Preface - Results speak loudest
When people I coach ask me for diet advice, I flat out refuse to give it to them. Why? Because I sure as hell am not lean enough to be giving out diet advice. The same applies for everything you do, and the training advice you take. I know big legs, big squats, big deadlifts and strength training. I don't know how to sculpt your rear deltoid, and until I have an awesome pair myself, you would be an idiot to take my advice. I don't take advice from people weaker than me, or who are not where I want to be.
Let's be honest. How many people have we seen finish Rippetoes and look awesome? I'm hard pressed to find any. Even Rippetoe himself posted this one horrendous looking chubby guy as his flagship lifter and justification for the program... hardly convincing, and rightly so.
Now the question is, is this because full body training is flawed? Absolutely not. I simply think SS criminally neglect important training aspects in an over zealous attempt to 'simplify.'
Now, I'll break things down into various justification.
1. Why higher frequency for the beginner.
Typically this applies to the weak, under conditioned and skinny or fat/weak guys. People with a comprehensive need a slightly different approach. For simplicities sake, we will stick to the skinny 130 pounder.
People need to break out of this false paradigm of 'split versus fully body' and various stupid **** like 'gh release from squats make your arms bigger.' This type of thinking belongs in the early 2000's when fat guys who lift weights got on the internet and started justifying why they look like ****.
The issue at hand is FREQUENCY. How many times a week are you performing movements. For the absolute beginner this is extremely important. Why? Because the more often you perform a squat, bench, dead, press etc, the faster you teach your CNS to activate what you have. This is crucial for laying the foundation for the rest of your career.
By far my best body part are my legs, and what did I do? Squat a ****load, and often. Prior to injuries I would squat more often in a month than most people will in 2 years of training. This has incredible results, and it's because of the same reason splits seem to work. I know that seems weird, but think how much VOLUME I get training at high frequency. Doing 60+ reps a week at 90% of 1rm is going to do things to your legs that not even the most intense 20 set leg session will.
So, this is why the principle behind SS works so well. It just gets people training often, and training heavy. Any beginner I train does a modified SS, but until 6 months I won't have the results to show you all. I will detail my modifications later.
Results speak loudest.
2. So what's wrong with the current SS set up?
Current SS program is
ABA, BAB week to week.
MP Press 3x5
a. It's too easy at the start, 3x a week for an absolute beginner is a joke. If we take a typical 5lbs increase starting at 85lbs, and a 15lbs increase a week, then getting to 225 3x5 takes upwards of 10 weeks... too long imo. I have two guys who are hitting rock bottom 2 plates after 4 and 6 weeks. And if you're doing a super high calorie diet you simply get fast whilst wasting 3 months getting a barely passable standard.
(Before you all nit pick about this, take on the general idea, don't start bitching about the specific numbers)
b. Poor exercise selection.
We typically see people come off Rippetoes with tiny rear delts, relatively weak upper backs. Some people choose to powerclean which is absolutely idiotic. It takes far too much technical prowess to get a powerclean to adequately work the upper back. So people are pressing OH and flat benching 3x a week with literally no rowing movement. Some are smarter and do BB rows, but I believe the beginner lacks coordination to properly do rows in a way that combats the internal rotation from the pressing. Also, the chin ups are treated as optional when they should be mandatory, cause squatting works those lats... right?
Furthermore, the back squat 3x a week is also not optimal. I believe that the session B should instead have a front squat once the beginner is able to squat over 135lbs. I'm a huge believer in teaching front squats early, but as I said, I need my guys to get the results before I'm 100% convinced. As the program gets more challenging, having the different squat will help alleviate much of the stress and anxiety people being to feel around it.
c. Too much 'don't curl idiocy.'
I like to think in general, the internet lifting world has grown up from its infancy. Yes, we get it, people curl in the rack and you want to make yourself feel better by ripping on them. STFU.
Direct arm work is NOT an issue on SS, and should be entirely descretionary depending on your mood for the day.
3. So what do we do instead
a. Train more often! I advocate a minimum 3x a week, but how often are beginners, once the initial soreness subsides after the first week gunning to train more. To which fat unconditioned idiots always cry 'overtrainig.' Let me make this very clear. Someone who can't squat 225x5 is physically incapable of overtraining. You simply do not have the CNS recruitment to overtrain. So, instead of sticking to the A B A, B A B, format, train as often as you feel like it. If you can go 6 days straight alternating the two workouts, all the power to you, if you are starting to feel to beaten up, drop back to 3-4. Either way, just train MORE often. You need to stop thinking session to session, and instead sit back and realise how much more volume you will complete over a 6 month period training 4x a week instead of 3. That's a 33% load increase just from doing one extra session.
b. Be smart with the exercises.
Don't powerclean. Try and do rows, but most importantly you MUST do the chin ups, Preferably widish grip and overhand, following workout A. If you are feeling good, do DEEP dips for workout B. I also have no issue if the beginner does something like cable rows after the chin ups. SS is extremely negligent of the upper back.
c. If you want to curl. do the ****ing curls for ****s sake.
What should it look like instead
The two days:
Chins 15-20 total reps, add weight or use assisted.
Rows 3x5 SUPER STRICT.
Optional: Cable rows, 3x8 bicep work, 3x8 rear delt flyes, do this at your own discretion. If you don't feel like it, don't worry
Front squat 3x5
Optional: 15-20 reps of dips, 3x8 tricep work
I prefer people not to think about training on the exact say, I simply suggest a minimum of 3 sessions. If you are feeling good, are eating lots and recovering well, trying and train more. Sometimes people have bad days, feel tired, stay up pate to finish assignments, and some days you wake up ready to squat Jupiter.
DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF TO TRAIN MORE. SIMPLY ADD OR DEDUCT SESSIONS PER A WEEK AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION DEPENDING ON HOW YOU FEEL.
LIKEWISE, DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF TO DO THE OPTIONAL WORK, JUST JUDGE IT ON THE FAY
I think on this program, most people will get where they want much faster after having built a fantastic base. I strongly dislike SS in its original template, and believe this not only better, but more fun. This also addresses the imbalances we see so often coming out of Rippetoes.
I wish to state one more time, for the beginner I think higher frequency is the absolute best to get those rapid changes. If after 3-5 months things slow down significantly, do whatever you want. Upper/lower, a full blown 5 day split, whatever. Either way, I think the work capacity you develop from training like this will aid you in whatever your goals are.