2016 Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference Wrap-Up

Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference 2016

On August 5 through 7, the fifth annual Starting Strength Coaches Association (SSCA) Conference took place in Wichita Falls, Texas. The conference provides an opportunity for Starting Strength Coaches from around the US and the world to build and renew professional relationships, and to learn from each other. Most of the time during the weekend is dedicated to presentations from the coaches on topics of research, business, and training for the purposes of continuing education. A business meeting takes place to chart the direction of the organization and to hear from the coaches regarding concerns and ideas for growth and improvement. Lastly, it is a chance for coaches, who often train by themselves, to work out in an environment full of people who actually know how to evaluate and cue the lifts.

The conference began Friday afternoon with the business meeting. By-laws adopted last year were amended and the framework for the SSCA to separate from the Aasgaard Company and become its own formal entity was discussed. Additionally, we discussed the formation of a USA Strengthlifting Federation and the possibility of holding a national strengthmeet next year.

The business meeting concluded and the coaches traveled to the gym to begin the customary Friday night workout. Rip started things off with a clinic on the platform discussing arm pulls in the Olympic lifts and how to fix them.

SSC Diego Socolinksy

Once that was done, the group workout ensued with plenty of heavy lifting. The coaches don’t just teach people to lift using the Starting Strength Method, they lift using the same mechanics they teach others. Each year, the Friday evening workout is a highlight, as dozens of coaches fill Wichita Falls Athletic Club and get under the bar. For coaches who are primarily used to training on their own, it is a welcome opportunity to have knowledgeable eyes on their lifts and to receive useful cues – coaches need coaching, too. And it was a treat to get to see David Abdemoulie's bare-knees 600-pound squat.

SSC Nick D'Agostino

Saturday was spent at the conference venue taking in presentations from the coaches. Jonathon Sullivan conducted a thorough review of Wirth, et al.’s recent paper comparing the effects of the squat to the leg press on jumping performance. Spoiler alert: the squat won, although the paper was not without its methodological flaws.

Thereafter, Sullivan, Baraki, Gotcher, and Petrizzo held a panel discussion on the recently-publicized Morton, et al. paper on light weights vs. “heavy weights” and how they affect hypertrophy. The paper did not hold up well to scrutiny, although its widespread coverage in the press may allow its erroneous conclusions to cause problems for strength and conditioning professionals for some time to come. After lunch, Will Morris looked closely at spinal anatomy and back injuries. John Musser discussed how to incorporate strength training into law enforcement and fire service settings. Paul Horn brought us up to dinner and gave a presentation on best practices for opening a Starting Strength Gym.

During dinner, Dr. Bill Been from the American Society of Skeletal Management and Unifying Neuro-Cognitive Healthcare (ASSMUNCH) gave an enormously important, or not important, as the case may be, presentation, or possibly a talk about a number of wildly varied topics including, but not limited to, scapular sequencing and rotary stability in what can best described as a comedic tour de force. Rip’s band, the Anarene Transit Authority, played several songs afterward. To everyone’s surprise, particularly the author, they were pretty good.

Sunday was a shorter day and led off with Brodie Butland discussing this year’s developments in case law as it applies to gym owners and strength professionals. Inna Koppel gave an overview of a research project currently getting off the ground that investigates the effect of strength training on individuals with dementia. Leah Lutz closed the conference with her story of losing a significant amount of weight through strength training and eventually qualifying for the US Masters Team for the recent International Powerlifting Federation’s Raw World Championships.

The conference was another in a line of successful events for the SSCA. Each year has seen increased attendance and the quality of speakers and presentations continues to impress. We are looking forward to next year.

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