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Added On November 5, 2011
Power To The People Vs. Starting Strength

by Rusi
After reading a lot of forum posts discussing two of the most popular barbell training programs - Power To The People by Pavel Tsatsouline and Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe I decided to present you my opinion regarding both programs and which one offers better results.

Let's first present both programs in a few sentences for those who have never heard of them.

Power To The People By Pavel Tsatsouline

Working Days - up to 5;
Workout Duration -up to 25 minutes;
Exercises: Barbell Deadlift; Single Arm Overhead Barbell Press;
Working Sets: 1 Work set follower by another set at 90% of the work set;
Programming:  Linear, flexible wave, structured wave, or step pattern cycling;
Variations: Russian Bear Program for mass emphasis

Starting Strength By Mark Rippetoe

Working Days - 3;
Workout Duration - up to 90 minutes;
Exercises: Low-bar Back Squat, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Deadlift, Power Clean;
Working Sets: 3
Programming:  Linear progression
"Ok. Bro. We all know the programs. They have been around forever. But what's better for muscle mass?"

This is a tough question and I honestly don't think either of the programs is optimal for hypertrophy because of the low volume. Those are strength routines and there are better mass programs out there. With that being said I think most people will see faster muscle mass gains using the Russian Bear variation of Power To The People but since the main exercise is the deadlift some bodyparts will  remain untrained - chest, calves, rear & side delts and to some point the quads since they are used in a very short range of motion during the deadlift. However your whole back will be smashed from so much deadlifts and it will grow.

On the other hand Starting Strength is much more complete thanks to the added squat, bench press and power clean. However since there is no hypertrophy variation of the program and you are expected to rest around 5-10 minutes when the program gets tough the whole thing becomes rather strength orientated. It's all about how much you can lift for 5 - not how much damage you can cause to your muscles in order to promote growth. In other words do something else if your goal is hypertrophy.

"Ok. Bro. But Rippetoe says you can gain 30 pounds of lean body mass in 4-5 months on his program? That true? I want to be like Arnie before summer.

No. That's not true. Nobody can gain 30 pounds of muscle in 4 or 5 months. Not even if you "drink your milk and do your squats". Rippetoe got it all wrong and the mass gains on the program are strongly exaggerated by him and his students. Don't trust what you read. You can expect around 20-30 pounds of muscle during your first year and then your are looking at 10-15 for the know where I am going with it, right?

"Ok. Bro. But Rippetoe says that if you don't squat you are a pussy. And Power To The People has no squats in it. Is it for pussies?"

No. Look man, it's not the exercises you do that make you a man - it's the effort and the heart you put into it. Whether it's a squat or leg presses if you give it 100% you are not a pussy. On the other hand Starting Strength is much more complete compared to Power To The People and the squat is much better leg builder than the deadlift and will hit your legs harder due to the greater range of motion. But the beauty of Power To The People is the simplicity - all you need is a barbell. With that being said I would squat instead of just deadlifting for better results.

"Ok. Bro. But  I want bigger chest and there is no bench press in Power To The People. I want those pecs bigger. ..

Like I said both programs are not designed for mass. Sorry. Live with it. Yes, there is more chest work offered by the bench press but you fail to understand one simple fact - bigger bench press does not always equal a bigger chest. Many people will experience shoulder pain when they bench with a wide grip and flare their elbows but this is the only way to put the stress on the chest during a bench press. So if your shoulder hurts you better go for the dumbbells. Hypertrophy is adaptation to stress. If the muscle is not stressed there is nothing to repair. That's why you see so many people with big benches and no chest - it's all triceps and delts. So back to your question - if you want bigger chest you have to find the exercises that make it work the most while keeping the integrity of your shoulder joint. It may be the bench press but not always.

"Ok. Bro. What's the better program for increasing your deadlift?"

Power To The People. There is no doubt about it. It's the main goal of the program. Make sure you follow the guidelines outlined in the book.

Effective cycles last 8-16 workouts;

Start each cycle with 70-80% of your 5RM or a weight you can comfortably do 10 reps;

You can increase the weights in a linear, flexible wave, structured wave, or step pattern during the cycle;

"Ok. Bro. What's the better program for beginners?

That would be Starting Strength. You will learn all basic barbell movements and will get rather good at them. On the other hand Power To The People is build around the deadlift because the main goal of the program is simplicity. The program is also good for more advanced athletes.

"Ok. Bro. But can I do other exercises such as pull-ups, dips, push-ups, Bulgarian ring rows.... ?

Yes, you can but if you add ten exercises to the program you are no longer doing it and you can't expect the same results because you are adding variables and your stress response will be different. But then you should always build your program around your needs and not your needs around a program. Each program should reflect your goals and bring you close to them. That's how you progress. If that means you have to change any program do it. You know your body better than anybody else.

"Ok. Bro. Which program is better for fat lass?"


"Ok. Bro. Thanks."
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