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Barbell Logic

May 20, 2019

The novice linear progression is a beautiful thing. It's simple. It's hard, but it's effective. It gets EVERYONE strong. Yet some people struggle with the program early on, hitting plateaus that leave them wondering whether it's cut out for them. Matt and Scott discuss the challenges for this type of trainee, and how their problem is largely mental.


Scott describes this type of trainee as typically highly educated professionals -- engineers, physicians, lawyers -- who spend the majority of their work days using their minds. These trainees often come to strength training with years of calorie restriction under their belts, a suppressed appetite, and a tendency to overthink the details of the program. They are used to doing hard work, pulling long hours at the hospital or the office, but perhaps they've never done anything physically hard. Unlike laborers with physical jobs, they may be disconnected from their bodies and unaccustomed to the discomfort of hard physical training, confusing fatigue with pain and injury.


Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, the auxiliary articles published on the website, and the vigorous discussion amongst the community of lifters and coaches have collectively examined the novice linear progression and the mechanics of the basic barbell lifts in exhaustive detail. Perhaps this culture of intellectual curiosity has had the unintended affect of distracting some people from the basic reality of strength training: you have to do it. You have lift heavy. A working model of the lifts and how to perform them, as well as a basic theory of programming is useful to any lifter, but eventually you just have to hit the weights, consistently.


So don't overthink it! Be like the mule, take up your yoke, and do the work. Trust the process, trust the results of thousands and thousands of lifters before you, and get some experience under your belt before you decide whether the program is for you.


Got a question for Matt and Scott? Email us at and we'll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A!



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