Starting Strength Weekly Report

September 07, 2015

September = Strength Month

Under the Bar

barbell club focus personal training institute After school Barbell Club at the Focus Personal Training Institute. [photo courtesy of Brent J Carter]
bench press kim Kim, age 52, finishes her third set of 5 on the bench. She decided to finally roll up her yoga mat and get strong under the bar at Fivex3 Training. [photo courtesy of Emily Socolinsky]
powerlifting jeremy davis After a year off training, Jeremy Davis ended his first 16 weeks back into training with his first USAPL meet. He made a 1354 total with 490 (+60 PR) squat, 330 bench, and 534 deadlift (+30 PR). [photo courtesy of Jeremy Davis]

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Best of the Week

USA Weightlifting Coach Cert vs Starting Strength Cert vs CrossFit Weightlifting Cert

I'd like to know if anyone has taken Rip's Starting Strength course and perhaps either the USA Weightlifting Coach certification or the CrossFit Weightlifting cert. How do they differ? How are they similar? What did you like or dislike about any of them? How are each recognized in the fitness industry?

Ultimately, I would like to be a CrossFit coach but I would like to go above and beyond what the CrossFit courses offer to be a better coach. Thanks!

David Abdemoulaie

I have and maintain both my USAW L1 Sports Performance Coach and Starting Strength Coach certifications.

The USAW seminar was 14 hrs over 2 days. The student:instructor ratio was like 20:1. I don't know what their guidelines are for this, but there were 40+ students and 2 instructors. During the entire 9 hours of platform instruction I had about 10-15 minutes of total time with an instructor. The 5 hour lecture portion was pretty meh. I don't remember specifics. The seminar ended with a multiple choice test which took me about 10 minutes to complete. Disturbingly, there were people in my class who took an hour or more to finish.

I maintain my USAW L1-SP by paying like $20 a year and taking a 10 question multiple choice test which you would have to be brain dead to fail. I was the 65,000th USAW-L1; you will be the 300,000th. (Numbers are completely made up; but seriously like 40 people a week are becoming USAW-L1)

The Starting Strength Seminar on the other hand was 25 hours over 3 days. The lecture portion is incredibly detailed and explains every single detail of lifting with science. The ratio is like 4 or 5:1. You get an instructor watching and providing feedback on every single rep of every single lift.

To become a Starting Strength Coach, you actually have to have demonstrated your ability to perform and coach the lifts during the platform portion of the seminar. Most attendees are not invited to take the test. The test itself is ~7 essay questions which will require you to write 30-50 pages to answer effectively. To maintain my certification I have to pass a test at least once every 3 years, document 150+ hours of coaching yearly, optionally publish an article on the SS website, as well as attend a SS seminar every 3 years. In short, my heartbeat alone is insufficient to maintain my credential. Last I heard (Oct. 2014) there were <150 SSCs; we want this number to grow, but with 0 compromise in quality.


DJK, I have not passed any of the certifications, however I did attend and participate in the Starting Strength Seminar this year and can compare what I saw and learned against 31 years of S&C training. If you want to be a better coach some day, go for the Starting Strength Certification. All the SSCs I worked with were excellent and the materials and attention (with hands on coaching and lifting) is well worth the money. I cannot say the same for other coaches with other certifications that I have worked with over the years. As far as how it’s recognized in the industry... who cares? (In the long run I think being an excellent coach will take you further than any particular cert) Go for it. You will not regret it.

Best of the Forum

Prerequisites for the Olympic Lifts

I know you advocate mastering the basic squat, press, and deadlift before advancing to more complex lifts such as the snatch and the clean. If a beginner to intermediate-level trainee wants to perform the Olympic lifts, at what point would it be prudent to begin loading those lifts? Technique proficiency aside, do you believe that there are certain numbers one must reach in the squat/front squat, press, deadlift before training the Olympic lifts

Mark Rippetoe

I think that if a guy wants to compete in the lifts, he should start practicing them 2x/week towards the end of his novice progression, and then switch to a more weightlifting emphasis as he begins his intermediate-level programming. Any numbers I give for the strength lifts would be bodyweight-based, and would therefore resemble the Sinclair curve. The most important thing to keep in mind - and the biggest bone of contention between us and American Olympic weightlifting coaches - is that power is derived from strength. The 2 lifts are PRACTICED and the strength lifts are TRAINED. If your training ever changes so much in the direction of the 2 lifts that PRs on the squat, presses, and heavy pulls cease to be a feature of your programming, well then, you've just joined the Status Quo.

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