Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 21, 2022

On Starting Strength
  • Canada, Sword Shows, and Growth Spurts – Rip answers questions from Starting Strength Network subscribers and fans.
  • Foot Movement during the Clean – Mark Rippetoe teaches the movement from pulling stance to squat stance during the Olympic lifts.
  • Teaching a New Lifter the Power Clean – Starting Strength Coach Grant Broggi teaches a lifter how to power clean by going through all the start positions.
  • Long Forearms in the Squat by Andrew Lewis – The best grip in the squat is going to have the lifter's hands grabbing the bar with as narrow a grip as the shoulders can tolerate. This will produce...
  • The Correct Use of Fractional Plates by Mark Rippetoe – People keep posting questions on the forums about their bench and press that lead me to strongly suspect they are trying to take 5lb/2.5kg jumps long after they shouldn't be...
  • Weekend Archives: Elbow Tendonitis: How It Occurs and What to Do About It Jordan Burnett – Elbow tendonitis is one of the most common and pervasive injuries that serious lifters can experience at some point during their career...
  • Weekend Archives: Rehabilitation Mark Rippetoe – All athletes who train hard enough to compete will get injured. This is the sorry truth of the matter, and anyone dissuaded from competition by this fact would not have made a good competitor anyway...

From the Coaches
  • Is your lower back rounding when you deadlift? Phil Meggers discusses why this is a problem and gives several ways to fix the issue. Milo, Parker, and hideous deadlift all make cameo appearances.
  • Cleans, hang cleans, power cleans, hang power cleans. . . all in less than 3 minutes! In this edition of the Saturday Shorts video series, Phil Meggers covers the differences between these lifts as well as how to easily remember each one.
  • Quit using percentages to warm-up - you're better than that. A percentage-based system keeps it simple for new lifters, but for experienced lifters, there's an easier and faster method. Phil Meggers explains.
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In the Trenches

scott shrugs at the lockout of the press
Scott, a member of Starting Strength Plano, demonstrates a shrug at the lockout of the press under the watchful eye of apprentice Nathan Cooper. [photo courtesy of Jacob Thias]
ali using straps for a pr deadlift after a motorcycle accident
Ali Durvesh with a PR deadlift at 325. Ali is training with Starting Strength Houston after a motorcycle accident severely affected his left arm and threatened his ability to train. [photo courtesy of Tony Stein]
chris and mike coach the starting strength deadlift set up
Chris and Mike coach Millie and Jose, respectively, through the 5-step setup for the deadlift at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
97-year-old roseann deadlifting
97-year-old RoseAnn deadlifting at Starting Strength Boston during her weekly training session. [photo courtesy of Austin Khamiss]
jennifer murdoch trains her deadlift at starting strength katy
Jennifer Murdoch pulls 115 for a set of 5 at Starting Strength Katy. [photo courtesy of Nick Bousley ]
heather has more than doubled her deadlift in 3 months
Heather started her linear progression 3 months ago and has taken her deadlift from 75x5 to 160x5 at Starting Strength Boise. [photo courtesy of John Dowdy]
tasha bench presses at starting strength san antonio
Tasha bench presses while Jordan coaches her through the lift at Starting Strength San Antonio. [photo courtesy of Matt Hebert]
lifters laughing between sets at starting strength dallas
A candid funny moment between lifters Travis and Karen at Starting Strength Dallas. [photo courtesy of Jayne Peyton]
kc setting up for a set of deadlifts
KC Leung setting up his deadlift for a set of 5. [photo courtesy of Jonathan Chung]

Best of the Week

Barely able to walk after lumbar decompression


I hurt my low back a while ago and used the Bill Starr method for rehab which I've used with great success a number of times (thank you)

However, after the most recent time doing it, about 2 months ago, my lower back has kept bothering me. Nothing major, I've been able to squat and deadlift without problem, but enough that I went to try lumbar decompression by hanging from a bar for longer than usual.

Normally I've just hung from a bar until my grip starts giving out, probably a minute or so, and my back always feels a little "Shaky" coming back down, as if I don't ease back down it'll hurt to put weight back on it.

This time I'd found a pair of wrist wraps with hooks attached that let me hang without problem for several minutes. It felt fine while I was up there, but when I came back down I could barely put any weight on my legs and I felt like I couldn't stand up at all.

Anyway I slowly make my way down and end up rolling around on the floor for a good 10 min before I'm ok to stand back up. My back feels okay now several hours later, it doesn't hurt but doesn't feel great so I'm hesitant as to whether I should keep doing them.

Any advice? Has anyone experienced anything similar? And is there any reason why you shouldn't do lumbar decompression and I just need to get used to it?

Mark Rippetoe

My back doesn't respond well to decompression. Did a long time ago, but as I've gotten older it hurts more than it helps. If it hurts more than it helps, don't do it.

Ryan Arnold

I've had the exact same experience as Rip. As I've aged it hurts more than helps. I stopped doing it.

Mark Rippetoe

And if you're doing situps and/or back extensions, stop doing those too.

Best of the Forum

What causes muscle belly tears?


In your opinion, what causes the tearing of muscle belly fibers to occur? I mean the catastrophic pop or tearing effect that is experienced in the muscle belly itself, not the tendon peeling off the bone.

Obviously, heavy weight causes it. The weight exceeds the strength of the contracting fibers, causing the catastrophic failure.

But why does our body not sense or feel this is about to happen and "shut it down" in some other way? Why the catastrophic rupture?

I recently sustained a pec tear while benching 325. I've been doing a modified Texas Method, benching twice per week. This was a heavy weight for me, but I had done 315 x 5 in a session twice prior and had successfully completed 325 x 1,1,1 in the immediate prior session. On the day of the tear itself, I had successfully and without feeling like it was a limit effort achieved 325 x 1,2,1 and it was upon lowering the bar I felt the "pop,pop,pop" of the tear in my left pec. So I was well warmed up when it happened. The pain was not severe, but upon movement, I could feel a problem. It wasn't until nine (9!) days later that the bruising appeared across the bottom of my tit, which is where the blood pooled. I don't think it was a big tear and I've been Starr rehabbing it (completed 145 x 25,25,25 yesterday) and I know I will return. But I want to avoid the problem that caused it in the future. I have previously and for the last three years experienced minor pec tweaks' ' or strains that required a week or so of working through before the strength returned, but I think this may be a little longer.

What the fuck is wrong with my muscles that they do this? Im 51, 6'4", 265 pounds, on TRT for the past 5 years and I eat a meat heavy diet. I am usually well hydrated, well sodiumed and I also take creatine regularly. Competition best lifts are Sq485, B375, DL540 pounds.

I should note that the day before I experienced this tear, I did about 30 chin ups, which I started adding to my routine. I hadn't been doing them for a while. When I chin I tend to use a lot of pecs, along with lat and arm to pull the humerus down (or pull my body up, I suppose) and into position next to my ribcage. So, in this particular instance, my pec may have been "weakened" by the unusual contraction pattern of the day before. I suppose. Just a thought.

But my real question is: What defect/deficiency/weakness causes muscle belly tears?

Mark Rippetoe

I've had many tears over the years, but the one thing they all had in common was the fact that they were unexpected, with no "aura" or advanced indication that they were about to occur. Warm or cold, doesn't seem to matter. I once tore a quad on the 9th set of 10 sets of 2.

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