Starting Strength Weekly Report

January 22, 2018

Training Log
  • Joe’s Spine – Adam Skillin describes how barbell training changed the pain and quality of life of a trainee with a T12 through L4 fusion.
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #60 – Rip, Matt Reynolds, and Niki Sims discuss fitness industry silliness, aged mutton, hypertophy, and bodybuilding.

In the Trenches

cindy nguyen squat
Cindy Nguyen squats during the platform session at the Starting Strength Seminar at Horn Strength and Conditioning in Los Angeles. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
squat bar position adjustment
Nick D'Agostino adjusts bar position during the Starting Strength Training Camp held at Woodmere Fitness Club yesterday. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]

Best of the Week

Regarding Bros and DOMS

First, let me apologize for asking this, given that you actually answered this question pretty much thoroughly in your article "Soreness." But I got into this heated argument in social media regarding DOMS, and was hoping you might give your opinion – as an experienced coach and known Internet intellect on matters pertaining to strength training.

See, there was an article shared in a platform that in its headline posed the question "Should you get sore after training?", and which contained all sorts of misconceptions already in the one paragraph preview that was available for non-susbscribers.

So, I commented on it saying the following:

"For the vast majority of people, getting DOMS is not a sign of training properly, but a sign that they have actually not trained the muscles in question while applying significant eccentric load for awhile."

I.e., if you train regularly and in a sensible manner, you simply do not get DOMS regularly. This should be obvious, but I received numerous counter-comments stating that what I said was "utter bullshit", and an indication that I have never ever trained, that I am weak – and destined to remain so as long as I hold this belief and act accordingly – and, that "all serious powerlifters get DOMS every time they train."

So, my question is twofold: How common is this belief that you should get DOMS regularly among people that are novices and looking to get strong? And have you actually encountered people who have successfully become strong while retaining this belief? I have known relatively few people who have gotten very strong, but none of them have had this belief in the end, even if they had it at the beginning. One of the commenters in the "discussion" in question claimed to be a "PT who specializes in training power lifters" and she claimed that her clients get DOMS on a weekly basis and they are competitive lifters. I found this utterly implausible.

Mark Rippetoe

The belief is obviously common, even if the experience is not. It may have to do with the way we train lifters and the way these highly successful PTs who train competitive lifters program them. I'll bet if you ask them how many times a week they train the lifts, they'll tell you 1x/week. If your lifters detrain between workouts, they might report DOMS, and they might not. If your "competitive powerlifter" program features constant variation in assistance exercises, you'll be sore. And if the person taking the report wants you to be sore, maybe you're inclined to say you're sore, or even believe you are sore. At any rate, the vast majority of people who are effectively training a program that relies on gradually increased loading, or even volume, and does not rely on exercise variation as a training variable do not get sore every week. We have the data.

Brodie Butland

The other thing you have to consider is what they mean by DOMS. I get DOMS after pretty much every heavy squat session. If I've been lifting consistently, it's not an issue – there's definitely soreness for two days, but it's not enough to notice. Contrast that with when I've been on a multi-week hiatus...the DOMS will be damn near debilitating for as much as three days after my first squat session back if I do the same volume I'm doing now. For example, on my last big run, I was able to hit a 470x1 squat, followed by two backoffs at 415x3. I felt almost nothing the next day. Three weeks ago, I came back after a nearly six-week layoff. I did six ramping sets of 5 from the empty bar to 315x5, and I was clobbered for two solid days afterwards.

If these social media folks' position is that everyone gets DOMS to some degree after a heavy session involving an eccentric component, then I can't really argue with that. But if by "DOMS" they mean invariable potty flop and avoiding stairs for the next two days...that is simply not normal unless someone is not training very intelligently.

Best of the Forum

Karwoski/Coan + Linear Periodization

I’ve read from various sources, including Marty's Purposeful Primitive, that the way Karwoski and Coan trained, virtually through their whole careers, was just on a linear periodization template.

Starting light and working up to a top set of 8 in the first week, they would eventually get down to heavy doubles and singles by week 12, setting PRs in the process.

This is so much like Starting Strength or just a typical LP it sounds almost too good to be true. The beginning of each new cycle seems just like a "reset" in an LP, the only differences I can see is that you cycle through the various rep ranges; from 8 to 1.

Is this difference (and a few other variables I'm sure that would have been tweaked) really enough to elicit a lifetime of gains? Or am I missing some crucial points?

Mark Rippetoe

Depends on what you mean by "a lifetime." It certainly works for several years.

Dan M

I just re-watched Mark's interview with Ed and Marty yesterday. You should check it out, Ed talks through what he did.

On a side note, his comment at the 15-minute mark, "I didn't miss" got me through my 3rd set last night.  He's so matter of fact. The concept of "fail" doesn't exist in his head. You just stick to your program and lift the weight; it's no big thing. Then the whole conversation of being 49 with an 1800 total...damn. Pretty inspiring stuff, thanks Mark.

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