Starting Strength Weekly Report

March 18, 2019

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power clean rack position
Alex Olshannikov demonstrates a good rack position during the power clean session at a Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Rules for Going to the ER: A Common-Sense Approach
Mark Rippetoe

47 tips to keep you away from my ER.


#42 had me curious as that thought had never crossed my mind, and then I scrolled and read #41. I was rendered speechless.


Funny read.

But so no motorcycle? I was just starting to browse online...


I was an avid rider here in Seattle. After several rides to work where I noticed the following, I decided it was just a matter of time before my number was up.

  • a man jacking off while driving
  • women putting on makeup - very common
  • countless texting - everyone
  • several people with newspapers or books held against their steering wheel, reading.
  • General dumbassery

I still miss my Victory 8-ball.


Yeah, even on my lowly bicycle I dread traffic. There's times and places I just don't visit anymore cos I don't wanna die. One time, just going to work (about a 25 min ride), I almost got in an accident 6 times in just 10 minutes. Cars not looking or giving a shit, other cyclists being idiots, pedestrians walking where they shouldn't. Traffic really is insane and I get why no one likes it.

Jonathon Sullivan

I don't know who wrote these, but she is My Sister. I can tell she and I have been in the same trenches.

Everybody should read these.

Oh, and this? “If you trust Jenny McCarthy more than you trust your pediatrician, you should take your kids to her when they’re sick.” This got me physically aroused. Absolutely goddam right.


Haha so true, but Sully . . .#41.... cheeze and crackers man . . . . .

Jonathon Sullivan

For those who don't want to look again, here's rule #41: “Don’t keep shampoo bottles on the floor. They tend to get lodged in people’s rectums.”

Just like it is amazing how many people get assaulted, beat, shot, stabbed and mutilated by Some Dude while Minding Their Own Business (see rule #13), it is just shocking how many innocent people slip, fall, and tragically get a shampoo bottle (or light bulb, or electric toothbrush, or mini hairspray can, or potato, or a fucking buddha figurine I-kid-you-not, or some other random oblong object covered with lubricant) accidentally impacted waaaay up in their rectum.

Happens all the time.

Don't let this happen to you. Look around you and you'll find your environment jammed with such hazards. You have to be careful, people.

Barry Charles

Dr S, having just spent the last four days of my life in the ER and neurological ICU (my wife had two brain surgeries for blocked ventricles - she’s as good as new), perhaps another rule?

“Waiting a long time in a crowded city ER is the best thing that can possibly happen. It means that you are not about die. It’s not like waiting for a table at Buffalo Wild Wings and someone gets seated before you.”

Anyway, please confirm, deny, rewrite, or ignore as appropriate.

Jonathon Sullivan

Spot-on, Barry.

Best of the Forum

Amputee Questions

I have a few random questions that you may be able to give me some guidance on, but they are from outside of your normal purview. Big fan of yours in general but I'm rusty on some concepts.

Background: I am a male above knee amputee. About a year ago I started looking into Paralympic sports that I could possibly compete in. Since then I have lost a lot of weight through diet, running, and weight lifting. Currently sitting at 233 lbs and 6'4''. Recently, I became aware of ParaPowerlifting which is really just the bench press with your legs strapped to the bench at thigh level. The athlete from the USA maxed out at 379 lbs for the 235 lb and under weight class and the world record is around 530 at this weight class. I've done 315 a few different times since I was 20, with last time was a few years ago when I was attempting Starting Strength style LP (currently sitting at probably 225-250). The next Paralympic Summer games is September 2020 in Tokyo which would give me over 2.5 years to pursue this goal. I think with dedication 400 is certainly doable and while unlikely 500+ is not impossible. The main complication is that I can't gain past 235 for a variety of reasons.

Current Plan: Goal is to lose 20-30 lbs in next two-three months while doing basic maintenance strength training. Start Starting Strength style LP with moderate caloric surplus until stall my guess is that this should take me to close to PRs. Then settle into a bench centered program for the long haul.


  1. Does it make sense to lose weight first then grow with a standard LP or do you recommend a slower recomp style diet coupled with the training in this scenario?
  2. Any recommendations on a program to prioritize the bench press? I do want to maintain a certain amount of lower body strength, but I don't think I can afford to gain a lot of mass there.
  3. I can't squat. I can do front and back box squats, leg press, and smith machine squats etc. Which should I prioritize for strength gain?

SORRY FOR THE NOVEL. Any guidance here would be greatly appreciated.

Mark Rippetoe

It never makes sense to lose weight first and get strong later, because every bodyweight loss is composed of both LBM and fat, especially in the absence of training. Priority bench press would be MF bench, Wednesday pressing. Programs are found in PPST3. Do whatever lower body work you can, it will not compromise your bench press.


Thanks for taking the time to reply. I will certainly check out PPST3. Is it fair to say that in the absence of being able to gain weight, you favor a slow body recomposition over cut/bulk cycles?

“It never makes sense to lose weight first and get strong later, because every bodyweight loss is composed of both LBM and fat...”

To clarify, do you mean "it never makes sense to lose weight first, AT THE EXPENSE OF STRENGTH, and get strong later..."

I mean there are obvious caveats with this, right? A 500 lb man with diabetes would surely do better to lose 200 lbs (while concurrently gaining strength) than to simply gain strength.

Mark Rippetoe

Explain again why you CANNOT gain any weight?

There are always caveats. The 500-pound man, yes. The 350-pound man, absolutely not. I apologize – I thought that was obvious.


Most pressing reason is that I simply won't be able to fit into my prosthesis. I have one that is very form fitting. I can lose weight and add socks like a shoe that is too big, but if I gain, I'm on crutches. Other reasons are that in the weight class above 235 I don't think I can compete as the current record stands at 689. Also, health reasons just being an amputee your joints in the knee, hip, and lower back are already doing extra work, so being strong without excess mass is ideal. My muscle mass itself actually isn't terrible, but I guesstimate that I am currently still carrying about 20-30 unnecessary lbs of bodyfat. (BF% ~20%)

Mark Rippetoe
"Also, health reasons just being an amputee your joints in the knee, hip, and lower back are already doing extra work, so being strong without excess mass is ideal."

Fitting into your prosthesis is obviously important, especially if money is tight for an update. But this statement doesn't really make that much sense. Muscles get stronger by growing, and that is the only mechanism by which strength improves after an initial short period of neuromuscular efficiency improvement. Being strong without excess fat, yes, but "mass"?


This is just me misspeaking. By excess mass that does not contribute to strength I meant fat mass.


There is a woman named Dana Shealey who competes in powerlifting with a prosthetic leg. I've seen her lift and she's a very hard working and dedicated individual. I've never asked her about the specifics of her training, but she serves as an example that you can gain more lower body strength than you might think even with one leg.


Do they have her weigh in with the prosthetic on?

Wasn't there some dude that only benched and had no legs and he just crushed his weight division? I'd be interested to see how they handle this.


She's a badass, but she also has her knee joint still which is the reason she can squat. Even my deadlift is closer to a RDL than classic deadlift form.

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