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Starting Strength in the Real World

Regaining Strength after Lyme Disease

Ten weeks of progress in two minutes

by Jayson Ball, SSC | December 24, 2015

What does a Starting Strength Linear Progression look like? If you have read the book, you know that small increases in weight for sets of five are the engine of the program. This slow, gradual, and effective increase in weight on the bar and the lifter may be a bore to watch on a day-to-day basis, but when these small jumps in load play out over months, their effects become apparent. Here, an initial 10 weeks of progress have been condensed into 2 minutes of video.

This video takes place after a training setback from Lyme disease, a particularly nasty bacterial infection. When I got sick I was in the middle of my linear progression following an 8-month gymnastic training cycle, which required a finite cap on lower body mass.

Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, after weeks of weight loss, fever, and joint inflammation, I felt good enough to lift 7 days into the standard antibiotic regimen. I also felt much weaker, and would need a significant reset of my training. A linear progressive program was the right choice under these circumstances. Though I had completed my linear phase before, all adaptations are ephemeral. I was sufficiently de-trained to be amenable, once again, to novice rate of progression. In effect, my body had been dropped down along the sliding parabola of my genetic envelope.

As a renewed novice, I approached my first day back under the bar as any other novice trainee would; by warming up to a challenging weight and performing three sets of five reps, adding weight in 5-10# increments every 48-72 hours. I kept a caloric surplus (around 5000 calories per day), and got lots of sleep (8-10 hours per night). In this period, my squat went from 200# to 315# and my body weight from 171# to 188#. My goal is to hit a 350# squat and 200# of body weight, both lifetime PRs.

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