First off: Karl Schudt and Dave Abdemoulaie make a great team. They know their stuff, as well as how to communicate it. Getting coaching from either one of them is a priceless experience, and absolutely worth the trip to Chicago (for the record, I do not normally enjoy trips to Chicago).

The camp was organized into three main sections: Lecture, Pressing, and Q&A. The Press Lecture included a basic physics overview, and an in-depth discussion of shoulder anatomy by Karl. I now feel confident that if anyone ever tells me “dude, overhead pressing hurts your shoulders!”, I will be able to argue my way out of that paper bag, using an unbeatable combination of physics and anatomy.

(Aside to Coach Schudt: after Camp, I was walking around Chicago, and kept looking at the ground. I realized that all the water/gas utility access hatches on the sidewalks use pentagonal bolts! Your moment arm wrench drawings require no corrections.)

The Press Lecture was immediately followed by splitting into two groups for Press Coaching. This was the highlight of my experience. Dave was able to take everything apart, and put it back together better, faster, stronger. I was blown away by the discovery of the stretch reflex in the shoulders - something I did not read about in SSBBT:3. There was also a short demonstration of the Olympic-style press with the double layback. That will give me something to work toward.

The Bench Lecture was next, headed up by Dave. This included a major discussion of the Arch and its force components, as well as shoulder safety. Karl does a very convincing impression of Rip in order to get across how serious bench press safety is. Bench Lecture was followed by Bench Coaching, again in two groups. I saw a young lady bench press for her first time ever. I saw some very strong young men make advancements in their form. I also saw an old pudgy guy learn how not to spot the bench - don’t hesitate after rep five to help the bar back into the rack! That shit’s heavy, and the lifter’s tired!

Somehow, by this time, we were ahead of schedule, so Q&A was awesome. Discussions included: how to get a home gym started; what to do when nobody in your gym knows the Starting Strength method; how do I program my own progression; how do I unlearn my bro knowledge and Do The Program; among other subjects. Assumptions were challenged, the efficacy of The Program was vouched for again and again. Complaints such as: “I have a desk job and sit all day. Ugh.” were turned into: “I get to rest during the workday and let my body synthesize protein! Great!”

The SSC credential really means a lot more than being able to comment on horrible form check videos and telling noobs to DTMFP. Each lifter at camp got valuable personal coaching time. I was able to disassemble and rebuild my entire press form within the time frame of a normal press workout. I highly encourage anyone who wants to get strong to get to a camp or seminar, or just get to a Starting Strength Coach in person. I didn’t just acquire knowledge - I gained experience. Big thanks to Karl, Dave and Aasgard.