Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 04, 2016


  • Tim Mayheu is the winner of the March prize drawing.
  • 2015 Literature Review - Jonathon Sullivan summarizes the first two of several scientific articles that pertain to the practice of strength training at the 2015 Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference.
Training Log
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Under the Bar

vicki learns the power clean Starting Strength Coach Diego Socolinsky coaches Vicki, a spry 50-something, on her first session learning the power clean. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
marie kunkel rehabs with strength training Marie Kunkel deadlifts 85 lbs. 3 days after baffled doctors removed a cast for a shattered, surgically repaired fibula and fractured tibia 2-4 weeks early. Marie pulled 315 lbs in December; she will be recovering with barbell therapy. [photo courtesy of Eva Kunkel]
brian hougentogler deadlifts 355x5 Brian Hougentogler pulls 355 lb for a quality set of five. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]

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Best of the Week

Post Shoulder Surgery Expectations
lou t

I tore my left shoulder, had an MRI and will be seeing a surgeon out of New York Presbyterian on Monday. Below is the summary of the MRI report. I'm 60. Been training for 4 decades.

  1. Rehab
  2. Getting back to training
  3. Return to normal training

I am reaching out to you because I recall you had shoulder surgery. Not sure what you had done, but thought you might give me some insight as to what to expect post surgery:

I will certainly ask the doctor but in my experience they are rarely right. Whatever time they say, you can add several more weeks. So bottom line, asking another lifter with your experience is probably more accurate.

  1. Complete tear of the anterior leading edge of the supraspinous tendon, extending 8mm medially.
  2. Tendinosis of both the suprapinatus and infraspinatus tendons (scar tissue & partial tearing of 50%)
  3. The subscapularis tendon is thickened distally compatible with degeneration.(scar tissue and partially torn >50%)
  4. Moderate degenerative changes in the acronioclavicular joint
  5. Bursitis
Mark Rippetoe

First, it's going to hurt a lot more than you think it will. Be prepared for that in whatever way is necessary. My thoughts on rehab are detailed in the recent video:

Shoulder Rehab

Old LA

Good luck Lou. My experience was the 1st 3 or 4 weeks were the worse. I couldn't train but walked a bunch and did a lot of air squats just to stay active as possible. Before I even got out of the sling I figured how to safely (somewhat??) row, one-handed, on a C2 rower. Got to the point where I would hold the repaired arm, not pulling whatsoever, and just letting it sort of move along with smooth in and out motion. I also had a pulley gadget hooked to the door that I used to pull the arm up and down to gradually increase range of motion. Wish I'd known or thought of Rip's method because I'm sure it would have worked better. It wasn't long after when I started working the shoulder with modified pull-up motions. I would stand at my bar on a step ladder, bar at chin level, and slowly step down, going a bit further each day. When I could step all the way down comfortably I started pulling ever so lightly as I stepped UP the ladder. This progressed into doing negative pull-ups where I gradually increased the negative/down resistance. About the same time I started very light deadlifts. I had also figured how to squat lightly without using the shoulder by using a Smith machine, the only time I ever used one, and don't think that helped much at all. With all that said, my mish-mash of experimenting probably overcomplicated things. Rip's method is short and sweet and simple, and his rehab appears to have been quicker than mine. Your years of experience, plus being a beast at your age, will have you back in short order. Will look forward to following your recovery.

Best of the Forum

To use a belt, or not?

From what I understand, weightlifting belts pretty much just help your abs do their job by keeping your stomach/lower back tight. This helps the lifter use more weight than they could without a belt, and avoid some injuries (lower back, abdominal hernia).

I understand the benefits of lifting with a belt, but a big drawback for me is that my abs would not get the training needed to handle the big weights I would eventually be moving. If I attempted the same weight without a belt, I would either fail or hurt myself.

So how do you guys recommend using a belt? All the time? Half the time? Only on certain rep ranges? I would be very grateful for some guidance here.

Michael Wolf

Use it for your last warm-up and your work set(s). When you get stronger, you may want to use it for the last two warm-up sets.

The belt doesn't exactly "help your abs do their job by keeping your stomach/lower back tight." It facilitates a stronger abdominal contraction than can be achieved without the belt, thus training your abs harder and making them stronger. Similar to how you can get stronger by squatting against a loaded barbell, versus pretending there is 405 on your back and trying to replicate the movement and conditions of that scenario.

So belting your heavy sets makes the whole system, including your abs, stronger. As a result of that chronic adaptation, what do you think will happen to your unbelted lifts?

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