Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition – Pina Books
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Starting Strength has been called the best and most useful of fitness books. The second edition, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, sold over 80,000 copies in a competitive global market for fitness education. Along with Practical Programming for Strength Training 2nd Edition, they form a simple, logical, and practical approach to strength training. Now, after six more years of testing and adjustment with thousands of athletes in seminars all over the country, the updated third edition expands and improves on the previous teaching methods and biomechanical analysis. No other book on barbell training ever written provides the detailed instruction on every aspect of the basic barbell exercises found in SS:BBT3. And while the methods for implementing barbell training detailed in the book are primarily aimed at young athletes, they have been successfully applied to everyone: young and old, male and female, fit and flabby, sick and healthy, weak and already strong. Many people all over the world have used the simple biological principle of stress/recovery/adaptation on which this method is based to improve their performance, their appearance, and their long-term health. With over 150,000 copies in print in three editions, Starting Strength is the most important method available to learn the most effective way to train with barbells — the most important way to improve your strength, your health, and your life.

— Why barbells are the most effective tools for strength training.
— The mechanical basis of barbell training, concisely and logically explained.
— All new photographs and improved illustrations of all the lifts, and the biomechanics behind them.
— Complete, easy-to-follow instructions for performing the basic barbell exercises: the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, power clean, and the power snatch.
— Revised instruction methods for all six lifts, proven effective in four years of seminar, military, and group instruction.
— How the human body adapts to stress through recovery, and why this is the foundation of the development of strength and lifetime health.
— How to program the basic exercises into the most effective program for long-term progress.
— Completely indexed.
— The most productive method in existence for anyone beginning a strength training program.

51 reviews for Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition

  1. Walter Nissen (verified owner)

    Starting Strength is so popular among geeks as well as athletes because it teaches not just the conclusions but the axioms and reasoning on the way. This book will let you in on a secret: 90%+ of the people in the weightlifting section of the gym are not interested in getting stronger, and have almost no idea how to get that way. They may seem intimidating from a distance, but once you learn the purpose and mechanics of weight training, you will know more than most trainers about strength. Also, you will laugh at the gruff pronouncements of the author.

    This book is dedicated to helping you coach yourself or (preferably) a partner to correctly perform five fundamental exercises to maximize overall strength: squat (the heart of the program), deadlift, power clean, bench press, and military (overhead) press. If you follow the program you will lift weights three times a week for about two hours a session. You will also (at least if you’re a weakling like me) be working your muscles much harder than you have in your life. If you don’t have that kind of time and energy, at least you’ll be making more progress than you would with a blizzard of machines. The whole idea is continuous incremental progress, so be prepared to write down your lifts and to do structured warmups. If you’re not the type to keep track of how you’re warming up, and how much you can lift at the most, this is not the program for you. You would be better off getting a good trainer (not someone with a name tag reading “Joey,” who will help you “firm those arms!”).

    Note that the title is “Starting Strength,” not “Starting Conditioning.” While there is definitely an aerobic component, you will not lose weight, and you will not get aerobically conditioned. That said, the program applies equally to men and women, and, despite the emphasis on rapidly developing muscle mass, really is aimed at beginners. Otherwise it would be “Intermediate Strength.” I had never picked up a barbell, and started on this program more or less as a lark, yet weightlifting is one of the most exciting things I have ever done, and this book (skip the 2nd edition, it’s great and all, but the current edition is complete) is the gateway.

  2. Deathgripsugar (verified owner)

    Got this book after starting the Strong Lifts program but was looking for more direction and coaching.

    What this book is good at:

    -Theory: Bio-mechanics of certain lifts and presses.
    -Application: Teaching you the RIGHT WAY to perform barbell exercises.

    What is is not good at:

    -Tailoring a custom program for you. It has a starting program for you to follow but it leaves a lot up to the individual to custom-tailor a plan that works.

    In all this book is great for those that have a program in mind or are already familiar with the S.Strength 3×5 system. If you have a barbell program in mind this will show you how to be more effective in your program.

    If you don’t have a program in mind, it will give you some loose guidelines on how to set one up for yourself, along with showing you how to get started in your program by performing the exercises correctly.

    Lots of information in this book and I feel more confident that I am doing my exercises correctly.

  3. Cory (verified owner)

    This book is by far the best and most scientific information a lay person will ever find and easily be able to digest about strength. This book is one long case for why these five core lifts (press, bench press, squat, deadlift and power clean) are vital to both performance and human life. I will forever incorporate much of what I read into my training. The only reason I give 4 stars is because it lacks balance. One does not live on strength alone. I have heard it said from other authors that conditioning is the key that allows your strength to be used. For instance, a fire fighter might be able to do 5×5 squats with 500lbs but that means nothing if he needs 3 minutes to recover from climbing ten stories in the stairwell. Just my opinion, to be truly effective in life, you need to have that conditioning base as well. After all, we are far more likely to have to run for help than bench press a car.

  4. James Papeika (verified owner)

    I have been trying to learn how to exercise since I first lost the weight (more than 10 years ago now). I say “trying” because I have lost many, many hours of my life reading “expert” opinions and trying the latest “Muscle and Fitness” workout routine that “guarantees” success. I wish I had found Mark Rippetoe’s book years ago.

    You don’t need to read any further; this is well worth the money. My copy has pages flagged, and, for a few months until I was sure I learned the moves, it was with my during my workouts. This will teach you to use a barbell properly and, therefore, get stronger.

    Mr. Rippetoe will teach how to workout with barbell. He will teach you how to do it properly. I have shelves full of books; all could be traded for this one reference. Yes, I mean it. There is no other reference on the market that even comes close. It is a reference book: detailed drawings and descriptions of even the smallest of details for the major barbell exercises (squat, deadlift, bench press, (overhead) press, power clean). Ripp also included other exercises (dips, deadlift variations, etc.) I appreciate the fact that this book includes the “why” along with the “how.” I have books that teach the squat with one or two pictures; as another reviewer points out, the squat chapter is many pages of detail. Even with the science, Ripp’s writing style is understandable and often humorous.

    When I first started using Ripp’s program, I modified it slightly (using his other excellent book, Practical Programming), and did not include Power Cleans (since I don’t have bumper plates that can be safely dropped on my garage floor). I have tried power cleans at lighter weights (that I don’t need to drop); if you can, I recommend power cleans. Sometimes, I incorporate squat jumps into my program for some “power” work; however, I have no idea what Ripp would think of this. He would probably make fun of me, but, hey, I work with what I have.

    I had been squatting for years; well, I was not doing it right. I was humbled when I realized that my version of a squat was probably just a “half” squat. Also, I realize that the hundreds of pounds that I pushed on the sled (machine leg-press) DOES NOT translate into real squatting strength. I have to admit–squats suck. The machine is much easier. But, the value of the squat cannot be ignored.

    Even after about 10 years of lifting, I learned something for each lift. Staring at the ceiling, for example, during a bench press, or moving my head/hips forward to lock out the press. These little things make a difference. Everything I knew about the deadlift was probably wrong…

    It’s all over the internet, so you don’t need this, but just in case you are curious, here was my first overall plan (based on both Starting Strength and Practical Programming). Note that you squat with every workout, and you alternate the bench press and overhead press. I was deadlifting just once each week. Note that the plan includes squatting, pushing, and pulling each workout. This is not the exact plan as laid out in the book (I altered the pulling exercise layout and removed back extensions):

    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3
    Chins/Power Cleans

    Day 4

    Day 5

    Day 6

    For example, each time you succeed with your required reps (say, squat 100 lbs. for 3 sets of 5 reps), you increase your weight. Next workout, you would try 105. If you start properly (i.e., LIGHT), you can progress for a while. Sets and reps are usually 3 x 5, but the deadlift was 1 work-set x 5. (You do warmup sets, too). Don’t let this simple layout fool you; you will get stronger. Squats are full-body exercises!

    At this point, I am no longer on this plan–not because it was not working, but because, obviously, at a certain point you can’t continue to make 5-pound gains each workout. I am not 18 anymore, and my body just could not try for a Personal Record with each and every workout. I can’t say enough about my improvements while on this plan for a few months. Also, I walk, run occasionally, and try to keep up with the young kids during soccer games/practices, so I noticed that I was not recovering (i.e., unable to progress) from the frequent squatting. Ripp does not recommend “cardio” training; he justifies this position with pages of science and life experience as a trainer.

    After starting with this program, you can consider the “intermediate” plans in Practical Programming (Google “Texas Method” for an example), or try something like Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1. I am currently using 5-3-1 because, for me, this program allows for more recovery. Also, I like the fact that Wendler’s program is not always working at your max weight (and instead uses a lighter weight with a higher rep-goal). By the way, Wendler (I believe, I don’t know him personally), recommends Ripp’s program to get started.

    Honestly, other fitness authors should be embarrassed to sell their works on the same shelf with Ripp’s books.

  5. D (verified owner)

    If you want to be strong…really strong, then the answer is simple: read this book.

    Being whole-body-strong is what this book encourages and teaches. Mark espouses a small number of compound movements done efficiently and properly to maximise your body’s capacity to lift, as well as maximally develop your body’s capacity to lift.

    But this book is not just a program. In fact if all you want is the program then you could find it online without looking very hard at all.

    For me, the real value in this book is primarily in the instruction on training the lifts. Before reading this book, my squat form was bad. I didn’t need anyone to tell me: I just knew it. This, despite reading many instructional articles on how to correctly squat. After reading the chapter on the squat once, my form improved immensely…and I will continue to refer back to it for further development. Mark Rippetoe has gone to extraordinary effort to break the movements down into their component parts and describe them in a high level of detail referencing engineering principles, anatomical descriptions and some very helpful photo sequences. You don’t need to be an engineer to understand what he’s trying to say, nor an anatomist. Mark describes the lifts with reference to several disciplines of study in such a way that everyone who pays attention will pick it up, and learn a few things along the way.

    The other gem within this book is the no-nonsense, just-go-and-do-it approach to building strength. Mark believes: people should be strong; it doesn’t need to take years to become strong; you only need a small number of lifts at the initial stages; and, you should add weight to the bar every session. This is manifest within the actual program and is endemic throughout the whole book.

    There’s far more to it than that. To get it, you will have to read the book.

    Highly recommended.

  6. Eyewall (verified owner)

    I own 

    Starting Strength (2nd edition)

     and saw a comment that the author made on reddit about how he had basically rewritten the book for the 3rd edition. I decided to buy it – I have been having trouble with irritating my shoulders while benching, and I wanted to see if he had any additional points to make.

    The 3rd edition is physically thinner, though it’s due to using different stock; the book actually has more pages. He’s right about the book being rewritten; the mechanical analyses are much more in depth. It helps to have some knowledge of anatomy, or at least Google, so you know what muscles he’s talking about. There are drawings, but I found that other angles I found online made the text more clear. Across the board, the drawings are better, the writing is much clearer, and there are additional pointers that help correct problems more quickly.

    In my opinion, the section on the press is the most upgraded. It’s much longer, with an excellent discussion on grip that I couldn’t find in the 2nd edition. Rereading the section on the bench seems to have really helped my shoulder in the two months since I bought the book. The section on the power clean now also has a section on the power snatch. Nice!

    I wish the section on ancillary exercises covered a few more, specifically the reverse-hyper and a suggested ancillary exercise for abs – the roman chair situp is mentioned only in passing.

    This is the book for people wishing to get strong. I wish I it had been available when I was younger. It would have made a huge difference in how I trained for my sport.

    If you own the 2nd edition, buy the new book if:
    1) You are a coach. You make money with this book. The clearer explanations alone are worth the price.
    2) You are having problems, and the 2nd edition isn’t helping. Again, better explanations and drawings, along with additional pointers might help. Of course, you should also be seeking out an experienced coach.
    3) You want to add the power snatch to your routine.

  7. N Robins (verified owner)

    This is a very good and important book, but… I’ll get right to it: There simply aren’t very many barbell or free weight type gyms anymore. After this last economic downturn many businesses have gone out-of-business… including many of the older gyms (at least here in Tucson, AZ). What has grown just over the last year are various $9.99/mo. gyms full of fancy equipment… but with absolutely NO free weight barbells.

    This doesn’t mean that Mr. Rippetoe isn’t “right”; he is clearly an expert! BUT where does that leave the majority of guys like me where the closest thing to a barbell at my gyms (I have 2 memberships) are Smith Machines and dumbbells? Well, I DID learn a lot, and I have used his info as much as possible… applying it to, well, Smith Machines, etc.

    This is a very good book, and I–like so many others–highly recommend it!

    Oh, by the way Mr. Rippetoe, I DID make sure that my gloves match my purse (see page 102). In addition to expert weight training advice, he offers wonderful fashion tips too! Seriously though, barbells scratch the heck out of my wedding band and I guess I not quite hardcore enough to take in off; gloves solve that problem just fine.

  8. M. Taylor (verified owner)

    I bought this book while I was working at a summer camp in America. I actually took John Berardi’s ‘Scrawny to Brawny’ with me with the intention of reading it and then follow the workout once I returned back home in England. Once I had finished it, I decided that I wanted some more information on the lifts. I’m the kind of guy who likes to know the theory and techniques involved before getting down to business. If you are like me then this book is definitely for you! Mark Rippetoe does an outstanding job with this book. He has written it in such a way that each compound lift – that he feels is necessary in achieving optimal strength gains – has its own chapter. In these chapters he goes over what the lift is, which variations are popular and which he feels is the best one and why. The why part is particularly interesting as it delves into Biomechanics and demonstrates, through brilliant diagrams and illustrations, the reasoning behind his options. The chapters also cover common mistakes to look out for and then a basic program to follow initially. In my opinion, the chapters are clear and concise and are very well written. Mark injects quite alot of humour into the book and you find that there are areas of the book where you feel as though he’s actually coaching you in person. Each lift is broken down into compartments which makes every one much easier to understand and follow. He plays close attention to detail and it is these details, I believe, that are the most valuable. There is only so much you can learn from watching and studying successful lifters on the likes of YouTube, for the rest I would advise you buy this book. The following chapters cover useful assistance excercises and programming. These chapters are useful but I feel it is the chapters on each individual lift that truly makes this book standout. The only downside, if you would call it that, is the section on nutrition. Nutrition is a very important part of weight training regardless whether you are looking to put size on or just increase your strength. The section gets the point across but I feel it is very basic and somewhat outdated. I feel it will leave anyone who is completely new to the idea of nutrition feeling a little underwhelmed and searching for more information on the matter. This was not really an issue for myself as I was fortunate in the sense that I also had ‘Scrawny to Brawny’. John Berardi is well known for his knowledge on sports nutrition and has a huge chunk of the book dedicated to the nutritional aspect of weight training. I believe it is worth buying for this reason alone and would be a good accompaniment for anyone who found themselves in this particular predicament. Before buying this book I had researched it on the Internet and all of the reviews I had read were very positive. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. This book is ideal for its intended purpose and I would definitely recommend it.

  9. Paul S (verified owner)

    Very much as advertised. A friend of mine recommended this book to me and I was not disappointed. Not sure what new things I can say abut it that weren’t already mentioned. It’s an easy read with lots of pictures and descriptions that help the reader to visualize how the movements are to occur as well as how to correct for various form errors. Lots of pictures as well as descriptions of how the exercise is working the muscle group(s).

    There’s also a DVD (sold separately) that is basically just people working out with Mark Rippetoe’s along side the lifter providing instruction and feedback that has several different people with different body types and strength levels. I wouldn’t really say people should go out of their to find this, but it wouldn’t hurt anything. Surprisingly enough, for just videos of people working out, it’s got some pretty good background music, unless you’re really into Jock Jams that is.

    My only real beef with the book is the gallon of milk a day dietary program he describes. My personal opinion is that the gains described in the book with regards to this diet are fairly optimistic along with the corresponding strength improvements, though having never tried this I don’t have any first hand knowledge, but it seems excessive, so take with a grain of salt.

    All in all, this is a very solid book that you’ll refer back to on multiple occasions (I know I have). I’d give this a 4.5 star rating personally and would recommend to all.

  10. Shawn B. Wikle (verified owner)

    There is a bit of a cult movement around Rippetoe right now. He is a flavor of the day in exercise training. Most of what he promotes is not new, but he has refined it and propped it up with some convincing and some not so convincing arguments.

    Good and extremely detailed explanations for good form in a basic set of barbell exercises that (if you are physically able to perform them) will provide excellent results. Anything that gets people excited and into gyms to do strength training is a good thing.

    Even though I’ve lifted weights on and off throughout my life I learned a lot from reading this book. There are some real nuggets in here that have dramatically helped me in my exercise routine. For example, something that is real physics and makes a lot of sense is: keep you center of gravity (you and the bar as a system) over the middle of your feet (as demonstrated in the cover drawing). Seems obvious, but just thinking about that can fix a number of form errors by itself. Another great thought for the squat, for instance, is his tip to think of moving the bar straight up and straight down, and allow your mind to do the proper calculations to figure out how to make that happen. That will, again, fix a lot of form problems because your subconscious brain is better at that sort of thing than having your conscious brain try to remember a dozen form keys while squatting a heavy weight.

    Good luck and good exercising!

    A little too dogmatic. It takes A LOT of pages to describe the squat. Now I’m all in favor of a detailed explanation for these exercises because most have the potential to cause injury if done improperly and one does see many people doing cringe-worthy things that attempt to approximate, for instance, a proper squat in any gym. However, his explanations often trail off into diatribe and borderline pseudo-physics for pages at a time, leaving the reader the task of separating the interesting information from the fluff.

    He whips by some brief (thankfully) diet advice that is best ignored. Read Taubes or someone who knows a little more about modern diet science on the diet part of your lifestyle. Stick to Rippetoe for form advice on exercises.

    Some people simply aren’t physically capable of doing these exercises. By almost completely dismissing Nautilus and other forms of strength training, he doesn’t do anyone any favors. Don’t buy the book if you have some physical issues or are older and starting out in strength training. Instead, get a GOOD professional trainer for one on one lessons to get you set up with a strength program you can be successful at.

    Bottom line:
    A good book for those who are young and already in reasonable condition and want to advance in their strength training. And those who are willing to spend the time reading through a lot of words for something that could have probably been said much more succinctly.

  11. Brian O’Connor (verified owner)

    This is a solid book that will put you on the road to getting stronger vs. spending your time on mirror muscles and shaving your body hair. Your strength goals are a totally personal thing so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. Just don’t let the eyes of those at the gym push you further or faster than you want to go.

    As for my reasons for buying this book, I just wanted to get back to feeling like a normal man again. I sit at a desk most of the day in a 9 to 5 and felt myself getting weaker and weaker in overall strength. I grew up like most guys, a balance between the classroom and athletics. However, my adult life was taking a swing towards all office work and no athletics. I needed to get back in balance so I used the whole New Year’s resolution thing to springboard myself back into shape.

    This book shows you how to do tried-and-true, strength building lifts with proper form. Frankly it’s a kind of boring approach since it’s not build on fads, empty promises, and glossy magazine covers. As a matter of fact, this approach discourages you from looking in the mirror. Instead it appeals to building up your natural feedback mechanism, which is interrupted by gazing continuously at your hairless, baby oiled physique in the mirror. This is a world where proper form rules. Most people at the gym don’t have it, so they’re not take the long range path to health/fitness. (After all, how many gains will you have as you nurse an injury for several months on the couch.) This book promises no quick gains, just a long-term approach based on good ol’ fashioned hard work and proper form. Do yourself a favor and buy the companion DVD, which I found on Coach Rippetoe’s website. It’ll add the visual element that you might feel is lacking from the book. Good luck on your road to becoming a stronger version of you.

  12. Brandon M (verified owner)

    I bought this based on a lot of hype given to Rippetoe et al. from various online forums. No one I knew in person had followed any of his methods. I have been lifting off and on for about 15 years, but never anything serious for long, and certainly never anything that could be considered weight training as defined in Starting Strength (SS). I have read through the entire book and have been following it’s techniques for about three weeks now, here is how I view what I’ve gleaned so far:

    Lots of great information on foundations of technique for your major compound lifts. Covers everything his team recommends on/under the bar from head to toe.

    Good information on what you should NOT be doing under the bar.

    Good explanations of why things are recommended the way they are in lay terms.

    Some very long winded and technical sections on items Mark finds important. I think it sometime belabors the point and if you’re not fully involved, it might chase away some potential learners.

    Not much for building a routine. As stated many times, SS is for the beginner, with no serious lifting experience. The program is very basic, and this is actually a good thing if you read through the book and see why. It works, even having lifted for a while and being not a complete beginner, it still has me lifting more and hitting some records.

    I think this is an excellent book for a beginner looking to get under the bar for the first time. For the future, I believe it will be an excellent compendium to review for form checks and coaching techniques as friends ask about whats being done. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to get into barbell weight training.

  13. D (verified owner)

    The best gift is one you would want yourself.

    I own an earlier edition of this book and loved it. It was HIGHLY informative and very detailed into the mechanics of all the lifts, how the body is functioning during the lifts, and gives plenty of instruction to perform all the lifts correctly. Reading this book, watching videos online (his website actually posts quite a few videos with hands on instruction) as well as youtube videos, will lead to performing the lifts as they are meant to be performed and gaining the most out of your time in the gym. After you’ve read the book and you start trying to do the lifts, go back and read through sections again. Be critical of what you feel/do in the gym, and double-check that those feelings and thoughts are matching up with the text you’ve read.

    I bought this for my brother and I must say skimming through the pages it looks even better than my version. There are more pictures in this version to help explain different things going on in the lifts as well as a lot of graphs that help keep the text feeling fresh and not leaving you inundated with a wall of text. If you wanted to skip to the parts that helped you the most, you easily could with this version.

    Whether you stick through this whole program or not (many do not) it is a worthwhile book to have in order to perfect movements you’ll be doing in the gym throughout your lifting career. You may as well get started learning them sooner rather than later.

  14. Nathan Wallingford (verified owner)

    For anyone who is seriously interested in beginning a strength routine (which should be virtually all able-bodied adults, but alas …), Starting Strength lays out the most beneficial program for novices that is available today. The book is the bible of strength training for beginners which, it is important to note, can even include many adults (30 years old or older) who may have exercised in the past but have never been through a regimented strength training routine. (Please see Mark Rippetoe’s articles on this for more information:

    However, I have to refrain from giving the book the maximum of five stars because of the way it is organized and written. The bottom line is that it is too difficult for the reader to access the most vital information in the book in a timely manner. To get the most out of the program and you have had no exposure to the information beforehand, you really need to just sit down and read the entire book from cover to cover before you begin working out, taking notes as you go and developing your workout log/tracker. The book is written in a prose style, with pieces of vital information – e.g., how to warm up properly, how much weight to increase for the next workout, etc. – mixed in with personal asides and anecdotes which makes finding the information you need at a later time much, much too difficult.

    If there is ever to be a 4th Edition, I would highly recommend to Coach Rip that he include an almanac-like, pure reference section in the back that lists all of the most important information for the reader. I am envisioning a section that is almost completely bullet-points, tables and charts, and pictures demonstrating the exercises. I treasure this book highly and will use it as the foundation to teach my children strength training as they get older (and I hope that they will pass it down to their kids, and so on …) but it is simply not easy to use as a quick reference guide.

  15. RantingForSanity (verified owner)

    ….not should…MUST! And when you do, be sure to have a physics textbook and a good book on anatomy handy, because Rippetoe goes into brutal detail about the major compound lifts: the deadlift, the squat, the bench press, the overhead press, and the power clean. After reading this book and applying the information mentioned within, you will see yourself improve significantly in all of these major lifts.

    I took off a star for two reasons. First, Rippetoe’s nutrition plan is utterly ludicrous. He suggests drinking ONE FULL GALLON of WHOLE milk per day. Now maybe that is ideal if you are a 120 pound ectomorph that has a fast metabolism, but for the vast majority of people, it is not. I would even say that is not ideal for the 120 pound ectomorph! The second reason I took off a star was because he does not seem to advocate the high-bar squat, which I think is easier for me, but that is a matter of personal opinion so I only deducted half a star.

    Bar none (no pun intended), this is by far the best instruction I’ve read on doing the compound lifts.

  16. Leviticus Maximus (verified owner)

    I’m a competitive marathon runner who decided to start lifting about eight months ago, and for the first few months, I just sort of did what I saw other guys doing in the gym. Being a novice lifter, I got some pretty decent gains rather quickly. About three months ago, a friend of mine who is an experienced lifter, recommended this book to me. The difference in the quality of my workouts and my resulting strength gains since I began the Starting Strength program is incredible. Mark Rippetoe does a fantastic job explaining (VERY in-depth) each of the lifts and how to get the greatest strength gains. Things such as equipment, nutrition, lifting schedules, and many of the wrong techniques that are often seen from other lifters are also addressed. There are many helpful diagrams and pictures that help illustrate the ideas too. One thing to be aware of though is that this book is essentially a college textbook. It’s a fantastic tool, but it’s not a book that you will just zoom through in a matter of hours. You will probably want a highlighter and a few weeks worth of free time to get through the entire thing. That being said, you will learn a ton and your strength will improve enormously.

    Note: Since starting med school, I haven’t run any marathons. Lifting has been a great way to get some serious exercise with less serious time commitment (only 3 days/week). I’m not lifting to improve my running. In fact, I’ve gained 30 lbs in the past few months, so I bet I’m way slower.

  17. mystified (verified owner)

    I purchased this book after reading a link to an article by Mark Rippetoe on the Instapundit website entitled “3 Reasons Why You Need to Lift a Barbell Over Your Head” (

    I have exercised at least 2-3 times per week all of my adult life, including with lighter weights in “boot camp” and “body pump” type classes, but I had never lifted a barbell over my head. I had done plenty of overhead presses with 8-12 lb dumbbells which I had assumed were the same. The next time I was at the gym I lifted a 30 lb dumbbell over my head and suddenly realized it’s a completely different and more involved exercise than than lifting 2 15-lb dumbbells overhead. I noticed that a standing overhead press, done correctly, incorporated the entire body. It also felt great, especially between the shoulder blades. It also seemed to stress the muscles proportionally to their size.

    I purchased Starting Strength figuring that if I wanted to increase my weight/strength on the press, I had better get all the information I needed to make sure my form was perfect. In the 3 months since using Starting Strength, I have built my press up conservatively to 45 lbs, my squat to 85 lbs, and deadlift up to 105 lbs.

    I continue to do my boot camp type classes, and I’ve noticed the my upper body strength has improved enormously as well as my pliometric jumps. My posture and confidence level and sleep have also improved.

    Have my muscles gotten bigger? Yes and no. I’ve always been a slim, long climbed, gangly type person and continue to be. My legs have gotten a little thicker with muscle, but not enough to change my jeans size, and my arms have gotten considerably more toned and actually look slimmer. Yes, I still look like a woman.

    Rippetoe explains the strength training will not give women big, mannish muscles unless they use things like steroids. I think it’s true, but I also think what turns many women off from lifting heavy weights is seeing women in the gym with unusual, and in my eyes unattractive, ill-proportioned musculature: things like thick, bulging abdominals, large quads with tiny glutes and hamstrings, large biceps and sloped shoulders — that sort of thing. I think these women aren’t strength training, but body building. I don’t see them doing full squats, standing overhead presses and deadlifts. They seem to do a lot of ancillary, muscle isolating body building exercises such as sit ups with 45 lb weight plates, quad isolating exercises, heavy bicep isolating exercises, with much lighter or no shoulder, triceps, hamstring work, etc. I think because the Starting Strength 3 main barbell exercises incorporate so many muscles at the same time, it is almost impossible to over develop one muscle at the expense of another.

    Two things that I hope Rippetoe will cover in more detail in future editions/books:

    1) Bone strength. Obviously, if you are working your muscles, you are working your bones to some degree, but are some exercises better at this? My guess is that pushing and pressing exercises like squats and presses would be better at this than pulling exercises such as the dead lift, but this is only a guess.

    2) More detail about isometric strength training.. For example, if someone has a neuromuscular condition which makes it difficult to do multiple reps with perfect form, how beneficial is it to do one press and hold it, and how would you program for this?

  18. Pete (verified owner)

    Very informative book not only does it advise of proper lifting techniques for the most popular compund movement but explains why these exercises should be done and why the technique mentioned is the proper technique. Rip has some great advise in regards to lifting.

    I think the routine section of the book is not very concise and jumps around quite a bit. I think he should have taken more time to make it easier to implement. I plan on using these techniques with the stronglifts 5×5 program instead of starting strength as it is very simple and has a iphone app to go with it.

    Be careful about Rippetoe’s nutritional advise towards the end of the book – about getting as strong as possible. So though Rips advise is sound for the goal of getting as strong as possible as fast as possible, it will also pack on a huge ton of fat with the extra muscle and can easily be mismanaged. If you are looking to get stronger and look like you work out and not a huge sack of mucles and fat – I would recommend having a small caloric surplus of 200 – 300 each day and add the muscle on slowly (about 1-2 pounds of muscle per month). But do whatever floats your boat.

    Overall 4 stars since I got the book for the lifting techniques

  19. Turangalila (verified owner)

    I don’t really have a whole lot more to add, but I’ll give my two cents, anyway.

    I love this book — well, most aspects of it, anyway. Rippetoe has a great (and sometimes humorous) method of explaining the five main lifts taught in this book (in case you aren’t aware, they are the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, the overhead press, and the power clean). It’s also a nice, big, textbook-sized book that can be easily left open for reference on the gym floor while learning (which I have done several times!). There are photos/diagrams on nearly every page (in black and white — color would be nice, but that would really raise the price for no good reason). Rippetoe also does a nice job of covering the physics. It is thorough enough to suffice, but simple enough for nearly all people to understand.

    I only have two real complaints with Starting Strength. One is that the actual program is a bit dull. I only use the book for technique because I’d probably get bored with his program. I’ve heard great things about it so it is clearly effective, but I like to mix things up more. Some people may find otherwise, though.

    The other qualm I have is his “my way or the highway” attitude. It often seems like he is out to convince you that his way is the only way to do things and that everyone else is just wrong. Perhaps some people won’t have a problem with this, but I don’t like this narrow-minded view. That being said, he certainly is very convincing. If his way really was the only way, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

    Five stars, regardless of these minor complaints.

  20. Juice Box (verified owner)

    This is a must read book for anyone that lifts weights at any level. This book will teach you the proper form for the 5 most important compound exercises that should be a part of any weightlifting program regardless of the ultimate goal of the training. Although this book is written for beginners even the most advanced lifter will learn from this book, it’s just that in depth on the what, why, and how of each lift. The prescribed program in the book is time tested and very effective in it’s goal to gain as much strength as possible while beginning weightlifting and mastering the proper form in the process. I did wish however that the program was spelled out a little better in terms of exactly prescribed routines over a difinitive period of time. The way it reads currently is alternate workout A and B for a while and mix in assistance exercises C thru G if you wanna until it’s not working anymore then read the next book. I would have preferred a straight forward 12-16 week program that says do this on this day with this much weight for this many reps just as a coach or trainer would have you do. This book has 5 star information, but I had to dock one star for taking 50 pages to say what could have been written in 5. I’m not sure when it was decided that books needed to be a certain length in order to charge a certain amount for them, but why do I have to spend 3 days reading a non fiction book that could easily have disseminated the same information in 3 hours?

  21. Jason StL (verified owner)

    I found Starting Strength to be one of the most technical yet informative books, or manuals actually, that I’ve read in the past several years. I say manual because Mark Rippetoe starts the reader off at ground level assuming that the reader knows nothing about strength training, human anatomy, body mechanics, or even why strength is important and gives a thorough education on all of the above.

    I would highly recommend this to any person starting out with barbell training or has years of experience. I personally found that having the knowledge to, make minor adjustments to grip, know where the barbell should track, and the overall geometry involved makes lifting much more enjoyable and less painful in the end! On that note a demographic for which this should be required reading is high school coaches! Starting Strength is 180 degrees to what I for one, and probably many others of my vintage, were taught.

    Be prepared, Starting Strength can read slowly if you are not familiar with all of the anatomical and medical terms Rippeote uses throughout the book, but I found it very helpful to take the time to look them up and understand fully what was being explained. Lengthy chapters including many illustrations and pictures are dedicated to each of the 5 exercises he champions, Low Bar Back Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Deadlift, and Power Clean. For a taste of each search the interwebs for the video series Rippetoe did with Brett McKay for the Art of Manliness blog. The book wraps up with a chapter on miscellaneous exercises and Programming.

    Rippetoe is obviously very knowledgeable and has vast experience at all levels as an athlete and coach. He lays out a good case for his program backed up by all the science you could want and apparently many years of success in his gym. It makes good sense to me if your goal is strength training.

  22. Gonzalo Pérez (verified owner)

    This book is an excellent tool for getting started in the world of weightlifting and strength building. This book is all about building a great foundation and ensuring perfect form in the basic lifts. The author presents wealth of very specific information regarding the musculoskeletal mechanics of the major lifts, and the information is supported by rudimentary yet useful pictures and illustrations. The book often veers into what will seem like “overkill” territory for most readers when it comes to tue sheer amount of information it presents, but when it comes to learning proper form in the back squat and deadlift, a “less is more” approach is not what you want. Personally, I focused on the discussions of proper form and mechanics and discovered that my squat, deadlift, and press were in dire need of serious correction. The results speak for themselves, and I have been injury free for the past year. Starting Strength is exactly what it claims to be, a perfect starting point.

  23. CarrieGranite (verified owner)

    This is the first and foremost publication for anyone with even the slightest interest in the strength game.

    The New Wave of Fitness Professionals created opportunities for the unwashed masses to get strong, but unfortunately it’s also brought a bunch of hucksters to the table. When I hear a recently certified personal trainer going on and on about strength and conditioning but they *don’t* know who Mark Rippetoe is, I recreate the “TRAITOR! TRAITOR!” scene in 300.

    Fitness gurus continue to take pieces of Rippetoe’s stuff, transmogrify it without giving credit, then add their own layer of conflicting nonsense to it, but it’s Rippetoe. It’s all Rippetoe. And the sad thing is, the hucksters probably don’t even know they’re doing it.

    There are some great programs out there put together by some knowledgeable people with integrity. But how would one know which was which without an understanding of the foundation?

    I would urge anyone who wants to get strong to read this book. You will understand more about your body than you ever thought you would. If you never read another article, book, or program, you’d be just fine. Even if you did work with a trainer, you’d be able to detect BS before you got injured (or, even worse, wasted a bunch of time).

    I also urge people to pick up Practical Programming. With these two books you’d be your own strength coach.

    Practical Programming for Strength Training

    And if your personal trainer/coach doesn’t know who Rippetoe is, you need to find yourself another trainer.

  24. Gaming Afficionado (verified owner)

    If you are willing to throw out everything your old high school coach taught you about the squat, you’re going to learn a lot and be stronger for it. The squat chapter takes up 70 pages, but it deserves it. Rippetoe cuts no corners explaining what you need to do to get the low bar back squat the right way. His “Important Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong” section will address what you need to fix to safely do things the right way. I must confess I wasn’t shoving my knees out far enough and I was feeling the wrong kind of soreness after my first two workouts but practicing the squat warmup helped me fix that problem.

    The other exercises don’t get as much coverage, but they also do not have as much risk for injury, and Rippetoe is right to make the squat the cornerstone of the Starting Strength program.

    Rippetoe includes some classical mechanics in his book that may be too much for an average high schooler to comprehend but it helps make a case for why you need to do what he says. He otherwise writes with a direct, if irreverent voice that is a delight to read.

    Read the book. Then read it again, especially the chapter devoted to squats. Whenever your joints hurt, read “Important Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong” again. Don’t do anything else except the program if you want serious strength gains.

    Note: “The Art of Manliness” has Rippetoe coaching many of the basic lifts on YouTube. These are excellent demonstrations of his technique.

  25. John (verified owner)

    I have been searching for this book for most of my life. I’m 55 and since I was in high school I’ve yearned for a definitive source on lifting. I had natural strength, but success can be the worst enemy of progress. By the time I was not the strongest kid in my class (Junior year of high school), I did not know what to do to be competitive. As it turns out, the programs we were aware of at the time were better than nothing but not very good. Where was this book back then?
    Mark wears many hats in this book: coach, trainer, physiologist, physics instructor, philosopher and occasionally comedian.
    I had never done a dead lift before this program – partially because I was afraid to get hurt. I am 2 months into the program and have increased my dead lift over 100lbs and no longer have any symptoms of back problems that have nagged me for over 20 years. I feel like I’m quite early in my journey.
    The documentation on squats is outstanding. Squats require superb technique and you get outstanding instruction from the book.
    My 13 year old son is in the program and his progress is ridiculous. His peers in school are left wondering how he’s gotten so big and more importantly strong.
    The important things this book delivers:
    1) Focus on “system” disciplines where what you are doing attacks multiple muscle groups like the squat (calves, quads, hams, glutes, etc.)
    2) You get to know why. Call it my own proclivity but it is encouraging and inspirational for me to understand the “why”. Most other stuff I’ve read does not do that. You not only get the “why” you are doing something, you also get the why other things are less desirable.
    3) Technique is an enormous focus of the book. This is critical. Injuries can be a problem when you’re flinging around 100’s of lbs. You get the guidance from this book on how to do things correctly which keeps you out of the injury “penalty box”.
    4) Expectations are set. You are told how things will go (and why of course). He has been “dead on” in my experience (as well as my son’s).
    5) A simple program. There are only a handful of lifts that you do. Workout sessions are not long and typically 3 times per week.
    I strongly recommend this book to anyone that wants to get stronger. As “Rip” says, no matter what you do physically, it’s better if you’re stronger. Get Strong!

  26. David (verified owner)

    OK, I just read the book and I can say that is the information than I was looking for. This book is addressed for serious lifters who want to learn the efficient relation between body-barbell system. This is not a bodybuilder book with thousand of exercises, it won’t tell you how many reps you have to do to reach hypertrophy or something like that. In its first part covers 5 main lifts: squat(low bar squat in this book) , deadlift, press, bench press and power clean but in the second part of the book teach assistant for the main patterns and auxiliary movements for biceps, triceps, back and so on. Each of them explained in detail in its mechanic. Gravity is an important element in the equation, this book emphasizes the “vertical bar path” that into every lift is involved. If you like a quick explanation how to do squats or some another lift, you should find a youtube channel from another coach for superficial explanations. If you are retailer in your training and not an “occasional lifter” you will love this book, because is not only lift weight as a caveman but with intelligence if you want to gain strength and with a good training regimen you need this knowledge. Even if you’re an advanced lifter you should check it out, there is nothing wrong for trying to amplify your knowledge.
    I’ve been lifting for a while, three days a week doing compound movements as my main lifting, all that I mentioned here in my review, but I’ve noticed that I need to improve my technique (nobody knows everything), so I gave it a try and I’m happy with my decision. If you’re humble enough you’ll get a wise knowledge to carry your performance to another level, you won’t get another book with the huge explanation of every lift than I mentioned before (70 pages for squatting EFFICIENTLY not just put the bar on your traps) and the other lifts have their own segment too. This book doesn’t give a detailed program (how many days at week, set, reps…) it has a small section just to guide to beginner lifters, but if you are more than that you will need to buy the Practical Programming for Strength Training.
    In the gym(where I go) there are a lot of men (and women too) who do not have an idea how to perform those lifts correctly, men only focus in exercises where they can see themselves in the mirror and women are not the exception.
    My only complain in this book is: I’d have liked a DVD instructional added to the book, even though they have a youtube channel( The Asgard Company), should have been great videos for each lift created exclusively for the book with good audio and video.
    Hope my review helps you, cheers!

  27. Christopher (verified owner)

    I’ve been DTFP for about a month. This program definitely works, even if you do it incorrectly. I have been lifting since 2009 after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I went from 142lbs to 190 lbs during that period, but all my main lifts were stagnant. I had stalled at 405 for 1 rep on the deadlifts, was not squatting at all, and my bench was someday’s 225 for 1 rep max. I was doing a lot of accessory exercises.

    After DTFP (doing the f***** program) for a month, my bench is at 220 4 reps for 3 sets, my DL is currently at 370 x5, and my squat is improving immensely, I was upto 260 for 5x, but went back down to 185 and am working my way back up the load progression after having a Starting Strength Coach (SSC) come down and help me with my form. I suggest finding a SSC to help you early on with your form, you can find them on the SS website. Pay them for an hour of their time, it is totally worth it. Little tweaks in your form make a big difference. They also have a podcast and several youtube videos that are helpful. Also, buy the App for your phone.

    I workout at a famous hardcore gym and see a lot of both big guys and normal guys squatting incorrectly and high and spending a lot of time on accessory exercises. Once you start this program you won’t have enough energy to go mess with dumbbells. Wish I would have found this program earlier because a lot of time was wasted in the gym. I’m looking forward to my 405 x 5 on DL here in a couple of weeks. I’ve never been able to pull it for 2x, but with this program, it’s going to happen and then go up from there.

  28. B. L. Ridenhour (verified owner)

    Nobody will believe until they do it. There’s just too much common sense and biology and physiology in here for people to suspend their disbelief…but it’s true. This works, period, point blank.
    In just over 4 weeks, I’ve DOUBLED my admittedly anemic lifts. The “novice effect” is undeniable. You don’t need a Pilates ball or a bunch of acrobatic exercises. Just follow the program…too simple, right?!?
    Just do the 4 (count ’em, only FOUR) lifts, eat enough to sustain protein synthesis and growth, and sleep enough to allow your body to repair/synthesize those trained muscles, and you WILL grow and grow stronger.

    Believe or don’t. It’ll cost you $25 for the book, and 3 trips to the gym per week to prove it to yourself. In fact, DON’T believe anything. Prove it. You will notice in the shower that you’re washing bigger legs and shoulders within 3 weeks. The effect was stunning, and I’m 42 now. If I knew 25 years ago what I’ve proven to myself this year, I would have had a much better time of it in sports and general fitness. I wish I could be mad at my coaches for not knowing this stuff, but since I don’t have a time machine, now is the only time I have.

    You are not too old to get stronger. I was a letter athlete in HS, and an average guy in intramurals, so neither a stand-out, nor a couch potato. I am now, at age 42, stronger than I have ever been. In something less than 3 months, it is highly likely than you can say those words too. Do the program. Study the Starting Strength stuff online and on YouTube, get a SS coach for an occasional form-check, and get ready to eat more than you think.

    I use protein powder, a mild (less than indicated) dose of creative, and coffee in the morning. You don’t need gimmicks. You need a reasoned, proven program that will make you stronger. Do the program, and be amazed…I was, and it’s not like I was a stranger to the gym before… If “you’re not doing the program” (YNDTP), you won’t be AS successful with it. Read the rambling online article entitled “YNDTP” if you want to know more about what deviating from this criminally “simple” program will look like…and then do the program.

    I didn’t imagine this, but weightlifting is safer than playing badminton…seriously…published NIH study. Over 100X safer than aerobic dance or Zumba…I kid you not! Even for the instructors!

    Find a black iron gym and do the program if you’re even sort of serious about getting stronger. This is the fastest, best, and probably safest way to burn through your novice phase. There are no acrobatic movements (injuries), no sustained daily burns (overtraining), or fancy, gimmicky gadgets to buy. I cannot overstate this: you will see, feel and record on paper almost immediate results. Stress, recovery, adaptation…according to a measured and logical progression plan. Makes perfect sense…so I won’t be surprised if you join a CrossFit Box instead. Have fun puking every other morning while I’m getting stronger.

  29. Duncan Parks (verified owner)

    If you want to do very traditional barbell training, Rippetoe has a lot of useful things to say about technique, and he brings a pretty solid understanding of biomechanics to that discussion. I particularly liked his discussions of spinal stability for the squat and deadlift and the bit about shoulder impingement in the bench press.

    Rippetoe is, however, *really* traditional – dogmatically so, IMHO – and it keeps him from making much in the way of innovative improvements. For example, he goes into lots of detail on the technique for deadlifts, especially the order of knee versus hip extension. If you’re going to deadlift a regular bar, that’s biomechanically necessary, and good advice. But if you are willing to pick up a hex bar, you can deadlift while extending everything naturally, and that natural neuromuscular coordination is one of Rippetoe’s stated goals (you also get a lot less torsion in your forearms). Yet even in a 2011 book, he doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the hex bar. Or in the squat, he insists on being flat-footed with the weight over your arches. However, if you’re going to jump or run (or pedal), you will be on the balls of your feet when applying peak force, and likely heels off the ground. That should be part of the squat, near the top of the motion – again, following Rippetoe’s claimed goals – but he is unwilling to suggest that innovation. Getting off your heels is also easier to do on a leg press machine…but machines are evil, period, for Rippetoe.

    Speaking of the squat, Rippetoe makes a good argument for the low-bar placement on the shoulder blades, but doesn’t acknowledge how awkward a way that is to hold the kinds of weight one could be squatting. At the very least, he should be willing to say “tensing your traps to make a platform for a loaded bar – and cranking your arms back to stabilize it – is pretty awkward. Perhaps someone with come up another way to hold the weight in this position. Until then, here’s what you have to do.” Yet again, Rippetoe takes things back to one particular version of the way things have always been done, even when it’s not particularly hard to imagine developing a better interface between a thin, heavily loaded bar and the scapulae.

    Finally, he does a lot of arguing (widely, across exercises) that weight training should be similar to natural motions – but not too similar – in ways that converge (surprise!) on the traditional exercises.

    So my overall impression is that there is a lot to learn from his book, especially if you want to do the traditional exercises. However, all the justifications for doing the traditional exercises feel post hoc, and Rippetoe seems fundamentally interested in making a case for traditional barbell training. Readers (and athletes) would be better served by following his stated goals (involving lots of muscle groups, coordinating those groups in a natural motion, using lots of range of motion) wherever they might take him…even beyond the way people have lifted barbells for almost a century.

    Props, however, for a very thorough index. Those are a lot of work to do right.

  30. Carlos Mota (verified owner)

    because I don’t have to. I am a mixed martial artist, and I simply don’t need to bench press, squat, or deadlift much more than my own bodyweight. That being said, I do bench press, squat, and deadlift more than my body weight.

    If you need to get stronger, this is the book. If you need to stay in a certain weight class (or don’t want to weigh 250lbs) don’t follow the diet advice given.

    I basically do the three main lifts one day per week, plus my martial arts skill work four to five days a week, along with bodyweight exercises, endurance training, sprint resets, and kettle bell training.

    All said and done, I am strong (enough) for my given sport (having sparred larger and heavier opponents who have commented on my surprising strength levels for my size) and I have managed to not sacrifice any of my conditioning speed, or skill.

  31. True Viking Wisdom (verified owner)

    This book is the go to starting reference for anyone that wants to work on basic strength training. If you read this book and take the time to practice and do the lifts properly, you will be better at them than most of the people in your gym.

    The current trends of fitness are all well and good for what they are, but they simply do not replace good old fashioned barbell work. Barbell work isn’t easy, glamorous, or trendy in the modern world of crossfit, yoga, and other designer programs, but it is important to your overall fitness and help protect you against the effects of our sedentary daily lifestyles. Mark Rippetoe’s training book is a no nonsense bible on how to do the major compound lifts properly and in a simple progression that will get you to a respectable level of strength in the shortest amount of time possible, if you put in the work and have a proper diet.

    Mark goes over the basic lifts in exhaustive, scientific detail. The book dedicates around 50 pages to squat and the theory behind it as an example. This book not only tells you how the lifts should be done, it explains why they should be done the way that they are, what happens mechanically when you do them properly and goes over cues and theory on how to make sure you are doing them safely and efficiently. If more personal trainers and gym goers understood the methods and prescriptions in the book, people would get far more out of their lifts and workouts.

    Using this book earlier in my lifting career, I increase my squat from a set of 5 at 95 pounds to three sets of 5 at 265, took my deadlift from 1 set of 135 for 5 reps to one set of 335 for 5 reps. I also improved my shoulder press and bench press considerably, as well as improving on power cleans and barbell rows (which aren’t strictly part of the program, but my gym was weird about people doing power cleans). I ate quite a bit of food and slept a lot as recommended by the program, and ended up improving my strength considerably over the course of a year as the numbers show. I went from 170 pounds at 6’1 to about 205 pounds body weight at the end, and then dialed back to around 195 pounds and was able to squat the 3 sets of 265 and deadlift 335 for one set near the end. I did all this as a 34 year old, so I wasn’t quite as indestructible as I was in my teens and twenties, I suspect someone starting earlier than me would progress a bit quicker.

    Since getting stronger, my health and the ease that I move through my physical environment are much better. Unlocking your potential strength is a wonderful thing and really improves quality of life.

    Long story short, if you want to get yourself strong and aren’t afraid of putting in some work, eating a bit of food, and resting like you mean it, this book will help you in that goal. Even if you don’t want to be as strong as possible, the book has a place on your shelf as an instruction manual on how to do the basic barbell lifts. If you follow the instructions, you will not injure yourself with poor form. This is worth it in and of itself too.

    Get yourself strong, and live a better life.

    Highest Recommendation.

  32. Aubrey (verified owner)

    This is a must have if you want to be serious about training with a barbell. I learned a lot going through the book the first time, and I still go back and reference the chapters to constantly brush up on my form and self-coach my lifts. Reading this book helps to shift weightlifting from a somewhat random, word-of-mouth process to something methodical and intellectual. No matter how many other resources you have, this one has to be on your shelf. Buy it immediately.

    I have two words of caution for anyone buying this book and getting into lifting for the first time.

    1) Please don’t treat this book like the Bible. Rippetoe is a fantastic, must-have resource, but it’s annoying to talk to someone who thinks everything in this book is completely, absolutely infallible and there’s no other way to lift.
    2) This book was written to coach you through the barbell portion of your training. He doesn’t have much in the book about mobility and injury prevention. This is fine if you are a young, spry high school or college athlete, but most of us aren’t. I would suggest getting a copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard or something and staying keenly aware of your form and what your body is telling you about joint health and overall flexibility. When you’re first starting out it is easy to gain strength faster than flexibility and mobility, and if you’re working out mostly by yourself or with another beginner, you might still manage to hurt yourself. I got pretty far into the squat training and realized I was developing a shoulder problem. I caught it early and was only out for a month, but it could have been worse. I still work really, really hard to keep that joint mobile enough to keep squatting heavy with good form.

    Every aspect of barbell training requires complete attention to detail and constant evaluation so improvement can continue. If you follow along with this book you’re going to quickly get strong enough that you can do real damage if you aren’t careful. So be careful and enjoy getting truly strong.

  33. Fiend (verified owner)

    I’m only interested in training myself so to some degree the detail the author goes into might be excessive but its a really good book on how to do the major compound barbell exercises safely and effectively. I wish it covered the barbell row(bent over row) in depth but videos on that can be found on the book’s/author’s website/youtube channel. The exercise program in the book isn’t good for a wider scope of people(might be fine for a high school/college level atheletes who are already in good physical condition) but better programs can be found online(reddit fitness wiki or 4chan /fit/ wiki) or in other books(Wendler’s 5-3-1, Greyskull LP) for people of other levels of athletic ability. Still this book is a wealth of outstanding information on strength training barbell movements for anyone who lifts or wants to start lifting.

  34. C. Lighthouse (verified owner)

    This is a widely acclaimed book that teaches beginners how to build muscle strength.

    + Mark knows his stuff.
    + Very good strength training program for beginners.

    – It’s hard to understand.
    – There is no overview of each exercise.

    I had to read everything three times, look up words, AND watch videos–and I am still not sure that I fully understand everything. To be fair, I knew nothing about weightlifting before; I never even stepped into a gym before in my life. But I consider myself a quick learner and it didn’t have to be so complicated.


    1. Add a glossary. If I knew what “spine of the scapula” meant I probably wouldn’t be needing this book in the first place.
    2. More paragraph headings and/or a checklist would be very useful. There are easily a dozen things to keep in mind for each exercise.
    3. It’s obvious that Mark struggles to get certain points across such as proper lifting form for the squat. I still have no idea what he means about using the hips to squat. Isn’t the squat a whole body exercise? Maybe try to explain it in different ways until you find a way that people get?

    The bottom line:
    Great material. Hard to understand.

  35. Techie Eric (verified owner)

    I’m about 1/2 to 3/4’s of the way through my novice progression (8 months of heavy lifting, about 4 on SS) if I had to guess right now. I’ve lifted off and on for years but I’ve never seen anything work so well for my body as Rip’s program. My strength continues to shoot up, I haven’t felt this much muscle growth since I was a teen.

    That said, the program (like all good things in life) is hard/challenging at times. Its hard work especially as you start pushing up against the limits of your body can leave you drained. There are many a morning I get up to train and I am dead set against it, but I put the bar on my back, take my first “trainwreck” of a squat warmup, do it again and it gets better. By the time I hit squat working sets, I’m in. So put the time and effort in and you will be rewarded.

    One final thought that’s helped me immensely comes way of Mike Matthew’s Bigger Stronger Leaner (or maybe it was Cardio Sucks). Casein protein (or egg white if casein doesn’t work for you) before bed has also been a game changer for me this go around. I get the rest and feed my body that protein and I don’t think I’ve ever recovered faster (and I’m over 40 at this point).

    Ironically I started with Matthew’s program (also great books IMO), and he references Starting Strength for squat technique, etc, which is how I landed here. Well, after doing his stuff for a few months I switched over to Rip’s program and its been great (his program was working too fwiw). I felt I could achieve my strength (not body building) goals in less time per/week on Rip’s program.

    One other parting thought, the challenge with Starting Strength is the technique on the compound lifts. If you’re new to these get a few coaching sessions from somebody in the know. The book is extremely detailed, but it can be information overload. There’s also no substitute for having somebody who knows what they’re doing correct you as you go. I found a local Starting Strength Coach about an hour away (one problem is they seem geographically disparate). He was very helpful and in 1-2 sessions had enough info in my hands to do these lifts right.

  36. Lydia Utkin (verified owner)

    This book is super detailed (over 70 pages on how to do a squat!!) and has a LOT of very helpful illustrations. It also does a good job of explaining the why and how the exercises work and their benefits. After following the instructions of how to do a proper squat, already feel and see progress after only a couple weeks.

    Docking a star because the book was much longer than it needed to be and there were a lot of explanations using medical terms like distal. Since it is a book geared to beginners it would have been helpful to keep those explanations in layman’s terms or at least have definitions of these terms on the pages they appear. It would have also helped to have some sort of summary / check list page at the end of each exercise section to summarize all the information presented since each section had SO much information…

  37. Rasputin (verified owner)

    The bulk of this book discusses five primary barbell lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and power clean. Rippetoe goes into great detail describing the technique and mechanics of each lift and his fanaticism is contagious and will give you the urge to move some serious weight. The book is full of photos and does about as good a job as possible with the book form, but it’s really a very limited medium for teaching complicated, dynamic exercises. Most true beginners I think will have trouble mastering lifts like the power clean without a lot of practice and probably some sort of live coaching or at least seeing other experienced lifters do the lift. There is some additional information on assistance exercises and variations on the main lifts (like front squat) as well as some programming information.

    My personal experience with it is that it is an excellent reference for particular lifts (even for people with some experience) but “the program” isn’t the best depending on one’s goals. If you’re more interested in general health and are concerned about aesthetics and being lean, this is probably not the best. The program has you doing three barbell lifts every workout. But doing these sorts of compound movements at your 5 rep max one after the other three times a week can be very grueling. Yet it’s mostly focused on squatting and doesn’t put much focus on upper body development that a lot of us are interested in. The author advises readers to eat LOTS of food to help recovery.

    I long ago ditched “the program” but I still do a lot of these lifts in more of a push-pull-legs style routine. I’ve found this easier and muuuuuch better for upper body development. It’s a good book, but I’ve come to favor a broader view of health and fitness.

  38. William (verified owner)

    This work, now in its 3rd edition, is simply the best instructional manual on functional strength training presently on the market.
    I wish that I had found this work long ago when I was starting out in my training however, being older than Mr Rippetoe, it did not exist at that time… If it had, perhaps I would have faired better with fewer injury and fewer wasted years.
    As it is, I use this book regularly and review it often to tweak my form on all of my exercises.
    I have also given my copy away and now need to purchase a new one….which I will eventually, in probability, also give away as this is the work I refer everyone to when they ask me about how to lift properly and effectively.

    I have now bought this book again as I gave my last one away to my sister (yes, women can and women should exercise for strength and the program is perfect for men or women).

    If you are serious about exercise with the aim of getting stronger, maintaining that strength for a lifetime and thereby getting the most out of your life, you MUST have a copy of this work and you MUST read and review it regularly.

    You MUST also get a copy of “Practical Programming for Starting Strength”, strength training phase 2 of the Mark Rippetoe method.

    The only other book I would also recommend in “5 3 1” by Jim Wendler.

    If you have these three books, a good barbell, reasonable plates, a self spotting rack, a good bench and lifting platform, you are set for the rest of your life and everything and anything else you might add or buy is “gravy”.

    Enjoy the journey!

  39. Dave (verified owner)

    After numerous years getting my weightlifting/programming advice from men’s health magazines and online gurus, I finally decided to start reading more in-depth about about the topic especially since my sons are getting to the age of wanting to lift weights and I wanted to be able to provide them with much better advice than I felt I had received from the sources I previously drew from. I wanted to order books that had stood the test of time and that weren’t afraid to get into the real science and biomechanics of lifting weights. So based on the outstanding reviews, I ordered this book and I’m very impressed to say the least. I started making the recommended technical adjustments on lifting form and have been blown away by the difference in how the lifts I’ve been doing for so long feel. I’m shocked and thankful at how fortunate I was that I didn’t hurt myself in the past following the advice columns of the men’s fitness magazines and online lifting gurus. This has been one of the best purchases I have ever made and one that is directly affecting my health and well-being in a very positive way. This information in this book is fantastic, pictures are great, tips and excellent, overall insight provided by this book can only come from decades of experience.

  40. Rick L. (verified owner)

    About 5 months ago, as I was approaching my 69th birthday, I joined a local gym. I was an enthusiastic weightlifter as a young man but hadn’t been in a gym for at least 25 years. I started out doing 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of about 10 different exercises M/W/F and made good progress in the first two months.

    Then I bought Starting Strength. It appealed to me because I always liked doing the major power lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press) and I had some good results following a similar program as a young man. (I was doing something like 4 sets of 6 for a while.)

    I started following the Starting Strength formula, 3 working sets of 5 reps, and was making progress for a few weeks. Then two months ago I gave myself a double hernia doing squats and/or deadlifts with weights 1/3 of what I used to lift as a young man. I’m now sitting at home recovering from the surgery I had last Monday. When I return to the gym in a few weeks I’m going back to 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps!

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow the Starting Strength formula but, if you’re a senior, I suggest you proceed with caution. These last two months have not been pleasant.

  41. Patrick (verified owner)

    Most of the book is teaching correct form for the low-bar squat, deadlift, overhead press, flat bench press, power clean, and power snatch with some auxiliary exercises like pull-ups and curls. The final (smaller) segment deals with strength training programming and a bit about diet. I would have liked if the book expanded here, which is why I’m forced to by Rip’s second book on the topic. My favorite parts were the author jumping from rigid technical terms on anatomy and physics to laymen jargon and banter. Next time I see someone lifting with gloves, I’ll finish my squat set, polish off my gallon of milk, and ask him if they match his purse.

  42. Joseph J. Toscano (verified owner)

    I am very excited to start the exercise routines and my diet on 1/4/2021 which is when my gym opens back up. This down time has given me a chance to map out my workout routines in Excel and to map out a meal plan. I’ve found the book to be a great resource. In fact I liked it so much that I purchased it as a Christmas gift for a family member. You also are provided with downloadable bonus material that contained videos on how to do exercises. The book represents a very different philosophy than what I’m used to — you really push the heavy weights AND you must perform the 4 power moves: squat, bench press, military press and dead lift. Also, the book clearly defines the best exercises for each body part. It is very motivating to see how many success stories there are out there from folks who have followed Bigger Leaner Stronger.

  43. Wesley Carillo (verified owner)

    I recently finished reading Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe, and I was thoroughly impressed. It is a comprehensive guide to barbell training and it covers every aspect of the subject in great detail.

    The book starts with an introduction to barbells, how they work and how to properly use them. It then moves on to proper form and technique, as well as how to program your workouts for maximum results. The information is presented in an easy-to-understand way and is backed up with illustrations and photos to make it even easier to follow. After many years of experience as a weight lifter, powerlifter and bodybuilder, I’ve found that some of these principles are absolutely crucial when it comes to maintaining strength output, no matter what I am doing.

    Overall, I highly recommend Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training to anyone looking to get started with barbell training or even those who already have experience and are looking to improve their technique. The book is well-written, informative and easy to understand. It is a must-have for anyone serious about barbell training.

  44. Benjamin S. Prusinski (verified owner)

    I’m a fan of Starting Strength videos on Mark’s YouTube channel so had to get this book to use with the Barbell Prescription another excellent fitness book in free weight training focused on squat, press and deadlift. Good details on the science behind getting stronger in core lifts. I disagree on the nutrition advice as getting bigger and fatter is not ideal for most people. But the lifting tips is great.

  45. smf (verified owner)

    If you workout, this book needs to be read cover to cover. This is the barbell bible! When resources like this exist, there is no reason for poor form and bad technique in the gym. Learn the movements and practice them to the best of your ability. If you need extra guidance, invest in a strength coach who can help make sense of this material. Add this to your home library and keep it close so you can refer to it often.

  46. Michael Aftosmes Jr (verified owner)

    This is a great book for building a foundation in lifting for strength. If you have no coach or background in training, you will definitely learn a lot about the squat, bench, deadlift and power clean. It has some accessory movements, but its bread in butter are the big barbell lifts for powerlifting and weightlifting. The programming is built along a linear progression. I had more goals than just strength so my main use of the book was for technique in the big 3 and not for programming or building my split.

  47. Sabs (verified owner)

    As a total novice I found this to be an Excellent foundational text on strength training. There are many books in this genre. This is the best. Start here.

  48. CB (verified owner)

    This is the best book on strength training, bar none. Rippetoe’s no-nonsense approach that just blasts you with facts and flies in the face of the fitness industry misinformation is refreshing. Everyone should read it and try the novice linear progression.

  49. Ben_192837465 (verified owner)

    For someone new to weightlifting, it is difficult to think of a better way to spend $28. This book is packed with loads of detail on how to perform the lifts and how to avoid common pitfalls. I think it is a credit to the authors that they spend the first 290 pages discussing HOW to do the lifts; the program itself is saved for a relatively short section at the end.
    One of the authors (Rippetoe) is well known on YouTube for his sometimes controversial and bizarre opinions, however I was happy to see that none of these made it into the book. All of the information was objective, detailed, and well-researched.

  50. OatMeal (verified owner)

    Whether you have lifted for years or never touched a barbell, do this program as written. Even for a few months. You will get stronger.

    If you have no interest in learning why this method works, or why the lifts taught via this method are superior, then you really don’t need this book. Look up Starting Strength on Youtube, they teach all the lifts for free. However, if you want a culmination of some 40ish years of coaching these lifts to answer the above questions, this book delivers. If you don’t understand some anatomical terms, google is your friend. If you have any aspirations of being a strength coach either to others or yourself, read this book and Practical Programming (the grey book) too.

  51. Tat (verified owner)

    Liked the detailed explanation on proper techniques for the major compound barbell exercises. This book together with the youtube videos from the Starting Strength channel gives a well-rounded base for anyone looking to get into barbell training.

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