There’s a whole bunch of silliness on the internet when it comes to Starting Strength. I don’t know what it is, but people come up with some really bizarre shit anytime someone brings up Mark Rippetoe or Starting Strength. Most of it is perpetuated by people who haven’t read any of the material or are getting information from some third party and accepting it as truth. This is the nature of things on the internet, but sometimes as a coach, you have to dispel some of this stuff when dealing with a client or interacting with folks online. In this series of posts I’ll do my best to explain where the issue at hand came from and the truth behind it.
GOMAD – Gallon of Milk A Day
Also see: A Clarification – Rippetoe
GOMAD, or drinking a gallon of milk a day, has become almost synonymous with Starting Strength and with Rip. “Should I drink a gallon of milk a day?” or more commonly: “I know Rip recommends drinking a gallon of milk a day, but……?” are probably the most recurring questions I get asked. Not only that, but there are people who will outright dismiss a coach, the books, videos, forums, and all the other available information because of their inaccurate notion of when and why they’d recommend GOMAD. This is usually because they heard that their buddy’s buddy “did SS” last year and got fat or some other stupid crap.
Here’s the deal. GOMAD is for a person who needs to gain a lot of weight. This person will be 17 to 25, male, underweight and will not have been able to keep weight on in the past. And guess what, for that demographic, it works beautifully. Provided they’re actually doing the program, these folks get bigger and stronger. The kind of bigger that they want to be. And when they’ve gained sufficient weight, or the weight gain starts going in the wrong direction, they cut out some or all of the milk. This process takes 3 to 4 months AND THEN THEY DON’T DRINK A GALLON OF MILK A DAY ANYMORE.
In my now 4 years as a Starting Strength Coach, coaching people regularly in that time, I’ve recommended GOMAD to 2 clients. Largely because of the nature of the demographic that has the time and money to hire a regular strength coach, but nonetheless, we’re not going around telling everyone to drink a gallon of milk to get their gainzzz.
The recommendation won’t go away, because it’s very useful for the folks who need it. For people who won’t squat three days a week, are older, not underweight, women, or fat, it is simply inappropriate. Yes, when these folks start a strength training program, they will probably have to eat more than they’re used to in order to recover, but these are relatively moderate increases compared to what the 5’9″, 145 lb, 23 year old who can’t squat 95 lbs would need.
The key here is that GOMAD is a powerful tool for the underweight novice in doing the program. The guy who goes on GOMAD will only do it for a short time for a very specific purpose. For the vast majority, though, “GOMAD is not for you”.