Starting Strength Weekly Report

January 02, 2017

  • The winner of the December Under the Bar Contest is Andy Hammer.
  • Weight Training with Low Back Pain, Pt 3 - Dr. Morris wraps up his talk on training with back pain with a discussion on the shortfalls of current conventional pain science and back pain rehabilitation.
Training Log
  • Performance vs Training - What do you do when you go to the gym? If you're going to make a Resolution, make it count.
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #39 - Rip answers questions about training frequency, books, press specialization, and conventional wisdom on PT tests.

Under the Bar

Mikael deadlifts 500
Mikael, visiting from Sweden, hits an exciting lifetime PR deadlift of 500 pounds. [photo courtesy of Horn Strength & Conditioning]
Jerry squats a PR
Jerry squats a personal record of 325. [photo courtesy of Horn Strength & Conditioning]
breaking in the platform
Starting Strength Coach Susan Simpson breaking in the new platforms at Old Line Strength & Conditioning in Pikesville, MD. [photo courtesy of Susan Simpson]
after the pr
Fraidy Sprigel is all smiles after racking her squat PR of 155x3x5 at the WFC Barbell Club for women. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
bjoern lifts at 5x3
6'7" Bjoern, from Germany, stopped by Fivex3 for a session with Starting Strength coach Jay Mund while visiting family in Maryland over the holiday break. [photo courtesy of Fivex3 Training]
in the hole
Fivex3 intern Christian in the hole with 405#. [photo courtesy of Fivex3 Training]

Click images to view slideshow.

Best of the Week

Limited Rack/Equipment Time

I lift during peak gym hours in a single rack commercial gym. The majority of people tend to be into Bddybuilding/Fitness and are usually done with their lifts much quicker. Having to do 5x5 on 8-10 minutes rest is seen as bad gym etiquette and people get annoyed having to alter their workouts. Doing my warm-up ahead of my next lift and having to occupy two pieces of equipment isn't that practical either. So what's the best way for an intermediate to keep Volume Day Rack/Bench time at 25 min. max? Total session time is not that much of an issue.

Andy Baker

I know. It sucks. That's why so many people are ditching these types of gyms if they are into barbell training. It's a better investment to carve out a corner of your garage with a good rack and just train at home. Or perhaps find a CrossFit gym that has some open gym hours for you to go and use their racks.

You are right, though. You can't hog the rack for 30+ minutes. Can you go at like 1pm? Gyms are usually empty in the early afternoon.


The gym opens at 09.00 and work starts at 08.30 till 17.00. I understand my gym is a very suboptimal training environment and is not the way to go long term, but I'm still under contract for quite a few months. A home gym would be sweet but the noise production from deadlifting in my basement could become a problem with my neighbors since I live in an apartment complex.

So any advice on the most beneficial rep/set/rest set up I could use in those 25 min. per lift? A 5x5 is 32 minutes just in rest alone.

Andy Baker

Fastest route is an ascending 5x5 protocol that works up to one top set of 5. I like a % based approach. So say that your top work set for the day is 300x5. You go backward by 10% increments until you get your 5 "work sets" and then you still might have to have a few warm up sets in between the first work set and the bar, but you can move through all of that really fast. Basically just enough rest to change plates on the barbell. Then take a full 5-8 minutes between work sets 4 and 5.

Like this: 300x5, 270x5 240x5, 215x5, 195x5, 135x5, 45x5

Best of the Forum

Physical Fitness Testing Results

I just wanted to share a recent experience with you and hear your thoughts. I know you are familiar with my background, however, I would like to give any readers a little information. I have been in law enforcement for 16 years and over half of that time I have spent assigned to our SWAT Team.

Our department requires a fitness test based on the Cooper Institute’s in order to be assigned to the SWAT Team. This test is administered once per year and then 6 months later a more strength-biased test is administered. This is a recent addition as the Cooper’s test used to be administered two times per year. The Cooper based test consists of a vertical jump, max push-ups in 60 seconds (40 minimum), max sit-ups in 60 seconds (37 minimum), 1.5 mile run (13:18 max), and a 300 meter sprint (60 second max).

The last time I participated in the test was 1 year ago. It is important to note that this is also the last time that I have run for fitness, done a sit-up, a pushup, and possibly jumped vertically. Since that time I have dedicated myself to the Starting Strength program. Now, I have done the SS program before however, I have had my affairs with running, rucking, and other fads. The only time I deviated from the SS program in the last year (other than vacation, illness, or letting night shift beat me) is the 2 monthly team workouts that accompany training. I also do a prowler workout on very rare occasion. It’s also important to note that the last time I took the test I weighed about 185-190 pounds. A year later I weigh 221 pounds and am much stronger than I was the previous year. I just took the PT Test, and noted something interesting. And just so everyone knows I’m a 40 year old male who, other than being healthy, is not gifted genetically.

I began the test by performing the vertical jump. The result was a 32” vertical. Now I know that number isn’t anything great (NFL, NBA, or anyone else won’t be recruiting me) however, I don’t believe I have jumped quite 32” before. We then moved to the push-up test. My goal here was to conserve energy for the upcoming run so I would only complete the minimum number required on push-ups or sit-ups. I completed the required 40 push-ups right around the 30 second mark. The push-ups were easy to say the least. But I stopped at 40. I did the same on the sit-ups, which were also easy and were completed around the 40 second mark. I noticed that my hip flexors weren’t tired. I have always noticed tight, tired hip flexors after a number of quick sit-ups in the past. We then moved to the 1.5 mile run. Several of my teammates believed that this would be difficult at my heavier weight and since I haven’t run in a year. At the halfway point, my time was 5:30. I was not winded or tired at all. I decided to slow down to save energy for the sprint. I finished right at 12 minutes and felt great. I had plenty left to give and could easily have stayed on my original pace. We then moved to the 300 meter sprint. I ran a 50 second 300 meter. I felt great on this run but I paced all wrong. I had plenty more to give on the 300. At this point I wished I would’ve gone all out in all areas just to see what I could’ve done. Another interesting note is that I ALWAYS get shin splints after the 1.5 mile run and the 300 meter sprint. I did not have a single issue with this during or after the test this time.

So here are some thoughts and questions. We have all been conditioned to believe that in order to perform well on tests such as these you must be doing “cardio”, be lightweight, be doing push-ups, and “core” work. So conditioned that I believed that I must really conserve to pass the runs. As there is no way to pass a measured run if you haven’t been running right? It appears that my newly developed strength has benefited me more than anything I have done in the past. Not to mention I am a bigger stronger man for someone to deal with in general. What do you believe generated the results I saw on the 1.5 mile run? Does the heavy lifting of the 3 x 5 program build a certain level of “cardio”? Is it just easier to push my body through space now that I am measurably stronger than I once was? The push-ups are obviously a result of my bench and press but what about the sit-ups? Is this a direct result of my core putting in the work during my squat sessions? And what about the shin splints? A result of stronger bones, muscles, and tendons?

I was fortunate to meet you near the beginning of my LE career. Who knows where I would be physically had I really listened to you back then. With all of that said, thanks for the work that you do, for helping me when I need it, and for making me better.

Mark Rippetoe

First off, excellent job. What took you so long? That's a pretty good vertical, better than I would have thought, you being rather slug-like and all. We may have to try that under non-government test conditions in the gym.

This is extremely important, and we've been saying this for years while absolutely no one listens but us. For a "fit" person, running is just not that hard. It's putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to do so, even if it hurts a little. Strength training makes you "fit" and therefore improves your running. Unless we have decided that we are taking cars away from the cops and the military, running 5 miles is neither necessary from an operational standpoint nor productive from a training standpoint: running makes you better at running and that's all, while lifting makes you better at running and everything else too.

Let's repeat this: running makes you better at running and that's all, while lifting makes you better at running and everything else too. And since we don't run more that short distances in the field anymore – which lifting improves too – then preparing to run long distances while failing to implement a systematic approach to getting stronger is a waste of time, money, and physical potential.

Situps are a silly thing to test if a guy can squat 405. Silly, stupid, pointless, inefficient, and ineffective, and this is precisely how governments do things. You have risen above this. Guys like you assuming a leadership role are the only way this paradigm will shift.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

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