If you’re just beginning down the road to better health and strength development, I can’t recommend Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe as the first protocol you should use. If I could go back in time tell my 16 year old self what to do at the gym, it would be this program and anybody that asks that hasn’t touched weights before, I will recommend this program. It’s simple, effective and straightforward.
Starting Strength focuses on the big five lifts: Squat, Bench, Deadlift, (overhead) Press & the Power Clean. Fantastic for beginners because:
- The program focuses on big compound movements, that engage the entire body.
- These are all fundamental lifts that novices to experts should all use in training.
- There is a simple linear progression used – you advance in the program by adding weight.
- There is not much variation in the program, there is no confusion as to what to do next workout, you get accustomed to the movements very quickly. It’s easy to track and you’ll see changes every workout
I can’t recommend Starting Strength enough to novices, because being stronger makes everything in life easier, whether you’re in the older segment of the population, adding strength will make day to day life much more approachable, picture getting out of a chair, it is simply squatting. Picking things up – deadlift. If you’re overweight and looking to lose weight, becoming stronger is far better than engaging in hours of running or cardio, not only will you increase your muscle mass (which in turn increases your metabolism) you’ll gain confidence as you see your ability to lift heavy weight follow through to everything else in your life.
Compound movements are fantastic for novices when compared with the requisite isolation exercises required to stimulate the same muscle group. Let’s break down the squat for example, from the ground up, you’re targeting your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, and the entire musculature of the back. The only thing missing are the pectorals and deltoids. Think of how many machines or isolation movements are required to replace this one exercise. By utilizing more muscle mass in each movement, you’re being more efficient in your work effort leading to greater results.
Novices don’t need complex programs or isolation exercises. Because these are advanced tools needed for trainees that have a solid base of strength that they’re wanting to improve. The novice linear progression won’t last forever (otherwise everyone would be squatting 1000lbs within three years) so once the novice stage ends, more advanced training tools are required. A body part split is unnecessary, since most novices don’t have the muscles needed to isolate.
When you’re getting started, keep it simple. Follow the Starting Strength methodology and you’ll be far ahead of the rest of the population.
Brett McKay from the Art of Manliness did a great YouTube series with Mark Rippetoe on the Starting Strength method that you should watch here.