Starting Strength Weekly Report

October 21, 2019

Starting Strength Radio
Starting Strength Channel
  • Need to gain or lose weight? Starting Strength Coach Robert Santana and Weights and Plates intern April Incolingo explain how to get started.
  • Starting Strength Coach and Doctor of Physical Therapy Will Morris presents his concept of Training Barrier Construction during the Starting Strength Nutrition and Rehab Camp held at Wichita Falls Athletic Club in October 2019.
  • From the Archives: Reversing Osteoporosis – Patricia talks about her experience training with Starting Strength Coach Shaun Pang at Hygieia Strength and Conditioning after being diagnosed with osteoporosis.
  • A Matter of Perspective – John Musser discusses Progress and how perpsective is central both to assessing status and to helping people improve.
  • From the Archives: Mark Rippetoe discusses the training mistake he regrets most in Cardell and Dr. Coleman.
Training Log
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

dylan cherin and jules gonzalez at wfac
Dylan Cherin and Jules Gonzalez show off their best Californian impressions during the Nutrition and Rehab workshop held at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
rip coaching julia avila squat
Rip works with Julia Avila on her squats while she was in town for a Starting Strength Radio shoot last week. [photo courtesy of Rusty Holcomb]

Best of the Week

SS and Jiu Jitsu
Jack Kennedy

Over the last year, I tore my left meniscus and suffered a partial tear to my right MCL (meniscus in Aug 2018 and MCL in March 2019). I finally had my meniscus trimmed Aug 2019 and a few weeks later I was ready to start training again. I’m 6 weeks into your program and my strength gains are coming baking nicely. 2 weeks ago I started training Jiu Jitsu again. My typical classes are Mon, Wed and Friday nights... the same days I lift (I lift early in the am before work). Due to some competitions coming up, many of our grapplers are in comp prep mode and we are rolling pretty hard, which means I’m pretty sore a day or two after class. Do you suggest I continue this current schedule or bump my lifting days a day back to Tues, Thurs, and Sat? I know that I’m going to be sore no matter what, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting my strength when I’m lifting. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Mark Rippetoe

Since I have no way of knowing how hard you're actually training, I suggest you try it both ways for two weeks each and see which works best for you. Make sure you're eating enough.


The biggest concern here is not the soreness - further injuring a joint is. Training post-injury with people preparing for competition is not something I'd recommend. If they hurt you (even if it's just a random fuck up), neither you nor they are going to be better for it.

I have not had a meniscus tear or repair, so I can't specifically tell you what results you're going to get. However, training with active competitors is grueling and injuries happen far more often as a result. When I'm injured and want to roll with someone, I make sure they understand I'm not looking to roll like it's Worlds. If they are training for competition, they may decide they don't want to roll with me. That's fine.

How long have you been training jiujitsu?

Nick Delgadillo

If you can be disciplined enough to not go ape-shit on the mats on every single roll, it doesn't matter too much when you lift. Just do the version that will keep you compliant with your workouts in the gym and try to keep your ego in check on the mat. If everyone else is in competition mode and you're not, you're just going to get tapped a bunch more.

Jack Kennedy

Thanks for the input... I’m not really concerned about the soreness... that’s temporary because I just got back into rolling hard after after close to a year of light rolling while injured and then recovering from the surgery. My knee feels fine now. My concern is recovery from workouts... I’ll continue with the M, W, F workouts for a few more weeks and then switch to T, T, S and see how I feel and how I’m progressing in the program.

I’ve been training for 13 years. Got promoted to brown belt last year. I tore my meniscus shortly after and my training came to a screeching halt.

Nick Delgadillo

I really think that you're going to be perfectly fine. The advice to take it easy at Jiu Jitsu is for people with less experience rolling. You already know how to manage your stress level on the mat, so lift whenever works best for your schedule to stay compliant three days/week. You'll move your programming along to advanced novice, and then intermediate, sooner than someone not doing Jiu Jitsu, so just progress your training variables when you need to - don't miss lifting workouts, eat more than you're used to, and keep adding weight to the bar workout to workout at first, then twice a week, then once a week.


Then forget what I said.

You know where you stand, and Nick's advice is right.

Jack Kennedy

Thanks again... The eating more part is the biggest change for me, but it's been pretty easy because I've been starving ever since I got back to training BJJ. Because of the knee surgery in Aug, I started with relatively light weight for most of the movements but am now getting into some challenging weights. The heavy weights plus hard BJJ sessions has me wanting to eat constantly.

BTW, started week 6 of my program today and set my working set on the press was more than I've ever done for a 1RM... I guess this stuff works.

Best of the Forum

Sport specificity and strength

In PPST, the sport specificity section mentions that we use the barbell movements to develop strength, and strength can be 'practiced' in the sport that the trainee chooses.

If strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance, and if we use the barbell lifts to get stronger, then does it follow that the more weight that someone can do in the barbell lifts the stronger they are?

If you have a power-lifter who's just finished some squat peaking protocol, and you have a bodybuilder who squats only ONCE a month. Their numbers are: Power-lifter: Squat - 205 kg, Bodybuilder: Squat - 200 kg

Is the power-lifter really stronger than the bodybuilder in this case? I mean if both were to ditch the squat rack and go do some leg extensions/leg press/leg curl (some movement that neither of them has practised before) who do you think could do the most weight on those exercises? who would be "stronger"? Could it be that the bodybuilder is just 'out of practice' in his squats -- and if were to increase his squat frequency he could easily surpass 205 kg (without gaining muscle mass)?

The question is this: How do you separate the practice of a barbell movement from the strength acquired using that movement if the movement is being used as a test for strength?

Perhaps muscle cross sectional area (over the entire body) is a good proxy for the 'strength' of an individual -- all other things being equal (CNS efficiency). You've certainly mentioned yourself that muscle mass and strength are inseparable. Do you think this is a better 'gauge' for strength?

Mark Rippetoe

I have read this question 3 times, which is my limit, and I don't understand it. You guys feel free to interpret.

Will Morris

I'd assume he is asking if utilizing an exercise that builds strength as a test of strength results in a practice-effect that would artificially make a more practiced trainee "stronger" at one point in time than someone who may be stronger but never performs that exercise...

The overall question, I suppose, could be restated as such: if Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever, could a hypothesis exist that a better basketball player did exist but didn't play basketball...

Dalton Clark

I believe he is saying that you can't say the powerlifter is stronger because he has trained the skill of squatting while the bodybuilder only practices it once a month - in his example.


Yes as above. How can you test strength without having a certain element of specificity/practice being present?

Mark Rippetoe

Why is specificity required to test strength? Is a man who deadlifts 500 stronger than a man who deadlifts 450?


I don't know, maybe he's just better at the deadlift because he's practised it so much.

Why is strength tied to deadlift numbers? A man who can deadlift 500 isn't necessarily stronger than a man who deadlifts 450. A man who deadlifts 600 may be very likely to be stronger than a man with a 300 deadlift.

Now if we get both of these lifters on different exercises – now who's 'stronger'? Is the 500lb deadlifter ALWAYS going to be able to exert the most force against external resistance in these newer, stranger exercises?

Specificity towards a goal is on a continuum (as described by PPST). If that goal is to dead-lift more weight, and we're using the dead-lift as the test of strength then specificity becomes relevant to our test, does it not?

Mark Rippetoe

What is strength? This is the key to this pointless discussion.

Will Morris

I think, based on the hypothetical situation presented, the powerlifter is stronger because at those loads, the practice effect is likely negligible.

A more realistic scenario: two powerlifters are training for a meet. #1 performs a meet taper and practices heavy triples, doubles, and singles leading up to meet. #2 continues to train fives and does not do a meet taper. Given the same training weights for 5s, is #1 able to perform more on a 1Rm because he is more practiced?...

Yeah, probably. 1RMs are a learned skill.


I think you're being intentionally obtuse Rip. If the bodybuilder would beat the powerlifter on most other strength tests besides 1RM on squat, bench and deadlift, it's not unreasonable to consider him generally "stronger" than the powerlifter. It's not as if 1RM in those lifts is some naturally derived metric, it's just a convenient metric that usually tells us who has higher strength. The test fails in this specific case.

Dalton Clark

The definition of strength is the ability (or capacity) to produce force against an external resistance. In order for us to test application of force against an external resistance in a way that can be compared across the population, we must decide on a particular movement pattern. Let's say the squat or the deadlift since those two have been mentioned. Now, a part of being able to produce force against an external resistance is how talented the lifter is at moving the load/producing force in the most ideal way possible. It is impossible to separate the display of force from the practice of that display. The powerlifter is stronger on the squat than the bodybuilder in your example. Part of that is probably because he is more practiced.

Strength - in the testing sense - is limited to the movement. Someone can be stronger on the deadlift than another. Someone can be stronger on the squat or the bench or the press. The claim that one person is "stronger" than another is a generalization made from many different displays of strength in several different motor patterns that attempt to give a holistic view of their capacity.

Joe Heisey

The point is not that strength is tied to deadlift numbers, but deadlift numbers are tied to strength. Inasmuch as the increase of deadlift skill improves deadlift numbers, it only means that the muscles are being utilized properly, thus increasing force production. But even technical improvements won't account for a weak muscle.

What you're talking about is the ability to express that strength in unfamiliar movements (a skill deficiency). So of course a guy who's practiced strongman exercises will be better than a slightly stronger guy who doesn't know how to do it.

“Now if we get both of these lifters on different exercises – now who's 'stronger'? Is the 500 lb deadlifter ALWAYS going to be able to exert the most force against external resistance in these newer, stranger exercises?”

If they're new and strange for everyone being tested, then yes. But by the fact of not being deadlifts or squats, these exercises will be inferior tests of strength because they artificially isolate certain body parts from other body parts and don't test the body as a system.

Mark Rippetoe

If you want to define it as the contractile force produced by a muscle group, then the test would involve only that muscle group. Assuming we decide to test strength, this seems pretty silly unless you're an arm trainer at Golds.

If you want to test and compare things, the tests must be of the same thing, right? I thought this was obvious.

If we are actually going to compare the strength of two different humans, we have to do it with tests upon which both agree to perform. If we are merely going to type about comparing strength on the internet in order to appear to be Speaking Truth To Power, I guess we can type about it any way we want to.

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