Starting Strength Weekly Report

April 09, 2018

  • Coaching – Rip explains why it is a good thing to get coaching from different people and why coaches benefit benefit from operating in new environments and under pressure.
  • A Chinese version of Maybe You Should Gain Weight is this week's translation: 增重你怕了吗?
  • From the archives: In Strength Training and the Firefighter John Musser brings on-the-ground perspectives on the impact of getting strong
    Bill Starr begins the story of the extraordinary Bill March, a lifter who made the most of being in the right place at the right time.
Training Log
  • Karl Schudt takes us to Iron City Athletic Club where a group of developmentally disabled residents have become lifters, challenging both themselves and their coaches.

In the Trenches

brett mckay lecturing on modern physical culture
Keynote speaker Brett McKay gives a talk on physical culture in the modern world at StrengthCon I. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
StrengthCon medical panel
Matthew Aiken, Angie Bryant, and Jonathon Sullivan answer questions during the medical Q&A during StrengthCon I. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
brian reilly quintet performing
The Brian Reilly Quintet performs during a catered dinner Saturday night at StrengthCon I. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Too late for a linear progression?
Jim Wolf

I’m in my late 30s and have been training for about 10 months. I literally had never used a barbell before last July, when I checked out a weightlifting club near home. I asked them to teach me how to squat and deadlift and quickly got hooked. My training over the last 10 months has consisted of regular squats (high bar ass to grass), front squats, snatches, cleans, deadlifts, presses, push presses, and a little benching. I went from 165 lbs at 5’10” up to 195 lbs, and I’ve had all kinds of physical benefits, like my knees and back don’t hurt anymore and my wife is constantly remarking on my new physique. So mostly great news (although I’ve had to buy new clothes)!

However, I discovered Mr. Rippetoe’s articles recently, and I get the sense that I left some general strength gains on the table by learning Olympic lifts and using periodization without ever going through a disciplined linear progression. For example, after 10 months, my deadlift is only about 1.7x bodyweight, not the common benchmark of 2x. My squat (HB ATG) is only about 1.3x bodyweight, and I’ve read about benchmarks of 1.5x-1.75x (low bar?). It sounds like guys on Starting Strength get to this level in something closer to 3 months. Yes I’m a little older, but not so old for that to be an excuse.

So my question: Is it too late to benefit from the SS linear progression? If not, do I just start the same as everyone else? Deadlifting three times a week, even if I start where a set of 5 is really comfortable (say 275 lbs), seems like a bit much. I’m tempted to jump straight to phase 2 or 3, but don’t want to short circuit the program either. I’d love to just find an SSC and get some individualized advice, but I live in Idaho now, and I don’t see any in the SS registry.

Thanks in advance! I apologize if this question comes up a lot. I imagine my situation isn’t unique.

Steve Hill

In this case your best move would be to get with an SSC for an in-person consult. Quite frankly, you're most likely going to at least squat wrong (we see this all the time), so getting that fixed is imperative. And then the person coaching your squat can see and help set your starting weights from there.

As a general rule, when I work with someone like you (lifting but not using the SS model for the lifts), I generally back them off to what seems (to them, and would to you) silly-light weights so that the weight is not a distraction from the form/technique/model – which will be new for them (and you). Then I adjust the increment from workout to workout so that we are "greasing the groove" while moving back up to weights they had previously attained. The important part here is that it *can't* be hard for a while – there's a new movement pattern to learn. If that gets hard to quickly, the client *will* revert back to old technique.

I do not think it's too late to benefit from running an (abbreviated) LP. You'll use a bigger increment at first, but may benefit from the form/technique changes enough to continue it well beyond what you would have attained doing what you're doing. It just won't be as profound an affect, since you came to it late and having trained.

Best of the Forum

Analysis Paralysis
John Tony

Every time I work on improving my squats they feel a little better during the set, but after watching the videos it looks like my form actually regresses at times. When I try to emphasize or focus on improving one area (setting the knees on the descent, lumbar flexion in the hole, etc.) some other aspect of my form seems to suffer.

How does one stop overthinking every minute detail and just move the damn bar? It is something I struggle with and I am sure others have had this same problem as well. How have you helped clients over the years overcome this "analysis paralysis"?

Mark Rippetoe

Stop looking at your videos and get some coaching.

Mark E. Hurling

At the risk of setting off another and a different OCD loop, may I suggest this?

Alter your focus inward to how the reps feel. Once you have had some coaching as to what a good set of movements and reps feels like as you do them, you can use those tactile and sensory "bookmarks" to get a sense of your performance. An external and visual focus can drive someone (not just you) into a do-loop that will only result in less than you can achieve. Kind of like Obi-Wan advising Luke when he said, "Use the force Luke."

I am confident I get mocked more than a little here for my Eastern ooga-booga tendencies that have spilled over from martial arts into a lot of things I do, but then again some of it actually works for someone else besides me.


I had the same problem. It's very easy for me to over analyze things. In no particular order a couple things which helped me were:

  1. Do the additional exercises if you're having trouble with a concept. If you're having trouble setting your back then: watch the platform video, do the stretch, have someone examine the back of your shirt etc etc. It really does help.
  2. Watch videos of good squats to get an idea of how different people vary and to help you visualize what good squats actually look like. Even better if you're able to spectate in real life.
  3. After the first couple of weeks stop using the work sets as a way to learn form. Focus on that during your warm ups. When you get to the work sets it's time to focus on the squat as a whole, use the master cue.
  4. If you're going to use video then maybe take the extra step of getting a program like kinovea and use it to track the bar path and what not. Your analysis of the video is subjective. A line showing you how well the bar stays over the middle of your foot is not.
Charlie Davies

I've watched a zillion squat vids, including dozens of my own work-sets. I can now spot squat faults pretty well on video. But it turns out coaching is more than spotting what's wrong. I guess I'm echoing Rip here.

Personally, I'm signed up for an upcoming SS seminar, just as a lifter not an aspiring coach. I hope to learn:

  • which of my flaws are serious enough to fix before adding weight (hopefully none)
  • how to fix some of the flaws I've not fixed on my own yet
  • (the big win) what I'm doing wrong that I've not noticed

Starting Strength Weekly Report

Highlights from the StartingStrength Community. Browse archives.

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