Starting Strength Weekly Report

March 07, 2016

  • Cody Miller is the winner of February's Prize Drawing.
Training Log
  • Making a Shake: Rippetoe throws down in the kitchen as he instructs Katia on the art of making a delicious 75-gram-of-protein shake.
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mune van luen 125kg squat Mune Van Luen successfully locks out a 125 kg (275.6 lb) squat at a body weight of 52.3 kg (115 lb) at the USAPL Meet in San Jose, CA on 28 Feb 2016. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
matthew swogger 185kg deadlift Matthew Swogger, competing in the 93 kg class, in the midst of deadlifting 185 kg (407.9 lb) at the 2016 USAPL Spartan Raw Championship in San Jose, CA. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
dale starts training Last Wednesday, Dale, age 55, began his Starting Strength linear progression at Fivex3 Training, squatting 155#, pressing 95# and deadlifting 190#. On Friday, he squatted 165#, benched 155# and deadlifted 200#. [photo courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]
mike racculia deadlifts Mike Racculia stares with hatred in his eyes before successfully pulling 200 lbs for a set of 5 while a broken but not beaten Marie Kunkel coaches a week after shattering her fibula ice skating. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
Dr. Bill Sweeney deadlifts 185 Dr. Bill Sweeney deadlifts 185 lbs while Nicholas Racculia coaches. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
coaching deadlift clean Jonathon Sullivan and Chris Kurisko coach the deadlift and the clean at the Starting Strength Camp held at GreySteel Strength and Conditioning on February 13. [photo courtesy of Jonathon Sullivan]

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Best of the Week

Stay Strong and Active Because the Alternative Really Can Suck
Mark E. Hurling

I took yesterday off to get into the local Social Security office to check on what I thought was my on-line submission. The majority of the people there were a sorry lot. Predictably, they were mainly old people. Some were hobbling around on canes hunched over and were assisted by what appeared to younger family members. Both physically and mentally. Really a grim presage of what could be to come if you don't try to keep active and strong and engaged in the world beyond your sofa and daytime TV.

Get under and keep under the iron, and encourage your aging relatives or acquaintances to do likewise.


The medical/surgical unit at the hospital I work at is full of 80+ year olds incapable of getting up to use the restroom on their own. Without fail, there is always someone in their early 60s in there for diabetic related issues who also cannot get up unassisted. Your deadlift is testament to the fact that that doesn't have to be everyone's fate.


It's depressing. My grandfather, now 86, recently had a fall outside his house after being startled by a stray dog. Fell and cracked six ribs and his pelvis. He's a lifetime desk jockey and has been in the hospital for close to two months now, just getting into rehab (whatever that involves). Depressing, because I've seen what someone like Gus can do, and although he's arguably in worse shape (has a slow-growing prostate cancer and leukemia plus some other maladies), I really wish I were competent enough to coach him in some way so as to prevent further loss of his independence. It's a struggle to convince him, though, as he has never been physically active. Maybe my next best shot is with my parents.

Nicholas Racculia

Buck, Get competent enough to coach. The first person I ever worked with was my dad. He survived the myriad of mistakes I made along the way to my SSC credential. He and my mom still lift to this day. They can (and have) bore witness to the changes that come with The Program. His knees still hurt a little, but FAR FAR less than they did before he lifted. His back pain is virtually gone (but most of the credit for that goes to Rip, who, in less than two sets of observing my dad's squat identified a leg length imbalance that went undetected for 65 years of his life. One shim and a whole lot of lifting later, and his back pain is essentially gone).

You owe it to the ones who raised you, they will appreciate it, I assure you.

Best of the Forum

Calf Raises
Walter Palmer

I'm trying to understand the focus that so many people put on calf raises, of various forms, in the gym and even on sites that favor the big lifts (like T-Nation). Let's exclude anyone who is into bodybuilding and just focus on strength.

On a recent article at T-Nation about assistance lifts helping with strength development and trying to set PRs in the big lifts, the suggested routine still had calf raises as a regular staple of the program.

Now, maybe it is the fact that I have big, strong calves and have never focused on isolation work that makes me skeptical. But, maybe it is the fact that I have never seen a comment on this forum from anyone that suggests calves as a reason for failure on a squat or deadlift.

Also, I believe I have heard/seen you comment before that calves are largely a function of genetics.

So, forgetting bodybuilding, are the calves ever the root issue in compound lift?

I say "no" but am I missing a unique situation? (Although that would still not explain the program recommendation for the general population..)

Mark Rippetoe

I have never seen calf work make a difference in competitive strength for a lifter. They obviously cross the knee and therefore both plantar flex the ankle and flex the knee, but they get enough work stabilizing the ankle angle in the squat and the deadlift/clean that assistance work is just useful for vanity purposes.


Might it be useful for jumping? Plantar flexion is part of the triple extension of a jump, so wouldn't calf strength be useful for that?

Also, wouldn't it be useful for the second pull in the power clean?

Mark Rippetoe

The plantar flexion observed in the "triple extension" of a pull or a jump is more an artifact of the full extension of the hips and knees than it is the active attempt to jump using the gastroc/soleus. The "on the toes" cue is sometimes useful for causing the pull to be finished in full extension, but training the calves -- Baby Cows, as Starr calls them -- is seldom a productive way to spend time in the gym.


I know vanity is not your cup of tea, BUT......... is there a way to encourage my precious Baby Cows to grow beyond what would be possible with heavy squats and gaining 100 lbs bodyweight? Do you think calf raises actually help them grow for someone who does not take steroids and has shitty calf genetics?

Not that I was gonna do them anyway...

Mark Rippetoe

It is widely recognized in bodybuilding circles that calves are genetic. Sorry.

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