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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Default Wndtp

    • starting strength seminar june 2022
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    by Marie Kunkel, Nicholas Racculia, and Jerome Wisneski

    Our primary observation is not doing the program as written seems to hinder progress...time on the program, special snowflake status, artificially high initial squat weight, stuck too quickly, excessive warmups, bastardization of the program...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Cedar Park, TX


    Very interesting article. In all honesty, I have modified the program slightly as well. Instead of cleans I do barbell rows. I'm thinking I'm going to sub out the rows and bring in another deadlift day. Oh, one other mod I made. I was not progressing with squats at all. I hit 225 (when I started I couldn't squat the naked bar - had to start with goblets and presses) and then actually started regressing. So, I tried something different. I made the squats on deadlift days "light" squats and do 3 sets of 10. I know that's way off the ranch but my 43 year old never really been in good shape legs are much happier for the change. And most importantly, my squat numbers are going back up.

    And I have made mistakes. I was definitely over warming up and exhausting myself before my work sets. I downloaded an app that has a barbell warm-up plan that has helped enormously. Another mistake I made was my form with both bench and deadlift. My poor deadlift form initially caused me huge back problems that put me out of the gym for a couple of months. Essentially a do-over. My poor bench form just caused me impingement pain which lead me to de-load back to the naked bar for work-sets and slowly build back up with proper form. Finally, I learned I needed to rest more between work sets. I increased from 2 to 3 minutes and that helped a ton.

    I'm OK with these set backs as I'm not trying to compete with anyone other than myself. And even in that regards I'm doing this mostly because when I leave the gym in the morning I feel incredible and can't wait to get back at it as soon as possible.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    East Coast


    Nice work.

    Would be cool to see some multilevel modeling to see what factors predicted the steeper/shallower slopes on the squat
    Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis: Modeling Change and Event Occurrence: Judith D. Singer, John B. Willett: 9780195152968: Amazon.com: Books

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    This was an excellent read.

    Only 5.2% of all males squatted with at least 67% of the frequency recommended by The Program and started out with less than 185 lbs. on the bar.

    the average starting squat was 171 lbs. (178 lbs. for the males)
    Holy crap people. Who goes from the couch to thinking you can below-parallel squat ~175 for reps?

    staying on the program too long becomes unsustainable as the trainee is no longer a novice and unable to recover by the next workout, possibly leading to frustration and disappointment. We discovered a few outliers who decided they were on The Program for a very long time (e.g., one entrant logged 107 weeks of training).
    Probably me

    Of course these lifters were not really doing The Program at all. We discovered that “SS for the Long Haul” users mostly stagnated for great periods of time and progress was essentially flat over long periods.
    Definitely me

    a significant number of trainees who decided (usually through self-diagnosis) that they were the exception to the various rules of The Program. To avoid adaptable discomfort, they sacrificed better lifts for weaker ones.

    We found that many of the entries equated “difficult” with “intermediate.” Most people who stalled and subsequently switched out of linear progression did not explicitly evaluate the standard sticking points: adequate rest between sets, adequate inter-workout recovery and correctly applied titration of weights.
    The birth of half the intermediate logs right there (Mine probably included.)

    While the logs were full of discussion on how heavy the weight had become, rarely was time between sets mentioned or adjusted.
    Nobody gets this.

    Five repetitions allow trainees to use heavy enough weight to force the body to adapt. We saw many novices using sets of eight to ten reps. This is no way to sustain The Program, due to the unnecessarily large amount of volume
    Nobody gets this either, even though my 3x8-10 is obviously farther away from my 1RM than my 3x5, this isn't common core

    there are still plenty of entrants insisting on doing their own warm-ups with either a vigorous stretching routine or a cardio workout before lifting
    But but warmup!

    This article should perhaps be appended to SS:BBT4.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015


    Addressing this propensity to deviate from the program and having people not do it will probably be good for business.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2016


    Very interesting read.

    Just one question, how did you control for those that were still doing the program, but were just doing the advanced novice programming explained in PPST3 (e.g. 3x3 method and frequency reduction)?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    No one cares.


    One of the reasons I enjoy reading SSBBT3 is that Rippetoe presents the material in a way that requires the reader to apply it for him/herself. As an example, when discussing accessory lifts, he doesn't say "Do NOT add accessory lifts", but instead "accessory work for biceps and triceps may interfere with recovery for big lifts" (or something close to that - I don't have the text in front of me). The starting weight and progression are also at the discretion of the trainee - the intention is to get to the point where the weight is useful (i.e., sufficient to generate a stress in the trainee that can be recovered from within 48-72 hours). While the program is incredibly specific, there is quite a bit of wiggle room for individual considerations.

    An interesting question to me - of the trainees tracked, how many read the text IN ENTIRETY? All of the issues addressed in the study are addressed in the book. That there are so many people NTDP suggests the guidance is not sufficiently clear enough OR people did not read it sufficiently. It is annoying when posters respond with "read da book" as the panacea for any question, but it's true. The answers are there. Answers to questions you didn't know you had are there.

    Regarding rest time between sets. I think the guidance could be improved in this area. My personal approach is to monitor the time between sets, record them along with the weights used, and be consistent with that rest period, and increase or decrease if needed or possible. Without timing the rest (for consistency), it could mean one session has 8-10 minute rest, 10-12 minutes (if chatting with friends) and another has 5-7 minute rests. Maybe the trainee had an extra cup of coffee and got work done with only 4 minute rest. Maybe progress occurred, or maybe it doesn't. If it didn't occur - it may or may not be due to insufficient rest. Consistency eliminates the unknown. This is an incredibly easy variable to control and adjust if necessary, especially given the prevalence of smart-phones (even my dumb-phone has a stopwatch in it!)

    For example, if a trainee uses a strict 6:00 rest period between sets, and weight on the bar progresses (in accordance with the program). When the trainee gets stuck AND suspects rest time is insufficient, he/she could increase it to 6:30 and repeat. If progress continues - 6:30 is sufficient. And so on, but at least the trainee can eliminate the variability and whether it is an effect. (NOTE: selection of 6:00 for example purposes only)

    Lastly, on a positive note, it was great to read about people getting stronger, even if some of their choices were sub-optimal.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Greensburg, PA


    Thank you all for the feedback.

    Aryah: You are absolutely correct...the more the trainees stick with the Program as written, the more gains (sorry, gainzZz) they experience. I honestly was stunned at the depth of deviation.

    Ithryn: We were also surprised at how quickly and frequently the resets came, we hope this serves as a wake-up call for many of the lifters.

    Tiburon, Check your private messages, I'm going to email you there!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Shawnee, KS


    There's such a LOT of material in SSBBT alone! The book's extremely clearly written, but I'm supposed to have 99th percentile reading comprehension and very high retention, but SSBBT is like the Tao Te Ching - Every time I read it, I get more out of it.

    A lot of people don't learn well from reading, even when material is written at a very basic level, and they also have problems with retention especially when they are reading about an unfamiliar subject. The videos on the web site are extremely helpful, and I'm very glad I could spend some time with a qualified coach, but I'm not at all surprised that a lot of people who try to follow the program don't "get it", and don't follow the program exactly.

    Then there's just human nature, and the ubiquitous tendency to make exceptions for yourself, or to try something different. People aren't generally cut out to follow any specific program exactly - not even in the military (we were always bending the rules). Without hands-on coaching, I suspect that the results you got are pretty typical, no matter how well-designed the program, and no matter how clearly written the book may be.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2015


    starting strength coach development program
    It seems like the KDTP people had better progress in the squat and good but not as good progress in the deadlift compared to deadlift than the DTP people. Why do you think this is? Less squatting? Better customization to the individual?

    On another note, I train at a university gym. It is fairly easy to tell the people who are doing SS or StrongLifts - for what it's worth almost without exception every person tops out at 110-120kg. It is very rare to see someone squat more than 120kg. Once these young men get up to two plates their squat goes to shit and they "reset" or stop lifting.

    I think part of it is that the school semester dictates their recovery abilities - after 4-5 weeks they have assignments and exams, then they "get back into it" for a few weeks before they have exams and a break. So for a young person with average time management skills and for whom strength training is not a level 1 priority compared to socializing and school work once they get to 125% of bodyweight on the squat they fail to progress as they are not getting sufficient rest, nutrition, and/or consistency.

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