FitAtMidlife’s Starting Strength Routine Dictionary
It’s no secret – we love Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine. It’s the efficient, science and logic based training program that is made for beginners of any age to develop strength.
Starting Strength utilizes the barbell. The barbell is the most efficient means to build strength – because it’s the device that can carry the most weight. That may sound intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. You start light and through the magic of linear progression you get strong – and build muscle mass at the same time. Starting Strengh places great emphasis on proper form, and it’s safe for the joints. Lastly, it’s targeted to novices – people who have never lifted before. And all that means it is the strength program you should use as a midlifer.
Here’s a rundown on some of the common terms and lingo that are utilized in Starting Strength. We’ve also included lots of related terms that you are likely to come across around Starting Strength enthusiasts, such as the terminology regarding Westside and Wendler methods, as an example.
1RM – 1 Repetition Max
1RM is your 1 Repetition Max – This is the absolute maximum weight you can lift for 1 complete repetition of an exercise (with correct form). Commonly used to gauge progress in the big compound or power movements – for example you likely know your 1RM for bench press, squat, deadlift, cleans, and jerks. It’s also commonly used to base the percentages for sub-maximal lifting. For example, a hypertrophy workout may specify using 70% of your 1RM for 10 reps.
The RM (Repetition Maximum) concept can be further expanded to other rep ranges – for example, your 3RM is the maximum weight you can lift for 3 reps, your 5RM is max weight for 5 reps, etc.
3 x 5 refers to the basic set and rep scheme used by the Starting Strength linear progression program. It is 3 sets, at 5 reps each.
5 x 5 refers to a set and rep scheme that is popularly used by the Texas Method and other advanced programs that come after the linear progression. It is 5 sets, of 5 reps each.
Ancillary Exercises are those exercises that work a muscle group in a fundamentally different way than a primary exercise (Bench Press, Press, Squat, and Deadlift) would. These are often utilizing a very small, or single, group of muscles and consequently can not be trained with large amounts of weight, nor can they be effectively progressed. Examples of Ancillary Exercises in Starting Strength include: Curls, Dumbbell Raises, Back Extensions, etc. Contrast with Assistance Exercises.
Assistance Exercises are any exercise that is considered to be a lesser variation of the primary exercises of Starting Strength (the Bench Press, Press, Squat, and Deadlift). The assistance exercises involve less muscle mass, and are usually performed for higher reps which requires correspondingly less weight. The primary exercises can be trained and improved for years at a time, while the assistance exercises cannot. Assistance exercises popular in Starting Strength include: Front Squat, Barbell Tricep Extension, Stiff Legged Deadlifts (SDL), Romanian Deadlifts (RDL), and Rack Shrugs. Contrast with Ancillary Exercises.
The B&R 2.0 Bar, or Burgener & Rippetoe Bar, is a Rogue fitness product. It’s an Olympic weightlifting bar that is purposely designed to be useful for both the Olympic lifts, which require a degree of “whip” to the bar, and the power lifts, such as squats and deadlifts (where excessive bar whip is considered undesirable.). Mark Rippetoe helped provide input to the design of the bar (as did Olympic weightlifting coach Mike Burgener), but otherwise receives no compensation for sales of the product. Rip has indicated that he does not care to be in the gym equipment business.
A squat with a loaded barbell on the shoulders. Can be further sub-divided into “low bar” and “high bar” variants, depending on where the barbell is carried. High bar involves a more upright body position and carrying the bar on the trapezius muscle, while low bar involves more forward lean and holding the barbell just above the posterior deltoids. In Starting Strength, the use of the low bar squat over the high bar squat is preferred in all instances, except where physical limitations prevent use of the low bar squat.
The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40 (Buy on Amazon) is a book written by Starting Strength certified coaches Jonathan M. Sullivan and Andy Baker. The book details the need for strength training to ensure quality of life after age 40. It also provides specific instruction around how to apply Starting Strength training methods for this purpose. Andy Baker is also co-author of Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd Edition.
BBT3 is an acronym used for the book: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition. It’s available on Amazon in hardcover, softcover, or Kindle editions.
BW – Body Weight
BW is an abbreviation for Body Weight. It is typically applied to exercises (as in Body Weight squat) or referring to a maximum lift , such as a triple body weight deadlift.
C&J – Clean and Jerk
C&J stands for the Clean and Jerk – an Olympic weightlifting move that emphasizes the use of power to move a barbell from the floor to the shoulder rack position (the clean) and then overhead (the jerk).
A chin-up is done with a bar and a supinated grip (palms facing you). Compare to the pull-up. Chin-ups are generally easier than pull-ups.
Moving a loaded barbell or dumbbell from the floor to the rack position in one continuous movement. Additional variations include the power clean, squat clean, and hang clean. In all forms of the clean, technique is critical. It’s a power movement, and must be done quickly.
DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is the phenomenon by which a strenuous workout can be produce deep muscle pain for 24-48 hours or more after a workout. It’s particularly prevalent in eccentric movements, or when attempting movements or weights previously not used.
Exercise is the general act of performing movements to burn calories, sweat, raise the heart rate, or work a muscle. In Starting Strength, Exercise is not considered an effective way to accomplish goals, instead Training is recommended. Training is a process, utilizing exercise movements, that results in incremental progress towards a goal. Contrast with Training.
The Front Squat is a squat done with the barbell in the rack position, in front of the body. It involves a much more upright posture than the back squat and involves the quadriceps muscles to a greater degree. The front squat is often used by Olympic weightlifters to build strength because it is an essential component of a squat clean.
GHR – Glute Ham(string) Raise
The GHR, or Glute Ham Raise, is an exercise done with a special bench known as a Glute Ham Developer. It involves having the lower legs locked into position against a stationary platform and elevating the upper leg and body by use of the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Deep dive on the benefits of the GHR.
GOMAD, or Gallon Of Milk A Day is nutritional advice for any under-weight individual looking to add bodyweight quickly, specifically to supply the surplus of nutrients and calories needed to build muscle and strength. This is not a nutritional plan for the overweight, and is sometimes misconstrued as general advice. Also see YNDTP.
Hypertrophy is training muscles to be big rather than just strong. You typically use a lot of volume with medium weights (70-80% of 1RM) and with short rest periods (30 seconds to 1 minute are common.) Also known as bodybuilder training.
KSC – Kingwood Strength and Conditioning
KSC stands for the Kingwood Strength and Conditioning gym, located in Kingwood, TX, and owned by Andy Baker. Andy Baker is a co-author of several of the key Starting Strength books, and is a Raw and Drug Free Powerlifter.
A Linear Progression, commonly abbreviated as LP, is the basic workout progression method recommended for all novices. It consists of a simple, straight line progression of weight increase every single workout, for as long as possible (while using the 3 x 5 set/rep scheme). This is the simplest, most effective method for a novice lifter (anyone new to strength training). Other methods are needlessly complicated in comparison.
Mark Rippetoe is the creator of Starting Strength, and the author of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd edition, and Practical Programming, among other books. Rip, as he is known, is famous for his strong views and his logic based approach to exercise and fitness efficiency.
OHP – OverHead Press
OHP is an abbreviation commonly used for the Over Head Press in Starting Strength, or simply the press. See press for more details.
Your Powerlifting Total is the total amount of weight you can lift in the traditional contested powerlifting exercises: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Those are the lifts used in powerlifting competitions.
PR – Personal Record
PR stands for Personal Record. This is your all time best on a performance – weight lifted, reps performed or perhaps for time (or all 3!). PRs are something that help drive motivation in the gym. Another name for a Personal Best.
PPST – Practical Programming for Strength Training
PPST or PPST3 is an acronym for the book titled: Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd Edition (Buy on Amazon). The book is authored by Mark Rippetoe and Andy Baker and outlines the theory of progression in strength training, and how to apply it to training scenarios for the novice lifter, and beyond the novice lifter, including intermediate and advanced trainees.
The Press or Overhead Press involves lifting a loaded barbell from the shoulder to full arm extensions overhead, with a shoulder width grip on the bar. As compared to the bench press the overhead press is considered a more “functional” exercise and builds more balanced strength through the posterior musculature (traps, deltoids, etc.). Sometimes abbreviated as OHP. The press is an essential movement for the Starting Strength system.
A pull-up is an exercise that is done by lifting your self to the bar using a pronated (palms facing away from you) grip. Compare to the chin-up.
The Push Press is an over head press performed with the addition of momentum generated by a slight dip and straightening of the knees. This allows the trainee to utilize more weight, and generate additional stress. Compare to press, which is the movement performed in a strict fashion.
The Rack Position involves holding a loaded barbell on your collar bone and anterior deltoids with arms upright, but with a minimum of grip on the bar.
RDL – Romanian Deadlift
The RDL, or Romanian Deadlift, is a glute, hamstring, and lower back exercise purported to have been created by Romanian world champion lifter Nicu Vlad. It consists of grasping a heavily loaded barbell and raising it upright by using hamstring contraction. The knees are kept slightly bent, unlike in an SDL.
Rep or Reps
Rest Day refers to a recovery day, upon which no intense exercise is performed. Considered a necessity for productive training over the long term.
ROM – Range Of Motion
ROM, or Range Of Motion, refers to the full movement potential of a joint, or exercise, and is commonly used to specify “Full Range Of Motion”, meaning to complete the exercise using the complete extent of flexion and extension. For example, “quarter squats” where the parallel plane of the knee and hip joint is not broken is not considered full range of motion.
Set or Sets
A Set is a sequence of repetitions of an exercise, performed usually without rest. Common usage includes: “3 sets of 5 reps” – or 15 reps total spread across 3 sets (with rest in-between).
In Starting Strength, “squat” is always interpreted to mean the low-bar back squat. This is an exercise movement as follows: The staring position is with a loaded barbell held relatively low on the upper back region, just above the posterior deltoids, and with feet shoulder width apart and angled slightly outward. Keeping upper body rigid, bend at the knees, and lean forward, to lower the upper body in straight line. See also front squat and back squat. Other variations of the squat, such as the high bar back squat, and such are not considered integral to Starting Strength, as the low bar back squat exercises the most muscle mass and therefore allows the maximum use of resistance.
SSC – Starting Strength Coach
SSC is the acronym for the Starting Strength Coach credential. The SSC credential is difficult to attain, as it requires in-depth coaching expertise and practice. Certified Starting Strength Coaches can be located using the SSC Directory.
The Texas Method is an intermediate level lifting program. Being an intermediate program, there is a weekly progression in weight lifted (as opposed to increasing weight every workout in the LP). It consists of a 5×5 workout at the beginning of the week (Volume Day) at 80-90% of 1RM, followed by a lighter/low volume day in the middle of the week, and lastly an Intensity Day at the end of the week, consisting of a new 5 RM for the exercise. The Volume Day and Intensity Day both drive progress in the program. This is a high volume program, and is generally recommended for strength enthusiasts, such as powerlifters.
Training, as opposed to Exercise, is the process of repeatedly applying a directed physical stress, which results in an adaptation that satisfies a performance goal. It is a process, in that it involves incremental progression – which is the most effective path to results. See also Exercise.
The TUBOW, or Terribly Useful Block Of Wood, is a diagnostic tool (albeit a simple one) used for the squat in Starting Strength. Placing a large block of wood in an upright position aligned with their foot can give a trainee an accurate measure to ensure they are pushing their knees out far enough, and not letting them cave in.
YNDTP is an acronym for You’re Not Doing The Program. It’s a common diagnostic leveled at people complaining of a lack of progress with Starting Strength, when they are in fact not actually following the prescribed methods. Nobody explains this better than Rip himself.
WFAC is an acronym for the Wichita Falls Athletic Club. It is the first Starting Strength gym and is owned by creator Mark Rippetoe. It is located in Wichita Falls, Texas. Rip offers seminar training from this location, in addition to general gym memberships.
Starr Rehab Protocol
The Strongest Shall Survive
Tim is the founder of FitAtMidlife.com – an avid gym rat for 30+ years, he’s a reviewer of many, many shoes – and founder of the Speed Bag Gathering – the world’s only gathering of speed bag punching enthusiasts. See more gym reviews at Tim’s YouTube channel.