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Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!


New member
ok madcow
i have some opinions on the program so far, and let me see if you agree with me on this:

very good power program
but may not be the ideal program for a body builder?
i kinda feel like my chest and shoulders dont get enough work
but one thing i am likeing, is my back and quads suck, and this program seems to be great for them

could i be safe in thinking that this program would be best run for a bber once or twice a year, sandwhiched between more hst style training?


New member
As far as a whole year program, everyone who isn't a novice or making great consistent progress is best served by altering their programs during different periods throughout the year. While some people can hammer at the same thing and make progress for longer than others, if you want optimal progress you are going to have to tailor your training cycle to your own needs. I think the link in my previous post to the TOC topic 'Beyond the 5x5' or some such is a better way to approach it.

The real benefit from this program other than putting a lot of size on people and making them strong (plus breaking the bullshit BBer training faux pas against squatting 3x per week and such) is that it is a very easy and clear illustration of dual factor training and proper periodization. In addition, as one selects weights and runs through the program, people begin to learn about their tolerances. The whole thing is meant to be more instructive rather than any type of "just do this forever" although it does provide some great benefits and a fantastic foundation.

For your specific question on Chest - I don't know. Everyone is different to a degree (but no where near to the degree that people use in BBing to cop out on having any type of organized training program). If your best 1x5 and 5x5 on the bench along with best overhead 5x5 are increasing consistently, it's fairly hard to argue that you aren't getting enough work to make progress. You could try changing the bench pyramid on Friday to a constant 5x5 repeat of Monday. That would increase the amount of work if you wanted to stick with this structure and felt that your bench required more volume to be optimal. Maybe something in your structure doesn't provide as much pec emphasis in benching as it does for others. Not sure, but this is what designing longer training cycles and programs are all about - to address weaknesses whether strength imbalance or cosmetic.

Anyway, a BBer could certainly run this as a foundation style program and use different training styles in the middle (but don't go back to the bodypart 1x per week training to failure crap). Perhaps focus on higher rep ranges for a period - the strength and power in this program will segway nicely into improved 8-10 rep performance over a period. They could also design 4 week mesocycles around addressing weak points or whatever other special need was there. This might be a decent read for a few people:


New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

PART I - Understanding the Basis and Theory
Courtesy of Matt Reynolds -

This was cut/pasted from this document which provides a much clearer spreadsheet view of a sample 8 week program than this forum allows:
CORE Performance Article Pt 1:
CORE Performance Article Pt 2:

Thread Sequence:

Madcow2 said:
I thought this might be a useful addition for some people. This is a bit more complex than the dual factor 5x5 but it's another very solid program as well as an illustration of how this can be implemented in your macro training cycle plan. There is also a lot more room for specialized lifting which might allow some people to address weak points while staying within the parameters of an existing, well laid out program that emphasises hypertrophy and has been proven to get results in a wide range of lifters. Particularly for those who might not be comfortable yet in creating their own specialized meso and macrocycles to accomplish this. All that said, the assumption is being made here that you have a pretty solid foundation - if you aren't at that point single factor or more simple dual factor workouts (i.e. the BS/JS182 5x5) remain your best bet until you reach that point. This is probably a worthwhile read on how this program can be organized and implemented over a longer period into an organized macrocycle type layout:

It's worth noting that quite a few people have run this in conjunction with the dual factor Bill Starr/JS182 based 5x5, alternating between them or in some combination (i.e. shorter periods of each). They've been quite happy with the results. I'll also note that there are a few points that I'm not in total agreement with i.e. wide stance PL squats being absolutely supperior for development to all other variations but this is minutia for the most part and I'm not even sure if Matt still holds that view although it is more popular in the PL world and there is no definitive right answer.

As far as answering questions or theory on this program, I'm going to defer those to Matt. His contact info is above and he regularly posts at along with a bunch of other very knowledgable coaches and athletes. That said, please make sure you've read everything including the more recent CORE source articles linked above so he doesn't get bombarded with a bunch of questions that are already provided for.

Dual Factor Hypertrophy Training:

Note: first off, I'd like to thank AngelFace, JohnSmith, and Gavin for contributing to this article.

There are basically two accepted theories in the world of weight training. One is called Supercompensation (or Single Factor Theory), and the other is called the Fitness Fatigue Theory (or Dual Factor Theory). Bodybuilding tends to follow the Supercompensation way of thinking, while virtually every field of strength and conditioning, athletics, etc. follows the Dual Factor Theory. The reasoning that almost everyone involved in strength training adheres to the Dual Factor Theory is because there is scientific proof that it works, not to mention that the eastern bloc countries that have adhered to this theory have kicked America's ass at every Olympics since the 1950s.

Bodybuilding, for years, has basically ignored Dual Factor Theory and opted for Single Factor Theory training. In the following paragraphs, I hope to prove to you why Dual Factor Theory should be accepted, taught, and adhered to in the world of bodybuilding as well as all other athletes concerned with strength and conditioning.

Note: The one exception to the rule of "all bodybuilding programs based on Supercompensation" is Bryan Haycock's HST, which, from Bryan's own mouth, says that it wasn't based on dual factor theory, although he hit it dead-on, on all points. What I didn't care for personally with HST is that the same amount of importance is placed on the 15-rep phase and the negative rep phase as with the 10 rep and 5 rep phases. The thickness that rep ranges in the 3-8 range provide are far more impressive to me personally than those who focus on 12-15 rep schemes and countless negatives. I also wasn't excited about working the entire body in one workout. The CNS drain was unbelievable. – However, in saying that, HST is the best I've seen compared to everything else out there, and I did make good progress on it.

The Supercompensation Theory has been, in the bodybuilding community, the most widely accepted school of thought. However, people are beginning to see it as a bit too simplistic (the strength and conditioning and athletic movements have never accepted this practice). The theory itself is based on the fact that training depletes certain substances (like glycogen, and slowing protein synthesis). Training is seen as catabolic, draining the body of its necessary nutrients and fun stuff. So to grow, according to the theory, the body must then be rested for the appropriate/ optimal amount of time, AND, it (the body) must be supplied with all the nutrients it lost. If both of these things are done correctly, then theoretically your body will increase protein synthesis and store more nutrients than it originally had! (i.e. – your muscles will be bigger!)

So obviously the most important part of this theory is TIMING! (Specifically concerning the rest period). But that's where the problem comes in. "If the rest period was too short, then the individual would not be completely recovered and as such the training would deplete the substance even more, which over a period of time would result in overtraining and a loss of performance. If the rest interval were too long then the training would lose its stimulus property, and the individual would recover completely and lose the window of opportunity to provide the stimulus again. If the interval is optimal then improvements surely follow" (AF).

"So, given the one factor theory (Supercompensation), which looks at physical ability as, of course, one factor, you are left with the problem of timing workouts to correspond to the supercompensation wave... anything sooner or later will lead to a useless workout"(JS).

Another issue concerning the Supercompensation/ Single Factor Theory is that of FAILURE. Almost every program that utilizes this type of training advocates the use of muscle/ CNS failure, and then fully rest, and then beat the crap out of your muscles again, then rest, etc (I'm referring to the "work one bodypart per day, six days per week" program as well as HIT, popularized by Mike Mentzer). The issue is that it has now been proven that total failure is not necessarily needed for optimal growth. It has been shown that leaving a rep or two in the tank can and will yield the same results AND therefore a shorter rest period will be needed and less accumulation of fatigue will still be present by the time the next training session rolls around.

A Better Way…

The Dual Factor Theory, also called Fitness Fatigue Theory is somewhat more complex than the Supercompensation Theory. The theory is based on the fact that an individual's fitness and fatigue are totally independent of each other. This theory is entirely dependant on one's base conditioning (or physical preparedness or fitness). The thing is, when you have a high level of fitness (or conditioning/ preparedness) this level changes fairly slowly. This is because over the short term fitness does not fluctuate often. (However, fatigue can change (increase or decrease) fairly quickly when compared to fitness).

"The theory works like an equilibrium in that training will have an immediate effect on the body (similar to supercompensation). This effect is the combination of fatigue and gain (again, remember the equilibrium thing). So after a workout, because of the stimulus that training provides, preparedness/conditioning/fitness increases (gain) but at the same time will decrease due to fatigue from the training."

"So, the outcome of the training session is the result of both the positive and negative consequences of the training session. These two outcomes depend on time. By striking the correct balance, fatigue should be large in extent but short in how long it lasts. Gain on the other hand should be moderate, however, and is longer in duration. Typically the relationship is 1:3; if fatigue lasts x amount of time, then gain lasts 3x amount of time."

"Given the two factor theory, which separates physical fitness or preparedness and fatigue, you see that the timing of individual workouts is unimportant to long term gains (unlike Supercompensation)... in other words regardless of whether or not fatigue is or is not present, fitness can and will still be increased" (which is the goal)...

So what you get concerning the two-factor theory is a period of peaking fatigue (maybe 6 weeks), followed by a period of rest (maybe 2 weeks deloading, then one or two weeks of total rest). You view entire weeks and maybe months as you would have viewed just one workout with the single factor theory. For example, in the single factor theory, one workout represents a period of fatigue. But, in the two-factor theory, 6 weeks would represent a period of fatigue. In the single factor theory, a day or two (up to a week) represents a period of rest. But in the two-factor theory, up to four weeks may represent a period rest.

"What is important to note is there is almost universal agreement among scientists and athletes and coaches in all sports EXCEPT bodybuilding that the two factor theory is correct and the single factor theory is not correct and is in fact suitable only for beginners to follow when planning training."

"It is also important to note that most athletes in most sports are experiencing some level of constant fatigue ALWAYS, except for maybe a couple of weekends a year, when they are peaking. Training takes place daily against a backdrop of fatigue". Therefore, you should be able to see why, concerning the single factor theory, it would be very hard to ever fully recover, unless you sat on your ass for two weeks and did nothing."
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New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

PART II - Application
Courtesy of Matt Reynolds -


This was cut/pasted from this document which provides a much clearer spreadsheet view of a sample 8 week program than this forum allows:
CORE Performance Article Pt 1:
CORE Performance Article Pt 2:

Applying it to the real world…

When setting up dual factor periodization for the bodybuilder, it is important to remember to plan for periods of fatigue and periods of rest. During a fatigue period (say, 3 weeks), you slowly build up fatigue, and never fully recover. Then you have a period of recovery (another 1-3 weeks) where you train with reduced frequency, volume, or intensity. (My preference is to keep intensity high, while drastically lowering volume and slightly lowering frequency.) At any rate, the fatiguing and recovery periods most likely won't be as drastic for a bodybuilder as it would for a strength athlete because there will be no peaking phase for performance (at no point are you required as a bodybuilder to perform a competition based on strength). Additionally, bodybuilders need less fatigue and more recovery present at any given time (outside of the actual training sessions) when compared to strength athletes.

So here's what I've come up with…

• The general layout of the program will be to train upper body twice per week and lower body twice per week (so, we'll be providing double the training stimulus of typical one bodypart per day programs). The workouts will be fairly intense, heavy on free weight compound exercises, lower volume (per workout, and drastically lower volume per bodypart), and higher frequency than normal bodybuilding workouts. (Now, again, this is individual). Some of you won't be able to handle this amount of frequency yet, because your fitness level sucks. Some powerlifters, OLY lifters, and other strength athletes train up to 20 or 30 times each week (and most of them a minimum of 10 times per week) because their fitness level is so high. – If you find this level of frequency is too high, shorten the loading period and lengthen the recovery period, at first. Or, reduce the frequency to training three times per week, on a Mon, Wed, Fri, scheme, etc. – until your preparedness is increased, and your body can handle the frequency.)

The real difference is in failure and periodization (this is so each body part can be trained twice per week as opposed to only once)…

• No exercise should be taken to failure when using submaximal reps, however, all exercises should be taken to within one or two reps of failure by the final set of the exercise. If muscular failure is reached, there is no way you can train with an increased frequency without overtraining.

• Periodization will be individual to the lifter. However, for the sake of this program a 3-week period of loading followed by one week of recovery is given. (Additionally, if one isn't fully recovered after the one week recovery period, and fatigue still builds, increase the recovery period to two weeks, or have a "recovery month" every 4 or 5 months where you'll have one week of loading and three weeks of recovery during that month to allow your body to fully recover.)

• Progressive Overload is absolutely imperative in every exercise, making sure that load or reps are increased, or that rest periods are decreased to keep intensity high (during loading phases). (Of course, during the recovery phases, if volume is lowered, and frequency reduced slightly, then intensity can and should still be kept high, although the load should be reduced just slightly (approx. 10%) as there is no reason to attempt to set records through progressive overload during this time of recovery.)

• Many different rep ranges will be used. I am partial to the use of rep ranges in the 3-10 range, as it tends to give the lifter a great balance of extreme muscle thickness (like the look of a bodybuilder with a powerlifting background) as well as great neural efficiency.

A. Use of Neural Efficiency (as well as some Myofibral Hypertrophy) occurs in rep ranges of 1-3. (Neural Efficiency increases the percentage of motor units that can be activated at any given time. There is little to no effect on size but increases strength will be great. Little to no protein turnover occurs in this rep range as load is too high and mechanical work is too low.)

B. Mostly Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy and very little Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy occur with rep ranges of 3-5. (Sarcomere hypertrophy increases contractile proteins in muscle thereby increasing strength directly and also size. Book knowledge suggests that growth here will be mostly myofibral/ sarcomere hypertrophy and will be accompanied with strength gains in other rep ranges and improvements in neural efficiency. Therefore this is perhaps the best rep range for increasing strength. Better balance of load / work done for hypertrophy so no surprises there.)

C. Myofibral, Sarcomere, and Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (lots of growth as well strength gain within this rep range with little transfer to 1rm) occur with rep ranges of 5-10. (Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy does not directly increase strength but can affect it by increasing tendon angle at the attachment - but of course it increases size.)

D. Some Sarcoplasmic with little Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy occur in rep ranges of 10-15. (More fatigue and a greater extent of waste products are associated with this rep range. Possible increase in capillary density.)

E. Capillary density increases with little Sarcoplasmic growth with rep ranges above 15. (Muscle endurace begins to become a factor (but who needs that?). Also, waste products are intense – lactic acid buildup to the point of making some individuals sick.)

Here's the breakdown:

Session A (Monday):
* (-)Low Incline Barbell Press/ Closegrip/ 5 Board Closegrip
Dips (Low Chest Dips Followed by one set of Tricep Dips)
Dumbell Extensions
(-)Seated Military Press
Dumbell Overhead Press
Barbell Rows
Upright Rows
(-)Barbell Curls
Dumbell Curls
Forearms (one superset of wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and twists)

Session B (Thursday):
(-)Decline Dumbell Press
Flat Flys
*Push Press
Low Cable Rows
Lateral Raises (rear, followed by side), Rotator Work (front, side, and rear)
Skull Crushers
(-)Barbell Curls
Hammer Curls
Forearms (one superset)

Lower Body:

Lower Back
Abs, Obliques

Session C (Tuesday):

Hack Squats (Old school barbell style are my favorite)
Straight Leg Deadlifts
Reverse Hypers

Session D (Friday):

Squats (lighter)
*Deadlifts/ Trap Shrugs
Front Squats
Glute/Ham/Calf Raises
Donkey Calves
Reverse Hypers
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New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

PART III - Sample Program
Courtesy of Matt Reynolds -

This was cut/pasted from this document which provides a much clearer spreadsheet view of a sample 8 week program than this forum allows:
CORE Performance Article Pt 1:
CORE Performance Article Pt 2:

Madcow2 said:
Easiest to view by downloading the complete MS Word doc available at the following link - there's just no way I'm typing in the ..... to make this legible on this forum software:

Here's the spreadsheet layout of the program set up on an 8 week periodization schedule; 3 weeks of loading, followed by a week of deloading, followed by three more weeks of loading, followed by another week of deloading...

Session A: Monday Typical Week A Week B Week C Week R (rest) Week D (high) Week E Week F (low) Week R (rest)
rduc load 10% rduc load 10%
*Low Incline Bench Press 3x5 (-) max 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 2x12 3x5 (-) 3x3 3x5
Closegrip Bench Press 1x8 1x8 1x8 1x8 1x12 1x8 2x5
5 Board Closegrip Bench Press 1x8 1x8 1x8 1X8 1x10 1x8 2x3
Chest Dips, then Tricep Dips 2x10, 1x10 2x10, 1x10 2x10, 1x10 2x10, 1x10 1x10, 1x10 1x15, 1x15 2x10, 1x10 2x5, 1x5 1x10, 1x10
Dumbell Extensions 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 1x15 2x10 2x6 2x10
Seated Military Press 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 2x12 3x5 (-) 3x3 3x5
Dumbell Overhead Press 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 1x15 2x8 2x6
Barbell Rows 3x8 3x8 3x8 3x8 3x8 2x12 3x8 4x3 or 3x5 3x8
Pulldowns (wide grip) 2x8 (-) 2x8 (-) 2x8 (-) 2x8 (-) 2x15 2x8 (-) 3x5
Upright Rows 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x15 2x10 3x8 2x10
Barbell Curls 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x10 2x15 2x10 (-) 3x6 2x10
Dumbell Curls 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 1x15 2x8 2x6
Forearms 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45

Session B: Thursday

Decline Dumbell Press 3x8 (-) 3x8 (-) 3x8 (-) 3x8 (-) 2x8 2x15 3x8 (-) 1x5, 1x4, 1x3 2x8
Flat Flys 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 1x8 1x15 2x8 2x6 1x8
*Push Press 3x3-5 3x3-5 3x3-5 max 3x3 2x12 3x3-5 3x3 3x3
Pullups (wide grip) 3xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 2xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 3xfailure (-) 2xfailure (-)
Low Cable Rows 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x15 2x8 3x5
Lateral Raises (rear, side) 2 sprsets x10 2 sprsets x10 2 sprsets x10 2 sprsets x10 1x15 2 sprsets x10 2x8
Rotator Work 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 1x15 2x10 2x10
Skull Crushers 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x15 2x8 3x5 2x8
Barbell Curls 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 (-) 3x5 2x15 3x5 (-) 2x6 3x5
Pushdowns 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x10 (-) 2x15 2x10 (-) 3x6
Hammer Curls 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 1x15 2x8 2x6
Forearms 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45 1x45

Session C: Tuesday Typical Week A Week B Week C Week R (rest) Week D (high) Week E Week F (low) Week R (rest)
rduc load 10% rduc load 10%
*Squats 5x5 max 5x5 5x5 3x5 5x5 5x5 5x3 3x5
*Goodmornings 3x5 3x5 max 3x5 2x5 2x10 3x5 3x3 2x5
*Cleans 3x5 3x5 3x5 max 2x5 1x15 3x5 3x3 2x5
Hack Squats 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x15 2x8 3x5
Straight-Leg Deadlifts 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x15 2x8 3x5
Calves 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10 2x20 3x10 5x5
Reverse Hypers 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10
Abdominals 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10 2x10 2x20 3x10 4x5 2x10
Obliques 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x20 1x10 2x5 1x10

Session D: Friday

Squats 3x10 3x10 2x20 3x10 2x10 3x15 3x10 3x8 2x10
*Deadlifts, then Trap Shrugs 4x5, 2x20 4x5, 2x20 4x5, 2x20 4x5, 2x20 2x5 4x5, 2x20 4x5, 2x20 4x5, 2x20 2x5
Front Squats 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x8 2x15 2x8 3x5
Ham/ Glute/ Calf Raises 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10 1x10 3x10 3x10 3x10 1x10
Donkey Calves 1xfailure 1xfailure 1xfailure 1xfailure 1xfailure 1xfailure 1xfailure
Reverse Hypers 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10 2x10
Abdominals 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10 2x10 2x20 3x10 4x5 2x10
Obliques 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x10 1x20 1x10 2x5 1x10

• Every eight weeks, the exercises with an asterisk (*) should be performed to their respective 1RM (rotate the weeks that you are maxing out on each exercise so that you don't find yourself maxing out on multiple exercises in one workout.) (The reason for maxing out on certain exercises is to increase neural efficiency as well as myofibral hypertrophy).

• Mild use of eccentrics during loading weeks (one or two reps at the end of the last set, occasionally) can be used for the exercises marked with a (-) (This is because tension is increased with eccentrics due to the fact that fewer MUs are recruited, and therefore more tension is put on each individual recruited MU. With added tension comes additional protein degradation and therefore a greater degree of hypertrophy during the recovery period.)

• Exercises with an asterisk (*) should be performed explosively, while exercises WITHOUT an asterisk (*) should be performed in a controlled, comfortable manner, but not superslow.

• Every six weeks, perform squats in session D with 2 sets of 20 reps for increased lactic acid threshold and capillary density. (and it's just a good overall shock to the system.)

• Every six weeks, an entire week will be performed with lower load and higher reps than normal (this is to allow for capillary density to increase, connective tissue strengthening, additional sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and increased lactic acid threshold) and every six weeks a heavier load and lower reps than normal (for increased neural efficiency and myofibral hypertrophy) will be performed.

• Stretch following each exercise session to help aid in recovery and possibly induce hyperplasia (the exception is to stretch each bodypart immediately after its last exercise in Upper Body Session A).

• Intense rest and recovery techniques should be utilized on a daily basis (10 min. cardio blasts, ultra-light load high rep work for flooding an area with blood 24 hours after working that area, contrast showers, massage, water consumption, stretching, etc. – although, occasionally these should be avoided to allow the body to respond to a higher state of fatigue.)

• Concentric-Only work should also be utilized for increases in preparedness, general recovery, and additional means of quality training and weight gain without fatigue – good choices would be sled dragging, medicine ball throws, wheel-barrow walking, etc. These extra workouts should be performed approximately 6-12 hours following training and according to the preparedness of the individual lifter. (However, these are great ways to build preparedness/fitness with very little fatigue buildup.)

• Do the required sets and reps even if you are still a little sore from the previous workout. (Now, if you have a horrible case of DOMS, this is a different story – but that most likely means you are training much too close to muscular failure than needed).

• First of all, change up this program so it works best for you. The one thing I hate about most programs is that the author says to follow his program to a tee or you won't gain a pound. Everyone is different with different needs; so as long as you are following the two factor theory, and know what you are doing, adapt this program to fit your needs. (In saying that, don't bastardize the program. It is well put together and will put solid mass on your body in a relatively short amount of time. The exercises have been carefully chosen, so if you change the exercises at all, make damn sure you know exactly what you are doing; i.e. - don't substitute an anterior deltoid exercise for a medial deltoid exercise just "because they both work the shoulders." This would be a major mistake. Keep the balance there.

• Workouts should be kept brief (about 1 hour). Get in there and get out. Additionally, working smaller, antagonistic bodyparts together can be beneficial. (i.e. – during barbell curls, instead of resting for a couple minutes between sets, do sets of tricep pushdowns.)

• You must continually adapt your workout by changing rep schemes, rest periods, volume, intensity, etc. (occasionally changing an exercise or two) in order to avoid accommodation by the body.

• Chest and Tricep exercises can be left to the discretion of the lifter. Pick exercises you like, but make sure you pick compound exercises, as well as exercises that work your weak areas. (In saying that, I have come up with a very well-rounded chest and tricep routine)

• Incline Barbell press should be performed with a wide grip, elbows out. Closegrip and 5 Board should be performed with close grip and elbows in. (5 board press is where you glue or nail 5 2"x6" boards together (about 18" long) and bench press with someone holding the boards on your chest. The range of motion is short (3-4 inches probably), but the strength of the triceps and elbow joint explode!)

• I view Incline Barbell Press, Close-grip bench, and 5 Board press as one exercise that basically works both the chest and the triceps simultaneously. The lifter starts with 3 sets of Inclines, and then finishes off with a set of close-grips and a set of 5 board.

• Chest Dips and Tricep Dips are also viewed as one exercise that works both the chest and triceps. Start with 2 sets of deep chest dips, and finish with a set of triceps dips, where you only perform the upper part of the dip.

• You can substitute pull-throughs for reverse hypers if you don't have access to a reverse hyper machine. (if you don't know what a pull-through or a reverse hyper is, go to and check the "ask Dave" section, and go to the FAQ. You'll find a description there. Additional descriptions are

• Glute/ Ham raises are a must. (If you don't have access to a glute ham machine, go to and find out how!)

• Work forearms any way you want to. The given set and rep scheme is what I use more for prehab because I struggle with tendonitis.

• Barbell Rows are best by "starting with the bar on the floor every single rep. Your middle back will have slight bend to it. You pull the bar off the floor quickly with the arms, and by a powerful arch of your middle back. You finish by touching the bar to your upper stomach or middle stomach. At no time is there any movement of the hips or knees, no hip extension at all, all that bends is the middle back and the shoulders and elbows. This is hard to do and you have to have good muscular control to do it, or you'll end up straightening up at the hips along with the arching of the back. But if you can master doing them this way you will get a big back. This works because the lats actually extend (arch) the middle back in addition to other functions, just like with glute-ham extensions compared to leg curls…you always get a stronger contraction when you move both the origin and insertion of a muscle, flexing it from both ends so to speak. The bar returns to the floor after each rep. The bent row is actually best done as an explosive movement and the bar is moved fast." (JS)

• Pullups are to be done to failure, but not absolute muscular failure. At 260 pounds I can't do very many, so I just do them until I can't complete another full rep, and then I stop.

• Rotator work is given purely as prehab for myself. I use what is called a shoulder horn for this work, so I don't tear my rotator cuff up when handling heavy weight during bench press.

• For squats, I squat with a wide stance, and sit way back, which tends to put the emphasis on my glutes and hamstrings more so than my quads. I find that greater overall leg development is achieved by squatting in this manner. If you are purely a quad squatter, you most likely won't need an additional quad exercise.

Madcow2 said:
Got Questions?
Just to reiterate from the first post:
"As far as answering questions or theory on this program, I'm going to defer those to Matt. His contact info is above and he regularly posts at along with a bunch of other very knowledgable coaches and athletes."

That said, please make sure you've read everything including the more recent CORE source articles linked above so he doesn't get bombarded with a bunch of questions that are already provided for.
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New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

hey madcow :)

if i wanted to keep doin what im doin, can i?

its working greatly, im getting used to squatting 2-3x a week and i love it.

lets say i keep doin the 5x5 routine, will i hit and walls along the way?

isnt it designed to break barriers and not get stuck in ruts?

of course i will vary it each time, but keeping the basic movements in play...

im interested in the last setup u posted, how every once and a while you do a 1RM or a few sets of 20, i think id like that. how can i incorperate that into what im doin now?

or would that derail the routine? :/


New member
You know, it's rare in life that you are enjoying yourself and getting great results. My advice would be don't mess with it too much until you've milked it for all it's worth (from what you are saying the volume and protocol seems to be right for you). You can run multiple 5x5 cycles back to back without any issue and it's fairly easy to do. Just see if you need to deload after the intensity phase (esp if you did the 3x per week and peaked your strength), take your final week records in each phase of the previous cycle and put them in the first record weeks (i.e. week 3 and week 8 respectively for volume and intensity), and adjust as required. When this gets mentally stale or when gains slow down (keep in mind you won't be gaining as much in the volume phase and most will show up in the intensity phase) then either try DFHT or build something for yourself using the templates or a generic load/deload protocol - both can be done in as little as 4 weeks or as long as 8-12 depending upon how long you choose to ramp the weights to a final 1-3 week heavy loading and then deload and/or peak your strength afterward.

As far as a 1RM for a few sets of 20 - you can't do your 1RM for more than your 1 rep by definition so I'm thinking you mean some 20 rep sets. In the context of the 5x5 you could do them before beginning a new 5x5 phase, maybe take a light week with 2 workouts and hammer them out. One can also sometimes benefit from taking your 5 rep max and doing it for 5x5 with long rest intervals so that you can get it done. That's a nice plateau breaker to try sometime.


New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

The Snatch
Ran accross this on my PC today. I believe I originally got this right here on Elite from Arioch who did the BP, Squat, and DL stickies in the PL forum. This is a pretty solid writeup so I'll post it here:

Some videos are here:

Executing the Snatch. The snatch is the first lift executed in weightlifting competition. Less weight can be used than in the clean, as it must be pulled much higher. A wider grip is used to decrease the height somewhat, but there is still a significant difference. Also, it is far more difficult to rise from the bottom of a snatch, as the bar is balanced overhead, instead of firmly racked on the shoulders. This requires much greater strength in the upper back, especially the rhomboids. The snatch can be executed with either a squat or a split style, but only the far more common squat style will be discussed.

Phase One: Set Up: Feet about shoulder width apart, with the toes turned slightly outward. The set up should be like the most powerful set up for a vertical leap. Shins should be almost touching the bar, and the bar should be over the metarso-phalangeal joint of the feet (where the toes join the foot). The knee angle should be between 65 and 90 degrees. Arch the back. Grip at least one and a half times shoulder width, and use a hook grip. Make sure the arms are straight, flex the triceps if necessary, as pulling with bent arms can lead to elbow injuries and bicep tears. The shoulders should be either directly above or slightly in front of the bar. Look upward only slightly. The torso should be inclined between 25 – 60 degrees with respect to the platform. This phase begins when the athletes applies force to the barbell and it ends when at the instant of barbell separation from the floor (IBS). The object of this phase is to create a rigid kinematic chain between the athlete and the barbell, referred to as the athlete-barbell system, and tension between the athlete and the floor, which will contribute to the acceleration of the barbell. At the conclusion of this phase, there should be no slack between the body and the barbell.
By the numbers:
Note: Where there are three numbers separated by a slash, such as x/y/z, this would indicate difference for athletes 150/170/190cm tall.
First Phase:
Knee angle at start of pull: 45 – 90 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 80 – 110 degrees
Arm angle with respect to bar: 49 – 63 degrees
Torso inclined: 25 – 50 degrees

Phase Two: Preliminary Acceleration. Begin by straightening the legs, and the hips joints, which will move almost vertically during this phase, which will cause the torso to lean forward a little and the shoulders to move farther in front of the bar. Maintain the arch in your back at all times. The head will move back to a vertical position. Smoothly pull the bar from the deck and begin to accelerate it. Do not jerk it from the platform. The bar will continue to accelerate even after the legs have been straightened. The barbell should move toward the athlete slightly, which will alter the combined center of gravity (CCOG). The greater the distance between the COG of the body and the bar at the start, the greater the barbell shift during this phase of the pull. This phase will end when the legs have straightened, but the feet are still flat on the platform. The objective of phase two is to move the barbell upward and begin acceleration in preparation for phase three. The majority of the work in this phase is executed with the legs. This phase generally begins when the knees have straightened to 110 degrees, and ends when the knees have reached an angle of 145 to 155 degrees. This phase is initiated by a contraction of the quadriceps, glutes, and erector spinae. The weight of the athlete will shift from just behind the ball of the foot toward the heel at the end of this phase, as the latissimus dorsai contract to pull the bar in toward the lifter.

Second Phase:
Knee angle at start of pull: 80 – 110 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 145 – 150 degrees
Torso inclined: 30 degrees
Hip angle: 85 – 90 degrees
Average time elapsed at end of second phase: .4 – 0.55 seconds
Bar speed at end of second phase: 1.3/1.45/1.6 m/sec.
Barbell shift toward athlete: 3/6.5/10 cm
Barbell height at end of second phase: 46.5/52.7/58.9 cm

Phase Three: Rebend: Often called the adjustment or the amortization phase. This phase is used to position the athlete-barbell system (ABS) for the final explosion of the pull. Continue to straighten the torso, which should cause the hips to move forward, and rebend the knees slightly, this should occur when the bar is about 1/3 of the way up the thigh (past the knee joint). The rebending of the knees should end when the knees reach an angle of 125 – 135 degrees. This allows the athlete to move closer to the bar, with a resultant decrease in the resistance of the movement, and a more favorable CCOG.

Third Phase:
Knee angle at start of phase: 150-155 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 120 – 125 degrees
Shins inclined toward the platform: 70 – 75 degrees
Torso inclined: 58 degrees
Hip angle: 105 – 110 degrees
Elapsed time of third phase: 0.125 seconds
Average distance of shoulders in front of bar: 6/6.8/7.6 cm
Barbell speed at end of third phase: 1.22/1.37/1.52 m/sec
Barbell shift toward athlete: 4/8/12 cm
Barbell height at end of third phase: 52.5/59.5/66.5 cm

Fourth Phase: Final Acceleration: This is when the explosion should take place. (the shoulder girdle, bar, and metarso-phalangeal joints should all be in the same horizontal plane) Jump, violently straightening the legs and torso, rising onto the toes and shrugging as hard and quickly as possible. The elbows should remain extended and pointing outward during the shrugging movement. The barbell will move away from the lifter during this phase, describing a slightly forward arc, until it is moving nearly vertically. The body should be slightly hyperextended at the completion of this phase, which will compensate for the forward shifting of the barbell, allowing the CCOG to remain over the support (the toes). The purpose of this phase is to impart as much force as possible, to achieve as great a height as possible. The bar should continue to rise on its own as the lifter begins the next phase. At the initiation of this phase, the erectors, glutes, and hamstrings are the major agonists. The erectors will work not only to maintain a rigid spine, but to begin the acceleration of the barbell as the torso moves rapidly erect. The glutes and hamstrings contract in conjunction with the erectors to extend the hip joint. As the athlete jumps, the quadriceps contract strongly, and the trapezius is used to supply additional force at the top of the pull.

Fourth Phase:
Knee angle at start of phase: 120 – 125 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 175 – 180 degrees
Torso inclined: 0 – 10 degrees away from platform
Shins inclined: 0 degrees
Hip angle: 180 + degrees (hyperextension)
Elapsed time of fourth phase: 0.2 seconds
Barbell speed at end of fourth phase: 1.65-1.8/1.78-1.93/1.9-2.05 m/sec
Barbell shift away from athlete: 2/3/4 cm
Barbell height at end of fourth phase: 97.5/110.5/123.5 cm

Fifth Phase: Unsupported Squat Under: Pull on the bar slightly as it is rising to help pull towards the athlete, while squatting down as quickly as possible. In theory, the athlete is trying to exert some sort of force on the bar at all times, and maintain control. The first portion of this is where the feet remain on the platform while the knees and hips begin to bend. As the bar passes the head, the elbows move down under the bar and the wrists turn over.

Fifth Phase:
Feet remain on floor during squat under: 0.1 – 0.15 seconds
Elapsed time during non-support phase: 0.15 – 0.33 seconds
Elapsed total time of fifth phase: 0.25 - 0.48 seconds
Barbell height at end of phase: 110.25/124.95/139.65 cm

Sixth Phase: Supported Squat Under: The feet are then thrust from the platform. During this phase, it is possible to raise the bar another 2.5 cm through the use of the arms while pulling under the bar. As in the clean, the heels are under the hip joints and the toes are turned to the side. The lower back is arched and the torso is tilted forward, more than in the clean. The shoulder blades are flat and the arms are straight, while the head is tilted forward. During this portion of the lift, the bar will move backward, then down. Typically 5 – 9% of an athlete’s height. An experienced lifter can achieve a deeper squat position, thereby reducing the minimum height required to pull the bar.

Sixth Phase:
Elapsed time of sixth phase: 0.3 – 0.6 seconds
Barbell height at end of phase: 99/112.2/125.4 cm

When receiving the snatch, the bar is in line with the hips at the bottom. This means that it will be behind the head, which takes some time to adjust to. To minimize stress on both the shoulders and the elbows, the elbows should be rotated forward/outward as much as possible. The arms must be absolutely rigid. When rising from the bottom of a snatch, first the hips will travel back while the shoulders move forward, although only slightly. To maintain tension in not only the arms while rising, but the upper back as well, concentrate on trying to pull the bar apart with the hands. Some coaches advocate driving up out of the bottom as quickly as possible after stopping the bar’s downward progress – even before the lifter is completely balanced. This may allow the lifter to be able to save a lift from a partially recovered position that would not be possible from a deep squat position. Also, the application of force to the bar applies a certain amount of control that may save a lift that would otherwise travel outside the lifter’s base of support.

The ascent: After control is achieved, the legs begin to straighten secondary to the contraction of the glutes and hamstrings. The bar must remain in line over the hips to avoid tilting forward and losing the lift. At the top of the lift, the feet should be brought somewhat closer together.

Correcting simple mistakes in the snatch.

The most common problem in the snatch is receiving, or catching the bar. If the athlete finds that the bar is drifting forward, lower the hips, raise the head, and immediately drive up from the squat. Lowering the hips brings them, as well as the lifters COG with respect to the bar, forward, positioning the athlete under the bar. When the bar has been over pulled and is drifting backward, the athlete should lower the head and torso, and raise the hips backwards. This shifts the lifters COG to the rear, once again in line with the bar.

Bending the elbows on the pull. This is an exceptional way to tear a bicep. To avoid this, flex the triceps during the first phase, and keep them flexed until the shrug during the fourth phase. There is a reason that the old adage “where the arm bends, the power ends” is still around. That reason is the simple fact that it is true.

Functional mechanics of the snatch:

Maximum velocity of the barbell is a critical factor when determining training load. The product of maximum velocity (Vmax) and weight(m*g) presents the external (measured on the barbell) physical power component for the vertical barbell lift. This parameter is called speed-strength power (Ps-s):

m x g x Vmax = Ps-s
(Kg x m/(s)2 x m/s = W Note: (s)2 = speed squared

The total power contains a component for barbell acceleration as well. The value of this component is relatively low compared to the lift component. Because power is the work (energy) performed in a given time period, the relationship between the work required to accelerate and to lift the barbell express the relationship between the power components:
Kinetic Energy:
m/2 x (Vmax)2
Potential Energy:
m x g x h

Where m = barbell mass; Vmax = maximum barbell velocity; g = 9.81 m/(s)2; h = path of vertical barbell lift.

The lift component of the work is roughly six times greater than the acceleration component. The relationship between the power components are comparable to the work relationship.

The goal of training should be to create higher power values. This can be done through the use of high pulls, wherein the lack of the need to receive the bar can allow for not only a greater training load, but more focus on increasing velocity. Once the maximum velocity of the barbell is achieved and there is no further accelerating force, the remaining path of the weight, which is the distance s, will be determined by the following equation:
s = (v)2max/2g

It is worth noting that receiving the bar is not simply a matter of catching it, as the barbell can descend by a velocity of about 2.5 m/s when simply falling .32m. The goal should be to turn over as quickly as possible, and thus reduce the velocity of the descending barbell.

Force generation by various joints:

In the snatch, the greatest power requirements fall upon the hip extensors, which play a vital role in the entire kinetic chain. A weakness in the hips will overload the knee joint, causing either a starting movement which is too fast as well as a decrease in velocity between the 1st and 2nd pulls. A smooth transition is necessary to prevent overloading of single muscles, tendons, and joint structures. Hip power reaches its maximum value at the end of the transition phase. In descending order, the greatest power demands after the hips are met by the shoulder, knee, and ankle joints.

Bar path:

While the bar will never be pulled in a truly straight line, the closer the athlete comes to achieve this, the higher the power generated. As a general rule, athletes with higher peak vertical power and peak vertical force tend to pull in a straighter line. Also, as the weight lifted relative to body mass increases, the power output will also increase. It is worth noting that the heavier the weight lifted relative to body mass the less horizontal displacement of the bar.

Alterations of bar path to effect a superior lift:

A general backward displacement of the bar is related to successfully catching the bar. This assumes that the feet are displaced as well. By moving the bar backward and altering the CCOG by shifting the position of the lifter, the athlete is able to continue to direct the force on the bar up and rearward for as long as possible. This is achieved by shifting the weight towards the heels at the initiation of the pull and finishing the 2nd pull with the hips over or behind the ankles. As the body leans back while the knee and hips fully extend, the shoulders shrug and calves flex to complete the pull. Moving the trunk upward during final hip extension enhances the ability to use body mass to project the bar upward.

Problems in bar trajectory and how to correct them:

If the weight shifts forward over the toes at the start of the lift, the bar will be moving away from the base of support. The lifter must bring the bar toward the shin during the first pull and move the body backward, shifting the weight toward the heels.

If the bar drifts forward during the 1st pull, the athlete must avoid rising up on the balls of the feet too early, which will cause premature extension of the hips, and excessive swing of the bar away from the athlete during the fourth phase. If this occurs, the lifter must slide significantly forward during the unsupported squat under, or the bar will be dropped in front of the lifter when receiving.

Assistance work for the snatch

Power Snatch
This is quite simply a snatch executed without squatting under to receive it. When catching the bar, the lifter descends into no more than a quarter-squat. This will develop pulling power for the snatch as well as allowing the lifter to practice receiving the bar. There is less stress on the hips during this exercise compared to the classic snatch, but there can be more stress on the knees, if the weights are great. In some cases, the power generated during this lift can be greater than in the snatch.

Hang Snatch
This is a snatch performed with the bar starting at a higher level that the platform. Such levels commonly include below the knee, above the knee, and from a dead hang. This lift can be performed in a manner similar to either the snatch or the power snatch, for extra emphasis on pulling power.

Overhead Squats
After power snatching the bar into place, the lifter will descend into a full squat position. Care must be taken to maintain stability of the bar, both while descending as well as while ascending. This lift is used to improve the athletes stability in the bottom of the snatch as well as teach control during the ascent. One aspect often overlooked when performing this exercise is that at the bottom, the neck is not arched. Often, to allow the shoulders to retract, the lifter will actually be looking somewhat down. Another manner of setting up for this lift is setting up in a squat rack with the bar on the shoulders and the hands in the appropriate position. The athlete will then push-press the bar into place. This is useful for lifters whose power snatch is particularly weak. If this is necessary, pulling power needs to be improved. Due to the intense neuromuscular demands of this exercise, the athlete’s CNS will fatigue long before the muscles will. Therefore, it is best to keep the reps low, rarely more than two.

Drop Snatch/Snatch Balance
This technique is designed exclusively to improve the athlete’s ability to receive, and ascend with, the barbell. The lifter will back out of a squat rack with the bar on the shoulders, with the hands set in the appropriate position for executing a snatch lift. The lifter will then drop from under the bar, catching it overhead in the bottom position of the snatch. Beginning athletes may knee a slight knee kick to initiate movement of the bar, and advanced athletes may used this technique to move more weight than is possible in the classic snatch. Due to the inherent difficulties with balance and the associated CNS demands, the reps should be kept low, preferably 1-2.

Snatch Pulls:
This is quite simply the 1st – 4th phase of the pull. The purpose is to not only increase training load, but to improve the power of the pull, which has already been shown to be a necessity. The pull may be executed from the pins or from a hang at various positions, as well as pulled to a set height.

Snatch grip deadlifts:
Generally used only if the pull off of the deck is weak. This technique allows for a great deal of weight to be used, although the decrease in power output is significant. This technique can be used to overload the muscles of the erectors, hamstrings, and trapezius if extra work is needed in those areas.

If used for the snatch, a similar grip should be employed. There are two basic types of shrugs, the first style has the athlete simply gripping a bar and shrugging upward with the trapezius. The other, more specific style, is the power shrug, where the bar is pulled from pins set at a height that allow a certain, limited amount of leg drive. This allows so much weight to be used that it will generally be beyond the athlete’s ability to maintain a grip on the bar, and straps may need to be employed.

Snatch grip press behind the neck:
While many individuals, due to a rotator cuff imbalance, or just general inflexibility, will have trouble pressing behind the neck, the snatch grip version may offer a solution. Not only does it require less flexibility than the regular press behind the neck, there is significantly less opening of the acromial process, which makes this exercise far easier on the shoulder joint. This exercise will serve to strengthen the shoulders, as well as build specific ability to stabilize the snatch overhead.

Non-specific assistance work

If you need someone to tell you why these are beneficial, stop reading now.

Front squats:
Not very applicable to the snatch. Quad strength is rarely the limiting factor. So rare, in fact, that this author has never heard of it being a problem.

Split squats:
Useful if the lifter has a strength imbalance. Will also supply a greater training volume to the hips. Even though the split style snatch was not discussed, if the athlete uses this style, this assistance exercise becomes paramount.

Overhead split squats:
Useful again if the athlete employs a split style. The bar is held overhead with a snatch grip, and a split squat is then executed.

Good Mornings:
Essential for developing power in the erectors and hamstrings. A variety of good morning exercises can be employed, but the arched back good morning is by far the most specific.

Reverse Hyperextensions:
Not only good for developing power in the hamstrings and erectors, but essential for unloading the lumbar spine, which is subject to quite a bit of force. The pull-through at the bottom of this exercise will open the spinal column, mediating the flow of interstitial fluid within the discs.

Pull Throughs:
Yet another exercise for strengthening the all-important hamstrings, as well as the erectors.

Ham Glute Raise:
Very good exercise for strengthening the hamstrings. Has the benefit of strengthening the biceps femoris, which is far more involved in knee flexion. This muscle is not targeted as directly by the previous three exercises.

Abdominal Training:

A must for every athlete. This topic is so extensive it is a discussion in and of itself.

Utilizing the snatch in training.

As the snatch works so many different muscle groups, it can be difficult for the athlete who is not an OL’er to comfortably place it in the training program. For the bodybuilder, there is little reason to execute the classic snatch. The power snatch, or varieties of, such as the power snatch from the dead hang, can be utilized on any day where the shoulders and traps are worked. For the powerlifter, it will vary based upon the type of training involved.

In a standard periodized program, the power snatch is probably best utilized on the day deadlifts are performed, perhaps as an alternate lift when the athlete is fatigued from numerous weeks of heavy deadlifting. Snatch pulls can be used as a deadlift assistance movement, both to strengthen the traps as well as to teach the athlete to accelerate the bar. If the athlete utilizes the conjugate training program, the snatch, preferably the power version, executed from the hang, can be used on both the maximal effort as well as the maximal acceleration bench days. It would be used in place of standard shoulder and rotator cuff work, as the power snatch is an exceptional exercise for strengthening the external rotators, which tend to receive far less work on a standard program than the internal rotators.

Also, specific variations of the snatch can be used in a variety of programs. For anyone wishing additional development of the traps and posterior deltoids, either the snatch or any variation of the power snatch is exceptional. Throwers utilize this exercise heavily, as well as a variety of pulls, as the strength of the upper back is critical to any strength athlete. Overhead squats with a sumo stance can be performed to a box to teach a lifter to execute sumo style lifts with a completely erect torso. This will necessitate the use of very little weight, generally just the bar at first, until the athlete learns to adapt to this complex exercise.

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New member
thanks madcow
i'll add that into my notes when i plan my next cycle after finishing up the 5x5
and i am planing on posting "before the 5x5" and "after the 5x5" pics to help show the changes the program can make


New member
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n

d3track said:
thanks madcow
i'll add that into my notes when i plan my next cycle after finishing up the 5x5
and i am planing on posting "before the 5x5" and "after the 5x5" pics to help show the changes the program can make

No prob. BTW - were your bench and overhead increasing or did you not make much progress there? I'm curious as to whether you didn't gain as much size, strength, or both in the region as expected. Also, if you have a weakness in your bench someplace (i.e. sticking point) you should note it as something to look at and work on.