Starting Strength Weekly Report

March 12, 2018

Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #62 – In a return to classic format Ask Rip, Mark Rippetoe responds to questions from social media. This episode features questions about dogs, pulling deadlifts with a rounded upper back, and the "near distant" future of Wichita Falls Athletic Club.

In the Trenches

matt wagone squat
Matt Wagnone squats a PR 3x5 at 390 lbs during the Squat Camp held at Luke’s Barbell last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Meet Results:

March 10th Testify Leprechaun Lift-off Weightlifting Meet in Omaha, NE.

Best of the Week

Why Grip Before Shins?
Josh K

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 it 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? I also identify my grip against the knurl and make sure it's in the same place every time, and if it's not in the same place after setting shins first then I know I've done something different with my stance by mistake. If one hand is further out than usual then I know I'm off center and can shift my stance around until I'm symmetrical, or if my grip is narrower or wider than it usually is against the knurl then I know I've set my stance wider or narrower than usual.

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.

Best of the Forum

In need of some major advice.

I started at 420 lbs and I’m currently 300 lbs and 33 years old and male 5'8". I am wanting to do your Starting Strength program, but I don't know how I should eat. I’m currently doing low carb paleo around 2400 calories a day. According to the calculators I have about 145 lbs of lean mass.

I’m willing to consider going to a higher carb diet, but I’m terrified of carbs because of the diabetics on both sides of my family.

I had read that you cannot build muscle and strength on a calorie deficit. Is this true? I know that strength training is important to changing how I look and getting real strength and muscle. How do I do this on a deficit though? Will I just gain a few pounds of strength and then even out and stall till I’m down to my desired weight?

I know Starting Strength will be enough for my resistance work, but is cardio still allowed? I don't want to stop riding on my stationary bike. It’s how I lost the first hundred pounds.

I’m just so confused. If I go to the body building website, and even on SS forums I see guys saying you can’t diet and make any gains, then others saying you can. What is the truth? Will I be wasting my potential newbie gains if I diet and do SS at the same time? If so why do so many recommend that people on diets do weight lifting if they will gain little from it?

I have done so many different things, from kettlebells, to body weight, to rubberbands, and I just want simple and effective and barbells are just that. I am nervous however as 6 months ago I decided to start lifting and was on the hip sled and somehow injured a tendon on my knee, and it took 6 months to heal.

Would it be more beneficial to stay with Gorilla bands and cardio till I’m down to a low weight then do proper weight lifting and cut/bulking?

My goals are to be 200 lbs with 15% or less body fat. I want to be bigger in a good way, with functional strength if that makes sense.

Mark Rippetoe

When did you become terrified of carbs, before or after you lost the 120 pounds? Seems like you're doing the right thing by losing the weight, since that's your priority. Just add your strength training to what you're doing now, 2 days a week at first and than 3 days as your recovery on your current diet and LSD program permits.


I started getting scared of carbs about half way through my initial weight loss, when everyone in my family started getting diabetes.

The question is though, what can I expect doing strength training while on a calorie deficit? How much ground can I possibly cover while dieting? I thought that to add strength you had to add mass and to add mass you need lots of food. Is strength unrelated to mass?

Mark Rippetoe

You're wearing a caloric surplus around your waist, so you'll get stronger if you train – certainly stronger than if you don't.


I appreciate the feed back, sir. So the body will use the fat to fuel the repair of the muscles. If that is the case why do people go into bulk cycles? I guess I should go and start reading up on how the body actually builds strength and muscle. It sounds as if no matter what, strength training is beneficial at my stage.

I just wish I understood the difference between mass and strength better and why everyone is talking about how much more LBM they gain.

Mark Rippetoe

Because they are not morbidly obese when they do a "bulk cycle." Yes, you have some reading to do.

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