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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 1st edition book review
As you walk into your gym, the first thing you see is that handsome Brad Pitt (or Orlando Bloom or whatever) look-alike curling a barbell relentlessly and vigorously on the squat rack. Sets after sets after sets, you stand in awe as you see the grotesque veins bulge on his biceps as he stimulates every square inch, every nooks and crannies of its muscle fibers. The...
Published on May 31, 2008 by John Choi

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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good "how to" book, bad photographs
Given the near universal acclaim, I've tried really hard to like this book. But ultimately I have to give it two stars. Having decided to move to free weights I wanted to learn proper technique to avoid injury and receive maximum benefit from my workouts. "Starting Strength" does provide all that information, the problem is in the delivery and organization. For example,...
Published on April 16, 2011 by G. Weber


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Read for Athletes, Bodybuilders, and General Gym Attendees, April 23, 2008
This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I've been lifting weights and going to the gym off and on since I was 14 (I'm 24 now), starting from basic machine work and cardio to more advanced dumbbell exercises and free weights to finally barbell exercises a few years ago. I was amazed with the difference of going from machines to dumbbells and finally from dumbbells to complex muscle exercises like the deadlift and the squat.

After going through 2-3 years of deadlifts and squats, without injury, I'm shocked to note that I was doing them wrong. Not wrong by a huge degree, but I was not using all the muscles I could and was not making my body hit all the right positions. I read many resources online, and asked for advice from experienced bodybuilders, but no one could have pointed out all the different things I needed learned about a squat. Mark Rippetoe's book taught me more about a squat in 15 minutes than I've tried hours to learn by watching videos and reading websites online.

Starting Strength only goes over 5 basic exercises -- Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, and Power Clean. I was a bit disappointed to not read more on other dumbbell exercises I still do (bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises) but the degree he breaks each individual motion down is impressive, and would no way lower my rating from 5 stars to 4. He writes for two people -- the trainee and the trainer, but giving both perspectives allow the reader to fully understand the mechanisms behind each movement.

As far as my squat, Starting Strength broke down why I needed to make sure my hips went below my knees, explained why my heels (and not toes) should be shoulder width and 30 degrees off axis, and explained proper hand positioning (on top of the bar, not gripping the bar). He goes over similar pointers in each of the 5 exercises, and I'm already incorporating them into my routine, finally understanding WHY each movement needs to be done (not just how).

As an intermediate gym monkey, I haven't actually done any Power Cleans, but Rippetoe's book and pointers serve as a great starting point for this hard exercise I thought I'd never learn. Rippetoe also explains training programs (warmups, lifting for strength vs. endurance, reptitions per week) very well, and that's also guided my workout.

I wish I could end by saying I've gained a huge amount of muscle since picking up Rippetoe's book, but I only started reading it 3 days ago so I've only been through 2 workouts since. The 2 workouts I did do, though, were refreshingly solid and the exercises felt like I was doing 20-30 pounds less than I actually was, because of my improved form.

Overall, a great read for the advanced and intermediate bodybuilder and athlete, and good advice for those looking to give barbells a try. This isn't really a book written for people with no knowledge at all of lifting weights, or people looking to lose 100 pounds, but it would be a good read nonetheless. There aren't any better beginning exercises out there than the exercises detailed in this book, and if you follow a strict lifting routine, a good diet, and cardio, you'll be well on your way to a sculpted body.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, December 3, 2007
This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This book provides an excellent and exhaustive discussion of the important barbell training movements. The level of detail is amazing and even experienced lifters will likely learn new ways to improve their training. I have the 1st edition also, but the upgrades for the 2nd edition definitely make it worthwhile. In particular, the new chapter on useful assistance exercises is great. Also, in contrast to the 1st edition, different athletes are now used in the figures which provide great examples of how the barbell movements look in a broader spectrum of athletes. The "flip it" photos of each movement are also now larger and are each consolidated on one page, making it much easier to see what is going on. Very well done. This awesome resource should be on the bookshelf of every coach and athlete.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book everyone must read, July 10, 2008
This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I'm not an expert on training, but from the reviews I've read and all the info Ive come across on Rippetoe, this a must read. If all the principles on this book are true, which they sure seem from the detailed explanations and the depth of the physiological discussion, this book explains all you need to know to become strong and healthy. My results so far are awesome, not only because I feel much healthier and stronger, and I look better, but most of all, because I like the workout so much I just can think about anything else than going back to the gym. And I'm a guy who never enjoyed exercise much at all.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Usable, practical information without the silly fluff, December 13, 2007
By 
Aaron Shaffer (Cleveland, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I have read many useful strength training books but nothing compares to the quality of applicable information found in this book. The only thing I can recommend over this book is one of Rippetoe's barbell training courses. I have purchased both the first and second edition and I will gladly purchase a third.

The book isn't full of fancy photos of bodybuilders. It is full of normal people (not using steroids) and the information applies to normal people like me. I'm a personal trainer and I use this book as reference regularly.

I recommend this book. I truly wish more trainers at the local gyms here would take time to learn this stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3rd edition coming soon, November 12, 2011
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This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
Excellent book, a solid start to anyone new to the barbell (or to the many recreational lifters out there who have never learned proper form or sensible exercise programming). Whether your goal is to get buff, get strong for a sport, compete in a strength sport, or just improve strength for general health, you first step should be to establish a solid foundation in lifting, and this is a very good option if you like barbells.

Although I enjoy Rip's dryly authoritative, often very funny, writing style, which describes lifting form in extreme detail (something like 60 pages of text devoted to the squat alone), there's no getting around the fact that it's very hard to learn correct lifting form from a book. I therefore strongly recommend picking up his Starting Strength DVD as a companion. In it, Rip coaches lifters of various ages and sizes. As you study the book and the DVD, shoot some video of yourself lifting to compare, and maybe post it on the Starting Strength forum for a critique.

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

Note that a 3rd edition is now available. From what I've seen, it has a lot of new text (including information on the snatch), a lot of the CrossFit stuff that he has since largely disavowed is gone, and there are better photos and illustrations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG! BUY THIS BOOK!, March 5, 2009
By 
Linda Vargas (Tamarac, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I'm really just here to add another five-star rating to this book's listing...

After 141 other reviews having beat me to this, what hasn't already been said? This book completely resolved my knee issue in just the first few pages! You can demonstrate for yourself the principles explained in the book as you read along-you don't necessarily have to be near equipment. That's neat-read, practice the movement, read...The authors write as if they are talking "to" you, not "at" you. This makes it an engaging read, even though it's very, very thorough. Even a novice girl trainee like me can IMMEDIATELY apply the wisdom in this book.

Truly an essential guide. It can only empower you towards better fitness.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, absolutely thorough introduction, November 25, 2010
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This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This is for the 2nd edition.

I'm a 30 year old couch potato who had never lifted a weight before in his life. I began jogging ten months ago, lost 20 lbs, and ran my first 5k, but I felt like my fitness level had kinda plateaued. The more I learned about health and physiology, the more I realized I needed to increase my lean muscle mass rather than just try to burn calories. But I felt like doing random dumbbell exercises (like curls!) weren't doing anything. Enter barbell strength training. I discovered the Stronglifts 5x5 program (stronglifts.com), a beginner's strength training website. That site is a fantastic resource for beginners, but I felt like I needed an absolutely rigorous explanation of the various barbell lifts so I wouldn't injure myself since I'm not using a coach!

Mark Rippetoe is your coach if you don't have one. He approaches barbell lifting as if it was a martial art: strict attention to form and technique. The amount of detail in his book is amazing. The anatomical information is almost but not quite an overload at times; but the bulk of the book is a very detailed and exact description of the lifts complete with all the possible errors to watch out for.

Each important lift is devoted a long chapter: squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, and power cleans. Then there's an entire chapter on how to do accessory exercises (pullups, etc), and another chapter on "programming", or how to exercise at all and not completely waste your time at the gym.

After reading about deadlifts online, I thought they were easy. My first deadlift scared the crap out of me. I was certain I going to kill my lower back if I ever did one again. After reading Rippetoe's extensive chapter on deadlifts, I feel fine doing them now. Barbell lifting is safe, but you really have to do it right. You really need this book if you don't have a coach.

If you're like me -- stupid, physically inept, and a slow learner -- I recommend supplementing this book with the Starting Strength wiki ([...])
and the Stronglifts 5x5 website. But you could certainly just follow this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginner's Mind, February 21, 2008
By 
Pat Haskell (Westford, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
The first thing I noticed when I picked up Starting Strength is that Rippetoe and Kilgore spend 60 pages on the squat. That is, put a heavy bar on your back, lower yourself down, and stand back up again - 60 pages. Sure, there are plenty of helpful illustrations and photos, but the pages are packed with text telling you how to squat. The crazy thing is, they don't really repeat themselves. Sure, they'll provide a new focal point that might help with the same aspect of form previously discussed, but they unload so much information in the pages of this book that it's stunning. I never imagined there was so much to know about putting a heavy bar on your back, lowering yourself down, and standing back up. The depth of their knowledge is stupendous and their ability to convey that knowledge clearly is equal to the task. There are many pursuits in life where you boil things down to basic principles, get the hang of it and say, "that's really not that complicated." Then, a true master comes along and renews your understanding and appreciation for detail in simple things, and you get to start all over again. Mark Rippetoe is one of those masters, and that shines through clearly in the pages of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Manual for the Big Lifts, March 20, 2008
This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
This book is quite thorough and the terminology aimed squarely at coaches. As a bioengineering student, it was especially relevant to learn about the biomechanical aspects of each lift.

For instance, explaining how holding a deep breath or wearing a belt helps during a squat was actually an engineering problem in class. Many myths are dispelled and explain that it is quite safe to let your knees travel over your toes slightly, and to squat so that your hip crease goes below the top of your knees. And more than that, it explains how beneficial it is to squat deep.

I've read through this book twice. The writing is unpretentious and the writers don't just throw around scientific terms to wow you. It is as concise as it can be, considering it troubleshoots the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, power clean, and assistance exercises. This is definitely the book to recommend to beginners.

Both my girlfriend and I do a similar 5x5 program that is recommended in this book and the results have been fantastic. We are one of the few doing squats properly in our gym. The results have been great and the lifts much more fun than just doing a million isolation exercises (such as curls and abs).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simple ideas, huge impact, September 25, 2009
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This review is from: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition (Paperback)
I am 29 years old have been training for many years now, picking up injuries due to my own stupidity and ignorance, lack of interest in hard work and the over-zealousness of my trainer. This book has changed my entire outlook towards weight training and fitness. Compound exercises are the way to go for the typical weight trainer like me and thats where this book is so valuable.

I recommend this book for the following reasons -
1. The content is straight forward, very elaborately explained, the layout of the book is very clean and eye catching.

2. The big 5 exercises explained are the 5 most important exercises in a strength trainers program (or atleast should be).

3. Very good for technique and motivation.

4. The physics is also explained in text and pictures.

5. "Must have" to perfect your form and avoid injury.

6. Very important for weight trainers of all ages, esp more important if you are older since you cannot afford injuries.

Bottom line - Highly recommended. Buy it. Read it. Understand it and PRACTICE IT.
PS - I strongly recommend the DVD for additional clarity.
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Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition
Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 2nd Edition by Mark Rippetoe (Paperback - October 21, 2007)
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