Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 27, 2019

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  • Testify Strength & Conditioning is Omaha, NE's SS Affiliate Gym, "[helping] people of all ages get strong and change their lives." Testify also holds regular USSF and USAW weightlifting meets for those ready to test their performance in a barbell sports.

In the Trenches

rip teaches the rack pull at starting strength austin
Rip teaches a guest at the Starting Strength Austin grand opening event how to safely pull a barbell off the pins. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
rip answers questions at starting strength austin
Rip answers questions during the Live Q&A recorded at the Starting Strength Austin grand opening event. [photo courtesy of Rusty Holcomb]
carmen coaching the bench press at wfac
Carmen Phillips hands off the bench press to a client training at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Rusty Holcomb]

Best of the Week

Breaking Muscle article against barbell use

I've gotten into calisthenics in the past two years, but am drawn to barbell training. Then I read the following article pasted below and question whether I'm better suited to buying kettlebells for home use. Also, if you do think a rack and barbell are better, my only available space is outside. Know anyone with an outdoor setup who lifts and could share photos? Thanks!

Mark Rippetoe

Read this and report back: The Biggest Training Fallacy of All


The article definitely helps. I'm not sure if it completely answers the question whether kettlebells, or even progressive overload through varying bodyweight positions, can still increase strength? The Kavadlo brothers, Hannibal for King, etc. seem to gain strength through progressive bodyweight moves. I suppose the ideal workout is to combine SS with bodyweight moves? Thanks again for your input.

Adam Gottstein

 The article makes an appeal to the older-was-better mindset, and makes a reference to neuromuscular recruitment of db vs. barbell in 1 lift in 1 reference I didn't look at for details. The real reason for this article starts at the section labeled "A Smarter Business," at which point it becomes a cost benefit analysis of barbells and related equipment compared to something more compact (kettle bells specifically mentioned). The article is very clearly intended to justify a gym that has at most 1-2 power or squat racks and barbells along with racks of dumbbells, kettle bells, and other "functional" equipment based primarily on cost/gym membership.

I think when the question was posed, "However, when was the last time you saw [someone with a 315 bench] pressing 155-pound dumbbells?" the real question should have been, "How long does it take an average person, benching with a barbell and programming it up each week/workout, to get to a 155lb db press compared to someone using only dumbbells?"

Mark Rippetoe

What is strength? What is a "progressive bodyweight move"?


Progressive bodyweight work relies on using different leverage to increase the load. For instance, slowing down a pullup or one-armed pullups vs. normal pullup, or raising your feet doing a pushup, or pistol squats vs. regular bodyweight squats, or even increasing rep ranges. At least that is what I understand progressive calisthenics as proposed by the Kavadlo brothers to mean.

Mark Rippetoe

Given that, which is more quantifiable, and which is progressable for a longer period of time, barbell training or calisthenics? Your deadlift, or your pushups.

And you forgot to define strength.

Mark Le Comte

I see why you could call these types of progression as they are all harder, but these are very different from barbell weight progression.

Slowing down a pullup = same (or lesser) force for a longer time
  • Slowing down a pullup = same (or lesser) force for a longer time
  • One armed pullup = doubling force in one jump
  • Raising feet in push = decreasing pec and increasing delt involvement i.e. using weaker muscle groups
  • Increasing rep ranges = same force but more reps.

If you agree that strength is the amount of force that can be applied against an external resistance, then progressively loading a barbell a couple of pounds each time you lift is the most direct way to train strength. While barbells may have a lesser variety of exercises that you can use them for this is actually a good thing as it makes you focus on progression, and barbells can be loaded in very fine increments of weight over a very wide range of weights dumbells/kettlebells/indian clubs can’t.

Best of the Forum

Knee sleeves before knee pain

Is it worth buying knee sleeves as a beginner? I’ve been doing Starting Strength for 2 months now and haven’t really suffered any major knee pain, just slight stiffness. Is it worth buying rehbands as a preventative measure?

Mark Rippetoe

How old are you?


19. This may be a really stupid question. It’s just not often that I see videos of others squatting without knee sleeves. And I just wondered if they prevent injury rather than me getting injured first then trying to fix it.

Mark Rippetoe

You'll be fine. Get them when you need them.

Mark E. Hurling

FWIW, at 63 I've used them maybe 3-4 times but am doing fine without them at this time. This with a complex rear of the meniscus that I got at your age. You have plenty of time to wear your joints out with impunity. Just lift in good form and you'll avoid most if not all such damage.


They keep your knees toasty warm and don't help in lifting any weight. There's no downside unless you're strapped for money. If your gym has the A/C blasting like all the gyms I've been to then you should get them.

Mark Rippetoe

I can't wear them at all, even for 15 minutes. Very VERY bad skin irritation.


I wear the sleeves over my sweat pants; makes them tighter plus no irritation. I also use Rub A535 on my 50 year knees before I do squats. I have no knee issues at all…


From what I've heard the new SBD sleeves are the best for knee support – not necessarily adding extra pounds to your squat, but I've nearly universally heard that they're superior to the blue rehbands for providing compression and warmth. The blue rehbands are still great and a little less pricey than the SBDs, which I think are $90 compared to $80 for the blue rehbands. As I mentioned above I've worn the same pair of blue rehbands during every squat session for 3 years now and they're still fine: no rips or tears.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

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