Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 06, 2020

Buck Moon Conjunction Edition

Starting Strength Radio
  • A Conversation with Massenomics – Mark Rippetoe talks with Tanner and Tommy from @Massenomics about the cancelled Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH and the state of business during These Trying Times of house-arrest and mass hysteria.
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Starting Strength Channel

  • In Iatrogenesis Bryan Johnston discusses problems arising from government and medical mindsets that confuse "not sick" with "healthy" and physical training with leisure activity.
  • From the Archives: A few ideas on intermediate and advanced training from Mark Rippetoe, Andy Baker, and stef bradford.
Training Log
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

andrea prepares for her first lifting meet
Andrea is getting coached by Jared in preparation for her first meet in August. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Denver]
amanda squatting 197.5 for three sets of five
Amanda is squatting 197.5 x 3 x 5 – her old one rep PRs are now her warm-up sets. [photo courtesy of Starting Strength Denver]

Best of the Week

Coming Back From the Kung Flu House Arrest
Mark E. Hurling

It's been a few weeks since I've gotten back into a gym to recover lost ground resulting from the Kung Flu lockdown in Illinois. Some observations and perhaps lessons learned.

I only could do backpack weighted dips and one legged squats, pullups, and some jerry rigged reverse hyperextensions and lifting picnic tables much like a rack pull to try to maintain my strength levels.

Interestingly, the dips seem to have not only maintained my bench press, but perhaps improved on it. Squats are coming back slowly, but surely. As for deadlifts, fuggeddaboutit. They lost a lot off my best of a 375 single, and I can only get 2 singles (Hepburn style) with 340 now.

What I think the take aways are:

  • Dips seem to have a fair carry over to the bench.
  • One legged squats have some utility in preventing too much loss of strength but not a lot.
  • Reverse hypers and picnic table rack pulls are no help at all.
  •  When you are creeping up on 70, higher intensity and careful titration of volume really is important. 

Any thoughts on this?

Mark Rippetoe

I agree about the dips, in the absence of a bench press.

One-legged squats are exquisitely dependent on very healthy knees. Lot's a strong people can't do them.

Ditto reverse hypers and the table.

Old guys need intensity on as little volume as possible.

Best of the Forum

Save Trump from cardio

In case you missed it Trump's doctor recommended that he gets more exercise – treadmill, elliptical, or other cardio exercise. Can you and your fellow SS coaches start a petition or something that would save the president from cardio and introduce him to strength training? How cool it would be to have a president that can deadlift 500 lb. It wouldn't hurt the SS brand to have Trump doing the program. Link to video

Mark Rippetoe

I don't think there's any reason to worry about him starting a jogging program, despite Dr. Jackson's insistence. Perhaps Mike Pence will tell him about us.


There's a lot of "buzz" about Trump not weighing 239 pounds - hysterical anti-Trump forces are claiming its "fake news" and that the Navy doctor is lying and that he should be heavier. But to me, it seems totally plausible:

  1. Trump is only about 6.'1-2" tall;
  2. he seems to have low muscle mass
  3. not known as a strength trainer, he probably has smaller bones. 

What are your thoughts? Fake news or probable? It would be just like Trump to have it be the unlikely truth.

Andy Baker

Perhaps if they can't get the Russian Collusion or Dementia angle to stick they can try to get him impeached based on BMI??

Mark Rippetoe

Might have worked on William Howard Taft. But Sanjay Gupta hath proclaimed that Trump has heart disease. Despite the fact that he doesn't.


He likely does, given his high calcium score, which has good predictive value for coronary artery disease independent of other risk factors. The landmark paper describing this test, which basically looks at calcified plaque level in the coronary arteries, is here.

This is relevant because the presence of calcified/mature plaques indicates the presence lots of uncalcified (and less stable) plaques, which pose a risk to rupture and cause an event like a heart attack.

To your earlier point, it's improbable because those numbers miraculously give him a BMI of 29.9. If he were any shorter (as seems indicated in many photos) or even a pound heavier, he would be considered obese, which would certainly not jive with the report of 'excellent health.' Putting aside that BMI is not good for strength athletes (which Trump is not) and that the difference between a BMI of 29 and 30 is a rounding error, it's easy to see why these numbers would be in the best interest of Trump's team and by extension. It's image and perception, and a plausible slight fudging of the numbers to save an unnecessary shitstorm.

Mark Rippetoe

Are you aware that he had a thoracic CT and a thoracic ultrasound? The lab values were not the only things going on here.


The calcium score comes from the CT (grading calcification that can be seen in the coronary arteries. Ultrasound indicates that his heart is pumping normally and that the valves are sound - this is to be expected. He hasn’t had a major problem (eg MI, myocarditis, etc) yet that would impact heart contractile function. The results do stratify him as relatively high risk for having such an event, though.

Disclosure: I’m just a medical student going through cardiology, no expert.

Keith Burnett

Anybody who wants to interpret Trumps as "bad"...will do so , and stretch or contort every possible way to distract, much as a magician does.

First of all his personal military physician, same one as last two presidents, put him through a battery of tests that is quite comprehensive and consulted with appropriate specialists on just about everything. With his office in the WH, he is in a position to assess the President on a daily basis and now for a full quarter.....does your doctor do that? The art of being a doctor, and I should know, is learning how to look at the "whole" person and make judgements within the limitations of the various tests. and many of these tests have limitations and require context to be more accurately interpreted.

I digress.....Barack Obama smoked like a chimney for decades, but nobody every said a peep. He was always chewing gum, presumably Nicorette, and may have continued smoking in private. He was damn skinny and pumped big iron...(3 lb weights). He dallied with drugs including cocaine use....and more than a little weed. His basketball skills were subpar, despite the fawning. NOBODY SAID BOO.

OK...back to facts about DJT. Of all the cardiac tests perhaps the two worth considering related to LDL and CAC. It's not that he does or does not have any coronary artery disease...he does. The question is about risk. IN fact, even with a CAC of 100 and somewhat rising over years (yes risk increasing in population studies), his PERSONAL risk, given all the other factors is very low for a man of his age, race, etc. Sanjay Gupta is acting like a dipshit...a disgrace. He is a narcissist to boot. He and Dr Oz are an "item."

  If you want a TV. If you want a life....DJT, having not smoked or consumed alcohol...and being mildly "overweight" (known now to be a protective factor in all cause mortality for the aging), no family history of CVD, no HTN...NO DIABETES...and NO pretty damn good. But the naysayers want to freak out about CAC in a man over 70 with a score of 100.

Could he conceivably "improve" his status? Maybe...and doctors will heckle patients about LDL and all such numbers until they "submit" to a pharmacological solution. You have seen how good that turned out for "cholesterol."

FAKE NEWS=NOISE (with attitude).

Mark Rippetoe

He's 71. Unfortunately for about 40% of the population, the upshot of this exam is that he has no cognitive impairment, and he's not going to die in office unless these people agitating for his assassination are successful.

Keith Burnett

That would be regarding cognitive impairment.

Would he be certified free of personality disorders or other psychiatric issues....MMSE not a substitute for that type of evaluation. However, we have a pretty good start on that type of evaluation by a common sense authority, his personal physician, who has no dog in the fight, sees him every day up to three times/day, engages in wide ranging conversations , has other information about interpersonal interactions and all sorts of information even a shrink might not have available.

He doesn't even have dental "disease." I was waiting, however, to see how his prostate felt....

I would like to see an MMSE on Nancy Pelosi.

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