Starting Strength Weekly Report

September 23, 2019

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charm city strongwoman circus dumbbell hasafell carry
8th Annual Charm City Strongwoman Contest Left, Fivex3 Training's client, Michele Palopoli, presses the 50 lb Circus Dumbbell for six reps in 60 seconds.  Michele placed 2nd in the Lightweight Novice Division out of 11 women. Right, Fivex3 Training client, Laurie Pagano, carried the 150lb Husafell Stone for 250 feet, surpassing her PR in training! Laurie placed 3rd in the Middleweight Novice Division. [photo courtesy of Juliana Molina]
gila rapp locking out 250 lb deadlift
Gila Rapp locks out her third attempt deadlift of 250 lb to win the Women's Master's Division at the WFC Strength Meet. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
mike minigell squats 568
SSC Mike Minigell squats 568 lb at Starting Strength Affiliate Gym Weights and Plates. SSC and gym owner Bob Santana spots while SSC Grant of The Strength Co. prepares to check depth. [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]

Best of the Week

Dizzy when squatting

Doing the program. My squat is at 225 (102.5 kg). The last few workouts I have had trouble with the 4th and 5th reps in each set for the squat. I get dizzy and a somewhat loss of vision, everything is fine once I rack the bar and have a deep breath. Numbers are going up on all lifts, I rest 8 minutes between squat sets and the weight is definitely manageable. It’s not the strength that is lacking.

I have tried a couple of medium sized breaths between reps (standing with the bar on the shoulders) before applying valsalva but this exhausts me a bit to much so my technique gets poor. I have tried increasing the internal pressure ”upwards” (toward the glottis and head, more of a mental que) but no effect.

Is this common and are there any recommendations available? Is it some sort of ”oxygen debt,” loss of blood pressure? I am training on my own in my garage so this has become a safety issue since I have no spotters.

Mark Rippetoe

It is not common, because you are breathing incorrectly. Watch some videos or people doing sets of 5 on this board and do it like that.


What Rip said. Deep breath between each set. Deep. Hold the breath. Make sure you’re tight too. Do this for each rep. How long does it take for you to reach bottom position? That might be a good question too? Maybe?


As Mark says, this could be a breathing/Valsalva problem that you need to fix.

I also find that this happens much less if I make sure I'm well hydrated before and as I'm doing my work-out. I don't know how old you are but as I've gotten into my 60s, I find that I'm more prone to orthostatic hypotension which is when you get light-headed (and your blood pressure drops) if you rise too quickly. There are several medical causes for why this happens to older guys but hydrating definitely helps, at least for me. There are some younger folks that have this problem too and the same fix should help.

If you have high blood pressure or other cardiac conditions and are on medications, you might wish to tell your doctor. Some drugs are more likely to cause this problem than others. There might be an easy fix if he or she can modify your medication regimen.

It also sounds like you need a full on squat rack that you can place safeties on in case you miss a rep. This isn't a panacea but can make lifting in your situation safer.

Will Still

If you Valsalva with the air in your mouth, then the pressure goes up in your head and yeah it can make you dizzy, see stars etc. If you hold the air against a closed glottis in your lungs, then the pressure is not as great in your head and shouldn't pose a problem. The same thing happens to me when I forget where the air is supposed to be held.

Best of the Forum

Actual Protein Requirements?

I’m a little confused on what the actual protein requirements are for muscle building. I hear everywhere from 0.8 g per lb to 1.7 g per lb. Now I weigh 145 lbs and my progress is good, and I’m tracking about 1 g per lb of body weight, approximately. Would there be any reason to raise this number?

Also, how important are calories, actually, in building muscle if I eat enough protein from real sources like beef ? What I”m getting at is, I eat ~ 2.000 - 2,500 from real food sources like beef (appx 1.5 - 2 lbs) a day. Why would I need more calories if my protein requirements were met?


How tall are you? The standard for protein intake per day is 1 g = 1 lb of body weight. But unless you are quite short 5'4" or less 145 lbs would make you very slender.

Adam Levine

The actual protein requirements for the human body are relatively modest. Many vegans and folks from less-rich countries are very healthy on 5% calories from protein, and it's arguably a more healthy diet than what we suggest on this board, with great benefits to cancer-resistance, heart health, and overall longevity.

So, the real question is how much you need to build muscle as fast as you want to (I.E. be on the program)? You say your lifts are doing well and you are progressing to your satisfaction. So, don't $*#& with it. If you start missing reps, maybe adjust up calories/protein and see if it helps.

I tossed the idea of going vegan vs. going weightlifting for the overall rate of mortality benefits. I went with weightlifting because I figured it got me happier years. A life of beans and salad isn't for me, but it's healthy.

Jonathon Sullivan

We have consistently recommended 1 g /lb BW/day.

Because it works.

Karl Schudt

Poking my head in from the nutrition board.

6'2, 145lbs?  You should eat more protein. And more carbs, and more fat.

Eric Schexnayder

The answers to all your questions, and more, can be found here: Practical Programming for Strength Training


For fun, I searched for “causes of death” for three countries that are usually touted as fitting your characterization of having diets that are “less protein rich, but healthier,” Italy, France, and India.

The leading causes of death in each of these countries are as follows:

Italy: Cardiovascular disease, lung/esophageal/tracheal cancer, and Alzheimer/dementia

France: Lung cancer, colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer

India: Cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, tuberculosis

These are sourced from general statistics compiled by the governments of each country.

Doesn’t quite fit the narrative, does it?

Adam Levine

France: 82.4 years

Italy: 82.7 years

United States: 79.8 years

India: 68.3 years (but remember, it's still a very poor country with major air quality problems in the cities, I mean TB is one of their leading causes of death?!?! Seriously, antibiotics...)

The benefits of a vegan diet for overall mortality are pretty statistically valid - big, big studies. That said, I don't want to live 60 years without meat to get a few extra years at the end. That's my choice.

Strength training also gives overall mortality benefits, and you can have the meat!

Of course, there is vegan AND strength training, but I don't want to think about how to pull that off effectively.

Mark Rippetoe

You don't really have a good command of this material – you're just telling us what you've heard from the media and the geniuses that work for them. Poor countries have poor qualities of life for a huge percentage of their populations, caused by things like shitting in the street (like San Francisco), contaminated water, lack of access to vaccines, lack of access to adequate protein, and rampant stupidity in the public sector. TB is not caused by air pollution, and antibiotics are not terribly effective on TB. Cite the study that associates diminished mortality with vegetables and a lack of adequate protein.


Thanks for completely missing the point I was trying to make. And as Rip noted, your understanding of the material you cite is lacking. Mortality rates are multi-faceted in nature, encompassing all manner of inputs, including genetic and cultural makeup, relative level of industrialization, climate, political environment, etc. To cite diet as the contributing factor to these statistically small variations across western, industrialized countries, who by the way, are vastly different in many ways, you fall victim to the classic correlation/causation fallacy.

My point was that diet, specifically a less protein-rich diet, as a driver for "greater health" is cast into doubt if you look at the diseases that people are suffering from in those countries where the eating habits skew in such a way. Cardiovascular disease and digestive system cancers are exceedingly blamed on high protein, and relatedly, high fat consumption. What you see in countries, such as Italy and France, who are touted for their "healthy diets" and India which has a large vegetarian population, are populations that are dying from diseases that those diets should be preventing, but they are not.

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