Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe

Has anyone followed the Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe? If so how did you manage to incorporate alongside endurance training? Like the simplicity of the program but Rip does seem to suggest not ideal alongside endurance stuff

I did it back in my CrossFit days. I don’t think it’s a good fit if you’re a cyclist.


I don’t follow his programming schedule, but his book Starting Strength is phenomenal for learning proper form. I do squats, deads, overhead presses, and bench presses twice a week - just with lower weights and different rep schemes.

The lifts keep me healthy and fit as an older athlete. But I’m not doing a linear progression, adding weight to the bar every week and trying to be a strength athlete.


Yeah, I think the lifts are fine. The reps may be a bit low and the weight too much. And the progression is definitely not happening past a certain point until your goal is to build muscle over endurance.

My favorite strength training book of all time. I recently switched (hard switch in 2020) from pure strength training to cycling. I’m planning to incorporate ~3 days of strength training, plus the regular cycling schedule. As we age, we benefit greatly from strength training and imo it is truly the “equalizer.”

Yes, the book isn’t big on endurance training, but they are trying to maximize muscular hypertrophy. How much you lift really depends on the type of cycling you’re planning on doing. If you’re lifting hard, you’ll know when you’re gassed :slight_smile:

1 Like

It’s pretty good for a cyclist I think for developing Strength in the off season. It’s pretty low volume with 4 exercises ( you can superset the lower and upper also for more time saving) and 3 sets of 5 Reps. I found i maxed out strength gains after 6 weeks or so as I wasn’t drinking the GOMAD (gallon of milk a day) as he suggests and you don’t want to gain the weight to keep getting stronger.
But it worked really well for me the twice I’ve done it and had huge strength gains. Hard to say if it translated to cycling but I did feel better. Actually, I might start it again.
Plus his craic is class on podcasts.

I really like the low back squat also. Much easier technically as you don’t need amazing flexibility.

1 Like

I think its a great way to get into strength training - and the linear progression is good. You will for sure plateau after the neuromuscular gains are appreciated if you don’t eat enough. The difficult part with balancing strength training and endurance training (after the initial time when your strength will skyrocket and gain some size) is eating enough.

I still lift twice a week (three times in the winter) but coupled with riding you need to eat back your calories from riding as well as more in general in order to be in a calorie surplus to appreciably gain muscle. Then you have competing interests with wanting to maintain good W/KG with riding but adding size for lifting.

Look into some of the research or podcasts about concurrent training for proper timing, etc…

1 Like

I have had the book for 10+ years and used it to get into weightlifting for its excellent guiding on proper form and approach to the big 3 of barbell powerlifting moves (squat, deadlift, bench press). I find his programming to be extremely lacking unless your goals are getting big/strong without any consideration of weight or body appearance. It remains on my shelf for reference.

That said, Mark himself is a misogynist and I discourage anyone from supporting him financially. He is a poster child for toxic masculinity.


Yea, I tried to listen to his podcast a few times. He’s not my cup of tea. But his book is the bible of form on the big lifts.

1 Like

I follow the program loosely, When the weight gets too heavy, I’ve backed off and upped the reps. Currently doing 3-4 sets of 10 reps of squats at 145 lbs and deadlifts at 220 lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps. Bench, overhead press and pulls are all accessory, so those are variable rep and weight. Me- 154 lbs at 67 years of age

1 Like

They are accessory for cyclists, but shoulder and “pull” strength are directly applicable.

One recommendation: do your overhead lifts as single-side exercises with dumbbells or kettlebells. You’ll have to do a lighter weight, but it introduces an anti rotation core element to your shoulder work that is critical for cyclists, working your obliques and serratus muscles. These are also breathing muscles which obviously applies.

Also, when you crash you’ll be happy to have strong shoulders and scapular/thoracic regions!


Off topic a bit but looks like you may want an alternative suggestion. I’ve been doing Dialed Health (owner has been on the TR podcast before) 2 days a week Mon/Fri which is fully designed for cyclists. I’ve done it 9 months now and am noticeable stronger on the bike and visually. The workouts take around 45 minutes. I had never done strength training before this.

1 Like

This! Built-in (from strength training) crash support goes a long way if/when…

I’ve used it off and on alongside bike training. It does make SS/threshold ish workouts feel harder but is otherwise manageable. The simplicity is nice and the book & app are both helpful. I’m not much of a fan of Mark himself though.

I’m not sure how much further I’ll take it before trying to level off. I’m in the vicinity of Chad’s level 3 benchmarks (except for the 15 pullups, anyhow) now.

I always thought the pullup standards were out of whack with the rest of the standards - full-on pull ups are hard as hell.

1 Like

Another unsolicited rec:

If you can schedule it, do your strength training on the same day as, but after (preferably four or more hours after) your interval session.

Keeps your easy days easy, and necessarily prevents strength work from limiting your hard bike sessions. I’ve had no problems doing 4hr zone 2 rides the day after threshold + weight lifting.


Yeah, I could do 15 pullups back when I was running a lot and climbing 3-4x per week. Though I’d have gotten nowhere close to the other metrics at the time.

1 Like

I did the full shebang when I started weightlifting about 10 years ago, starting strength + GOMAD. Went from about 165 to 205 over 6 months, and was the strongest and most muscular I have ever been.

However, SS is a tough program to use with other sport like cycling. Once you get well into the progression, the lifts are heavy and very taxing. The workouts also get very long as you end up needing big recovery times between sets.

I think it most suitable to run as an off-season cycle, especially if strictly following the linear progression. Then switch to maintenance when you become more cycling focused.

I prefer using a variant of 5/3/1 where the progressions are slower. I tend to lift throughout the year so I don’t need to blast through a program during the base/offseason. SS was just too much too fast.

The form recommendations are designed to prevent injury and to recruit the largest amount muscle over the longest effective range of motion. They are worth paying attention to.

SS is brutally effective, but it’s intended for maximum strength acquisition in the shortest period of time. It’s meant to be done on a calorie surplus with no competing resource demands: results will be compromised if you diet and cycle at the same time. But you know that is going to be the case with all strength programmes: the difference with SS is that - even if you try to screw up the programme- you will still get stronger, just not as strong!