Posted by on Mar 8, 2013

BeginnersStarting GuidesStrength Training

Starting Strength was written by Mark Rippetoe and is published by The Aasgaard Company, both of which have no affiliation with Fitocracy. This guide was produced to introduce people to one of the most popular programs on Fitocracy and is not intended as a replacement. If this program interests you, we heavily recommend that you purchase the Starting Strength book, which you can purchase directly from Aasgaard.

Starting Strength Overview

Required Skill Level: Beginner

Training days per week: 3

Description: Starting Strength is one of the most popular training programs on Fitocracy, and a top choice for beginners. Many of Fitocracy’s most successful transformation stories cite Starting Strength as one of the main drivers behind their success. At its core, Starting Strength centers around barbell training and involves linear progression. The program is a great way for beginners to achieve a good “base” and obtain good fundamentals around strength training.

The Program

Starting Strength requires that you learn 5 basic exercises:

  1. Barbell Squat
  2. Barbell Deadlift
  3. Barbell Bench Press
  4. Overhead Press
  5. Power Clean

You must be able to perform these exercises with good form, as proper technical execution is paramount.

Training will consist of two different workout days.

Workout A

  • 3 sets of Barbell Squats, 5 reps
  • 3 sets of Barbell Bench Press, 5 reps
  • 1 set of Barbell Deadlifts, 5 reps

Workout B

  • 3 sets of Barbell Squats, 5 reps
  • 3 sets of Overhead Press, 5 reps
  • 5 set of Power Cleans, 3 reps


These will be rotated on non-consecutive days with a total of 3 days per week. For example:

Week 1:

  • Monday: Workout A
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout B
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout A
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 2:

  • Monday: Workout B
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout A
  • … and so on.

Beginning the Program and Weekly Progression

Starting Strength takes advantage of the fact that beginners can easily make strength improvements from workout to workout.

Finding your starting weights

The first step is gauging your strength for each individual exercise. Once you have the basic form down pat for each exercise, you’ll need to figure out your starting point. Perform the exercise with just the bar and good form for the required amount of reps. If that set was easy, take a quick rest, add 10 lbs to the bar and repeat.

When you start to feel your form break down slightly or you feel challenged by the weight (e.g. bar speed slows down or the rep feels quite taxing) stop adding weight. Perform the required amount of reps and sets for that exercise and move on to the next exercise.

Weekly progression

If you completed all of your required reps and sets the previous week, increase the weight using the smallest increments possible – 5 lbs (i.e., 2.5 lb plates on each side). Keep progressing in this fashion from week-to-week. At some point, you will not be able to complete all of the required reps for an exercise.

Let’s take squats for example. At some point, you will not be able to get all 5 reps for 3 sets. You might hit 5 reps on the first set, 4 reps on the second set, then 1 rep on the third set.

When this happens, do not attempt to increase the weight on the following workout. Instead, keep adding reps at that weight at each subsequent workout until you’ve completed all of the required reps (5, 5, 5) then move forward as usual the following workout by increasing the weight by 5 lbs.


Hopefully, this guide has given you a good introduction to one of the most popular beginner programs on Fitocracy. For more great information, purchase Mark Rippetoe’s book and join the Starting Strength group on Fitocracy.

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