Starting Strength Weekly Report

November 28, 2016

  • 2016 Literature Review, Pt 3 - Dr Sullivan wraps up the science literature review delivered to the Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference in August 2016.
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Under the Bar

Abbey post-Thanksgiving gains
Abbey hits a PR press (62.5x2) and deadlift (182.5x5, above) the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Grateful for those gainzzzz. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
getiing stronger together
Grandmother Jenny (67) and Granddaughter Lyra (13) getting stronger together. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Soleyn]
Nick Scuilio deadlifting
Nick Scuilio, of the Saint Vincent College Bearcat Best Program, deadlifts 135 lbs. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
Angie Racculia 135 squa
Angie Racculia, 63, drives out of a 135 lbs. squat at the Starting Strength Fall classic. [photo courtesy of Nicholas Racculia]
Matt McNamara locks out 235
Matt McNamara locks out 235 in just his 6th workout with Ryan Arnold at Crossfit Solace. [photo courtesy of Ryan Arnold]
Jan (65) deadlifts 110lbs for fahves
Jan (65) deadlifts 110lbs for fahves in week 3 of her novice progression at Gig Harbor Strength and Fitness. [photo courtesy of Anna Marie Oakes-Joudy]

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Best of the Week

Aspiring Powerlifter

I’m 43 years old and have a burning desire to compete in the sport of powerlifting. Is it common for someone to compete for the first time in the masters division? Don't get me wrong, I'm no powerlifting stud. I have much work to do. I'm weighing around 210, my bench is 300 (torn pec five years ago... never the same as before), squat 435, deadlift 450. That's lifting recreational. I guess what I'm asking you is, am I wasting my time and would I be making a fool out of myself. I want to know if I'm out of my league before I actually take this on.


Well Masters is just the age group, not the skill level. But as far as it being a waste of time is up to you and how you approach the situation. Like any endeavor, if you are going to approach it by fully diving in and dedicating yourself to the sport and learning its rules and how each lift is judged and so on, and most importantly enjoy the experience, then you will not be wasting your time at all. Being out of your league? It’s possible, but hey that's life right? You're not entering raw nationals so don't freak out about it too much. Pick a local meet and go for it and have fun!

Mark E. Hurling

I didn't start competing until I was 62 in 2012. This was after getting coached at one seminar held in Costa Mesa. After stef fixed my deadlift form, I managed a 425 gym lift. So I began to speculate about competing. After getting some advice from hamburgerfan I looked at the winners in my age (62) and weight class (275) and thought: "Well Hell, I can beat that." So I dove in and lift unequipped in the USPA/IPL Raw division.

So far I have competed in 6 meets. I happen to occupy a very narrow niche. As the venerable Gordon Santee once remarked, "All my competition is injured or dead." Same for me. You, being younger and a lower weight class, will have more competition than I do.

But it's been a great boost to my training, even though I am finding my top weights falling a little over time. That's the one drawback at my age.

You might surprise yourself. Give it a try.


I competed for the first time at 53, weighing in a bit less than you and would have been very happy to hit those numbers. Still would.

I out-lifted people younger and bigger than me and was out lifted by guys older and skinnier. No one cared...and no one else remembers now.

Give it a go. Competition may bring out your best, or it will expose some weaknesses. Whatever happens, the environment will be supportive and encouraging and gives you a reason to keep improving.

Will Morris

What's more important to you: 1) stepping on to the platform in competition as a means to drive your training, or 2) winning the competition?

Best of the Forum

Correlation of Sub-maximal effort to conditioning

I'm sure you've all seen/heard Rip describe how increased strength, by making each repetition of an activity such as biking more sub-maximal, can result in improvements in aerobic/conditioning performance.

I have two personal pieces of supporting evidence.

Tennis: I rallied continuously for about 45 minutes with a coach a month ago, the first time I'd done so in several years (I play casually maybe once a year). Three notable outcomes. First, I didn't get winded during the session, nor did I feel spent or sore afterward. This surprised me and others. Second, the first point was true even though I was delivering a higher level of exertion than I could pre-SS, since a key differentiator in tennis is to hit low balls from a lunge/squat position rather than by bending down from the waist. I was startled by the difference. Third, and I've observed this in other activities, I tend to start breathing heavily very soon after starting an activity, but I don't get exhausted as quickly.

Skiing: I just spent a week on my family's annual trip. While there were some differences in ski boots this year, this event repeats itself very consistently: same mountain, generally the same runs, same daily routine, consistent weather, sleep patterns, etc. If anything, exertion was a bit higher this year as the kids are older and more capable. Skiing is mainly a 1/4 to 1/2 squat motion. Two observations: First, I was less fatigued than usual, much less sore at the end of some runs than usual, and not sore at all at the end of the week which is unusual. Second, my performance was a better but not as noticeable an improvement as the tennis experience.

Background: 46 YO, 205 lbs, SS for several months on a very slow but steady progression ("functional intermediate"). I stopped all conditioning activity several months ago to focus on strength, but I'm not sedentary, probably averaging 2-3 miles a day of walking for work commute and errands.


I did 50 push ups in a row today without having performed a push up in several months. I used some bench press cues, lats activated, shoulder blades tucked, elbows not too wide. I wasn't winded afterwards. Maintaining a good plank position was easy. I know 50 in a row is not a world beating performance, but I couldn't do that after a few weeks of getting coached by Tony Horton and Shaun T specifically on the push up.

So consider this Exhibit C.

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