Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 15, 2019

Starting Strength Channel
  • Big Things in a Little Garage – Starting Strength Coach Jordan Stanton operates Stanton Strength out of a two-car garage in Portland, OR. He runs a very successful strength training business, owns the United States Strengthlifting Federation, and puts together exciting competitions for local lifters.
  • Chase presses 350 lbs at WFAC. Watch the lift and then review his training log for the previous month.

Training Log
  • Can You Squat Too Deep? Yes, if your goal is to get as much muscle mass as strong as possible over the longest effective range of motion. Rip explains why.
Gym Spotlight
  • Wichita Falls Athletic Club, the first Starting Strength Affiliate Gym in the country, is the home of the Starting Strength method of barbell training. WFAC emphasizes the improvement of strength and conditioning through the use of traditional barbell exercise. It's also ground zero for Rip and The Aasgaard Company.

In the Trenches

opening day starting strength austin
It's Opening Day at Starting Strength Austin for Starting Strength Coaches Joyce Luke and Jarrod Schaefer. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
anthony deadlift lockout
At the Squat and Deadlift Camp at Valens Strength and Conditioning, Anthony finishes strong on the deadlift. [photo courtesy of CJ Gotcher]
ted swanson 600 deadlift
Ted Swanson breaks the 600 lb mark as he pulls 273 kg (600.6 lb) at the 2019 USSF Omaha Strengthlifting Challenge this past weekend. [photo courtesy of photo courtesy of Testify Strength & Conditioning]
milo dog testify strength and conditioning
A big welcome goes out to the newest - and furriest - member at Testify Strength & Conditioning. Milo is easily the most popular member at the gym, and at 60 lbs and 5 months old, has made more consistent weight gain than anyone else. [photo courtesy of Testify Strength & Conditioning]

Best of the Week

Question about “muscle endurance”

I'm not exactly sure where to begin or how to formulate my question, but I believe that I'll get the idea through.

I'll define "muscle endurance" as the number of reps that one can do with a specific (low) weight.

Strength is force production capacity; the more force one’s muscles can generate, i.e. the heavier a weight one can move, the stronger one is.

Endurance is the adaptation of producing more red blood cells to transport oxygen, the muscles' storing capacity of glycogen, and as far as I understand, the muscles' "efficiency" in converting that glycogen to kinetic energy, i.e. the better the muscles are at it, the more reps X grams of glycogen will permit you to perform. I guess that this mystical "efficiency" also entails that the muscles are better at utilizing oxygen, so the more "efficient", the more reps your muscles can do with X liters of oxygen.

Now, obviously strength = higher work capacity; strong muscles need less energy and oxygen for a submaximal rep, the more submaximal that the rep is, i.e. the stronger the muscle is.

... my understanding of "muscle endurance", is that it's determined by strength (submaximal reps are easier, thus a greater number of them can be performed), by "endurance" (oxygen transportation and glycogen storing capacity), and, by the muscles' efficiency in using both oxygen and chemical energy.

So my question is made up of 1) is my understanding of "muscle endurance" correct, if not, how does it work, 2) is that thing about the muscles' "efficiency" in burning calories right, and 3) if there is such a thing as "muscle endurance" (whether it's as I understand it or not, as long as it's even a thing), is it a thing that some athletes should be physiologically adapting to specifically, or is strength + prowling the way to go (except for swimmers, long distance cyclists, marathoners etc)?

Mark Rippetoe

These are outside my bailiwick. We'll ask.


Muscle endurance seems like a misleading term. The question is more properly phrased as work or work over time. Bodybuilders (real ones, like guys who bench 405 x 15 reps not skinny little douchebags at your globo-gym who weigh 170 pounds and bench 185) do a shit ton of work in a short amount of time –  their muscles adapt accordingly to those needs. The skinny little twit who owns the Guinness book of world records record for pushups also does a lot of work, but over a much longer period of time – his muscles also adapt accordingly.

The question of "muscle endurance" seems to be a red herring. The proper question is one of what is the desired adaptation?

All athletes – including marathon and other ridiculous long slow distance athletes – benefit from strength because it gives them more to "play with" i.e. fine tune their adaptation.

“The proper question is one of what is the desired adaptation.”

Right, that's what I was getting at. What is that adaptation, exactly? I was hypothesizing in the OP about what I thought it was. Red blood cell count because more oxygen, the better. Energy storing capacity, because the more energy available, the more reps you can do. Strength, obviously, because the more submaximal a rep, the more reps you can do. What I wasn't sure about, was if there is such a thing as a muscles efficiency in burning energy when doing reps.

... The other stuff is clearly achievable through strength training + prowling. But again, if muscles can adapt to i.e. improve their efficiency in burning energy when doing reps, that would seem like an adaptation that has to be specifically programmed. Not necessarily "specifically" as in practiced, no, just that it would be an adaptation that has to be acquired by doing light work / long time (I'm guessing).

So yeah, exactly, what IS the desired adaptation? ... is what I'm wondering.


The human body is complicated and there are a lot of adaptations that are responsible for endurance. A few just off the top of my head are:

  • Increased blood volume / red blood cell mass
  • Increased mitochondrial mass / density
  • Increased capillary density
  • Changes / increases in metabolic enzymes
  • Increased hydrogen ion buffering in your blood
  • Increased glycogen storage
  • Increased muscle tissue mass
  • Increased heart stroke volume
  • Neural stuff 

What's important probably depends on what exactly you mean by endurance. If you are talking about the ability to do 20 rep squats as endurance then simply getting strong in the squat is a probably a great way to go about it. If you’re talking about the ability to do a million rep squats (say a 100 mile bike ride) then getting a stronger squat is still probably helpful, but things like having more muscle and liver glycogen and your ability to consume and utilize oxygen are probably more important.

Best of the Forum

Weather and training/recovery

This may seem like an odd question, but does weather play any significant role in training/recovery?

I’m 44, probably an advanced novice, and was making good gains during autumn/winter (I train in a basement gym with no AC or heat). Cold weather training was great. Now that it’s hot and humid, my strength seems to be not just stagnant, but actually regressing.

Previous squats at 295x5x3 are now unachievable. I’m struggling on 245x5x1! As far as I can tell the only training variable that has changed has been the weather. Is this possible?


Thanks. I was familiar with the article on cold weather training, but my google skills failed on the hot weather article.

Eric Schexnayder

I train in my garage in Houston and have the same challenges. I'm doing NLP so not much training history, but I swear I was making more solid progress when it wasn't so damn hot outside.

Buy a big fan and sit in front of it between sets to cool down. Drink lots of water in between sets as well. Keep a sweat towel around so you don't waste copious amount of chalk.

I've never tried the multi-shirt method, but now I will for sure.


I’m pretty sure recovery is harder too. I’m guessing a hot, no AC bedroom prevents a deep quality sleep in comparison to a centrally heated bedroom in cool weather.

Mark Rippetoe

Until 1999, I lived in a frame house in North Texas with only a fan in my bedroom. No AC, heat was a wood stove. I managed to train hard.


Oh, I’m still training just as hard. It just seems that progress is harder to come by. In fact, as I stated initially, it seems I’m regressing. It’s frustrating.

Mark Rippetoe

Progress does that as you train for years. Are you eating enough? Heat kills the shit out of an appetite.


Very true. It's harder to get it all down these days. It's also possible that I'm just eating the same and now I have to eat more than that. It's also possible that I'm out and about more, coaching soccer, teaching my kid to ride a bike, picnics, even just walking around more, and such. While it's not consciously/obviously hard on me physically, I bet it all adds up.

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