Starting Strength Weekly Report

June 22, 2015

SS Coaches' Updates & Blogs

Under the Bar

squat austin baraki 520 Austin Baraki squats 520lbs at a local powerlifting meet June 20 in San Antonio, TX. He benched 385 and deadlifted 600 for a 1505 total weighing 192 lbs. [photo courtesy of Loraine Baraki]
matt mcconnell deadlift 305 Matt McConnell, a 32 year old Physician's Assistant, uses the Starting Strength program. He has taken his deadlift from 185 for 5 to 305 for 5 in the last few weeks after dealing with a minor back tweak. [photo courtesy of Chris Kurisko]
barbell club Father's Day workouts happening all Sunday long at Woodmere S&C barbell club. The Adlerstein family trains together, father and sons getting strong using the Starting Strength method. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
emily deadlift Emily pulls 185# for 3x3. She came to Fivex3 Training after feeling frustrated with her workout routine which consisted of barre classes and running. Now she is stronger, has more energy and is more confident in her abilities to care for her disabled husband who is confined to a wheelchair. [photo courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]
squat training camp joey Joey was a first time squatter this weekend at the Starting Strength Training Camp at STRONG Gym. Here he demonstrates excellent form with 155lbs as Matt Reynolds coaches. [photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds]
starting strength meeting Getting down to business at the coaches conference in Brooklyn, NY. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]

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Best of the Week

When you’re right, you’re right

I had spinal fusion (L5, S1) about 10 years ago. After a lifetime of squatting, I quit for almost 10 years out of fear. I finally decided to get back into squatting after reading this forum and deciding I needed to do low back squats, which I never did before. Rip tried and tried to get me to do those when I lived in Wichita Falls in my 20s but I was stubborn. Living in Austin, there really aren't any good gyms, so I bought a squat rack for my home. I'm now up to 260 for my last set of 5 and my back actually feels better than when I wasn't squatting. I'm 52 years old and weigh around 190 so I know that I still have plenty of room to improve.

I'm writing this to give encouragement to those that have had back surgery. Rip told me I should be squatting again and I finally listened.

Mark Rippetoe

You were a stubborn kid. But welcome back to the board.


Incredible! I was discussing this with my wife just yesterday. We're going to the doctor to discuss options on her kyphoscoliosis and I have been worried that spinal fusion would impede lifting. Good to know you've had success with it.

Have you done anything different to what's in the book? Could you relate your experiences?


I was very disciplined about doing the rehab exercises that the therapist recommended after my surgery. This seemed to help a lot. I didn't have the same condition that your wife has so I'm hesitant to give any advice. My disc disintegrated basically from years of abuse and my job, so I had no choice but to have the surgery. I'm a fireman, which can be hard on the back.

Other than focusing on doing low back squats correctly, the other thing I got out of the Practical Programming for Strength Training was to quit doing any kind of clean. The few times I tried to squat over the years, I tried to do some kind of clean as well, which made my knees so tender that I couldn't squat anymore. After reading the book, I realized that I was just too old for Olympic lifts.

Best of the Forum

Switch squat to Texas Method early?

I've reached the point in advanced novice linear progression (LP) where each jump is taking two tries, so I'm effectively only progressing once per week. Is it okay to switch to Texas Method (TM)so I could progress at the same rate with less missed reps.

Details: 5'10", 189 lbs, 27 yo, gaining weight at 5lb/week.

315x5x3 took two attempts (first attempt 5,5,4)

After that I had a session with David Abdemoulaie and deloaded to fix some form issues. A couple of weeks later got 315x5x3 and 320x5x3 on first tries.

First attempt at 325 got 5,5,4 last Monday. I threw in a "medium day" on Friday because I had gotten shitty sleep all week. Got 325x5x3 on Monday. Today attempted 330 and got 5,5,3.

So other than 320 which was coming off a deload, each weight from 315 up has taken two attempts. Would switching my squat to TM make sense? I think missing reps today may have negatively affected my cleans.

Andy Baker

I'd start doing one top set plus 2 back offs and keep on your LP. The third set seems to be the one you are missing, but the first set is still cruising for fives.

Back offs should be hard, but form should hold and you shouldn’t miss reps.

The back off method is most useful when the lifter has fallen into a pattern of always getting the first set of 5, but then having a sharp drop off on sets 2 and 3. However, if the lifter starts missing on the first set too, then we just drop all sets to 3x3.

As a rule, lifters will get longer runs on the back off method. Not because the method is necessarily better, but the lifter who needs it, tends to be in a state of less overall fatigue then the lifter who needs the latter.

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