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Rippetoe FAQ

Rippetoe FAQ

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Published by JohnTruong

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Published by: JohnTruong on May 21, 2011
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Question - What is "programming"? What does it mean?

Programming is the logical, planned methodology developed for a workout routine used
to reach pre-determined training goals. It includes all variables of training, such as
exercises, days performed, sets/reps/weight/volume/workload, planned rest periods,
and can even get as detailed as movement speed and rest between sets.

Programming is and should be, very simple for the beginner. It is necessarily more
complex for the well-trained. What this means is that if you are a newb to training, you
don't need some complex scheme or workout. A few basic exercises performed a few
times per week with steady upward progression in weight is all that is necessary. As you
get closer to your genetic limits through training experience, your programming will
become more complex.

There is one basic law which guides programming development:

*** Use the LEAST COMPLEX PROGRAMMING possible at all times.

Only advance to more complex programming when absolutely necessary.

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest mistakes made is violating rule # 1. If you violate
rule #1, it is a guarantee that you are slowing your gains down. You may still make
gains, but you will not be making them as fast as possible if you are able to use less
complex programming.

Simple programming = beginner = workout-to-workout progression and planning
Somewhat complex programming = intermediate = weekly or biweekly progression and
Complex Programming = Advanced = Monthly or quarterly progression and planning
Very complex programming = advanced/elite = Semi-annual or annual progression and

If you can make progress from workout to workout, then there is no need to use
programming that is designed for week-to-week advances. You are slowing yourself

Question - What weight should I start with during the first week?

kethnaab - bodybuilding.com


The weight you use is going to be determined by the amount you can do for 5
repetitions with proper execution and technique.

The way the "first day" is explained in Starting Strength, the trainee warms up with the
bar, then adds a bit of weight and does a set of 5. Continue to add weight and do sets of
5 until form/technique breaks down. Keep the weight there, correct the technique
problems/weak points, and perform 2 more sets with this weight. That is your first "3
sets of 5" workout for that exercise.

However, since we're talking about the internet, where 99% of all novices do NOT use
proper technique, it has proven itself to be useful to advise that the trainee drop
anywhere from 5-15% off his 5-RM, and start his next workout using that weight.

Yes, this is low. It allows for a certain fudge factor that is present when dealing with a
novice's ability to evaluate his own technique performance.

Generally, if a newb says "I benched 135 x 5 for the first time, my technique was great!",
what he really means is that "I benched 135 x 5, but I probably should've only used
about 120 or 125"

Be on the safe side, start lighter than you think you need to, and go from there. This
also helps develop a base of conditioning with slightly less weight than absolute max,
which helps reduce initial DOMS.

Let me say that one again.

Start off using weight that is LOWER than you think you can handle, and progress
upward. It is better to use weight that is too light than weight that is too heavy.

Question - How much weight should I add from workout to workout?

Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg. 122, Practical Programming Editorial Copy

for young males that weigh between 150-200 lbs., deadlifts can move up 15-20 lbs. per workout,
squats 10-15 lbs., with continued steady progress for 3-4 weeks before slowing down to half
that rate. Bench presses, presses, and cleans (edit - and rows) can move up 5-10 lbs. per
workout, with progress on these exercises slowing down to 2.5-5 lbs. per workout after only 2-3
weeks. Young women make progress on the squat and the deadlift at about the same rate,
adjusted for bodyweight, but much slower on the press, the bench press, cleans and snatches,
and assistance exercises.

The general rule of thumb developed by me (for internet instruction purposes):

1) If you get all 3 sets of 5 with proper technique, then move the weight up as described

kethnaab - bodybuilding.com


2) If you get all 3 sets of 5 with proper technique, but bar speed was exceedingly slow
on the last few reps (i.e. you busted a nut trying to complete your reps), then you may
end up stalling if you add the full amount. Err on the side of "lower". i.e. don't add 20 lbs
to the deadlift, add 15. Don't add 10 lbs to the press, add 5 (or even 2.5), etc.

3) If you get the first 2 sets of 5 with proper technique, but you only get 4 reps on the
3rd, then determine if it was a "recovery deficit" (4 hours sleep last night/skipped meals,
etc) or a "technique deficit" (body wasn't tight during presses, leaned forward too much
in squat, etc). If the strength or technique deficit was an anomaly and/or is easily
correctable, then you can probably add the normal amount of weight as described
above. If the weight just felt dog heavy, then add only a bit more, or even keep the
weight the same for the next workout. Better to get your 5/5/5 next workout then get a
5/5/3 or a 5/4/4 with a heavier weight.

4) If you get at least 12 or 13 of the reps total (i.e. 5/4/4 or 5/4/3 or 4/4/4) then keep the
weight the same for the next workout.

If you get something strange like 5/5/2 or 5/3/4 on your 3 sets, then you probably just
need to be more mindful of rest periods. Best to use 3 minutes between pressing,
cleaning and rowing work sets and up to 5 for squats and deadlifts if necessary. For
now, use a little too much rest rather than too little rest.

If you can't get at least the first set of 5, or if you are missing 2 or more reps each on the
2nd and 3rd sets, then you are using too much weight, assuming you recently started

If you had been making progress, but then all of sudden, you have several workouts in a
row where you can't add weight to the bar for an exercise and get your 5/5/5, then see
the sections on "stalling"

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