A Guide for the Novice
This Bodybuilding.com article is a condensed guide for the novice lifter written by Starting Strength Coach Michael Wolf. Keep in mind that the Starting Strength definition of novice concerns how long it takes for you to recover from a workout, not how many years you’ve been training or how much you lift. You are a novice if you can recover from a workout, meaning you can add weight to the bar in a given lift in about 24-72 hours after each workout. A good coach will exploit this rapid recovery, saving time and getting the lifter stronger sooner. When the lifter can longer does this they have ceased to be a novice.
Given this definition, someone who was once and advanced competitive athlete that was very strong but has since stopped training due to injury or life, would be a novice when they started training again. The only difference is their novice period may be shorter in length depending on circumstance.
Without further ado: