Starting Strength Weekly Report

October 12, 2015

SS Coaches' Updates & Blogs

Under the Bar

starting strength progression Staff Sergeant Matt Tomaszewski, USMC, squats 370x5 on his final set. SSgt has been on Starting Strength for over a year and balances his weight training with the requirements of being an Artilleryman. [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]
starting strength linear progression Chris squats squats 190 for 3x5 on the his third week of the Starting Strength linear progression. Chris trains with Matt Bickford at Humboldt State University. [photo courtesy of Matt Bickford]
deadlift overhand grip Shaun deadlifts 300# (a little under 2x body weight) for a set of five. Double overhand. No hook. +++ Grip strength. [photo courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]
gaining bodyweight and strength Mostafa E. pulls 405x5 at a bodyweight of 180 at Horn Strength & Conditioning in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, he set a meet PR of 380x1 @165. In the last three months Mostafa switched to the Texas Method and made a commitment to driving up his bodyweight. It seems to be working!. [photo courtesy of Paul Horn]
barbell press training Becky training the press at Gardiner Athletics in preparation for the Starting Strength Fall Classic. [photo courtesy of Kelli Nielsen]
squat linear progression Another 5lbs on the Linear Progression. [photo courtesy of Feral Fitness]
deadlift training workout finish Carrie Wolkoff ends her training session with deadlifts at WSC. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
first squat session Kara works up to 95 pounds for 3 sets of 5 during her first workout on the Starting Strength novice program. [photo courtesy of Beau Bryant]
nan haynes prowler Nan Haynes, age 75, poses with her Starting Strength Coach Cody Miller after pushing the Prowler. She is the current USAPL Masters 4A record holder for each the Squat (82.5 kg), Bench Press (57.5 kg), Deadlift (115 kg) and Total (255 kg). [photo courtesy of Cody Miller]
first barbell squat Scott’s first workout at Gardiner Athletics. Even runners need to squat. [photo courtesy of Peter Nathan]

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Best of the Week

Not willing to give in to “silly bullshit,” or arrogance?

I have been training well since the last setback. I have gained bodyweight and took my squat to 98kg for 3 sets of 5. I have also been doing well in practice, despite the national team coaches telling me I am "going to lose the train" (not be competitive).

Yesterday, a guy fell on top of my knee when it was bent, and [I] felt strong pain in my knee. Today the physiotherapist told me it was just a small tear in the MCL, and I shall be ok soon. She also prescribed several unilateral leg exercises, and band isolation exercises to work the ''stability of the ligaments."

Even though I am grateful for the physio's help, I can't find a reason to do these "exercises" I have been asked to do, even though she said they were a compliment to strength training.

It completely goes against what I've learned to be true. These isolation and unilateral exercises are not functional movements, involve little muscle mass and they can't be done in any way possible that would drive a systemic adaptation. It seems that a properly performed heavy squat would produce stronger ligaments, and overall strength adaptation throughout the body, better than any "stability" exercise can.

I trust your word coach, and the word of the people here, because it has proven to be worth it's value. Probably, I should know your opinion on the subject right now, but do you think that any of these ''stability training exercises'' can be useful in any situation?

Mark Rippetoe

I can think of no mechanism by which isolation exercises would work better than compound movements for rehab of any structure.


In Starting Strength:BBT 3rd Ed, you say that in the press, tissues such as the supraspinatus are not the primary muscles producing the movement, but rather function as stabilizers (paraphrasing). If this is meant to imply that they act isometrically rather than concentrically & eccentrically, couldn't one argue that the press will not optimally rehab such a tissue, if such a tissue will only be optimally rehabbed by including concentric and/or eccentric contractions?

John Petrizzo

The concentric function of the supraspinatus is to assist the deltoid through the first few degrees of abduction. The role of the rotator cuff muscles during the far majority of "functional" activities is to work together isometrically to stabilize the glenohumeral joint while the many larger, stronger muscles (pecs, lats, deltoids, teres major, biceps, triceps, etc.) that operate the joint create movement much like they do during the press so your example is not a great one.

Mark Rippetoe

[spacediver], much practical experience shows that progressively loading an injury in the tissue's normal anatomical function forces it to progressively return to its normal anatomical function. You are merely postulating that this might not be the case without explaining why. It matters not what "physios" say or do, since their methods are not usually any more effective than the same amount of time spent in a good quality drinking establishment.

Best of the Forum

A brief, personal observation on cardio/strength
Dave Longley

I haven't done any cardio for 19 months. When I exercised, I did high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on my exercise bike. It has 8 settings. 1 is easiest, 8 is hardest. I used to do 20 minutes. 6 minute warm up on 4, then 20 seconds on 8, 40 seconds on 3 and repeat that for 9 sets. 5 minute cool down. It would kick my ass.

Currently, I'm at least 60lbs heavier than when I was. Did the same HIIT last night, having not done ANY cardio for 19 months. It was pretty easy. I'd done squats of 355lb for 5x5 the day before too. So, I wasn't as fit as I thought I was, and adding 250lb+ of squat has had an impact.

Weird isn't it?

Mark Rippetoe

Not really. Quite a common report throughout these threads.


Played in a racquetball tournament in Flagstaff, AZ. I never got winded. It kind of freaked me out actually. How does someone that hasn't done any cardio for nearly 4 months and hasn't played racquetball for 6 months NOT get winded in Flagstaff? I would say that I wasn't trying very hard but my muscles said otherwise. My lungs were fine, my legs not so much.

Michael Loucas

Last time I used my C2 model D rower was back when I was doing crossfit at 5'11" 185lb. My squat was a pathetic 215x3. I now weigh about 243, and my squat has doubled to 425x5. Per Jordan's suggestion, I decided to start rowing 1-2 times a week.

So I dig the rower out of the closet, get on it, and decided to row a 500 to see how well I do, and I beat my all time best by about 1.8 seconds, after not doing it at all (or any conditioning really for that matter) in about 2.5-3 years.

I was pretty surprised.


Without doing any cardio, I was significantly better off (especially the day after) during a 7 mile hike with a roughly 4000 ft ascent (it was one of the steepest hikes I've ever done, especially at the beginning and for the last mile) last summer.

My wife, however, was absolutely destroyed and almost didn't make it up.

Contrasted to this summer. My wife had been lifting for ~2.5 months. She had worked her way up to a BW deadlift and almost BW squat for reps. No cardio. We took an extended weekend trip to Colorado where we spent every day doing at least one, if not multiple hikes with a lot of elevation change. She was perfectly fine energy wise the entire time, and most importantly, there was absolutely no residual soreness. We were just tired at the end of the day, went to sleep, and woke up refreshed like nothing had happened.

It was awesome.

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