Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 04, 2020

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From the Coaches

In the Trenches

starting strength gyms are reopening
Starting Strength Gyms are opening back up. Starting Strength Denver is open for private training and Starting Strength Houston is running sessions. Gyms are opening with cleaning and physical distance policies in place. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
ginger waits as bobby trains at wichita falls athletic club
WFAC member Ginger hangs out while she waits for her pal Bobby to finish training. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Mike Pence refuses to wear face mask at Mayo clinic….WTF?!!

He is the HEAD of OUR Nation's Coronavirus task force, meeting at a World-Renowned CANCER center. C-a-n-c-e-r , cancer, as in people most at risk from coronavirus AND it appears he is also touring the hospital section not just some meet and greet with staff!!??

Is it bravado, machismo, or disregard? An Alpha message that "I am not wearing one and no one here can make me!"

A personal decision or a calculated public statement....or is it just that Donald Trump does not wear one and so neither do I his MOST faithful liegeman....or is it yes because of Trump's belief that it's not leader- like and sends the message of vulnerability and weakness..

But the MAYO clinic...I think even Rip would wear one at the freaking MAYO

Mark Rippetoe


Buddy Rich

Mark Rippetoe

NBC is reporting this, you know. What is the whole story?

Dillon Spencer


I know people all have their preferred outlets so I'm not going to choose, but I was curious so figured I might as well post it since I was already Googling away anyways. I'm not generally a fan of "gotcha journalism," which this kind of smelled like to me, but I was interested in this because I've been musing about the differences between Sweden's response vs. that of other countries. After reading Why might Sweden's Covid-19 policy work? in the other thread, I was just interested in the theory that the reason Sweden was willing to take such a different response is because Swedes trusted their government to give them good advice, and the government trusted Swedes to take it.

It just seems like if we're not in favour of top down policies, and are advocating trusting individuals to make decisions to manage the risk to themselves, and by extension others, then maybe there should at least be some top down example setting. I'm not saying Trump should be giving press conferences with a mask on, but Pence is supposedly heading up the task force, and he's in a bloody hospital... Not a great look in my opinion.


He probably gets tested for it constantly, for one.


I noticed they weren't wearing them during the press conferences as well. If the White House staff isn't worried about wearing masks while a bunch of reporters yell and spit questions at them, it makes me wonder if masks really do anything.

Fearless Leader DeWine also has not worn a mask for his press conferences, at the same time his administration announced that mask wearing is key for reopening Ohio.

Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago realized that social distancing, staying at home, and good hygiene were so important she went and got her haircut days after putting her community under house arrest.

Watch what people do, not what they say.


Well he did do it doesn't matter who reported how you spin it...thats political....

I am not really sold on masks...yes, I see how , IN THEORY, they would prevent or at least reduce infected water vapor and droplets coming from an infected person as well as be a barrier for a healthy person to breathe in infected vapor and droplets...totally understand

However, even my humble peek at the study of biology and human anatomy I learned that NATURE knows what the fuck its doing even when we don't and so I am very cautious to add man- made " improvements" to millions of years of evolution....surely our breathing apparatus and structures were designed for the free interchange of atmospheric gases and nature does not want obstructions to that interchange for a reason ....and since health is the one of the primary objective of survival and viruses and bacteria, etc...have been around for billions of years surely nature factored those little fuckers into the equation of respiration and has outfitted us with natural defenses against the buggers and BLOCKING that free interchange of gases will definitely have a negative effect and may actually make us sick and not keep us well.

Alexander Dargatz

That's your reason? Nature knows what it's doing?

I'd rather argue that wearing a stupid mask is unneccessary when you keep a little distance and wash your hands and don't let yourself be coughed in the face by strangers. A mask may make some people act stupid if they feel safe from infections. Other than that, they are uncomfortable and useless at best.


The paper surgical masks now mandatory for staff in hospitals are best at keeping germs in. That's why surgeons wear them, it's not to keep the surgeon healthy, it's to keep the surgeon's germs out of the surgical field.

Whether it makes sense to wear masks in public, if you are already keeping your distance, and whether it offers you any protection to wear a mask of your own, is debatable. It probably helps a little.

What's not debatable is whether you should wear a mask around immunocompromised people, like many people hospitalized for cancer treatment. Staff wearing masks and PPE is a year-round life-long practice for hospital staff caring for immunosuppressed cancer patients. Even if Pence were swabbed and negative for Corona that morning, it's a dick move not to wear a mask in that setting. There are lots of other things that can be passed around. People with immunosuppression due to chemotherapy are told not to eat raw fruits and vegetables, to avoid crowds, avoid picking up dog poop, etc. etc., regardless and not specific to covid or coronavirus. If you don't have an immune system working, the regular common cold can become a life-threatening pneumonia easily.

We don't know if the "patient" in the photos was immunocompromised or not, but if you're visiting the cancer center these days, you wear a mask. Unless you're a psychopath or maybe just a douchebag trying to score political points in some way.

Oh, and "Nature" doesn't care if you live or die, or what's best for you. You are grist for the mill as far as Nature is concerned. If you are "cautious" to add man-made "improvements" to evolution, you should probably forego heating and cooling your home, using electricity, using pharmaceuticals of any kind, and training with barbells, to name just a few unnatural things. I don't recommend this, as most of these "unnatural" developments are fantastic, but if you think that wearing a mask is somehow a crime against "nature," you are just scratching the surface. "Natural" life expectancy of human beings is probably around 30. Personally, I'm in favor of using any and all reasonable means to surpass that by a long way.

And if your mask prevents the free flow of atmospheric gases, it's not a surgical mask. It might be a plastic bag. Please follow the label instructions.

Mark Rippetoe

I agree. But why would you immediately assume Pence is the dick? It's not his hospital, he's being accompanied by medical personnel who have the authority to have him wear a mask, and he's a famously nice man who is polite and kind to everybody. Were it that important that he wear a mask, and if he absolutely refused to wear a mask, why was he permitted in the room where he was gotcha-ed? This is media/bureaucracy bullshit, and surely you know this.

Matt James

Well, according to friends who work there, masks are policy for anyone in the building. So the question may be more, why didn't they make him wear one? I don't know the answer to that.

Mark Rippetoe

The title of the thread is the problem. Did he, in fact, REFUSE to wear a mask?


Well, to be honest, I assumed he was a dick long before this because he is Vice President, and that's kind of a job requirement. But there's no way to walk into a hospital right now and not notice the signs stating that all entrants are required to wear masks.

Yeah, I'm sure it's out of context, and now that I look at it he probably wasn't in the Cancer Center, the "patient" was a probably healthy blood donor, etc. But I stand by my assessment that he's a dick. And he's an idiot to look around and see everyone else wearing masks and not realize how the photos will appear. And if you're a VIP, you are supposed to know that people will be obsequious and cut you excessive slack, and that you should follow the universal procedures anyway.

So, not a crime, but more of a bush league fumbling of a photo op.

Best of the Forum

Who do you follow?

I recently read a headline for a medical review titled, "Muscular strength as a strong predictor of mortality: A narrative review"  I thought about you, since I recently purchased your books and I'm currently mainlining your podcasts.

The link was shared by Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Like you, she is someone I respect as a purveyor of truth and an unabashed geek when it comes to maximizing genetic potential.

Her takeaways after reading the aforementioned medical review:

  • Muscle strength can be important for healthspan.
  • Muscular strength is independently associated with lower all-cause mortality risk even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other factors such as age, body fat, smoking, and alcohol intake.
  • The higher mortality risk associated with decreased levels of muscular strength is similar to well-established risk factors for early death such as obesity, hypertension or smoking. Maintaining muscle mass and strength through various forms of strength training may be a modifiable risk factor for all-cause mortality. 

I'm sure these are laughably obvious points to you, but I shared them anyways in case you were not aware of the medical review. The 2nd point is most interesting to me as it shows that muscular strength is independent of cardiorespiratory fitness, which is something you've been preaching on your podcasts and it flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

My question for you: Who are the truth tellers/interesting people that you follow on the interwebs? Political, health, social, or otherwise.

Mark Rippetoe

I like Taleb, Peterson, Limbaugh, Williamson, and Glenn Reynolds's blog.


Thanks for the reply. I just listened to Peterson's recent book. The guy's thoughts are fascinating. I've enjoyed him introducing Nietzsche and Jung to me, even though I did not have a predilection for them. One of my favorite quotes is Peterson's paraphrase of Jung's thoughts on alchemists.

I'm familiar with everyone else except for Glenn Reynolds. I'll have to check him out. Considering your choices, I would recommend listening to Scott Adams' periscope videos. The guy is brilliant and has a unique perspective. Thank you again for the reply. Also, thanks for sharing your knowledge of strength training. Best regards.

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