Starting Strength Weekly Report

September 27, 2021

Some Assembly Required Edition

On Starting Strength
  • Q&A Episode - Localism & Staying in Your Lane – Rip answers questions from Starting Strength Network subscribers and fans.
  • Keeping a Rigid Spine – Starting Strength Coach Ray Gillenwater explains why maintaining lumbar control is important for squats and deadlifts.
  • Using the Prowler – Starting Strength Coach Inna Koppel describes how to use the prowler for conditioning and how to program for it.
  • The Drill Lesson Format: Managing Large Groups of Students by Capt James Rodgers – The selling point of the Starting Strength instructional method is how well it breaks down compound barbell lifts into a series of manageable cues and steps that can be learned very quickly...
  • Let's Feast: An Open Letter To Vegans by Daniel Oakes – A few years ago I asked my then-coach a common question: “Our ancestors surely never ate 200g of protein per day – and certainly modern tribespeople aren't huge and jacked – so why do you recommend so much...
  • Weekend Archives: Physical Training Against Brain Aging by Guy Forer – The term "training" does not have the same meaning as the terms "exercise" or "exercise training", which are used by various health organizations, and it is also not the same as the term "chronic exercise" which is widely used in research...
  • Weekend Archives: In Depth on the Power Snatch – Mark Rippetoe teaches Bre the details of the power snatch at Wichita Falls Athletic Club.

From the Coaches
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In the Trenches

starting strength gyms owners meeting 2021
The gym owners’ meeting during the Starting Strength Gyms coach conference held at WFAC last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
andrew lewis and inna koppel
Andrew Lewis and Inna Koppel at the first Starting Strength Gyms coaches conference held at WFAC. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
nick delgadillo leads a practical session at the starting strength gyms coaches conference
Nick Delgadillo leads a practical session during the Starting Strength Gyms coaches conference. [photo courtesy of Ben Gillenwater]
starting strength oklahoma city group photo
Group photo of Starting Strength OKC at last weekends Coaches Conference (left to right David Foster, Greg Herman, Chase Lindley, Inna Koppel, Colby Iliff, Dalton Rankin). [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
mike practices his split snatch
Mike practices his split snatch at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE as he prepares for Testify's annual Christmas Classic weightlifting meet. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
chase lindley teaching the power clean
Chase Lindley teaching the power clean to a young athlete at Starting Strength Oklahoma City. Kaiden is involved in regular soccer tournaments around the OKC area and has already seen a significant impact on his strength and performance. [photo courtesy of Greg Herman]
rachel fox lifetime pr in the squat seven months postpartum
Co-owner of SS Boise, Rachel Fox, hitting a lifetime PR at the squat 7 months postpartum. 135x5x1. [photo courtesy of Avery Martz]
connor king coaches sarah warren press
Starting Strength Coach Connor King coaches Sarah Warren on her press lockout at The Strength Co. [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]
victoria diaz in front of the upcoming starting strength san antonio location
Head Coach Victoria Diaz standing in front of what will soon be (Nov 20th) Starting Strength San Antonio. [photo courtesy of Paulino Diaz Jr]
linda wearing the ss gyms tank top
Linda showing off the new SS Gyms tank top. [photo courtesy of Brent Carter]
barb teaches anne how to power clean
Barb teaches Anne how to power clean at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
toddler on a bench press bench
Everybody loves benching. Even toddlers. [photo courtesy of Christian Fox]
connor king coaches lumbar extension
Starting Strength Coach Connor King coaches Kacey Kratz on proper lumbar extension for the deadlift at The Strength Co. [photo courtesy of Grant Broggi]
heather squatting pr of 230 lb
Heather Ketten sets her lifetime PR Squat (2x3 230lbs). [photo courtesy of Andrea Mates]
robert squatting as james coaches
Robert squatting 130x5x3 with coaching from James. [photo courtesy of Jen Pfhol ]

Best of the Week

Starting Strength program while in a calorie deficit


Once upon a time I was a 65kg height 175cm 18 year old male who needed to pick up a barbell and drink a gallon of milk a day. Unfortunately, I have only discovered this advice as a 35 year old minimally trained obese male now 90kg with 25% body fat.

Would you advise using the starting strength program in a calorie deficit or continue to cut and then begin the program in a calorie surplus? Also at what body fat percentage would you advise switching to a calorie surplus?

Mark Rippetoe

A Clarification

Oso Rojo

How about you start the program, run it for three months. Get stronger and you will find your caloric burn rate increasing and likely some weight loss. At 175cm and 90kg you are likely more than 25% body fat. Get to work on putting on some muscle and fix the body fat once you get strong. You will find it much easier then!


Have you considered fasting? Fasting is a terrible idea if you are trying to get stronger. When you don't eat anything at all your body switches over to burning ketones for fuel. Those ketones come from breaking down everything else. You will lose fat, bone density, extra skin, and muscle mass (your pecker might even shrink), BUT fasting can be the quickest was for a metabolically unhealthy person to become insulin sensitive. If you are training during a fast you will not gain any muscle mass, but you won't lose much either. There are a few things to find out from your Dr. What is your fasting insulin level, and what is your HgA1C? Is it safe for you to fast? Diabetic ketoacidosis is very rare, but extremely serious so please consult your Doc before you consider severe caloric restriction. Fasting is to the typical fat loss diet as a barbell squat is to playing around with dumbbells. If you are basically healthy you can just start the program and eat real food--forget fasting. If you need serious fat loss for health reasons, fasting can be a tool to get healthy in little time. Trying to stay on a calorie restricted diet for months or years and do strength training at the same time will just keep you frustrated.

Mark Rippetoe

You're recommending fasting for a 35-year-old man at 25% bodyfat who wants to do a strength training program? Why would you suggest something this stupid?

Best of the Forum

Quantifying Chin-Ups


I'm doing the vanilla NLP (again after several years of not training) and am wondering what you think of the following method of quantifying chin-ups more precisely.

I am 6'3", 235lbs with a 39" waist. I am eating to gain weight and intend to be 275 by this time next year. I have noticed that body weight can fluctuate day-to-day which makes quantification of chin-ups rather imprecise.

My solution: use a weight belt to get "me" up to 250 and weigh-in on a bathroom scale (the same one each time) after S-P-DL on A-Day. (I can do about 1-2 reps of these right now). Perform the reps I can and then add eccentric efforts through 12 reps. Repeat weigh-in after S-B-PC on B-Day, but add reps to the first sets every time and increase the time and control of each eccentric. I would never go above or below 12 reps, but I would continue to increase the density of the first sets until I get to 12x1 @ 255lbs. Then I would add weight and repeat the process for as long as I can.

Thoughts: I realize this may take several weeks/months, and my bodyweight will be changing this whole time. My solution accounts for this with the weigh-in and the removing/adding of weight to achieve the exact weight of 255. (I have fractional plates.) Eating to get big will probably put 1 pound a week on my frame, so 255 will give me ~20weeks to reach 12x1.

Theoretically, I think this could be applied to anyone that can do one dead-hang chin-up at ~110% bodyweight.

Does this seem reasonable?

Mark Rippetoe

It's an assistance exercise. One of the aspects of an assistance exercise is that it doesn't train like the primary exercises. Stop worrying about it and try to PR something about your chins every couple of weeks.


Ok. Thanks Rip. You just saved me a lot of pain and suffering. Lunch is on me.

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