Starting Strength Weekly Report

May 06, 2019

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From the Coaches

In the Trenches

beau bryant coaches julianne
Starting Strength Coach Beau Bryant coaches Julianne during the Masters strength class at Westminster Strength and Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Meet Results

Best of the Week

Does Muscle Hypertrophy contribute to Strength Gains
Kyle Martin

Just read an interesting "scientific" article that makes the case that getting strong leads to hypertrophy but hypertrophy doesn't necessarily lead to getting strong. Article advocates for a greater emphasis on high intensity rather than lots of reps at low intensity. I thought it fits nicely with the Starting Strength method and thought you'd find it interesting.

This pretty much goes along with my limited experience, I find I personally get stronger by lifting heavier than spamming volume.

Mark Rippetoe

Science. You can't argue with Science. Or Springer.

Michael Wolf

I'm confused. Have we ever advocated that getting bigger muscles was bad, or not an important part of the training process? Do you think the food we try so hard to get you poor skinny bastards to start eating during the LP is supposed to go 100% to fat? That when a skinny kid actually listens and goes from 6'1" 145 to 200 over a 4-6 month LP in which his squat goes from 95 to 335, that he hasn't gained a whole bunch of muscle mass?

While we have a preference for a focus on higher intensities, particularly in the Novice and early Intermediate stages, where did anyone get the impression that we don't think gaining muscle mass is a very important part of the process?

Mark Rippetoe

I think the OP is on our side here. Since a guy with a 500 deadlift is bigger than the same guy with a 200 deadlift, and he got that way by doing 5s.

Best of the Forum

Starting Strength and Multiple Sclerosis

I recently started my Starting Strength routine using your fantastic book, thanks so very much. I have rapidly noticed a change in my general disposition and want to share your method with my brother, which I believe will help him in many ways, particularly in regaining his mental poise and determination to carry on with life.

You see, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a couple of years ago and it has been a terrible burden on his mind and body. He was always athletic and still runs and swims a lot but his loss of feeling in the body and constant fear of degenerating into a wheelchair, coupled with some hard mental hits he took this year (we lost our father in January and my bro was fired from 2 jobs and has been unable to find work in 6 months), has made him very fragile. I just don't think endurance exercise is doing the trick.

I just want to find a way to make him strong again so he can tackle life head on, and I just know that the feeling of physical power will do wonders for him but I have no facts.

I don't even know if SS is recommended for people with MS, what adjustments to make, precautions to take or even if there is a medical basis for reversing Multiple Sclerosis with Barbell training. Maybe I'm reaching too far but I just wanted to ask you if you could share your knowledge and experience please. Even if its just to point me in the right direction, I would be most grateful.

Mark Rippetoe

Strength training is the most productive approach to exercise for people with MS. We'll ask the board for their experiences.

Andy Baker

Had a client with MS for a number of years. Ran an LP with him and some basic intermediate programming. For the most part he adapted like a normal person would except on his "bad days" we just couldn't train like normal. At best we'd just go light and easy as he had a hard time with balance and control of the eccentric phase. Too dangerous to do anything heavy. On his really bad days we did no Squats, Presses, or Deadlifts. Too many balance and control issues. Machines are helpful in this instance. Still get some training effect without the balance issues. Still had to go light though. My hip pocket workout for him on bad days was something like Leg Presses, Bench Presses, Lat Pulls or Seated Rows, 45 degree back extensions. On good days we did all of the major lifts hard and heavy including power cleans and power snatches. Best thing in the world for him.

Mark Rippetoe

My experience has been that excessive volume is a terribly bad idea for these people. The "lowest effective dose" concept becomes very important here.


Agree SS is a great thing for MS patients. Obviously be careful if they come with pre-existing physical deficits such as poor balance, motor control, neurologically weak limbs, etc. I'd say volume itself shouldn't be feared, but depending on their disease burden, they may have the Uhthoff's phenomenon. That means symptoms from a previous MS attack can temporarily return if they get too hot. By that I mean the symptoms are temperature dependent, so resting between sets may need to be longer and the work out area should be cool enough.

Will Morris

I highly suggest keeping the gym fairly cool when training someone with MS. I also highly recommend they invest in a couple "cooling towels" that can be purchased at any sports store. They should bring them with them, and I have had good success with them keeping a towel draped over their head and neck while performing their lifts.


There's no decent evidence that resistance training can trigger an MS relapse (although there is some lousy data suggesting that aerobic exercise can). My non-evidence-based opinion is that increased physical strength acquired by training when the going is good will increase functionality during those times when the going is bad (i.e. during relapse).

During relapse, training will be difficult if not impossible because the necessary muscle activation won't happen. The neurologic signal just won't get through. Andy seems to have direct experience with this in training such patients. Those are the times to be very safe, go light, and use a spotter when indicated.

That's the message I'd impart to a patient that asked me. I think that barbell training can be very meaningful for your brother.

Espen Lund

My mother had MS. Before she ended up in a wheelchair, she was walking, bicycling and doing her best at being active, but not doing any training for strength. I've seen how fast MS can destroy a body, and in my head there's 2 routes:

a) he can either not strength train, and the outcome is 100 % a bad one, or he can

b) try strength training, where all logic points towards better results. A stronger body is harder to kill, right? Perhaps the end result is the same, but I am confident that it will slow the progress a lot, and give him many years with a good quality of life.

Dr. K

I am glad to see this thread...I have MS myself and was diagnosed 8 years ago. I found myself in a bad place about 2 years ago when I realized that I had become very weak and that I had to do something to stop a slow decline. In my case, I have poor balance, coordination, and sensation in my legs. Through research, I found this site and "the books" and began training myself. Strength training has done wonders for my balance, stamina, and general outlook on life. I am 52 and look at this as an investment toward maintaining quality of life in my later years. I have not had any relapses due to weight training. My heat sensitivity is hit or miss.

As was stated earlier, there will be good days and bad days. Learning to adjust on bad days and not getting down about it is important. The only modification I have made on the lifts is on press. I have struggled with balance in the overhead position. I have gone to pressing in the seated position on heavy days which allows me to concentrate on moving the weight rather than not falling over backwards. I still press occasionally in the standing position but usually at 15 to 20 pounds lighter. Also, my squat is far behind my deadlift. I think this may be due lingering damage from the MS and poor muscle recruitment. There is a new SSC in my area that I will likely go see to make sure the issues are not related to technique. These things said, your brother's experiences will be different since MS is different for every patient. I have found my journey to be an interesting ride...the human body is remarkably adaptable when it is asked to do so!

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