Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 30, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel

In the Trenches

michael sohn squatting
Michael Sohn squats his work set with coach Nicole Rutherford at Valens Strength and Conditioning's squat camp last weekend in San Diego, CA. [photo courtesy of Gabriela Steen]
jason donaldson deadlift start position
Jason Donaldson sets up for his top set of deadlifts with 315 lb at the recent pulling camp in Evanston, IL. [photo courtesy of Kratos Strength Systems]
pete troupos fixes the pull start position
Pete Troupos gives some pointers on start position during the pulling camp held at Arlington Strength last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Meet Results

April 28 4th Barbells & BBQ Strengthlifting Results

April 29 ILF Strengthlifting Challenge Results

Best of the Week

Getting out of the sagittal plane
Tucker Benjamin

One thing I have noticed in the main lifts is they all occur in the sagittal plane. For novices I see this as a non-issue but for the late intermediate or advanced athlete, could you see any benefit in adding assistance exercises that are performed outside of that plane as long as the main lifts are not neglected? Or would you say that due to strength being such a broad adaptation there is plenty of carry over to the other planes of movement?

Mark Rippetoe

I haven't noticed this. Could you explain your assumption a little more?

Charles Jenkins

One of the things that SS harps on is moving the bar in a straight line. A straight-line movement cannot be fully described by one plane; it is the intersection of two planes. Therefore, all SS movements are a resultant upward movement in both the sagittal and frontal planes achieved through what amounts to a system of levers and pulleys oriented in various combinations of all three planes.

Tucker Benjamin

Absolutely, in my analysis of the press, squat, dead lift, power clean, chins, and most other lifts occur in the sagittal plane. My thought is most novices get enough adaptation that it influences the other planes sufficiently, but a more advanced lifter could benefit from working in other planes. Possibly could help prevent some injuries as long as it can follow the 4 criteria to some degree. But on the other hand, most day to day activities do occur in the sagittal plane so I could be wrong for the majority of folks.

Mark Rippetoe

Charles is right about the frontal. Perfect upward vertical movement describes 2 planes. And it takes a lot of force production to eliminate any horizontal motion. As usual, it's just not that simple.

Charles Jenkins

Your understanding of the meaning of the word "plane" is apparently different from mine...and mine is correct.

The bar is not part of the human body, and therefore its movement does not lend itself well to anatomical terms. Movements of the body – say, extension of the elbow – are defined in terms of plane because they are rotational movements meaning their axis of rotation (a line, a.k.a. the intersection of two planes) could be defined in two different planes. To say that the squat occurs in the sagittal plane is incorrect because the bar's movement is linear, not planar.

If you are referring to getting the movement of the joints out of the sagittal plane, I'm not sure what you're suggesting. Working on adducting the elbow doesn't make sense.

Now, while it is true that joint motion occurs primarily in the saggital plane (because most joint motion naturally occurs in that plane), it is not true that joint forces (by count, not necessarily by magnitude) occur in the sagittal plane. For example, during the squat, your hip adductors and abductors are exerting balanced forces in the frontal plane, but because it is a net zero force, it does not manifest as movement in the frontal plane.

Tucker Benjamin

I see what both of you mean as far as the big lifts being multi planar and it makes a lot of sense. I am still learning, and I am finding out that most things are on a sliding scale (little bit of both) and not so polar. But as far as the training implications would this reasoning lead you to believe most assistance exercises that look particularly "twisty" or "rotational" are not the most efficient use of a trainee’s time?

Mark Rippetoe

No, we use goodmornings, and chins and curls and LTEs. But this is one reason they are assistance exercises. I believe this is discussed in the book.

Best of the Forum

Hang Cleans vs. Power Cleans

Why are power cleans more beneficial than hang cleans? I've read that people are equally as strong or possibly stronger with hang cleans. I see that there is a longer range of motion with power cleans, but the extra distance at the bottom is just moving a light weight into position for the jump. Some timing is required for power cleans, but I can't say whether this has any benefit since I don't understand the importance of timing in weight lifting regarding it transferring over to a sport. Can you fill in the gaps for me on this topic?

Mark Rippetoe

You're not just moving the weight through a longer range of motion. You are accelerating through a longer range of motion, and the acceleration is why we do the clean. The longer ROM requires that power be produced over that longer ROM and that you control the position of the bar while this is occurring. Hang cleans are easier to teach, so any excuse for not teaching the harder movement will apparently do for some coaches.


I'm not sure if this generalizes to other people, but I found that past a certain weight, getting set up for a hang clean is a lot more taxing than doing a clean from the floor.

Mark Rippetoe

It very well may be, due to the full deadlift and the lowering back down to the jumping position. More actual work (the force x distance type), even done more slowly.


I don't understand how hang cleans allow some to use more weight (I've heard that rumor before too). I can certainly lift more from the floor, since by the time I hit the second pull position, the bar has some momentum.


Is that acceleration through the extra range motion important mostly for the carry-over effect to the deadlift?

Mark Rippetoe

I've never seen anybody that knew how to power clean correctly lift more from the hang. And the full range of motion is important for getting strong and explosive over the whole range of motion.

Brandon Oto

Under the thinking that the first pull of a clean is more for positioning than power, you may theoretically hang clean the same as you clean. But the only way you should be hang cleaning MORE is if your form is iffy and eliminating the first pull makes the movement simpler, and therefore better. Kinda like how you might power clean more than you squat clean; it's a beginner's phenomenon rather than an advanced one.

Mark Rippetoe

But Brandon, the bar accelerates into the second pull, thus entering the jumping phase of the lift at a higher velocity that it would from the hang. This makes for more than just a positional consideration, even in a novice (but maybe not a rank novice).

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