Starting Strength Weekly Report

January 08, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #59 – book recommendations for aspiring coaches, spinal fusions, and the spread of Starting Strength into the medical profession.

In the Trenches

lifters model prexit shirt
WFAC Lifters modeling the newest official Starting Strength Shirt. #Prexit will be available this week in the Aasgaard Company Store. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Clarification on Hip Drive

I've read SS:BBT, watched countless SS videos, and perused myriad articles/forums on the site, so I thoroughly understand hip drive and its purpose.

Now, in a few videos, Rip's instructed the lifters to focus solely on shoving the lower back/hip area up to produce hip drive: he says not to think about feet against the floor, spreading the floor, lifting the bar, etc.

My question is, knowing that I'm supposed to focus on the hips (the area emphasized by Rip), am I supposed to push hard with my feet and legs to move the hips? (I.e. continue to focus solely on that hip area, but emphasize pushing it up). Currently, I feel that when I think ONLY about that area of the lower back/hips, my squat isn't as strong as it could/should be – because I'm not trying to push anything; I'm just thinking about moving the hips down and moving them back up. I probably don't feel as tight as I would if I were think about pushing the hips for the drive.

Mark Rippetoe

When I squat, I just think about my hips driving up. I have found that since it doesn't happen without the feet interacting with the floor and my knees extending, all I have to think about is my hips driving straight up. If I'm thinking about my feet or my legs, I'm not thinking about my hips. Your internal process may differ.


That makes total sense.   I’m decently physically self-aware, so I think what happens to me is that I emphasize my focus on the hips and de-emphasize the tightness/inclusion of my legs because I don’t want to “push against the floor” as you mention in the videos. I’ll try thinking “shove hips with legs” and see if that helps.   The reason I kind of separate things internally is from years of “exercising” with bodybuilders’ routines and the mentality in which you focus on building the “mind-muscle connection” with individual muscles. I greatly favor your methods because they view the body as a system, as it should be – for simplicity and growth’s sake. Being that I only started SS a month and a half ago, it’s just still a little difficult for me to get past the “parts” to the “whole.”


I empathize with your finding it difficult to go from thinking about exercising the body as a collection of parts to training the body as a whole. Prior to my discovery of Starting Strength, I was a devotee of Super Slow. Within that paradigm, I had already figured out the value of focusing entirely on what I called a consolidated routine: leg press, pulldown, overhead press, row and chest press. All performed on MedX or retrofitted Nautilus machines. Then I would use the lumbar extension and the cervical extension/flexion machine to strengthen those areas.

Discovering Starting Strength helped me to understand that by focusing on performing five basic movements, I could train most of the muscles of my body, including all of the small ones that act primarily as stabilizers in the course of performing these basic movements. That and I could train my balance in a way that translated to improved athletic performance and titrate the resistance up beyond the limitations of any weight stack. That is true consolidation!

Sean Herbison

It's just a cue. If you find that focusing on your hips consistently produces the right form (video is probably necessary, or at least very helpful, if you don't have a coach/good workout partner), then use it. It works for a lot of people.

And if not, use something else. For me personally, thinking of the hips tends to lead to them rising early, so I use other cues, depending on what form creep is setting in at the moment. The mechanics are the same, but the right cues will change from person to person.

David Kirkham

Scott Hambrick gave me this cue: "Pretend a pencil is in the crease of your hip and keep it there on the way up as long as you can." This helped me a lot. My coach isn't yelling at me to "stay in your hips" any more.

All I think about when I am squatting is "middle of your foot" on the way down and "HIPS, HIPS, HIPS" all they way up. If I think about the middle of my foot on the way down it keeps me from shifting to my toes on the way up because I am already in the middle of my foot and don't have to search for it. In the beginning it feels like a Good Morning, but it works for me. YMMV.

Best of the Forum

Bicep Curls and Moment
Joe Tandy

Because the moment arm is largest for a barbell curl when the arm is parallel to the ground, and muscles may exert the most force from their rested length...Should we perform our curls with a slight layback?

  Like a Curl 2.0?

Mark Rippetoe

It's unavoidable if the weight is heavy enough to make gainz.


Do you have any particular animosity or fondness for preacher vs. free form when it comes to curling?

Mark Rippetoe

I think they are an excellent way to develop elbow problems. The stable distal arm makes the bicep control the load by itself, without any of its bro arm muscles gettin' its back, dog.

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