Last Update  On March 9, 2012
FAQ: The Rookie Strength Routine

/Powerbuidling routine for strength and size/

by Vladi & Rusi
FAQ: In your article Starting Strength vs. Power To The People you said that low rep sets are not good for mass. What's up with 10x3?

In general low-reps sets and low sets are pure strength work but 10x3 is not the case since you are going do be doing 10 sets total (and later on switch to 8x3). So, if you perform 10 reps for 3 sets that's 30 quality reps which is more than 3x5 or 5x5. In other words the overall workload is higher. Not to mention that you will be using heavy weights unlike 3x10 or 8x8....etc.

Don't let the triples mislead you - 10x3 and 8x3 do build muscle due to the higher amount of total reps. At the same time there is a variation of Power To The People called The Russian Bear which is aimed towards mass gains and you are supposed to perform up to 20 sets or so but in my opinion this a complete overkill especially when we are talking about exercises such as the deadlift (which is the main exercise in the Russian Bear )

You are going to keep your rest short - start with 1-2 min  and when you reach the ending phase of your cycles go up to 5 minutes. No need to take 10-15 minutes of rest between sets. If you have to - the weight is too heavy.

FAQ: Are you using 10x3 and 8x3 just to jump out of the page and differ from Starting Strength and Strong Lifts?

I prefer 10x3 and 8x3 over 3x5 and even 5x5 because it allows you to do more work and keep perfect form due to the low reps per set.

3x5 is too low volume and many people unless they are beginners don't grow much from it. 5X5 is a perfectly good approach and worked for generations of lifters. It works and builds both strength and size (provided you don't rest 15 minutes between sets).

10x3 offers the best of both words - strength and size. However I prefer it over 5x5 because it's easier to maintain good form on all sets. Usually when you go for a heavy 5 rep set the last two reps may be done with bad form. On the other hand it's much easier to keep perfect form for three reps per set. That's why you keep your reps for front squats always around 3 and perform more sets. With that being said I'm not against 5x5 at all and I'm not trying to promote a “new” rep scheme in any way.

FAQ: Will I lose my endurance if I perform only 3 reps per set?

When you get used to perform triples doing sets of 10 and above may feel weird but the fact that you perform 10 total sets will compensate to some point for that. If your goal is to improve your endurance this is not the program for you.

FAQ: How much muscle can I gain on this program?

I don't know for sure but from my experience if you follow a solid routine build around heavy compound exercises you can gain 20-25 lbs / 10-12 kg of muscle during your first year if you are a beginner. For example if you've never trained before and you are 150lbs / 68 kg and you are 5'10 / 177 cm going up to 175-185lbs / 80-84 kg in a year is more than possible. However get ready to gain a little bit of fat as well. In general aim for 2lbs / 1kg of weight gain PER month. It's not hard to figure out that if you are gaining 10lbs a month your are getting fat.

Note: If you consistently underrating and you suddenly start eating enough to gain weight the first weeks you will be gaining some water weight and glycogen so the scale may jump even 5-10lbs in that period. Don't be scared but make sure it does not happen the next week as well.

FAQ: How much should I eat on the program? How much calories? Protein

I'm not a fan of GOMAD or other non-sense bulking programs. In order to find how much food you need to gain weight just multiply your bodyweight in POUNDS by 18.

Example: You weight 180lbs / 79 kg. This means you should eat around 180lbs x 18 = 3240 calories.

Note: If you are not gaining weight add 200-300 calories to the equation. If you are getting too fat remove 200-300 calories. In general this rule of thumb should work for a solid 2lbs/1kg muscle gain per month for your first year but diet is a little personal thing and depends on the individual. Lyle McDonald says he saw some individuals who need to multiply their weight by 25 in order to find their needed calorie intake for weight gaining. Chances are most people will be fine with 18-20 times their body weight in pounds.

As far as protein goals I found the 1-1.5 grams per pound of body-weight a good rule. So if you are 180 lbs take at least 180 grams of protein per day.

FAQ: What foods should I eat?

I'm not an expert  but I think you cannot do wrong if you focus on eggs, meat, fish, cheese, yoghurt (natural not Danone crap), nuts, peanuts, fruits and vegetables. Stay away from sweets, white rice, too much fruits, bread, Coca-Cola, alcohol, candies...etc.

FAQ: Should I take supplements?

Supplements are not needed. You can gain muscle without them. Of course you are free to take protein shakes, vitamins, fish oil..etc if you have money to spend but supplements are far less important than a good diet. What a shock.... ah?

FAQ: I don't have a spotter can I use dumbbells for the incline bench press?

Yes, you can. However the barbell bench press is easier to program and you should stick to it if you have a spotter or a power rack where you can bench press safely.

FAQ: I don't have a spotter or a power cage can I do dumbbells squat instead of barbell squats?

No, you can't. Dumbbell squats don't build muscle. More on barbells vs. dumbbells here.

FAQ: I can't do pull-ups. What should I do?

Follow the plan outlined here.

FAQ: I don't have gymnastic rings. Should I buy a pair form

No, make your own “suspension system” using car straps and PVC pipes. More on this here.

FAQ: I don't want to do deadlift. The Twins on YouTube say I will “snap some shit up.” U mad?

I don't care what the twins say. Deadlifts are a perfectly good exercise that builds hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, lats, traps, forearms, upper back and mental toughness. Yes, you can injure yourself during deadlifts but that's why you should make sure your form is decent. Also - NEVER TRAIN TO FAILURE. If you are not sure you will be able to do a rep don't even attempt it.

In the meanwhile the twins can stick to machines for every exercise. I know people that have been doing deadlifts on regular bases and don't know what “snap some shit means”. On top if it the deadlift will build back thickness faster than any row or machine will. Why? Heavy ass weight.

There is much more chance to hurt yourself driving a car or even a bicycle yet the deadlift gets the blame. Just keep your ego in check and you will only benefit from doing deadlifts.

FAQ: Should I use straps for my deadlifts?

Yes (and no). Use regular overhand grip for ALL your warm-up sets and hook grip for your work sets. The hook grip has many benefits outlined here. You can use chalk as well.

Attention: The hook grip saves your biceps tendons but it places tremendous stress on your thumbs. It's not uncommon to have numb thumbs after deadlifts done with hook grip.

That's why you shouldn't use the hook grip for all 8 sets of the Rookie Strength Routine. Use hook grip for the first 3 or 4 and finish the rest with straps.

Also if you hate hook grip it's perfectly fine to use mixed grip if that's what you are used to.

FAQ: Should I pause each deadlift on the floor?

Yes. More on the subject here.

FAQ: Why should I do Overhead presses of Face Pulls? It's not 1960 no more.

To prevent shoulder injuries due to weak external shoulder rotators. It you skip them you are looking at muscle imbalances and possible injuries in the long term.

FAQ: Can I add isolation exercises for my biceps and triceps?

If you are just starting out - NO. If you are training for at least a year add some curls and PJR pull-overs for the triceps after the main exercises. Don't go crazy - 3x 8-15 sound fine. Stay away from kick backs and classic French presses in order to avoid elbow problems.

FAQ: What about abs?

This program does not call for direct ab training. Compound exercise are plenty.

FAQ: I can't squat deep. Should I do quarter squat?

No, work on your active flexibility and learn to squat deep. Quarter squat are a waste of time and will only get you knee problems. Also try squatting with weight on your back. Chances are you will be able to squat perfectly deep. Most people find it easier to hit depth with a barbell on their backs than doing air squats.

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