Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 09, 2016

  • From the archives: Strength & Barbells - Michael Wolf explains why strength is the foundation of fitness.
  • Taking Better Pictures - Tom Campitelli goes into some of the basics of photography and explains the variables involved in setting exposure correctly.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Episode 25 - James Yeager, owner of Tactical Response, joins Rip on the podcast for a discussion on gunfighting, carry weapons, and having an expert opinion.
From the Coaches

Under the Bar

Adam Watson benches 358.2 Adam Watson (paterfamilias), competing bench-only (m1b 105) due to an adductor injury, presses out 358.2 lbs for a 10lb competition PR at the 2016 USAPL Alaska State Powerlifting Championship. [photo courtesy of Adam Watson]
Warren learns to deadlift at 72 Starting Strength Coach Emily Socolinsky coaches Warren, age 72, through the deadlift. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Christopher Billovits 500 lb deadlift Christopher Billovits, a competitor in multiple strength meets in Oakland, CA and weighing just under 189 pounds, stands up with 500 pounds for his third attempt deadlift and holds on to it for a moment before getting three white lights. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
Jac Caggiano presses 140 pounds Masters competitor Jac Caggiano locks out 140 pounds overhead in the Oakland, CA Starting Strength Challenge. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
susan kang 247.5 squat Susan Kang coming out of the hole with 247.5 for her second attempt at the Starting Strength Meet in New York City. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]
Alex opens with a 405 squat After 10 weeks of Texas Method, Alex Opens the 2016 Starting Strength Spring Challenge with 405lbs. [photo courtesy of Feral Fitness]
patrick squats 315x5 Patrick M. hits a PR set of 315x5 at Horn Strength & Conditioning in Los Angeles. [photo courtesy of Paul Horn]
Gena Yoo 200 lb deadlift Gena Yoo pulls a deadlift PR of 200 in the WSC barbell club for women. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
Crystal Riner hits depth Crystal Riner hits depth on a 225 lb squat at the Starting Strength Challnege in Greensburg, PA. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
lawrence kunkel 415 deadlift Lawrence Kunkel rips 415 lb off the earth at the Starting Strength Challenge in Greensburg, PA. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
daniel crapazano prepares Overall Masters winner for New York, Daniel Crapanzano, prepares to hit his final squat attempt at 435. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]
press lockout mary Mary, locking out a press at her first competition. [photo courtesy of Feral Fitness]

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Best of the Week

Cardiologist: “Weight training hardens the muscle.”

A retired military officer I know (in his 60s) was recently told by his cardiologist not to weight train: She said she didn't want him to lift weights anymore - work out yes, lift no - because it "hardens the heart muscle and we want to keep that muscle nice and soft."

Cardiologist is US trained, works in a major city, and has a good reputation.

I did some research and found that some studies show a stiffening of blood vessels associated with weight training, but nothing about damage to the heart muscle, and nothing at all so far that shows any increase in mortality or other risk. I understand that cardiovascular accidents associated with weight training are so low as to be un-measurable, but I would appreciate it if I could get some comments on this from people in a position to have more practical experience than a cursory Internet search would yield. Sounds absurd to me, and at any rate, the benefits of training far outweigh the unmeasured risks.

Jonathon Sullivan

We have dealt with some of this "arterial stiffening" literature in the science review articles. There is no observed clinical relevance to this phenomenon. As to the "hardening" of the heart, he is probably (can't be sure, because this is all bullshit) extrapolating from the observation that the athletic heart is thicker and therefore stiffer, and further extrapolating from the ventricular stiffening that accompanies early heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Not the same scenario at all.

Cardiologists generally know nothing about exercise physiology. Cardiologists know cardiology stuff.

(Usually. I work with cardiologists. Every now and then you meet one who is actually as dumb as a sack of hammers, as in most other fields of human endeavor.)

This cardiologist, on this particular occasion, on this particular topic, is talking out his AOA cardiologist asshole, waving his hands on something he knows nothing about on the basis of no good evidence whatsoever, spewing uninformed cardiologist opinion all over the exam room like Mr. Hanky, and doing a disservice to his patient in the process.

lou t

I am a cardiac patient. My DR. fought me tooth and nail regarding weight training using the same shit theory. The wall of your heart will thicken. Really? I suggested....find a legit study that proves this and I will take it under advisement. 5 years later....still waiting.

Guess who won?

To my cardiologist’s amazement, I am off blood pressure meds, blood thinners (I have 2 stents in the main artery). I only take med for cholesterol. He fought me on this too.

I see him every 6 months for blood and every 2 years for nuclear stress test. I pass with flying colors. He no longer brings up the subject other than to make sure I'm doing some form of exercise.

Best of the Forum

Meet taper for weightlifting

There have been several threads about meet tapers for powerlifting competitions and your advice has been to keep the taper phase rather short. Since I am going to have my first weightlifting meet in September I was wondering about three things:

  1. Is tapering for weightlifters any different than tapering for powerlifters because of the more explosive nature of the competition lifts?
  2. I have basically been following a Texas method style program on M-W-F with the two lifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the beginning I had to decrease the intensity of the Olympic lifts quite a bit in order to still recover from training and hit all the planned PRs. I have begun hitting PRs in the competition lifts three weeks ago and they are progressing in 2.5 kg increments at the moment. Is there any point in time before the meet where you would scale back a bit on the strength lifts in order to get accustomed to heavier weights in the clean & jerk and snatch?
  3. In your experience, how much does an average, intermediate level weightlifter on this type of program gain from the taper? A conservative estimate would really help me to determine a proper opening weight once the time comes.
Mark Rippetoe

In your situation, I would not taper at all. Just skip your Friday strength workout and go to the meet. You've been hitting PRs from the strength-driven program anyway -- just go to the meet and hit two more.


Would this advice change if the goal was to maximize success in that particular meet vs. longer down the road? I ask this because depending on my progress in the coming weeks I might have a small chance to qualify for nationals via this meet in September, which has been a mid-term goal of mine.

I still appreciate the perspective of maximizing training success vs. first-meet success for a weightlifting novice like me. When PRs keep coming, there is no reason to interrupt good, slow, steady progress. But I am not yet sure that I can keep hitting personal bests for the coming two months (if so, then I am in pretty good shape anyways) and theoretically scaling back on the training volume a bit should help with two lifts performance short-term (but not long-term). So I am trying to balance the pros and cons here.

Mark Rippetoe

If you are still making linear progress with the program you're using, what you are essentially proposing is that a taper of some sort would make that progress happen faster in proximity to the meet. My approach is to let the dropped strength work the week of the meet serve as the taper, and let that be all of it. Something is working well now, so don't change anything unless you feel like altering the program that is working.

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