Starting Strength Weekly Report

December 18, 2017

  • Strength & Endurance, Pt 3 – John Petrizzo discusses systemic and cardiovascular adaptations to strength and endurance training.
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In the Trenches

diego sanchez starting strength squat camp
Starting Strength Coach Austin Baraki coaches Diego Sanchez during the Starting Strength Training Camp this past Saturday at Luke’s Barbell Club in Austin, TX [photo courtesy of Joyce Luke]
will wyatt locks out a deadlift
Will Wyatt locks out a deadlift during the Starting Strength Online Coaching group lifting session hosted by Darin Deaton and Pete Troupos. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]

Best of the Week

HLM Deadlift


  • 32 y/o male, 5’8” 210 lbs
  • Squat 405x3x5
  • DL 425x5
  • BP 245x3x5
  • Press 170x3x5

I’m moving from advanced novice programming to early intermediate and just looking to confirm a few things, mainly with the deadlift. My plan is to do 1 set of 3 (starting with 430lbs) then a back off set of 5 like you say in the YouTube video. My question is what percentage would you back off of that set of 3 for the set of 5? Also, do you recommend doing a rotating rep scheme (first week triple, next week double, next week single, restart and add 5 lbs) or are sticking to triples best? The rotating rep scheme sounds like you only add 5 lbs every 4th week...that doesn’t sound like much.

My goal is to get stronger (duh) and maybe try a PL meet in 2018 to see if I like it.

Andy Baker

Assuming a heavy 3 is about 90% of 1RM and a back off 5 is about 80% of 1RM, I'd back off about 10%. For Deads you aren't going to get long sustained progress doing a top triple each week. For Deads I actually prefer something more like this:

  • Week 1: heavy triple + back offs 5-8
  • Week 2: medium volume - 5s across
  • Week 3: heavy double + back offs 5-8
  • Week 4: medium volume - 5s across
  • Week 5: heavy single + back offs 5-8
  • Week 6: medium volume - 5s across

Reps in the 1-3 range are all 90%


Cool I haven’t seen this scheme yet. Thanks Andy!

Going off of my max1x5 weight, what would you start the medium volume weight at? Also, is that 2 sets of 5?

Andy Baker

However, since you are still fairly new to this here is how you might think about laying this out using %s. Hint: I really only like % as a starting point for a training cycle just to get everything set up right. After that, I only use % as a reference point not as a strict guidepost for programming.

Let's assume that a 5RM is about 85% of 1RM. Based on your 425 x 5, that puts your 1RM @ 500 lbs, although I'd hedge that down a bit to say 475-485 since you don't have much experience pulling heavy singles. So you could use the %'s below based off a 485 max if you want to be conservative or a 500 max if you want to be aggressive. Something like this:

  • Week 1: 90% x 3, 80% x 5-8
  • Week 2: 75% x 5 x 3
  • Week 3: 95% x 2, 85% x 4-6
  • Week 4: 75%% x 5 x 3 (add 5 lbs or add a set or add a rep - i.e. improve something)
  • Week 5: 100% x 1, 90% x 3-4 (add a rep or add 5 lbs - i.e. beat your 90% effort from week 1)
  • Week 6: 75% x 5 x 3 (add 5 lbs or add a set or add a rep - i.e. improve something)

Don't have to do this verbatim...just an idea of some simple % based programming that has worked for me with clients for a number of years.

Best of the Forum

Missed my novice gains window?

First some background: 

  • May 2012-June 2013, Initially started lifting with a friend, we didn't know anything about anything at all. Lifted 3x a week, I remember I got a little bit stronger, like +25lbs on the bench in a year. Didn't follow optimal nutrition or training, so I didn't really gain any bodyweight.
  • June 2013-June 2015 , friend stopped lifting, I started doing a real, structured workout program 4x a week. Lost around 30lbs, body recompositioned from fat to skinny-fat with some muscle definition. Remember I couldn't get past 145 on the bench, and did 155lbs squats. Didn't see any strength or muscular gains for around 1.5 years because of bad nutrition (not eating enough, not eating quality foods).
  • August 2015- February 2016 Got two hernias that prevented any sort of training in this period. I was not allowed to work out because of fear of worsening the condition, so I was not very active and lost pretty much all of my already incredibly small amount of gains.

My question is: As my diet and training was not optimal for any kind of muscle or strength gains (and I know this because I didn't really experience any in 3 years), have I still messed up my window for making novice gains? Will the SS program be suboptimal for me, as strictly speaking, I have 3 years of lifting experience, and lifted hard and consistently in the June 2013-June 2015 period. 

Tom Campitelli

You have not missed out on anything. You have not even gone through the beginnings of a novice progression. Train and eat and add some weight to the bar every time. If you had "lifted hard and consistently" for two years, you would probably be closing in on a 200 kg squat. All will be fine. Do the Starting Strength linear progression as written and profit.

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