To Switch from HST to Stronglifts/Starting Strength


Been on HST since October (after not training for months and then training as an ill-informed high schooler for years beforehand and not making any progress), and gained about 15lb-20lb of strength per arm (since I've been using dumbbells) for all my lifts. So if we're looking at combined lifting numbers, that's 30lb-40lb past starting PRs. I consider that pretty good. Weirdly enough, though I did gain some muscle, and have been consistently eating around 3k cals a day, I've only managed to gain 5lb since October, which is weird considering I'm 5'8, 150lbish pounds, and don't do any cardio. Diet's good too - almost always complex carbs, lean meats, peanutbutter, fish, diary, etc. I would have figured I'd be around 165-170lb now - mostly from fat lol. Beats me. I certainly don't look very ectomorphic, if that concept is even valid anymore.Anyway, the one thing I regret is neglecting my lower body, partially due to the fact that I didn't have the necessary equipment to work it sufficiently (I have an adjustable dumbbell...that's adjustable dumbbell, that goes up to 100lb. Hence I work each arm independently for all my lifts but haven't been able to squat or deadlift). So I figure I'm going to join the gym once I finish up this cycle of HST so I can start squating and deadlifting. As it stands, I'm starting to become more interested in strength than aesthetics, so I want to focus on that come after this HST cycle, and am wondering if switching to a program like Stronglifts will be beneficial to my altering endeavors. Now I know that Stronglifts uses submaximal weights just like HST, but that's essentially where the similarities end. It's more focused on the CNS.Now, knowing what I want to achieve, would a switch be beneficial and cause more rapid increases in strength than what I've experienced on HST (excluding the obvious noobie gains I'll get from squating/deadlifting because I haven't been able to do those exercises) or is this all hogwash and should I stick with HST? If I'm still in the realm of 150lb by the time I finish up this 4th cycle of HST, I'm not going to cut, simply because I don't feel I'm at the point where I need to, so I'd probably end up doing Stronglifts on a bulk as well.Thanks, folks ;). Don't know why the hell my line breaks don't show sorry for the lack of paragraphs.
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First here’s how you can fit the formatting issue:

Without knowing what your strength goals are it’s impossible to say whether program hopping is going to help you. Do you plan on powerlifting, strongman competitions, crossfit competitions or some other job/sport specific goals?

Keep in mind HST is a set of principle not the vanilla 15s, 10s, 5s routine most people associate with it. HST principle will build strength as well as some other programs maybe even better for some people you just need to apply the principles differently and/or may need to implement sport specific training to target a specific need not addressed in a routine weightlifting program.
Thanks for the link to the fix for the formatting issue.

My primary goal as of now is to get stronger over anything else. I don't plan to compete in powerlifting or any sort of strength specific sport. I just want to build up my core lifts: Bench, Press, Row, Squat, DL.

So far, like I said, strength has steadily increased about 5lb per arm/2 months, along with some muscle mass. I know that regardless of a program, I'll be seeing gains on my deadlift and squat when I start doing them, because I haven't been able to squat or deadlift since I started HST in October (due to lack of equipment). But I was wondering if I'll see any sort of dramatic increase in the net amount of strength I gain overall (on all my core lifts) if I switch to a program like Stronglifts, which focuses on less frequency and more volume per movement pattern.

Yes, HST is a guiding principle, first and foremost, but I would think that if I want a program tailored to strength over hypertrophy (as opposed to HST, where strength is gained pretty much due to the fact that muscle size is increasing - hence hypertrophy is the key desire of those who use the basic program) would ditch the 15 rep range and 10 rep range altogether - even though yes, I know that the mesocycles are a method of continuing progressive overload as one lifts less weight the more repetitions they do per set.

And if I were to continue with HST's principles, how would I tailor the program to what I want to do, considering all of the above?

Would I start at like 50% of my 5 rep max of all my exercises, and do 5x5, slowly progressing 2.5lb per arm (5lb per movement pattern) until I hit 100%, and then push beyond, before deloading? That's using progressive overload and submaximal weights...but it also sounds a lot like 5x5.
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I can’t say one way or another if you will see more strength gains by switching to 5x5 but there are some things that I’m sure of.

First your early gains in deadlift squat and maybe even bench press since you’ve been using only DBs are going to come from neural adaptation. It’s possible that you might actually see better gains with HST since you will be doing more reps starting out with lighter weights allowing you to “find the grove” developing proper form in which case you’re neuromuscular system may adapt faster. So since you’re just starting out in the gym I would ease into allowing your body to adapt to the different exercises.

Second 5x5 will burn most people out quickly not to mention the odd are that just starting out you won’t need anywhere near that volume to hit your max strength increase potential. Something like 3x5 or Ripptoe’s Starting Strength would be better for that not to mention if you watch his videos you’re going to learn how to do most exercises correctly.

If you think Starting Strength is too basic then I would recommend Wendler’s 5 3 1 since it has you cycling through intensity and volume ranges to both enhance strength and slow burnout. IMO both SS and 5 3 1 should work better and longer for strength gains than 5x5 but that’s based only on theory and not personal experience.

If your concern is that people in the gym will see you pushing light weights then suck it up. I’m powerlifting now and on speed days only do 50%-60% of my 1RMs for 3, 2, and 1 rep sets respectively on Bench, Squat and Deadlift. While it might look gay I’ll challenge anyone in the gym to do the same and not feel when they were done like they’d been hit by a train.
You think Starting Strength would be effective for all the lifts I have been doing (not squads and deadlifts)?

I'm thinking I might stall out a lot sooner with SS if I did the program with every core exercise I have been doing for 6 months (DB bench, DB shoulder press, DB row, isolation stuff), so maybe continuing HST but doing SS for squat and deadlift might work better?

Also, I checked out Wendler's program and it looks cool but I see that the assistance work recommended is repeating the core lift 5 more times for 10 reps with 50% rep max and then doing another exercise of your choice. Is that really necessary, especially for someone like myself? You mentioned that 5x5's volume might be too much for someone at my training age so maybe that aspect of the assistance work (the repetition of 5x10 @ 50%) could be cut out if I theoretically started Wendler's program now.

That's why I'm thinking SS might be a better starting point, at least for my squat and deadlift. Maybe 5/3/1 down the road after SS stops working.
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If you only gained 5 lbs then you weren't eating enough, simple as that. Doesn't matter how "good" you think your diet is. Sounds like your diet was great, just not enough. Up the calories. If you were eating enough to grow, you would have grown more but you didn't. A good rule of thumb is 18-20 x your bodyweight in calories to gain. You're doing everything right, just not getting in quite enough food is all. I'd urge you to count calories for a week or two and make sure you are getting 3000 calories a day, with at least 150-200 grams of that being protein and see how that feels. Counting calories sucks but it is the only way to be sure unless you pay someone to make a meal plan for you. But after a couple weeks you would be familiar with how much food 3000 calories is, so you should be able to keep gaining. Remember that as you grow, you will have to increase calories accordingly in order to continue growing too.

I'd highly recommend attempting to invest in a barbell. You can get a decent olympic barbell with a pair of 45s, 35s, 25s, 10s and 5s usually at any sporting goods store for just over $100 if you look for a good deal. Or keep watching craigslist. That's where I amassed my weight set. Before I sold it, I had five barbells and over 2000 lbs in plates. I would purchase benches people were selling with weights included for like $50-$100 then give the bench to goodwill and keep the weights. Having a barbell and plenty of plates will increase your effectiveness with your workouts. Once in a while you might find a good power rack of craigslist for cheap too, which was how I got mine. I paid $250 for a rack that originally retailed at close to 1000. Building up your home gym is definitely a smart investment if you can be patient and keep your eyes open for the right deals.

5x5, SS and 531 are all good programs and they all pretty much are still HST compliant so of course they will work. DC is another one that is great for both size and strength gains.
Have a sprained ankle so sitting at home; mehhh.

I'd love a home gym if I didn't live in a tiny apartment. No room. San Francisco is unfortunately an extremely expensive city to live in. Luckily YMCA is only $40/month and I can afford that. Gonna start there in early June.

And I do count calories. I take in about 2700 a day. But I shall up it to 3000 or beyond as you suggested. Protein consumption stands around 150 grams. Was taking casein before bed which probably brought it closer to 200 but the powder tasted like plastic and didn't mix well with water. Now I eat a Greek Yogurt lol. Might need to invest in Casein again.

I guess what seems the most logical is continuing HST since the strength gains definitely haven't stopped (with an exception of dumbbell curls, but I'm going to switch to barbell after I get gym access - which might also improve my form too). Though I think I'm going to do SS for deads and squats as 15 rep squats and deads seem puke worthy and my lower body is essentially untrained with the exception of my genetically massive calves.

Then maybe down the line I'll switch to Wendler for everything since it looks fun.

Thanks for the detailed responses, guys. I really appreciate it.
If you are counting calories, then that's great. That makes it a lot easier to troubleshoot issues with weight gain. So yeah, start out with 3000 and see if you start gaining. You need to weigh daily at the same time each day and track that, then track weekly changes. You will have fluctuations from day to day due to water weight changes but you want to see an overall trend of 2 lbs a week average increase. And if not, then up the calories more.

I hate casein. Have you tried whey? It's a lot cheaper. Yogurt is good too though. I like to make a shake with yogurt, whey and milk. Add some sugar or splenda for taste, a little bit of fruit. Tastes great.
Hmm something wrong with the forums...

Yeah, I supplement with Whey after my workout. Just str8 up Whey. The **** I buy from Trader Joe's mixes so much better than what I have currently; Six Star or whatever.

Now hopefully my ankle is healed enough in a month that I can do lower body work. Wanna get my numbers up man.

Question; I haven't been making progress with bicep curls since last cycle. I've also got tendinosis in my right wrist which bothers me when I do 'em. I only want one movement for bicep isolation (don't wanna be a curlbro); so should I switch to hammers (they don't bother my wrist) or wait until I join the gym and then do EZ bar or straight bar?

Note that I'm not switching to a new movement midcycle (starting on 5s now)...but if curls are bothering my wrist too much I might just drop bicep work til I start in the gym.
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Honestly, I never go heavier than my 8 RM on curls for the same reason. It seems to aggravate the tendons. I don't see any problem in keeping the curls at a higher rep range than the rest of your lifts, this is what I do and what I recommend.

That said, if hammer curls don't bother then by all means switch. If something is bothering your connective tissues or joints, it is always best to drop or replace it.
Yeah, I'm finding that low rep **** doesn't quite work for isolation movements.

Screw dumbbell rows. **** got me stronger but I just don't like 'em. Unfortunately I thought I was stuck with them because I screwed up the AC joint in my right shoulder way back in July and was getting pain on pullups as of as recently as a month ago. But I knocked out 10 today with no shoulder pain (haven't done a full set of pullups since last summer). And I'm likely 15lb heavier than I was when I was pumping out 15-20. So gonna scrap dumbbell row for good ol' pullups again come next cycle and hopefully break my old PR soon.

In other news, the two movements that have really skyrocketed since I started up again are my dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell bench (on a ****ing laptop stand, talk about ghetto). I guess I've benefited because I've had only one dumbbell, so I've been having to stabilize myself as a mofo on heavier sets. Feel like I might just surpass the PR I set for myself when I hit my 5 rep max next workout.

Also, bad news - gotta have my left foot in an ortho boot for a month since I apparently have a Grade III sprain (complete tear), and then HOPEFULLY, if everything heals up the way it's supposed to, I can start rehab and then get into squatting and deadlifting.

Sucks cuz last year, right when I was going to start squatting and deadlifting, I tore my meniscus. Seems like someone or something doesn't want me working my lower body :mad:
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Tango, I'm from SF too. Don't pay 40 for YMCA man. Get the 24 hour fitness at Costco. 320 for 2 years, that's like less than 14 a month. Or join planet fitness, I think those are 15 a month, no initiation fees. Small gyms I heard though.

Toten or anyone else. What is a good way to count calories? I always eat out so I don't know the portion or nutrition facts. Any way to ballpark it?
Depends on where you eat out. Most places have a website with nutritional data. That's what I do and then I use to track but there are tons of apps and whatnot to track calories. Any place you eat is pretty much required by law (I guess this might vary on what state you are in) to have nutritional information available, so you can just ask them too.