The Novice Program

Credit to where it is due; this is nearly verbatim from Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Rippettoe and Kilgore.

The novice program’s basic features are:

  1. Small number of barbell lifts
  2. Three Non Consecutive Days a Week
  3. Add Load each day to each exercise.
  4. Make sure to rest a minimum of 3 minutes between work sets with 5 minutes or more being better.

Each and every day, you’ll squat. Each and every day you’ll do a press. each and every day you’ll do a pull. The devil is of course, in the details, but that’s the jist of it.

The two presses you’ll do on this program are Pressing overhead (hereafter just “The Press”) and Bench Pressing. The three pulls you’ll eventually do are the deadlift, power clean, and chin ups.

Here’s Phase One

Day One

Work up to your working sets of squats, do 3 sets of 5 reps

Work up to your working sets of presses, do 3 sets of 5 reps

Work up to a heavy set of 5 in the deadlift

Day Two

Squats, 3 sets of 5 with 10 pounds more than Day One

Work up to your working sets of Bench Press, do 3 sets of 5 reps

Work up to a set of 5 in the deadlift with 20 pounds more than Day One.

Day Three

Squats, 3 sets of 5 with 10 pounds more than Day Two

Press, 3 sets of 5 with 5 pounds more than Day One

Work up to a set of 5 in the deadlift with 20 pounds more than Day Two.

Day Four

Squats, 3 sets of 5 with 10 pounds more than Day Three

Bench Press 3 sets of 5 with 5 pounds more than Day Two

Work up to a set of 5 in the deadlift with 15 pounds more than Day Three.

Day Five

Squats, 3 sets of 5 with 10 pounds more than Day Four

Press, 3 sets of 5 with 5 pounds more than Day Three

Work up to a set of 5 in the deadlift with 15 pounds more than Day Four.

Day Six

Squats, 3 sets of 5 with 10 pounds more than Day Five

Bench Press 3 sets of 5 with 5 pounds more than Day Four

Work up to a set of 5 in the deadlift with 15 pounds more than Day Five.

This marks the 2 week mark, and the end of phase one. At the end of this, your Squat should be 50 pounds heavier, your deadlift should be 70+ pounds heavier, and your presses 15 pounds heavier each. If they are not, and you are a healthy man between 18-35, you are not sleeping or eating enough or not resting enough between sets.

There is still so much more runway to continue to get stronger, but even if you went back to your knuckle head nonsense, you’re better off after only a few weeks.

If you are willing, the next few months might look like this, and deliver even more strength.

The big changes from here out involve the rate of increase and the introduction of a fifth lift, the Power Clean. The Power Clean is a simple version of the olympic lift the Clean and will help drive up the deadlift.  It will also give your back a bit of a break, as heavy deadlifts are very taxing. We’ll continue to go up 5 pounds in the presses, and cleans will also be 5 pounds per session. Squats will scale back to 5 pounds per session too, and deadlifts will go to 10 pounds per session.

Next, you’ll alternate these two:

Workout A

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Presses 3 sets of 5 reps add 5 pounds each time

Clean 5 sets of 3 reps add 5 pounds each time

Workout B

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Deadlift Work up to a set of 5 with 10 pounds more than last time.

 

In Phase 3 we introduce Chins to the program, because the Deadlift and Power Clean are too strenuous to recover from so workout A becomes

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Presses 3 sets of 5 reps add 5 pounds each time

Chins 3 sets of maximum repetitions

Workout B becomes

Squats 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps, add 5 pounds each time.

Clean 5 sets of 3 reps add 5 pounds each time OR Deadlift Work up to a set of 5 with 5 pounds more than last time

This way, we distribute the stress of the heavy deadlifts even further apart.The big if here is your willingness and ability to recover.  Resetting is simple. If, for 3 consecutive workouts you can not get all 15 reps at a given weight, drop 10% and start again. so 335 becomes 300, giving us some runway to continue to adapt.

The only real question is are you willing to set aside your ego and do hard work.

In a few months, you can be stronger than you’ve ever imagined.

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