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Starting Strength is one of the legendary powerlifting programs created by Mark Rippetoe, a true GOAT of powerlifting. Some might disagree with this statement and even I have found myself at times being critical of Starting Strength. However, Mark popularized and commercialized the “do your fives” training principle which started with the ‘Texas Method’ created by Mark and Glenn Pendlay (another legend).


Going back further the Texas Method was inspired from one of my hero’s Doug Hepburn’s classic bench press workout which Mark was taught by his coach Bill Starr (check out my Hepburn Program Review).


Hepburn was said to do 5 heavy singles across followed by 5 sets of 5 reps. However, Mark removed the heavy singles because the volume and intensity just wasn’t working in terms of recovery.


Which led to the idea of having a volume day for the main lifts on Monday, a lighter variety day on Wednesday then a heavy single set of five reps for the main lifts on Friday. Which is basically the DNA of all 5×5 programs out there right now! Madcow, StrongLifts, and other variations people claim to have created.


All Starting Strength programs in the spreadsheet have a A and B workout or week and you alternate between the two for up to 36 training sessions, training three times per week. The program works off your five rep max not your one rep max and you increment each session by 5-15lbs based on the lift and lifter level.


The program is easy to follow, a bit boring at times, but highly effective. The Novice and Advanced variations do lack in direct adaptation and variation which could lead to an early plateau for some lifters. It also has ZERO isolation-based exercises which some lifters might find alien and just unimaginative and dull.


However, this is the concept of Starting Strength, you focus on your main lifts and larger compound exercises such as; front squats, cleans, Rows, overhead press, pull-ups. Rather than Face Pulls, Lat Pulldowns, Bicep Curls, Tricep Pressdowns, side lateral raises etc.

But whether many would like to admit but most OG powerlifters and younger powerlifters have under their bed with some old tissues and porn mags a dusty copy of Practical Programming for Strength Training! lol


It is a dirty secret but many powerlifters deny but Starting Strength is one of the Bibles of powerlifting that most have a copy of or have read including myself! If you don’t have a copy you can buy from Amazon from the link below, it’s a must have if you are going to train Starting Strength.


My advice is if you are a true novice lifter, run this program in the order I’ve reviewed them in:


  • Original Program (Beginner Novice Lifter)
  • Practical Programming Program (Intermediate Novice Lifter)
  • Advanced Novice Program (Advanced Novice Lifter)



Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength 5×5 Program

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