Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 12, 2018

Training Log
  • Chase Lindley writes up the progress of a dedicated young lifter in Kirk Grows Up.
Starting Strength Channel
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

paul cohen competition deadlift
Paul Cohen (54) of Horn Strength and Conditioning in Los Angeles took 1st place at the 2018 Drug-Tested USPA California State Powerlifting Championships setting new national records in the Squat (380 lbs) and Deadlift (429 lbs). Paul used a very simple two-day Texas Method training program to prepare for the meet and add over 150 lbs to his previous total. [photo courtesy of Horn Strength & Conditioning]
coaching the squat in michigan
Starting Strength Coaches Jonathon Sullivan and Chris Kurisko coach the squat at the recent training camp held at Greysteel in Farmington Hills Michigan [photo courtesy of Greysteel Strength & Conditioning]

Best of the Week

Being Productive in the Gym When You Can’t Get Stronger

If this was discussed in Starting Strength or Practical Programming and I missed it, my apologies. My recollection is that both of those books were about ways to get stronger, but there comes a point when you can't get stronger. When you get to that point, how should you spend your time in the gym? Do you continue similar programming with the goal of maintaining strength? Or can that be done with scaled back programming freeing you up to do other things with your time? An SSC I worked with a few years ago suggested you could maintain strength by working up to one work set for each of the main four barbell exercises. Do you agree with that?

Mark Rippetoe

There comes a time when you get injured, or sick, or too busy to make progress, or when your priorities change, or any number of things that interrupt your progress. You get past them and resume your training to get stronger. Just this week, I squatted 335 x 3 x 2 to a low box with a dead pause, benched 248.3 x 3 x 3, and will BB row 335 x 5 tonight, better numbers than I have done in a couple of years. Progress is always possible between less-than-optimal events, even though the long-term trend is inevitably downward.

I recommend against deciding that you cannot get stronger, and then behaving as though this is true.


At 54 years old I have a 475 squat, 550 deadlift, and 365 bench. The gains over the past year have been pretty minimal, outside of my bench, despite a disciplined and concentrated effort. I don't think there's much left in my genetic potential unless I gain more weight which I don't want to do at 5'9" 225+ pounds.

More strength won't improve my life any. Actually spending less time in the gym will leave me with more energy to do other things in life. I've found that energy is something you lose as you get older. I have a meet coming up this month, and once that is over I'm looking forward to less gym time and doing other things. Like Rip says, priorities change.

As far as future maintenance programming, my plan is to train twice a week with squats/bench Monday, and Deads/presses Thursday. Work up to a heavy ~90% single on each lift, followed by 3x5 leaving a couple reps in the tank. I'll fill out the program with accessories like chins, rows, and curls and call it good. I trained similarly a few years ago and it kept my strength while still leaving me with energy to do other physical activities.

Andy Baker

I have to have this discussion in the gym with clients all the time based on the population that I train. Sometimes "maintenance" becomes a de-facto condition based on circumstances such as age, injuries, medical conditions, scheduling issues, or just simple lack of adherence to a demanding routine. I try not to let my clients adopt the mindset of "maintenance" though. Motivation is hard to maintain when there is no hope of progress, and adherence will slip even further. So, guided by intelligence, we always try to get stronger. Sometimes we keep bumping up against the same old numbers, sometimes we "pop" for new PRs if we can string together a nice little run of consistent attendance. Consistency is the key. Especially with older clients, time out of the gym is killer. It takes forever to work them back up to their personal bests when they miss time so often training become very cyclical. We hold a "peak" for a while, then they go on a vacation, travel for business, or get a small surgery or something and then we spend several months working back up to those top numbers again.

One thing I do remind them of often though, if they get discouraged by slow progress, is that "maintenance" of strength on a given lift can be considered progress as you age. If a guy is squatting 275 at age 60 and can still hit it at age 65, there is something to be said for that. With every decade the forces of nature are trying harder and harder to push you backwards into physical decline. Maintaining your ground and avoiding having to lower your workload over the years is not an easy task necessarily. But you have to have the mindset of trying to push forward just to hold your ground.

Best of the Forum

Training someone with a major disability

I dug around and found nothing so forgive me if this has been discussed already. To keep this from getting too lengthy I'll skip the details, but basically I have a friend who took a major decline after high school. Totaled four cars drunk off his ass, his last accident leaving him lucky to be alive. He hit a church so hard it knocked it off its foundation, and parked his car in the hallway leading to the basement. Three years and several surgeries later he still has no use of his left arm. He is able to shrug his shoulder but that's it. He's expressed interest in some form of lifting to make the best of what he has, so my question to you is if you've had experience with people in similar situations, and if so how did you approach training someone with such an imbalance?

Mark Rippetoe

I've had experience with severely injured people, and they are trained on a case-by-case basis. No generalizations are possible, and no one will ever write a set of instructions. You'll just have to figure it out as you go, applying the general principles of stress/recovery/adaptation.

I've also had experience with sorry motherfuckers. My policy is to figure out what they are, to not associate with them personally, and to keep them the fuck out of my gym.


Definitely something to consider, being that he is as you say, a sorry motherfucker. My thinking was that some black iron would do him some good mentally, though I do have reservations whether or not he would commit. Thanks for the insight.

Mark Rippetoe

Cut your losses, baker. If he's worth a shit, let him prove it first, since his is now the burden of proof.

Enoch Root

This. Its a painful lesson to learn.

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