What Is Starting Strength?

starting strengthFor years, I was a personal trainer. I did my best to stay current on fitness trends and scientific discoveries in the field, but it wasn’t until my husband showed me Mark Rippetoe’s book that I learned about the Starting Strength program.

Starting Strength is a 6-9 month program based around correctly performing 5 basic lifts: squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and power clean. Since these lifts can develop over your lifetime, there’s no real plateau. This is part of what distinguishes this program from so many others.

Also, Starting Strength is unique because of its detailed instruction on how to correctly and, therefore, safely perform these lifts. The instruction is for the basic form of the lift and also the breathing that accompanies it.

In addition to the exercises, Rippetoe instructs on how to create your lifting program. Once you know how to create programs and safely lift, you can create your own programs and meet your personal goals.

Starting Strength

The best source for information about Starting Strength is their website. Here is an excerpt.

“The Starting Strength System is a distillation of Mark Rippetoe’s experiences over three and a half decades as a competitive powerlifter, Olympic weightlifting coach, and gym owner, coupled with a systematic analysis of the physics of human movement under the barbell.

Barbell training is simply loaded human movement, and the Starting Strength System makes use of the most basic movement patterns that work the entire body as a coordinated system, gradually increasing loads that make the whole body stronger, in a logical, understandable, time-tested manner – the way athletes have gotten stronger for millennia.

Starting Strength is not a list of new exercises from the fitness magazines designed by Physical Therapists for injured sedentary people. It is not a way to use the newest machines in a corporate health club. Starting Strength is a systematic approach to the classic barbell training method of improving Strength – the most critical characteristic of successful athletes and healthy useful people.”

Mark Rippetoe

Mark Rippetoe has worked in the fitness industry since 1978. He was a competitive powerlifter for 10 years, retired, and began coaching out of his gym in Wichita Falls, Texas. In 1997, his focus shifted to coaching Olympic weightlifting. He has coached national and international-level athletes, as well as the collegiate weightlifting team from Midwestern State University.

Rippetoe is still heavily involved in coaching. He coaches at Wichita Falls Athletic Club, and coaches the power clean and power snatch at Starting Strength seminars around the country.

What is unique about Rippetoe is that he is still so active communicating the ideas of his program. You can read any number of books and articles written by him about his program, and you can also personally ask him questions on his forum. To get to his forum, go to the Starting Strength Forum page and click on Mark Rippetoe Q&A.

The Forum

The Forums on the Starting Strength page are a wealth of knowledge. (Click on “Forums” at the top of the Starting Strength page to see a list of the Forums.) Under the category Starting Strength, the forums are moderated by Mark Rippetoe and his professional staff. All of the forum moderators are experts who practice and believe in the program.

Other forums without a moderator are listed in the groups below. The individuals here would most likely be average folks participating in the program. This provides you with a great way to create community for an activity that you’re likely doing by yourself in your house.

Jon’s Experience

My husband found Starting Strength about 6 years ago. We were doing P90X, and Jon was frustrated with his plateau in progression. So, he did what we tend to do in my house; he turned to Amazon.

First, he researched programs. Then, he read many Amazon reviews. Starting Strength was appealing to him because of its high ratings and positive reviews. Also, he liked that the program looked logical and that he would have all of his instruction in a book. (This is his preferred method for learning.)

I cannot count the number of people that my husband has spoken to about Rippetoe’s program. The list contains myself, coworkers, my mother, our babysitter, and even distant family members. Each time Jon talks to someone about strength training, if they’re interested, he gives them a copy of the book. He guesses that he has bought 7 copies of the book.

When I asked him why he was so enthusiastic about recommending this program to people, he said, “I recommend it because it’s the first program that did exactly what they said it would do, and it was successful for me. Once you understand it, there is no mystery about why it works. It’s 100% scale-able so a person at any physical strength level could pick it up and be successful with it.”

He continues, “What’s unique about Starting Strength is that it’s a set of tools to accomplish whatever goals you have.”


For more information, explore the resource tabs at the top of the Starting Strength screen. They have archived Articles, Videos, and Podcasts for you to explore.

Here are Amazon links to Mark Rippetoe’s books:

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0982522738″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]Starting Strength[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0982522754″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]Practical Programming for Strength Training[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0976805448″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]Strong Enough?[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”0982522711″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity[/easyazon_link]

Sign up for my newsletter to get more tips for health and happiness! Also, you can find me on FacebookYouTube and Pinterest as Custom Pilates and Yoga.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.


  1. Shannon on July 14, 2017 at 9:28 am

    This is a great book! I absolutely believe that strength training is the key to aging well physically. I also love The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler and Cassandra Forsythe.

    • Sarah Stockett on July 14, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks so much, Shannon. I haven’t checked out The New Rules of Lifting for Women, but I’ll add it to my list!