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The Effects of Starting Strength: The Bigger Picture | Starting Strength Radio #45

Mark Rippetoe | February 28, 2020

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Mark Rippetoe:
So I open up the box and inside the box is a little chocolate dick about that long.

Mark Wulfe:
From The Aasgard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry... The one true voice of the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and Gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Hi, it's Rippy! We're here on Friday like we always are whether you want us to be here or not. We're here on Friday for Starting Strength Radio. And this week we're going to just kind of ramble about some topics that are of interest. Going to talk about the Starting Strength method. There are some extremely important details between what we do and what everybody else does and we're going to discuss these.

Mark Rippetoe:
But first! Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
Comments are kind of boring this week. I mean, you guys have got to do better than this. Exercise, all right. R-E-3-I-R-T-H says, "Exercise improves body composition. Therefore, Rip is not a fan of it. Training, on the other hand, makes you stronger, even if you're a fat fuck, it's all good."

[off-camera]:
Is that English?

Mark Rippetoe:
Not his first language.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Ardie Park says, "I could just listen to Rip tell Bear jokes all day long. No homo." I think he got a lot more out of the bear joke than I had put into the bear joke. I think Arta Park's not really here for the podcast. That's what I think.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, and Roberto Garza. Roberto. Ethnic name Roberto Garza. You liked that? Sounds like an Irish guy. "Ur" U-R "fat slash unhealthy, not impressed. Try that at a healthy B F 20 percent or less." This is in reference to my 500lb deadlift. I'm too fat to be pulling 500 at the age of 60 for our Irish friend Roberto.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, Roberto, me boy. I didn't see your deadlift. Do we need to see Roberto's deadlift?

[off-camera]:
I would love to see it.

Mark Rippetoe:
We'd all love to see that. You go ahead and post that, Roberto.

[off-camera]:
Tell him to post the link in the comments.

Mark Rippetoe:
Put on a green shirt, flaunt your Irishness and post your deadlift, OK?

Mark Rippetoe:
And that's Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
Bottom 2 percent. We've got it winnowed down to the bottom 2 percent because the 1 percent above the bottom top bottom 2 percent got tired and went away. Or learned how to read or developed some kind of... you know, it's a full employment economy, maybe they're working at McDonald's now or, you know.

[off-camera]:
Are they smart enough to work there?

Mark Rippetoe:
Washing tires somewhere in a detail shop or...

[off-camera]:
That's more likely.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know. Yeah, something like that, or maybe they're farmers. You know, Michael Bloomberg today told us how easy it was to be a farmer, you know, because he's done all that, you know. He's done all that farming shit and he knows how easy it is to dig a hole in the ground, put a piece of corn in it, cover it up with dirt, put water on it, corn plant grows!

Mark Rippetoe:
And this guy is worth 62 billion dollars? How incredibly easy must it be to be worth 62 billion dollars if you're not that fucking smart? He will be our next president. Amazing. They're all just going to roll over on their backs and let Michael be the fucking nominee because they hate Donald so bad.

[off-camera]:
He's been sending his press team out to a bunch of like Instagram, a bunch of social media with lots of followers and asking them to promote him and...

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, no, he's paying them to promote. "Asking" is not the operative word here. He's paying them to promote him.

[off-camera]:
But some of them are just telling him to go eat a dick.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. Oh, speaking of dicks. I got a package today. I got a package today in the mail - came in little padded package. I opened it up. There's an envelope in the padded package and there is a box.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I opened up the envelope first and there's a picture of a girl on the front of it going [makes grin] or something like that, just smiling at me. And I opened it up. It says, "Press here." And it's a recording of a girl coming.

Mark Rippetoe:
She's going on and on and, you know, apparently pretty good. And she's going on and on and on and on and on and on and won't stop. She's coming and I'm going, my God, what a girlfriend. You know, because she just won't... This is an impressive situation. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I open up the box. And inside the box is a little chocolate dick about that long [holds fingers a few inches apart]. And what I thought was, "Well, this is a direct replica of whoever sent me this." Whoever sent me the card. You know.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I take it over to Carmen in the office, and I showed it to her and she said, "What the hell is this? It's about a third smaller than it ought to... no about about a third as big as it ought to be and it's not nearly dark enough." I swear to God that's what she said.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I thought that was funny. And so I went back in my office, and the god damned card is still laying there on the desk, and she's still coming.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I did whatever I... what I usually do with women who come too loud and too often. I get my hammer out of the top right hand drawer - whacked it. It shut up. Threw it in the trash.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't know what Carmen is gonna do with a little bitty micro dick chocolate thing.

[off-camera]:
Well you can't let chocolate go to waste.

Mark Rippetoe:
Give it to somebody. I just don't know who's interested in... None of our... None of us are interested in a dick no matter what size or color it is. And all of our women expect better.

[off-camera]:
Doesn't mean they always get better.

Mark Rippetoe:
Doesn't mean they always get it, but they do expect it. Especially when it's optional like that, you know? Oh, look at Bre's all blushing.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God. Here, hold on. Just a minute. [brushes his moustache]

[off-camera]:
Straighten that out.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that better? OK.

[off-camera]:
That's a cool shirt you got there.

Mark Rippetoe:
That is kind of cool, isn't it? It's our friends in Anaheim. Bottle Logic, they have a bar in Anaheim.

[off-camera]:
What's the back of it?

Mark Rippetoe:
Looks just like this.

[off-camera]:
Bottle logic.

Mark Rippetoe:
Bottle logic.

[off-camera]:
Established twenty thirteen.

Mark Rippetoe:
Twenty thirteen. Isn't that interesting?

[off-camera]:
That is cool.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nice guys. Free T-shirt.

[off-camera]:
I wonder if they've been using that logo since...

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't know when they started using the logo. Be interesting to find that out. Well, anyway.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Today, we're going to talk about... we're going to talk about some stuff that I was thinking about last night while I was trying to sleep.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I can't be the only person on earth that wakes up in the middle of the night. You know, you have middle of night. You've got to get up to pee. Get up to pee, you come back. And if you're lucky, you lay back down and you hadn't gotten real awake and you go right back to sleep.

Mark Rippetoe:
But sometimes your brain gets busy and sometimes that little interlude of an hour in the middle of the night when you're thinking is productive. And sometimes you think about things that... you're uninterrupted by people walking in office and everything. You have a chance to just lay there with your own thoughts and think.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I was thinking about what makes Starting Strength so completely different than every other exercise program, strength program on the on the planet basically. And I know we may have some things in common with some people, but I think that our our method here is developed quite a bit more than lots and lots of other people's method.

Mark Rippetoe:
And really it's it's basically two... there are two components of the Starting Strength method. There are the exercises and their performance component. We've analyzed the exercises and we've tailored them to exactly... to do do exactly the thing I'm going to talk about here in a minute. And then there's the programming component. And the programming component couldn't be more simple. We find out where you are. And then we... on the first day we teach you how to do the exercises. We find out where you are in terms of your strength level. And then we go up from there.

Mark Rippetoe:
So... And I've mentioned this couple of times in the past, but it just occurred to me that one of the most interesting things about the way we approach barbell training is that everybody else's program that's that's involved in... especially in the commercial side of... commercial side of titness is concerned with muscle groups. And with with muscle bellies and with body parts. And our program is not concerned with that at all.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're not concerned with your quads or your hamstrings or your glutes. We're concerned with the movement patterns that you perform in which those muscle groups become an important component. But we essentially ignore the muscles themselves and we just think about the movements of the body through space.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I guess up one of the ways you could think about that would be to say that we are more concerned with the skeleton, with skeletal movement, than we are with the muscles that move the skeleton because... Basically, when you interact with your environment in a physical sense, what you're doing is you're applying force through the contraction of your muscles to the system of levers that is that composes your skeleton. Your skeleton is a system of bony levers. You got a bone, you got a joint, then you got another bone. And the joint moves as the bones come closer together or move further apart. Muscle contraction produces this effect.

Mark Rippetoe:
And when we squat, when we press, when we deadlift, when we bench press and when we do the Olympic lifts we're doing movements. I'm not concerned with where the quads fit into that, except that I want them working. I'm not concerned where the hamstrings fit in into that into that pattern, except that we don't want to leave them out. We're concerned with muscle mass in that each one of these movement patterns that we perform has been tailored to utilize the greatest amount of muscle mass that we can get into the movement pattern.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'm not concerned with which particular muscles. We don't do glutes. We don't do hamstrings. We don't have favorite muscles. All of our muscles are our favorite muscles. We want to use as many of them as we can.

Mark Rippetoe:
And and if you look at most commercial fitness products, especially those that pre-date Starting Strength in 2005, what you'll find is that most of these things are concerned with muscle groups. If you go in to any gym that features machines in the gym, the majority of the machines in the gym were designed to work a muscle group or a muscle belly. They're designed to... they're designed around assembling enough muscle group exercises to constitute what they consider to be a whole body workout, because God knows if you do 15 or 20 different machines and the machines all add up to the whole body, then you've worked the whole body.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is kind of not true if you think about it though. The body works in interesting ways. The body is developed, the bodies evolved, to utilize lots and lots and lots of muscles at the same time. This is how we can do amazing things like climb trees and dig holes and pick up things off the ground and run and jump without having to worry about activating our glutes. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you're involved in an exercise program that wants you to be aware of a muscle group or a muscle belly during the contractions that that produce the movement pattern, then that's kind of different than what we do. We don't think about the glutes when we squat. We don't think about the hamstrings when we squat. We don't think about the quads. We think about moving the skeleton. We think about the hips. We think about the back angle. We think about the knee angle. We think about all these angles that change with varying levels of activation, of varying amounts of muscle mass.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what we're trying to do is maximize the amount of muscle mass that's involved in all of these foundation exercises. We are concerned with the muscles working together all at the same time. Not making sure we have worked all of the muscle groups separately because the body doesn't work the muscle groups separately. That's not how your central nervous system is set up. It's not how your anatomy is set up. It certainly as hell not how your musculoskeletal anatomy is setup.

Mark Rippetoe:
The squat is a extremely complicated movement pattern. That's why it's so damned hard to coach. All right. It's difficult to coac because of the fact that so much of the skeleton is involved in the motion and so much of it can go in such a variety of different directions. And there's a there's an optimum way to make it work, an optimum way to work the skeleton, to move the skeleton so as to involve the greatest amount of muscle mass in the longest effective range of motion.

Mark Rippetoe:
But at no point in that discussion do we even consider whether or not the quads are getting enough work. We don't want to leave the quads out. OK. For this reason, we need some forward knee travel at some point during the squat. But there is an optimum place to put that forward knee travel in terms of the way the movement pattern works the rest of the muscle mass that's not the quads.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is what we we like to talk about. We want to we talk about technique. We talk about technique. And when we discuss technique, we're talking about using the greatest amount of muscle mass over the longest effective range of motion. And that discussion is for the purpose of making the time spent under the bar efficient and effective in terms of getting stronger, because that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to strengthen the normal human movement patterns that everyone engages in.

Mark Rippetoe:
If they're capable of moving through their environment, we want to strengthen those movement patterns a little bit at a time and we want to do it in a way that makes the best use of the time in the gym and makes the best contribution to the strength that is utilized in all of the other movement patterns that you engage in as a part of your daily existence.

Mark Rippetoe:
We want the whole squat movement pattern stronger. We don't want the quads stronger. We don't want the glutes stronger, the hamstrings, the hip external rotators, the adductors stronger. We want the movement pattern stronger and we strengthen the movement pattern having performed it correctly. Then all of the muscle mass that creates the movement in the movement pattern strengthens as well. And now that it's stronger, it's stronger for any other movement that you might choose to make with it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is one of the things that's that's irritating about modern strength and conditioning at the institutional levels that you see on the internet. I'm not concerned with the the the way the strength will be used by the end user. OK. I'm not concerned that an offensive lineman has his feet in a certain position as he comes off the ground and hits the defense. I don't care what that movement pattern looks like. I want his squat strong because if we take a squat from three fifteen up to 505, then in whatever configuration he chooses to place himself to utilize that increased strength, the strength is there.

Mark Rippetoe:
The strength is built in a general way to strengthen the movement pattern. And then once the squat movement pattern is strengthened, then the athlete is stronger and whatever other use he comes up with for that strength, whether it's offensive line or tennis or riding a bike, or fencing or gymnastics or whatever other use he can he can make of that then he's going to be stronger, having gotten that way the most efficient and effective way possible.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now it's our job on the strength training side to figure out the best way to squat. OK. And if we figure out the best way to squat and we can most effectively make the athletes stronger with the way we have analyzed the squat and the way we perform the squat, then it's up to the athlete or the sport coach to figure out the best way to use that strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
The process cannot go the other way. We don't care how the athlete - and I'm speaking athletes right now, I'll talk about normal human beings later - it's not our job to figure out how the athlete is going to use his strength. It's our job to figure out how to make him stronger. And then it's his job and the sport coach's job to figure out how to use that now stronger athlete in the most effective way.

Mark Rippetoe:
But the production of the strength is dependent entirely on the correct analysis of the movement pattern. And we're trying to get strong and the analysis must show us how to manipulate that movement pattern so as to involve the greatest amount of muscle mass, thus making the time spent under the bar more efficient. And the most effective range of motion over which to train that muscle mass in order to produce - not for the sake of going through the range motion, but for the sake of producing the greatest amount of strength while loading that range of motion.

Mark Rippetoe:
So this is kind of a different approach than is normally considered in strength and conditioning. We are not particularly interested in how the strength is gonna be used. We're not interested in the muscle bellies that get involved in making that movement pattern occur, except that we don't want to leave any of them out. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're not in this for physique. We don't care what we look like as a result of having done the exercises. We're not physiquers. This is not about aesthetics. This is about strength. This is about making a movement pattern stronger. It's about doing the best you can with the time at your disposal in the weight room to make the most difference to maximize the potential of the person that we're training in terms of increase in their ability to produce force against an external resistance in their environment.

Mark Rippetoe:
If we take a kid that comes in the gym and on the first day he squats a hundred and fifteen pounds for three sets of five and over the course of six months we get him up to squatting 325 for three sets of five -- and this is not remarkable, this is what we do every day. This is normal -- then we have essentially tripled his squat. And most importantly, we have helped him toward the limits of his potential for strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
He could... he can go a lot further than that if he chooses to stick with it and we hope he does. But leaving that undeveloped is a gigantic, serious mistake. And it happens all the time in modern strength and conditioning. It happens in in bodybuilding-focused types of strength and conditioning where we're concerned about quads and glutes and delts and abs and hammies and cal-ves.

Mark Rippetoe:
Cal-ves, the Greek to Greek Greek philosopher, Cal-ves. Probably a little dry for some people. We used to talk about that all the time, back with Starr at the YMCA. Time to do Cal-ves the Greek. We actually said that, believe it or not.

Mark Rippetoe:
And, you know, we don't care about bis and tris and all that other shit. And if you're you're looking at it that way, you're not looking at movement pattern, you're looking at muscle bellies and that's that's not the best approach to this. The best approach is the one that makes the movement pattern stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
There's several modern strength coaches that are still hung up on the idea that, you know, you've got to make the physique look a certain way to achieve a certain level of performance. It's never been the case. It's never been the case.

Mark Rippetoe:
There have been very, very strong, strong power lifters that didn't look like bodybuilders at all. Not even closely... Not at all. No, nowhere. No way. You can't tell by looking. And the fact that you can't tell by looking ought to tell you something. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And then there's the other side of modern strength and conditioning that never even gets to the point where strength is a limiting factor. If you have replaced the ability to produce force sufficient to finish the fifth rep of a set with an instability problem that must be solved before any force can be produced at all, then you have created a situation in which a movement pattern can't get stronger because strength depends on the accumulation of the ability to produce greater amounts of force.

Mark Rippetoe:
And that's what the magic of 5 pounds a workout three days a week does that instability balls and light dumbbells and ipsilateral movement through your changing from the right to the left foot in front of you and switching the dumbbell in the air. All of this shit that that doesn't make you stronger and the way you know it doesn't make you stronger is because the weight doesn't go up. The only thing that changes is the movement pattern.

Mark Rippetoe:
We want the movement pattern the same every single time. This is one of the primary features of our approach to this thing. It's boring. It's boring because you're going to come in three days a week and you're going to squat and you're out hopefully squat exactly the same way with five more pounds than you squatted the previous time. Exactly the same way. Because by then we have dialed this in and we know how you're supposed to look when you squat.

Mark Rippetoe:
We know how to teach you how to do it. We know how to reinforce that correct squat every time you're there. And our coaching is the movement pattern. We are coaching the movement pattern. We're looking at the movement pattern.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're not looking at the quads. We're not looking at the muscle bellies. We're looking at the way you move your body and the barbell through space. And we've analyzed this and we thought about it and we know what the best though the best way to do it.

Mark Rippetoe:
We know the best way to do it. We've done this for forty two years. I've done this for 42 years. And all the people that worked with me have got hundreds of thousands of hours of experience of on the platform experience.

Mark Rippetoe:
So, yeah, we thought about this quite a bit. We spent lots and lots of time. I've spent 42 years dealing with this. I've taught thousands and thousands of people how to do these movements. I've taught thousands of them in the gym and many, many more thousands of them in our seminars that we've been conducting for the past 15 years. We, our staff and myself have accumulated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of contact hours with with people that we're teaching how to do these movements. We are very good at this.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what this means is that when we tell you how to do a squat in order to involve the greatest amount of muscle mass utilized over the longest effective range of motion that you can manage during the exercise in order to lift the heaviest weights, which makes you stronger than we... We have got this down.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we're learning things all the time about how to coach these movements, what to say to people, how to how to cue more effectively, how to correct things that that we encounter as common errors in the process. But the the pattern, the model we're trying to coach is pretty thoroughly sorted out already. And I think we've got this down.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think that we've got a very good case for the type of movements that we teach. And this process is has been fine tuned over the past 15 years, and we're doing as good a job as we're doing a better job than anybody else in this industry in terms of teaching you the basics of barbell training in order to get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
So there are there are important differences in the way we approach things and that the best way to to think about this is that we are coaching movement patterns. We're coaching normal human movement patterns and we're loading them incrementally so that the normal human movement patterns that everyone engages in as a result of having hips and knees and shoulders and a back and arms and elbows and ankles, the normal human movement patterns that present themselves.

Mark Rippetoe:
We are loading those incrementally. Now our loading mechanism is just as straightforward and logical as it can possibly be. We didn't invent anything new here. All we had, we didn't invent the concept of five pounds. You know, if you're if your first day in the gym is one hundred and fifteen pounds for three sets of five across, and the reason we do the three sets five is because decades of experience have taught us that that's the most effective way to do this.

Mark Rippetoe:
And yes, we tried all the other permutations and nothing works as well as is the three sets of five across, especially for squats and presses. We use one set for the deadlifts because experience has taught us that this works better than anything else. And it's not that our minds are closed. It's that we know better than that. OK, so the the loading of these movement patterns that we've analysed for you and know how to teach you how to do is very, very straightforward.

Mark Rippetoe:
It puzzles me that there is any resistance. To this at all. I mean, what on earth could be more logical and straightforward than a squat just below parallel loaded with five more pounds than it was the last time. And then five more pounds than that and then five more pounds again and five more pounds again until it quits working.

Mark Rippetoe:
What that will do every single time is take a kid who walks in the gym from 115 to up in the 300s. Now that's an astonishing amount of strength gain. It's an astonishing change in body composition.

Mark Rippetoe:
And one of the more significant aspects of the changes that this process makes is psychological. I don't think this has been appreciated thoroughly enough. If you take an underweight young man and you bring him in the gym and you take him from one hundred and fifteen pounds, squat at a body weight to 165 up to three hundred and sixty five pounds squat at a body weight of 200.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I don't think that most people appreciate the effect that that process has on the kid's brain. You know, you've you've got you know, youth is a hard time in everybody's life. All you old fuckers remember that. I know you do. I know you remember being uncertain about everything you did. And now you remember worrying about what everybody thought about you at all the shit that you go through when you're a teenager.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. We take a kid like that and we bring him into the gym and we hand him a process through which he is in complete control of his physical self. All he has to do is get under the bar and squat five more pounds for three sets of right there in front of you. It's in the book and you're training log. This is what you're gonna do today.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, you just got to figure out a way to get out of the bar and do it. And if you can figure that simple thing out, then you can make a difference in you.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, it's not a giant leap to understand that that process applies to other things as well. That's not a big giant philosophical problem to grasp the idea that incremental efforts accumulate into gigantic cumulative changes. That process applies under the bar, but it applies in business and in learning things and in music and in hobbies and in expertise of all sorts, and that is a tool that the bar teaches the trainee.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now we've been talking about athletes...

[off-camera]:
For a kid it's one of the few things in their life that they can control and directly affect.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes. Yes, it is.

[off-camera]:
I came to the gym. I've put in a certain amount of effort here as a result of that effort. Right. And for a kid, it's a it's a quick feedback loop. So the more weight on the bar. More weight on the bar. And the kid who can embrace that process keeps that lesson throughout their entire life.

Mark Rippetoe:
Absolutely they do. They may not get to choose whether or not they're going to eat lunch at school. They may not get to choose where they're going to... what they're going to do after school. They may have to go to work. There's all kinds of things that they don't have control over at that age, but they do have control over getting under the bar and squatting five more pounds.

[off-camera]:
When you have a kid that's us that's massively introverted and you've put him through that process, they tend to start building that confidence and they're able to talk to people more.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God, yes. I mean, we've seen this. I mean. You know, Chase. When Chase was a little kid when he was in here when he was twelve. Little blond haired kid. Couldn't hardly talk, you know, shy, good little kid and... You know, over the course of this process being applied to him, everybody has noticed that what you've got now is a completely changed personality, a fine young man. You know.

Mark Rippetoe:
And he'll tell you what he thinks. And he he is

[off-camera]:
He's confident and assertive.

Mark Rippetoe:
He's confident and assertive, useful. And it's a result of this process. It's a result of this process. You know, he... He came from a good family. But by the same token, a lot of people from good families end up as pieces of shit, you know? Happens all the time. We all know people like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
The discipline that you are taught... that you teach yourself -- this is really critical -- under the bar. You teach this to yourself under the bar and by... What I mean by that is when you get down to the fifth rep of a PR set of five that you've never done before. You're at three sets of five, you're on the fourth rep of the third set, and you don't know for sure whether the fifth rep is gonna go right, you have the option of putting it up. You can quit if you want to.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, lots of places that's encouraged, right? Hey! It's an RPE of forty five or something. Just drop it. Just don't try that. You know, and it's you know, if you're going to consider pussing out of that fifth rep data and justify it like that. Well, yeah, it's done all the time isn't it?

Mark Rippetoe:
But if the kid is a good enough kid where he says, "I don't know whether I can do this last rep or not. That fourth one felt really heavy, but by God, I want to find out." And he rides it down. It doesn't matter what happened after that, he learned something. He's demonstrated some balls and some gumption and the willingness to push the envelope. Right. If he goes down and he comes back up, he learns something. Right. If he goes down and he can't get back up. He also learned something. Either way, he's got data. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
But if you don't try it, he doesn't have the data, all he has to write down in his book is 365 times $. Which is not the same thing as 365 times 5. Or 360 five times four plus one miss. That's different, that's different. You concluded the set. But if you rack it, you have mislaid your tools.

Mark Rippetoe:
You have the tools to develop character here. Right. And all you've got to do is just have the guts to try. And there is no better mechanism for this than barbell training. There is no better mechanism for this than a heavy squat. You're under the bar.

Mark Rippetoe:
One of the wonderful things about about the squat is that it's scary. Right. You can't get out from under a squat unless you're wanting to tear something up. Right. You're mashed under a squat. You're trapped on the squat. And you, you are face to face with your limits quite frequently under a squat.

Mark Rippetoe:
And there's, you know... barbell curls don't produce that kind of a... That kind of a stretch. Leg extensions, you can always just set those down, right, barbell training is it is a fabulous tool not just for getting strong, but for teaching your brain a new way to operate. And I don't think that's emphasized enough.

[off-camera]:
You know, any any one of my kids that are consistent, that they come in here, they put in the work, they do everything I asked them to do. I can look at them in and fully believe that they are going to be successful adults because of how much discipline they show and they. All my kids that put out.

Mark Rippetoe:
You can tell which ones are worth a damn, can't you?

[off-camera]:
Yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes. And to a certain extent, you can you can teach them. This is the important part. Now some are gonna learn it, OK. I'm sorry. Some of them aren't goint to learn it. Right. But the ones are willing to learn it, you know, if you got a little kid and he gets down to the fourth rep, he's supposed to do five with it. He says, "Rusty, that last one was hard."

Mark Rippetoe:
And you say, I know. Can you do another one? And he says, "No." And racks it. And you take him out from under the bar and you ask him, "Listen, why did you tell me no? Are you sure you couldn't have done it?" He says, "Well, I'm not sure. It sure was hard." And you say to him, "Look, I'm standing right here, I'm not going to let you get hurt. Next time that happens. I want you to show me what you're made out of. And I want you to try it."

Mark Rippetoe:
And he says, "OK." And he does the next set and he actually tries it. That's a salvageable kid. That's good. That's good. Now, if he puts his shirt up and leaves well, that teaches you something, too. That they're not all you know, not all humans have the same potential. I wish that weren't true, but it is. We pretend that it's not true, but we all know that it's true. Right. And to say otherwise is just pretending. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Barbell training is it is a extremely powerful tool. And it's not just for kids either. I mean, I've got I've got older guys that have started training with us over the years and... athis is something really that needs to be explored more thoroughly. What I'm told is that guy starts training, sixty five year old guy starts training. He comes in, he's not doing a damn thing. You know, he comes in, he starts training. He's he's not very strong. He's a fat guy. He's out of shape.

Mark Rippetoe:
Three years later, he sticks with it and he's got his squat up in the 300s at the age of sixty seven or eight. He's got squat up in the 300s he's deadlifting in the high 3s, maybe four hundred. Bench press two and a quarter. He's pressing one hundred and sixty five pounds over his head. You know, he's gained muscular body weight. He looks different. He acts different. And here's the interesting thing. He's perceived differently by his friends.

Mark Rippetoe:
A guy like that remembers walking into a room full of people he doesn't know and how he was treated when he walked into the room. And he notices that now that he's standing differently, that he's muscular. And he's got power. He's got a presence. He notices that people treat him differently.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I can't wait to see the comments from the haters on this. But what I'd like for some of you guys that know exactly what I'm talking about because it's happened to you. I'd like for you to comment. And back me up on this because I know it's true and you do, too.

Mark Rippetoe:
You're you're treated... you're perceived differently when your physical strength goes up, but it's not just your physical strength. It's the things that happen in your head that make you think about yourself differently, that cause you to be perceived differently in social situations than previously you were. And this is a you know, this is a this is terribly important. This is a terribly important effect of strength training.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I don't think that the profession of psychology understands this at all. I really don't. I don't think that they understand that there is actually a mechanism that can be applied to a human that improves their psychological capacity. Their psychological makeup, their self-perception, their perception by other people.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's a process. It's a process that involves something as fundamental to the DNA as strengthening the body. It's a physical adaptation to an environment that you, the trainee, choose to place yourself in. This is what adaptation is. It is the ability to change your homeostatic level to match that of the environment and what barbell training does with strength training in general.

Mark Rippetoe:
What barbell training in particular does is give you control over the environment to which you are going to be adapted. You choose the environment. The changing nature of 5 pounds a workout adapts you to an environment that you previously weren't adapted to. And this adaptation is evident to you as it occurs, but it... don't. Don't discount the fact that it's not also evident to other people. Because it is.

Mark Rippetoe:
That all may be happening at a subconscious level, I don't know. But if you walk in the room and you're standing up straight and you're bigger and your neck's bigger and you got, you know, bigger arms and lats and you're standing up straight and you're looking things straight in the eye.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's a.. that's a... you're perceived differently than some guy that walks in all stooped over, not wanting to make eye contact with anybody because he's not confident in himself. Guy like that's not confident in himself.

Mark Rippetoe:
The best way to get confident in yourself is to give yourself things to achieve hard things to achieve and achieve them and grow through the process of making that adaptation. Choosing to cause an adaptation to happen to your body is as a side effect, is choosing to cause adaptations to your brain and your personality as well. And those are the things that are perceived by other people to be very important.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the Starting Strength method is basically two pieces that fit together into a perfect puzzle. All right. There is the our analysis of the movement patterns and the fact that we're strengthening the movement patterns by performing these exercises correctly and that we're not concerned with the aesthetics that come along with worrying about muscle groups. And the other half of that is the method by which we execute the exercises over time. In order to obtain an accumulation of physical strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
Both are fairly straightforward. There's nothing terribly complicated about this, but if you're going to understand how this works, you have to not be distracted by peripheral shit that has a way of inserting itself into your attention span.

Mark Rippetoe:
And back to aesthetics... these things are important to some people, they're really basically important to everybody. Nobody wants to look like shit. But if you are paying close attention to your squat depth and your deadlift technique and your low back in the deadlift and a nice straight bar path on the pull. And you're you're paying attention to your presses and your benches. You're diligent about learning correct technique and the power clean and the power snatch, aesthetics take care of themselves.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is one of the one of the most important aspects of this that that we understand we just don't dwell on. All right. Nobody goes from deadlifting 185 to 500 without a major improvement in their physical appearance. When you look at a muscular man, a strong man, what you see is basically the things that happen when you deadlift. You're going to see a bigger neck, bigger delts, bigger arms lats. And muscular hips. This is what you see when you look at a guy who has gone from one hundred eighty five pound deadlift to a 500 deadlift. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we have not worried about the aesthetics at all. We worried about the numbers on the bar and the technique that we are using to do the pulls. We have worried about the squat and depth in the squat. We worried about making sure that technique on the bench press is correct and technique on the press is correct. The press is extremely sensitive to technique and that has to be paid attention to.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if we take care of all of these things that contribute to correct exercise, execution and the the correct way to program a strength increase over time, then the aesthetics are a side effect. Aesthetics happen accidentally. Aesthetics are something we don't have to pay attention to because we know that if we increase our strength that much, that the adaptations that our body makes that allows these things to accumulate have changed also. And it changes your appearance.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we don't have to worry about your bis and tris. Bis and tris take care of themselves.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this this process is is is terribly important. I think that those of us that that handle clients on a daily basis and see these changes occur over time, all understand that aesthetics is important, but that we're addressing it in a completely different way.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we address it in a way that ends up being much more effective. For improving aesthetics, then the guys that go in the gym and hang around at the dumbbell rack all afternoon and then do you know they ride the treadmill and go home.

Mark Rippetoe:
Our method's much more effective. For every aspect of the things that we are trying to affect, it makes you stronger, it makes you bigger, it makes you more confident and it makes you look better. And all you gotta do is five or six very basic exercises done correctly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Learn how to do them correctly. Get some help from us if you need it. And program correctly. Small incremental jumps in the basic exercises without being distracted by the functional training bullshit that you're seeing on the on the internet all over the place. You know, you don't need unstable surfaces, you don't need light weight. You need stable surfaces and heavy weights because they work better.

Mark Rippetoe:
Okay, am I leaving anything out, boys and girls? You're all all satisfied with this? Well, all right. Anything else we need to talk about?

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, wait. [Brushes his mustache]

Mark Rippetoe:
If I don't do that, occasionally, it gets all googly. Nothing's worse than a googley mustache. You notice I trim my eyebrows down real short because nothing looks weirder than Mark Twain here in 2020.

Mark Rippetoe:
If I didn't do that, you guys would hate me. I trimmed my nose hair last night too for the record. Good grooming is very important. Good grooming. Clean shaven I am.

[off-camera]:
Looking real good lately.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think it is.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's unfortunate that more people listen to this than watch it. Isn't it? I think everyone ought to watch it.

[off-camera]:
Would you say it's you 60 odd years to come to this peak for this form?

Mark Rippetoe:
This... I'm. I'm probably as good as I've ever been.

[off-camera]:
Is this the final form?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, no, because there's always tomorrow. Rusty. There's always tomorrow. It's not it's not final till it's over.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. Yeah. I thought that was funny.

Mark Rippetoe:
Okay. Well, I know you're as good as you've ever been to, so thank you for joining us today...

[off-camera]:
You're better for listening.

Mark Rippetoe:
...on Starting Strength radio. Yeah. If you want to just listen, I certainly understand. Oh god, so be with us next time all right next Friday. We're here every Friday. Just so... we'll see you. Thanks for watching.

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Mark Rippetoe discusses the bigger picture and the positive physical and psychological benefits of training with barbells.

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:06 Comments from the Haters!
  • 05:32 Box of chocolate
  • 08:26 Bottle Logic
  • 09:01 Brain getting busy
  • 11:08 Movement not muscles
  • 18:23 Technique and progress
  • 24:01 Function not appearance
  • 30:30 Vetting
  • 34:28 Psychological transformation
  • 39:14 Discipline under the bar
  • 44:59 Social hierarchy effects
  • 55:58 Peaking

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