Starting Strength Weekly Report

August 31, 2020

Starting Strength Radio
  • Competition - Why and How – Mark Rippetoe discusses competition - strengthlifting, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting - and why signing up for a meet is a really good idea for those serious about their training.
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Starting Strength Channel
  • How to Pin Bench Press – Starting Strength Dallas Apprentice Coach Matt Aland teaches you how to set up a pin bench press.
  • How to Train the Press – Rip discusses training the press and why it’s necessary to practice heavy presses often.

  • Archives: George Ernie Pickett – by Bill Starr, When I moved to York, from Marion, Indiana, in February of 1966 to become the assistant editor of Strength & Health magazine, there were only a few lifters who lived in town and trained at the world-famous York Barbell Club...
  • Archives: Who Wants to be a Novice? You Do – by Mark Rippetoe, At any given time, most of the guys training in gyms around the country are novices. And by “most” I mean the vast, overwhelming majority. Like 95%. This means you, probably. But it’s not necessarily bad news...
Training Log
  • Solitude – by Jim Steel, I have always craved solitude. While I worked as a strength coach at the University of Pennsylvania for 20 years, I would go for maybe a month or so of working, and I'd start to feel this yearning to get away...
  • Training in the Time of COVID-19: Part 2 – by Carl Raghavan, Last you heard from me, I was doing some work with gymnastics rings and kettlebells. Well, that lasted all of six weeks, because exercise sucks...

In the Trenches

jared nessland coaching austin khamiss squat
Jared Nessland watches as Austin Khamiss squats during the Squat Coaching Development Camp at Starting Strength Denver last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
lisa clark coaches at the squat coaching development camp
Lisa Clark coaches Amanda Sheppard during the Squat Coaching Development Camp held at Starting Strength Denver last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
roland dog at the inside fitness now gym
Roland, gym dog of the new corporate office gym of Inside Fitness Now. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
Baby Wa Wa dog at the barbell guy complex
Baby Wa-Wa - the artist formerly known as Larry Love - on the newest Olympic platform and The Barbell Guy complex in Berea, KY. [photo courtesy of Brian F. Jones]

Best of the Week

How exact does micro loading have to be?

I've just gotten a pair of micro plates that are supposed to be 0.625 kg each (to allow me to make 1.25 kg or c.2.5 lb jumps). They are actually < 0.5 kg each, so my jumps on e.g. OHP will go: 52.5 kg, <53.5 kg, 55 kg, <56 kg, 57.5 kg, etc.

So a <2 lb jump one session, followed by a >3 lb jump the next. Is this something to be concerned about at all, or is this close enough to linear progression that it'll work pretty much just as well?

Mark Rippetoe

If you paid for 0.625 plates and they are 0.5, make sure your scale is correct and send the goddamn things back. You can make do with them, but they are not what you paid for.


I use the exact same way of microloading (actually I paid for 0,5 kg plates) and it works quite well. Guess the plates in my gym are not that 100% accurate anyway.


I have some old 1" hole 0.5kg plates that I put on my Oly BB by looping string through the hole enabling me to slide it onto the BB between the Oly discs and the collars. Works fine. I refuse to pay £16 per kilo for a fractional plate. It's pure exploitation - nothing to do with "market forces."

Mark Rippetoe

This is exactly what market forces do.


I think you under-estimate the ability of modern manufacturing industries to produce goods.

"Market forces" sounds like an easy explanation, but considering this shit is manufactured in China and with enormous resources and with no lack of iron or manpower, it doesn't cut it. I know that you are stuck to this reductio ad Libertarianism whenever no other explanation is acceptable to you, but the simple fact is that businesses take every and any opportunity to maximize their profits. In fact the economic concept of "Profit Maximization" is taught in colleges and universities all over the West as a current doctrine. Free market inevitably means free to be rapacious when the opportunity presents itself. Profit maximization

I can't speak for outlets in the US, but here in Britain there is no evidence of outlets having trouble sourcing their weight plates wholesale from their usual Chinese suppliers. These businesses know the gyms have been closed for a long time and that there is a huge new market of 'desperate' trainees who need to kit out their domiciles. A desperate consumer is a captive consumer. Come one Rip, you're a businessman. I know you don't share that rapacious mindset, but this isn't the 1950s anymore. Ozzy and Harriet ain't coming back and the ethics of retail business are no longer about a fair price for a quality product. Those days are gone. If businesses truly believed in that they would have had the ethical fortitude to take a stand against the out-sourcing of manufacturing to China in the first place. But the lure of greater profits from lower labour cost was too sweet to resist.

Mark Rippetoe

And despite these rapacious greedy corporate capitalists, somehow you decided not to do business with them. I guess the decision about the value of the plates remained with you.

Best of the Forum

Art or Science?
Andres Onu

It's been pointed out that one way to distinguish the arts from the sciences is that if it weren't for the artist, their art would never have existed. ie. No Vincent van Gogh means no The Starry Night, ever. Whereas in science, you can be sure that eventually, calculus and general relativity would have been discovered by someone, if not Newton and Einstein.

Have you ever considered your approach to physical training in this context? Do you think someone would have eventually come to their senses and converged on the same methodology you’ve created and developed? Or is there too much creativity and “art” involved in cutting through the Silly BS that there was never a guarantee that anyone would have gotten as far as you have?

Mark Rippetoe

This is merely applied science. I am amazed that I was the first to codify this rather obvious application of biology. Nonetheless, I was. It would eventually have been done, but I don't know by whom.


Engineering, science, and art do not sit on a continuum, so to say it's either "science" or "art" is a false dichotomy.

Science is a framework for understanding and learning.

Art is the outcome of the application of a skill (ex. painting) using a specific tool (ex paint and paintbrush) onto a specific medium (ex canvas) using a specific style (ex. impressionism, abstraction, realism) to display or communicate a specific idea (ex beauty, hate, critique, information, function). In this way, art and engineering converge, with science being a tool by which the skill, tools, mediums, styles, and ideas are tested and developed.


Not too sure Rip. At least not anytime soon anyway. Here’s why: I think an undergrad degree in engineering would be required as a baseline. Then that same person would need untold hours-years-decades training. And years of coaching others preferably in his own gym where he/she can control most of the variables. Said person would also benefit from the relationships with the older generation of lifters (Starr, et al) to hear their experience. Then said person would need the technical writing skills required to put together a book like SS. And said person would need to be one stubborn son of a bitch to take on the fitness industry and then build a business around the training model so that a wider audience could benefit. And then build a network of like minded people to spread and teach the SS program beyond just the book.

Yeh, maybe someone else, but not to the extent that it is today. It could have been a published paper in an obscure journal but with a very very limited audience. But then again I am frequently wrong.

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