very similar and all of them will give me results?

    Looking for your opinion and thanks in advance.

    Some of my background so you can get better view on me:

    Current stats:
    18yrs old
    6’5 tall, 170lbs, bf (approx)- 14%
    Bench 135 lbs,
    Squat 200 lbs

    Been training for 5 months (from nov2011-march2012), 3 day split with many iso’s, gained around 18 lbs, but not much strength. Increased bodyfat a bit, not skinny anymore, but still very slim.

    One year goals:
    1) To do strength routine for 3-6 months (will see how it’s going)
    2) To improve strength – bench (at least) my own bodyweight and squat twice my own bodyweight
    3) To begin more hyperthrophy oriented routine with more volume
    4) Bulk to 200 lbs in one year

    • Rogelio
      August 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Nick,

      Hope all is well. Let me offer you my opinion.

      Certainly, there are many strength routines to choose from for beginners and, at this stage, you must have one sole goal in mind: to build a strong foundation.

      What does this mean?

      1) Practise, practise and practise some more. Strength is a skill.
      2) Use compound movements.
      3) Add more weight to the barbell over the long term.

      What I advise beginners is to give themselves a year to build a solid foundation and do the 3 points above. Forget about isolation, complex nutritional plans, debating useless stuff or reading too much. Building strength is actually easy in theory, but it is blood, sweat and tears in practice.

      Starting Strength is a good routine for newbies. I personally believe that there are better ones as I don’t particularly think that SS takes enough advantage of the precious asset that a newbie has: ability to adapt to anything while building strength. I have mentioned what I would improve from the Starting Strength routine in a comment below so read the comments to know more about what I am talking about.

      Having said the above, the book by Mark Rippetoe is worth the purchase. Rippetoe gives out some great training gems, specially in his last edition, so I recommend you to buy his book. Bill Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive (TSSS) is an epic book, as so are his routines, but coach Starr uses the power clean as a decisive lift in the routines, and unmonitored newbies cannot reap the benefit of the power clean because the power clean has a technical aspect that needs to be deloped much more than, say, the deadlift.

      At this point in time all you have to do is pick something and put your mind to it. Too much reading will cause paralysis by analisis. If I were coaching you in real life, I’d put you on the TSSS routine and have you working on the power cleans like a boss. However, assuming you are unsupervised, you will not make much of the power clean nor of the precious asset which you have as a newbie.

      For your case, I would recommend you to do the original TSSS but instead of power cleans do deadlifts. I actually did this routine when I first started lifting many years ago and I did 415lbsx5 in less than 6 months of training (and I had started as a total newbie, I thought a deadlift involved having to go to the cemetery). However, some people find that they cannot do squats and deadlifts frequently so what you then do is do barbell rows instead of deadlifts on the Light day and you do this day in a circuit training manner.

      This is the original TSSS program:

      Alternatively, have a read through my Manly Strength routine which I used to get in shape after a long period of no training and which will work optimally for your case as I have used it on newbies to great effect. You can find it here:

      It is very hard though, you’ve been warned.

      Choose one of the 2 programs and stick to it for a year. Eat enough and work it hard, your mind will be blown in a year’s time, I guarantee you that.

      Keep me updated on your progress and what you decided to choose.

      All the best.

      • Nick
        September 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm

        Thanks for your response!
        I’ll get gym membership probably next week, so I’ll definitely will let you know about my progress.

        I have one more question about TSSS:
        You writed: “Note that you use the same weights as the previous week for your working up sets (first four sets) and it is the final 5th set that is solely upped by 5lbs”

        After reading article I’m still not sure about this.

        I don’t want to mess up program, but would it be right if every week i’m trying to max out my final set, while never increasing weight in my work-up sets?

        • Rogelio
          September 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

          Hi Nick,

          In Day 1 of the routine, you increase the weight by 5lbs of what you used on Day 1 of last week.

          For example, this is how you progress if you used the bench pres:

          Week 1 (your first week):

          Bench: work up to 200lbs in 5 sets (e.g. 95×5, 115×5, 135×5, 185×5 200×5)

          Week 2 (your second week)

          Bench: work up to 205lbs in 5 sets (e.g. 95×5, 115×5, 135×5, 185×5 205×5)

          Notice how in Week 2 you used the same working up sets with the same weight as Weeek 1, you only upped the last set by 5lbs in Week 2.

          By the way, what are you choosing for the power clean replacement since you chose TSSS?

          I hope that helped and let me know how you go and on the above question, buddy.

          All the best.

          • Nick
            September 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

            Hi Rogelio,
            Yes, i understood that, but i’m not sure should i use same weight in work-up sets everytime and so on..or should i raise it at some point?
            For example, like you mentioned:
            Week one is: 95×5, 115×5, 135×5, 185×5 200×5
            Week two is: 95×5, 115×5, 135×5, 185×5 205×5

            Shouldn’t week 3 or maybe week 4 be: 100×5, 120×5, 140×5, 190×5 210×5
            Since i systematicaly raise weight in 5th set every week, does weight in work-up sets stay the same all the time?

            I hope i defined my question much better this time!:)

            Nope, i decided to choose deadlifts and rows on a light day like you suggested. Besides, unlike squats and bench, i haven’t done deadlifts nearly enough in past, so now i have chance to practice them a lot.

          • Rogelio
            September 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

            Hi Nick,

            I got ya. Stay with the same working weights. Take into account that every week you go up by 5lbs which means that using the above example, in 3 weeks your 4th set would equate your 3 weeks’ previous best 5 rep max, and in 6 weeks you’d be doing 15lbs more for your 4th set than you were doing for your 5th set 6 weeks ago!

            The purpose of the ramp up sets is to provide volume and to better your technique. Take these sets seriously, do the technique perfect because you want to have a solid technique when the battle commences for the 5th set.

            Up the weight for your ramp up sets after a 12 week block (that’s 60lbs of gains). Go by feel, your 4th set should not be feeling heavy, it should be performed fast, with good technique and be preparing you mentally for the hard 5th set. The problem is that I don’t know your strength levels nor how much you can push yourself but once you get an OK strength base (bench: 225×5, squat: 300×5, deadlift 400×5), you should be performing your 4th set at 80% of your 5 rep max.

            For now, go by feel with the ramp up weights, use the same weight every week for them and ingrain in yourself that they are there to practise technique and prepare you mentally for the last set.

            All the best.

            Edit: In any case, I recommend you to either get the book The Strongest Shall Survive as Bill Starr covers everything about the program and the book is worth the purchase. If not, get Starting Strength as Rippetoe, at least for the training aspects in the book.

      • Alex H
        January 9, 2014 at 2:56 am

        >> For your case, I would recommend you to do the original TSSS but instead of power cleans do deadlifts.

        Which is basically SS but with slower progression (weight increase once per week instead of 3 times a week) because TSSS is an intermediate program, not a novice program.

        This whole debate is hair-splitting at its finest and the SS book alone makes the whole SS program worth it. As you say best is to pick something and stick with it. The book gives background as to why the low-bar squat and power clean are taught the way they are and that is because it is geared to newbies, for their first 3-6 months of training. Your article doesn’t give any reasoning at all.

        The book also gives a good no-bullshit primer on linear progression, proper programming, etc etc. Anyone reading the book will know more about proper strength training than 99% of the active gym population in your average gym.

        If anything, the nutritional advice in the book is mediocre. TDEE and protein in g/lbs/day should be presented instead of the GOMAD approach but any book pushing the big 3 compund lifts should be praised in this age of treadmills.

  24. Frank
    August 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Man, I love your site even though I have straight bone hair. The article you did on Justin Biebers personal trainer is hilarious.

    • Rogelio
      August 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Glad you enjoy it, Frank!

      All the best.

  25. Javier Dos Santos
    August 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I have never understood the obsession with Starting Strength. Some boards have this cult going on because they are full of weak noobs who could not squat their way out of a paper bag even if their lives depended on it (/fitness is a classic example). Just like you said, this is the perfect population (noobs) of gym trainers who will swallow real good anything that is mediocre as even the worst of programs will work for beginners.
    Being a powerlifter myself and having a team in our gym, whenever we get a beginner wanting to get strong and build muscle, we put them on a generic program with the big 3 done frequently and some assistance work. It is very generic stuff and stuff that can be found online on the deepsquatter site (ie it’s free) yet, for some reason, a mediocre generic program like Starting Strength has developed cult-like status. What’s funnier is that I have yet to see anyone doing Starting Strength who is actually strong or looks mildly good (and I am also talking about those doing the intermediate and advanced routines of the program).
    I won’t lose any sleep over it but sometimes it bothers me to see all these noobs getting lack of good gains from the program and getting fat from Rippetoe’s GOMAD and other silly training gems.
    Dos Santos

    • Rogelio
      August 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Javier,

      Yes, there are many other programs that are just as good or better than Starting Strength for newbies. I have just replied to a comment on what changes I would make to it (see below in the comments). However, it is also true that Starting Strength, as a resource for the weight training beginner, does more good than bad because apart from some nonsense spouted by Rippetoe, the book is full of training gems and will give the beginner some common sense advice that will build the foundation to building strength over the long term.

      Having said that, you are correct in that I have also yet to see anyone doing Starting Strength who has gotten impressive results from the program (strength and/or muscle gain).

      All the best.

  26. Victor Lee
    August 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Rogelio, really enjoyed the article though I don’t agree 100% (I do 99%!) with it but I’m seeing what you did there in that you have taken a devil’s advocate position to the program (Im also tired of the SS nuthugging someone else said lol). Having read your tutorials, its clear that you have done your walking before doing the talking and Im really loving that powerclean tutorial of yours. In fact, my question is in regards to the latter.
    Do you advocate any jumping in the powerclean? I came through a forum and someone was saying your point on the jump/shrug was not valid because you advocate jumping in your powerclean tutorial (since you are criticizing the jumping in Rippetoe’s technique?) Can you please clear this for me as I cannot see anywhere on your tutorial you saying to jump in the powerclean (as far as Im concerned, oly coaches say to do no jumping).
    Cheers dude :)

    • Javier Dos Santos
      August 14, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I have gone over Rogelio’s power clean tutorial one more time and nowhere in there he says to jump in any manner. I am a powerlifter but started as a weightlifter for 4 years (did some comps, done 242/324 as a 207) and I can vouch for Rogelio’s stance on the power clean, there is no active jumping in the clean or power cleaning and coaches do not teach one to jump when learning the clean. I would not be surprised if whoever it is you are referring to would be part of the same population Rogelio is calling “cultists”.
      Dos Santos

    • Rogelio
      August 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Victor,

      Unfortunately, opinions are like anuses, everyone has one (including me).

      I don’t know where you got that but I assume it would be from one of those crybabies who can’t see beyond his crying and his tears do not allow him to read my power clean tutorial properly. Otherwise, I would not have any explanations for such idiocy.

      There is no jumping per se in the power clean and my power clean tutorial doesn’t talk about jumping whatsoever other than the natural air elevation from imprinting the powerful hip drive to the barbell in order to extend with it. I have even toyed (under the supervision of one of my oly coaches) with not moving my feet upon full extension, which I have found of benefit in the snatch as my leverages in the snatch are a bit different than most lifters.

      Do not see beyond the crying and hating, and just concentrate on reading and putting to use the advice on my power clean tutorial. It (my tutorial) is currently being used by high school/college coaches as I have received numerous emails from coaches thanking me for putting up, for free, a tutorial that is taught from the Olympic lifting perspective.

      Feel free to update me on any progress you make as you go along in your quest to become stronger.

      All the best.

  27. Krystine
    August 14, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Hello Rogelio,
    I just wanted to know I really enjoyed your article. I am a powerlifter and have benefited greatly in the past using Rippetoe’s SS program. I made great gains and did gain some useful descriptions on how to do the form (sometimes it helps to hear multiple people’s ways of explaining form because the words just click better). Anyway, you do make some great points and I think more people should take everything with a grain of salt. But compared to most of the other crap out on the internet, I agree that SS is a good place for beginners to start. I was wondering if you ever read his book he wrote with Kilgore called “Practical Programming for Strength Training”? He goes into detail on training past the beginner stages and just wanted to know if you had any opinions on his methods for the intermediate, advanced, and elite lifters.

    – K

    • Rogelio
      August 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Krystine,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I absolutely agree, the Internet is full of training rubbish (e.g. that guy from shortcutsabs or whatever is called on Youtube) and Starting Strength is the opposite of this rubbish. I have said it before in the article and in my comments, Starting Strength remains a good option for beginners despite my personal takes on it. There’s nothing more to it.

      I have read parts of Practical Programming for Strength Training as one of the guys in our gym lent it to me some time ago. I didn’t read it fully as the only labcoat book that I prioritize in reading is Supertraining by Mel Siff (highly recommend it if you are into more than the basics of training). I think Rippetoe and Kilgore’s book was great and I think their definition and strength standards for the different trainee classifications is fairly reliable. As far as I recall, their set standards do not assume drug use nor training gear which is something that those who don’t agree with the standards never take into account.

      Overall, I’d say it is a good book to have and read if you are into the more in-depth stuff of training. Supertraining by Mel Siff would be another great addition to your library if you are into nerdy reading.

      All the best.

  28. David
    August 14, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Thanks Rogelio for a great article! I was wondering what your stance on Babylover’s SS modification?

    • Rogelio
      August 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Hi David,

      I am not keen on modifications done by others to weight training programs. Unless the modifications were done by Mark Rippetoe himself, I don’t believe that such mods would still be “Starting Strength”. Essentially, it would be another program, or at least in my eyes.

      Any modifications that I think would improve Starting Strength would be in terms of frequency (I believe that newbies can get away and would benefit from more training frequency), more volume (especially on the cleans, something like 10×3) and having a training day repeated during the training week so as to get practising the compound lifts more and grease the groove (you will not get anywhere doing cleans once a week or twice a week). However, if you applied my modifications to the Starting Strength routine, it would not be Starting Strength any more but another routine/program.

      I don’t agree semantically and I think the Babylover’s Starting Strength modifications are OK and worth a try if you are not happy with the Starting Strength routine.

      All the best.

  29. Adnan
    August 12, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Hi rogelio, i really need your help and would love for you to respond. I just turned 18 and my weight is 133 pounds (so that’s skinny i guess?) I want to become stronger and am looking for an absolute beginners workout. Im really put off starting strength now with ita gomad idiocy, what routine should a weakling like me start with? Im worried about becoming fat btw.

    • Rogelio
      August 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Adnan,

      Do not be put off Starting Strength because of the GOMAD thing. Starting Strength, as it is, is a good program for beginners. While I do not agree with it fully and think that there are better programs for beginners, Starting Strength is a good program to go through because the book has many training gems inside which, as a beginner, you are best learning from one reputable source.

      As a newbie, it is best that you do not make things complicated and do not read too much, keep it simple. Getting strong and building muscle is very simple at its core, lift heavier loads over the long term while eating a mild surplus of calories. Anything other than this, is open to dispute and extreme nutritional approaches such as GOMAD may work for some (e.g. people who don’t mind becoming fat) and not for others.

      My advice to you is to not be put off from SS due to GOMAD and poor power clean advice by Rippetoe. As I have said in the article, the program is good for beginners, just learn to pick the good from the bad. The problem in your case is that you need to really practise the exercises. If you were to use my program (Manly Strength), you’d have to know the lifts beforehand (e.g. straight leg deadlift), or if you used Bill Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive, you would have to know how to do power cleans or high pulls (i.e. you’d have to buy the book).

      In essence, as a pure newbie, it will do you more good than bad to buy Starting Strength (the last edition) because there is a lot of common sense advice there that you, as a newbie, need to have ingrained so as to not fall for the huge amount of stupid fitness advice that populates the internet. By all means, read the exercise section of my website and if you feel confident with the exercises, give my Manly Strength program a go (it is the program I used for my body transformation).

      Tutorial section

      My Manly Strength program

      Bill Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive (I highly recommend you to buy the book)

      All the best,


  30. Ed
    August 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    hey man, been reading you for some time and you seem to know your stuff. I had a car accident 2 months ago and tore off my rotator cuff and broke my clavicle, quite a messy injury.
    I had been 2 years doing a powerlifting mixed routine, started with ss then moved to a version of westside. Was getting some good gains (410 squat, 330 bench, 540 deadlift) and then had the accident.
    Doctors tell me that while ill be able to do leisure activity, any strength training is out. I would like to ask your opinion on recovering from injuries like this and if you know of any successful cases given your olympic lifting background. I’m asking on some forums and getting mixed responses and would like to know your opinion too.
    I can move my arm but ive lost mobility (unable to lift arm above shoulder). Im off the painkillers as I can manage the pain now and want to start rehabbing the crap out of it. If it helps in your reply, im 100% determined.
    Thanks bro, love those exercise tutorials you have and id really appreciate a reply.

    • Rogelio
      August 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Hi Ed,

      I’m sorry to hear of your case but I’m also happy to read of your determination and attitude to pull out of this.

      Unfortunately, the magnitude of your injury is out of my scope in that I only have experience with partial tears and the likes. In your case, your best bet is to get second and third opinions from specialists in the field, not just conventional doctors. My advice for you is to go to orthopaedic surgeons/specialists who have an interest in the field of sports. There are also sports medical practitioners who are like conventional doctors but specialized in medicine for athletes. In essence, you must seek those specialists in the medical field who have experience with athletes as most conventional doctors will tell you to forget about strength training forever, live an average life and do some running for your “exercise”.

      I have trained with oly lifters who have broken their arms, legs and hips and managed to get back to their old badass selves. I have also trained with a powerlifter who squatted over 600lbs ATG and had some metal fused to his femur due to a motorbike accident. I also remember this powerlifting guy in one of my gyms who lost a leg and got back to benching 400+ without the need for spotters. All these guys would not have gotten to where they got had they conformed to what your average doctor tells those strength athletes who have injuries of your magnitude.

      Point is, go to those medical professionals who have first hand experience fixing athletes with injuries like yours and you’ll be back to moving the iron sooner than you think.

      I always invite my readers to update me on how they go about their progress and, in your case, it’ll be my pleasure to hear from you again on your progress and you can count on me for support, buddy (use the Contact Us link on the menu to reach me on the blog’s email which I check regularly).

      All the best.

  31. Ben H
    August 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Oh that program the strongest shall survive, brings back some good rookie memories. Can I ask where you got the book, was it an original or second hand?
    Agreeing with your points made though I train 50/50 bodybuilding/strength.

    • Rogelio
      August 8, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Hi Ben,

      I got mine (new) back in 2002 from a weightlifting/strength training shop which I believe is no longer doing business. In any case, Amazon must carry some copies whether new or used. Worth the shot although I hear that new versions are hard to come by as there were no more reprints of the book.

      All the best.

  32. Mad Brah
    August 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

    LOL, so much truth in this article. Being getting tired of all this Starting Strength nuthugging in /fitness with all the newbies there idolizing Rippetoe (99% of the people). Some guys and I have tried calling Rippetoe out whenever he was there answering questions and our questions were mysteriously deleted despite we weren’t trolling and asking legitimate about the power clean issue. Maximum madness.

    And yes, I did do SS (even have the book) but all I got was fat, burnout, hardly any stronger and an awful power clean (was new to weight training). Been on a solid squat/bench/deadlift routine and have progressed more in 3 months than in the year I was doing SS.

    • Rogelio
      August 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      I don’t follow Mark Rippetoe nor care about what he does or doesn’t do so I don’t know about his presence in boards or forums.

      I can tell you though that if you were a newbie, Starting Strength should have left you with strength gains and muscle gains too. The fact that you got fat should be blamed on your lack of corroborating that which you read: GOMAD and all that is nutritional extremism that should be picked with skeptic tweezers. While most newbies don’t eat enough, they also don’t lift enough, and the latter should be emphasized and dealt with in a program. It is extremely easy to eat over maintenance yet it is not so easy to squat day in and day out for months at a time and striving to add more to the barbell. While we are at it, for weight-training nutrition stuff, I recommend Alan Aragon as a starting point.

      Squat/bench/deadlift is a good alternative and I’m glad you are progressing optimally on such. I personally prefer full body for newbies as you get to practise the big lifts frequently but a routine should be picked with what one inherently enjoys too. Just add more weight to the barbell over the long term.

      All the best.

  33. Tony Vieri
    August 6, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Thumbs up, great article as usual Rogelio.
    On another note, been using your power clean tutorial and the pc workout since you published them and my progrss on this exercise has been impressive. I’m closing in 1.5x bodyweight as you suggested in the tutorial, you think this is a good enough weight for a wrestler? Thanks.

    • Rogelio
      August 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Tony,

      With the power clean, the stronger you get, the better. A 1.5x bodyweight power clean will definitively have a carryover to your sport and will yield muscle gain that will be useful for wrestling (I am aware of your sport’s category division as in weightlifting). All I can say is to keep up the progress and to maintain the emphasis of getting stronger.

      All the best.

  34. James
    June 28, 2012 at 7:45 am


    I have been lifting for 2 years now. Manly isolations, bicep curls, ect.. I am pretty strong but, since I havent been doing oly lifts I’ve decided to start the SS routine. I know I’ll gain strength but, because of my background I feel I will hit a wall faster than a “beginner”. When I get there, what do you recommend for someone after the SS results are depleted?

    Thanks for your time. Glad I found this site!

    • Rogelio
      June 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Hello James,

      My advice is to first hit that wall. I am unclear as to why you say due to your background but if all you have been doing for the last 2 years is messing around with dumbbells, then you have plenty of gains to make.

      Starting Strength can be milked from its gains for a considerable amount of time so just try it and give it a genuine 6 months. After that, reassess. If SS was not of your liking but still want to do full body, The Strongest Shall Survive is a great routine.

      But first, get on Starting Strength and then hit that wall (and it will take you longer than you think).

      Feel free to keep me updated as you go along.

      All the best.

  35. Mark Constance
    June 24, 2012 at 4:13 am

    I was very fortunate to have read your article before I embarked on reading starting strength. This will save me a lot of time unlearning an inferior technique that he is trying to teach.

    I did starting strength two years ago and I gained 33lbs in about 3 months. The problem was that I ended up with a grossly oversized ass and incredibly large quads. My upper chest still looked crap.

    This time, I want to aim for more of a cK model type figure. Given I’m an ectomorph, I can easily keep the %fat ratio in check without even having to try. Do you think I should stick with SS or go onto a different list of exercises?

    • Rogelio
      June 25, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Hello Mark,

      A cK model type is easy to achieve, all you need is to keep bodyfat sub 10% (more like 8%) and fool around with some weights. Very low bodyfat levels create the illusion of carrying more muscle which is why when you look closely at these sort of models (or see them in real life), they look like twigs. I can tell you that because I have personally done some modelling (many years ago) and the 6ft guys weighting 150lbs are very common.

      Never underestimate the power of being strong. Starting Strength is a good program to get minimally strong if you are not strong to begin with, and by “not strong” I am talking about a real 350lbs full squat (not parallel, a full below parallel squat), a 500lbs deadlift, 250lbs power clean, bodyweight strict press etc. I always recommend everyone whom I advise to strive for those numbers no matter what because once you get to that strength level, the carryover to daily life will be immense. And those numbers are just the minimum to strive for.

      Getting a cK model type can be done by getting strong. That’s how I did it back in the day (I did Oly lifting). The benefit of doing it while being strong is that not only will you build a great body but you will be strong too. If you can full squat 2x the bodyweight of some drunken brat who wants to pick a fight, I can tell you that you will have an extra advantage. That or moving sofas, carrying heavy groceries, whatever it is. You can read more about the emphasis I place on being strong here:

      I am digressing but you probably gained quite a bit of fat when you gained 33lbs in 3 months. I am not questioning your efforts but it is very easy to fool oneself into thinking all the gains are muscle when one gains so much weight. I have done the same too back when I was starting, thought it was all muscle but if the waistline goes up, you got fat. However, if you truly gained 33lbs of muscle (which would be very rare if done without steroids or those gains were muscle memory gains), then my hat goes off to you.

      My advice to you is to aim to get strong and KEEP an eye on your diet. Starting Strength will get you strong but so will The Strongest Shall Survive, the Madcow program, my Manly Strength program or any other program which has you using compound movements frequently and strives for long-term strength gains. If you choose Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, simply skip his advice on diet as well as power cleans. Add in some cardio if you want and keep yourself active while choosing a good diet. As a rule of thumb, with strength gains, muscle gains come (so long as you eat enough).

      Essentially, you want to get strong AND keep a maximum of a 32 inch waist for the CK model type. Lastly, be aware that CK ads with those models are photoshopped and retouched, many of the models have good physique genetics (they train like crap and get results) and some of them may be using illicit performance substances such as AAS (I personally know a few models who use Winstrol). When you make money off your body, anything is game on.

      I hope that helped and feel free to ask more.

      All the best.

      • Matt
        June 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

        Excellent reply Rogelio and your article on Starting Strength is spot on (in my opinion).

        Can I pick your brains a bit? In the above reply you mention that to achieve a model-like body one should keep an eye on his diet and train with compound exercises. However, I believe most people cannot get to 8% bodyfat without first having to create big caloric deficits which act as a subpar environment to build muscle, so how should one train and eat to get over this essential barrier?

        I am asking because I value your opinion so thanks in advance


        • Rogelio
          June 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm

          Hi Matt.

          I am a firm believer of body recomposition (or recomposing) which means eating at maintenance and engaging in heavy compound exercises frequently, with the once or twice a week extra calorie day. This is how I have done it in the past.

          Full range motion exercises plus heavy loads build muscle even in the hardest of caloric scenarios from my experience. That is not to say that someone eating severely under maintenance (i.e. anorexia) will build muscle but, rather, someone eating at maintenance and doing full squats, rows, presses of all sorts, power cleans, deadlifts, snatches etc will be taxing their body in a way unlike other weight training programs (the latter being what has led many to believe that to gain muscle you need to eat a huge surplus of calories). The perfect example are oly lifters, who many times under-eat or dont pay attention to their diets and still have thick and huge posterior chains (I am not talking only of the top guys in the sport but guys who compete at national or even regional level).

          All of the above is why I recommend lifting heavy, frequently and keeping a close eye on one’s diet. It takes a special approach but it is certainly doable and that’s how I have done it in the pat.

          On the other hand, one can do bulking and cutting cycles too, which maximizes the potential to gain muscle at the cost of gaining fat, For this, one would have to be careful as to how to do one’s modelling work (center it around a few months when one has cut down the fat from the bulk).

          All the best.

      • David K
        November 7, 2012 at 2:17 am

        I would be careful about recommending that “everybody” strive for 350 lb full squats, 500 lb dead lifts and 250 lb power cleans. I’m starting on a building strength program to overcome the natural aches and pains that occur from poor muscle conditioning. I would never set goals that high because I’m nearing 50 years old and have two bad discs in my back. Your position should probably be rephrased as follows: “I recommend that every YOUNG MAN with no significant preexisting conditions who is trying to maximize their potential strive for those numbers.” There are very few women who can hit those numbers even when healthy and there is no need for guys to do the same if peak performance is not the goal.

        OK, getting past that critique, thank you very much for pointing out the incorrect power clean technique by Mark Rippetoe. I haven’t gotten that far in his book but after hearing the concensus about this deficiency, I found a copy of Bill Starr’s book to help offset this issue. Like you said; “Grab the good and throw out the bad.”

        Great website and thanks for the overall tips. I’ll be lurking and perhaps pose more questions / comments in the future.

        • Rogelio
          November 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

          Hi David,

          Thanks for passing by.

          Absolutely. My advice on aiming for the weight load of those lifts is age-generic as is most of strength coaches (especially if found in articles and not books), mostly because the population over 50 years old that is doing these exercises is well below the 1% of the population of any gym. Thus, we cannot always be covering the small gym minorities. Furthermore, I know the demographics of my audience very well, and I always write my articles with them in my mind. However, I always encourage people to comment on my articles and the comments sections of all my articles always become vibrant add-ons to the articles themselves.

          I certainly appreciate your input, and, as your rightly point out, the advice for those weight loads is not for someone who is not in a physical condition to be able to reach those goals. However, I’d like to also point out that at least age-wise, someone who is nearing 50 years old could potentially reach those numbers under the right supervision. For one, I know 3 men who are over 50 years old who have done this (2 of them had never worked out in their life and they started at 49 and 51), but then, 3 is a low number, but so is the amount of people reading my website and aiming to reach those numbers at age 50 and who can physically do these exercises to begin with. I cannot manage all these variables, and I don’t know what every single man reading my website is capable of doing.

          Please don’t take the above personal, I absolutely welcome the input of men like you, and if you have any questions on training including the power clean, feel free to ask. Lastly, if you are willing to be doing these exercises, I would really (and I mean it) encourage you to check out a weightlifting club near you. It is very rare to find a gentleman at your age like you willing to give these exercises a go, and if you put yourself to it, you could soon be even competing, which is addictive once you start doing it!

          Again, any questions or more input David, feel free to post them.

          All the best.

  36. Old lifter
    June 11, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Genius article, also loving your powerclean tutorial. You going to do a tutorial on the snatch or powersnatch anytime soon? Would be interested in reading one from you whenever you get a chance. Thanks.

    • Rogelio
      June 12, 2012 at 3:38 am

      Thanks for the kind words. I will be posting tutorials on other less technical lifts though the power snatch could be a good one to post, although I don’t recommend doing snatches or even power snatches without proper supervision (power cleans can be gotten away with though).

      All the best.

  37. duncan osborne
    June 10, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Id like to acknowledge first that i am not part of the “ss cult”
    First of mark rippetoe says himself that he is not teaching anything new but just reiterating
    the words of people like bill starr.
    Second he states that he doesnt know much about olympic lifts but his routine calls for
    some sort of explosive lift and the easiest way to power clean is, for people without coaches safely, to
    use the pull from the deadlift. Mark rippetoe never had the intention of making olympic lifters out of
    this routine and states himself that he isnt an olympic lifting coach.
    And i think the cult isnt really his fault although they genuinely do think they know everything haha
    i do see where yur coming from though with a few points though.

    • Rogelio
      June 12, 2012 at 3:37 am

      Hi Duncan,

      Thanks for commenting. I have nothing against Coach Rippetoe and I think of Starting Strength as a good program for beginners. The point of this article is to showcase some of the issues I have with the program as it is.

      The power clean technique he recommended (I believe he has changed his opinion on it recently) was not optimal for an explosive lift (as you say). There are better ways to develop power instead of using an inefficient technique for the power clean.

      About the cult, most cultists are the kind of guys who fall for those coaches or experts who have a defying personality and a “don’t give a shite attitude”. Mark Rippetoe has both and thus his cultists take him for a god. It is not his fault really, but the SS troop is one annoying troop as they plague several popular online forums.

      All the best.

  38. Kev
    May 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm


    First of all thank you for writing all this weight training stuff (including your tutorials on the different lifts).
    I initially came across your website through your body transformation. I am planning on getting myself out of shape after a year layoff from training and doing something like you did on that body transformation (six pack, getting stronger etc).I have several questions I would like to ask
    1) What program did you use during that transformation period?
    2) WHat time frame can I expect to take myself to a six pack? Currently 180cms tall and 110kg.
    3) What do you think of Starting Strength as a routine to use for this?

    Thanks for takign the time to reply.

    • Rogelio
      May 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Kev,

      Thanks for your words.

      1) I used a variation of my Manly Strength program, instead of training 3 days per week, I was training 5 or even 6 times per week, full body. I will cover this particular training program in the future. I highly recommend you to follow the 3 day schedule of my program if you decide to go with it.

      2) Depends on bodyfat %. Given your height and weight, I am going to take a guess and say you are much over 20%. With a sensible training and nutritional regimen, you could have a six pack in 6-12 months, or even less if you are 100% dedicated and already know your lifting and nutrition good (hence why I pulled it off in 4 months at a similar bodyfat %). The point is, don’t rush it, just get back to training, aim to get stronger in the big lifts and create a small caloric deficit. There are no shortcuts, all you need is the attitude, consistency and smart training/nutrition.

      3) I think Starting Strength is a great routine for your particular case because it emphasizes getting stronger in the big lifts and this is KEY when trying to lose body fat. As a matter of fact, I recommend you to buy the book as it is full of training gems. Just skip the bit on power cleans (although I believe he has changed his stance on the lift recently) and go on a diet that emphasizes fat loss. You can find advice on my particular diet here

      All the best.

  39. Balack
    May 10, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Great read, I’m more of a split (squat/bench/deads) kind of guy and like to read intelligent stuff on strength, even if it is a bit controversial.
    Keep it up.

    • Rogelio
      May 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks! Glad you liked it.

  40. Ruben
    May 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Rogelio, I’m still a beginner, I have done some P90x workout and now I’m toned.

    I’d like to build now some strength, I’ve seen the video of you lifting a 275 pound loaded barbell up in the air like it was a feather (is that what’s called powerclean?). My question is, what do you recommend to build strength like that, you know, the explosive type, throwing weights on the air in a split second? Also what do you think of P90x?


    • Rogelio
      May 6, 2012 at 12:15 am

      Hi Ruben,

      I hate the word tone and since you are in my site and are interested in getting strong, from now on refer to your toning as “I have low body fat”. Toning is a word made up to fool housewives into buying the latest gimmick and snake oil, kind of like P90x actually (since you ask about my opinion on that program).

      Listen, if you want to get strong and are a newbie, do multi-joint exercises (deadlifts, squats, presses) frequently and aim to add a bit more to the bar as often as possible. Starting Strength has you doing this, so go on this propgram if you like it (I think it is a good program for beginners). The Strongest Shall Survive program (the link is in the article) is another great program and one I got some great newbie gains back in the day. Give any of those two a go for now, re-assess after 4 months.

      Yeah, that video of me you saw is me doing a power clean. It is a very athletic and explosive exercise (and a lot of fun) but it should be learnt for best results under instruction. I have written a guide under the “Get Strong” section (among other lifting tutorials) so read it to understand this lift more. However, either get yourself someone who knows who to do it to monitor you or post videos frequently on boards that have Olympic lifters. Shoot me an email if you want me to take a look at your power clean technique as you learn it.

      All the best.

  41. Myron
    May 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Sup man, read your article as it was linked in a forum. I find SS ok and I share the same views as you, great for newbies but it is not the holy grail (as you call it). Anyway, thanks for the write up.

    • Rogelio
      May 6, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Glad you like it.

      All the best.

  42. Petrov
    May 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I did Starting Strength for 4 months and all I got was getting fat and my other lifts actually went down. Didn’t work for me, beginners are better of on 3 or 4 day split routines, at least if they want aesthetics.

    • Rogelio
      May 6, 2012 at 12:20 am

      Then you probably didnt:

      1) Follow the program as Mark Rippetoe calls for

      2) Didn’t push yourself enough

      3) Were not a beginner

      SS works, and it works good. It’ll put muscle all over your body because the program emphasizes the big lifts and adding weight to the bar. Then again, that’s what any program to build muscle should have as its core, guys in the 30’s were doing that already.

      Also, don’t follow the nutritional advice from Rippetoe, while SS is known to get good strength gains, it is also known to get the lifters fat because they follow his nutritional dogma.

      Lift heavy, keep an eye on what you shove down your mouth and try to get some good sleep. Bingo!

      All the best.

  43. Zach Bijesse
    May 4, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Mark Rippetoe is aware that a power clean is not a jump. That is the way the lift is taught so that the arms are not used to pull the bar up.

  44. Joel
    April 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Yo Rogelio!

    Sup, brah! This is NorwichGrad from, man. I haven’t seen you there in a while. Hope all is well. At any rate, great article. You gave credit where credit was due, and you were not afraid to speak the truth. Bravo! Starting Strength was the reason I got started in Oly. Unfortunately, I also learned how to jump and shrug. Fortunately, I had enough common sense NOT to drink the SS koolaid and I was open-minded enough to try other methods when I was stuck power cleaning a measly 135-lb. hahaha.. So I eventually hired an Oly coach and learned how to correctly do the classic lifts. It took a while to undo Rippetoe’s bad coaching. Yeah, this ‘jump and shrug’ business drives me nuts also.
    Take care.

    • Rogelio
      May 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Joel, how’s everything man. Glad you enjoyed the article, it’s all about keeping an open mind and reading from other sources, not just drinking the SS kool aid. SS is an overall good program for beginners but for power cleans, get yourself an oly coach. You did well. Oh, and update your site more often, man!

      All the best.

  45. Ashley
    March 26, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Isn’t the point of Starting Strength to help beginners, i.e. people who don’t have decent strength. Why would anyone who is already strong use a workout designed for not strong people.

    • Rogelio
      March 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      The point of this article is to showcase that Starting Strength is just ONE of the many other workout programs that a newbie can use. I know I have written a long article but it would do you great to read it in its entire length, not just pick a few lines here and there.

      All the best.

  46. Nathan B
    February 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for this great read Rogelio. It is difficult to find polar opinions on Starting Strength and yours acknowledges that this routine works but also has its other side. Glad to read someone in the “fitness niche” who writes things as they are.
    Nathan B.

  47. Anti SS
    February 14, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Great article. I have been on Starting Strength and it is as you say, a good routine for beginners. Unfortunately all hardcore wannabes have jumped on this routine and have given it a bad image (to those of us who dont call ourselves bros in forums). There are better routines for intermediate lifters, thats for sure.

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