Starting Strength Weekly Report

June 29, 2015

  • The winner of the June Under the Bar prize drawing is Inna Koppel.

Under the Bar

Joseph has been on the Starting Strength program since he was 8 years old. He finished with a 722 official world record squat, 380 bench, and a 600 dead lift. His 1702 total is a new world record. [video courtesy of J. Pena]
Joseph has been on the Starting Strength program since he was 8 years old. He finished with a 722 official world record squat, 380 bench, and a 600 dead lift. His 1702 total is a new world record. [video courtesy of J. Pena]
emily socolinsky stone throw Starting Strength Coach Emily Socolinsky throws the 110# stone over a 48" bar for reps at the Keystone 5 Strongman Contest at York Barbell in Pennsylvania.
kelly c&j strongman FiveX3 lifter Kelly won third place at this event. Here she is on the clean and jerk event. [Keystone 5 photos photos courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]

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Best of the Week

Bulking and Cutting
Eric Larousse

How do the intermediate/advanced programs in Practical Programming for Strength Training (PPST3) take into account when you have to cut weight? For instance if you are training with the Texas Method are you assuming that the lifter is always on a bulk throughout the program without ever having to cut? Basically I am just wondering what your personal thoughts are on bulking and cutting cycles?

Andy Baker

When you are cutting you basically focus on keeping your CNS stimulated with higher intensity training. Lots of singles and doubles will help maintain strength as the weight falls. You'll need to feel that heavy weight frequently or you'll lose it

Traditional volume work like 5x5 will go to shit. Dynamic effort (DE) work is probably going to serve you better for volume accumulation.

I’m down 34 pounds in the last several months and have basically used an approach like this:

  • Monday - Bench Singles
  • Tuesday - Squat Singles + Speed Deadlift
  • Thursday - Bench Volume (Speed)
  • Friday - Squat volume (speed) + heavy Deadlift

Strength is down for sure, but I haven't completely tanked.

Eric Larousse

Another question I had related to this post is in your Clarification article you bring up the point that after a trainee "cleans up" their diet that their bodyfat and this would entail the lifter to go from ~19-20% back to ~15-17% for healthy athletic males. So my question is does that affect the programming during the recomp period or are you able to maintain progression even though you are moderating your bodyfat pretty deep into novice progression?


I have found being at maintenance plausible if you are rotating between 1) volume work and 2) DE work per PPST3 for several cycles, and when the gains on 5x5 halt rotating to 2) maximal effort work and DE work per PPST3.

Trying to cut on a program like Texas Method in my opinion is not optimal given the demands this program places you the trainee (but at the same time please appreciate the fact that you will never make gains as quickly as you will on another program, except [the] Starting Strength [linear progression] when you just begin training). Also, I have found given the 5 lb increase per week (whether it be on volume day or ME/intensity day), you will stall quicker if you maintain weight or cut as compared to bulking throughout.

Best of the Forum

Programming for Women

So I've been interested in the biological differences and the differences in the biological response to muscular stress between the sexes since my girlfriend started weight training. To begin with, it seems to me from my experience with starting strength that the general consensus amongst beginner trainers is to maintain the same programming between male and female lifters. However, I've come across other sources, from online blogs to textbooks with lots of citations (Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky and Kraemer) that seem to contradict this. Namely they say that trained women typically demonstrate less neurological efficiency than trained men. The implications being that women can't actually hit their true 1 RM due to only being able to recruit around 90% of the amount of muscle fibers as compared to men. So whereas men at 85% of their tested 1 RM would hit 5 reps, women at 85% of their tested 1 RM (not true 1 RM) would hit 8-10 reps area. Also, many of these sources seem to agree that women respond better to hitting the same muscle group from multiple angles, such as performing DB curls as well as hammer curls.

I really have no clue what the implications of this information here is, but I just notice that researchers have documented these differences while people still advocate the same beginner programs for men and women. I can't help but to think that women might benefit from more volume as compared with men to get the same strength gains. Or perhaps that the standard rep ranges most people are aware of for strength and hypertrophy (generally 1-5 for strength, 8-12 for hypertrophy, 15+ for endurance) might be slightly skewed for women. Further evidence of this would be many blogs citing better hypertrophy success for women being obtained when they program their lifts in at 12-15 reps per set, as compared with 8-12 per set for men).

What is going on here or is this just less significant than I am making it out to be? There is no doubt from all the anecdotal evidence that women respond to 3x5, same as men. I just am curious if all this research might add up one day to saying women get better strength gains working at 3x8.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head since helping my girlfriend get started on lifting. Any thoughts on this?

Mark Rippetoe

In this one particular instance, Zatsiorsky and Kraemer are actually correct. This has been discussed here quite a bit. Our thinking is that for a female starting out, 5s x 3 sets work best for the first 3 months of linear progression (LP), and then switch her to 5 sets of 3, taking advantage of the ability to handle higher % of 1RM.

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