Starting Strength Weekly Report

July 09, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Starting Strength Coach Inna Koppel talks about the problem of frailty, how to prevent it, and how to regain control of it once it's set in.
From the Coaches

Best of the Week

If after 1st or 2nd set I am not lifting more than last time should I end workout?

On any given day if by the first or second set I am not able to squat MORE weight than I did last time, should I end my workout early, go home and focus on recovering fully first?

If all I can do is lift the same weight as I did last time, even lift LESS due to inadequate recovery, is there any strength benefit in continuing on that day?

I assume that unless I can lift more weight than I did last time, I gain no strength by repeating a prior weight.

And that I should go home and focus on recovery: eat, sleep, drink, rest.

Mark Rippetoe

If you do the program precisely as it is written in SS:BBT3, these problems will not occur.


I agree that if I follow the program precisely I will not have this problem.

But an adult life of family and responsibilities prevent me from eating, sleeping and recuperating perfectly. Sometimes I deal with a snoring dog, a sick kid, late nights of work, a delayed flight or crappy food. I accept that I'll get substandard results in SS. The only variable I control is that I show up 2-3x a week and follow SS.

Therefore I do get under the bar 3 or 4 days later and can sometimes only lift as much in the Back Squat or Deadlift as I could the workout prior.

In such cases I assume that my best step is to quit that day's workout and return another day when fully recuperated.

Is that your experience?


I've never felt the need to post before because there is nothing that I could share that would increase one person's knowledge about strength training on this site. Heck, the only reason I made an account was so that I could follow links. What I have done is read every single post (as of yesterday) on this site and I bought, read, and applied the knowledge shared in Mark's books. After all that reading, I can assure you that Mark would never recommend nor would he give you permission to quit because "life."

Although I've always been a non-drinker and have no other risk factors, on my 49th birthday (2 years ago) I was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma that has spread to my lungs. I felt great but one morning I woke up coughing blood but had no other symptoms. I have 2 dogs, 3 kids under 16, a wife that needs assistance because of a car accident, a job that requires travel, and a butt load of medical appointments. I've missed 0 workouts in all that time. But yeah, if your dog is snoring, I suggest you quit, rest, and wait for the perfect day to train.

For what it's worth, like Mark has said, I'm not dying of cancer because I'm not losing weight and my strength is still very slowly increasing.


Scott, there will be days, many days like that. That is part of the grand bargain we make when we commit to getting strong. Or at least stronger.

Get your reps in. Even if the planned sets of 5 become triples, get the work in. Do five sets of three if necessary but you should get the work in at the planned weight to adequately stress the body. This is the adaptation and increased strength.

I am 52 with two thirteen year olds and a wife who works nights. And two parents in hospice, more dead than alive. That could be construed as life getting in the way of my consistent training. So what. Train anyway. Train imperfectly. But train. Life has a tendency to smooth itself out.

Mark Rippetoe

Until you put 5 or 3 or 2 more pounds on the bar and take the assigned work sets out of the rack, you have absolutely no idea that you can't, and the assumption that you can only lift as much as you could the previous workout leads to not doing the program. The program calls for increases every workout, you have not tried this, therefore you are not doing the program. Doesn't matter that you've got a sad story. We all do, as you have heard. The parts of the program that are critical are the programmed PRs and the best frequency you can manage. Try harder to do the actual program.

Read: The First 3 Questions


I want to state slightly differently what Rip just said. I see no reason you should be attempting what you lifted last time. That is NOT part of the program. Your warm up should be less than last time's weights. If you squatted 225 lb last time, you should be warming up with something like 45, 135, 185, maybe 200 and then going to 230 lb. Trying 225 lb is NDTFP. Stop that and DO THE PROGRAM.

Best of the Forum

Diagnostic angles for the bottom of squat. Multiple possible solutions?

If the constraints, at the bottom of the squat, are:

  1. the hip crease is just below the knees
  2. the barbell is over midfoot
  3. the bar is placed just under the spine of the scapula
  4. the spine is held in rigid extension

then there are an infinite number of shank/knee angle combinations that satisfy this constraint. As a coach, and lifter, how does one decide which knee angle is best?

I understand that as the knee angle becomes more acute, the hamstring tension reduces (bad thing), and that if you open up the knee angle too much, then you reach the limit of how acute the hip angle can be to keep the bar over midfoot (i.e. you can't go below a hip angle of 0 degrees).

The question is this: How do you judge the correct combination of knee and shank angle? Is the "knees slightly over toes" the heuristic here?

Mark Rippetoe

You judge the back angle, not the knee/shank angle. The correct back angle places the hips in the best position to drive the back/barbell upward using the most muscle mass. The resulting knee angle is a side-effect of this back/hips position, because the squat is not a "legs" exercise. This usually places the knees in the vicinity of the toes, either just forward or behind them, with some room for variation, shins not vertical, and is why the squat is the most difficult of the lifts to coach.


The whole not-falling-down thing constrains the squat. Bar position affects the angles that are possible. Deviations are limited by strength to control the unbalanced position, especially at the bottom; and any deviation affects how well you can *train* the squat variant you are using. And that's why we use bar position to move between types of squats - it works better to put the bar on the delts and front squat than to try to just make a squat somehow look like a FS and vice versa.

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