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I'm skeptical of anybody who claims to have a simple answer to success at weight training. The more I learn about weight training, the more ignorant I feel.

A few books I've enjoyed lately are 'Starting Strength' by Rippetoe and Killgore and Brookfield's 'Master of Hand Strength'. The latter book is a real eye-opener: every page is stuffed with information that makes sense, but you never would have thought of. (Hand development, of course, is important for computer keyboardists.)

Although it's not a complete weightlifting manual, I like the attitude of Bruce Lee's 'Art of Expressing the Human Body', which turned me on to circuit training. Some other good books which are more focused on bodyweight training are Cook's 'Athletic Body in Balance' and Boyle's 'Functional Training For Sports'.

   People with with injuries or chronic pain can benefit greatly from training,  but they need to be smart about it.

  For instance,  my knees are wonky so I watch my workload and avoid traditional 2-leg extension exercises such as the leg press and the 2-leg squat.  Instead I do single-leg exercises and intense hamstring work that has stabilized my knees.

   At some point you're going to transcend other people's cookie-cutter programs.  For instance,  reading Lee and Brookfield has gotten me to focus on forearm and grip strength,  because everybody I see who lifts has big upper arms and scrawny forearms.  The more you learn about it,  the more you'll discover there is to learn.

The Stronglift 5x5 program is basically the Starting Strength program with a few modifications.

Personally I think 5x5 is too much volume compared to SS' 3x5.

It's not bad - you can crank it out for quite a while. When you pass 2xbw on the squats and 2.5xbw on the deadlifts (which are done at 1x5) it starts to get tougher.

It is if you don't take the advice to rest in between sets. They're quite clear on this point - rest for up to five minuites in between sets. Otherwise, yes, it is too much volume.


I started out with Stronglift 5x5, but switched to Starting Strength when my copy arrived. It's a shame that Stronglift 5x5 postpones power cleans.

I've been considering using 5x5's volume for Starting Strength, but Starting Strength 3x5 is already taking up quite a lot of time. But I added some dips, pull-ups and chin-ups; they are useful for climbing.

At some point you're going to transcend other people's cookie-cutter programs.

True, but stronglifts (and starting strength) are beginner programs. Most people's goals will be met long before they reach intermediate.

I'm doing stronglifts 5x5, slightly modified [1]. I've gone from being a scrawny weakling to having the minimum strength that every man should have. I'm hardly ripped, but I've made significant (30-75%, depending on exercise) gains in all parts of my body. I get frequent "whoah, you've been working out" comments. This is in spite of being a 2 meter tall hard gainer with freakishly long arms (I hate the law of the lever).

In short: your advice is probably good - I'm not advanced enough to have an opinion. Most of us are beginners and a cookie cutter program will get us past that point.

[1] I have a bad back, so I skip deadlifts. I'm also incorporating some dynamic exercises that involve more balance (turkish get ups, full body attacks, etc) on the recommendation of my martial arts instructor.

I'd recommend starting with `Starting Strength's cookie-cutter program, until you know what you are doing.

Any quick hint or URL you can give for forearm strength? I'm also doing some climbing and pull-ups/chin-ups, but I don't know whether that's enough.

If you want to work on grip strength by itself take a small wooden dowel and drill a hole through the middle. Tie a rope through the hole and then tie a weight to the other end. Now use your hands to roll the weight up and down.

Another fun one is a modified dead lift. Your plates need to have a lip on them to make it work. Put a plate on each side of a curl bar. Now DL the curl bar by only gripping with your finger tips around the lip of the plate.

Personally, my grip strength has increased the most from doing pulling exercises and dead lifts. I'm to the point now where I can DL 405lb w/o straps. I still need straps to get into the 500s though.

Thanks for the hints. What's a lip on a plate? (Sorry, English is only my second language.)

I'm doing 130kg at deadlifts at the moment. I never used straps. I use the overhand grip for all warm-up sets (40kg, 60kg, 82.5kg, 105kg at the moment) and the alternating grip for the working set.

I've also done some indoor climbing recently. That needs and works grip strength. (Though I'd like to improve between climbing sessions, too. That's why I asked.)

Instead of being smooth from center to edge there is a small 'lip' around the outside edge that can be used to grip on. If you set it up right you'll be doing deadlifts with only your finger tips providing the grip. Does that make sense? Here's a picture of a weight plate with a 'lip.'


Try reverse preacher curls and thumbless static hangs as a start.

If you're interested in improving grip strength take a look at the hand grippers from Captains of Crush (http://www.ironmind.com/ironmind/opencms/Main/captainsofcrus...)

Best I have found is continued practice of overhand grip heavy deadlifts. The thicker the bar the better.

Also, make it a habit to use the thicker bars if your gym has an option.

I've also heard a towel and pullup bar is another option. Wrap the towel around the pullup bar and hang on it as long as possible. I've never done this method.

My gym only has one size of bars. But I'll give modifying pull-ups a try.

> Any quick hint or URL you can give for forearm strength?

The deadlift worked well for increasing my grip and forarm strength. When you lift 400 lbs off the ground your grip has to improve.

Just don't use wrist straps, this leads to muscle imbalances. it's better to go slow and have your entire body's strength grow together.

Try the farmer walk: pick up two dumbbells and walk as far as you can with them. Rest, and repeat.

(Wonder why it's called the farmer walk? Ever see a farmer's forearms? :)

Captains of Crush. Go get some of them and work with them relentlessly.

Farmer's walk. Do it. Do it with heavy weights.

Deadlift will certainly do wonders for your grip as well.

Pull ups depend on the width of your arms, a wider grip is mainly working your lats, but they generally work biceps and back complexes.

Try http://exrx.net/Lists/ExList/ForeArmWt.html for exercises. Generally speaking, forearm strength is through wrist curls and movements.

Actually pull-ups and lat pull downs are often forearm/grip strength limited. In my case (and many of my friend's), I find that as my grip starts to fail, I have to work my back and arms even harder to transmit enough power.

In fact, you can see this demostrated by trying to do pull-ups or something on a thick bar sometime. It will crush you.

Captains of Crunch as mentioned by sister post is great stuff.

There's also the really old school style of just carrying heavy stuff in your hands and walking around for a good while. Just remember that most grip strength exercises focuses on one of con/iso/eccentric movements, so you might need to mix and match. Also, depending on what you need, you'll have to mix up low rep high weight, as well as low weight high rep. With grip, it's not just a question of how hard you can pull, but really how long you can pull, and more importantly, how long you can pull while your forearms are -dying-, which is something you'll miss out if you did all low rep stuff.

For learning how to do the exercises, Starting Strength is worth the purchase. Even if you don't follow the program. It is used as the reference for squat, deadlift, press, and bench technique by many.

There is also a DVD and some YouTube videos out there with Rippetoe that greatly help.

For squats, also check out SquatRX on YouTube.


I should point to Louie Simmons gym site: http://www.westside-barbell.com/

Those articles there are just indispensable for trained athlete (I exercise for four years now). I recently discovered it and used some tips and tricks Louie wrote about. I used "Good Morning" for lower back strength, I learned that trained athlete will adapt to any change in training routine in two weeks so you have to change routines quite often. I think that anyone will find something valuable there.

And yes, there are depths and spaces on what you have to learn to progress in weight training.

Meta: Why did you indent the last three paragraphs?

From my perspective, I didn't "do it", it just happened.

Couldn't find your email, but I wanted to ask if it would be OK to excerpt the first the paragraphs of your book recommendations into a training article I'm writing.

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