Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 23, 2022

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john dowdy cues the deadlift at a starting strength training camp
Daniel receives a tactile cue from Starting Strength Boise's head coach John Dowdy at the recently held Squat and Deadlift Training Camp. [photo courtesy of Ray Gillenwater]
paul horn teaches abby about back position in the deadlift
Paul Horn helps Abby understand her back angle during the first part of the deadlift. Abby and her uncle drove from Salt Lake City to attend the Training Camp hosted by Starting Strength Boise. [photo courtesy of Rachel Fox]
jeremiah bench presses 242.5 lb five sets of five
While spotter Chris looks on, Jeremiah benches 242.5 lb x 5 x 5 at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
victor learns how to deadlift at starting strength boston open house
Michael and Austin show Victor how to deadlift at Starting Strength Boston’s recent Open House. [photo courtesy of Arthur Frontczak]
vilma squatting 115 pounds after two weeks of training
Vilma Laurel (age 67) squatting 115lbs after only one month of training. She trains two sessions a week with simple, effective programming and actual coaching at Starting Strength Austin. [photo courtesy of Aaron Frederick]
camisha coaches hirsh through deadlifts to rehab his back injury
Camisha Noble talks Starting Strength Cincinnati member Hirsh through his deadlift. Hirsh tweaked his back outside of the gym recently, but has been making great progress rehabbing the injury under the guidance of the SS Cincy coaching staff. [photo courtesy of Luke Schroeder]
alex ptacek and mark rippetoe at wichita falls athletic club
Congratulations to Alex Ptacek from Starting Strength Chicago for earning his Starting Strength Coach credential. [photo courtesy of Tony Maldonado]
santosh deadlifts 315 for a pr at starting strength boston
Starting Strength Boston member Santosh pulling 315lbs for a new PR single. [photo courtesy of Austin Khamiss]

Best of the Week

Aging is a disease?


I read David Sinclair's book recently : "Lifespan - why we age and why we don't have to", and I must say that the way I look at aging now is very different from the way I was looking at it a couple of months ago . He restates the four words : "Aging is a disease" over and over again and he also elaborates the way that the medical sector tries to "CURE" the mainly driven diseases by the aging process such as :heart disease, dementia, etc .. by instead telling people to move more, lift heavier weights, eat healthy, doing it by spending money on pharmaceuticals that eventually put havoc on their bodies .

In here: Lifespan Expanded: The Scientific Quest For A Fountain Of Youth, he and other scientists that are in the leading research on how to reverse aging or even prevent it, explain all about it.

One of the interesting things that I saw there is cellular reprogramming. David is working on it right now and has already shown that by reprogramming the cells in a blind mouse's eye, the eye started to work again.What are your thoughts on it? Wouldn't it be cool to "go back in time" to the younger years of ourselves and be healthy again (and possibly lift heavy squats and deadlifts)?

If the reprogramming really will work in humans, hell, the possibilities it will open for humanity are mind blowing!

Mark Rippetoe

Do you actually believe that we can "reverse aging" – become young again?



In the book he describes a theory called: "The mathematical theory of communication" - it explains in general how information transforms between a transmitter and a receiver. Due to noise, a lot of information is getting lost in the process, so there must be a backup copy of the original information, so that the receiver can retrieve the lost information from there. It's analogous to our epigenomes losing information with time that needs to be retrieved. He and his colleagues might have found a way to retrieve back that lost information.

This is from April 8: Old skin cells reprogrammed to regain youthful function:Old skins cells reprogrammed to regain youthful function

This is the experiment that he led (reprogramming damaged mouse's eye nerves):The Sinclair Lab (click on the research tab and they have the explanation about it).

Mark Rippetoe

Keep us posted.

Shiva Kaul

Aging is inevitable; senescence can be inhibited. But current treatments work by inhibiting mTORC1 signaling - you know, that key driver of building and maintaining muscle. This probably* harms your actual in-vivo life. In any case, the market of wealthy, weak, unmotivated, and easily convinced people remains tantalizingly large, so investment proceeds unabated.

* This paper claims that inhibiting mTORC1 is “overwhelmingly” protective against sarcopenia, since it purportedly becomes too high as you age. But their actual results show that mTORC1-inhibited mice had less lean mass, less overall mass, and worse proportions of fast/slow twitch fibers. They just ran longer and had faster metabolism. Strange that sophisticated, high-quality cellular research misunderstands basic exercise concepts.

Best of the Forum

Trap bar deadlift, another chance?


Hey Rip, hope you are doing well with all the pink people oppression going on in the world these days. Recently I've been enjoying a lot of your radio talk and particularly the episode "Experts are the problem." Not many people are willing to speak up on that issue these days. The part about changing our views on certain subjects when we are wrong and how that has the potential to help us better ourselves and practice our profession with more competence was intriguing. I thought I'd try to offer another perspective on this particular topic as I believe that you could revisit your stance on it. To address your arguments against it Why the Trap Bar is Completely Useless is the video that I'll be referring to.

Less stability in the sagittal plane I agree, it has more sagittal plane movement than our barbell deadlift and that inherently makes it less safe. To what degree though? I think that it's way less than you've emphasized in your video. If the trainee tightens his lats and braces the trunk hard (As everybody should during any compound exercise) the trap bar won't move a whole lot. Evident also by the fact that you pushed the bar of your trainee in the video while he was holding it in his hands, and it didn't move a whole lot the first time. Only after he relaxed more has the bar moved noticeably in the sagittal plane. Strongmen also do their farmer's carries in a very similar way in which the trap bar deadlift is executed and they even walk around while doing so and they seem to be fine. There's really no force that would push the trap bar in the sagittal plane anyways. Saying that it's unsafe, eh... I think it's over estimated. Using the bar myself, I haven't had this issue at all.

Hip HeightTrap bar deadlift allows us to set our hips literally anywhere in the starting position. Barbell deadlift, as everybody hopefully knows, does not. This is a double edged sword in which positives outweigh the negatives.

The Negatives Being- Inconsistent starting position. Sure, this can be a problem, more so than the sagittal plane instability, but its importance is still probably over estimated. Just like any other variability in any other lift, with practice, focus and consistency we can memorize any desired hip height and repeatedly use it in training to get desired adaptations. But also, looking at the position of our knees in relation to our elbows is just an amazing deadlift tip (Useful for barbell deadlifts too) for finding the right hip height. (Or just checking if we're there) Knees too far in front of our elbows? Push the hips up. Knees too far behind our elbows? Push the hips down. How long would it take you to teach an average novice how to perform a barbell deadlift? 5 minutes? 10 if they are a little slow? Trap bar deadlift, in my experience, isn't much harder to teach at all.

The positivesI'm an efficient bencher, my arms are quite short and my conventional deadlift is embarrassing. (And I’m a lightweight powerlifter) Due to my short arms I'm very bent over in the conventional deadlift and every bit of extra leg drive helps a ton. I've used the trap bar for a couple of mesocycles in my own training now, and lowering my hips just a bit, we're talking an inch or two here has helped me a lot. (Difference being like 15 kilos at least in comparison to my barbell deadlift). Being a fat lard last year I could also avoid my pot belly getting in the way while setting up for the pull. It didn't beat up my back as much and I've been able to do more volume on it which has skyrocketed my previously stalled deadlift last year. All this because the trap bar allowed me to pull with a slightly more vertical back angle. I love it as an assistance exercise, the very least credit we have to give it is that it's not useless. (For anyone wondering - No, I could not have achieved the same effect using block pulls) Anecdotally it has helped many people deadlift through back pain that was being aggravated during conventional deadlifts just because of this slight change in the back angle.

"If you want a more vertical back angle, just high bar squat"I don't really agree with this argument at all. If we imagine an arbitrary spectrum where on one side we have a front squat and on the other we have a conventional deadlift, I imagine that many lifts / lift variations exist in between those two, and they are slightly different movement variations that bias our muscle mass in a slightly different way. Deadlift is called a deadlift because the lift starts from a dead stop, trap bar deadlift is due to this fact, no matter how we execute it still more similar to the barbell deadlift than it is to the barbell squat. [[Link removed. He can get his own clicks.]]

A hypothetical and a conclusion Now imagine this Rip, some 20 year old kid approaches you and says - I want to get bigger and stronger but I just don't want to use a barbell for the squat and the deadlift. Instead I want to use a safety squat bar and a trap bar. Should I still train? Would you tell him - Just shut up and train, okay? And yes, you can do some curls too, because you were about to ask. Or would you tell him - No, a trap bar is useless so you might as well not train at all. (I don't know your position on the safety squat bar so I wouldn't put words in your mouth) Say that that kid ended up training for 12 months, sleeping soundly at night, eating his food, drinking his milk and all... Come on, does anybody here really think that he wouldn't be a much better version of himself with a much bigger squat and deadlift (If he all of a sudden decided to do barbell variations) with bigger muscles, more endurance, confidence and all the other great benefits that come with lifting heavy metal sticks through arbitrary ranges of motion? If he instead did low bar squats and conventional deadlifts, would he really have been any healthier and better off? I mean, even if the difference in health and quality of life existed, it would've likely been immeasurable. Only a fool would argue that barbells aren't the most useful pieces of training equipment ever invented and that they're a million times more useful piece of equipment than a trap bar (or anything else for that matter) but isn't it just plain wrong to say that the trap bar is a useless piece of junk? With all the potential benefits that it can offer for such small drawbacks? I hope you revisit your stance on this topic Rip and that you have a nice day! - David

Mark Rippetoe

Okay David, you can do your trap bar deadlifts. It's fine with me.

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