Is Starting Strength a Bad Routine For Muscle Growth? It's fine. Don't bother overthinking. You are natural anyway.

| by Truth Seeker |

The online muscle consciousness needed a long time to realize that the popular training program Starting Strength does not promote as much muscle growth as it was originally believed. You are certainly not gaining 60lbs of red meat during your first year of training even if you drink your milk and do squats with plenty of hip drive.

I am truly sorry, but that’s life, dear, baby mammal!

However, does this make Starting Strength a poor routine for hypertrophy gains or maybe the disappointment comes mainly from having exceptionally high expectations due to brainwashing and propaganda?

Is Starting Strength bad for muscle growth because of its low volume?

First off, I don’t think that Starting Strength is exactly a low volume routine as far as some muscle groups are concerned. The hips get hit with great intensity (heavy weight) 3 times a week. That’s certainly enough to cause some growth in the area. The same is true for the front deltoids which are worked pretty hard by the bench and the overhead press three times a week too.

Therefore, I don’t see why the volume of Starting Strength would be an obstacle stopping your lower body and front shoulders from growing.

I used to believe that you need an enormous amount of volume (reps and sets) to gain muscle mass because the mainstream muscle media has been suggesting this for a long time.

That’s why I did high volume madness like Serge Nubret’s training routine which is basically the king of volume.

It didn’t work for me. I didn’t report growth after a year of similar training.

Honestly, there are much more important factors for muscle growth than exercise volume. One of them would be our natural testosterone levels.

Obviously, girls will remain smaller than men regardless of training volume.


Because high volume does not overcome low testosterone. The body produces a limited amount of test, which is one of the main limitations that natural bodybuilders face. After a certain threshold, you are not allowed to gain more muscle regardless of training. To get to that point, you can follow low or high volume routines – it does not matter, as long as you put some decent effort into what you are doing.

With that said, Starting Strength can definitely benefit from a few high rep back-off sets here and there. Adding assistance exercises such as chin-ups, pull-overs, calf work, rowing variations, and curls is also fine in my book. Don’t worry! Similar additions will not steal your strength progress, as long as they are programmed correctly.

I thought that squats and deadlifts increase your testosterone levels. Did they lie to me?

I guess they did. There isn’t any evidence suggesting that squats and deadlifts increase your test levels to the point where you “grow like a weed”. That never happened and anybody telling you otherwise is either a liar or simply delusional.

Starting Strength’s diet of squats and deads will not raise your testosterone levels to the point where your musculature is ripping clothes and turning heads. I would be one of the happiest people on Earth if that was true, but it isn’t.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe that Starting Strength is the worse routine for muscle growth, although I would definitely change many things about it without feeling guilty that I am “not doing the f**** program” as the popular quote says.

What people forget, however, is that Starting Strength is designed for beginners. Therefore, it will always work to some degree regardless of its flaws.

Imagine the following. You are are trying to learn a new language, but at the moment, you don’t know a single word. When you are at this stage, any teacher will get you to a higher level as long as you do your homework.

This essentially means that initially almost any program will give you the so-called noobs gains.

Who has the best routine for muscle growth?


I am not a science guy, as you can probably already tell. I am also not the type of guy who will quote five different studies just to prove a simple and obvious point.

Yet I can still tell you with certainty that nobody has the complete blueprint to building muscle mass as far as the training part is concerned.

At the end of the day, there are two main things to remember.

  1. You have to put in some serious effort to expect results and progression.
  2. As a natural, you are very limited in terms of muscular potential which makes hypertrophy discussions and analysis like this even less productive. We can talk all day what’s better for your muscles, but would you still care if you knew that you will only gain 5 pounds more until the end of your life? Probably not.

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