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Why Starting Strength is Right About Everything | Starting Strength Radio #31

Mark Rippetoe | November 22, 2019

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[off-camera]:
That's going to fuck some people up...that you said high bar is OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
High bar is OK. It's not as good, but that's that's not the point you goddamn idiots. That's not the point.

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

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back to the podcast. We're here with Starting Strength Radio again on Friday, and we're glad you joined us today.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I like this shirt. We're just in Phoenix this past weekend. Several of the kids didn't know what this was. And I thought that was funny. I thought it was funny that... I just can't imagine somebody not having seen Animal House. Really, that's just so fucking weird to me. That's like not having seen The Wizard of Oz, you know, or Gone with the Wind. You know. Next you're going to tell me there... you don't know what The Wizard of Oz is, right Bre?

[off-camera]:
Is it about a wizard?

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, kinda.

Mark Rippetoe:
You've seen Gone with the Wind.

[off-camera]:
A windy movie?

Mark Rippetoe:
It's not about the wind. It's not about the wind. No, it's not. It's not a weather movie. It's Joe Bastardi... did a movie about the wind. What? No, no, no. That's not what it is. Some things are just... some things are interesting that people haven't seen. Ah, youth... It's wasted on the young.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. OK. I think we ought to probably get in the habit of doing this. But I always forget to do upcoming events on the schedule stuff seminars. All right. When you see this. It'll be prior to the seminar on December 6th in Wichita Falls. It's the last one of the year. Next year we'll be in Las Vegas in February and we'll be in Long Island in April.

Mark Rippetoe:
Where are we gonna be in March? We got someplace in March? Back here in March. Here in March, we're going try to be in Wichita Falls more next year because it's easier for me to drive to Wichita Falls.

Mark Rippetoe:
And let's see, that's that's something you really need to do. You know, if you're just sitting out there a fan of the method and everything, if you hadn't been to a seminar, you really need come to a seminar. You'll have a lot of fun. You'll leave very tired because it's a very long weekend and you'll get so much more information out of a seminar than you ever thought you could.

Mark Rippetoe:
I get people you know, I get people calling, contacting us all the time, wanting to be interns. Want to come spend a month at the gym thinking that they're going to learn a bunch of stuff from a month in the gym. And I have to point out to them that you do understand that we don't spend all day in the gym teaching the Starting Strength method. It's a gym. We just run the gym, we coach, we show people to lifts and stuff. But as far as the the material in the seminar is concerned, we don't address any of that in the gym because that's not what you do in a gym. That's what you do in a seminar.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if you want to learn things, then you come to the seminar. We've set it up for that purpose. It's twenty three contact hours and it is a long, intensive weekend. It is very heavy on information. And if you want to learn the stuff that we teach, then you've got to come to the seminar to do it. And you might just as well go ahead and break down and buy a ticket and come to the seminar. If you want to learn from us, that's where you do it. Not... and we're not have anybody as an intern hanging around the gym that hadn't been to a seminar first anyway. OK, so...

Mark Rippetoe:
As far as franchise gyms are concerned... Denver, Starting Strength Denver will be open on December the 1st.

[off-camera]:
NICE.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes, sir.

Mark Rippetoe:
And Jay Livsey, he's the owner up there and he's working his little narrow ass off to get this whole thing open and it's going to be a big grand opening. I think the grand opening takes place on the second week in January. Something like that. And I'll be there for that unless Denver's snowed in. I'll be there in for the grand opening. This is what we call the soft opening on December the 1st.

Mark Rippetoe:
Starting Strength Los Angeles has been signed. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Austin, Dallas, Houston are kicking everybody's ass down there. And in fact, I'm going to Austin tomorrow to hang around a couple of days and help bolster the situation down there. But of course, by the time this airs, I'll have already gone down there and been back.

Mark Rippetoe:
So this is a pointless announcement. Maybe you should cut this out. I mean, you can leave it in if you want to. Might as well leave it in.

Mark Rippetoe:
So Dallas is actively looking for the second location. Lots and lots of things in the pipeline, 15 or so gym in the pipeline at various stages of either completion or discussion. That thing's going real well and we'll announce the particulars on that just as soon as they become available.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nutrition camp dates are coming up in California and Texas and New York, where our friend Robert Santana tells you about nutrition all day. And it's it's certainly affordable. Look on the website for availability of that. If you're concerned with your body composition, you need to let Robert tell you what to do about it.

Mark Rippetoe:
So that is the... what do we call that little segment?

[off-camera]:
The announcements?

Mark Rippetoe:
The announcements. We'll call that The Announcements.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. And now our favorite part of the show: Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. "Rip reminds me of the vacuum cleaner from the brave little toaster."

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, how does this remind you of me? I don't understand this. Is it the eyebrows? The mustache, is it the. Could be the carpet. Carpet in this room, right? Vacuum cleaner, cleans carpet. All right. Could be... I think it is probably the fierce expression.

[off-camera]:
It's I think it's the expression.

Mark Rippetoe:
You think it is the fierce expression? All right. And let's see... some of these are getting repetitive, you know. "When the fattest guy in the room gives you health advice." Gabriel Simpson says "When the fattest guy in the room gives you health advice."

Mark Rippetoe:
I'm the only guy in the room. Well, no... there's those two. Rusty and Bre are over there, they're not fat. Cause they're not adult's either, so.Hon

Mark Rippetoe:
Hold on... Hold on a sec. Hey, Joe... It's Rogan again. Joe, look... Quit. No. We talked about it. Go away. Leave me alone. I'm not coming on the show. Bye.

Mark Rippetoe:
It gets so tiresome. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
"I'd bet Rip waters down his bourbon with milk from his hard nipples."

[off-camera]:
That is just disgusting.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's... this is... this has gotten tiresome. Although, see when that thing first appeared, that was one of my favorite things. And these guys are just, you know, your typical unoriginal bottom 3 percent and they're continuing to play on that little nipples thing. Here...

Mark Rippetoe:
"Are your nipples hard when you rub out your buddies sciatica, you chubby fuck."

Mark Rippetoe:
Mildly amusing, but it was funnier the first time we read it. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, here's one for Rusty. Rusty has a hater. Hey, you like that?

[off-camera]:
Everybody got a hater.

Mark Rippetoe:
Everybody needs a hater. I mean, if you don't have people hating you, then you haven't accomplished anything, right? That's our... that's our assumption. All right.

[off-camera]:
Have I peaked at 34?

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't know, man. I have a feeling your hate days have yet to come.

Mark Rippetoe:
Ccan't figure out if he is French, gay, the Pringle's mascot or just a friggin' beaver-looking douche with a mustache. I don't think he knows either." And this is from no less an authority than the authority or the authorities typing that in.

Mark Rippetoe:
Hold on. I've got to get where I can actually get that off of the table. Right. All right. And that concludes this week's episode of Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Now that that shit's over with now, let's get to the meat of the topic today.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is the thing that's been on my mind a lot recently. We go around the country and do seminars. We do one every month and people who come to the seminars are pretty much all on board. But, you know, we read things on the internet. I don't. I try to stay away from it because it's just too damn frustrating. But my people - I have people - and my people read these things and report in. About the things they've read on the internet. And there's a lot of a lot of weird negative stuff. People, you know, not just comments from the haters, but people that seemed to misunderstand what it is we're doing.

Mark Rippetoe:
What ends up happening all the time is that our approach to this strength situation gets called dogma. Dogma. D-O-G-M-A dogma - like a dogmatic approach.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't know the origin of that word. You got a origin for the... you got entomology, etymology, rather, of dogma?

Mark Rippetoe:
What is dogmatic? Where does that word come from? Because I hear that same ver... that very same descriptor applied to what we do all the time. All right. Dogma is...

[off-camera]:
A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

Mark Rippetoe:
As incontrovertibly true. And the implication there, of course, it is not incontrovertibly true. Right?

[off-camera]:
Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this bothers me. This bothers me because. What we're telling you is the truth.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I wanted to go through some of this today because I think it's worth discussing. It is our contention that strength is the most important physical adaptation that you can have. Now this, of course, is disputed by all the aerobics people who just want you to run and have a healthy heart and lungs.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, and and it's important to have a healthy heart and lungs, I'm not saying that we should all have, you know, lung cancer and quadruple bypasses and fatty liver disease, but squat 900. That's a complete mischaracterization of what it is we're talking about.

Mark Rippetoe:
First off, we don't deal with powerlifters. Now I I get that is a that's a point of confusion. And a lot of people have is that we're all about powerlifting.

Mark Rippetoe:
We don't give a fuck about powerlifting, about the sport of powerlifting - squat, bench, deadlift, suit and wraps, squats this far above parallel [holds hands to show several inches], people yelling at you about how beautiful the depth was when you were this far [shows several inches with hands] above parallel and, you know, looking up the ceiling, that sort of shit. Yelling, screaming, everyone sounding like Macho Man, Randy Savage. Right. We don't care about powerlifting.

Mark Rippetoe:
That Has not got anything whatsoever to do with Starting Strength. And it never has. And it's it is just a convenient way to construct an argument that that you can argue against.

Mark Rippetoe:
"Not everybody wants to be a powerlifter, Rip. Not everybody wants to be a powerlifter, Rip.".

Mark Rippetoe:
Hey, shut the fuck up. We never said everybody ought to be a powerlifter. We don't advocate powerlifting as a sport. Fact I've got a lot of problems with it. And I wrote a column about that three, four weeks ago. Look it up. "How to fix powerlifting" is the name of it. Bunch of problems in powerlifting so I don't want to hear about powerlifting.

Mark Rippetoe:
What we want is for everybody that's not strong to get that way. And I mean everybody. I'm talking about you and your mother-in-law and all your relatives and your kids and your cousins and aunts and nephews and everybody else. We want them all to be strong. Your friends. All the kids on your teams need to be strong, because when you're strong, you're better at both athletics - but more importantly, you're better at being alive when you're strong.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now there really is not a good argument against that. I mean, there's a lot of conventional research been done on the relationship between physical strength and longevity, physical strength and compression of morbidity. There's been a bunch of stuff done that shows that stronger people are far, far less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, heart disease. All this other stuff, all the all the health markers, mental conditions, psychology, all the stuff that's associated with depression.

Mark Rippetoe:
All of this stuff is shows pretty much incontrovertibly that. Strength, physical strength is good for you. And that if you get strong, you will be better than if you stay in the miserable shape you're in right now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now that so that having been said, what is strength? OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
Strength is a fairly straightforward concept. Those of you that have read the old book called Supertraining by Mel Siff and Verkhoshansky can come away with the idea that strength is 18 or 20 different things. Because by the time you wade through that book to the point where you're you're at the point where "what is strength?" there's, you know, eight or ten pages of different definitions of strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's why the vast majority of you are listening to this podcast have not read Supertraining. Because I tried I tried a long time ago. I tried real hard to read Supertraining. I got about two thirds of the way through it and failed to find anything that I had read in that hundred and seventy five pages so far that made a material difference in the way I was training myself and my clients. I don't think it is terribly useful to beat things into the thirty-five different pieces and then examine the broken pieces and try to obtain knowledge from the morphology of a bunch of broken pieces of shit.

Mark Rippetoe:
I look at systems and how systems operate. And strength is a very straightforward concept and it is nothing more than the ability to produce force against an external resistance. Strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance, and that's all it is. Pushing on something, pulling on something, applying force to it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now what is force? OK. Let's go through some definitions here. So with ... we're all on the same page about what the hell it is we're producing.

Mark Rippetoe:
Force is the quantity which produces motion or acceleration. So I see you raising your hands. Force equals MA. Force equals mass times acceleration. Yes, that's how you calculate it. I'm not asking you to calculate it for me. I'm telling you what it is. Force is the thing that makes things move.

Mark Rippetoe:
OK, so. The application of force against an external resistance is the thing that makes an external resistance move. Right now, this is broadly applicable. The external resistance might be a barbell, but it might be a tennis racket, it might be an opponent. It might be the ground relative to you. It might be a bag of groceries. It might be you picking yourself up off of the toilet in the rest home. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Strength is all kinds of different things in terms of its application, but it is always, always the production of force against an external resistance. Now, why external? Well, because it's very difficult to talk about the amount of force that we exert between the individual vertebral bodies, for example, during a deadlift. You know, you've got the whole spine and the muscles hold the whole spine together and isometric contraction and how much force is being produced against that internal resistance. We don't care. That's why we stipulate to an external resistance so we can measure it.

Mark Rippetoe:
The this is, you know, this... It's not necessary to make this complicated. Right. If if you just understand that that strength, this production of force against an external resistance, you understand that maximum force production, the most force you can produce, is quite easily measured with a barbell. It's also measured with other measurement devices, but however you want to measure it, maximum amount of force production.

Mark Rippetoe:
If that is very high, it makes sub-maximal force production easier. And this is the this is the the cool thing here about how concise this definition is. If a 1 rep max squat is a maximum force production event, a 1RM squat is a maximum force production event, a 100 meter sprint is a 46RM. There's about 46 strides in 100 meter dash. At the elite level in each one of those strides is a sub-maximal force production event. The stronger you are, the more force you can produce sub-maximally in each one of those strides, and that's why sprinters squat. That's why sprinters have always incorporated effective strength training into their training programs.

Mark Rippetoe:
Here's the part that that freaks everybody out. It's not well understood that a marathon - twenty-six point two miles - is a fifty five thousand RM. That's about how many strides you take in a marathon. Each stride is a sub-maximal force production event.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if the little hundred and twenty five pound marathon runner takes his squat from nothing - which most of them were squatting right now - up to, for example, his body weight for a set of five, then that runner is more effective at running the twenty six point two miles.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now listen very carefully because here is the straw man rearing its head: We don't want marathon athletes to become powerlifters. We don't want any more power lifters than we absolutely have to have. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're not suggesting that powerlifting is the answer to the marathon. That's not what we're saying. We're merely suggesting that the marathon competitor spend enough time in the weight room, you know, occasionally to be able to show some basic level of physical competency with respect to generating lower body force. Because after all, what he's going to do in Boston that weekend is a force production event even though it is dragged out over to hours.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that happening again? Oh, my God. Joe just won't quit will he? God, I wish he'd quit calling. It interrupts my train of thought.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I think... all right, now Boston marathon and powerlifting. Boston marathon people do not need to be powerlifters. Powerlifters don't run in the Boston Marathon. Marathoners don't lift in power meets. Never the two shall meet. But powerlifters are strong. And Boston marathon people could stand to be stronger. And this is the this is a function of the fact that sub-maximal force production is increased and its ability be produced over and over and over again is enhanced by increased strength. And lots of other things are improved by strength, too.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. And as it turns out, we have a handy little poster that we've just recently designed. It's now on the market and it looks like this [screen shows poster image]. This thing kind of shows you the relationships between the things I'm talking about. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Notice that strength is both acquired, and as it's acquired, things happen to systemic integrity that that are improved by the acquisition of strength itself. When strength is displayed as endurance, technically or quickly these things are improved as well.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, this is a lovely poster that we had produced. Our illustrator for the book, Jason Kelly, just got through doing this poster for us. And these things are for sale for nine ninety nine plus shipping on on the website. Get yours today.

Mark Rippetoe:
This reminds you of the things that strength does. All right. Not only does the acquisition of strength make you bigger and stronger and it improves your bone density and makes you less likely to injury, less prone to injury, improves your immune function, improves your metabolic control, keeps you from getting fat, keeps you from getting skinny. This sort of thing. But the performance benefits of strength, some of which are not terribly obvious to the casual observer, are nonetheless very, very important to those of you who are participating in in athletics or in the sport of Life. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Balance and coordination are the control of your bodyweight. And the control of your own bodyweight in space against the floor is is a function of your ability to produce force in the right patterns and at the right time and in sufficient quantities, accuracy and precision - that which you display when you throw a baseball or hit a golf ball or hit a tennis ball with an implement. All of these things are functions of sub-maximal force protection, and the stronger your the easier it is to place a small amount of that force precisely and accurately.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think that requires about 10 seconds worth of thought to understand that along with practice, doing those technical movement patterns for accuracy and precision, strength improves your ability to do that over and over again and do it with a with a greater amount of accuracy and precision. And once again, we're not trying to suggest that everybody needs a six hundred bench press. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
But if you can't be bench 135 at a body weight of one eighty five, your accuracy and persuasion will increase when you get to where you can. Right. This is this is a common observation and it's not even remotely controversial. So don't object on those bases.

Mark Rippetoe:
We are not trying to replace strength training for practice. Practice for your sport has to happen. But as you get stronger with your training, the practice that you do on the field for your sport incorporates strength into the movement patterns that you are going to execute in a performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it's obvious that power is dependent on strength. There's a probably another one hour show we could do on that and we may do that eventually. Speed, agility and this interesting quantity called field strength that my buddy John Well-born talks about. He's one that gave me that term. Field strength is interesting. It's it's... the best way to understand field strength is your ability to apply force to an external resistance when in a position that is less optimal for you to do that.

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, a deadlift is optimally performed because you can place the middle of your foot directly under the bar and you can pull the barbell up in a relatively straight line off the floor. Thus ergonomentrically maximizing the force production against the bar. But on the field, when you're running down the field or making a tackle or trying to reach for a ball or doing any of the other things that you do in a position of less than optimal balance, greater strength enables you to still apply a tremendous amount of force in those situations that you would not be able to apply had you not possessed and develop the strength as a result of training. So it's an interesting concept.

Mark Rippetoe:
And speed, agility, all these things are obviously subcategories of the application of your ability to produce force against external resistances.

Mark Rippetoe:
So strength is not arguable. What it basically boils down to is strength is better. It's better for every athlete to be stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
In fact, people who play games - like golf, billiards, these sorts of things. In my mind, a game is characterized by something that only involves practice but not training. Let that soak in a minute.

Mark Rippetoe:
If... most golfers approach golf like it's a game. I'm suggesting that top players need to train for golf as well because the stronger you are. And this has been measured. This is not even an odd concept. The stronger you are, the further you hit the ball. You take a stroke off a hole with a longer... with a longer drive then you need to do it. And I think that's arguable either. That's not that's not a particularly challenging concept.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're waiting for the golf market to get on board and they will eventually. But right now, the vast majority of golfers approach golf like a game and if that's what they want to do, that's fine. Everybody needs to play games. If you want to go out and be recreational. But if you're serious about your golf, you need to squat, deadlift, press and bench press because it'll help you hit the ball further.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is the part... I'm not really... I don't really understand. People want to argue with us about being dogmatic and... I don't think there's anything dogmatic about our approach to strength training any more than there is dogma in learning arithmetic. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is the best way to get stronger? Is the best way to get stronger to come into the gym and just do some squats every six or seven weeks? Is getting stronger, best accomplished with a brand new exercise every time you come into the gym? A brand new range of motion with a brand new weight?

Mark Rippetoe:
No. So let's not be dumb. All right. If we are trying to produce a strength adaptation for all of the reasons we just went over, what's the best way to do that? Well, if you can find a more logical approach than ours, I'd like to know it. Because no one has ever explained it to me in a way that makes our approach not the best there is in this industry.

Mark Rippetoe:
What we're gonna do is two things. We're gonna design a group of exercises to produce a strength adaptation more effectively than any other group of exercises. All right. We're going to design the squat, the press, the bench, press, the deadlift to use the most amount of muscle mass in the exercise over the longest effective range of motion, thereby enabling you to handle the most weight so you get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because what is strength? It's the production of force against an external resistance. And if the external resistance goes up, i.e. if you lift heavier weights, then you are getting stronger. Period. Stop. That's all there is to it.

Mark Rippetoe:
If your deadlift goes from 200 to 250, you got stronger. Because you lifted more weight off the floor. If your squat goes from one fifteen to 225, you got stronger. Because you squatted more weight. You squatted down to below parallel to the same range of motion every time and came back up. Then your squat got stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
It does matter where the bar is on your back. Now, in our opinion, you'll work more muscle mass and are therefore able to lift more weights if you put the bar in a specific place on your back and that we show you how to how to do in the books, in the seminars. But if your high bar squat is 800 pounds, I don't care. You're pretty fucking strong. OK. It doesn't matter that much. Don't argue the details.

Mark Rippetoe:
The point is you lift more weight and when you lift more weight than you used to, then that means you got stronger. And that's all there is to it. It's not any more complicated than that. And that's not dogma. That's arithmetic. When your ability to generate force against a loaded barbell increases, then you are stronger.

Mark Wulfe:
If...Then. Logic. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now we like to do the exercises this particular way. All right. I think it's important to do them this way because it maximizes the time that you spend under the bar in the gym, maximizes the efficiency and the effectiveness of the time spent under the bar in the gym. There are other ways to do these exercises. They don't work as well as our way.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, if you want to argue with that, you go ahead and argue that, right. But what we're saying is that if you control the range of motion in a movement pattern and your ability to exert force against a heavier and heavier weight is generated by the repeated application of stress against that force production event, then you will get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
OK, so Starting Strength is two basic concepts. It's the way we do the lift. All right. But most important thing about Starting Strength is the systematic application of the stress recovery adaptation phenomenon that is inherent in biology. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
We find out where you are today in terms of your ability to produce X amount of force against the squat. For example, we take you up to a weight that say weighs 115, having with our eyeballs operating under the gift of experience determined that one twenty five would be too much to do and that your form would fall apart. All right. So that's where you are the first day.

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, we both taught you how to do this movement pattern, and we've measured your ability to generate force using that movement pattern. And then the next time you come in, after you recover from the stress event for 24, 48 hours, maybe 72 hours, whatever it is for you that you come in and you go up to 125. You go up 10 pounds, a little bit. And you produce force against 125 over that same range of motion, the measured, precise range of motion that you worked with it the previous workout.

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, you're coming in and increasing the amount of force production that you can generate against the same range of motion. And then you recover from that and then you do it again and then you recover from that. And then you go to a five pound increase instead of a 10 pound increase. And what we find is that if you go to a 5 lb increase, that you are able to come in for months. Every other day, 48 hour apart workouts and produce five more pounds of force, thus taking her squat from 115 on the first day to 275.

Mark Rippetoe:
At some point months in the future now. If you have gone from 115 to 275. Then you have gotten stronger and you got stronger because of the logical application of the stress recovery adaptation phenomenon. And There is not any way to get any stronger, faster than that. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't I don't know why you will argue with us about that. What is there to argue about? All right. Just cuz you don't like me, that's fine. I don't care. I'm about like Donald Trump. I don't care that you don't like me. Don't come to my house. OK. But this is arithmetic. All right. And I I don't understand the resistance to this logic. There's not a better way to do this. And if there is a better way to do it. Tell me. What would it be? You don't like fives? All right. Use fours, use sixes. Seems like a stupid thing to have an argument about. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
You don't like five pounds, all right use three pounds. I don't care. That doesn't matter. A lot of people should probably do three poundss insteaad of five pounds, depending on who they are, what they weigh, what their sex is, these sorts of things. These sorts of things, these variables, all have to do with the selection of the incremental increases and hence are baked into our method.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I'm just, for example, saying five pounds. But the idea is that you went up a little bit. Every time you train, you use the same exercise which have been designed specifically to generate the most efficient production of force against the barbell. And then you go up a little bit more every time you handle them, you go up a little bit more, an amount that allows you to recover from the exposure to the stress, not too much, but certainly not the same thing over and over again until it gets easy.

Mark Rippetoe:
You've heard of that shit? "Just lift the same weight until it gets easy." You know when 115 will be easy? When one eighty five is hard. That's when 115 is easy.

Mark Rippetoe:
And how did you get to one eighty five? Well, you went to 125 and then you went to 135 and then you went to 140 and then 145 and then 150 and then 155 and then 160 and then 165 and then 170 and then 175 and 180 and then 185. And now 115 is easy when it used to be hard, but it got easy because you went to 125 the next workout. That's why it got easier because you applied the process of going from 115 to 125. And so on and so forth up to 185 and generated the response to the stress by applying the stress response of the stress is adaptation and that's how you build strength and there's not any other way to do it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, you can argue with the meaningless details, but the principle is the same. Note that random exposures to many different types of exercises does not produce this process. Note that random exposures to the squat once every six weeks, once every two weeks, varying amounts of weight, five one day 20s the next day singles the next day doesn't produce the same type of response to program systematic stress exposure that the Starting Strength method does. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Once again, we are dealing here with arithmetic and you can make it... You'd have a pointless argument with us if you want to. But it doesn't make any difference. You're going to lose the argument because your approach is not logical and ours is.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I understand defending your turf. OK. I understand you've got a brand you want to promote. All right. I understand you may have decided to build a brand on picky little arguments with us. It doesn't matter. You're using our material, and that's fine. I want you to use our material, but you have to understand the logic involved in our approach to this thing. The exercises, exercise selection is not the variable. Exercises are selected because we designed the exercise to generate the best stress response to increase loading. The low bar squat is designed for that purpose. You can use high bar if you want it doesn't matter. High bar doesn't work as well as low bar, but it still works because the idea is that if you come in three days a week and go up on your sets of five squats by five pounds, you will get stronger over time.

[off-camera]:
That's going to fuck some people up. That you said that high bar is okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
High bar is okay. It's not as good. But that's that's not the point, you goddamn idiots. That's not the point. The point is that you find a way to squat where you can control the range of motion. Now that is important. You have to control the range of motion because if you go up five pounds and reduce the range of motion by half an inch, then pretty soon you're squatting five eighty five about fifteen inches above parallel, aren't you? That's not the same thing as getting stronger. That's cutting off the squat depth. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
So once again, this is arithmetic. All right. I'm not a you know, I didn't have differential equations in college because I couldn't. I barely got through Calc 2, but I did get through Calc 2, actually. I got an A in calc 2 now that I think about it. And in the process of going through Calc 1 about 5 times, Calc 2 once, I understood the process of logic. These things are not subject to everybody's opinion.

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, the fact that you think this is "dogma" is irrelevant to the fact that it works every single solitary time that is applied correctly. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now let's look at this. Let's step back and see what applied correctly means. All right. If I got a 18 year old kid that comes in the gym. Well, I'm going to put the bar on his back. I'm going to show him how to squat low bar and I'm on to find out how much he can squat that day. And and the kid is just an average kid. He's going to squat 115, 125, 135, something like that. A kid walks and he's been a football player, he's got a 36 inch vertical, that same kid who is not trained may well squat 275 the first day because people with big verticals are different than people with average verticals.

Mark Rippetoe:
By the same token, the guy's mom may decide she wants to train at the same time. Where am I going to start her? Well I'm going to start with a fifteen pound bar. Right. And I'm going to show her how to squat with a fifteen pound bar, she may go to fifty five pounds the first day. To her that is equivalent to his 275. It's different, but the principle is the same.

Mark Rippetoe:
And how much am I going to increase her next time? I'm going to probably go up 5 pounds with her. All right, with him, I might go up 20 pounds with a kid like that. I might go at 20 pounds on the second workout because he can. But I'm not going to ask her to do the same thing because she has a different ability than he does.

Mark Rippetoe:
None the less, the principle is the same. I'm going to have her go up on the same exercise. I'm going to have her go up five pounds. I will eventually get to having her go up two and a half pounds. Because she's not as strong as she as he is and she can't make as rapid a progress, a rapid an adaptation to the strength training stress that he can. But I'm going to none the less ask her to go up at the rate that she can go up, and that's as fast as she can get strong.

Mark Rippetoe:
If I ask her to take two big jumps, she's gonna get stuck. She won't be able to do all the five reps of all three sets. And I don't want her stuck, I want her to go up continually.

Mark Rippetoe:
I want to apply a stress. She can recover from and I want her to recover from that stress, adapt to the heavier weight, and then do it again and adapt to a still heavier weight and a still heavier weight. Because strength is the production of force against an external resistance. And if the amount of the external resistance goes up, then strength increases. And that's all there is to this. We don't need Siff and Verkoshansky to tell us all of this complicated engineering shit. It's very, very simple and it doesn't do anybody any favors to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think this is the part that is is so difficult for people to understand. This is not complicated. Complexity appeals to stupid people.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I'm sorry if that you you're being stupid. All right. The principle of a Occam's razor - and that that's pronounced in various ways - holds that the simplest solution to a problem is usually the best solution, among other corollaries. But that's what we're looking at here. If I can have you go up five pounds on your squat, three days a week for five months, is there a better way for you to get stronger, faster?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, what is stronger? Production of more force, right? If I try to have you go up 10 pounds a workout for five months, it won't work because you can't adapt to the stress if the stress overwhelms the recovery process. So we have to find the place in your recovery ability to dial in the amount of stress we're going to add to the program. Add to that, add to the exercise so that you can adapt to that exercise in a linear fashion.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, if we find that increment correctly, we will be able to add weight to your bar for months and you will be much, much, much stronger in a very short period of time using this principle. When that no longer works - and it won't work forever, people don't squat nine thousand pounds - when that does when that stops working, then we'll get more complicated and we know how to do that, too.

Mark Rippetoe:
Amazingly enough, over the past 42 years, I've learned a couple of things about this shit. But at first, this simple approach to all of these lifts is all you need to do because nothing can possibly work any better. OK. Nothing can work any better than this simple, straightforward approach. You can't get any stronger, faster than you can recover from the force production stimulus. Everything has to be dialed in correctly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right now, what about if your mom's mom wants to come in and she's seventy five years old? Same thing works for her. Same exact thing. We find out where she is and then we have her go up a little bit next time. Now where she is maybe on the leg press because she may not be strong enough to be able to handle her own bodyweight through a full range of motion squat. So we find an exercise she can do and we measure her capacity on that exercise. And we find out where she is today in terms of the amount of weight she can leg press. And then the next time she comes in, she goes up a little bit on the leg press. Eventually she'll be able to squat.

Mark Rippetoe:
Really! She will.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right now, she may only come in twice a week. Why would that be? Whereas the kid can come in three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, grandma may want to go Tuesday and Friday or Wednesday and Saturday. Or whatever fits her schedule. Because the older you get, the harder it is for you to recover. The same hormonal systems that were in place for an 18 year old kid have eroded quite a bit for his grandmother. None the less, the process is the same. It doesn't proceed as efficiently as it does for him, but it precedes nonetheless, because until she's dead, she can adapt at some rate to an increased workload to force production stress.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. And you know, a lot of grandma's are afraid of doing this, and they shouldn't be. I understand they are, and that's unfortunate. I understand seventy five year old ladies don't like to walk in my gym and see the barbells in the racks and everything, but the damn best thing about a 75 year old lady walking in my gym is that we love her. We want here there. Gold's Gym doesn't care about your 75 year old grandmother. We do, because we understand how important it is to get her strong and we understand how to do it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And she doesn't want to deal with all the chaos that goes on in the exercise floor of a commercial gym. Our place is different. Starting Strength gyms are different than that. We welcome the participation of elderly people into our program because we understand that the same process that our kids use to get a five hundred squat are are the same processes, identical processes, that are going to get her to a bodyweight squat from a 40 pound leg press.

Mark Rippetoe:
We want her to be able to handle her own body weight through space and eventually we'll have a barbell on her back. And the day she does a barbell squat with some plates only on the outside of that, she's going to be happy. She's going to be. She's going to. That's going to be the most fun she ever had, because now she's got a huge piece of her life back, possibly a piece of her life she'd previously never had. And it's all because of the logical application of the stress recovery adaptation process.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I would just ask you to shut up about dogma and start thinking in terms of logic. OK. Think in terms of logic. If you got a better idea about how to do this, put those in the god damn Comments from the Haters! OK.

Let's hear your ideas about... But what you're gonna say is "Rippetoe is full or shit. He's just a fat guy. He doesn't know anything about any of this. He's so fat. Look, at his stupid looking shirt that says on it 'college.' Rippetoe has nipples. Nobody else has nipples. Rippeteo has nipples."

Mark Rippetoe:
That's what you're going to say. I don't want hear all that shit. What I want to hear is a better idea, if your useless ass has one.

Mark Rippetoe:
And guess what? It doesn't because there's not a better idea. If there was a better idea, we'd be using it already because we've thought real hard about this for a real long time and we've got this dialed in.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, now your thoughts and opinions are are important, more so to you than me, because I've already heard all. But it would be better if you would stop making pointless arguments about what we're trying to do here and figure out ways to take these ideas and apply them to your situation, to your clients, to your athletes, and stop doing stupid shit like bands and chains and 8 inch above parallel squats once or twice a month because that's stupid. That's not the way you make the best progress. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Advanced power lifters programs don't apply to you. They probably don't apply to the advanced power lifters who are trying to use them either, because all that stuff is kind of dumb. But they certainly as hell don't apply to novices, people who have not gone through the process of merely adding five pounds of weight to the bar every workout for as long as that worked.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now when that stops working, when an honest application of what we call this novice linear progression stops working for you, then you're going to have to think about some other ways to continue forcing the adaptation to occur. We got a whole book of those for you. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
But until that period of time, through that process, nothing needs to be changed. You don't need any new exercise. You don't need to do variations on these same exercises. All you need to do is go up five pounds or whatever the equivalent of five pounds is for you. And go up every time and not worry about how hard it feels. Not worry about your rate of perceived exertion. All you worry about is did the last rep of the last set go. And then do it again with more weight. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Everything else is a distraction. Everything else is a complete waste of time. All right. And if you can go in to the gym and show up three days a week and and show up and get under the bar and add five pounds to the previous workout, squats, presses, bench press, deadlifts, then you will get stronger. It is unavoidable. The process works every single time that it's tried for everybody it's used with. Every single time.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's the Starting Strength approach. It's the exercises done correctly. Correct technique so that we can control and quantify the amount of stress that you're applying during these exercises. And then we go up a little bit. We quantify an increase in that stress. That's really all there is to it. Anything else is a complete waste of time.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if you want to get stronger - and I think you must understand that you do - this is the way it's done. It's not dogma. It's arithmetic. Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
Thanks for being with us today. I'm passionate about this. You might you might see that in my face and hear it in my voice because it matters. It matters to you, too. It should anyway. It certainly is. Hell matters to somebody that you love. So quit arguing with us. Quit having pointless arguments with us and apply these simple principles to what you're doing.

Mark Rippetoe:
We'll see you next time on Starting Strength radio.

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Mark Rippetoe expands on the concept that strength is the most important physical adaptation and that barbell training is the most effective way to train for strength, regardless of your hobbies or activities outside the gym.

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 02:03 Announcements
  • 06:59 Comments from the Haters!
  • 10:46 "Dogma" & strawmen
  • 15:26 Strength is Fundamental
  • 33:51 Strength Math & Method
  • 46:57 Every. Single. Time.

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