Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 26, 2018

Training Log
From the Coaches
  • After struggling with a rare blood disease, Dylan Cherin found himself overweight, addicted to pain meds, and too weak to perform basic daily tasks. Now strong, with two meets under his belt, he’s been developing his skills as a coach: Dylan's story.
  • FiveX3 Training profiles a client whose chronic pain has improved with strength training.

In the Trenches

rafael cruz power clean
Rafael Cruz setting up for his 225 power cleans at this weekend's Starting Strength Seminar at Luke's Barbell Club in Austin.[photo courtesy of Niki Sims]
pr deadlift at ninety-one
91-year-old John C pulls 170 for a PR at Greysteel Strength and Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Jonathon Sullivan]

Best of the Week

Robert Lee: Three Reasons I Failed the Coaching Platform Evaluation
Mark Rippetoe

Robert Lee: Three Reasons I Failed the Coaching Platform Evaluation


Yep, that resonates pretty well with my experience as well. Especially number 3. I have a lot of experience as an educator, and so I am very used to explaining. I had very little experience as a coach, and I tried to be an educator on platform. It was very enlightening to get on the platform with someone like Rip and see how much information you can impart with one well timed word, but it's a difficult thing to switch from one mode the other without a lot of practice (that I did not have) of the latter.

Bryan Bulmann

This article really resonated with me. Last year, I too, attended a seminar. Beforehand, I pored over the material in all related books and articles suggested by various coaches; I watched videos of form checks until my eyes bled; I had been working the program for over two years; and finally, I had coached a few people in the lifts. I had five crisp $20s fresh out of the ATM just ready to be handed over to Nick at the seminar. I oozed confidence...until I didn't.

I don't remember the exact verbiage; but it was ultimately a paraphrase of the "we don't make coaches during this seminar...we identify them". The "few" people I had coached was exactly 3. I watched as the line to pay for the platform evaluation dwindled, and as it did, so too did my confidence. As the last guy stepped up to pay; I had my Woody Harrelson Zombieland moment....It was time to "nut up, or shut up."

Those five $20 bills came home with me that weekend. I realized that although I learned the Basic Barbell movement through intense study of the books; two years of practice; and a couple of visits with a nearby SSC (shoutout to Karl Schudt)....I was the smart "new guy" that shows up at every job. The one that is really educated about the job but has virtually no practical experience "doing it." As such, I poured myself a hot steaming cup of "sit-the-fuck-down" and enjoyed a two day weekend without the pressure of having to pass the platform exam.

And, after reading this article, I know I would've easily doubled Mr. Lee's list. Thank you for your time in writing this article Robert, and thank you, Rip, for posting it.

Best of the Forum

Modifications for rotator cuff tendinopathy? Physical Therapy

After about 4 months on SS Linear Progression, I was diagnosed with minor bilateral rotator cuff tendinopathy (without tearing yet). Since then, I have been going through PT for about 2 months now. My therapist has told me some things that conflict directly with SS and now I am confused. Things like:

  • for bench press & press, the humerus should never go beyond parallel to floor (ie elbows 90 degrees)
  • no more military presses for my shoulders, but incline bench to 90 degrees is ok?
  • "chinups are bad for the shoulders," especially as I approach 40 yo. I should switch to lat pull instead.
  • no more deadlifts to avoid shoulder strain
  • I have been doing light weight rotator cuff isolation exercises without any sort of increase in weights/reps

Is any of this valid, or should I find a new therapist? Do you have any advice on finding a therapist who is more familiar with barbell strength training?

My goal is obviously to prevent further damage to my shoulders, but I would also like to get back to my training program ASAP and continue building muscle mass.

Mark Rippetoe

Everybody who thinks that PTs don't really say this shit needs to read this. Aloud. Burn the words into your brain, so that you understand my problems with this fraudulent approach to billing an insurance company. FRAUD is the word I used. Feel free to repeat this.

My question for you is: why did you seek medical intervention for this? Was the pain unbearable? How did the injury arise? Once it was diagnosed (how? MRI?) as minor tendinopathy with no tearing, why did you go to PT instead of correcting the form problems that might have either caused this or exacerbated the pre-existing condition? Do you have access to an SSC?

As the book demonstrates, none of the exercises in the program are anatomically capable of producing this injury, and have been used quite successfully to rehab shoulder injuries that occurred doing other movements. If you are confused, reread the material and post your questions here.

It is not your job to educate your PT, but it should be your job to protest the billing for this patent bullshit. Demand your money back, if you've paid for it yourself, or demand that your insurance company recover the billing. This cannot be tolerated any longer.

Will Morris

Forget the diagnosis for starters. Your diagnosis is simply "shoulder pain." Your shoulder pain after beginning the linear progression was probably because your bench press technique sucked, you added some additional exercises, or you have a job where you sit for most of the day. Shoulders hurt, and not all shoulder pain is because something is damaged. Sometimes things just hurt.

Your PT is simply parroting what they have heard but has never put any mechanical analysis into why they make such recommendations. That said, if you were to visit 100 orthopedic surgeons, 100 family practice physicians, and 100 chiropractors, a resounding majority would say that your PT's recommendations are sound. But, these recommendations are complete horseshit. Ask what qualifies as a military press, and most of them will describe a behind the neck press, but then again, most healthcare providers will default to saying you should never do any activity over your head.

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