Starting Strength Weekly Report

November 14, 2016


  • 2016 Literature Review, Pt 2 - Sullivan continues his yearly review of strength science with an analysis of the methods and data collected.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Ask Rip #35 - Rip discusses goals for a 40 year old guy, what a log book should look like after 1 year of strength training, the future of Starting Strength, and strength's effect on a well lived life.

Under the Bar

Anup squat PR Anup squats a record of three plates for three sets of five. [photo courtesy of Horn Strength & Conditioning]
Jonah 80x5 Jonah, age 11, squats 80lbs for his third set of five at Fivex3 Training's Starting Strength Squat camp. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Elizabeth Kelly 311 squat Overall Oakland Starting Strength Fall Classic winner, Elizabeth Kelly, with 141 kg (311 lb) on her back for her third successful squat attempt [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
Tamara Holmes Tamara Holmes gets ready to press her third attempt of 52 kg (115 lb) at the Oakland Starting Strength Fall Classic. [photo courtesy of Tom Campitelli]
Emily Socolinsky 105 press Starting Strength Coach Emily Socolinsky finishes with a 105 lb press at the 2016 Starting Strength Classic, placing third in the 67.5kg class, Masters Division. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Kelly Adams pulls 320 Kelly Adams pulls 320# and placed third in the 75kg class, Open Division [photo courtesy of Diego Socolinksy]
Christopher Popovich locks out a 320 lb Press Christopher Popovich locks out a 320 lb Press at the Tempe, AZ Starting Strength Fall Classic. [photo courtesy of Robert Santana]

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Best of the Week

Rip’s Chili Recipe
Mark Rippetoe

My chili recipe, a modern version of the one used at the Floral Heights Cafe in Wichita Falls, many years ago:

  • 2-5 pounds of not-very-lean meat. May be ground coarsely, chopped, cubed, or a combination of textures. May be beef, pork, lamb, mutton, or venison, because chili is about the spices, not the meat. And a certain amount of grease is necessary for the spices to work properly, so if using lean game you have to add some fat to the meat.
  • 1 large onion, or 2 smaller onions. White or yellow, but not purple.
  • A lot of garlic, minced in a jar is fine, whole cloves are unnecessary trouble, and powder is too trailer-park.

The rest of this is the most important.

  • Mild red chili, ground. "Chili powder" you find in the store does not work, because it is almost always a blend of spices that the manufacturer thinks you need to use to make chili. Use a mild red or "sweet" red chili you find in the Hispanic Foods section of the store. Like this:
  • Buy at least 8 ounces, because you may need that much, and it's good on eggs and corn too. Use the mild. Really. It has a much better flavor. Too hot masks the other flavors, and this is not a dick-measuring contest – it's cooking.
  • Cumin, or comino, ground. I prefer the kind in the little bags in the Hispanic Foods section, it's usually fresher than bottle or spice jar cumin. Or you can buy whole cumin seeds and grind it yourself if you enjoy such preliminaries.
  • Oregano, dried leaf or powdered. Important, but not critical, and certainly not necessary to acquire as fresh herbs. Marjoram is so similar that it will work in this recipe if you already have some in the cabinet.
  • Cinnamon, optional, just a tiny bit for some sweetness and complexity, not enough to stand out in the bowl.
  • Salt to taste.
  • White flour to thicken at the end of the cook.

Note the absence of beans, bell peppers, or other foreign materials.

Brown the meat in some fat in a hot stew pot large enough to accommodate the recipe with several inches of head room to spare. Bacon grease is my favorite, but use some fat in the bottom of the pot, just enough to cover the surface, smoking hot before the meat goes in. High heat will take 15 minutes to adequately brown all the meat, depending on how much you use. Brown it all to make a nice caramelized brown broth. Then cover the meat to a depth of one inch over the with boiling water – hot, so it doesn't shock the meat or slow down your cooking.

Finely chop your onion – "minced" is the proper term – so that it will cook apart in the boil. There should be no recognizable pieces of anything but meat in a bowl of Texas chili. Add it to the boil, along with about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, and your first stab at the salt. (Do not oversalt the chili, the final adjustment takes place as the last step.) Simmer the pot for 2-3 hours – venison or other game takes longer to cook tender than beef or pork.

After the meat has cooked enough that the broth and the onions and garlic are smooth, add the spices. You will use a 2:1 ratio of red chili to cumin. Do not be afraid to use a lot of chili: for 4 pounds of meat, I would use 8 ounces of chili and 4 ounces of cumin. This ratio is important for the proper flavor, and if have used the right type chili it will be the perfect level of heat. Use a couple of ounces of oregano, and maybe a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. Turn the heat down to as low as will maintain the simmer, cover the pot, and stir occasionally for about 30 minutes – any longer will cause the flavor to degrade, since the flavor depends on the volatile components of the spices. The color should be a very deep red if you have used enough chili. Turn the heat off, and let it sit covered overnight on the stove. If you leave it covered it will not rot and poison you, because it is sterile from the heat. Obviously. This step is where the flavors blend, and is why chili is always better the next day.

Next day, return the pot to a boil. make a solution of white flour and water for thickening the pot (whole wheat doesn't work as well, corn starch has the wrong flavor and color, so don't get all weird and paleo here – just use the white flour, okay?). The solution will be completely opaque white, but not at all thick. Make 2 cups of solution (flour and water are cheap, use what you need and throw the rest out) and stir it in to the boiling chili slowly. It will thicken as the flour sets in the hot fluid, so add it slowly until you see the chili turn a lighter red color and become thicker but not pudding-thick. Immediately turn off the heat, salt to taste, and let it rest in the pot for 20 minutes.

Serve with saltine crackers and maybe some grated yellow cheese for a traditional Texas presentation. Those of you apostate Texans made add whatever colorful garnishes your little shrunken urban hearts desire.

Best of the Forum

Lumbar decompression in the gym – a question

Did a search and found a thread on lumbar decompression. I have a question for you and perhaps those who have done it about how this is supposed to feel.

In the past you have recommended hanging from the arms w/ two belts in the rack to decompress the spine. When you hang are you supposed to actively try and stretch the injured area or just hang without forcing a stretch? My low back hurt quite a bit while doing this last night. I could almost feel the discs "stretching" and I was wondering if this kind of "hurt" is supposed to be therapeutic or injurious.

I don't feel any worse today since doing the exercise. My back has improved greatly in the last week doing some Stuart McGill-style back exercises. I have not loaded my back at all and took a steady regimen of ibuprofen. I was considering taking ibuprofen for about a month’s time to try and get the inflammation wiped out. Then I want to try deadlifting again without involving a stupid pelvic tilt which caused this recent injury (as you pointed out in a video I posted).

When I do decide to get back to deadlifting, do you recommend that I do higher reps w/ lighter weight for a while or should I just continue with a 1x5 approach with small increases in load? I have been dealing with this injury for over 3 years now and I NEED to get a handle on this thing.

Mark Rippetoe

Don't force the stretch, i.e. put a bar under your toes and pull down or something like that. Just let gravity draw your vertebral segments apart while you hand in normal anatomical position. My experience with this has been that it hurts at first and then the pain subsides. Hang a couple of minutes, stand down, then repeat. Come back to the deadlift with 5s, and increase the load as you tolerate it.

Roland Conde

Does anyone have experience hanging upside down? My gym has a machine which effectively inverts you upside down, and while I've no injury at the moment, I’m curious as to it's benefits.

Mark Rippetoe

I don't like the position at all. If you get vertical enough to actually decompress, it's putting a lot of tension on the knee ligaments, and my knees do not appreciate this.

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