Mark Rippetoe’s Strength Training Routine

Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine is one of the most sought out beginner’s programs on the internet and perhaps an even more popular book. Those have used it have testified to the gains it can help generate.

Mark Rippetoe is a national-level, American strength training coach and author. He is one of the few strength training athletics authorities to publish both peer-reviewed articles as well as books for the lay population.

Unlike most strength training and conditioning academics, he has several decades of practical application as an elite-level strength training coach, former competitive powerlifter and a current gym owner.

Mark Rippetoe’s first two books detail the technical aspects of each primary barbell lifts and major assistance exercises, and created a workout routine for the basic acquisition of strength using these lifts.

This workout routine is known as the Starting Strength barbell training program, or simply Starting Strength. The program involves:

  • 3 sets of 5 repetitions of the squat, bench press, and overhead press;
  • 5 sets of 3 repetitions of the power clean; and
  • 1 set of 5 repetitions of the deadlift

The bench press is alternated with overhead press and deadlift once a week, using power cleans on the other two days. Weights are gradually increased in each session until strength gains reach a plateau. He advocates 3 sessions per week for beginners and drinking a gallon of whole milk per day if underweight to maximize strength gains.

The Strength Training Routine

You alternate Workout A and Workout B every other day, 3 times a week. So you could either do Mon, Wed, Fri or Tues, Thurs. and Sat.


Week 1:

Monday – Workout A
Wednesday -Workout B
Friday – Workout A

Week 2:

Monday – Workout B
Wednesday – Workout A
Friday – Workout B


The Workout:

Note: Optional: *

Workout A

3 x 5 Squat
3 x 5 Bench Press
1 x 5 Deadlift
*2 x 8 Dips (if you cant do these or no assist machine then do Decline Dumbbell Bench Press with your hands Facing each other)

Workout B

3 x 5 Squat
3 x 5 Standing military press
3 x 5 Pendlay or Bent Rows (or power cleans)
*2 x 8 Chin-ups (recommended mainly if doing the cleans)


You will want the weight to be the same throughout the sets. For instance, if you are doing the first set at bench press at 200lbs, then the following two sets will also be at 200lbs. Warm up sets should precede these working sets however.

Every week make it a goal to increase each of your lifts by 2.5%. Meaning if I lifted 100lbs for my Bench Week 1 then Week 2 I would try for 102.5lbs. If I did 200lb Squats Week 1 I would try for 205lbs in Week 2.

Warm-up Sets:

Before all your working sets it is best to do a few warm-up sets. Specifically for your first lift. You don’t have to do the whole thing for the other lifts but definitely the first.

What you do is you ramp your weight up to your working sets as to prevent injury and to physically warm up the tissues.

For example:

2 x 5 x bar (sets x reps x weight)
1 x 5 x 85
1 x 3 x 125
1 x 2 x 155

And the working set weight would be 175.

If you are lifting your working sets under 150 I would cut out the 3rd warmup set of 1×5 because it wont be needed.

The Diet

If you don’t pair mark Rippetoes workout routine with a diet high in calories than you are wasting your time. Aim for 3000-4000 calories a day. Make sure you get 1 to 2 x your body weight in protein (in grams) and more than that in carbs. Mark Rippetoe also suggests that you drink up to a gallon of milk a day and plenty of water.

Your bulk could be clean but its hard to do so. I suggest just going all out and getting any protein you can get your hands on. For example lean grilled chicken and egg whites is best but if you want to gain that muscle fast then ground beef, steaks, whole eggs, cheeses etc is great. Eat a lot of oats, pasta, wheat bread, yogurt, cottage cheese, tuna, etc.

Make sure you get a huge breakfast. Mark recommends 4 huge meals a day with breakfast being the largest. Make sure all your meals have plenty of both carbs and protein! Also look into getting a PWO shake for post workout to get some carbs directly into your system when your done lifting. Then an hour later eat a meal. Its also good to eat a snack before bed. Just remember to get big you need to eat big because eating is 90% of your muscle gains.


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