Starting Strength Weekly Report

October 15, 2018

  • From the Archives: Marty Gallagher recounts accomplishments and training philosophy of the great Norbert Schemansky.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel

In the Trenches

josiah evans locks out his last deadlift
Josiah Evans locks out his last deadlift during the platform session at the Starting Strength Seminar held at Westminster Strength and Conditioning last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
eddie kuehne goes through the squat teaching method
Eddie Kuehne goes through the squat teaching method during the Westminster Starting Strength Seminar. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Best of the Week

Nicole Burman, SSC
Geoff Bischoff

Went with my wife to see Nikki in Tempe, AZ today after purchasing a four-pack of sessions with her.

Nikki fixed my squat quickly; since my last coaching session (in Austin, TX) I had experienced significant form-creep. Before I even unracked the empty bar, she saw that my bar-position had crept up over the months. I was somewhere south of high-bar, north of low-bar, and she rolled the bar an inch further down and I *felt* it lock in. Such a simple thing, but it made the rest of the session (4-day TM, volume squat), which I had been dreading, lock in much better as well.

She helped my Press 2.0 setup as well. I had been setting up too wide a few weeks ago, so I corrected to a narrower grip, and after examining me, Nikki had me change it to a place about halfway between, and it felt smoother right away.

Between sets we were able to talk programming and meet-prep (I'm competing in October at Robert Santana's place). She was encouraging throughout and had all the special equipment we needed. We had brought our own fractional plates, lightweight bar for my wife, chalk, et cetera, because we just have that habit, but Nikki was ready for all eventualities.

Nikki really has the heart of a coach. After our session time was over, while she was standing there with her backpack literally about to turn around and walk out the door, she saw my barbell row set up, and came over and fixed it in under a minute before she left. Great stuff.

As for Julie (my wife), she got lots of valuable instruction as well. In form, certainly, on the squat and press. Equally helpful, though, she got some advice on programming through a tough period right now. Julie is forced for medical reasons right now to do the next 28 days in what amounts to a small caloric deficit. As Julie is not a large woman to begin with, this has been having a detrimental effect on her LP loading. Nikki was able to help Julie figure out a way to maintain strength, with perhaps some small gains, as a "situational intermediate" for the next month until she can resume and complete a more traditional LP.

For professionalism, service, and any other metric I can think of, I'd give SSC Burman a solid A-rating. I look forward to seeing her again soon for additional focused work on meet-prep.

Best of the Forum

Hip joint lever

I have a question (hopefully not a stupid question) about your description of the hip joint while pulling – specifically about Figure 4-18 from Starting Strength, 3rd ed. I thought the direction of force from the hamstrings pulling behind the hips would be perpendicular to the thick black line, so that the moment arm IS the thick black line drawn from the muscle attachment to the hip joint. The picture makes it look like the direction of the force behind the hip is straight down towards the ground (going on the length of the lever arm drawn above the lifter). If the force behind the hip were pointing straight down to the ground, the ratio of the two moment arms would be constant, regardless of the angle the hip makes with the ground. But that can't be right. So what direction are the muscles


The moment arm in this drawing is related to the force which the lifter must overcome – gravity. The fat arrow is the direction the force of the hamstring – from the bottom of the pelvis to just below the knee. As the lifter rises up with the bar, the torso (the thick black line representing the lever) becomes more vertical but gravity is still pulling straight down so the moment arm length is still measured perpendicular to the direction of the force gravity.


I agree the direction of force at the shoulder is vertical, so the length of that moment arm is measured perpendicular to gravity (i.e. horizontal, as it is drawn in the picture). The part I am confused about is the other moment arm. The length of the other moment arm in the picture is shown as the horizontal distance from the muscle attachment at the hip to the fulcrum hip joint. That implies that the direction of force at this moment arm is vertical (i.e. so that the length of the moment arm drawn above is the cosine of the angle the torso makes with the horizontal). But as you say the force at the hip is not vertical, but instead is in the direction of the big arrows.

If the force is in the direction of the fat arrows (NOT vertical), then the moment arm length drawn above the picture doesn't seem right. On the other hand, if the force at the hip is vertical then the moment arm length drawn above the picture looks right. But if the force is vertical then leverage can never improve regardless of the angle the torso makes with horizontal. So that must be wrong. I hope my question makes sense?

Steve Hill

The force vector of the hamstrings continuously changes as the hip extends. It is also dependent upon individual anthropometry. An individual illustration cannot convey this concept, but what it can do (and what it is meant to do) is show the concept of a small segment length and large force being necessary to overcome a longer segment length with a smaller force applied to it, and also the concept of large force/short segment length/less distance of displacement/lower radial velocity vs small force/long segment length/more distance of displacement/higher radial velocity. It also serves to illustrate a what a class I lever is, which is an important concept in understanding human movement.

Trying to read any more into it would be pedantic.

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