Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 30, 2018

  • From the Archives: The Squat: Bar Position – Rip explains the positioning of the grip and the bar for the low bar back squat.
Training Log
  • Andrew Jackson trained Nik Aston for a weightlifting meet by focusing on improving his strength over four months. Here's what happened.
Starting Strength Channel
  • Mark Rippetoe reads The Truth About the Starting Strength Method in which he details how the Starting Strength Method has been engineered – tested, refined, and adjusted – to produce to produce the most effective and efficient strength program.

In the Trenches

alex approaches the bar for a set of squats
Alex preparing to take 365 for a ride at the Squat Camp this past Saturday in Nashville. Alex is a former competitive weightlifter from Bulgaria that is working on training for general strength. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]
alex beasley coaching the deadlift
SSC Alex Beasley coaches Laura through her final set of deadlifts at the Nashville pulling camp. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]

Meet Results

6th Barbells & BBQ Strengthlifting Meet held by Hygieia Strength & Conditioning, Singapore

Best of the Week

Starting Strength and Current Military Standards

I know there have been articles written discussing SS and it's effect/application in regards to military fitness tests. That being said, I believe there are two general misconceptions. For qualifiers, I have been an active duty Marine for 19 years. I am currently an E8 (First Sergeant).

1) First class/passing physical fitness test score: I have read/seen in videos SS practitioners state they have "passed" or scored a first class PFT utilizing SS with minimal to no running. I am not calling those claims into question. My warning is that simply passing or having a first class score isn't enough. In today's Marine Corps for instance, each enlisted MOS's average physical/combat fitness test is taken into account during reenlistments, promotions, and eligibility for meritorious promotions. For example, the current average PFT for an E3 truck driver is 244. That is 9 points above the threshold for a first class (235). The unfortunate result is that running has to be programmed into the E3's fitness regimen in order to compete with their peers.

2) Weight standards: The best thing the Marine Corps has done in the body composition realm lately is the new waiver for Marines with high fitness test scores. Currently, a Marine with a 285 physical and combat fitness test score is not subject to weight standards. For the SS enthusiast, this means an opportunity to put on muscle mass in order to get stronger. It also means the enthusiast must be able to move that weight at a speed they may not be capable of sustaining without losing it. Example: my PFT score is 286, CFT is 292. I tested the system and put roughly 10 to 12 lbs on in 2 months by utilizing GOMAD, a relatively conservative bulking diet, and lifting 3 days a week with no running. This put me at roughly 8 lb over my max weight. Recently, I've had to start training for my CFT. This involves a lot of METCONs with the Prowler, 400m sprints, and 800m sprints. I've lost 6 lb of that weight and have dropped roughly 40 lb on my squat, 30 lb on my deadlift, and have had difficulty maintaining my bench/press weight. Moral of the story: To be allowed outside of weight limits, a high score must be maintained. To maintain that score, running must occur. If running occurs, weight/strength gains are lost. It's a vicious cycle that young guys may not be equipped/educated to handle. I would advise the physically ignorant to refrain from testing the system. One assignment to the Body Composition Program is a career ender in many cases. Young service members may not be educated enough in the methods of maintaining their weight/strength in relation to standards/waivers. I would hate to see SS be dismissed or receive a bad rep in the military community due to that.

Mark Rippetoe

Is there a question here? Or just the general observation that the government is fucked up?


More of a cautionary tale for young guys who may believe they can remain competitive without including running into their programming.

And yes to your second question.

Geoff Bischoff

An Army perspective: We're also government, and therefore similarly jacked up.

My advice to Army folks, with respect to SS: Do the linear progression. You're a novice. Every Soldier I know is a novice, except for one particular guy I'm loosely acquainted with, and he's married to a SSOC in Phoenix, and I know personally that he has DTFP. Just freaking do it as written. Nearly all of us are in units that know when a "for the record" PFT will be conducted, and we can therefore insert the necessary amount of running into the program at the necessary time (for me, 4-6 weeks out). Most of us are in units where the PFT is semiannual. If you're in this boat, this leaves you 12 to 16 weeks of LP before you have to kick in the running for your next semiannual, at which time your legs will be much stronger, and your burst-cardio will be better as well, because it turns out 3 sets of 5 squats at late-LP levels will get your heart hammering just fine, please-and-thankyou. 12 weeks of LP is a lot. That's 180 lbs added to your squat, if you do 5 lb load-increases and no resets.

Regarding bodyweight: Army Regulation 600-9 is not classified. Neither are the tests generally a surprise: Unless you "look fat" (which a novice doing LP correctly probably won't, because he'll be gaining his weight up top and down low), your test is going to be at the same time as your PFT – at which time you will have spent your 4-6 weeks getting your run under control like a good Soldier, so chances are you'll still be okay. If you're worried that you're close: There's a calculator online, for goodness sake, so you need never be in the dark. I know, for instance, that at my age and height and neck-size, I've got to keep my waist from exceeding 39 inches (or else gain a quarter inch on my neck). Do your own personal math for age/height/neck/waist, so you know where your sector-limits are, and then execute.

Best of the Forum

Shit’s getting real

Basic stats first: 54 y.o., 190#, 5'10"

Started with Starting Strength Linear Progression last August, working out pretty consistently three times a week, (alternating squat, press, deadlift; squat, bench, deadlift) increasing the weights almost every workout. After a couple of months I was having recovery issues so I went to taking off two days between each workout and spacing out weight increases. That helped for a while until I decided to incorporate chin ups and deadlift every other workout (squat, press, chin ups; squat, bench, deadlift). With that program I've been making slow but steady progress and I've reached 305 for my squat (3 sets of 5) and 320 for my deadlift (1 set of 5).

Up to this point, I haven't had a missed squat or deadlift rep. I've always approached the lifts pretty confident that I was going to complete each one. The reps were hard, of course, but I didn't really have to psyche myself up too much. Now, however, I find the shit's getting real. I came to what felt like a complete stop halfway up on the fourth rep of the third set the first time I did 305, which was last week. I dug deep and made it up, regrouped at the top for a couple seconds and made the fifth rep. Today at the gym, I took about 30 seconds or so of focusing (Stay tight! Hip drive!) and psyching (Nothing but a peanut! Dirty ginger bitch!) before each of the 3 squat work sets. They still were a grind, and form was ragged, but all reps were completed. I know the deadlift is a full body exercise, but it was at 320 last week when it first really felt that way. Every part of me was deeply involved.

So I'm wondering if other people have had similar experiences, reaching that point where you start to get the feeling that this is serious stuff and you really have to focus to complete the lifts. Where did you reach this point and how did your pre-lift routine change, if at all?

Mark Rippetoe

How long are you resting between sets? ALWAYS the first question.


At the beginning I was resting 5 minutes, now I do 7, using a timer to keep track.


You describe almost exactly my progression since the first of this year, except I don't lift as much. I am 51 y/o, 5'8.5", 168 lb (up from 152). My squat is 245, Bench 162.5, Press 102.5, Deads 275. All at this point are grinders. I too am increasing weekly (do two workouts per week now). The shit is, indeed, getting real. And I rest 6 timed minutes between work sets, sometimes 7.

Mark Rippetoe

Start using your brain to keep track. Wait until you no longer feel the previous set, and then wait another couple of minutes. This might be 12 minutes. It might be 15. We are not doing conditioning, and you should not be in a hurry. If you don't like "wasting" the time, do your bench/press warmups in the breaks.

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