Starting Strength Weekly Report

September 26, 2016

  • More Fully Alive, Pt 3 - Leah Lutz talks about coming to terms with being a competitor, describes her experience at high level powerlifting meets, and gives her thoughts on the role of the coach client achievement.
Training Log
Starting Strength Channel
  • Episode #36 - Being Busy: Dr. Feigenbaum discusses time management as a medical resident, strength coach, and business owner and the pros and cons of online "coaching" with Mark Rippetoe.

Under the Bar

Dave Adlerstein bench pr Dave Adlerstein hits a 265 bench press while his son and training partner spots him at Woodmere S&C. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
Eric sets up for his deadlift Eric sets up for his deadlift during the Pulling Camp held at Arlington Strength on September 18th. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
Jan PR deadlift 160x2x3 Jan, age 71, finishing her set of three, a PR of 160#. She proceeded to do another triple after this set. [photo courtesy of FiveX3 Training]
Tyler squats 440 Tyler squats 440 lbs for his third attempt during IronFest II at Testify Strength & Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Testify S&C]
Adam Cromer locks out a 500 lb hook-gripped deadlift Adam Cromer locks out a 500 lb hook-gripped deadlift for a 45 lb PR as the crowd goes wild to cap off the Crossfit Total at Solace New York. [photo courtesy of Michael Wolf]
Michael Nervik squats 240x3x5 Michael Nervik squats 240x3x5 for his work sets at Gig Harbor Strength and Fitness. When he started the Novice Progression his squat was 75lbs! [photo courtesy of Anna Marie Oakes-Joudy]

Click images to view slideshow.
Submit your images to
Submission guidelines to enter this month's Under the Bar prize drawing.

Best of the Week

Question about disc injuries

Just a quick question on spinal disc injuries (or really any injuries). Going throughout the day nowadays I seem to be always worried about moving in such a way that might screw up my spine (e.g. bending down to pick up something). Before embarking on this strength journey I never seemed to think about this. I'm assuming I should be in a better position (i.e. stronger) to carry out these movements than I was before having embarked on this journey.

Am I just being overly cautious? Or is this just me suddenly gaining a wealth of information about the mechanics of movement and thus thinking more about the carry-over to everyday movement?

Mark Rippetoe

I assume you have been picking things up off the ground with less-than-perfect mechanics, yet you are not injured. Discs are harder to injure than you obviously think they are.

Will Morris

The survival of the human species is, in part, predicated on the spine being quite a bit more resistant to injury than 99% of people think it is. If bending the wrong way were to make humans end up paralyzed, some well-meaning prehistoric people would have killed the species off long ago.


I get what you’re saying here Will, but then you hear horror stories of people herniating disks deadlifting 135 for one set of shitty form and ending up having spinal surgery, I'm referring to the Mac back injuries podcast specifically. I know this is a rare occurrence as I have personally witnessed some horrendous form by underweight lifters and they have walked away unharmed. Is it a case that some people have a genetic predisposition or some underlying pathology that puts them at risk of these types of injury?

Mac Ward

I think you missed the rest of the conversation. The guy we are talking about had been abusing his back with repetitive "functional fitness" and shitty form for a year, and with more than 135.

Think of it like straw on a camels back. Keep adding one at a time until you break his ugly back. The continued abuse, doing hundreds of reps a week, with shitty form, without regard for...well anything...and the final straw was this rep. Did he hurt himself because of the 135? No, he hurt himself from more than a year of abuse.

How many times do you hear about someone throwing out their back while stepping off a curb, or climbing stairs, or some other innocuous activity? I would assert that it wasn't the curb or the stairs, but other activities that led to the final straw.

Update: He decided against spinal surgery at the last minute, quit the functional fitness class, joined the strength class, feels great, and is currently working LP, approaching 400 on his DL. I don't know what caused him to change his mind; he was headed to surgery that morning.

Will Morris

Our genes carry the genetic code which causes us to be a bipedal species. As a bipedal species, our spines degenerate in a predictable manner. By the age of 20 years old, there will be radiographic evidence of degenerative changes in the spine in approximately 37% of people, and there will be radiographic findings of disc herniation in 30% of people who are currently asymptomatic with regards to low back pain. Throughout the entire adult population, there is an incidence of low back pain throughout the course of 1 year that is roughly 80%. That is to say, 4 out of every 5 adults walking the earth today will have at least one episode of low back pain over the course of one year. This number holds true for fat people, skinny people, white people, Asian people, athletic people, non-athletic people, active people, and sedentary people.

Our bodies have a remarkable ability to heal disc herniations, given the proper setting for healing. Years of "functional training" and bouncing deadlifts off the floor do not promote disc healing. A proper deadlift, performed with the lumbar spine in a bit of extension and locked in a rigid position, does promote healing. Certainly, some of these injuries get past the point where deadlifting will help and they do require surgery, but it generally doesn't happen immediately. There are exceptions, such as if you start wetting yourself, soiling yourself, or feel paresthesias in your naughty bits, but this is exceedingly rare.

Mac Ward was right on with his response here. Something relevant with Mac's podcast was that Mac had a true indication for surgical intervention, as he had a progressive neurological deficit, but he opted out of surgery and ended up just fine. I would submit, however, that Mac would have ended back up in surgery had he not kept up his training. That is pure speculation on my part, but it would be very difficult for someone to convince me otherwise.

Best of the Forum

Squats, systemic response, and trumpet playing
Karl Schudt

I'm an occasional trumpet player, but don't play very often these days. Part of the problem with brass instruments is that any sort of a layoff really hurts one's range and endurance, presumably due to atrophy of the involved facial muscles. Recently, I have done two experiments:

  1. Recovering range in trumpet playing while lifting weights. I played for a week a few months ago, and quickly got back all the range I ever had, much quicker than I used to come back after a layoff when I didn't lift.
  2. Today, I picked it up again, cold, after two months off, and found that I had lost almost nothing of what I gained during experiment #1.

I think this is an anecdote in support of the theory that barbell training makes your whole system stronger, even the buccinators and other facial muscles that aren't receiving any direct work.

Mark Rippetoe

It is. I haven't played much at all in about 3 years, but when I occasionally pick up my horn I find that my top range is not as diminished as my low register control and my overall sound.


I discovered a while ago that the bullshit about exercise restricting breath support, was bullshit. I don't know about you two, but I heard shit like "you'll never hit a super-c with abs!" and similar stuff from voice coaches I've had too.

It's actually the opposite for me, if I have no abdominal DOMS my breath support is much better when I'm fit and healthy, better all the time now that my squats going up. My rib cage has grown a bit too, I'm assuming breathing under the load has applied hypertrophy to my intercostals? Hard to say as I'm still young enough to be just plain old growing.

You reckon those exercise/breath myths come from post hoc ergo propter hoc-eque:

  • "The fattest singers are the best!"
  • Or "I don't like exercise, you shoudn't"
  • Or, "If you can play as well as me, and look fit too... I'll lose my job"

I don’t think any serious musician would equate strength training with an improvement of chops or concept, but the ability to relax while maintaining good posture is a result of having a strong back- not greater embouchre efficiency. And that is where a focus on strength can benefit anyone.

Also if I use 3x5 drills to play louder its just that – decibels – the ability to overblow every note. That would be an application where strength training (production of force) and not intonation would (still guessing at this point) help a lot.

As a percussionist and low brass guy, my playing has improved as a direct result of deadlifting and squatting as well as due to getting better at the things you mention. I’m louder longer – which isn’t the whole piece of course, but damn convenient.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

Highlights from the StartingStrength Community. Browse archives.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.