Starting Strength Weekly Report

August 30, 2021

Onward Edition

On Starting Strength
  • Rip and Musser Talk about Westerns – Rip and John Musser discuss the best Western movies of all time.
  • Scott Acosta Talks Starting Strength Methodology – Starting Strength Coach Scott Acosta talks about the Starting Strength Method and his new position as head coach for Starting Strength Memphis.
  • Rip Makes Salmon Patties – Mark Rippetoe demonstrates how to make salmon patties as served at The Floral Heights Cafe in Wichita Falls.
  • Training with Chronic Injuries: A Case Study by Alex Pisanello and John Petrizzo – My name is Alex Pisanello and I am a 35-year-old service-connected veteran. Over the course of my time in the military, I served in a variety of combat operations including several deployments and suffered numerous permanent injuries as a result...
  • New Lifters and the Bench Press by Phil Meggers – If you are a new lifter (or perhaps you’re coaching one), you may notice two interesting phenomena regarding your bench press...
  • Weekend Archives: Stopping the Spread of Misinflammation by Jonathon Sullivan – There’s an idea floating around out there, in that ill-defined nebula that we could call the Fitness Community, that seems to be picking up steam. It’s an idea whose proponents...
  • Weekend Archives: Maybe You Should GAIN Weight by Mark Rippetoe – Not everybody that goes to the gym wants to lose weight. This may come as a complete surprise to some of you who either need to lose a few pounds yourselves or think that everyone wants to be skinny.

From the Coaches
  • Phil Meggers is back with gym dogs Milo and Parker in Part 2 of this series to cover a few more useful tips and tricks for new (and experienced!) lifters.
  • Every barbell has one or two pairs of rings - also known as score marks or knurl marks. What are the two types of rings, what are they for, and how might they pose a problem for a new or inexperienced lifter? Phil Meggers explains.
Get Involved

In the Trenches

rachel pulling 200 for the first time
Rachel pulling 200 lb for the first time ever. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfhol]
maxine hands off a bench press starting strength plano
Starting Strength Plano apprentice Maxine hands off a bench press to one of our newest members. [photo courtesy of Christian Fox]
emily resting on the bench between sets at starting strength austin
Emily resting the right way between bench sets at Starting Strength Austin. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
chase lindley coaches kujo at starting strength oklahoma city
Chase Lindley and Phoebe Hightower coach Kujo through a heavy set of squats. Kujo and his family have been training at Starting Strength OKC since May and have remained consistent in their goals to become a stronger family. [photo courtesy of Greg Herman]
apprentices learning programming at starting strength boston
Nicole Rutherford reviews programming fundamentals with Starting Strength Boston apprentices Sean Craffey, Michael Shammas, and Stephen Babbit after Saturday classes. [photo courtesy of Arthur Frontczak]
bird's eye view of the noon session at starting strength dallas
Bird's-eye view of the noon class at Starting Strength Dallas. [photo courtesy of Brent Carter]
matthew fox at the gym with his mother
Future SSC Matthew Fox watching his mom get strong. [photo courtesy of Dave Fox]

Best of the Week

NLP Question for Trained Person


I have been exercising for about 10 years. "Exercising" doing CrossFit for 4 years back in the day, Olympic lifting and then switched to fighting people in a ring instead for about 4 years. I am quite familiar with "the lifts". I took a long lay off from training and did some bodybuilding training for about a year due to limited access to a gym. I did the main lifts every now and again depending on the program I was following and when I had access to a proper facility.

I read your book (thanks for sharing your knowledge), decided that this is something I would like to try and started the NLP about 4 weeks ago - this is the only training I am doing to allow for proper recovery.

I am 31 YO, 5ft10 and 225 pounds 18% BF and not nearly as strong as I should be hence wanting to do your program. Started the program at 218 ish BW so gained a bit which seems to be good.

Starting weights - Built up exactly as you prescribe.

  • Squat: 198
  • DL: 308
  • Press: 121
  • Bench: 188

Current Weights after 4 weeks

  • Squat: 286
  • DL: 375
  • Press: 139
  • Bench: 200

My question is regarding recovery.

I introduced the power clean last week (started with 135 lbs) due to not being able to recover from doing DL 3 x per week at those weights. This week I am feeling completely dead and have not lifted since Friday (or Fridee) almost as if I am still not recovered. I feel run down and depleted like I have a "cold" without the stuffy nose etc. I have felt like this in the past competing in other sports (or sport LOL) due to "overtraining" or “under recovery" so I am 100% certain that I am not sick.

DIET: I eat around 4000 - 5000 cal per day of quality food and the big cheat every now and again (red meat, chicken, fish ,rice, potatoes, veg) trying to hit 230=250g protein per day. I also include milk in my protein shake to help with extra "good" calories. Sleep 8-10 hours most nights and take naps during the day if time permits.

I cannot seem to recover from this volume. I am not new to lifting at all, my previous PB's are more than my current lifts now (this is a few years ago). It's only been 4 weeks and my form on all lifts is still very good.

Should I start to alternate the DL and the Back Extensions now already and see how that goes? I can't figure out why I am not recovering seeing diet and sleep is in check.

Did I maybe start too heavy? I hate feeling this way as it affects my work etc. being so drained. But I still want to get stronger and follow the program, I just don't see myself sticking to this for months feeling completely messed up like this?

I assume this is not normal and I am doing something wrong. Any advice?

Mark Rippetoe

Are you doing anything outside the gym, like running? What do you do for work?


No other training. I am a Personal Trainer.

Mark Rippetoe

Then something is wrong.

A Clarification

The First Three Questions

Best of the Forum

Novice LP and Military


As we all know, the military has always had a particular interest in the amount of pushups one can do, rather than how much weight they can push over their head into a helicopter. Or how fast they can run a 5 mile, rather than how much they can squat and the effect it has on one’s capability to carry 75lbs of kit. Regardless, as Rip has said many times, being strong allows you to do everything better. And we’ve seen how Grant Broggi programs the LP for his Marines in tandem with preparation for their PFT. However, there are some fields in the military that require much more than what the MCPFT does.

Most special operations communities require something in the ballpark of 12-20 pull-ups, 75-95 sit-ups, 60-80 pushups, a 22:00 3 mile run, and a 32:00 1500m swim. Training to crush the standard would require you to change your body into an ectomorph and weak runner physique. The expectation is that you pass this test then go to a selection course where they will make you carry hundreds of pounds of equipment to test your metal. This PT test is a ticket in the door to the selection, yet it won’t be entirely useful in the selection course itself.

What I am wondering is how does one program the novice LP and the adequate training required to pass these PT tests? It’s so easy to stall out or even overtrain in both styles of training when they are combined. So what do you do when you have somebody that has to do both regardless of the fact that just doing the program is the best thing for the human body?

Thank you for your time, consideration, and potential correspondence.

Mark Rippetoe

I don't know, because not a lot of thought has been applied to this problem, by me or anyone else. We'll ask.

Joe Leppo

This is really just another variation of the "How do I do Starting Strength and Military PT at the same time?" or "How do I do Starting Strength and still meet Military standards at the same time?" questions that pop up on the forum from time to time.

I'll take a stab at it, with the following disclaimer: I have never been part of any Special Forces/Programs unit or team. If you want an actual Operator to comment, we'll have to see if we can get Beau, Brian, or someone else to weigh in with their take.

What I do have experience with is coaching and working closely with a number of junior Sailors that did want to pursue a career path in SF, and/or apply for entrance into a NECC/MOS that had "higher" physical fitness requirements beyond what is specified for the regular Fleet Surface Sailor or Submariner (e.g. Rescue Swimmer, Diver, EOD, BUD/S, etc.) while continuing to lift.

The short answer is that it is possible to continue strength training (and getting stronger) while preparing for the entrance screening mentioned. (Usually, the silly bullshit you must participate in during Command PT sessions is more of an issue than simply training to crush the entrance screening PT test.) But, even though it's possible to train for both goals simultaneously, your NLP will not progress as far – or as quickly. You cannot have it all at the same time. Sorry.

The longer answer (how to do it):

First, if you do not have a competitive swimming background, find someone who does to help you out - or get with a swimming coach specifically to work on your form in the water. (You don't need this person trying to "get you in swimming shape".) Swimming is all about stroke mechanics: superior efficiency moving through the water beats superior conditioning every time; especially when you're looking at a 1500m swim (~ a mile). This is an endurance event. Even if the swim is the last event tested, or you have to perform it wearing utilities and boots--solid stroke mechanics and proper form will save you. A 30-minute mile in the pool is slow if you're allowed to swim freestyle/crawl. Even if the test requires you to use side or breast stroke, it is still quite achievable with solid mechanics in the water.

For the "how" to actually train, I'd recommend you take a look at LTC Whittemore's excellent article "A Strength Based Approach to the APFT" here.

I've successfully trained a dozen or so Sailors that were accepted into their programs of choice, using this methodology as a starting point. Obviously you want to stress Pull-Ups over Push-Ups and include Swimming in addition to running, but the principals are the same. I would have trainees lift 2x week, planned around whatever mandatory unit PT you have to attend. Other training sessions during the week address your swimming and running. I'd always include some Pull-Ups/Chins and sit-ups at the end of the strength training sessions. Your ability to recover from the total volume of training/PT is really what limits your progress with respect to strength. Additionally, unless you are underweight, you need to watch your waistline (BF%). There are a number of articles and threads that discuss strength training for an athlete that either can't or won't gain weight in a sport with weight classes. This also applies somewhat to your situation. You need to fuel training and recovery efforts, without putting on significant body fat. I find this to be the hardest can't eat your way through sticking points.

I think a better way to approach this would be to run and complete the NLP prior to worrying about the entrance exam events, and then just try to maintain as much strength as you can (lifting 2x a week) as you increase the focus on those events. You will still lose some strength, but you'd still be better off (stronger on exam day) than trying to do both at the same time. From the OP, it doesn't sound like this is an option, though.

There are other military related articles by other authors on the site; they are worth your time as well – lots of helpful info. Good Luck!


The short answer is you don't. You program for the strength needed to pass a test. But bear in mind, most indoc testing is not really about the physical aspects. They will be hard on everyone, because as you stated, it's near impossible to train (optimally) for both aspects (endurance and strength) at the same time The whole point of indoc is to reveal character (which ironically, in its own way, SS's NLP also tests). The indoc is meant to break you in different ways, and test your resiliency to come back for more. To not quit. To show focus and commitment. Physical strength, endurance, tactics, weapons, communications...that can all be taught or trained, and the training cadre know that. What can't be taught easily is deep seated mental toughness and commitment to the team and the mission. And so the indocs (in theory) are supposed to be screening for that. I've watched guys smoke the physical tests, and never be asked to come aboard. Conversely, I've seen some struggle, fail, and keep coming back...and get asked to join the team (which is just the beginning). Some would say they have screened (in the past) mostly for endurance/stamina, and that was what I saw many years ago. I've heard that they are moving away from that some (still focus on endurance) and looking at strength as well. But that is not what they are really testing. Times change, so do the indocs...kind of like the conflicts.

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