Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 20, 2019

Starting Strength Radio
Starting Strength Channel

Training Log
  • Mark Rippetoe explains the problem of low back overextension with a close look at the anatomy that can lead to problems in susceptible lifters who don't limit this movement.
  • From the Archives: Angie Bryant describes how she trained through her pregnancy to 4 weeks before delivery.
Gym Spotlight
  • Hygieia Strength & Conditioning in Singapore specialises in getting clients strong safely and efficiently with barbell training utilising the Starting Strength methodology. They also host regular "Barbells & BBQ" strengthlifting meets.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

aaron kacala squat denver seminar
Aaron Kacala squats during the Starting Strength Seminar held in Denver this past weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
steve pederson bottom of a squat
Steve Pederson squats during the same platform session. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
rusty holcomb coaching at wfac
Rusty Holcomb coaches John, one of the younger lifters at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Bre Hillen]

Meet Report

Fivex3 Training client, Kelly Adams finished with a 60 kg bench press and 150 kg deadlift at the USAPL Push/Pull Meet at Exile Fitness this past weekend. Kelly also won first place in her weight class out of 5 lifters.

Best of the Week

Back Tweak Confusion

Rip, I have a question.

On Thursday during Squat Volume day I tweaked my back pretty badly. 365 @ 5th rep / 1st set. I had to leave the gym and get prepared for dealing with the pain and basically being a cripple for the next 2-4 days.

This same tweak generally happens to me once or twice a year and I have already learned that getting back under the bar as quickly as possible is the only thing that is going to alleviate my back pain and get me back on schedule.

Yesterday I did some air squats to feel things out and a few hours ago I worked up to squatting 315 for a set of 5 and pulling 315 for 5. I already feel almost 100% and I couldn't get off the couch on Friday & Saturday.

Every other day I'll add 10 lbs for a single set of 5 until I'm back on schedule to my volume day injury weight...should be about 2 weeks. (been here before)

What I was just trying to figure out is this: why is it, that the same movement that hurt my back, is also the only movement that also fixes my back? How does that work?

Mark Rippetoe

I don't know. We've all noticed it, and none of us can explain it. Take your shot.

Suwannee Dave

While we make analogous comparisons to mechanical systems in analyzing the lifts, we ultimately are not mechanical systems, but biological. When a U joint fails in a drive shaft, you have to replace the U joint. When you tweak your back, it has to repair itself. It does this by adaptation to carefully induced stress. Ergo, tweaking your back with squats requires more squats to adapt to and repair the injury.

Mark Rippetoe

But why didn't the squats make the back tweak-proof?

Suwannee Dave

He stated that it happened on the 5th rep. I suspect his form was breaking down.

Mark Rippetoe

Not my point.


It wasn't. It was the first set. Form breakdown on VD generally happens to me on the last reps of the 4th & 5th set. The injury probably happened because I was sitting down in meetings all day and I trained earlier in the day that I normally do. My guess is that I if I did some sort of mobility work (only because I was sitting for 6 straight hours and I am old ) I wouldn't of got hurt.

But to Rips point this isn't the question. The question is: why is it, that the same movement that hurt my back, is also the only movement that also fixes my back?


A few weeks back I had trouble getting out of bed because my back hurt from squats the night before. Did deadlifts the same day, all-day back pain 100% cured after one warmup set at 135. None of this makes sense.

The worst part is nobody will ever believe it until it happens to them, and it'll never happen to them because when you tell them to go lift something heavy to fix their back pain, they back away slowly, talking calmly while looking for a weapon in case you snap.

Best of the Forum

Training During Chemotherapy

I was recently diagnosed with leukemia and am currently undergoing chemotherapy. I will be hitting a phase of lighter chemotherapy my doctor calls the "maintenance period" where the chemotherapy will be less frequent and taxing on the body in about three months' time, and hopefully will start Starting Strength then. I have previously lifted and was squatting and deadlifting around 100 kg (220 lb) for fives.

Any advice? Should I alter my diet? (I am obese, around 110 kg) 

Mark Rippetoe

I have a guy in the gym who has been training while on chemotherapy for about a year. Start light, like you would anyway, and go up from there as your recovery permits.

Andy Baker

Trained a college football player over the last few years who has been battling cancer and going through chemo. Performance will vary from session to session. Tolerance to volume will almost be obsolete. Focus on 1-2 main lifts per day and utilize a "top set" approach rather than sets across. Take advantage of your good days, but don't try and push too hard on days you really feel like shit. Ok to go light and easy on your bad days


Thanks guys for the advice guys, will keep that in mind. However, I don't think I quite understand what a "top set" approach means. If it is not too troubling, could you explain what that means?


I am 6 weeks post chemo and radiation for stage 4 throat cancer caused by HPV virus. I eat clean, ex- athlete, balanced work life, great family and social structure; yea, life is unfair. Cancer is gone, way better results than docs expected, but now I am recovering from the treatments themselves.

Oncologist is also a ND,MD,PhD, and a college tennis player, understood where I was coming from. Hopefully what I did will help OP decide.

I stopped SS workouts the week treatments (8 weeks) started and just did light dumbbell stuff at home, and worked out of the house full time. Gyms are terrible over the winter about bugs. In my case getting a head cold or the flu would have put me in the ER with a feeding tube and tracheotomy. While going thru treatment please be careful to stay well from everything else besides the cancer.

I started back at the gym 2 weeks ago once my chemo doc gave me a thumbs up on my blood work / immune system. Weights are literally 30% of where I left off, adding weight very slowly. You don't want any soreness or inflammation, play it safe.

Biggest issue for me is eating. Before treatment at 5'7'', 55 yrs old, my weight was 175 (nude) at 12% bodyfat. This week weight is 154 and 9%. Yes I am naturally lean, but at 55, 9% is way too freaking low. You have a vicious cycle of needing to eat more, but because they exploded a bomb in my neck so even drinking water hurts, and the nausea from chemo, it is a fight. If you are obese and not having your throat destroyed during the treatment, you will have a way easier time than I did. Get your protein and try not to lose too much weight too quickly.

When you start back, a single top set for each exercise is fine. You might want to do that for a few months until your recovery returns.

Also, you have to do your PIC line hydration daily. Get home health to do it on the weekend too if needed.

Try to sleep 10 hours per night and a nap. You will need it.

This is going to sound cheesy and maybe disingenuous, but I am telling the truth. To keep up my spirits and motivation, I have been reading the forum and every video/article since my ordeal started. Staying in the community and seeing others here who have also been to hell and back, and are STILL lifting, and improving, greatly helped me to prove to myself that my weight and strength WILL be back to my old self soon! I utterly despise cancer and what it does to people, but I beat it and will not allow it to happen to me again.

If anyone else wishes I can add much more detail of how my cancer was defeated.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

Highlights from the StartingStrength Community. Browse archives.

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