Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 27, 2017

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Rip reads A Clarification, an article that addresses the most common points of confusion about the Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression.

In the Trenches

Joe Pena with 1005 at the Texas State High School Powerlifting Meet. [photo courtesy of Joe Pena]

martha deadlift pr
Martha completes her third attempt on the deadlift with a PR of 237# in the 63kg weight class. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Martha started strength training at FiveX3 Training in Baltimore after an unsatisfactory trial elsewhere:
With my previous back injury, I was nervous to train on my own without help with form and technique. There is a personal training studio near my house, where I tried a few sessions this summer as part of an introductory package. I was told to lift what I could do for 15-20 reps, and we were always changing up the exercises so I didn’t see the amount I was lifting increase. When I asked about squatting with the barbell, I heard a bit of scoffing - "kind of pointless unless you want to become an amateur powerlifter…"
Read more about her early experiences and motivation in her FiveX3 client profile.

Best of the Week

Why not press twice every week?

I think most can agree that pressing is the ultimate test of upper body strength. I believe it’s been said that the bench is a great assistance to the press, whereas the press does not transfer so much to the bench. That being said, why does the program alternate the press and bench every workout? Why not press every Monday and Friday, and bench every Wednesday? Would that be just too much volume on the press?

Andy Baker

Getting your bench up faster will help get your press up faster. So in a way, when you train the bench you are training for the press as well. Both lifts need to go up for a novice. As an intermediate, you might choose to specialize in one or the other.


I've had similar questions about benching/pressing each twice a week. I've just tapped out my LP on bench and press and want to add a little more volume as I move into more intermediate programming. I want to stick with a 3-day schedule so I'm thinking of this breakdown:

  • Mon: Bench heavy
  • Wed: Press and Bench light-to-medium
  • Fri: Press heavy

Does this seem like a productive way to go about it? Any other suggestions for how to move into intermediate programming on a 3-day schedule?

I'm also thinking of cycling through 3x3, 3x7, and 3x5 rep schemes on the heavy days. I've stalled at only working 3x5. Is there a better way?

Andy Baker

I really like focus on one or the other. It makes programming easier. Do you have a preference? You'll still get strong all around and you don't have to keep the same priority forever. So I'd go volume bench on Monday, press on Wednesday (for moderate volume like 3x5) and intensity bench on Friday (singles across, doubles, triples, etc).


My main goal is to find a way to keep improving both, as they've both stalled on 3-day LP. So would the optimum solution be to add a 4th day and have a volume and intensity day for each lift? I could add a quick intensity Press session on Saturdays without too much trouble if I'm only doing the one exercise.

Andy Baker

You can do a 4-day split:

  • Mon: Press Intensity / Bench Volume
  • Thur: Bench Intensity / Press Volume

Best of the Forum

Squat Mechanics / Feeling the Muscle Activation

I have read your article 5 times. I have watched your Art of Manliness Squat/Deadlift videos over 30 times collectively. I've watched the video of you correcting a kid’s hip drive 5 times.

I have recently started squatting again, which I avoided for a long time. I have now been squatting for the last two months. My main concern is that I want to be sure I am progressing in weight using the proper mechanics and form. It is difficult to assess oneself without a video camera...and even then, my eyes aren’t as trained as yours.

It occurs to me that I may be able to determine if my form is correct by the burn/fatigue of a given muscle group. Essentially, where I feel it the most.

So as far as the squat is concerned, I understand it is a posterior chain movement. My goal with each rep is to visualize that the bar is on my lower back. Push from there. Keep my eyes on the floor 6 feet in front of me and so on.

I've been doing 3 sets of 5 twice a week, as I am on a cut. I am concerned that I don’t feel a tremendous burn in my glutes upon completion of the set, nor in my hamstrings, but then again I am not going to failure.

What would you advise as far 'feeling' the movement? I understand the completely insane and arbitrary nature of my question, especially without a visual. When I squatted years ago, I recall tremendously intense burns in my glutes. That said, I was never going lower than 8 reps, and I wasn’t using your form.

I am driving myself insane after every workout trying to assess whether or not I am doing them to assess if the bar is mid foot, how to assess whether or not I am lifting my chest, etc.

Any help would be appreciated.

Mark Rippetoe

You are relying on rather subjective assessments here, instead of analysis. What do you mean by "a burn" in your glutes?

CJ Gotcher

Taking video for review would help, or getting a good coach.

In real time, you know the barbell is over the midfoot if your balance is centered directly in the middle of the foot. If it's towards the ball or the heel, the bar is forward or aft of the midfoot. Easy. You know if you're lifting your chest early... if you're lifting your chest (your eyeline will change early).

Don't sweat the muscle burn- focus on the mechanics. Is the barbell in the right place on your back? Are you tight? Are you braced? Etc. That's what matters.


Knowing whether it's over midfoot seems easy, based on balance.

I may be being obtuse or not understanding what you mean be eyeline, but how do you differentiate the change in view from lifting your chest early and the change in view from your hips going up?

Feeling whether you're going to the proper depth, rather than too high or low, seems harder. Do you have a method for this beyond practice and checking video or a coach?

Another common issue, staying tight, seems easy - stay as tight as possible.

CJ Gotcher

If you keep your head neutral (in a straight line with the rest of your back, which puts you looking down at the bottom of the squat like we recommend), lifting the chest will bring your gaze up, and bringing your hips up (without the chest) will bring your gaze down. Don't overthink this. You've sat in and out of chairs your whole life and you know what it feels like to open and close your hips. The barbell is a hell of a distraction, but the knowledge is in there. Don't lift the chest until you have to (and by that point, it kind of lifts itself as you drive the hips through to stand).

No tricks from me here: this is an issue I have to constantly work on as I have a tendency to squat too deep. There are general rules for fixing too-high (check your knees are out, your stance isn't stupid wide, and that you're strong enough to lift the weight) and too-low (check your stance isn't too narrow, you're staying tight in the abs and quads, you're leaning forward correctly, and you're not giving up lumber extension), the knees out far enough, an improper stance, or not being strong enough at that weight)... but I haven't found anything that works every time.

Perhaps some of the other lifters and coaches have developed better tips and tricks (Rip?), but the only thing I've found to help me is video analysis and an occasional form realignment from a good coach.

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