29 Explanations – No. 13 Bill Starr

If you just used Bill Starr’s training programs for your whole lifting life you’d be set.

“Starr became one of the first strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL when he joined the Baltimore Colts in 1970. His resume includes a long list of positions held and writing for some of the biggest magazines of the era. Suffice it to say, he’s been around the world of strength for a pretty long time, and knows that world like the back of his hand!” (Quote from an article by Dr. Fred Hatfield who himself is a world reknown Strength Coach, Author and Record Setting Powerlifter)

Originally Bill was a weightlifter when the Clean and Press (Bill cleaned 446lbs!) was still very much a part of weightlifting (The lifts then were the Clean and Press, The Snatch and The Clean and Jerk). He lifted for York under the reign of Bob Hoffman and soon Hoffman put his talent for writing about training to use in the pages of Strength and Health magazine.

Bill’s most famous (but by no means his only) training program was the 5×5 method.

His routine focused on bench presses, squats and power cleans, done on a Monday – Wednesday – Friday rotation with heavy, medium and light days. Bill Starr popularized the “5×5″ routine – each exercise was done following a protocol of five sets of five reps. Starr’s 5×5 routine uses the three exercises which Starr referred to as “the big three”, quoting Starr:

These are 3 basic exercises used by weightlifters to increase their strength….the football player (and you can insert Martial Artist, Fighter, whatever there) must work for overall body strength as opposed to specific strengthening exercises….In other words the athlete should be building total leg strength rather than just stronger hamstrings. He should be seeking overall strength in his shoulder girdle rather than just stronger deltoids….the program is fast, simple and, most importantly, effective. It requires very little space and a minimum of equipment….”

Bill just got it!

He just looked at an athletes needs and applied that to progressive weight training. He was one of the first to understand and implement the idea of ‘show with go’. Bill wanted him and his athletes to look strong but he also wanted them to BE STRONG.

Bill also used the heavy, light medium method to allow for proper recovery and training adaption. He also touted the Incline Bench press over the regular flat Bench Press, feeling that the incline position was more beneficial to athletes (especially American Football and Throwing sports).

I have been reading Bill’s work for well over 20 years and I am sure I haven’t read it all.

A great deal of his writing can be found here…Bill Starr

ALL of his programs have merit and ALL of them are superior to nearly everything you will read that is ‘new’ today and that’s because nothing is new. Bill came up with much of what you see in modern strength training and he needs to be touted as the visionary that he was and is.

All you have to do is go to the link above or type in Bill Starr to google and there are hundreds of QUALITY programs to get you bigger and stronger.

Bill’s the man!



Bill’s Books and articles can be read here

The Strongest Shall Survive

Defying Gravity

Starting Strength


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