Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 20, 2015


Under the Bar

power clean sean collins Sean Collins power cleans at this weekend's Starting Strength Seminar in Brooklyn. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
karen gue 150kg squat Karen Gue squats 150 kg at the USAPL Maryland Equinox Open, her second powerlifting meet. Karen went 8/9 with 150/70/147.5 at 72 kg. [photo courtesy of Beau Bryant]
Kris squats 200# for 5x5. She alternates between a volume day, a light day and a heavy day. [photo courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]
hassan squat 370 for sets of five Hassan Mansour squats 370 x 5 x 3 this weekend, using nearby Starting Strength Coaches to spot. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]

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Best of the Week

Why ever train beltless?

From everything I can tell, using a belt while training not only allows you to lift a larger weight, studies I've read show higher muscle activation at the same weights using a belt. From the books and posts I've read on the forum it seems a belt is mostly recommended for the last set of warmups and the work sets. Why wouldn't I also use it for all my warmups (including the bar)?

And why would anyone ever want to train beltless at all? I see Dan Green etc. frequently doing "beltless" cycles. I can't find any good reason for it, but I also don't seem to see you guys recommend using a belt for 100% of all sets.

Tom Campitelli

The belt is a wonderful piece of equipment. However, at light weights its contribution is negligible. You don't really care about higher levels of motor unit recruitment during warm ups. Further, being able to squat without the belt is the equivalent of skill practice. For people that have injured backs, wearing the belt for most or all of the warm ups can often be a good idea. Dan Green is an exceptional athlete at the far end of training advancement. He is attempting to manipulate every variable he can to continue to eek out progress. Training without a belt can provide a way of working hard, although at slightly reduced tonnages. For most people that have progressed into heavier weights, doing the last warm up and work sets with the belt is a good idea. The physical and psychological benefits of wearing a belt are significant.


For my competition lifts I now wear a belt from 50% on during warm-ups. If there happens to be any form change when I add a belt I don't want my warm-up reps to be slightly off from my work reps.


I like beltless squats as a training variation while accumulating volume. I have a good handle on how to get a lot out of a belt. But I also can get a significant training stimulus by squatting without the belt. It forces me to slow down and control the bar path more precisely, it also simulates max effort bar speeds at lower weight, this is an advantage to me.

It also increases the benefit I get from the belt when I put it on because not only is my bar path precise, I can then get aggressive with much more confidence using that belt.

Beltless heavy work is not for beginners. It requires judgment and skill and if the motor patterns and mind body connection are not good for the movement, it would be easy to get hurt.

Best of the Forum

Fractures, hardware, and their compromise; unlikely or inevitable?

In October of last year while biking through the trails of the frozen North, the mountains decided that I required an extra elbow joint in my right arm. After two ORIF procedures to repair displaced fractures of the proximal third of both my radius and ulna, I am the proud owner of two titanium plates (approximately 1/3 the length of my radius and ulna) and twelve screws.

Because I am not a fool, I skipped physiotherapy with paperweights and immediately began the program with wooden dowels and progressed with weight as permitted by my attending physician and moderated by physical pain. I have complete range of motion and am capable of deadlifting 235x5, pressing 95x5 and performing chins and weighted chins without pain. (I should note that in February I had an acriomioplasty and bursectomy, which was "rehabbed" with a diet of presses and chins).

My question is about to the kind of implant compromise that a far more legendary Mr. Jones experienced. I was not able to find information about the incidence rate of new bone growth displacing titanium implants, let alone data among lifters. I am not concerned that this event will "hurt" me; I in fact believe such a thing would be awesome. But I'm curious if you or anyone else thinks this is likely, and thus something I should keep an eye on, and if it is likely, what kind of warning signs should I watch for?

Mark Rippetoe

The long-term stability of the hardware will depend on it's location, and how well you grow new bone, neither of which I know. My advice would be to train as heavy as you can, and monitor the situation in light of the advice you get when you contact Brian and ask him what happened with his.

Brian Jones

From the time I started training with the hardware in my legs, there were strange clicks & pops. An ongoing soreness and such. A dull ache now and again. I learned to live with it. Once the hardware began to become compromised I started feeling instances of sharp pain during particular movements - then nothing with other movements. The pins and screws eventually began to work their way out - so they were moving from the bone back through the soft tissue towards my skin. That hurt. In some instances you can even see the heads of the screws, pins etc underneath the skin. From there I had surgeries to have the hardware removed. The first was in July for the right leg. The next was November for the left. I didn't allow the hardware to hinder my training. Train hard. Expect to be sore. If you feel sharp pains, that is when there are issues.

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