Starting Strength Weekly Report

November 23, 2020

Cornucopia Edition

On Starting Strength
  • Testosterone Optimization Therapy with Jay Campbell – Mark Rippetoe and Jay Campbell discuss therapeutic testosterone. Jay is the author of The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible.
  • Checking In with Charles - Losing Fat, Getting Stronger, and Gaining Lean Mass – Starting Strength Coach Brent Carter discusses losing weight and gaining lean body weight with Starting Strength Dallas member Charles Dicks.
  • Power Tools and Basic Woodworking - A Californian's Guide to Normal America Part 3 – Continuing our quest to help coastal refugees to Normal America with basic info on what to do with their newfound freedoms. In this episode, Starting Strength Coach Andrew Lewis gives a riveting primer on power tools and basic woodworking.
  • Applying General Adaptation Syndrome to Army Training Design by Capt James Rodgers – Understanding the fundamentals of strength training programming is valuable, even as a tool to solve problems that are not explicitly about strength training...
  • Distractions by Jim Steel – One of my favorite things to do when I go out of town is to train at a local gym. Basically, I have to lift weights in the morning wherever I am or I am irritable as hell all day. I feel worthless, and...
  • Weekend Archives: You Don’t Have “Plenty of Time” by Mike Tuchscherer – I’ll never forget my first 800-lbs deadlift in competition. I was still relatively unknown in the powerlifting world. I’d won a Jr. World championship, but I’d bombed out of four (4!) other national-level meets...
  • Weekend Archives: Barbells vs Machines vs Everything Else – Barbell training is the best way to train for strength. Bar none. Nothing else even comes close to the effectiveness of barbell squats, presses, deadlifts, and the Olympic lifts for the development of strength, power, and muscular size...

From the Coaches
  • In the setup for the deadlift, we want back extension, but we do not want shoulder retraction. In this video, Phil Meggers discusses the difference between the two concepts so you can execute a correct and efficient deadlift setup.
  • The legs assist the bench press, so if you’re not using your legs when you’re benching, you’re missing out on a key component of the lift. Phil Meggers talks about the importance of using your legs as well as how to do it.
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In the Trenches

clayton pulls a set of 435 lb deadlifts
Clayton Salberg pulls a set of five at 435 lbs at this weekend's squat and deadlift camp at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. [photo courtesy of Becky Meggers]
Tony Vojslavek squats his work sets under the watchful eye of Phil Meggers this past weekend. [photo courtesy of Becky Meggers]
kyoungha kim corrects a lifter's deadlift
Kyoungha Kim coaches JeongJae in the deadlift at a recent training camp in Seoul, Korea. [photo courtesy of Inhyuk Eun]
inhyuk eun coaches the deadlift
Inhyuk Eun coaches Taeuk in the deadlift. [photo courtesy of Kyoungha Kim]
dillon warms up his press at WFAC
WFAC member Dillon warms up his press. [photo courtesy of Bre Hillen]
Ginger-dog’s new puppy Tiny steals the bone at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Bre Hillen]

Best of the Week

Doxycycline and Lifting

My back acne has gotten so bad over the last few months that my wife demanded I go to a dermatologist. I was prescribed a regimen of doxycycline and a topical foam to help get rid of it. I know certain antibiotics are linked to tendon ruptures and before I start taking this stuff, I just wanted to make sure no one has heard of any adverse tendon effects or anything else that might interfere with weight training?

When I brought it up to the doc she seemed unaware of this, but I am almost certain it’s something I’ve heard before.

Mark Rippetoe

Cipro is the antibiotic associated with collagen problems. I know of no similar problems with Doxy.


Ah ok! I just wanted to make sure. I appreciate the response.


Don't use the same bath towel twice. I have also personally found I am prone to breakouts when taking pain meds. If you are on those, try to avoid them for a while.


Also Levaquin. The class in question is fluoroquinolones. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist if an antibiotic is in this class, or ask Dr Google. These antibiotics have become much less popular in recent years for a number of reasons, including the tendon ruptures. There are a few situations where they are probably still the best choice, but mostly there are good substitutes.

Doxycycline has other potential side effects, but is not a quinolone, so your tendons should be safe.

Best of the Forum

Do I correct my posture before I continue with the program?
Kallum Dickson

After a conversation with Will Morris regarding using SS as a method of gaining strength after having my elbow surgically repaired, I was set on using your linear progression.

After taking a week to figure out form before putting on a substantial weight and completing week 1 of the program. I have discovered that issues with my posture may be sabotaging my form with weight on the bar. For clarity, I have a very rounded back and shoulders from working at standard desks and chairs in highschool as a 6'5 male, nerd neck and, as I was recently told, anterior tilted pelvis.

While I have found that my posture doesn't decrease my ability to carry out most of the lifts, I find it does with the press. When I do the press, I find that at my work weight I can't get the 4th or 5th rep out without the pelvis slipping back and rounding my lower back quite a bit.

I am due to meet my doctor in a couple weeks for other issues, but am planning on asking to see a physiotherapist to ask about corrections besides what I've seen on the internet. However, I'm curious about what you have to say. What would you suggest I do to fix this poor posture and/or should I halt the program until my posture is in better condition?

Mark Rippetoe

Are you under the impression that "posture" is involuntary?

Matt James

My two cents, based on my own experience: Focus on form, especially in the press and in finishing the deadlift, and your upper body posture problems will improve on their own. As your back and shoulders get stronger it will be easier for them to hold your body in proper posture as you go about your day – but like Rip says, you still need to be conscious about it.

I'm confused about what you describe with the press, though. If you have anterior pelvic tilt, your spine will be slightly hyperextended already. If you're "rounding" your lower back, that sounds like spinal flexion...and that's not likely caused by your pelvic tilt. So, clarify?

I also had a moderate amount of anterior pelvic tilt and found that I had to stretch my hip flexors fairly regularly for a while in order to allow it to resolve itself. But honestly, getting weight on the bar and strengthening the lower back with squats and deadlifts did wonders for my pelvic positioning.

Matt James

Well, specific to the press, I'd suggest videoing it and posting it in the technique forum. Because based on your description I'm still not able to visualize what's happening.

Generally speaking, though, any form breakdown in the lower back is best solved by 1) firmly ingraining what the proper position feels like, and 2) getting your lower back stronger. The best way to do that is to keep doing the squats and deadlifts as laid out in the program.

As far as the pelvic tilt. Your body has gotten used to an exaggerated lordotic curve (ass out, belly protruding a bit) and you'll have to actively fight that. Get used to keeping your chest up and shoulders back, and your hips tucked forward. Squeeze your glutes a bit to keep your hips forward as you stand or walk. And if you spend a lot of time sitting, get up and stretch your hip flexors every hour or so, because they have gotten tight over time and will keep pulling your pelvis down if you let them.

With regard to your lifts, focus on leaning over more in the squat than you want to. Nipples point to the floor. Pay very close attention to the deadlift chapter where it discusses exaggerated lordotic curves. Work on eliminating that and getting used to what proper spinal extension feels like. Once you understand the position, learn to set your back hard in order to maintain it through the movement.

With the press, work on the hip rebound as described in the book. It's very difficult to achieve this with your pelvis tilted forward. This is where I found stretching to be the most helpful. I did a stretch that is basically a lunge, but with the rear foot resting on a flat bench. That gets your hip flexors loose enough to actually get an effective hip rebound for the press.

It may take a couple of months for it all to come together, but following the program and getting stronger should create marked improvements in your posture. Then it's just a matter of maintaining that posture when you're not in the gym.


You are going to discover, in bits and pieces, what good posture feels like when doing the exercises correctly.

Strength training IS corrective exercise.


Don’t be stubborn like myself and think you have to figure out everything yourself. Get an SS coach from 3 months at the least to as long as you can afford it. Spend the money. You will spin your wheels a lot less once you do that. My own form is better and more consistent with my friends' help. It takes work and gumption and sticking with it. Remember, you don’t have to be the best at it. You just have to be stronger.

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