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BendtheBar 01-13-2011 08:07 AM

MAB vs. Stronglifts vs. Starting Strength
No this isn't a head to head battle.

Muscle and Brawn is attempting to put together a series of flagship workouts aimed at beginners and intermediate lifters. The goal of these workouts is to build muscle and strength.

While we will be creating (with your help) a variety of workouts, for this particular discussion we want your thoughts on a workout in the vein of Starting Strength and Stronglifts...

Basically the question is, if you designed a workout in that vein, what would it look like and why?

We are looking for a very basic program that uses core lifts, and builds muscle and strength. Rippetoes isn't for pure muscle building but does build muscle, and Stronglifts aims to do both.

Let's discuss how we could design a program in this vein but maximize it for muscle and strength gains.

Al suggestions welcome. Ideas breed ideas... As I mentioned previously, our aim isn't to necessarily re-invent the wheel, but to rather forge workouts that suit the spirit and personality of who we are as a forum and site, and what we believe in.

glwanabe 01-13-2011 08:29 AM

I have a plan for this right now. I just need to pull it out and dust it off.

Got a few things going on today, but I will try to get some stuff posted.

Bodybygamma 01-13-2011 02:42 PM

One thing I do when I train beginners who have never dead-lifted or squatted before is make them do rack pulls, heavy rows, goblet squats, db over head squats, wide sumo deadlifts and Romain db deadlifts for 2-3weeks.

I do this because these exercises strengthen the muscles they will be using and teach them how to use each muscle properly. I am a big believer in DB training for beginners as it builds stability, teaches them balance and is a bit safer than the barbell counterpart lifts in the beginning. Each movement has its purpose for example

Goblet squats(holding a heavy dumb with both arms under the chin/ against the chest and squatting) teaches how to stay upright.

Sumo deadlifts teaches how to push out your knees and helps the person how to descent properly on the squat.

Rack Pulls & Heavy rows build up the upper back which prevents rounding and makes all big 3(4) lifts stronger.

BendtheBar 01-13-2011 02:48 PM

Great thoughts Tony.

I have never trained a beginner with deadlifts other than my wife, and I had her start with rack deadlifts. I know some programs have lifters start with RDLs or SLDLs, but I am always hesitant to have someone do this because I feel it's a more difficult lift to comprehend. Then again, most beginners turn deadlifts into SLDLs anyway...

Any other thoughts on this issue?

BendtheBar 01-13-2011 02:56 PM

I think we also need to distinguish workouts for RANK rank beginners who have never touched a barbell, and beginners with a moderate amount of experience with major lifts, but limited gains.

I think a rank beginner program(s) is in order, but we can save that for a different thread if that's ok with you guys?

strkout35 01-13-2011 03:36 PM

I think, for me at least, heavy squats 3x a week doesn't work well. I'm currently doing higher reps 3x a week and thats fine but when i was using ~85-90% of my max doing 3x5 every monday wednesday friday pushing to add 5 lbs a session it really made my lower back hurt. I did max awesome progress though....... who knows

Kyle Aaron 01-13-2011 05:56 PM

I use a similar approach to Tony, though I've not tried the sumo deadlifts to teach "knees out!" on squats, that's a great idea which I'll steal.

My approach is that we must do more in every session to force our body to adapt. More weight, or more reps or more sets. A "beginner" is someone who actually can do more in every session. An intermediate will progress weekly or monthly, an advanced lifter will require more complex programming. My training focuses on beginners, since these are 99+% of all people training in gyms. I don't claim to know how to train advanced people.

Workouts are generally twice a week. That's simply what is common in personal training.

If the person is already a healthy bodyweight, I have them begin with bodyweight exercises.
  • goblet squats
  • inverted rows
  • pushups
in each case, not worrying about sets and reps, just building up the total. For example if they're supposed to do 20, doesn't matter if it's 20 in one go, or 10,10, or 5,5,5,5 or 10,4,3,2,1 or even 1,1,1,.... so long as they get 20. Then next time at least 21. And so on.

When they can do 20+ goblet squats, 10+ inverted rows with legs straight out, and 15+ pushups from their toes, they are ready for barbell work. Then I give them the above bodyweight exercises as a warmup, followed by,
  • barbell squats, 3x5 for warmup with increasing weights, 1-3x3-5 work
  • overhead press, same
  • rack pulls / deadlifts, same
My gym doesn't have bumper plates, so 60kg is the least we can deadlift. Rack pulls I proceed with until they can pull 70kg, then we take the barbell to the floor back at 60kg.

Some women will be able to do 15+ pushups, but still find that the 20kg barbell in overhead press is basically their work weight. And some people will have very poor postural muscle strength. For them, I have them doing single dumbbell overhead press with their heels together. When they can press 12.5kg overhead in this way for lots of good reps with their body steady, they're ready for the 20kg barbell overhead press as a warmup, and 30-35kg will be work sets.

When the person has achieved SQ100% of bodyweight, OHP50%, DL125%, then it's time to add bench press and rows. It will alternate as SQ/OHP/DL and SQ/BP/RW. When they have achieved four out of five of,
  • OHP75%
  • BP100%
  • RW100%
  • SQ150%
  • DL175%
all for 5+ reps, then to my mind they are no longer beginners, and will require a different workout. I have found that people can make session-by-session progress in weight, reps or sets on those lifts until they reach those weights, after that things slow down for most.

I have had only one client who was no longer a beginner, and just after he (for want of a better word) graduated he moved house so no longer trains with me.

big valsalva 01-21-2011 03:04 PM


Originally Posted by strkout35 (Post 106710)
I think, for me at least, heavy squats 3x a week doesn't work well. I'm currently doing higher reps 3x a week and thats fine but when i was using ~85-90% of my max doing 3x5 every monday wednesday friday pushing to add 5 lbs a session it really made my lower back hurt. I did max awesome progress though....... who knows

Heavy 3x/week on squats will lead to burn out awfully fast. Although I do like squatting 3x/week. I'm using a HLM approach to squatting, and pushing for a 5 - 10 pound increase weekly.

That said, I think any beginner program should have squats as a core lift. A rank beginner could probably do well with a A/B split for a couple of months, but as the weights increase, squats should taper off to HLM. Deadlifts once per week at most. Maybe alternate between floor pulls and rack pulls.

A beginnr program should not be too fancy. Get the lifter rooted and grounded in the big 3(4), but allow enough flexibility to personally customize it (ie. bi's/tri's once a week, abs once or twice a week). The vanity lifts are what alot of beginners want to do anyway. Might as well allow some of that action.

My modest $.02.

BendtheBar 01-21-2011 03:24 PM

What are your thoughts on the following base structures:

Structure 1

Monday - Squats
Wednesday - Deadlifts
Friday - Squats

Structure 1

(Week 1)
Monday - Squats
Wednesday - Deadlifts
Friday - Squats

(Week 2)
Monday - Deadlifts
Wednesday - Squats
Friday - Deadlifts

I guess the questions become:

1) Do you, or should you deadlift more than once per week?
2) Is squatting about every 5 days enough on this style of lifting?

My choice would be to squat twice a week, and deadlift once a structure A. I think a beginner to early intermediate could handle deadlifting twice a week, but in the end I would rather see a great squat frequency.

With that said, I like both structures enough to think they are viable.

dmaipa 01-21-2011 03:35 PM

I think just sticking with squatting twice a week and deadlifting once is good

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