Starting Strength Weekly Report

March 06, 2017

  • Rip on Why You Should Not Be Running – Time to get serious about your long-term health and continued ability to participate in the business of living well.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #43 – Rip answers questions about heart rate training, using ice for DOMS and injuries, and keeping clients motivated.

In the Trenches

Mune Van Luen locks out a 145 kg deadlift
Mune Van Luen locks out a 145 kg (319 lb) deadlift for her third attempt at the Arnold Sports Festival. She competed in the 52 kg class and went 8 for 9 on the day. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
learning the deadlift
Allison Romag learns the deadlift at the Starting Strength Training Camp at Chicago Strength and Conditioning [photo courtesy of Karl Schudt]

Best of the Week

Optimizing eating for Starting Strength progression

I'm 39 and I train for baseball, which I do at the recreational level once a week. Being relatively small at 5'8" and typically around 155-160 lbs, I've always had decent power as a hitter. This off-season I wanted to add some weight and strength back to hit the ball a little farther. I've never been much of an eater, but it's been about 5 months now eating between 2800-3500 calories a day depending on my physical activity and I'm now at 184 lbs. I count calories but I don't worry too much about balancing macro ratios (usually ends up being around 33% pro, fat, carbs). I drink a lot of whole milk and use whey to supplement calories. In that time, I completed a baseball specific 16 week program, now I'm on SS and plan on staying with it as long as I can. I'm 2 weeks in and am doing fine thus far with a 5lb per session increase. The last 6 workouts have wiped me out and I'm getting about 8-9 hours of sleep.

  • Squat 210
  • Deadlift 260
  • Press 95
  • Bench 160

My question pertains to my age group and the fact that I don't want to get too heavy over where I am now, though I understand needing to eat enough to grow and make each session progression. What would you recommend I do as far as my calorie intake goes from this point to make sure I don't have any stalls, but also stay at a relatively good weight so that I don't have to purchase a completely new wardrobe?

Mark Rippetoe

These are not particularly impressive numbers for a 184-pound 5'8" 39-year-old guy. I guess the baseball specific program didn't help a lot, eh? Your 3500 number is probably a minimum necessary to continue making progress, and you're far from finished. But I suspect some problems. I don't think you've read the books, and I think you're making the mistakes addressed in this article: The First 3 Questions.

Will Morris

Just for comparison:

  • 5'7"
  • 165#
  • Just shy of 36 years old
  • Bench: 355
  • Squat: 505
  • Deadlift: 495
  • Press: 215
Never did a baseball specific training program. I have spent the last couple of years focusing on getting as strong as I could, but I can still hit the shit out of a ball. I can throw in the low to mid-70s a little more than a year after tommy john surgery, and I have plenty of speed and acceleration to be competitive at my age. My performance in recreational sports has improved proportionally to my increased strength. p>

Thanks for the response. Understood. I definitely was not trying to impress you with my numbers but I thought you might ask. I definitely understand the points outlined in the article and have read the SS book. I just wanted to you ask specifically because you are typically speaking in terms for an 18-35 demographic.

I'm sure you've dealt with baseball players before and must be familiar with some of the common opinion in baseball about the way they 'should' train- not a lot of overhead movements, dumbbell bench (if pressing at all), a lot of single leg exercises. I only did front squats the entire 16 weeks. It was just an accessible program I chose to get me started again. I'd only gotten familiar with SS once I was half way through my program and going at it 100%. Before this, I hadn't stepped foot in a gym for ten years, so my numbers are definitely modest but I am starting to see results and I'm making the incremental progress.

Mark Rippetoe

This is a fascinating program. The author of this ridiculous mess, John Cissek, was actually instrumental in the development of the basis of the program you know as Starting Strength. He wrote an article for the SCJ back in 1999-2000, IIRC, about – I swear this is true – How To Periodize Your Abdominal Training. At the time I was trying to fall in line with the conventional S&C wisdom, reading the journals and going to conferences, and this bizarre article is the piece that started me thinking about just how weird it was to misconstrue the principles of periodization to this extent. As a direct result, the thinking that became Practical Programming for Strength Training originated. So all you people who have become stronger by ignoring pointless complexity in favor of simple arithmetic, Selye's GAS principle, and the principle of diminishing returns have John Cissek to thank for it.

John Janecek

I remember that article. I think at the time when I had my CSCS something about this was on one of those quizzes you had to turn in every so often (with your check for $10?) for CEUs. I had my CSCS from 1995-2002 before I let it expire and it was because of crap like this.

My baseball players here squat/bench/clean/DL one day then squat/press/clean/DL the other day but I only see them 2x/wk and they rarely show up during the summer. My BEST power hitters and kids that can really throw (this coming from head BB coach) are the "football kids" that come from my offseason program where we do everything mentioned above, but lift 3-4x/wk for an hour year round. Bigger stronger kids go to baseball after football is over and do things better than the smaller, slower, weaker kids that lift for half the amount of time and play select all summer.

Best of the Forum

Will Starting Strength affect basketball performance?

I'm an 18 year old basketball player looking to make significant strength and weight gains. I need to add weight while increasing my "explosiveness" on the basketball court. My main goals are increase in bodyweight/muscle mass, increase in SVJ/2-leg RVJ, and increase in short distance speed/acceleration/change of direction. At the moment I am more proficient at 1-leg RVJ and top speed, which only helps me in fastbreak situations in basketball.


  • 6'3.5" w/ 6'9" wingspan
  • 165 lbs
  • 12.5% body fat
  • Standing Vertical (Vertec tested): 30.5" (dunk off 1-step approach, can dunk comfortably off svj as well)
  • Running Vertical (off one leg): 39"

I am considered a normal weight by BMI (20.3) but I know I'm underweight by athlete standards. I know I need to add weight as I get knocked over by well-built opponents, but the reason I'm reluctant to add weight is due to my body fat. I do not have/never had visible abs. I am of South Asian descent so my carb heavy diet in the past may have played a major role in my current body composition. I'm afraid that it will decrease my agility on the court.

I have been working on my squat form for a couple weeks and now I squat 115x5 for 3 sets. I think I could squat 135 for a 1RM. I am planning to start Starting Strength soon and will run it to either the end of linear progression or 2x bw squat, whichever comes first. Will the gains in relative strength (my relative strength is garbage at the moment. I see 110lb girls with 10" verticals squatting more than me) offset acquisition of body fat? Let's say I progress to a 225x5 squat at 185lbs and 16% body fat. Would my SVJ go up?

Also, I plan to work on basketball skills 3-4 days a week during Starting Strength so I can maintain as much skill as possible during weight gain. I will also be sprinting and dunking a couple times a week to maintain my forefoot/glute dominant movement efficiency. Will this affect my progress? Will eating more be enough to continue to make good gains?

Mark Rippetoe

You seem to have a good grasp of most of your problems, except for this one:

“but the reason I'm reluctant to add weight is due to my body fat(I do not have/never had visible abs. I am of South Asian descent so my carb heavy diet in the past may have played a major role in my current body composition.); I'm afraid that it will decrease my agility on the court.”

This is the single most common problem among kids your age. First, 12.5% is low enough for most people to show abs. But who cares??? You do, and that's a problem because at some level you're allowing this to interfere with getting stronger and bigger, which you know you need to do. Somebody has convinced you that 16% bodyfat is a problem on the court, and that same person apparently fails to understand that 6'3" at 165 is a much bigger problem on the court.

Abs are a side effect of training, not an indicator of training. If all you want is abs, just diet and do situps.

Just out of curiosity, what was Michael Jordan's bf%?


The one thing I can speak to with experience and confidence is developing basketball players. Bottom line is you need to get stronger. Much, much stronger. The physicality of play at each level is exponentially tougher. At your stage of development, regardless of wing span, you will be pushed off the ball, boxed out, and simply out muscled during the game by players of equal talent, but they will outplay you simply because they are stronger than you.

You will not – repeat – not lose your explosive first step if you are stronger due to squatting and deadlifting. You will have that explosiveness now combined with the strength to push off an opponent. Then you are a tough player to match up against. You are sort of asking the right questions but the answer from a hoop head is to get strong and use that strength on the court. Eat a ton and train hard in the gym with the big movements. Wish I could tell you this in person. I could go into detail, but you get the point.

Buy the book. Start linear progression. Becoming the best player you can be means getting stronger.

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