Starting Strength Weekly Report

August 13, 2018

Training Log
  • Mark Rippetoe takes on "[p]erhaps the most overused and annoying term in the limited vocabulary of inexperienced coaches" – "Butt Wink".
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #66 – Rip gives his thoughts on wet aged beef, The Avengers franchise, and how strong an SSC should be.
  • BONUS: Mark Rippetoe joins Dave Longley's Arguing For The Sake Of Arguing podcast for a discussion of everything from strength training to plumbing: 43 AFTSOA.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

karl schudt showing the location of the scapular spine
SSC Karl Schudt points out the spine of the scapula to seminar attendees during the squat platform session at the Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Haven’t performed a single pull-up/chin-up in my entire life

I’ve been obese and on diet most of my adult life, I had 3 big weight losses over the span of 15 years (30KGs each, I reach 130+KGs, diet, get back to 100+KG, and regain slowly) which I think have killed a lot of my strength. I always really sucked at sports, but was OK when doing physical labor. Not weak by any means.  For example, I could lift a cement bag from the ground and move it up a ladder, not all students my age could do.

I've spent a lot of time in gyms, over the last 20 years. I was regular at gyms for ~15 years, but 95%+ of it was on machines and treadmills, the rest dumbbells.  I just started doing Starting Strength, and I'm progressing OKish.  I deadlift 100KGs, squat 55KGs (easily, but I decided to progress slowly), Bench 50KGs and press 45KGs.

The thing is, I was never able to perform a single pull up/chin up my entire life.  When obese, I had trouble doing push-ups, but at low bodyweights I can do push-ups, but was never able to lift my own body up with my hands.

What do you suggest for a person to fix this? What movements can I do on the ground to be able to lift myself in the air? And in general, do you consider pull ups/chin ups necessary to be considered decent at strength? Must healthy and fit person be able to perform them, or have you seen people you'd consider healthy and fit who can't perform them?

Mark Rippetoe

I suggest you do the actual program, not your version with the easy squats and all the other shit you have changed. Do the version in the Blue Book. Then read the articles on this website.


As a tall, skinny fat person most of my life, I understand your question. I also was strong enough to function well in the world (like carrying bags of cement) simply because I was such a big person. But pull ups eluded me. As Rip points out, do the program as written. Do not mess with it. If you do the program as written, and if you adhere to some sort of sensible eating plan that allows you to recover, then you will gain overall body strength.

The fact is you are too weak, right. Become a stronger person and the pullups will come. This has been my exact experience. I did my first pullups at age 42, after a year or so of doing the program. I know of what I speak.


Just do the program dude. When you put another 100–150 lb on your deadlift you won't even have this question. When it was time for me to add chins into the program, I could do multiple no problem; and I was weak starting out with no chance at a legit chin up.

Mark Rippetoe

Not everybody can do chins, and not everybody can expect to develop the ability to use them in training. If I start a 55-year-old sedentary guy who is 6'3" at 250 with no training history, I'd be surprised if he ever chins himself, and I wouldn't do much more than a few lat pulls for his arms. The deadlift gets his lats strong, so he's covered.

Best of the Forum


On page 265 of BBT3, you say, regarding goodmornings, "There will never be a reason to use more than 35% of your squat for sets of 8–10, and there is no reason to do them at all until 35% of your squat is 95 pounds."

Why do you feel that there is no reason to do them until 35% of one's squat is 95 pounds, which would be a 270–275 lb squat? Could they not help a weaker or newer trainee with strengthening the lower back and hamstrings, which would ultimately benefit the squat?

For a fairly weak trainee with a 225 squat and deadlift of 315, are there any assistance exercises that you would recommend at all to aid in the development of those two lifts, particularly to strengthen the core, or would you just say to work on those two lifts and don't mess around with assistance exercises until later?

I am hesitant to add in any assistance because in the book you say, "Any supplemental exercises other than chin-ups should be chosen very carefully so as not to interfere with the progress on these five crucial movements."

I just feel like my core is weak and it may be holding me back a bit – but I don't know if adding in goodmornings or any other assistance exercises to strengthen the core is a good idea or if it will just hurt my recovery. Maybe squats and deadlifts are enough for the core at this point and they are my core work for now. Just a little confused.

Mark Rippetoe

Because goodmornings are an assistance/ancillary exercise, and until linear gains are exhausted on the simple program approach, assistance exercises are not necessary or productive. Just like for the rest of the program. Actually, those numbers are a little liberal, and probably should be adjusted upwards to a squat of 365. I'll make that correction in the next printing.

If you have a "core," you've been watching too many infomercials or talking to too many PTs.

Michael Wolf

I've found these quotes from the "Core" Stability "Training" article very valuable in explaining the core training myth to people who are absolutely convinced they need to do lots of specific work to "strengthen their core" –

The spine is important, and therefore its stability is important; when the whole system is loaded, the motor and the transmission adapt together at the same time. The entire kinetic chain is developed by barbell training because squats, deadlifts, presses, and the Olympic lifts utilize the entire kinetic chain – and therefore strengthen the entire kinetic chain in the same way you’re going to use it.
Can you not see that the process by which a 400 lb. squat is acquired develops the ability to stabilize the spine by developing all the muscles that do so in the most functional way it is possible to imagine? That getting strong enough to stabilize the spine while pulling 500 lbs. off the floor strengthens the muscles that stabilize the spine? Do you not understand the magnitude of the task of keeping the spine stable while inserting your body between the bar and the floor during a 200 lb. press? Can you appreciate the dynamic forces that must be controlled while cleaning a 300 lb. bar to the shoulders, and that for an efficient transfer of force from the legs and hips to the bar the spine must be held rigid, and that the “core” muscles do this job? Can you not understand that if your spine is strong enough to do these relatively hard things it’s strong enough to do all the things that are easier? Can you not appreciate the ability of barbell training to precisely adjust the load to the ability of the athlete as he develops his “core” strength, and all her other strengths at the same time? Do you understand the full ROM-nature of correctly performed barbell exercises, and that as a result the full ROM is actually improved while being strengthened at the same time?

ChgoSportsFan, if you haven't already, definitely read the article: "Core" Stability "Training"

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