Starting Strength Weekly Report

June 29, 2020

Halftime Edition

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Training Log
  • Back Angle in the Squat: Why It Matters – Nick Delgadillo explains why a correct, consistent back angle on the way into and out of the hole is an important skill to master.
  • From the Archives: Mark Rippetoe on performance vs training and why you should use your time in the gym for the latter if you're interested in improvement.

In the Trenches

sherry squatting at starting strength seminar
Sherry squats during the Starting Strength Seminar platform session at WFAC last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
apprentice kyle squatting starting strength seminar
Starting Strength Austin’s apprentice Kyle squats during the Starting Strength seminar at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Bre Hillen]
Bryan Buckingham training under the flags of freedom with Robert Santana at Weights & Plates in Phoenix at this past weekend's Squat and Deadlift Training Camp. [photo courtesy of Mike Minigell]
santana and minigell coach starting strength training camp
Robert Santana and Mike Minigell coaching in tandem as Nathan Heape and Casey Jones warm up their squats at the same event.
jim squatting back off sets starting strength denver
Jim finishing a back-off set after squatting 425 for a set of 5. Jim has gained 20 lbs of lean mass since joining Starting Strength Denver back in January and he's still going up. [photo courtesy of Jay Livsey]

Best of the Week

Squatting and Semen Retention

Having long been a fan of your work and recognising your genius I often consider your words outside of their original context.

You have stated in the past that not only are the gains in strength from a particular movement pattern specific in their nature, with the squat developing the various muscles involved in that movement, but they are also systemic. Even if one were to squat only (as opposed to the typical 5 lift program) and eat bountifully their pectorals would still grow to some lesser but significant degree.

Now I have been reading much about the practices of tantric sex (inspite of my perenial virginity) and the subject of retaining one's seed for a multiplicity of health benefits is repeatedly stated. Having discussed this matter the state of modern man has been revealed to me. Most Men's pelvic floor is simply too weak to retain their chi. I however, having a 400 pound squat am quite able to excite myself and then recirculate my seminal fluid from the dragon pearls up the jade stem and then back down again to the base of my spine. This has myriad health benefits of which I am sure you are aware. my voice has grown deeper, my cocaine addiction has rescinded back to a state of mere habit and most importantly for me, being a sailor, the vitamin C contained within has helped my scurvy though not entirely cured it.

Now it has been noted by some writers of an esoteric quality that amongst the Indians some men are able to use their penis as a straw. suckling up various liquids . Nowadays this is merely a party trick with malt liquor, lemon juice and the like. But at one time when one was engaged in an act of Hate fuck it was encouraged to use this vacumous ability as to extract the life force of a women in the form of an inverse embolism a kind of kantian sublime would thusly be achieved. I wonder if my squat ever reaches 600 pounds will I be afforded this ability?

I hope this finds you well. Sincerely, Gore.

Mark Rippetoe



Sir, I understand that you are liable to take this as a troll But I do not engage in such left handed arts. This was posted with the utmost sincerity and I hope for a response as opposed to a mere appraisal of my genius which however is limited is also appreciated. Yours hopefully. Gore.

Mark Rippetoe

Less masterful.

Best of the Forum

Why Grip Before Shins?
Josh K

Hi Rip, recently I've been thinking about the 5 step deadlift set-up and trying to figure out why gripping the bar comes before dropping the shins. It seems to me that dropping the shins first would eliminate some of the problems that can occur when somebody is learning to deadlift.

Within the first 3 steps, assuming they aligned the bar over midfoot correctly in step 1, there are 4 ways they can mess things up. Rolling the bar behind the midfoot when they grip the bar, rolling it in front of midfoot when they grip the bar, knocking the bar forward with the shins and, lastly, leaning forward rather than bending the knees to bring the shins to the bar. Wouldn't dropping the shins first eliminate the problem of the person being able to roll the bar backwards after they take their grip? It might also stop some people from rolling it forwards since they've already been instructed to touch the bar with their shins and they'll be trying to maintain the contact between shin and bar. On a minor note, it might also save a little bit of time doing shins first since they wouldn't have to keep redoing the grip step if knocking the bar forward with the shins was an issue.

There are also two problems that can occur with grip width when setting the grip first, either gripping too wide for their stance and increasing the range of motion or too narrow and having the grip get in the way of the knees. However, If they set their shins forward first, this eliminates the possibility of setting their grip too narrow since they can now set their grip around their knees which stops them from being able to box them in and limit external rotation. This also means the grip width now always accommodates the stance width and degree of toe out the lifter has chosen, and the grip width will always self adjust if they accidentally take a stance that is wider or narrower than usual.

Just wondering what your thoughts are on this and whether I've missed a crucial reason why the grip goes first.

Mark Rippetoe

The reason we teach grip before shins is because we want the hamstrings tight, not slacked, as the chest is set up. I'll leave the mechanics of this for you to explain. And this is just the teaching progression, which means that as you learn to assume the correct position at the start, we don't care how you get there as long as your hips are in the right place and it looks the same every rep. As you begin to do sets of multiple reps without releasing the grip, this will have to happen anyway, i.e. you'll have to learn to find the position without the 5 steps.

I always identify my grip against the bar knurl so I can take the same grip every time. I think your experimentation phase should be severely truncated. Find your grip, take it, and stop fucking around.

Josh K

But aren't the knee and back angles the same after step 3 whether you grip first or drop shins first, resulting in the same amount of hamstring tightness prior to setting the chest? If anything, shins first might result in more hamstring tension because hamstring extensibility isn't challenged as much when setting up shins first, so people may finish step 3 with less spinal flexion when attempting to grip the bar. Same knee and back angle and more spinal extension means more hamstring tightness prior to squeezing the chest up, no?

Also if you don't have access to the same bar every time you train, then doing shins first allows you to be more consistent since, even if the knurling landmarks are completely different, you can look down and get your feet more or less the same as you always do and the grip will take care of itself.


And of course, your grip will be there first in all reps except the first anyway even if you felt like pushing the shins to the bar on #1.

Josh K

If I understand what you're saying here, isn't this only true if the bar keeps losing contact with the shins at the bottom of each rep?

If you bend your knees after the bar passes them on the way down, both the grip AND knees should be there simultaneously in all reps except the first.


Watch what actually happens. Hairy-nosed-wombat-reps are not a compelling basis for rules.

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