Starting Strength Weekly Report

November 01, 2021

Chevaline Edition

On Starting Strength
  • Horse Meat, Calls from the Lovers, and More – Rip answers questions from Starting Strength Network subscribers and fans.
  • Barbells and Motherhood – Starting Strength Oklahoma City Co-Owner Sierra Iliff gives her experience with Starting Strength and the results she has seen over that past few months.
  • Nerding Out on AR-15s –Pete Troupos and Nick Delgadillo talk about bolt carrier groups, a critical component of an AR-15 rifle, and what to look for, how to maintain them, and what to avoid.
  • Running Won’t Get You There by Tyler Perkins – For the vast majority of my life, I would have considered myself a runner – the awfully slow, ungifted, lumbering sort – but a runner, nonetheless...
  • Weekend Archives: Physical Function and Aging by Mary Boudreau Conover – A decline in cardiopulmonary fitness begins to accelerate after 45 years of age more so in people who are disproportionately large, sedentary, and/or smokers. The elderly shy away from exercise...
  • Weekend Archives: Rip Fixes Your Press Grip – Mark Rippetoe demonstrates the proper way to take a compression grip for the press and bench press.

From the Coaches
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In the Trenches

Josh Wells and Bob Buehrer with Bob's well-deserved 1000# shirt after the Fall Classic meet at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Nick Bousley ]
steve with a pr bench 225x5x3
Steve with 225x5x3 on bench for a PR. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfhol]
starting strength houston social event group picture
Members of Starting Strength Houston and pets gathered for good food and beer at the Karbach Brewery on Saturday. [photo courtesy of Clark Montgomery]
carolyn learns to squat at testify strength and conditioning
Carolyn learns how to squat under the watchful eye of Barb Mueller at this weekend's Open House & Learn to Squat event at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. Carolyn was joined by her husband, son, and daughter, so the entire family learned how to squat! [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
phoebe hightower coaches konrad in the rack pull
Phoebe Hightower providing guidance on the rack pull to Konrad during the Friday noon session. Konrad is just coming off of a peak in which he was able to successfully deadlift 235 lb. [photo courtesy of Colby Iliff]
team starting strength cincinnati group photo
Starting Strength Cincinnati Owner Lucas Schroeder and Head Coach Marie Worsham get together with Apprentices Ethan Anderson, Antonio Maldonado, Chris Reis, and Niki Barkley in anticipation of their gym’s official opening in a few weeks. [photo courtesy of Megan Schroeder]
fred henry deadlifts 225 at starting strength austin
Fred Henry deadlifts 225 lb at Starting Strength Austin. [photo courtesy of Mark Diffley]
isaac pulling 315
Isaac taking 315 for a spin. [photo courtesy of Paul Horn]
barbell rows and deadlifts at starting strength boston
Kurt doing barbell rows and Emma deadlifting at Starting Strength Boston. [photo courtesy of Coach Michael Avery Shammas]
inna and crew dress up as starting strength network hq for halloween
Inna was a guest on the Starting Strength Network being interviewed by Nick (Walden) while Bre (Raina) held on to Rusty (Iggy) and Rip(Roland) avoids the whole Howl-loween shenanigans. This is our submission for Day of the Deadlift costume contest.
starting strength dallas noon crew group picture in green
The Starting Strength Dallas noon crew has a tradition of green on Thursdays. Why not? [photo courtesy of Brent Carter]
construction progress starting strength san antonio
Progress continues at Starting Strength San Antonio. [photo courtesy of Brent Carter]

Best of the Week

Can this belt squat be programmed as a primary lift?


I recently was able to demo the No lever arms, no pulleys, just free weight loaded on a pin connected to a belt below my center of gravity. I was extremely impressed. Had a 45lb plate with a pair of bands on it and I felt my quads and glutes light on fire without having to load my spine. With the addition of a short pin they call a "transformer pin" that was used to manipulate the center of gravity by changing the attachment point for the belt, I was able to emphasize quads or glutes to my liking. I had never tried a belt squat prior to this, either this is a really good unit or I was easily impressed. Also I found it much easier to squat at a deeper depth than with a loaded barbell on my back. After a few sets my legs felt like jelly.

Can this be added/subbed into the program for us more "broken down" individuals to get stronger without having to load the spine? Can it be programmed like the barbell squat on LP or is it just an accessory exercise to add volume?

I'm feeling more broken down than what my biological age of 45 would indicate. I have significant trouble loading my back and stabilizing the bar due to thoracic disc disease; it has been an issue for 20 years. Repaired the labrums in both shoulders in my mid-30s, tennis elbow surgery in my dominant right arm 3-years ago, and trigger finger surgery in 8 of my fingers over the last 13 years; only the thumbs have been spared. My doc says the trigger finger is due to thickening of the tendons caused by exposure to high blood sugar (I've had T1 diabetes since I was 9). Last November I had emergency surgery to drain my knee due to an inflammatory reaction/infection caused by an Orthovisc injection. I spent a week in the hospital getting intravenous antibiotics.

Mark Rippetoe

You're a bigger mess than I am, buddy. Sure, just stick with your belt squats.


I know I’m a mess, but it’s not like I walked into your gym with a trap bar!

Never did a belt squat before this past Fri-dee night. I have been infatuated with it ever since.

Mark Gleichauf

How is your back going to get stronger if you don’t “load the spine?”

Mark Rippetoe

He can deadlift, I think.


I do deadlift without issue. Thank God.

I recognize that barbell squats have many benefits including strengthening the back and core and contributing to hormone releases in the body that affirm adaptation. Losing those benefits has me wary honestly. Hence my original question about the belt lift, is it trainable during LP or is it an assistance exercise akin to an exercise machine? Just for sake of argument, even if the belt squat delivers 100% of the muscle activation in the quads and glutes that the low bar squat does, does it even matter if I lose all the other benefits of barbell squat even with my compromised back?

I can see a situation where perhaps I barbell squat for lower weight or only once a week and belt squat heavier loads on the belt squat 2x per week.

I can see something like the squatmax or even the Rogue Rhino being helpful to add volume, but is it ultimately just fucking around in the gym?


Good news to report.

When I started this thread I was in a lot of pain. I had just finished my first week of restarting the NLP and I was peeling myself from under the bar and my back was creaky. I was also feeling radicular pain radiating around my thoracic. I thought I was being foolish for starting over again as a result.

I kept up the training schedule, but I lightened the load for a couple of workouts to focus on form, and things have settled down. In the last 15 days I've added 25lbs to my back squat, 70lbs to the deadlift and am in a much better place overall mentally and physically. The mental improvement is huge. I can't say enough for my overall mood and general view has improved in these last few weeks. Even if I can never add another pound to the bar again I need to make sure I can keep pressing and pulling to make sure I don't lose this.

I still have some discomfort in my right shoulder but it's tolerable overall. I'm tempted to get a buffalo/duffalo type bar at some point, but I've canned the idea of a belt squat so long as I can keep going.

Best of the Forum

Why only 3 pairs of bumpers?


I read in your article How to Build a Home Gym that you only need 3 pairs of bumpers (45lb, 35lb, and 25lb or analogous kilo versions). Could you please explain the logic here?

I was thinking you would need 10s and 5s too, since my understanding is that bumpers are designed to only withstand their own weight so you shouldn't just use 45s and then load smaller irons. I was thinking your logic was that you could indeed get away with using iron 10s and 5s. But then couldn't you do the same for 25s and 35s (maybe you're suggesting they're too heavy? But also why get 35s at all, since you can skip them as you did with your list of required iron plates.

I was thinking you need 45s and 25s, or just 45s.

Mark Rippetoe

35s can be dropped by themselves on the bar, where 25s should not be, since it tears them up. Home gym people are typically stronger than the weakest personal training clients, and don't need power clean options lighter than 40kg. So the 10kgs are for warmups and making up heavier loadings with other bumpers on the bar.


So if you can already power clean in excess of 135 does this change your recommendation? You would not need the 35lb bumpers?

It sounds like you could just get 45s (and maybe 25s) and use iron for the smaller plates throughout progression?

Mark Rippetoe

If you want to tear up your 45s, go ahead.


Safe to assume this still applies as well?

The Iron Plate Problem

I (try to) lower cleans and deadlifts under control. No bumpers and no issues in 10 years.

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