Moving from Starting Strength to bodybuilding
November 12, 2008 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I think I'm about ready to move on from Starting Strength and I'm looking for bodybuilding routine.

I started on the Stronglifts Beginner program in June. In September I switched to the similar Practical Programming Advanced Novice program. Both are based on Rippetoe's Starting Strength. By my estimation I've just about reached the intermediate level and it's time to change programs again.

My current stats: 23 year old male, 6', 160 lbs., ~12% bodyfat. My best lifts in pounds: Deadlift - 280 1x5, back squat - 245 3x5, front squat - 170 3x5, bench - 160 3x5, OH press - 115 3x5.

I've surpassed 1.5 bodyweight on the squat and I think I'll stall on it soon. My deadlift can probably stand a few more increases. Both my bench and OH press have recently stalled hard. I'm not interested in any kind of competitive lifting -- my goals are mainly aesthetic, so I'd like to start a bodybuilding routine.

I realize that an intermediate program must by definition be more complex than a beginner program, but I'd love to find something as simple, clear, effective, and easy to follow as the starting strength variations I've been doing. Can you recommend a program? I feel lost in a sea of options.
posted by ludwig_van to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You say that your goals are mainly aesthetic. . . So what would you like to do? Put on 10 lbs of lean mass? Stay the same weight and lose body fat? It's far easier to stay motivated if you define a specific goal for yourself.

Let me know what you're going for and I'll try to help you out.
posted by Macallister Vagabond at 11:34 AM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry, I meant to say that I'd like to put on another 10-15 pounds, and following that reduce bodyfat to 9-10%.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:36 AM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: And pre-emptively, I recognize the importance of diet and am working on that as well.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:37 AM on November 12, 2008

Best suggestion: Read T-Nation

You aren't going to find more information on the topic anywhere else without paying an absurd amount of money or spending an absurd amount of time.
posted by milqman at 12:04 PM on November 12, 2008

You can't do much better than sticking with Rippetoe. Practical Programming for Strength Training expands on SS for intermediate and advanced lifters. Although at 160 lbs, I think Rippetoe would just tell you to eat more and drink more milk.
posted by Durin's Bane at 12:34 PM on November 12, 2008

Worry less about your workout routine and more about your diet. Protein, protein, protein. I made very little progress until I realized how important this was. And adequate rest. Lifting every single day is a waste of time and actually hinders muscle growth.

In terms of importance, I'd say:
- 50% diet (maybe more)
- 25% rest (maybe more)
- 25% lifting (maybe less)
posted by LordSludge at 12:40 PM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: I know to eat a lot of protein. I know about T-Nation. I'm looking for a recommendation for a workout routine.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2008

I might suggest actually just doing the actual, prescribed Starting Strength -- power clean and all, AND the Gallon Of Milk A Day (GOMAD).

If you want to gain size ... that's the way to go.

Here is a Q&A forum with Rip himself.

I can tell you in advance that he will say you're too skinny and you weren't doing the program, and you can hit linear gains for quite a while to come if you just drank the damned milk. The shift from beginner to intermediate lifting programs comes after a few deloads and resets on the core lifts, not when you think that a stall is imminent.

Anyway, this is not to sound dismissive; it's just that I ran through SS over the summer (after hearing about it here!), and found that reading the book and making the choice to stick to the program made a huge difference in my strength. I also seem to have bought into a good chunk of Rip's attitude towards bodybuilding-style workouts (they suck), mainly because that's what I did for years, to useless results.

Cutting bodyfat is pretty much entirely a dietary issue, OTOH, and an entirely different minefield to wade through.

As for a workout routine post-SS ... I rather enjoy the Crossfit WOD, as insane as they are.
posted by ahhgrr at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: I have already reset my squat twice. I've been drinking a lot of milk but it's been giving me stomach problems lately so I've had to backoff a bit.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:28 PM on November 12, 2008

If you want to put on weight, you need to eat.

Eat like it is fucking going out of style. Eat and lift. That's it. I'd recommend boatloads of protein: eggs, chicken and beef. And more meals a day--protein shakes are a good substitute if you have to live a "normal" life, but they can get very expensive. Concentrate on building mass quickly so you won't be emptying your wallet for the next year. There are a ton of hard-gainer websites out there. Even though the website is filled with javascript-annoyances, I actually found Anthony Ellis's book to be pretty helpful. There are a ton of others out there, and they all have that same mid-1990's GeoCities look to them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:58 PM on November 12, 2008

I'd recommend boatloads of protein: eggs, chicken and beef.

If you're gonna gain, don't eat protein, eat complex carbs and veg.
posted by parmanparman at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2008

I like this guy a lot... Vic. His work out style has done a lot to move me off of the plateau I found myself on for over a year. Keep a sensible diet and live by his credo when in the gym.

It took me sometime to get my arms around the idea of giving up the counting and just going for the burn but I can tell you the results will come in spades. I like to stick with his routines for about 8 weeks, take a week break and then move to a more conventional style for about 4 weeks before going back to his formula.

If you can get it in your head first you will be amazed by the results that will come your way. While doing this record your body weight, blood pressure and your diet plus any supplements you might be taking. This is going to go a long way into finding what is working for you.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:49 PM on November 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies so far. I'm already keeping track of my caloric intake and aiming for 200+ g of protein a day. My last question was about diet.

I know I can continue to make some gains on my current program for a little while. But I won't be able to keep adding weight each workout forever, so I'll eventually have to switch to an intermediate program. I'd really like to have a clearly laid out regimen that tells me exactly what to do and how to progress.

I'll look into Practical Programming. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:09 PM on November 12, 2008

(N.B. I've not done straight-hypertrophy-at-the-expense-of-everything-else style bodybuilding in a while, so I'm not necessarily up on all the best programs right now).

After working out for long enough, you come to a realization: your body is different than everyone else's. There really is no one-size-fits-all program (but god we all wish there were ...) Much of the journey from this point on (past the beginner stage) will be finding out what works best for your body.

What works will change as you do, and what works will depend on what programs you are just coming off of. "Everything works. Nothing works forever."

Specifically, since you're just coming off a very low-volume/high-weight routine (though I'd certainly advise you to get as much out of Starting Strength as you can -- it's a very good program while it works, and, frankly, you're still pretty skinny sounding). So you might want to try something higher-volume. Maybe Escalating Density Training. The point is: when you change programs (which you shouldn't necessarily do particularly often), you want it to be quite different than what you've done previously. The goal is to give your (well-adapted, at that point) muscles a new stimulus to respond to.

Programs that I've tried with some degree of success:
West Side for Skinny Bastards
A real West Side template (though these two are more powerlifting-focused)
DoggCrapp (very low volume. and riskier than necessary.)
EDT (fairly high-volume)
posted by oostevo at 8:32 PM on November 12, 2008

I've been doing a Bill Starr 5x5 for the past 8 months. I've put about 45 pounds on my 5RM squat and deadlift (both around 350 now), and about 30 on my 5 RM bench (at 220 now). I've also had quite a bit of off time (pneumonia twice) that caused lots of retrogression. So it's nothing impressive, but it's progress.

Madcow has kindly provided a wonderful spreadsheet which maps out your workouts for you in detail. It's really a great program.

Progressive overload + caloric deficit = all the new stimulus you need for growth.

You'll be using essentially the same exercises as a Starting Strength, with the addition of incline press (although I just subbed overhead press for that). You'll also be adding supplement exercises after each workout.

(Although, looking at bkeene12's neck in this pic, maybe you should listen to him.)

posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Barry. I assume you mean caloric surplus, rather than deficit?
posted by ludwig_van at 10:44 AM on November 13, 2008

Your assumption is correct. Oops.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2008

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