Starting Strength Part Deux: Back To Basics

It’s time for me to get back to basics and that means back to Starting Strength. Yesterday was week one, day one back on things, and I definitely felt it.

But the question is, just why did I go back to something I’d progressed beyond?

A while back, I did an eight-week review of Starting Strength. By then, I knew damn good and well that it was working, at least to some degree. I’d progressed to a point where I was stronger than I ever was before. I wanted to get strong and, well, I was stronger at the very least.

But Starting Strength doesn’t work indefinitely. It’s called Starting strength, not “Ending Strength” or “Eternal Strength.” Eventually, you progress beyond the basics of the novice linear progression outlined in the book.

I did.

But when winter rolled around, I found that I was less likely to head outside and lift. I just didn’t want to fool with it. It was cold, often wet, and I just didn’t want to mess with any of it.

Which might have been fine if I’d adjusted fire and adapted to the situation, but I didn’t.

Now, I’m back to being out of shape. Further, I’m not interested in focusing all of my attention on fitness topics. I’ve gotten into HEMA. I’m still interested in some of the other stuff from back then, but not to the same extent and I damn sure don’t want my whole life to be about that kind of stuff.

So, I don’t want to spend my time trying to figure out a better way to get that strength back. Instead, I’m going back to the basics.

That means Starting Strength

Understand, the program does what it says it’s going to do. You may not be “strong” by the end of the 12 weeks, at least as the average gym rat defines the term, but you’ll be strong by the way most people–the folks who don’t train–measure it.

Also understand, that’s the majority of people.

While a handful of people do manual labor to such a degree that they’re strong as hell just by virtue of their jobs, that’s not most folks. Most people work jobs that don’t require all that much. They might to physical work, but not necessarily work that requires them to be legitimately strong.

That means most folks just aren’t particularly strong.

A round of Starting Strength when you’re out of shape will do the job just fine for that.

Does this tie into HEMA at all?

I’m glad you asked. The answer is that yeah, it kind of does.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a student of Fiore di Liberi’s treatises. In this, he has an image called the segno. It’s actually a fascinating image because it not only shows all the potential attacks within his system, but it also features four animals.

At the top is a lynx, which represents judgment. To the right, as you view the image, is a lion which represents courage. To your left as you look at it, there’s a tiger which stands for speed.

But at the bottom is the elephant. It represents fortitude or strength.

Now, the animals are generally thought of as being applicable to fighting, but I think a good martial art of any origin also has lessons that transcend fighting.

I think it’s wise to apply those four animals and what they represent to all aspects of your life.

Which means strength–which is at the bottom, thus serves as the “foundation”–is a logical place to start. Especially since few HEMA instructors appear to discuss strength training as part of their normal course of instruction.

So how long are you going to do this?

The normal course of the Starting Strength novice program tends to run about 12 weeks or so. It can go on for longer or for less time, depending on numerous other factors.

I’m going to run this through to the end, regardless of how long that will be.

However, I’ll likely look at one of the programs for intermediate lifters included in the book Starting Strength. They tend to be only slight variances of the original program and thus serve as a sort of logical progression of what you’ve been doing.

Or, you know, not.

What matters, though, is regaining strength that I desperately need and build upon that. While I’m not sure that Starting Strength is the end-all, be-all of weight training programs, it produces the results it claims to produce.

By the time this runs its course, I’ll have an idea of where to go next.

What I do know is that, as of right now, I’m kind of done trying to program my own stuff. I haven’t been overly successful with that kind of thing. What I need is something that will build some good strength and, when the time comes, build some muscle as well. If I have to shift to another program for hypertrophy, so be it.

Regardless, I’m kind of excited to be back in the Starting Strength saddle again.

How is it going so far?

Well, to be fair, it’s only been one day. However, I understand the program better this time around, plus I started at significantly heavier weights this time around, so I suspect the end point for me will be much higher.

Plus, now that I’ve got my diet a little closer to straightened out, I suspect I’ll make some pretty decent strength gains. When I was lifting around the first of the year, I couldn’t make any gains, probably because of insufficient nutrition.

Now, that shouldn’t be a major concern. I’m still behind where I think I should be, but my caloric intake is much more reasonable, thankfully.

But, again, it’s only the first day so let’s not expect miracles. I’m sore as hell, though, which is a sign of just how out of shape I am. Tomorrow, it’ll be worse because that’s the pattern it normally follows…and I lift again tomorrow.

Sore legs suck, but only to a point. Beyond the pain is the understanding that the body is healing all of the neglect we put ourselves through.

That, I’m looking forward to.

Author: Tom

Tom is a husband, father, novelist, opinion writer, and former Navy Corpsman currently living in Georgia. He's also someone who has lost almost 60 pounds in a safe, sustainable way, so he knows what he's talking about.

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