Starting Strength Weekly Report

June 11, 2018

  • The SSC Platform Evaluation – Nikki Burman describes her experience preparing for the Starting Strength Coach platform evaluation. Passing the platform evaluation is the first step in becoming a Starting Strength Coach.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Settle in and listen to Deadlift Mechanics, an audio version of Mark Rippetoe's exhaustive analysis of this topic.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

trent yee coaches bench press
Trent Yee explains the position of the scapulae on the bench to Joel Rasmussen during the Starting Strength Seminar at WFAC this weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
jason warms up his squat
Jason Landrum warms up his squat during the platform session at the same Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Soleyn]

Best of the Week

Not Undermining the Novice Effect for a 46-year-old Novice…
Buff DrinkLots

During the summer, I like to take advantage of my father in law’s large pool and swim a couple of laps here and there – in addition to just swimming around. I like to go biking with my kids and just enjoy the nice weather. I also like jumping rope outside (no wise cracks) after my lifting sessions – if time permits; (just a few sets of 100 or so jumps once every week or so).

In one of your podcast or YouTube videos, I heard you say some harder conditioning sessions (like a prowler push circuit) would undermine the novice effect, this is understandable; however, would lite activities (done only once a week or so) like recreational swimming, biking, or jump rope undermine the novice effect for a 46 year old novice running a novice linear progressing program? 

Mark Rippetoe

If you're already adapted to light physical activity, it is unlikely that it will disrupt the recovery from strength training of an intact 46-year-old male. If you were 70, I'd say to lay off the other stuff for a while.

Best of the Forum


I'm playing a lot of baseball this summer and the bench press could be a concern for me as a pitcher. I've heard that using dumbbells is safer than using barbells for baseball players and I'm pretty confident in the guy that told me that. However, when I do a dumbbell bench press I don't feel anything for my chest. It's mainly just my arms. Am I doing something wrong?

Mark Rippetoe

You're not using enough weight, a common problem with both dumbbell benches and the advice of people who recommend them over the barbell version for reasons of "safety."

Anything lighter is "safer" than anything heavy. But there are about 5 ways to get hurt worse doing heavy dumbbell benches than with using a barbell of the same relative weight, so "safe" DB benches are by definition light ones. You will obviously get sore doing any new exercise, but I would dispute the need for benches in a baseball training program anyway. A strong anterior shoulder muscular assembly is not terribly germane to the rapid internal rotation involved in throwing, benches are quite famous for causing cuff problems, and presses keep the shoulder in balance, so I'd recommend presses instead.


Would you recommend the press as a complete substitution for the bench press for a hitter too?

Mark Rippetoe

That would depend on how strong your bench was. A hitter with a 300 bench and a 125 press could lay off the bench for 2 years and spend the time getting his press strong to the benefit of his game. A hitter with a 185 bench needs to keep benching. The interesting thing is that when the strong guy starts back on the bench, he won't be off more that 30 lb by the end of the second week, so the press keeps the bench strength within earshot.


If increasing the bench to 300 lb is beneficial to hitting, then why is it not very beneficial to continue with the bench and increase strength past that? Why have you determined that completely substituting it for the press at that point is more beneficial?

Mark Rippetoe

Rawr: I don't recommend doing all presses for anybody that doesn't have a reason not to bench; I think you need to do both. But you asked me about benching/DB benching for baseball/safety, so I told you what I thought about it.

Prog: I didn't say that a 300 bench was beneficial. I said that a 300/125 BP/Press ratio needs to be addressed, and that addressing it will not significantly decrease your bench.


Assuming the bench and press are in a balanced ratio, you're then suggesting that a hitter should continue doing bench. Is this accurate? Basically, you're saying that increasing strength in the bench is beneficial to a hitter as long as it's proportionate with the press. Right?

Mark Rippetoe

Increasing strength is beneficial to every athlete in every sport, as long as it's in proportion. And the rotator cuff muscles are 1.) in isometric contraction in the lockout position of the press, and thus receiving work in a position they normally occupy overhead (it is a fallacy to assume that the cuff muscles only work when they are isolated with 3 lb chrome dumbbells or elastic bands), and 2.) are protected from impingement by the position of the scapulae when the correct lockout of the press is assumed, a position in which the traps shrug upward and pull the superior aspect of the scapulae medially and the serratus anterior anchors the inferior aspect of the scapulae laterally so that the acromion is separated from the humeral head and impingement cannot occur. Now, this assumes that the press, whether the dumbbell or the barbell version, is being taught correctly with the correct lockout position. You don't get to do the exercise wrong and then say that the exercise is bad. When done correctly both the barbell and dumbbell version of the press are perfectly safe and work the rotator cuff muscles in a way in which they are most assuredly designed to function. This is why we use the press as a shoulder rehab exercise, and why it works so well to balance the sometimes problematic anterior effects of the bench press.


I'm a baseball player in my 30s and I'll share my experience, YMMV:

Prior to the SS novice progression, I had a bench press/press imbalance. As a hard-throwing power pitcher and infielder, I was constantly having shoulder problems with my throwing arm. Also had problems with my left shoulder that was aggravated by swinging a bat (I throw right, bat right).

I had been to a fancy physical therapy place (pro clients, yada yada), and they had me doing the standard rehabilitative exercises. And, while they helped some, it was no comparison to what the SS program did once I had my pressing ratios in line. I did SS during the off-season.

Now that I have a good balance between my press and bench press, I can abuse my arm in ways I wasn't able to before, and recover much quicker. There have been instances where I've done many pitches and thought: "hell, that's gonna hurt tomorrow" and I was fine (very little soreness).

One other interesting note about the program: I gained 30 pounds on SS, and I have a slightly faster 40 yard sprint than before the program. It really improved my ability to break up the double-play.

So, I would be really cautious about listening to these so-called fitness experts in the baseball world. IMHO, there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation even at the professional level. You wouldn't believe some of the silly shit that they do.

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