Starting Strength Weekly Report

October 28, 2019

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  • Meet Claire: Stronger in Mind, Body, and Spirit – Claire, a member at Starting Strength Affiliate Gym Fivex3 Training in Baltimore, talks about the improvements in her quality of life after starting barbell training with Starting Strength Coach Emily Socolinsky.
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Training Log
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

chris palladino coaches the deadlift lockout
Chris Palladino works with a lifter on the lockout of a deadlift at last weekend's Starting Strength Squat and Deadlift Camp in Woodmere, NY. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
john petrizzo coaches the squat
John Petrizzo coaches a female lifter on squat depth at the same event. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]

Best of the Week

Mark, what would your “World’s Strongest Man” entail?

I'm curious what you (and perhaps some of your coaches) would deem necessary to earn the title of World's Strongest Man, if it were completely up to you? Let's assume that it would be a contest (or set of contests), and that the title was re-earned each year, kind of like it is now. However, everything else is up to you. What would your contests look like? What events/lifts would you have? How would someone earn the title? This doesn't mean it has to be a strongman event, just how you would award the title of "World's Strongest Man."

Mark Rippetoe

I would never award the title to anybody, because it's just not interesting. Strength is quantifiable, so you have a no-straps deadlift contest, you offer a $1 million prize for the heaviest deadlift, and that's the guy. Everything else is just entertainment.


Hands outside knees? Stiffest bar that won’t snap with the weights used?

Mark Rippetoe

All that shit.


A related question: Which feats of strength (real or imagined) do you find the most entertaining? I think aeroplane pulls are quite a spectacle. I also find one-arm barbell snatches, circus dumbell clean & presses, and barbell bent presses pretty impressive.   To put it another way, if you wanted to put on some kind of "Strength Circus" to wow ordinary people with the results of a sensible, systematic approach to strength training, what would you have the performers do?

Mark Rippetoe

You'll have to ask Don King that question. Among my other shortcomings are an inability to write fiction.

Mark E. Hurling

Get out a ouija board and invoke the spirits of the Saxon brothers, Sandow, and Cyr. Those guys had the circus thing down pat.

Best of the Forum

Weightlifting with a subluxated eye lens?

When I was 3 years old, I was hit by a cricket ball in the left eye. It left me blind in one eye for a couple of hours till they took me to a doctor and he patched things up. When I was 12, I started wearing glasses due to the bad left eye.

Currently, I am 29 and have myopia with -3 cylinder and -1.5 spherical number in the left eye and my right eye does not need any glasses. Couple of years ago my doctor told me that i have a subluxated eye lens due to the injury and advised me against lifting heavy weights.

I am on the starting strength programme from the last one month and reached around 176 pounds on the deadlift. Can you please tell me what would be a safe ceiling for me to train?

Mark Rippetoe

Can't tell you that because I have no experience with this condition.


I am an ophthalmologist with a special interest in surgical correction for dislocated intraocular lenses , as well as a novice lifter a month in to my LP (after my first try through the program ended prematurely and spectacularly with a shattered elbow, obviously sustained outside of the gym environment). Obviously, the usual caveats about online medical advice apply here, but it would be very difficult for me to envision a scenario in which a patient with a subluxed lens would exacerbate their existing condition by lifting heavy. The main issue in your eye is that there are either loose or broken zonular fibers holding your lens in place. Further zonular damage is much more likely to be induced by repetitive jostling movements (such as those encountered during running, ATV riding, bullriding, all of which I have seen cause lens dislocation in predisposed patients). Squatting, pressing, or pulling motions, given that the eye maintains a relatively fixed position, should not cause zonular injury. In fact, I would guess that reading would be more dangerous for your eye than lifting heavy given the frequent saccades generated when reading.

Mark Rippetoe

And any combat sport. MMA, BJJ, Kung Fu, Karate Chops, etc.


Agreed! That's great EyeMD!

Given that I know less than nothing about the OP's condition, forgive this probably dumb question. Would the pressure caused by holding breath during a heavy lift cause the OP any further issues? It isn't uncommon to blow a blood vessel in the eye but it's likely a different enough type of thing that it wouldn't affect him?


That's an interesting question. The Valsalva maneuver does raise episcleral venous pressure, which is why it is fairly common to develop a subconjunctival hemorrhage from heavy lifting. Intraocular pressure is directly affected by episcleral venous pressure so I would assume there is a transient elevation of intraocular pressure during a heavy lift. However, intraocular pressure does not affect zonular integrity, so it would have no impact on the OP's condition. If the OP had advanced glaucoma, however, it would be a different story, and it may not be advisable to lift heavy in that setting.


57 yo male intermediate lifter. October 2015 had what I thought were floaters during heavy dumbbell lift. Except it was a matrix of fog. Diagnosed with central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). The retina swells because a vein is blocked and fluid leaks through the vein wall and accumulates behind the retina, thickening it and distorting vision. Treated with Eylea injections ever 3 weeks since. The drug makes the stopped up vein stop leaking through the walls and gets the fluid out of the retina. It's effective unless I go beyond 3 weeks for an injection. Best I can hope for is new vein will open up or therapy will continue to be effective.

Saturday, February 25th, 2017 I had emergency vitrectomy for torn retina in same eye. Day before I experienced a dark circle in peripheral vision. I am in day 3 of recovery. Doc removed all gel from my eye and replaced with fluid. Stuck my retina back with laser. Placed a gas bubble in there. I have to be face down for a week so that the bubble floats up against the retina until the laser burns heal and hold the retina (I think). The whole gas bubble trick is very slick. I get it. It will be absorbed in tissue in about 3 weeks. Can't fly or change altitude until bubble is gone.

My doc is retina specialist and stated that I was probably prone to CRVO and retina tear by being near sighted. Agreed that strength training probably did not cause and I could resume. Got him to tell my wife that. Now THAT is a good doc.

For the vitrectomy doc made 3 holes in my eye for the tools. Sealed with "self sealing" something. One was leaky and he threw a stitch in there that will dissolve.

Going back in one week. How do I talk intelligently with doc about what I can safely do before 3 weeks? He said that the 3 weeks was necessary for the holes in my eye to heal before valsalva. Does intraocular pressure increase that much? Also, I understand from the original post that pressure in the vein is also a concern.

I want to suggest at least being able to do a shoulder stretch for the low bar squat (ref SSC Paul Horn video) . I've been progressing nicely on this and seems to a layman like me to be safe. Doc agreed to read Dr Sullivan's article on valsalva, but that article doesn't directly address intraocular pressure.

Am I out of bounds thinking I could lift something in less than 3 weeks?

Thanks for any advice, encouragement or comments.

Jonathon Sullivan

We don't have good data on this, as on most things.

Here's the correct perspective: your eye, and your retina, are components of your central nervous system. Your retina is part of your brain.

In the absence of good empirical or published data to contradict him, I'd go with your doctor and do exactly as he says.

You lucked out not having a worse visual outcome. Count your lucky stars, praise Buddha, light a candle, and just go with it. Three weeks is nothing. Take longer if he tells you. Your strength will come back.


I would echo what Dr. Sullivan is telling you. The retina is precious tissue and once it is gone it is gone. You are very fortunate to be in the hands of a good retina specialist. You are really fresh out of surgery and your eye is in a very delicate position right now. The suture that he placed to secure one of the vitrectomy ports is about half of the thickness of a human hair.

Intraocular pressure CAN INCREASE with valsalva. About two years ago I spent the better part of a night repairing the cornea of a patient of mine who decided to help a friend move two weeks after corneal transplant. While helping his friend lift a dresser he felt a sudden rush of fluid down his face, and it turned out he had broken 8 of the 16 sutures that I placed to secure his new cornea and much of his intraocular content (retina, lens, etc) was expulsed through the opening that was created. He can now only make out light or dark from that eye with no chance of more meaningful visual improvement.

So, please, please, please, take your doctor's advice here!

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