Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 08, 2019

  • Congratulations to Starting Strength trainee Julia "Raging Panda" Avila on her 3-0 win in UFC 239. It was an easy 3 rounds, and her strength was apparent to everyone, including her opponent's coach. This was her first UFC fight, and we're proud of Julia as she joins top tier MMA in such a definitive style.
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In the Trenches

ian sets up to deadlift
Ian getting ready to pull his last set of five for 160kg. He traveled from Scotland to attend the Squat & Deadlift Training Camp this past weekend at Red Sun CrossFit in London. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]
amrit locks out a deadlift
Amrit pulls 100 kg for his final deadlift set. He and his wife attended the London camp together. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]
tamyra-rhodes-onNeill deadlifts 135 for 5
Tamyra-Rhodes-O'Neill deadlifts 135x5 for the first time at age 43 after 4 weeks of training at Greysteel in Farmington, MI. [photo courtesy of Jonathon Sullivan]

Best of the Week

But what about Keto?
Mark Rippetoe

Stefan Rott

Lol. I couldn‘t watch the whole video, sorry for that. No chance I can hear this guy talking about veeeeganism for about 13min... It is obviously a psychological disorder, he proves it pretty well.


YouTube comments win the internet, again.


It's been my experience that diet inspires more magical thinking than just about any other topic in Western society. I'm generally pretty quick to point patients to the first law of thermodynamics when they ask me about Keto, Atkins, Vegan, South Beach, HCG, colon cleanses, juice fasts, and just about any other bullshit proposition for weight loss that some genius has decided to make a quick million on. It is literally impossible (at least inside this universe) for your weight to move opposite of your caloric balance over the course of weeks to months unless you have a malabsorption issue. It's like playing craps. The odds are the odds. The house wins. Starve yourself and get weaker. The data shows that the vast majority of people return to pre-diet weight in a relatively short period of time. I'd be willing to bet that there's data that shows that body composition is generally worse after each loss/gain cycle considering that you'd only regain the muscle it takes to move the regained extra fat unless you're deliberately training for strength. Calories in minus calories out. The position of that number relative to zero will indicate your trajectory. Eat a 6000 calorie/day bacon diet while sitting on the couch and test it. Does it matter what you eat? ABSOLUTELY! Do carbs, protein, or fat possess magical weight loss/gain properties when combined in certain ratios or when abstained from altogether? NO!


His go to study: "Nutritionally Adequate" is somehow optimal. I love to eat nutritionally adequate food, just enough to keep me alive.

Best of the Forum

Thanks, Doc

I just got a phone call from the mother of a young female athlete that I work with and felt the need to share/vent, because I am dumbfounded right now. The athlete is 15, zero training history, has been active in sports her entire life, but has suffered some major injuries in the last year. She suffered a broken ankle last spring and on a follow up they found she had a stress fracture at her distal femur. Run through a battery of tests and nothing was found in terms of bone health, labs, etc. 3 doctors from Yale all conclude MOI was from her running gait. The prescription from the doctors after she healed was to find a running coach to work on her gait and to get stronger. Great.

Fast forward to 8 weeks ago when I started working with her. 2 days a week, NLP with everything but cleans. Squat went from 45-lb bar to 115 for 3 sets of 5. Deadlift 55 lbs to 145 for a set of 5. We started press with 15-lbs dumbbells and got to 65 for 3 sets of 5. Bench 75 for 3 sets of 5. I didn't want to weigh her, because I knew the scale would go up and didn’t want to go there. I spoke with her mom last week about how much better she looks and how great she is doing. Her mom proceeded to tell me she needs new jeans. Not because of her waist. Mom wasn't happy about that. She had her follow up last week with her Ortho. This particular Ortho is involved with the US Women's lacrosse team, so she obviously knows about training. I was excited to hear about the results of her progress from her Ortho about how strong she has gotten. As you might suspect, this is the report I received from mom.

"The Orthopedic is concerned with the fact that she has gained a few pounds. She is recommending that she stop getting stronger because it will not help her as much as increasing her speed and agility will. She wants her to "maintain" what she has gained in strength, but lose the weight she has gained and focus on cone drills and agility ladders. I hope that you are able to help with this"

Training her has been great for me. First female lifter I have worked with and I learned a ton. What a waste. Thanks, Doc.

Mark Rippetoe

Fuck, this is frustrating. I think there's a lot to said for restricting our practice to adults.


That will solve part of the problem, but the crux of the issue is that there are people in positions of power that don't understand training and the requirements of the sport that they work in.

OP, I hear you loud and clear and understand how frustrated you are. The unfortunate reality is that if you want to work with athletes - you will have to deal with this constantly. From Sports Docs, PTs, Dietitians.. you name it, all weighing in on things they don't really understand and bringing their own bias into the discussion. The thing is, this Ortho - regardless of their credentials, does not understand what you're trying to do. "Strength won't help but speed and agility will" - that really sums it up.

You can try and speak to the Ortho, and present sound logic, but I don't rate your chances. And the unfortunate reality is that this girl's mother will of course listen to the Ortho over you.

Sorry my friend, welcome to the S&C world. I deal with this on a weekly basis with adult athletes, so I can only sympathize with you dealing with parents on top of that!


Oh, I get it. I've worked in private secondary education my entire career and deal with it every day. We have two ATs on staff who deal with our boys every day. Office is under weight room. If they see a kid for anything that isn't emergent, the recommendation is rest, ice, and PT to strengthen said area. I get the liability on them, I do, but come on. Luckily the culture has developed to the point where our serious lifters avoid that room because they know what will happen. The new kids don't get it, but figure it out. When did training rooms become comfortable places that stroke egos? I was scared shitless of my high school AT and the dungeon that he worked in.


I am having trouble wrapping me head around something. The kid's original issue was related to bone issues (broken ankle and broken femur). So she was told to STOP doing an activity which increases bone density and strength? And she was told this by an doctor who specializes in bone issues? Am I missing something?

Mark Rippetoe

That's kind of it.


It’s another example of an athlete who performed at a high level in their sport (lacrosse at Duke with a national title) who was never exposed to effective training throughout their entire athletic career. Since she was always untrained, any training she did, she got "better" from doing it. Ladder drills + plyos + air squats = athletic scholarship for this Doctor, which is enough reason to suggest it as proper advice for all young athletes she comes across. There's no connection that she was probably born with good hand eye coordination, was a good athlete, and grew up in a town that offered a niche sport, she happened to be good at.

What makes things worse is that being a doctor, which from what I have read of her she is one of the best in the industry, allows the advice she gives to be taken as the gospel. Just like someone mentioned before, would you ask her for roofing advice?

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