Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 25, 2016

  • In Aches and Pains, Austin Baraki explains the complexity of treating pain, and typical encounters when treatment is sought from various practitioners.
  • Want to Look Strong? Then Deadlift - Rip asks, answers, and explains.
  • From the Archives: Marty Gallagher on the importance of strength and the success of Ken Patera.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Episode 31 - Feelings vs Data, pt3: Wrapping up the series on objectivity with Starting Strength Coach Niki Sims. Rip and Niki discuss objective measures and methods for improving body composition.

Under the Bar

dana working squat form Dana working on improving her form during the Squat Camp held at CrossFit Fort Worth. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
cassi niemann deadlift SSC Cassi Niemann deadlifitng 305x5 under the careful watch of SSC Alex Kennedy at Atlanta Barbell. [photo courtesy of Andrea Marcon]
5RM squat pr Patrick shatters his old 1RM of 300 with a set of 5 at 315 two and a half months into his novice progression. [photo courtesy of Jayson Ball]
bench set up Hannah teaches barbell club trainee, Dena Gryfe, how to set up for the bench press in the WSC barbell club. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
christian competition squat Fivex3 Training intern Christian hits a 402# squat at his first USAPL powerlifting meet last weekend. He went 8/9 finishing with 402/237/500 [photo courtesy of Dominic Kerchner]
work set squat Gillian Ward squats a work set at Crystal Coast Strength & Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Gillian Ward]

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Best of the Week

Fitness industry theory

Thoughts on why the current fitness industry and exercise science will never change on its own:

The fitness industry is... an industry. And industries stay alive by making money. Every mainstream aspect of the current fitness caste contributes to this simple reality. From the NSCA, to the run of the mill personal trainer, to the highly credentialed professors who teach that improving squat mechanics is done by squatting on bosu balls with bands wrapped around your feet, the industry takes care of, and breeds, it's own.

The fitness industry runs off of many paradigms that keep it alive, but one that holds a great deal of prevalence is that variety sells, and what actually works/makes sense/is efficient is cast aside.

People get bored all too easily. The general public has an appetite for sound bites, and the portions are only getting smaller. People are addicted to distraction. Enter the fitness industry and the "variety sells" paradigm, where quick fixes and all the colors of the rainbow shine to distract you while you exercise. It's the reason Muscle and Fitness keeps printing, it's the reason crossfit is so popular, it's the reason your personal trainer is revered like some kind of witch doctor: because "fitness" is black magic, and the voodoo man in the Grey polo shirt and slacks has the 17 different exercises and "secrets" to get you where you want to go. How many times can Muscle and Fitness write an article of curls? As many times as there are ways to do curls. Same with core work - half a billion ways to work your core by Industry Keyholder Jr.

The fitness industry is so painfully geared toward this paradigm that it defies logical conclusions that are easily made through formulaic approaches, like Starting Strength.

While it's true that strength training has gained popularity in recent years, it still falls prey to the ever-present paradigm of variety sells. "If you want to get your squat up, you need to correct your muscular imbalances and improve strength with isolation exercises, and here's 200 different ones you can perform. Come back to me with your money when you stall again and I'll take care of you." - A personal trainer.

Like other industries, the fitness industry takes paths of least resistance where it can in order to proliferate as much as possible in the most cost effective way. This is why no one actually knows how to teach the squat: because it takes too much time and doesn't fall into the variety sells category. Combine that with the general population's tendency towards distraction and easy paths, and you have a personal trainer that can easily direct a client to the nearest leg press machine. Why would anyone take the time to learn about what efficient strength training looks like, when you can make more money having people do band pull a parts and horrible form snatches for time? The factors that make a respectable strength training study are, in most cases, utterly lost on the professors that do them. The fitness industry literally breeds its own caretakers to protect itself and to uphold the money making variety sells paradigm, and no one is the wiser.

JFK said, "The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

Mark Rippetoe

The fitness industry is predicated on sales. We are not, and for us, sales are a side-effect of effectiveness.


tfranc has got it. The other part of the story is the "sunk cost."

To enter the fitness industry costs money. If you have spent thousands to get a certificate and then spent extra money to learn the "secrets" of postural correction and bought a load of Bosu balls, rubber bands, power bags, battle ropes and other gear, it can be hard to admit that you could get all the same benefits from four exercises and one piece of equipment.

No Les Mills teacher is going to tell you "This is just a moderate cardio program with some stretching and the barbells you are using are so light that only the very weakest person will get stronger from using them. You might as well do your fives and maybe do some kind of cardio."

Best of the Forum

Hip Problem – With MRI Results

I've been dealing with a right hip flexor problem for over a year now. I thought it was just a pulled muscle so I tried to squat through it with no luck. I finally got an MRI and it says:

  1. moderate sized right joint effusion, with only mild synovial enhancement. Ill-definition of the anterosuperior left labrum cannot be confirmed as a tear by these large field-of-view images protocolled to survey the pelvis.
  2. There is a cleft within the left piriformis through which a branch of the sciatic nerve passes. This appearance would be consistent with a history of piriformis syndrome in the appropriate clinical setting.

This has caused an incredible amount of tightness in both of my legs (IT bands, piriformis, etc.) and I have trigger points all over my legs and even my back that just keep coming back.

I'm now doing sports massage therapy and physical therapy. Both of which hurt like hell.

Do you or anyone else have any other suggestions? I'd really like to get this over with so I can lift heavy again.

Mark Rippetoe

Trigger points are bullshit. I can mash on you in several places and make you hurt like hell and call them trigger points. Do you have sciatica? Are you/have you been a runner?


No, sir. No sciatica at all. The hip flexor in the front is very tight right at the top of my hip. I cannot cross my right leg over my left while sitting down and that's why I went for the MRI. I'm doing dynamic stretches in PT to help loosen up.

I may not be saying the right thing about the trigger points. I've got these knots all over my legs and even in my low back that I can feel and I'm trying to rub them out and so does the massage therapist. These developed after the pain in my hip flexor.


Trigger points are unbelievably tender in people who have syndromes with heightened pain sensitivity, like chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. I had a teen the other day whose trigger points were so uniquely tender that she actually tried to block me from examining them.

Though I doubt there is anything biologically unique about these spots other than their location, they are pretty useful. The reason is that many such patients have a disorganized blur of complaints and symptoms all over their body, and it's only after examining trigger points that it becomes clear that it's a pain syndrome/hyperesthesia syndrome. I see these patients because they are often convinced they have some sort of infection.

Anyway, I would never even consider trigger point injection. De-medicalizing them is the key. The treatments that work are sleep hygiene, exercise, and massage. There are some medications that work too but those are last line options.

So I wouldn't agree that trigger points are bullshit at least in this sort of context, they're useful markers of a problem that can be fixed.

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