Is a mass building phase necessary to keep building strength?

Bill Been

More than 500 posts
Diet advice is totally different from the "gain as much fat/mass/muscle as possible, drink a gallon of milk, etc" advice of SS.
In the Starting Strength system, severely underweight young males who both want and need to be bigger - AND ONLY INDIVIDUALS WHO FIT THAT DESCRIPTION - are encouraged to work up to drinking a gallon of whole milk a day to support their training, recovery and growth, since it's easy, available, and has exactly the macro composition needed to make small animals into bigger animals.

As for the more general "gain as much fat/mass/muscle as possible" that too, is baseless. Nobody at Starting Strength wants you to get fat. They want you to get strong. You must eat to support the physiologic effects of progressively overloading 3 big barbell lifts 3 times per week while making strength gains that will garner accusations of steroid use. If this process of adding amounts of weight to the bar that dwarf anything else in existence causes some mantis-looking kid to lose his abs enroute to a 365x5x3 squat and a 405x5 deadlift and a 185x5x3 Press - I seriously doubt that will bother him much.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
In the Starting Strength system, severely underweight young males who both want and need to be bigger - AND ONLY INDIVIDUALS WHO FIT THAT DESCRIPTION - are encouraged to work up to drinking a gallon of whole milk a day
No Bill, he doesn't say "only the hard gainers". He recommends it to everyone and especially to the hardgainers
From SS:
"One of the best ways to move in the direction of these numbers ("eating 2500-5000 calories a day") is to drink a gallon of milk a day, most especially if weight-gain is a primary concern. A gallon of milk per day, added to the regular diet at intervals throughout the day, will put weight on any skinny kid. Really."

Regardless, I sure believe 2400 extra liquid calories a day, of which 840 come purely from sugar, will put weight on anybody. Even if you're a hard gainer, a significant portion will be fat. I'm not sure why it's so controversial to advice a bit more conservative strategy 0_0

As for the more general "gain as much fat/mass/muscle as possible" that too, is baseless. Nobody at Starting Strength wants you to get fat.
Don't twist my words Bill. I'm not saying they want you to get fat. I'm saying they want you to gain muscle and mass at all costs, even if it means getting fat. The SS archived forums contain many posts of Andy Baker and Mark telling people to not worry about their fat-gain because real men aren't supposed to. They have this weird mannist vibe in their forum too, but that's a different topic I suppose. A quote from Mark:
"An adult male weighs at least 200 lbs"

Or Andy when a poster was worried about all the belly fat he was gaining:
"I think you are being a girl about your physique."

I post them as quotes so you can easily search them. What this shows is that there is an emphasis on just gaining weight, regardless if plenty of it is fat.

This isn't baseless either. I'm not making this up. SS+GOMAD has this reputation of getting people fat. I've seen it often in the SS and BBing forums Just google images "SS gallon of milk a day results" and the results you'll find is typically males that have gained a fair amount of fat.

Izzy Narvaez, SS certified instructor, himself has spoken highly for SS, but against GOMAD. Especially since he did it and got pretty fat.

If this process of adding amounts of weight to the bar that dwarf anything else in existence causes some mantis-looking kid to lose his abs enroute to a 365x5x3 squat and a 405x5 deadlift and a 185x5x3 Press - I seriously doubt that will bother him much.
I guess I'd like to believe there aren't only two options. Weak and scrawny or fat and strong. I think you can have a balance without either extreme where you can be very strong, but still in excellent shape.

I don't want this to be an argument about nutrition, or SS, or anything. I just personally think it makes more sense to dial your diet a bit so you gain plenty of muscle without much fat. Instead of just drinking down calories hoping to move the scale.

That's all I have and want to say about that Bill. Just my 2 cents.
 
Last edited:

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I am starting a run of the SS NLP today and I'm intending to not gain additional weight. I think I have enough lean mass already (and total mass) so I'm going to use My Fitness Pal for logging to keep a target of protein intake, then just enough calories of fat + carbohydrate (about half and half) to maintain my current weight as I continue to get stronger. We'll see how it goes. The resources and materials I've read from SS seem to indicate that this is the recommended way to go, especially for someone like me that's not a total beginner and has already built a healthy amount of lean mass from strength training.

It seems to me to be a matter of whether one wants to maximize strength gains at all costs (including fat gain), vs. hold the weight as a constraint and maximize strength gains within that context. Both seem acceptable from the SS perspective. What doesn't seem acceptable is to try to do the program as a skinny person and not put on weight. Then, as they say, YNDTP (you're not doing the program).
 

Oscar

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I agree with @305pelusa that getting fat seems to be a common issue within SS practitioners, to the point that Rip had to issue an article addressing diet, GOMAD and getting fat. The artcile is called "A Clarification" IIRC.

My understanding from SS book and that article is that the SS method wishes that you finish your LP at about 15% BF. I´m calling it a "wish" and not a goal because I´m not sure the methods are aiming in that direction. I mean, setting 3x5 PRs every single training session seems to go at odds with keeping a low BF like 15% (this figure applies to males BTW, for females it would be near 20% I guess).

What seems to be the true goal of SS is to metamorph the mantis-boy into a strong human being, able to lift the figures outlined by @Bill Been above. Another thing mentioned by Rip is that getting Strongfirst is more important, and once you are strong you can lose fat more easily (he might have used a space between "Strong" and "first", and not use capitals for "Strong").

Its a pity the SS was not developed 100 years before, it could have helped the Kafka´s cokroach-boy character to metamorph back in to a very strong human being.
 

Sean M

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Not much I can contribute here except SS was developed and is focused on the novice lifter, which is typically a “100 pound weakling” high school freshman or late-bloomer college kid. Rip has said elsewhere that a grown man shouldn’t weigh less than 200lb. The goal is “big and strong” but I suppose if you are already “big” you focus on getting strong, and if you are strong and want to get big, you need to eat and lift a lot.
 

Sean M

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Not directed at you Sean...But to the forum in general.
What's the reason and logic behind this statement?
It’s a total “Rip-ism”. Article where it appears is “Maybe You Should GAIN Weight”. Says: “Bigger and stronger is better than being underweight”. He is from Texas, and they say everything is bigger in Texas!
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Sean M, I just read that article and the discussion that followed it.

About a half-dozen or so paragraphs in, the author says, "Anyway, this piece is for those of you for whom this makes sense."

Yup.

-S-
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
It’s a total “Rip-ism”. Article where it appears is “Maybe You Should GAIN Weight”. Says: “Bigger and stronger is better than being underweight”. He is from Texas, and they say everything is bigger in Texas!
So its like Homer Simpson saying "it's like rama langa ding dong, and give peace a chance, it doesn't mean anything "
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Regardless, I sure believe 2400 extra liquid calories a day, of which 840 come purely from sugar, will put weight on anybody. Even if you're a hard gainer, a significant portion will be fat. I'm not sure why it's so controversial to advice a bit more conservative strategy 0_0
Interesting that the lactose accounts for 840 calories. Speaking of lactose, a gallon of milk for me would do bad and evil things given my lactose intolerance. I would imagine some of the "skinny kids" looking to implement SS may have issues with lactose, but Rip does not seem to provide an alternative for such folks.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
It’s a total “Rip-ism”. Article where it appears is “Maybe You Should GAIN Weight”. Says: “Bigger and stronger is better than being underweight”. He is from Texas, and they say everything is bigger in Texas!
I read that article and some related ones on the SS site. Ripp is the master of the strawman argument. If you read the articles carefully you'll notice that he keeps referring to the "severely underweight." He is not wrong when he says that being "severely underweight" can be as bad as being morbidly obese. But terms matter, and "severely underweight" has a specific medical definition. I want to know where are all these "severely underweight" young males? While I have run into some really skinny guys, I don't I have ever run into someone who is "severely underweight" in the medical sense. But this is what Ripp does. If you criticize his approach he has an automatic out: "No, no, I was only talking about the 'severely underweight.' I agree that being fat isn't healthy!" He also has a ready answer for those who would complain about having to lose the fat gained on his program. "Fat loss is easy and only takes a few weeks." Except fat loss is not necessarily easy for every person, and it gets even trickier if you want to lose fat while preserving the muscle mass you've gained. But this particular point is not even addressed.
 

Oscar

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Except fat loss is not necessarily easy for every person, and it gets even trickier if you want to lose fat while preserving the muscle mass you've gained. But this particular point is not even addressed.
I agree with this, and I have struggled with losing weight my whole life. However, I do agree with him that becoming strong is the best way to have a reasonable body fat %.
 

Al Ciampa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
especially for someone like me that's not a total beginner and has already built a healthy amount of lean mass from strength training.
I'm confused as to how you built so much lean mass without ever previously running NLP ;]
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I'm confused as to how you built so much lean mass without ever previously running NLP ;]
Would Mark Rippetoe believe, "mostly with kettlebells, and almost no milk?"

I want to know where are all these "severely underweight" young males?
My son is 6'1", 22 yrs old, and 140 lb. I imagine he's the perfect target. But he's a rock climber, and doesn't aim to increase bodyweight right now. Skill, grip strength, and endurance are his desired qualities. So it all depends on what one is after. I would agree that the slender build seems to be in vogue, there are a lot of young men that have never had the physical training stimulus to put on a significant amount of muscle. Physical labor is rarer than it used to be. Maybe it's becoming the new normal. At least is a better alternative than being fat and out of shape. Either way, it's good to have programs that can quickly and effectively change the status quo for those who want to put on some muscle and get stronger. And yes, the SS program seems to work for obese people too... These are the ONLY people they claim can actually lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, and only for a little while.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
@Anna C I reckon within 6 months you'll be drinking milk by the gallon and chewing tobacco.
You have a 6th sense, Karl. Next month I'm going to StrengthCon, so I'll get to meet the man himself and have a whole weekend immersion in Starting Strength. When I do something, I like to go all-in...
 

Maine-ah KB

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
. A quote from Mark:
"An adult male weighs at least 200 lbs"

Or Andy when a poster was worried about all the belly fat he was gaining:
"I think you are being a girl about your physique
@305pelusa

REALLY? thats messed up. I mean seriously I know a dude that freaks out if he gains 5lbs and goes immediately on a sticked Keto diet.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Anna C Your son doesn't count. It takes a special kind of crazy to be a rock climber - and I mean that in the nicest way possible! Seriously though, when I was still in my 20s and why less than 200 (but not much) I tried an intro to rock climbing course. Really easy rock. Tons of fun! It's not only a physical challenge but mental as well. You have to plan out your next move. My forearms and calves were burning. I've got respect for those guys and gals.

And yes, the SS program seems to work for obese people too... These are the ONLY people they claim can actually lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, and only for a little while.
The emphasis is on "only for a little while."
 
Top Bottom