Starting Strength Weekly Report

December 09, 2019

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In the Trenches

alex koesarie at the bottom of his last set of squats
Alex Koesarie at the bottom of his last set of squats during the Starting Strength Seminar at WFAC last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
christy callesen squats during the starting strength seminar
Christy Callesen squats during the last Starting Strength Seminar of 2019. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
youngest lifter pulling at fivex3 training gym stronger together meet
Our youngest lifter, age 6 months, pulls 3x his body weight today at the Stronger Together Meet in Baltimore, MD at Fivex3 Training. [photo courtesy of Fivex3 Training]
doug getting some squat coaching from cody annino
Doug squats during this past weekend's Squat & Deadlift camp at Annino Strength & Conditioning in Moodus, CT. He recently took up barbell training to improve his golf game. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
ron coaches a lifter after the bottom of the squat
Starting Strength Coaching Development student Ron coaches Don after the bottom position of the squat at The Strength Co.’s Costa Mesa gym. [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]

Best of the Week

How am I doing so far[?]

elong at the gym, compared to past <1 month attempts when I hated going each single time. I don't want to get overconfident though so I want to kind of present what I've learned as an average Joe hoping that there are no pitfalls in my knowledge or mindset. Also, my goals are: Build lower body strength with squats, eventually move to exclusively weighted bodyweight exercises for upper body. I basically want to be impressive above the bar, and below it. Stats:

  • Bodyweight: 79KG
  • Height: 181cm (6ft?)
  • Squats: 40KG => 80KG
  • OHP: 25KG => 40KG (Goal is 55+ till end of year, my girl weighs 55)
  • Bench Press: 30KG => 50KG
  • T-bar Row: (Without Bar weight) 30KG => 45KG
  • Push-ups (In one go): 7 Reps => 23 Reps
  • Dips: 0 Reps => 3 Reps
  • Chin-ups (In one go): 4 Reps => 12 Reps

Some wisdom I consider true for now:

  1. Workouts must be goal specific, even variations of a single exercise should be dependent on your goals. If the goal is to be good at Olympic lifting, front squats and high-bar squats, powerlifters should go for the low-bar squat as it engages more muscle. If you don't have specific goals, you can mix it up sometimes, but not too often.
  2. Your body mechanics might prevent you from performing certain exercises well, in which case you should change up the variation of the exercise (example: short torso and long femur makes the low bar a bit awkward since you have to lean forward way more or spread your knees way more which affects your hip position and demands way more mobility. In this case you'll feel better with a high-bar squat)
  3. Compound movements are king, isolations are done only after
  4. High weights, explosive fewer reps for strength. Lots of slow reps, lower weights for size
  5. Explosiveness and momentum are two different things, pauses are important
  6. If I can't do it right, I either lower the weights until I can do it right, work on mobility or don't do the exercise at all
  7. Injury and weakness are two different things, weakness is there to be fixed, injury should be treated as the doctor advises. If your lower back is weak, you should train it. Instead of being afraid of injuries, if I'm careful I'll be fine
  8. don't do 50 exercises, just do 5-10 of them intensely
  9. Whey protein is convenient, not a replacement for food. You don't need 40 protein shakes everyday. (I just use whey protein when I feel that protein intake was low for that day, or I can't be bothered to cook)
  10. Active recovery is underrated, does magic to progress
  11. The best workout method is consistency
  12. Progressive overload is the most important, de-load phase can be important for long-term progress (Note for future)
  13. Most supplements are unnecessary
  14. A good workout is the one where you accomplish your goals for the day
  15. I slump for 3 weeks straight and then progress drastically unexpectedly, I don't really know why
  16. It doesn't actually take all that long to look good, not a model, but even 2 months can be enough to look healthy and athletic. At least for me it was
  17. Every man should be able to overhead press his significant other. Difficulty may vary. I'm working on it
  18. The Bench press is a glorified isolation exercise
  19. Always take a dump before squatting or so I'm told
  20. Soviet style stretches my grandpa did are apparently the best way to do it. Nothing static

Mark Rippetoe

This is so fascinatingly fucked up that I'm going to deal with it on the podcast I record today. It will be up Friday.


Well, I do think 17 is a good goal if circumstances make it feasible. It's a nice press milestone to put before pressing your own bodyweight. A lot of the rest of it looks like a laundry list of common misconceptions though.


I don't really get point 2... doesn't really understand why its a problem. But point 19 looks very important to me!! Should be in the 4th edition of the book (which will never come I guess).

Very excited on the podcast.

Best of the Forum

What works triceps more Bench Press or Press?

I know close grip bench press is commonly thought of as a tricep builder, but the press uses close arms too and has a more closed elbow angle. So I'm surprised the press is not thought of as more of a tricep exercise then close grip bench. Maybe I'm mistaken though, does bench or press use triceps more?

Mark Rippetoe

In which of these exercises is the triceps lifting a heavier weight?


Isn't the elbow joint ROM part of the equation? I think I misunderstood, I apologize but the author seems to use "bench" and "close grip bench" interchangeably in the title and in the post. Obviously the press and the CG bench have a similar ROM around the elbow joint.

Yonason Herschlag

The question can be rephrased: Do we bench more than we press because there is more muscle contribution beyond the triceps with the bench (pecs and lats), and therefore the triceps are not contributing any more to the heavier lift than they do working in the press, or, are the triceps enabling heavier lifts in the bench because they contribute more because the angle and positioning enables the triceps to contribute more.

Mark Rippetoe

No, Rabbi, the question should be rephrased as, why do we bench more than we press? We have already answered that for you, in the book.


We bench more because it's a shorter kinetic chain but what does it have to do with triceps? The triceps work more in the bench than in the press because of the increased weight but what about the ROM? How do you define "work" done by a muscle Rip? It doesn't seem a physics definition since force is not the only variable that defines work.

Mark Rippetoe

Except for the fact that the triceps lift more weight over a very slightly shorter ROM (which varies with anthropometry), it doesn't have anything to do with the triceps. I don't care about the triceps. If you care about the triceps, do LTEs.


I don't care about the triceps either, but doing LTEs will work your triceps even less if you consider the definition you gave in this thread.

Mark Rippetoe

Yeah, probably. How would you answer the question?


Like the old Rip would, something like "get your press to 300 and your bench to 400 so you can stop worrying about your triceps"

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