Starting Strength Weekly Report

August 19, 2019

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Training Log

In the Trenches

nicole rutherford teaches the deadlift
Nicole Rutherford teaches the deadlift during the Starting Strength Seminar deadlift platform session. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
ron mitchell deadlifting
Ron Mitchell deadlifts during the platform session at the LA Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
rip vs flat rip
Rip vs. Flat Rip at Horn Strength and Conditioning before the LA Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
starting strength houston gym floor
A peek inside Starting Strength Houston. View a time-lapse of the build-out here. [photo courtesy of Shelley Hancock-Wells]

Best of the Week

Am I grinding too early?

Been on the Novice program a little more than a month. Everything has gotten really grindy (form breakdowns like one side coming up unevenly compared to the other, things like that), even though none of the weights have gone up much, aside from the squat. From what I've read, this doesn't seem to be right. The squat, unlike the other lifts, I started very conservatively with because I had no experience with it. The others, even though I had to make some tweaks to the form, I was much more confident with and so just started with numbers a somewhat lower than what I'd done in the past, to work back up to it. However, they haven't advanced very much. For example, I'd been able to do work sets with 160 on bench press before this current run, without even dropping the increments from 5 pounds. My bench workout yesterday, on the other hand, had me working with 157.5, up from 155, and the last rep of the last set was a trembling mess where one arm struggled to lift its end more than the other.

What I am debating doing is a fresh restart of the program, using the exact process outlined in the blue book to determine starting weight, because I am concerned I hit what the book describes as my "sticking point" earlier than I should have for the program to work as intended. I am curious what others think, should I try this approach or should I just keep trying to push through the grind?


I've read that and gone over those questions several times. Rest between sets has been increasing as needed. Press/Bench have been incremented using specially bought 1.25 plates, squat and deadlift have been getting raised at a rate of 5 a session. Recently pushed caloric intake over the 4000 line. My weight has been going up pretty steadily, not so much the weight on the bar. What's weird is that when I got that 160 on the bench when I first dipped my foot into this program before I had a bit of a lay-up, my diet was actually significantly less than what I'm getting now, both in protein and calories. And that was only a few months back.

Mark Rippetoe

Age/height/weight? What is your actual rest between sets?


34/6'2"/hovering around 240 (hard to peg down an "empty" point to weigh on since I've been eating so much stuff, but weight is definitely going up). I do 5 minutes rest minimum, after the warm ups before the work sets. Depending on how each work set goes I crank up the rest time. Usually gets to about 8 minutes, at least on the squats. I also do that before the deadlift work set. Should I be doing more than that? There's a factoid floating around out there that says 8 minutes should recover all the ATP that I've seen in a few places. Is that just another piece of "information" that is best disregarded?

Mark Rippetoe

Try 12 minutes and see what happens.


Listen to Rip - I'm now at 14 minutes for lifts and it worked wonders. If I need 20 minutes, that's what I'm going to take.


Will do. Coincidentally, I tried 8 minutes rest between all sets when I did my lifts yesterday, even after the final warm-up. Squat went much smoother. Still hard, but I wasn't running into the form issues.

old guy

holy crap, don't you work/ have a life - 14 minute rests ??

Mark Rippetoe

By all means, old man, hurry. Time is all that matters.


Either I get stronger, or I don't, so 14 minutes isn't a high opportunity cost. I could of course just not bother training at all and save many hours a week.


In light of what has been said here in this thread regarding long rest times, and this ^, would you like to take a stab at what's going here.

Spit balling: Science is wrong (Again) about how much time it takes for ATP to recharge, maybe there's a much wider variance across individuals. ????

Mark Rippetoe

I just don't know, Fulcrum. ATP recharge may not be the only variable in play, and that cannot be very surprising. And I don't see why understanding the precise mechanism matters to the application. If you are doing 465 x 5 x 5, you will probably need 15-20 minutes between sets if you intend to make all 25 reps, and I know this to be true absent any explanation of why.


Well, today's workout was a success. Squats, Bench, and chinups all improved as was expected going in. In the future, the first thing I'll do when I hit a snag like that again is turn up the rest minutes some. And I will also resist the urge to hunt down and smack the PE weightlifting instructor who said 3 freaking minutes would suffice for heavy strength training. Of all the bad info out there, set rest times has got to be one of the most perplexing to me. If I go looking anywhere but SS or an SS-derivative they never recommend more than 5 minutes. Even the SS knockoffs don't seem to wanna recommend more than 5. It's like they are deliberately setting everyone up to fail.

Erik Y

It makes sense if you think about it. If you rest for 24 hours between sets, some fatigue will generally dissipate beyond what you get in the first eight minutes. Same for an hour. Why not for twenty minutes? Some of it is definitely psychological, too; when I get under the bar, I don’t want the thought at the front of my mind to be any version of “boy, that was tough” before I start my set.

I work a pretty intense job, lots of travel and very few weeks under sixty hours. I still make time to rest for up to fifteen minutes between my work sets, depending on how much they beat me up. It’s just a few extra minutes at the gym, really.

Best of the Forum

Is the long-femured trainee stronger?

If a trainee has extremely long femurs (in relation to his tibias) and a short torso is he in any way at a disadvantage in the squat? When squatting with textbook form, will he use different muscles to a different degree then a long torso/short femur lifter? Will the squat develop the long firmer guy's lower back more? Hamstrings, quads, etc?

Say, both lifters have a 365x5 max squat (both with perfect form) is the longer femur lifter possibly stronger because he is at some sort of mechanical disadvantage?

Mark Rippetoe

What is strength?

Dave Wilson

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that if both trainees have the same 1 RM then they are equal in strength regardless of anatomical differences in limb length or joint angles. If they both have a 365x5 max squat, then they both produce the same amount of force to move the weight through space. Unless one of them is in an alternate universe where his 365 lbs squat weighs less than the other trainees 365 lbs squat.

This is just wild speculation though.


The ability to produce force on an external resistance.

I think in OP's hypothetical situation, if the long-femured trainee has a longer range of motion in the squat, he or she is only doing more work, and not necessarily stronger than the shorter-femured trainee.


Quotes by you: "There is only one type of strength: the force of contraction which the muscles exert against the bones. Skeletal components in motion apply force using the hands and feet against objects in the environment. Greater strength simply means a higher level of force production, and greater strength increases an athlete’s ability to effectively interact with the environment during competition. So it’s very simple, really: greater strength is the ability to move a heavier weight, since strength is the production of force."

"There is only one kind of strength – the kind your muscles generate when they contract against your bones, a system of levers that interacts with the resistance encountered in your environment."

I understand that ultimately "strength is the ability to apply force to an external resistance," but I'm wondering if having a certain anthropometry can make it more difficult to take full advantage of all your musculature in the squat. Maybe certain trainees are better able to make certain muscles contract against certain bones because of the position the exercise puts them in.

For instance, does the nature of the barbell back squat allow the short-femur/long torso lifter to have better access to his really dig into them? Maybe he has to rely less on isometric lower-back strength? Do factors like these allow the short-femur/long torso lifter to make faster progression on the squat and/or ultimately have a higher potential to squat heavier weights.

In other words, are some guys "built" to squat?

Mark Rippetoe

Of course it's easier for shorter guys to squat than taller guys. They don't have as much work to do to cover the ROM of the exercise with the weight. Other advantages can obviously be predicted. This has been discussed at length. Am I missing a new permutation of the question?

David Kirkham

Sweet. Finally I get paybacks for not getting picked first in high school basketball....then again...I do have short tibias and long femurs (and a long torso) for my height. Damn. No free lunch.


Does the more closed hip angle really lead to a stronger stretch reflex for the long femur lifter though? I was thinking that the short femur lifter gets just as much stretch in the hamstring without needing such a closed hip angle just because his hamstrings are shorter in length. I was thinking that maybe the shorter femur lifter is able to better utilize his quads.


The hamstrings' proximal attachment is at the pelvis. When you descend on the squat and the pelvis achieves an anterior tilt, the hamstrings stretch. The more tilt, i.e. the more horizontal the back angle, the more stretch.

Assuming the only difference is femur length, I'd think the guy with the shorter femur will have more contribution from his quads in the squat. The same force must be applied to the bar to move the same weight. If there is less force produced by the hamstrings, other muscles have to compensate.

At least, that's how I understand it.


What do you say Rip? Does the long-femur/short-torso lifter use more hamstring and/or less quadriceps in the proper low-bar back squat than the short-femur/long-torso lifter?

Mark Rippetoe


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