Starting Strength Weekly Report

December 25, 2017

  • Strength & Endurance, Pt 4 – CJ Gotcher discusses how performance changes with endurance training vs strength training.
  • Now for something completely different: Rip narrates A YouTube Carol, "the story of Ebenezer Youtube, a clutching, grasping, throttling, censoring old sinner."
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Mark Rippetoe reads his article on the faulty advice given to those of advancing age about strength training and fitness – Bad Advice About Higher Reps.

In the Trenches

joe deadlifts a set at 300
Joe on his way up with 300 lbs for a set of 5 at the recent Deadlift and Power Clean Training Camp in Atlanta. [photo courtesy of Niki Sims]

Best of the Week

Starting Strength 3rd Ed: The Best Middle School Science Textbook Ever (No, Really)

So my two kids in 7th Grade were studying for a science test on levers, force, and class 1, 2, and 3 levers. I was an engineer in college and although I hated the courses (being immature), I believe a fundamental understanding of Newtonian physics was crucial. When I first read SS 3rd Ed. years ago, seeing the moment diagrams blew me away, it simplified everything about bar path. I suddenly got it, and I will always be grateful that you included moment diagrams in the book.

So as I helped my kids study, I looked at their science textbook. Mediocre at best in how it described a force acting on a body, and its description of fulcrums were disappointing.

Me: "Kids, wait here, I have a good book we can study"
Kids: "Dad, is it one of your old textbooks?"
Me: "Sort of".

Anyway, we used your Leverage and Moment section on the Squat chapter as a review. God damn wonderfully written and illustrated stuff on fulcrums, force acting on an object, and moment diagrams. Written so clearly that two 7th graders understood what you wrote.

I am ready to bust out Practical Programming when they learn about homeostasis and Selye's Law. Thanks for the great writing and teaching Coach.

Mark Rippetoe

I'm happy to hear this. I've always hated shitty teachers, and I've had lots of them. I've tried to learn how to teach better than I was taught.


Me, too. My science teachers always hated me for some reason, so I hardly cared to learn more than I should have. In contrast, I had great English teachers. They were always nice to me and I respected them and what they had to teach me. My late grandfather even introduced the English language to me and he and I were always close, so that helped. When it was time to think about higher education, I quickly decided on an English degree. It was all I was good at then and the only thing I really cared about. Were it not for all of that, I'd probably be in biology classes or law or something lame like that.

And not to get all mushy, but if it weren't for this community, I'd probably not give two shits about trying to pass on all the valuable information to others. It's true that strength is worth it for its own sake, but I also feel somehow indebted and want to help in any way I can. If I didn't feel that way, I'd probably just keep all of it to myself. I don't know; I could be wrong about that. I'm not old enough to know myself at all.

Best of the Forum

Populations who should not train?

I was talking to my sister yesterday who is a newly minted emergency medicine doctor. I told her that I got our mom The Barbell Prescription for Christmas and gave her a brief synopsis of the book. She immediately freaked out, explaining that because our mother has both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and has undergone Chemo she should never get under a barbell as it would be too "dangerous." I had a slight chuckle at this, but it got me thinking. In your experience are there any actual populations of people who just shouldn't ever train (barring extreme things like paralysis)?

Mark Rippetoe

Patients with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm should not train. People with the flu should stay home. Likewise, people with ebola. Patients with osteoarthritis and RA must train, if they want some of their lives back.

Diego Socolinsky

We have trained clients with arthritis, loss of joint cartilage, multiple post chemo patients, auto immune conditions, PTSD, etc. All of them derived strength, health and psychological benefits from training. There are few conditions (aside from acute illness or injury) that completely rule out barbell training. And those may have more to do with the coach's willingness to take on the liability than anything else.

Austin Baraki

Sully wrote up a solid list of pathologies prohibiting training a few years back.

Doctors are trained with a "risk minimization" mindset, and emergency physicians in particular will always fear the worst-case scenario (as they should). However, as discussed at length on these boards in the past, we receive no education in physical training of any sort. This makes it impossible for physicians to perform accurate risk/benefit estimations in these sorts of situations, and they default to focusing on the "risk" side since "heavy barbell training" sounds scary.

Although I obviously cannot give specific advice pertaining to your mother, there is nothing inherently "dangerous" about training with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. There is even data to support this for those who insist on seeing published literature for everything.

There is a weight at which the exercises can be performed safely and correctly.

Brodie Butland

This is a great illustration of theory versus practice. In theory, people with a whole slew of conditions should never get under a barbell because it will surely kill them.

In practice, we find that nearly all people, at nearly all stages of physical infirmity, derive some benefit from training. This forum is filled with actively training osteopenics, heart attack, stroke, and cancer survivors, and even cancer patients training while going through chemo. Remarkably, training hasn't killed them – in fact, I think all or nearly all would say their lives have improved immensely as a result of training.

Your sister's heart is in the right place, but she's out of her league on this one.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

Highlights from the StartingStrength Community. Browse archives.

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