Why You Won't Do the Program, Part 2

It's Only Three Days a Week

by Mark Rippetoe | June 28, 2022

rip coaching the squat

I know, you like to train. More correctly, you like to go to the gym. You like the atmosphere, the smell of the place, the people you've come to know, the idea of getting something accomplished. You sense the superiority of the regular members over the lazy slobs that compose the bulk of modern society, and you'd rather be around them than the creatures at Walmart.

Wichita Falls Athletic Club – and every serious gym – functions as a community. We all know each other, we all get along, and we've all helped each other out on a regular basis. There isn't a person in here I wouldn't trust to spot me, and there isn't a person in here I wouldn't stop what I was doing to spot or coach. We train together, party together, and go to the same weddings, and funerals. We marry each other, help each other move, fix each other's cars, share our food, our whiskey, and our hilarious jokes. I know you like being in the gym.

So do I. But I work here. I'm here all the time anyway. You shouldn't be, because the program doesn't call for more than 3 days a week, at least at first. Later, maybe, but most of you have no business doing a program that calls for more than 3 days a week under the bar. Despite the fact that you like the gym, your training requires recovery which cannot be obtained by training more than is optimal.

This program is designed to produce a systemic stress, from which recovery must take place, and which is built into the program. Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday or some iteration thereof is The Program. It consists of very few exercises which use lots of levers and muscles at the same time, and the weights used produce a huge amount of stress – more than enough to produce strength and growth without your helpful addition of the assistance exercises you've learned on the internet.

I understand the stress of peer-pressure. (Well, not really, but let's pretend I do.) Everybody you know tells you about all the different exercises, all the sets and reps, and all the volume that is absolutely necessary for hypertrophy – and all the time in the gym that is obviously necessary to get it all done. And here I am telling you that doing 5-6 exercises, adding 5 pounds to 3 sets of 5 reps, 3 days a week works better and works longer – that staying out of the gym more than you're in it is more productive of long-term progress than lots of junk reps 6 days a week.

But you like being in the gym. You like getting a pump, getting sweaty, tired, out of breath – you prefer feeling to thinking. And that's why you won't do the program. Hell, the program doesn't even make you very sore – another feeling you have come to associate with productive gym time, even though you can get your squat up 200 pounds and gain 30 pounds of good bodyweight without being bone-sore after the first week of training.

Thinking must overcome feeling for efficient progress. You know why this program works. And I know that you know guys who have gotten big and strong the other way. But you don't know anybody who has gotten as big or strong in as short a period of time as this program always demonstrates. Stop overtraining, while at the same time undertraining, and just do the program. I've made all these mistakes myself, so you don't have to. If you like to be in the gym, fine. But just sit there and enjoy the fellowship. Maybe spot, or even coach a little. Or you could help clean up. Sweep a little.

  • Part 1
  • Part 3
  • Part 4
  • Part 5
  • Part 6
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