Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 16, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • – Mark Rippetoe reads his in-depth article on how strength and conditioning coaching is currently practiced.

In the Trenches

michael wolf 675 lb deadlift
Starting Strength Coach Michael Wolf locks out a 675 lb deadlift at a recent Starting Strength Seminar, having worked back up after surgery and some non-lifting related injuries. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Weight Maintenance and Strength Gain
Charles Jenkins

You have said repeatedly that you can't lose fat and gain muscle, but you talk in the podcast about putting clients on a weight maintenance phase for a few months. I'm just not clear on exactly what's happening in that maintenance phase. What's going on there? Is it little mini cuts and bulks that just take a day or two each based on training stresses and time between meals? If you're gaining strength while maintaining weight, does that not necessarily mean that you're gaining muscle and losing fat? Answers I've seen before (not from you) to this type of question have been very hand-wavey.

Robert Santana

Thanks for your post buddy. So, I think recomp is an impossible thing to measure first of all. All body composition methods have limitations and even if you were to do a whole body MRI you're still making assumptions about the density of each compartment. That being said, lets' get to your question.

PRs are the single best predictor of muscle acquisition. The purpose of a maintenance phase is

  1. to prevent rapid weight gain after a cut
  2. provide you with adequate fuel during a period where you aren't lifting that heavy (starting a new program)

Mass phases are best timed when you start approaching higher intensities/volume etc. The point is whether you are measuring 5 x 5, 10 x 10, or 1RM PRs, you must lift more to gain muscle mass.

I find that far too many people worry too much about how much they weigh, how much weight they need to gain etc, when they need to pay more attention to their progress under the bar and use that as the gauge. The diet only works if you are driving progress under the bar. Lastly, and most important, I like maintenance phases because they take into account the fact that we don't gain muscle that rapidly when we are intermediate or advanced lifters. A generous gain in muscle mass for an early intermediate is ~5-10 lb per year. That's less than 1 lb per month. Now since with muscle comes an increase in water, blood volume, and glycogen, we can assume a 1 lb gain per month is fair. So I think when you try to maintain your weight and train hard you will naturally eat more as you get stronger and naturally gain weight over time at a much slower rate than an intentional rapid weight gain.

Best of the Forum

3s For Guys of a Certain Age

Rip, in a recent thread posted by another gent in his 60s (with some shoulder problems) you mentioned and recommended that 3s (in lieu of 5s) are often better for folks in our age group. I'm about three years your senior. You also mentioned that you use them for virtually all your lifts but the partial presses

So far, in the couple of sessions I've employed them, 3s have been working out just great for me. (I'm still doing LP but not sure how much longer it will go. It's been four or five months at this juncture.)

My specific question is in regard to the deadlift using threes.

If I'm adding weight to the bar each time out, (though more often 2.5 lbs instead of 5 these days)...using 300lbs as the top set...let's say I warm up with 155 x 3, 205 x 2, 255 x 1, 275 x 1 and finish with 300 x 3. Do I wrap it up with the single set of 300 x 3 or is a back-off set required at about 20 or 30 lighter?

I wasn't sure whether one top set of 3 reps alone would be considered sufficient as long as progress continues to be made. (Male, age 65, 5'10", 175 lbs.)

Mark Rippetoe

Warmups for that deadlift should be 135 x 5 x 2, 185 x 3, 225 x 2, 265 x 1, work set. As long as you're making progress with no backoffs, don't do them.


I wonder how many times you've written "as long as you're making progress with ___, keep doing ___" and "if you're not making progress with ____, change something."

Starting Strength Weekly Report

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