Starting Strength Weekly Report

August 02, 2021

Saturn Opposition Edition

On Starting Strength
  • Q&A Episode - Vasectomies, More on Power, and Rip's House – Rip answers questions from Starting Strength Network subscribers and fans across a wide spectrum of topics.
  • Fix Your Deadlift Start – Starting Strength Coach Andrew Lewis gives some helpful cues to keep lifters from yanking the bar off the ground during the deadlift.
  • Starting Strength Boston – Inna Koppel and Arthur Frontczak talk about the opening of Starting Strength Boston and Arthur's thoughts behind his recent article.
  • Hips Rising Early in the Deadlift by Mia Inman – At the start of the deadlift the lifter is taught to initiate the pull by extending the knees – “cued” to push the floor away. This elicits a strong contraction of the quadriceps...
  • Weekend Archives: It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Supercompensation” by Jonathon Sullivan and Mark Rippetoe – It's time to stop talking about “supercompensation.” Why? Because the concept doesn't add anything useful or illuminating to the Stress/Recovery/Adaptation model. More importantly, the “supercompensation” concept implies...
  • Weekend Archives: You Must Understand the Gravity of Your Situation by Steve Hill and Mark Rippetoe – We can make the bar move two ways – vertically and horizontally. When we impart a vertical or horizontal force into the bar, the force must be “reacted out” – something in the lifter/barbell system must react equally and opposite to any force we put into the bar...

From the Coaches
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In the Trenches

91 year old Don locks out his deadlift
91-year-old Don locking out his last set of deadlifts at the Deadlift and Power Clean Training Camp held at Annino Strength and Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
cody annino coaches sean deadlift set up
Cody Annino coaches Sean through the deadlift setup at the camp. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
stacy racking power clean moodus connecticut
Stacy racking her final power clean on Saturday in Moodus, Connecticut. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
melissa squatting 180 for work sets starting strength denver
Melissa squatting 180x3x5 at Starting Strength Denver. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfohl]
paul horn the legend starting strength boise
Lord Paul of House Horn, First of His Name, Protector of the Gym, the Legend, King of the Squat Racks, and the First SSCs, Breaker of Bad Form, and Heir to the Iron Throne surveys his Boise demesne. [photo courtesy of Jen Gillenwater]
face color matching shirt color while training
When the color of your face matches the color of your shirt. #maroonlivesmatter in Plano. [photo courtesy of Matt Hebert]
chase lindley coaching deadlift starting strength okc
Chase Lindley coaches Cody through the deadlift setup at Starting Strength Oklahoma City. [photo courtesy of Cody Shumate]
rivals shipley and carter trade singlets at the wfac weightlifting meet
SSCs and SS Gyms blood rivals JD Shipley and Brent Carter trade singlets at the WFAC Weightlifting Challenge. [photo courtesy of Josh Wells]
nicole rutherford teaches the bench press to a senior trainee
Strength training is for everyone. Even in your 90s. Nicole Rutherford teaches one of the gym’s senior trainees the bench press. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Boston]
starting strength dallas bbq and drinks
Starting Strength Dallas Noon Crew gets some post workout BBQ and margaritas at Oak'd. [photo courtesy of Brent Carter]
apphia pressing her work sets at starting strength denver
Apphia Pressing 67.5x3x5 at Starting Strength Denver. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfohl]

Best of the Week

Best practices for falling asleep?


Hey all, I've always had a difficult time falling asleep at night, and I was wondering if anyone who has had this issue and improved it has any tips or suggestions? I will feel tired, I'll turn the lights off and lay in bed, and ostensibly I should fall asleep, but I just... don't. My mind wanders restlessly for hours it seems.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone else has experienced this and had any suggestions.

Andrew Lewis

Here are my recommendations:

  • Get to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time regardless of what you're doing that day
  • No caffeine after a certain time of the day (experiment and find out what works for you)
  • 1.5mg Melatonin. If it's not relaxing you, try a higher dose. If you have psychedelic, trippy dreams and wake up restless at 3am, you took too much. Take a lower dose.
  • Exercise 3-7 times per week
  • Figure out a way to not be sexually restless (you figure it out)
  • No blue light from computer screens two hours or less before bed. I recommend the program f.lux which changes the output light of your screen. Blue light inhibits melatonin release.
  • If you can't stop thinking about what you need to do tomorrow while lying in bed, get a notepad or book to write down your "to do" list on it. Getting it on paper will allow you to relax better.
  • No long naps during the day.
  • Do something relaxing just before bed. I read.


Don't let it do that. Create a story, imagine a landscape, or whatever. Concentrate on a specific task.

Ray Gillenwater

Good list, Andrew.

Ryan- Do you give your brain time to process information, unstimulated, throughout the day? If not, try taking ten minute breaks with no external stimulation (screens, music, etc) to settle your mind. It's too easy to be distracted all day in 2021 and it definitely interferes with my sleep if I don't take time to think.


  • A good quality, comfortable mattress.
  • Keep the room cool and completely dark (eyeshades are a great, inexpensive investment).
  • If you snore, a sleep study could determine if you have some sort of apnea that is interfering with your sleep.

Richard Durbin

I listen to an audiobook. Has to be a decently interesting one to keep my mind from wandering. But also one I’ve listened to quite a few times so I’m not hanging on every word.

I set the sleep timer and fall asleep pretty fast. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I hit the 30 min more button, which puts me right back to sleep before I can start worrying about stuff.

Best of the Forum

Gagging During Valsalva


I've been fighting a problem with gagging. It often happens right before I initiate the breath or while I'm taking the breath for the Valsalva. Rarely does it happen once I've closed my glottis, but it has occurred. It often begins near the part of my squat warm-up when I put on my belt. Other times it’ll be around my first working set. It is the worst on the squat and press, but it occurs on every lift except the bench. Usually, once I have done the Valsalva and am bearing weight, there is no issue. However, with the press, sometimes just after the initial unrack, it occurs. If I make it to the first rep I am good to go and have never had to stop mid-set. All other breaths and Valsalva maneuvers seem to be fine during the working set.

Mentholated Afrin does seem to calm it down once it’s begun, but I’ve had mixed results with it as a preventative. Pepcid AC (20 mg) doesn’t do anything. Loosening the belt a bit does help, but I can only loosen so much before the belt is ineffective. A full stomach is worse than one on the emptier side.

Any thoughts on what might be going on or how to prevent it?

Mark Rippetoe

Never heard of it.

Brodie Butland

How soon before your gym sessions are you eating? Do you have issues with acid reflux?


In most cases, I train 2-3 hours after eating. Occasionally, I will train first thing in the morning. In those cases, I’ll have a small snack to get me going (usually one of those microwaveable protein pancakes in a cup). The prevalence is about the same in either scenario.

I occasionally battle with acid reflux, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a chronic condition. I assumed that might be what it was, so I‘ve tried Pepcid AC (20 mg) a few times with no luck. I can try upping the dosage?

Mark Rippetoe

If it was GERD, you would know, and it would not be happening only under the bar. Precisely what do you mean by "gagging"?


Popsicle stick to the back of the throat. I actually have a video of it happening during my warmup set. When I get home later I can post it.

Mark Rippetoe

If it feels like there is an object in your throat, maybe you should get it checked.


I wonder if you have tonsil issues? You may have some kind of growth issue there, it's why people get them removed. Maybe the heavy inhalation of the valsalva is causing it to flap around and trigger your gag reflex.


I’ll get it checked. Any possibility a small, umbilical hernia could cause it? The belt has a tendency to put pressure on that spot and sometimes I feel like that’s the trigger.

Mark Rippetoe

I don't see a mechanism for that.

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