Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 06, 2015

  • The Ask Rip video series is in full swing, with a series of off-lifting topics. The first four episodes have touched on Star Trek, whiskey, books and more.

Under the Bar

bench press cory Cory works on her arch and stability on the bench. She had struggled with back pain most of her life until she began the Starting Strength program at WSC. Today Cory trains pain free and is on her way to making great gains under the bar. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
bench press karl schudt Starting Strength Coach Karl Schudt on his way to a state squat (562 lb), bench (440 lb), and 1565 total records in the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation Louisville, KY on June 27. [video courtesy of Karl Schudt]

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Best of the Week

Should lifting be fun?

Throughout the past few years I have tried various barbell programs. I don't really find it fun. Any tips to make the workouts more enjoyable?

I do feel that barbell work yields the best results and I'd like to stick with that, however I'm open to other ideas to build muscle (body weight, yoga, etc.)

Mark Rippetoe

Unproductive effort is seldom fun. "Various programs" are almost always unproductive.

King of the Jews

I find progress to be enjoyable.


Studying isn't fun. At least it wasn't while I was in college. I had much rather been out drinking and chasing women. Owning my own business feels the same way. I'm still hard at work while other folks are clocking out of their 8-5.

There's a reason why most people aren't smart, successful small business owners and strong. It's hard work. Hard work is almost never fun, which dovetails with Rip's article about mental fortitude over on PJ.

What makes lifting more enjoyable is lifting with other people and training those who are just getting into lifting. Post workout meals of chicken wings, steak, cheeseburgers, BBQ, and good alcohol also make it a bit more fun.

Best of the Forum

Split snatches for sports training

Thanks for the split snatch video. It seems like a great movement for my sport, judo.

I've seen some people recommend alternating which foot goes forward when training split-style lifts, particularly if training for a sport other than Olympic weightlifting. Presumably, this is meant to avoid strength imbalances. In your experience, is that a real concern here? I'd have thought regular squats would correct minor imbalances as they arise, especially if you squat more often than you snatch.

Mark Rippetoe

You're absolutely correct. An asymmetrical movement like the split snatch is no threat to strength balance unless you're not squatting or deadlifting heavy.


This has made me wonder about including split olympic movements too, now that I've been getting back into karate. Power cleans have been a great help, but I now wonder if the split movements would maybe assist kicking speed more, and help stretch hip flexors. More to the point, the olympic split stance has some similarities to a long front stance in my style of karate - which is the starting position for a lot of explosive kicking and other forward movements. Stronger stances usually mean better performance.

The big difference, though, is that karate teaches you to keep both feet flat on the floor in a forward stance. Unlike in Olympic lifting, the split isn't the movement's finishing position, but a starting position. You drive off the back foot to power your kicks etc., and keep your heel down to deliver more thrust. In Olympic lifting, the split was there to get you under the bar, and the back heel presumably comes up to allow greater depth. Very different objective.

If I'm training to get sport-specific benefits though, what would be the down-side of using a karate-style front stance instead of the conventional olympic split stance (with the back heel up) as the landing position? Other than the obvious thing that I'd not be able to get into as low a split, so the weight would be lower? Seems to me that developing greater strength in my sport-specific stance would only be a good thing.

What do you think? Are there obvious things I'm missing here?

Mark Rippetoe

The down-side is that it won't work. Many people do not understand the nature of sport-specificity. The effect you want from split-style snatching, etc., is the ability and the practice of moving your feet very fast over a long distance. You do NOT need or want to attempt to reproduce the exact movement pattern in strength training that you use in sport practice. Training works metabolic pathways and neuromuscular adaptations in a general way, which then get applied during sports practice to the specific movement pattern used in the sport itself. If you try to split under the bar like you stand in MA, all you're doing is messing them both up.

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