Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 18, 2022

Weeble Edition

On Starting Strength
  • The Great Movies – Rip and John Musser discuss their list of the greatest movies.
  • Olympic Lifters Have to Train the Front Squat – Mark Rippetoe describes when the front squat should be added in programming to help with the clean and discusses the power clean vs the squat clean.
  • From Olympian to Osteoporosis Patient to Strength Athlete – Alison Bradley shares her experience doing the Starting Strength program to reduce joint pain, improve day-to-day energy, and give her a competitive outlet as she approaches 70 years old.
  • Power Bellies by Carl Raghavan – My mind’s telling me no, but my body is telling me yeah! You want it, you know you do, but you’re too scared to admit it. A glorious power belly...
  • The Chalk Box by Mark Rippetoe – If your gym is so cool as to have a chalk box – the gym graciously provides chalk for your use – you are in a real gym...
  • Weekend Archives: Why Your Press Gets Stuck First – Starting Strength Coach Nick Delgadillo talks about the progression of the basic barbell lifts during the programming lecture at a Starting Strength Seminar.
  • Weekend Archives: Why Your Kids Should Be Lifting Weights by Mark Rippetoe – The media has been interested in strength training recently, although they don't know that's what they're actually interested in...

From the Coaches
  • Don't misload your barbell! Thought you set a PR only to discover the weight on the bar was wrong? Phil Meggers gives you two quick and easy methods to see right away if you've loaded the wrong weight on the bar.
  • Loading and unloading the barbell for your deadlifts can be a pain, so in less than 3 minutes, Phil Meggers gives you 4 different ways to make this process easier.
Get Involved

In the Trenches

tony stein coaches gabriel in the squat
Tony Stein coaches Gabriel Lopez on squat. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Houston]
brianne squats triples at 235
As gym dog Milo coaches, Brianne squats 235 lb for triples under the watchful eyes of Cameron and Becky. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
josh locking out a press at 180 pounds
Josh locks out for 180X5X3. Josh is an avid surfer who understands that strength will keep him riding the waves for years to come. [photo courtesy of Jen Smith]
kristin locking out a 200 pound deadlift for the first time
Kristin deadlifting 200 for the first time at Starting Strength Denver. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfhol]
jeremy deadlifting 175 during his first week of training
Jeremy pulls an easy 175lb during his first week of training at Starting Strength Plano. Jeremy's job involves a lot of lifting and carrying, so he came to us with the goal of protecting his back and joints by making them stronger. [photo courtesy of Jacob Thias]
dan rack pulls 585 for a set of 5
Dan Sweet rack pulls 585 for an easy set of 5. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Katy]
james locks out a press at starting strength dallas
15-year-old James locks out a press at Starting Strength Dallas. [photo courtesy of Jayne Peyton]
max with a 225x5 deadlift set
Max with 225x5 on his deadlift after 1.5 months of training at Starting Strength San Antonio. He started with an 85 lb deadlift. [photo courtesy of Victoria Diaz]
jeremy with a new press pr of 117.5x3x5
Jeremy presses 117.5x3x5. He was stalled on the press for a couple of weeks then broke through with this personal best. [photo courtesy of Jen Smith]
sam frapart locking out a press in katy texas
Sam Frapart, originally a member of SS Houston, but now a member of SS Austin, visits SS Katy for a training session. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Katy]
charlie setting up for a deadlift set of 5 at 265
Starting Strength Boise lifter Charlie never thought he’d be able to deadlift 225x5, yet here he is setting up for a smooth set of 5 at 265. [photo courtesy of Rachel Fox]
dale squatting 225 for triples at starting strength denver
Dale, age 65, squatting 225x3x2 at Starting Strength Denver. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfhol]
group photo of matt alex and robert who are working to become the strongest family in cincinnati
Here's Matt (left) and Alex (right) with their son Robert. All 3 train at Starting Strength Cincinnati and are well on their way to becoming the strongest family in Cincy. [photo courtesy of Luke Schroeder]

Best of the Week

Design flaws in the human spine


This article is all I could find from a cursory search, but it references the point that I don't quite understand: "So here we are, upright with a vertical spine that still wants to be horizontal, with all the problems that come along with it, and a very good reason to solve these problems."

I've seen/heard this quote mentioned many times, whilst the article touches on it a little bit, I don't think I've ever heard or read an explanation on what the problems with the human spine are in a bipedal human, compared to a quadruped human.

What exactly are the mechanical flaws that cause back pain that would not do so if we walked on all fours. I've thought about it and the spine, like all structures in the body has evolved to fulfill multiple tasks: It has to weight-bear the entire organism and provide structure whilst allowing mobility, hence the articulated vertebrae design not a single shaft of bone, it has to provide various attachment points for muscles, it has to allow for ligaments to run alongside to maintain positioning on vertebrae on top of each other, it has to protect the spinal cord as well as providing allowances for nerves to enter/leave the spinal cord. And these have various requirements at differing parts of the body, hence the need for 3 separate types of vertebrae.

The only flaw in the design that I can see is that the intervertebral discs compress over time, there doesn't appear to be a mechanism to maintain the clearance of bone on bone contact between vertebral segments. There's definitely body structures that are designed worse. All in all it's pretty good and I doubt I could design something similar.

Mark I was hoping you could point to where you've already discussed what the flaws are in an upright spine compared to a horizontal spine, or elaborate on them here please?

Mark Rippetoe

This is the main problem. As the disc degenerates and the intervertebral spacing degrades, the articular faces of the vertebral bodies respond by generating osteophytes in an attempt to re-space the anatomy, causing unpleasant problems for the nerves and associated structures.

Stop thinking of it as a design, and start thinking of it as the accumulated changes that have occurred over millions of years. This just happens to be where we are right now. Which is fine if nobody gets to be 35.

Best of the Forum

Height classes


In regards to strengthlifting, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, have you ever considered that weight classes are not ideal? For example a 220lb 5'4" man is most likely stronger than a 220lb 6'4" man for multiple reasons such as muscle mass, range of motion, and moment arms.

Why not use height classes? Wouldn't it make more sense to compare people of similar height? Then to be competitive you simply need to get stronger/gain weight instead of playing ridiculous games with weight classes and weigh-ins. I would presume that people are already somewhat herded into height classes indirectly due to needing to be competitive in a weight class (with shorter people having more options), but I think directly using height classes would solve problems in the sport. For example, kids wouldn't ever cut weight if they had to compete in height classes. The only option would be to gain weight/strength with no downside to getting too strong by accidentally moving to the bottom range of the next weight class. If someone bests you it's literally because they're stronger than you with very little room for excuses.

When competing for strength, can you really compare the dynamics of a squat between two men of greater than 1' height difference and make statements about their comparative strength based solely on bar weight?

If there is a flaw to height classes that I'm not thinking of, then my next idea would be height/weight ratio classes. Somehow it should be taken into account that a 5'4" person has a drastically different range of motion and moment arms than a 6'4" person that weight classes can't address. Perhaps a 5'4" 220lb man is more accurate compared to a 6'4" 267lb man. The ratio could mitigate the differences in range of motion and moment arms, although perhaps there would need to be more to it than just a linear equation.

Should we be impressed when a short man starves himself to lift "big weights for his weight class" when someone of the same height, but two weight classes above, is clearly much stronger?

Should we be impressed when a huge dwarf of a man competes with weaker tall people instead of tall people with similar muscle mass compared to their frame?

Mark Rippetoe

At the international level, weight classes are in fact height classes. But weight classes are pretty much baked into the cake at this point. We can't even get them to accept the idea of a weigh-out, because it makes far too much logical sense. If you really want to find out who is the strongest, just load the bar to 800 and see who can do the most reps with it. Nobody will enter your meet, but apparently that's not important.


Yea you're right that weigh-out is a very good improvement to the current situation. And it does make sense that weight classes converge to height classes as you go up in higher competition levels, but doesn't really solve it for lower levels. I guess they don't matter as much though.

I could email the head of USAPL and the Olympic Committee to tell them how stupid they are and CC you. Maybe I'll get every federation in on a mass email chain and we can sort this shit out real quick by making them aware of why weigh-outs and even weight classes are fucking dumb.

Mark Rippetoe

Great idea! Those guys have no vested interest in keeping things the way they are, so I'm sure we can get this done in a couple of weeks.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

Highlights from the StartingStrength Community. Browse archives.

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