Starting Strength Weekly Report

February 03, 2020

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In the Trenches

rich squats his first plate at starting strength denver
Rich squats a plate to begin his third week of training at Starting Strength Denver with Amanda Sheppard watching on. [photo courtesy of Jay Livsey]
jt squat work set at annino strength
JT finishing up his final work set of squats at Annino Strength & Conditioning during last weekends Squat and Deadlift Training Camp in Moodus, CT. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
aerielle locking out a PR set of five deadlifts at a starting strength training camp
Aerielle locking out a PR set of five deadlifts with Starting Strength Coach Rebecca Skinner at the same camp. [photo courtesy of Cody Annino]
jeff hairston points knee position using the starting strength squat teaching method
Starting Strength Coach Jeff Hairston points out knee position in the bottom of the squat at The Strength Co. Villa Park. [photo courtesy of Mike Minigell]

Best of the Week

Need Some Advice
Mark E. Hurling

Some advice would be welcome from anyone who might have encountered this situation when training others.

I am coaching and training some Special Olympians two of whom keep wanting to bend their elbows near the top of the deadlift. Both are fairly new to training with one having trained for a couple of months with me and the second just starting to get the foundational basics from his team coaches.

The first is high functioning and receptive to what I ask him to do and demonstrate in correcting his departures from the Starting Strength models for the lifts. Not perfect yet, but working toward better as he goes along. Last week I even tried wrapping his elbows with wrist wraps to cue him to not bend them. It didn't help. He's not stubborn, he just seems unable to alter his current practice.

The second is significantly lower functioning but is very eager to please. I was just invited to assist his coaches last week and met him for the first time yesterday.

As mentioned, both cannot seem to get the idea that their arms are only there as "hooks and levers" (sort of) to stabilize the bar on it's upward path.

Does anyone or can anyone offer any tips on how I can help them fix this?

Mark Rippetoe

Have them "pose the triceps" during the pull. Like a bodybuilder.

Mark E. Hurling

Hm. Worth a try. This is likely to appeal to the first guy better given his higher function.


Best of the Forum

Older Men, Younger Women, Testosterone

This is NOT a how to get back into training question. I recently turned 57. I had to take a layoff for about 10 months and am about to jump back in. I lost 30+ pounds as well as a good percentage of strength. I'm thinking I'll just run the standard LP 3x/week again for a while, even though the common knowledge is that the "masters" crowd should modify their training due to decreased ability to adapt/recover from training. Which brought me to this question - young healthy women in their twenties do not, as far as I know, modify the program. I'm sure most normal guys in their 50s have much more testosterone than a 20 something woman. So why do older guys need to modify? The only thing I could possibly come up with is that because although we may be older, we are still stronger, so we can generate forces that affect the CNS much more deeply. Is that anywhere close to the reason?

Mark Rippetoe

Young women in their 20s modify the program after a few months by switching from 5s to 3s. You may find this helpful as well, in your more-female dotage, as have I.


The modification with masters is due to their inability to recover as quickly as younger athletes.

The modification with women is due to their inability to stress their bodies enough with the same rep/set scheme as men.

Because of the different mechanisms, different modifications are required.


I certainly found it helpful to switch to 3s towards the end of a fixed 2 day program I ran profitably from February to August of this year.

But I was starting to adjust by doing one work set of 3 followed by two drop sets with 10% less. I felt like the volume I was doing could not sustain gains for much longer so I reached out to Coach Baker and he set me up with a fixed 2 day/wk program where I drive my intensity day poundages up monthly. While I miss making small incremental increases on a weekly basis, I feel so much better in terms of how my training blends with my skills practice now and the longer time interval allowed Coach Baker to program a lot of PR building volume for me.

How do you play with the variables so that your current focus on 3s continues to drive progress? Do you balance the lower rep volume with more sets?


I looked up "dotage." Dammit, say it ain't so, Rip! I'm a 64 year-old, proactive, "Dotage Denier." It’s one thing I believe we all have in common on this forum.

Mark Rippetoe

It's been quite a while since I made what you would call progress. I have been training for 40 years, and I train to stave off death only.

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