Starting Strength Weekly Report

December 28, 2020

Sewing Things Up Edition

On Starting Strength
  • A Debate on Solutions with John Horgan – Mark Rippetoe and science journalist John Horgan have a discussion on possible paths forward for individuals and businesses and debate the question of how much government intervention in an individual's health is too much.
  • Strengthlifting: A Better Way to Compete – Rip discusses strengthlifting, a strength competition he developed that involves no judge participation, pressing instead of bench pressing, and a weigh out rather than a weigh in.
  • Mark Rippetoe Teaches You How to Make Texas Chili – Rip demonstrates the "fast" way to make Texas Chili.
  • All-Season Training by Jim Steel – Many moons ago, when I was a high school defensive coordinator and strength coach in Florida, I attended a seminar that was being taught by the head football coach at Miami at the time, Butch Davis. A high school coach in the audience asked...
  • Squats Are Hard – But the Bench Will Kill You! by Carl Raghavan – You could call this article “White Noise 2.0,” as in many ways it’s a follow-up to one of my earlier articles, The White Noise of Heavy. I wanted to go into more detail on two of the lifts...
  • Weekend Archives: The Map of Athletic Performance by Rob Miller – Training is a confusing subject. Conflicting points of view have a way of making productive dialogues a rare event. For me as a dedicated rock climber, it’s been a slow process to understand this...
  • Weekend Archives: Strength vs. Endurance: Why Are You Wasting Your Time in the Gym? by Mark Rippetoe – When you consult a medical person about exercise, the standard recommendation amounts to a prescription for a certain number of minutes per day or per week. The conventional wisdom equates...

From the Coaches
  • Whether you're snatching, cleaning, or deadlifting, using the hook grip can be rough on the thumbs at times, so Phil Meggers covers how to simply and quickly tape your thumbs
  • If your grip is a limiting factor on your deadlift, a change needs to be made, and it needs to be made now. If Phil Meggers sees or hears about one more lifter missing a deadlift due to a failing grip, he's going to lose his mind, so for his sake, get a grip and read this article.
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In the Trenches

summer jones rippetoe starting strength quilt
Summer Jones's lovely Christmas present to Starting Strength. Brian and Summer are very nice to us. [photo courtesy of Mark Rippetoe]
corbin jacob wyatt get their squats in at wfac before christmas 2020
Corbin, Jacob, and Wyatt getting their squats in before Christmas at WFAC. Did you? [photo courtesy of Bre Hillen]

Best of the Week

Left tricep severely irritated from low bar squat

I've had a lot of trouble with my left triceps when I squat. It gets really irritated, and it can hurt quite bad. The more weight I have on the bar, the more it hurts. When I did my 3x5 PR, it hurt so bad I couldn't do anything but lay down and fight in order to keep from crying out loud in the gym. When it gets really bad, it extends in both directions, both to my shoulder and my elbow, on the outside, in the "tennis elbow spot". I've tried to switch my grip up in different ways to avoid carrying the weight of the bar in my hands, but rather on my back, but my triceps still gets irritated. This might be because it never really healed though.

As the gyms closed I wasn't able to squat for a month and a half and it just opened back up again. During the down time I was able to, press, deadlift and power clean, with good progress. My triceps was fine. I also did a lot of chin ups, and I thought this had healed my tricep, even though I did 3 sets till failure, and not the 20 sets of 1/3 max reps. When the gym finally opened and I could squat again, my triceps pain immediately returned. Clearly it hasn't healed. Today's squats fucked up my triceps so bad that I could neither bench press nor deadlift afterwards. This also happened before the shut down. I might have started too heavy after the down time. I started out at 140Kg (308 lbs) after the reopening, and my heaviest before the shutdown was 145Kg (319 lbs).

I'm thinking of switching to high bar squats for a while, as they don't seem to aggravate my tricep, at least as long as I do the 20 sets of chin ups routine to heal my triceps. I've mostly heard Rip talk about this as a way to heal golfers' elbows, but I thought it might help my triceps too.

Mark Rippetoe

Your grip is too wide. Look up the videos about grip and elbow pain.


I have watched a lot of those videos, both SS videos and others. I can't really get my grip much narrower, however. But I suppose i just have to put in the work and do the stretching. Or maybe just do high bar squats. I understand it's not optimal, but neither is not being able to do the other exercises after squatting either.

Mark Rippetoe

It would be better if you had an actual diagnosis.


Are you saying I should go to the doctor? I've listened to your podcast for a while, and have nearly gotten through all of it, and did not see that coming. Do you mean for the possible triceps tendonitis or poor shoulder mobility?

Mark Rippetoe

Get a therapist to look at it and tell you precisely what structure is inflamed.

Best of the Forum

Skis and knees

I just got done watching the HBO documentary on Lindsey Vonn and I can’t help but wonder if this athlete’s career might have ended differently if she were strength trained properly.

I spent a large portion of my childhood and adolescent years on the slopes for alpine ski racing. I stopped at the age of 17 before ever having injured a knee, which seems to be the inevitable outcome of pursuing a career in alpine ski racing. But even at the age of 17, I had creaky knees, an exaggerated Q angle, and an underdeveloped posterior chain in comparison to the anterior.

In alpine racing, the bindings on the skis have an adjustable “DIN” that controls the amount of force it takes to release the boot during a crash. Heavier people and ruttier skiing conditions require a higher DIN. ACL, PCL, MCL injuries are abundant because of the inherent high force twisting and torquing that occurs during a crash before the boot is released from the binding. But is that the root cause for knee injuries on ski racing, or is it possible that this is a posterior chain strength issue? Would stronger, more balanced muscles around the knee prevent injury to a greater degree during a crash?

Ski racing is an extremely quad dominant sport. The first day of hard training on the slopes will leave your quads on fire after every run. In the offseason, every dry land or strength training program I’ve seen for ski racers is SPORT SPECIFIC BULLSHIT. Meaning a shit ton of quad work: half squats, leg extensions, wall sits, crouching unilateral stability shit, etc.

I was disgusted to see every workout Ms. Vonn was put through in this documentary focused on quad work and stability/endurance training - As if the sport itself doesn’t overwork that shit? Meanwhile she fucks up one knee or another practically every crash. This is a 35 year old woman and possibly the most dominant ski racer of all time being trained by some dude who looks like he just got a NASM cert.

I’d be willing to bet that almost all of the top tier athletes in this sport have never even heard of a low bar back squat and haven’t approached strength training in a method anywhere near what you have established with Starting Strength. I would bet that knee injuries would decrease dramatically if these athletes were exposed to your program. The “strong” people in this sport don’t really look all that strong and there are no weight classes.

I’d be interested to hear your opinion on the matter and any other experts who want to weigh in - would a program like SSNLP dramatically reduce the frequency of knee injuries in the sport ski racing?

Mark Rippetoe

This is what you get for watching HBO Documentaries. Look:

Why hasn't the most dominant ski racer of all time done her homework? Why haven't all women's soccer teams adopted our proven method of strengthening the posterior chain, this protecting at least the ACL? Why do pro football teams do absurd shit like this?

I don't know. It's obvious to us, but not to them, that this bullshit doesn't work, can't work, and displaces that which can work. I guess we haven't spent enough time selling, because we're too busy working. Your thoughts are welcome.


I haven’t watched the documentary, but I do live in a “ski town” with a population of 20,000 people and a local Orthopaedic surgeon who regularly performs 50-60 ACL surgeries a year + a number of people who travel 4+ hours to larger cities for the procedure.

Here is what I notice as a serious snowboarder who rides 60+ days a season:

- I am one of three people in town who low bar back squats and the only one of those three that ski/snowboard.

-my squat erodes considerably over the course of the season, typically 50 pounds or more, however, my quads grow noticeably in size. I really should measure my quads before and after the season as some kind of case study. I tried employing some front squats leading into the season for 2 consecutive years and that didn’t seem to help in any noticeable way. I still got just as sore following hard days and early season sessions. I have since ditched front squats entirely. In fact, low bar back squats seem to allow me to squat with more frequency and intensity while simultaneously snowboarding 3-4 days a week since there are significantly larger muscles employed that are less directly fatigued by a quad dominant sport.

-when I’m sitting on chair lifts next to a wide variety of other people and it’s easy to visually compare leg sizes, I’m often amazed at how overwhelmingly scrawny the vast majority of skier/rider legs are.

-while knee injuries are obvious and widespread, there seems to be little discussion of back injuries which are likely more common, more debilitating and probably affect more casual enthusiasts at a higher rate over a longer timeline than knee injuries, but are generally attributed more to having “back problems” than being skiing/riding injuries.

-even the people who do very moderate resistance exercises in any capacity at all (kettlebells, dumbbells, half rep high bar squats...) seem to fare much better injury wise (at least as an observation in my social pool) and this association seems painfully obvious to me, but good luck convincing anyone that they should be doing deadlifts and low bar back squats. All you can really do is look out for yourself and hope that it sets some kind of example as people living a very similar lifestyle go down regularly (and often long term) due to injuries and yet you seem to keep going with little maintenance and only minor tweaks.

Darren Nelson

I took ten years off from skiing between 2006 and 2015. Three children and three runs at LP in between. My first time back to a mountain involved two days coddling my children on the bunny slope and greens. Luckily I was able to break away on the third day when I was able to cruise blues and a black or two. I was floored at how much easier it was--both maneuvering and endurance. I was 35 lbs heavier than 2006 as well.

I made it home from a four day trip last week. What a difference SS has made. I'm enjoying this win.


I'm smiling as I read this from Steamboat Springs after my first day skiing for the season. I turned 50 this year and SS has definitely helped me in the last 2 years. I noticed this year that my legs didn't get near as fatigued as last year on the first day.

Now if I could just drop another 20 lbs in bodyweight!

This is one of the many reasons why I strength train.

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