Starting Strength Weekly Report

June 05, 2017

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #48 – Rip answers questions on the popularity of Starting Strength, the best way to get others to follow the program, and why higher reps don't work for getting unstuck.
From the Coaches
  • In the market for shoes? Take a look at Gwyn Brookes' summary of current options with breakdowns on price, construction, width, and availability.

In the Trenches

At this past weekend's Starting Strength Seminar in Wichita Falls, TX:
joyce luke bench presses 135
Joyce from Luke's Barbell Club in Austin, TX bench presses 61.2 kg (135 pounds in less refined units). [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
rachel locking out a deadlift
Rachel at the top of her deadlift. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]

Best of the Week

Quick somewhat redundant newbie question

I'm coming to the squat workshop next week, so I'll get my definitive answer there, I'm sure. But, based on a meddler's advice at my gym last night, I just have to ask this now. I am new to lifting and I'm turning 60 very soon. Using the squat rack last night at my gym, a man stopped me in the middle of my squat and said I was doing it all wrong. I go below parallel and also take a little (just a little) bounce at the bottom. I'm small and new at this and some would say I'm old .... so, I am squatting 60 lb. (Don't you dare laugh.)  He said I should stop at parallel and that I'd "break my back" by going all the way down deep on the squat. My Starting Strength book and Barbell Prescription book say otherwise.

His final words to me were: "Take it from me....I'm 49 and I have a bad back."

My final words to him: "I'm 60, I've given birth to 4 large babies, and I don't have a bad back."

But, is he right? Is there some kind of special technique reserved for grey-haired lifters?

PS....I've neither knee nor back problems.

Mark Rippetoe

You know more about this than he does. Thank him for his advice and continue to squat properly.

Bryan B.

My wife will turn 59 in October. She currently squats 190 lb; deadlifts 235 lb; benches 115 lb and can press 80 lb over her head. She started with a 65 lb squat in late January 2016. The program works for anyone that follows it. got this!

Best of the Forum

Injury comparison by program

Please do not think of this post as an attempt at being inflammatory, but an honest question of safety and longevity. I hope it comes across that way.

Since having to answer this question to several folks of all ages recently, I thought it best to get the facts straight from the coaches on this board. This is not in reference to younger folks, but us older guys and gals.

Let's say our subject is an out of shape, 45 year old male. After 5 years, now at 50, he has a 500 lb deadlift, 400 squat, 300 bench, 200 press. All good. But what price did it come at? SuperSlow and their gang say he will have zero injuries on their protocol and equipment. I have seen it and agree, their injury rates are pretty much zero. For HIT, depends on who you ask. In the Hatfield, Weider, et al. camp, my guess is the guy is torn to shreds and probably cannot lift anymore.

What say ye of Starting Strength? I have found in the manual references to "a life time of heavy benching is hard on the shoulders" and "even if you do everything right you still can get hurt", etc. And we are not talking about competitive lifting, but just SS workouts done to protocol. Would you "expect" there to be injuries, acute or chronic? Or is the expectation that if done correctly this older guy should be injury free?

Mark Rippetoe

Depends, as always on how heavy you train, and this depends on whether you decide to compete. Heavy is dangerous, but light is no fun.


I would like to share my experience about this.

I started SS at 40, when I was around 74 kg (1.82 m tall. That's around 160 lb and 6 ft in Imperial units). The first 12/15 months were quite bad from the injury point of view. I pulled the gracilis in my left leg three times, the first after less than a month of SS. Then I snapped something in my back after seven months, while doing a 275x5 deadlift. After that, I had a few months of respite, but then I pulled twice my vastus medialis in the space of a month and a half.

At that point I took a holiday, and went back training after almost a month.

Since then, nothing major at all. I might get the odd tweak in the back every now and then, but it goes away with some tennis ball rolling in a couple of days, tops. I've done Texas Method, then 5/3/1, and now I follow a program given to me by a competent friend, who is a certified coach with the Italian Weightlifting Federation.

I am now around 93 kg; my lifts still suck (apart from the Power Clean), but I haven't missed a session due to injury for a long time, and that makes me happy.

Why did I get injured so much at the beginning? I can offer some ideas:

  • bad technique. I train alone, I learned how to do the lifts by asking people to watch my videos (and reading the book, of course).
  • hurried recovery after each injury. I tried the Bill Starr protocol, which worked very well, but I always added something to it, and I think I didn't give my body the time to properly recover. You can probably get away with it at 20, but not at 40.
  • No rest periods. Especially during TM, I cut the easy workout because of time constraints. And I never took a week off, or did a deload period. I still am not clear about how and when to do it, but now there is someone to tell me, and it's much better. Anyway, deloading every now and then is important.

Why don't I get injuries now? Again, I think it's down to technique and better periodisation. My technique is better, which takes away a source of potential problems. And thanks to this friend of mine, my training is better organised in terms of volume/intensity/recovery periods. Also, experience means I know my body and its reactions better, so I know when to push, and when to ease off a bit.

Last but not least: four and half years after starting to lift, and I have no chronic injuries at all.

Brodie Butland

This is true of everything in life – it's not unique to lifting heavy. Of all the people over 40 that I know (Rip excepted), only two have been seriously injured because of weight training – both were on a Smith machine squatting less than 200 lb. But there are far more who were injured doing non-weight related things – primarily basketball, but also biking, walking, sleeping, and ping pong, among others. So, yeah...if you do serious weight training, there's a possibility that you'll get hurt. And this possibility increases if you go heavy, rather than go through the motions. Like all things in life, it's a cost-benefit analysis that you have to make for yourself.

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