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  1. #1
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    Default SSOC Vs personal trainer

    Posting on here for the first time.
    I need some help making a decision.
    I'm a 37 year old male doing an lp program. I have a pretty busy life. Work full-time and also a single father of a fifteen-year-old son. A few weeks ago I decided to get a trainer. I found a gym right by my house. Brand new barbell gym only offering personal training. The location is perfect. Right between home and my job. I called them they told me that they hadn't yet opened so they're offering a major discount at half the price for clients that sign up before the grand opening. I decided to go ahead and take advantage of the offer. I've trained with him how about two weeks now. My trainer, who is the owner, is a 22 year old lifter who's had some competitive Powerlifting Meets under his belt. He is familiar with starting strength but does things a little differently. He teaches the lifts a little differently with different cues. Not too much of a difference than starting strength but it is a bit different. He has said some things that don't quite make too much sense for me. Such as when he told me that I could run LP doing the deadlift three times a week for the whole length of LP. Anyway, recently I heard about SSOC, and am now trying to decide whether I should give ssoc a try or keep my trainer. In other words I'm trying to decide if I should stick with the starting strength methodology and therefore a starting strength coach or if I should stay with this trainer who is extremely conveniently located. It is extremely convenient to train with my trainer right now. We hit it three times a week Monday Wednesday Friday and I'm able to squeeze it in before work. I get the sessions done way faster than I would on my own because we superset the squat and the pressing movement. Not only that, he helps me change plates (obviously) which again makes a workout go a lot faster. Real-time instruction and queues are also extremely beneficial. Also, I find it a lot more enjoyable and motivating training with him than training alone at home. I've trained at home before and I was not able to get my sessions done and this amount of time. Also, if I train from home I have to train in the evenings after work. I am really enjoying training in the mornings and getting it done quickly before work. There is a starting strength gym in my city but it's out of my way and I haven't figured out a way to conveniently figure out the logistical aspect of it without wasting too much time. Soooo. I guess in a nutshell my main question is do I keep my coach who does things a little bit differently then starting strength, but it is extremely convenient for me. Or should i sign up for ssoc? Any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks in advance.

    P.S. Please excuse the grammar mistakes as I wrote this on my phone while at work.

  2. #2
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    I am biased because I have a great deal of sympathy for the early 20s personal trainer who just opened his own studio. Having been in that situation myself many years ago. It's a tough competitive industry and most don't make it so I'm pulling for the kid. He may have some holes in his game, but he sounds like he has his head out of his ass and is trying to do right by you and is probably better than 90% other "trainers" in the town. I say stick with the kid and give him a chance and maybe present him with new information or ideas from time to time without being a pain in the ass. Most of us agree that consistency is the primary factor in success or failure with barbell training and so if having an in-person coach with an A.M. training session and you can get shit done faster and more consistently I stay with him. Give the kid a chance....hell he's 22 and opened his own brick and mortar business. That takes balls. Most 22 year olds are still sitting on their ass at mommy and daddys house or fucking around at college wasting mom and dads money.

  3. #3
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    Eyeballs on each rep in real time are better than a tape-delay -- if the eyeballs are connected to a coach that knows what he is doing. In this case, you have to decide between convenience and the degree of conformity to the SS method you want from your coaching. Are your squats deep/are your hips correct at the start of the deadlift/does he know how to teach the correct press lockout/can he teach your kid how to clean correctly/are you resting enough between sets to complete all the reps of the third set/is the programming SS NLP? If he's getting the job done, you might suggest to him that he come to a seminar. He's more likely to succeed in the business with our help. And you might hire SSOC for comparison, just to see how close he is.

  4. #4
    Ray Gillenwater's Avatar
    Ray Gillenwater is offline Administrator, Starting Strength Gyms
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    I have a pessimistic view of this.

    I’ve been trying to find ways to get people I care about professional coaching so they can get strong. My sister lived in Anchorage and found someone that “coached” Starting Strength. It was a disaster. Technique, form, programming, and ability to manage a back injury was lacking to say the least.

    I also see this from other coaches at the commercial gyms in my area, some of whom are big and strong. They don’t get it. Being strong doesn’t necessarily enable you to make others strong. It’s important to know how you got there, what was excluded from the program (simple for novices is a must), what was included, and why one decision was made about programming/technique over another. You can be strong or get strong without knowing how or why it worked.

    The chances of a 22-year old powerlifter that hasn’t engrossed himself in Starting Strength being able to answer the whys behind what we do - including why we switch people off of deadlifting three days a week after phase 1 of NLP - are extraordinarily low. He would have to be a young Rip after all, and Rip didn’t know how to make people strong as safely and efficiently as possible when he was 22.

    YouTube and Instagram explainer videos don’t replace learning how to coach, hands on, with actual trainees. The importance of experience can’t be overstated. I don’t want a 22 year old performing open heart surgery on someone I care about, simply because they haven’t accumulated enough years on planet earth to get the level of education and experience they would need to pull it off.

    For the sake of illustration, here’s a parallel: Starting Strength is a method for accumulating strength quickly with low downside potential. It’s sort of like what Warren Buffett has done in the investing world, but with an inverse graph slope (compound effect for Buffett vs diminishing returns effect for Rip).

    “Since 1965, the S&P 500 has delivered annualized returns averaging 9.7%, including dividends. During the same time period, Berkshire Hathaway has generated an average stock price gain of 20.8% per year, or slightly more than double that of the S&P 500.” -Matthew Frankel, CFP

    Accumulating wealth is like accumulating strength in many ways and Buffet is as fantastic at the game as he is because he’s created a system based on a deep understanding of the underlying forces at play. It’s not a coincidence. Neither is Starting Strength’s ability to work for everyone, every time. Rip understands the underlying biological systems, the stress recovery adaptation cycle, and how to apply the model to different people. And he has been testing his approach in the lab (gym) for decades. He even wrote a book about it.

    Contrast that with a 22 year old trader. Let’s say this imaginary person has made some money, even quit his day job. He now manages funds for others - making the investment decision for you. Says he knows about Buffett but does things somewhat differently. Well shit, why? Based on a better understanding? Based on more experience? Based on great returns over a short period time with multiple types of clients? Not likely.

    SSCs have a higher probability of success than non-SSC coaches because the Buffet of strength training has defined a system for us to follow. And he’s defined a means to educate people on how to apply that system - with the SSC Certification.

    Nothing in life is certain, but a 22 year-old powerlifter (that’s made an error in outlining appropriate novice programming) as a coach versus a Starting Strength Coach (online or not) seems like a very low risk decision to make.

    If you decide to go with this guy, and he gets your squat above 300 in a few months and keeps you injury free, we’d like to meet him. And if he did that using a modified version of the program, I’m quite certain Rip would want to hear about it, to poke holes in it, or to try it to see if it does indeed work better than the program as it’s written. If that’s a bet anyone’s willing to take, I’d be happy to wager.

    This dynamic is why I’m an SSOC client and why I’m working with Rip and team to build 100 gyms in five years. Not being able to hire a professional to make you strong is a big problem and it needs to solved at scale. Starting Strength and its licensees are working on fixing this.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Andy, I appreciate the reply and agree with you! I think your right about the consistency of continuing with him. Your input will help me make my decision.

  6. #6
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    My brain agrees with Ray here, though my heart has Baker's sympathies for the 22 year old kid. Look, there's no way for us to know for sure, from here. But I can tell you what I have seen: lots and lots of people claiming to follow or know or coach Starting Strength who aren't even in the same zipcode, much less ballpark, of actually doing it right. Is it theoretically possible that the differences in the way the kid does things are either not significant ones that would make a big difference, or even improvements? Theoretically. But, like Ray, I'd be willing to wager real money that they aren't. Because I've seen or heard about this scenario many times before, and so far, zero of the times would I have lost my money had I bet. The one piece of info we do have - deadlift 3x/week through LP - isn't a good start. Again, theoretically, could he mean that in the later stages, you deadlift heavy for a PR once a week and just practice the set-up and movement with a lighter weight the other days, which wouldn't be completely unreasonable? It's possible, but you're asking us to judge his ability to reason and make smart adjustments very favorably, when the vast overwhelming majority of strength and powerlifting coaches, much less 22 year old ones, have shown themselves to be incapable of doing so.

    Then again, on second thought, it's also possible that YOU'RE not describing him accurately and he's actually doing things very well and intelligently, and it's your (understandable, given you're a layman) lack of familiarity with the intricacies of the method that leads you to incomplete or inaccurate descriptions. Now that I think about it, I've seen this before too - even regarding myself.

    To be safe, I'd still say go with SSOC. But it's hard to say from here.
    Last edited by Michael Wolf; 04-13-2019 at 10:15 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply to my post.

    Before training with him my squats appeared to be deep enough judging By my videos. He doesn't record me but tells me I'm squatting deep enough. Squatting with him does feel much better and easier. less "grindy" if you will. One thing that differs from your method is that he tells me to push my hips back slightly as I'm coming out of the hole. He says this engages the posterior chain better and to be honest with you i think it might be working.

    When deadlifting he tells me to "sit back a bit" right before the pull, which again differs from your instructions. I'm not sure that i like this cue so i either ignore it or try it but with focusing hard on "not" dropping the hips. To be fully honest, i like squatting with him but dislike Deadlifting with him.

    When i first started pressing with him, I was used to a press 1.0 with taking my rest and breath at the top. He asked me to try to take the breath at the bottom. Which i immediately questioned and asked him how i was supposed to get my stretch reflex and simultaneously take a breath at the bottom. He told me not to worry about the stretch reflex. After asking more questions i came to realize that he presses 2.0 and perhaps has never coached a 1.0 before. Sooo, i decided to just ask the guy to teach me 2.0. His 2.0 style also differs from the book and all the videos I've seen with you, and other SS coaches. His has me start with a floating position (bar right on my chin) rather than a lower "rack" position. Elbows very exaggerated forward. When shooting the hips forward he actually wants the bar to quicky lower to my almost my chest and shoot back up as the hips explode back. In other word the bar is moving down not only because of the hip action but also because my hands are also moving down. Kind of like "loading up" if you will. He has competed in 1 or 2 USSF meets and has one coming up. Perhaps this style is what has worked for him.

    As far as rest goes, we wanted me to only rest 5 min tops on the squat and 3 min top on pressing movements. I did not agree with him as i was used to 10 min rest, and later convinced him to do supersets with the squat and the pressing movement. This had worked for me and i feel stronger as if i had taken a 8 min rest on the squat. Supersets also help me get to work on time.

    We haven't been cleaning. Instead we have been deadlifting every session, which i just convinced him to change and rotate chins and DL. I decided not to clean after watching a video on barbell logic with a SS coach saying that cleaning might not have much of a carryover for 80% of the population. ALSO prior to training with him, i trained in my second floor apartment in as small room so cleaning wasn't an option. If i do stick with him, i would have a place to be able to clean if you think it would benefit me.

    Yes my programming has been based on SS NLP except for the clean. (which again i will gladly program if you think i would benefit from it, AND if i decide to keep my trainer)

    I have asked him if he has ever thought about becoming a SS coach. He told me that it wasn't in his budget at the moment. He is still a college student. The guy likes to keep himself busy. Like Andy said, not your typical 22yo!

    Just about myself and a bit of history. Im 5'7" with what i think is a very small frame. My wrist are of a vary small diameter, most woman have larger wrist than I. Hell, my 15yo son has bigger wrist and ankles than me.

    Start of LP:
    BW 148#
    Squat, 95# x3x5
    Press 1.0, 65# x3x5
    DL, 135# x3x5

    Before i hired him i was 8 weeks into LP with the following numbers:
    BW, 170#
    Squat, 255# x3x5
    DL, 285# x5
    Press 1.0, 122.5# x3x5
    Dips, 75# x3x5 (I was having pain on my right shoulder when benching early on in LP so i decided to do weighted dips, I would factor in my bodyweight every time in order to make it work smoothly in an LP program)

    When i hired him 2 weeks ago he made me redo my weights which ended up being a huge reset. He also encouraged me to give benching another shot. I think i started benching about 75#. 2 weeks now and i haven't felt any pain benching so far. He only had me add 5#/session to my DL which was way too conservative In my opinion. My numbers as of Friday:

    BW, 170 (think i lost a bit of body fat in my belly area, my belt went down a notch)
    Squat, 260# x3x5
    DL, 270# x5
    Press 2.0, 100# x3x5
    Bench, 90# x3x5

    Thanks so much for everyone's detailed input! This really helps me in the decision process.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickygp420 View Post
    I decided not to clean after watching a video on barbell logic with a SS coach saying that cleaning might not have much of a carryover for 80% of the population. ALSO prior to training with him, i trained in my second floor apartment in as small room so cleaning wasn't an option. If i do stick with him, i would have a place to be able to clean if you think it would benefit me.
    You're 37, certainly not a creaky old man. The kid is 15, certainly within the demographic that not only has no trouble with cleans but needs to do them. The Barbell Logic video that claimed that the Novice method was developed for athletes is absolutely wrong -- it is widely known that I developed the method while working with every member who signed up in my gym, and young athletes were and are almost completely absent from this demographic. I understand that it's easier to leave out the clean, and I know that it's hard to coach a clean over video, even if you know how. But you are training in person with a kid who is leaving out an important part of the program, and until you know for a fact that you cannot benefit from them, they need to be included in the program for both of you.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the reply Rip. Just to clarify, Im the one thats training not my 15yo so. I wish he developed enough interest to do so, but he has not yet.

  10. #10
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    Okay, I misunderstood/read to fast. Look at this: What Not to Do: Observations of Powerlifters Coaching Novices

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