Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 19, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Rip reads The Profession of Barbell Coaching, describing differences between a personal trainer and a coach and what makes the Starting Strength Coach credential unique.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

deadlift julia palzer
Julia Palzer pulls 235 lbs for two triples at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]

Best of the Week

Toning or Bulking BS

Recently I have come into a discussion with an individual who is training to become a personal trainer. We were talking about reps and they made a statement that seemed idiotic to me, but I actually want to explore the validity behind it. Here is what they said:

"Higher reps (8 to 10) lead to toning, while lower reps (4–6) lead to bulking. By doing sets of 5 you are bulking."

Now, I could care less about "toning" or "bulking" but the general statement irked me and I wanted to refute it.

Do the number repetitions within your set legitimately change body composition in some way? I call bull. In my very limited knowledge and understanding – it seems as if the only thing that would lead to "toning" (I presume lose of body fat) and "bulking" (I presume muscle gain) is more related to nutrition.

Brent Carter

Your friend is well on his way to becoming a top tier personal trainer where this kind of bullshit is the accepted norm.

You, however, are better than that and have already figured out what most never will. "Toning" is body comp, which is almost entirely dependent upon nutrition intervention.


Don't walk away from this person. Run. People this stupid are dangerous to be near and it might be contagious; we just don't know. Keep your distance from such folk.


You can choose your rep scheme to focus on hypertrophy or strength although it really doesn't make that much difference for a novice. Ironically, all these trainers that say high reps with short rest periods are best to avoid bulking seem to forget that high reps + short rests are what bodybuilders use to get as bulky and large as possible.

Brent Carter

Exactly. Because if you aren't that strong then there is no point in doing a lighter weight for higher reps. If a guy can only squat 275 what are they going to be able to do for sets of 12? How effective as a training stimulus is 205x12 for this person vs someone that can squat 405? How much weight can that person do for sets of 12?

Best of the Forum

Aliens and barbells

Ok, so it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m reading Strong Enough? No, I don’t have anything better to do with my time right now. I’m at the end where you mention “lights in the sky at night” and this question pops into my head. Is it reasonable to believe that other intelligent species have developed a tool i.e. barbell or other device to improve strength? After all, physics are physics and other life forms are expected to interact with their environments just like us. This is assuming the alien species possess a musculoskeletal system.

Your thoughts?

Mark Rippetoe



H.R. Giger's Aliens from Alien are in good shape. They can run, climb, and burst through people's chests (excellent pressing power). Klingons from Star Trek would be awesome powerlifters, but they'd probably also be the guys at the gym who yell before PR attempts. ET from Spielberg's ET is the worst I can think of. Stubby legs and lanky arms would make him a pretty good deadlifter (needs to promise he won't use that magic shit to help levitate the bar), but tiny arms and a big gut means he should probably cut those Reese’s pieces.


What about the Predator aliens? Look at how much bigger they are now in more recent installments of the series than the one way back in the first movie with Arnold. Perhaps fighting (and losing) to Arnold inspired them to go back to their homeworld and start training.

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