Starting Strength Weekly Report

January 01, 2018

  • The Strength & Endurance series wraps up with a consensus statement on strength and endurance training followed by discussion and Q & A session.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Episode #53 - StrengthCon I – Rip and Nick discuss StrengthCon, a Starting Strength convention featuring presentations, training, and social events that is open to all.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

dan deadlift parkinsons
68-year-old Greysteel athlete Dan, defies time, gravity, and Parkinson's disease to finish out 2017 with a PR 200 lb deadlift. [photo courtesy of Jonathon Sullivan]

Best of the Week

Groin tear

It's your favorite old lifter from Austin. I recently tore my groin muscle and probably surrounding muscle pretty badly a few months ago using just 275 on the squat. I had widened my stance a little to take some of the pressure off of my tender right knee, so this probably added to the cause of the injury. I had squatted over 300 recently for 5 reps so I felt totally comfortable with this weight. It was so painful that I started sweating profusely within seconds and I think I blacked out for a few seconds after I racked the weight and sat down. I went to the doctor because I could barely walk, but all they did was give me pain pills so I could sleep. I know what you would have suggested then, but no, I didn't do the rehab protocol that you recommend to prevent scarring. I turned black and blue and had to take time off of work, so I just iced it and tried to recover. At that time I was pissed and considered never squatting again after the back surgery and now groin tear. I've gotten over that and I want to squat again, but when I work up to 185, I can feel it a little in the area I tore and it scares me so I haven't gone above that. Is there a way to squat heavy without tearing it again, or did I screw up badly by not doing the protocol?

Mark Rippetoe

Bonehead Randy. Now you've got a nice fat scar in your adductor. It will tear again against the scar margin. The only thing you can do is squat with a narrow stance with not much toe angle and stay out of your adductor. Bonehead.

Will Morris

This will serve well to function as a painful lesson learned for the entire community on the negative side of the Stress-Recovery-Adaptation model. It wasn't necessary, because we already know the right answer, but when someone makes the decision to go against their better judgment for the sake of "letting something heal," it tends to end up this way. Get you a tight compression sleeve for your thigh.


How does one know if the Starr protocol was completely successful? I tore an adductor a year ago (didn't see a doctor, but pretty much my whole leg turned purple eventually, so I'm pretty sure it was a muscle belly tear), went through the protocol after waiting a couple of days, then slowly worked my way back up to my previous lift numbers. However, there is still some occasional soreness and/or tightness in the injured area. Does this mean I'm at an elevated risk of re-injury or is that normal? I would dearly love to get to a 405 squat (was doing 365 when I injured myself) but I'd rather not go through the protocol again. Last week I had a session with SSC Robert Santana and he suggested a squat deload to work on some form issues and I'll check back with him in a month or so.

Will Morris

The #1 predictor of future injury is history of previous injury.


Given that, how does one continue to push through mentally and continue to train and make progress? As noted, I torn an adductor over a year ago and I'm still feeling some effects. More recently (August, actually), I tweaked my back pretty good on a 465 lb deadlift (and Will, I truly appreciate the time you spent texting with me, helping me work through the first days after the injury). I've been back in the gym for a while now and pulled 325 x 5 without any issue yesterday (I'm basically doing an LP again). But with every squat and with every pull I'm thinking of those injuries and how much I don't want to go through that recovery process again (especially with my back), plus the possibility of real long-term damage. I'm not so young now at 56 and healing takes time.

So how do you guys, especially you older guys, who've injured themselves (beyond the minor tweaks we've all had and worked through) get yourselves beyond the point you were when you were injured? Any regrets on pushing through? How often did you re-injure yourself even worse than the initial injury?

Will Morris

I don't mean to sound needlessly pedantic, but you approach the specter of future injury much the same way I approach making my bed in the morning. I'd just as soon leave my bed unmade, because heaven knows I am going to mess it up again that night. Making my bed seems fruitless at the time because of this. However, I know it makes my wife happy to make my bed, and I will pay for it in spades if I do not do it.

Training is the same way. Nobody can help you develop the mental toughness to drag your ass to the gym day in and day out. Certainly nobody can instill in you the drive to pick your injured ass up off the ground and crawl back to the gym when an injury occurs. The best predictor of future injury is a previous injury, as previously stated. I'm going to save you the suspense sir, you are going to injure yourself again....and again...and again. Each time, you approach going back to training like I do with making my bed. You hate to do it. It seems like a waste of time, since you are just buying time until you undo the work you did. But, in this case, you don't have to worry about the scorn of a peeved spouse. In this case, you choose not to train, you bring the wrath of an angry Mother Nature upon you. It has been said here before, "Injuries that are born in the gym, will die in the gym. Injuries that are born out of laziness (osteoarthritis, sarcopenia, osteopenia, Type II DM, cardiovascular disease) are terminal." The real long-term damage you should be afraid of is what happens to the body when you are sedentary. Orthopaedic surgeons can treat bone and joint injuries. Internal medicine physicians can prolong clinical life. The quality of that life's mileage may vary.

Play your hand as you see fit, but the odds are on the house when you choose to hold your cards. Nature forces us to play our hand in the physical realm, and those who don't are treated to vicious repercussions.

Just three weeks ago, I had allowed myself to become extremely anemic due to a long term health issue I have. I audited a starting strength seminar in Wichita Falls and I could barely do my warm-up in squats without feeling like the lights were going to go out upstairs. I struggled mightily to perform a single squat at 425, when months ago I was hitting 475 for a double. I lost 15 pounds of bodyweight. I could perform a set of 265 without feeling like I was going to die. I have since run a linear progression, going up 20# each time, and just yesterday I was able to hit 3 sets of 5 at 405 and I have worked my way back up to a 275# bench press for 3 sets of 5. Tomorrow, I will move up to 415 on squat and 280 on bench. I'm still weaker than I was a few months ago, but cashing in my chips and waiting patiently for death just doesn't seem to interest me much. The beautiful thing about the linear progression is that it is the go-to program ANYTIME you have a physical set-back (either injury, illness, or time away from the gym). I've gained some of my weight back. I don't look like Casper the Friendly Ghost as much anymore. I'm training, and my subjective feelings of health are directly proportional to the strength returns I have had. But, then again, that's just me. You are going to, unfortunately, figure this one out yourself. Choose wisely.

Best of the Forum

Philosophical question on training vs. exercise for 65 year old man
Suwannee Dave

I turned 65 in December and discovered that my Medicare Advantage insurance plan includes the "Silver Sneakers" program (how cute) that provides "free" gym membership to certain facilities. So I found a pretty good facility at a local hospital that actually has two squat racks, and as George C Scott as General Patton said of Rommel: "you magnificent bastard, I read your book!

You make a clear distinction between exercise and training and my question is what the hell am I training for other than to see how far I can go, and at some point, given my age and "hormonal milieu," won't I basically be exercising anyway when my progress grinds to a halt and I gradually have to start backing off the weight?

Mark Rippetoe

You'll be Exercising when you get to that point. But what takes you there?


As Dr. Jonathon Sullivan says, "Getting old is an extreme support!" That is your "sport," if you will. Displays of performance on the field include such things as picking up everyday objects, walking up stairs unassisted, etc. You don't want to be a miserable old fuck, so you train. At least that way you're just an old fuck, and not miserable.

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