The Japanese translation of Starting Strength was recently published in Japan. We have been generously provided with an English translation of the foreword prepared for that audience to share with you.
This is the Japanese translation of Starting Strength by Mr. Mark Rippetoe. The first time I had my hands on the original book dates back to 2005, although it has since received updates and what we have now is the third edition. It was a recommendation from my professor when I was studying in the US, and as I began reading it, I immediately noticed the great value of the book. There is no other book in existence that describes how to perform strength training in such a detailed, logical, and nerdy manner (in a good way). I feel firsthand that reading Starting Strength greatly deepened my knowledge and understanding of strength training.
I have been recommending Starting Strength to any friends and other coaches who asked me for a book recommendation on strength training. However, responses to the effect of “Oh, I can’t read English.” and “Only if there was a Japanese version of it.” Have been all too common. The fact that it is written in English has proven to be a barrier, preventing the teachings of Starting Strength from spreading in Japan. I’ve always felt that it was unfortunate.
I had a feeling resembling relief when I first heard the news that Starting Strength was finally going to be translated into Japanese after more than 10 years since the first edition of the original book was published. It is a great honor that I have the opportunity to write the foreword to this Japanese version. As someone who has been a long-term reader of the original book, I would like to share my thoughts on what makes Starting Strength so unique.
Many a book on strength training has been published. Some books describe how to perform strength training exercises but most books only have instructions spread over a couple of facing pages per exercise. For relatively simple single-joint exercises like the leg extension and the side raise, perhaps those meager instructions are enough to show how to perform them. However, when it comes to complex multi-joint exercises done with free weights like the squat and deadlift, it is virtually impossible to understand and acquire the proper techniques by reading a couple of pages of instructions only. Attempting to squat or deadlift with such shallow levels of knowledge and understanding, as would be based on those two-page descriptions alone, would not produce the desired training effects and could even lead to greater risk of pain or injury.
In contrast to books covering countless exercises with these two-page instructions, the most unique feature of Starting Strength is that it mainly focuses on five barbell exercises; the squat, the press, the deadlift, the bench press and the power clean with detailed descriptions extending over tens of pages for each exercise. There is no other book that dedicates this many pages to individual exercises.
The fact that Starting Strength only features five exercises may seem unsatisfying to some people who are used to reading training-related books that cover tens of exercises. (Although Starting Strength actually has some assistance exercises in addition to the five main exercises.) However, these five exercises have great abilities to build strength because they involve a lot of muscle groups to lift heavy weights through long ranges of motion. It is far more likely that you will achieve the goal of gaining strength by focusing on the five exercises described in Starting Strength than if you go through the tens of exercises in those training-related books that are commonly available.
Starting Strength teaches you how to perform the exercises in great detail, but it also explains, based on knowledge in biomechanics and anatomy, why to perform the exercises in the ways described in the book. For readers who are in the position of teaching strength training, understanding the whys in addition to the hows will enable them to teach the hows more effectively and more confidently. For readers performing these exercises, understanding the whys will enable them to be more attentive to proper techniques (= the hows) and to train more effectively. Understanding the whys will lead to more confidence in the method, which should then lead to greater motivation to train.
Such detailed explanations of the whys are one of the unique features of Starting Strength that other training-related books do not offer. Reading it all will probably be a surprising and a ground-breaking experience to many readers as they probably will not have thought as deeply as presented in the book about how to perform the exercises and the reasoning behind it.
In addition to how to perform the aforementioned five exercises, Starting Strength offers advice on how to move forward with your training using these exercises. In particular, it provides a program specifically designed for novices who are new to strength training.
This program for novices is very simple. It mainly consists of the five exercises featured in the book with only two other additional exercises; the chin-up and the back extension. Most exercises are done for 3 sets of 5 reps with the exception of the deadlift being 1 set of 5 reps. The load is increased by 2.5kg or 5kg after each training session and this progression is supposed to be used until it’s no longer possible to do so. Unlike strategies commonly referred to as periodization, there is no change periodically made to the exercise selection, volume (≒ total reps) or intensity of load (≒ weight lifted) over time.
Because it is so simple, some readers might wonder if such a simple program can really be effective. However, focusing on just a few exercises that are actually important will definitely improve strength more at the novice stage than trying many different exercises. And because novices will gain strength relatively quickly, simply adding 2.5~5kg at each session rather than fiddling around with the set × rep scheme will be the more efficient path to strength gains. I can attest to this based on my experience of coaching athletes of many different levels, and the book also explains why this is the case.
The novice program laid out in this book is indeed simple, but because it’s simple, it is highly effective. There is no need to be concerned about its simplicity. There is no need to add more exercises or change the numbers of sets or reps to perform. I would recommend the readers to do the program exactly as it is designed if they want to maximize the efficacy of the program.
In addition to the novice program, the book provides additional explanations for things like how to program warmup sets and work sets, how to increase weight, and what to do when strength plateaus occur.
Practical information on these topics will be necessary when implementing strength training programs written on paper. Commonly available training-related books typically just tell you something like “Squat 3 sets of 5” and don’t provide practical advice on whether to use the same weight across the sets or increase weight each set, or at what point to increase weight when the weight you’re currently lifting starts to feel easy.
In contrast, Starting Strength provides a wide range of practical knowledge on the premise that the readers will implement what they read in the book. The fact that Mr. Mark Rippetoe regularly coaches members of the gym he owns is probably a major contributing factor to this aspect of the book. What you read in Starting Strength is not an empty theory on paper; it is actually useful in real life. This is a major strength of this book.
With all these features, Starting Strength is a very unique book. There is no other book like Starting Strength. I am excited about this Japanese version being published and Starting Strength becoming accessible to many more people. Just like Starting Strength deepened my knowledge and understanding of strength training, I am looking forward to seeing this Japanese version improve the knowledge and understanding of the entire training industry in the country.
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“If physical strength forms the base on top of which the superstructure of all other interrelated aspects of well-being are built, it makes sense that enhancing strength not only makes us feel better about ourselves in the short run, but under the right circumstances promotes overall mental health in the long run.”
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“Most of us recognize that doing 5 sets of 5 reps – 5 x 5 – is an incredibly powerful method of getting big and strong…there are multiple ways to employ the 5×5 method into your program. Each method has its own set of pros and cons.”
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April 29, 2019
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In the Trenches
Joanne Pruszynski pulls 205 for a lifetime PR. Joanne is coached by SSC Scott Acosta at Studio Fit in Richmond Hill GA. [photo courtesy of Scott Acosta]
Andrew Jackson teaches bar position for the squat during the Starting Strength Seminar held at Westminster Strength and Conditioning last weekend. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
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Training Martial Arts Students
As you probably know, Judo and BJJ students require explosive power, especially Judo. I got a hold of this program that you may have approved. I have some questions about it.
- Why is it 2 days a week lifting instead of 3? Is it because the athlete will get tired with all the martial arts training?
- How do we determine intermediate? Is it when we work to the stall and then reset once? When we reset, what weight do we reset to (is it the 5-10% I read in The Reset: Why and How) I understand from this thread that is difficult.
- Under intermediate, what does it mean reps are done at interval for the power clean?
- On the days we are not lifting: We’ve watched the videos on the prowler but we do not know how far we push it and how many sets. Do we follow Death By Prowler?
- Farmer’s walk. How far do we walk with the weight? Do we increase this each time?
- Under intermediate, what is the + sign for? Is this where we add weight?
So here is what we think you have approved: Two day per week lifting programs for judo.
The Texoma Judo Novice Strength Program
* Based on Rippetoe’s Starting Strength- modified.
* Three weeks on, one week deload. Work to the stall, then reset once.
- Power clean 5×2
- Squat 3×5
- Bench 3×5
- Chin 3×10-15
- Power clean 5×2
- Squat 3×5 (or front squat 5×3)
- Press 3×5
- Deadlift 1×5
The Texoma Judo Intermediate Strength Program
* Based on Wendler’s 531 for the power lifts.
* Based on Grimes’ scheme for Olympic lifts.
* Notated as week1/week2/week3. Week 4 is deload.
- Power snatch 6×2/6×2/3×2,5×1 (work for heaviest set)
- Squat 1×5+/1×3+/1×5,1×3,1×1+/deload
- Bench 1×5+/1×3+/1×5,1×3,1×1+/deload
- Weighted chins 3×5-10
- Power clean: 10@60s/10@75s/10@90s (same weight every set. Reps are done on the @ interval. e.g. 1 per 60sec, etc.)
- Front squat 5×3/7×2/10×1 (work to heaviest set)
- Press 1×5+/1×3+/1×5,1×3,1×1+/deload
- Deadlift 1×5+/1×3+/1×5,1×3,1×1+/deload
- You do this. That’s it. I’d recommend another day or two of agility work, complexes, and sprints/prowler work, but that’s another topic.
- You add a bit of weight to power cleans each week (not every day). It should feel a little lighter on B day. This is practice day.
- You can back squat both days if you want (that’s what I recommend starting out). If you feel tweaked, if deadlifting is hard after squatting, or if you just want to front squat, then you can alternate.
- If you can do 3×15 dead hang chins, then you need to add weight to keep the reps between 10 and 15.
- If you have extra time at the end, do farmers walks. Great ROI.
- All work sets sets are “sets across” (same weight for each set). Do 3-4 warmup sets (always start with the empty bar) to get there.
- Add ten pounds per week to squat, five pounds per week to your presses, and 5 or fewer pounds per week to power clean.
- Once the weights feel heavy the gains slow, work for 3 weeks and deload for 1 week.
E.g. for squats:
- week 1 405x5x3
- week 2 415x5x3
- week 3 425x5x3
- week 4 225x5x3 (or go play soccer)
- week 5 435x5x3 (or 425x5x3 if you need to)
***When you record your workouts, it is weight x reps x sets.
Never seen it.
This seems like such a poor man’s butchered program. I’m no expert at all but have made progress doing ss as written while training mma 3x a week, I was 24 and just made sure to eat as much as possible. I currently use an HLM routine and when my training picks up I don’t add any drop sets and realize that I’ll be lucky to maintain my lifts, and when I focus more on strength I back off MMA a bit. No need for this long winded nonsense imo but I’ve been humbled on this subject before
More importantly, explosion is not trainable to any significant degree, while strength is quite trainable for years. Who cleans more weight, the guy with the 500 deadlift or the guy with the 200 deadlift? Who is more powerful? Who can jerk your ass around harder? And why in hell would anybody except a competitive Olympic lifter waste time doing front squats? And the upshot here is this: what’s the fastest way to get stronger? My thoughts on that are detailed here.
This makes it much simpler then. For now, we can just stick with the basic SS program for 99.999% of all students, right?
I think practical programming is the only book I haven’t read so I just ordered it.
Stick with simplicity. LP works, but it doesn’t go as long, because they’re so beat up from both the sport and the lifting. Heavy/Light/Medium and 4 day split works very well for BJJ. Although it also works really well with everyone else.
You need to keep the focus on their sport. If you prioritize the lifting to the detriment of the sport, they will resent you and quit. Progress will be slower because you’ll make accommodations for the sport side. HLM allows you to make on the fly modifications that won’t ruin the programming.
I’d rather see them squat/press/deadlift on day 1 and squat/bench/deadlift on day 2, adding weight once or twice a week, and that’s all. It would be hard for sports practice to curtail progress on this simple approach.
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I have been prescribed beta blockers for anxiety. Could it affect my training? They obviously have an effect on heart rate etc.
Yes, they will affect your training. What are you anxious about?
Lost my job and have a mortgage unfortunately.
My major concern is safety. It seems a bit dodgy to be under stress and taking medication that affects my heart while lifting weights. Do you consider it dangerous?
It’s probably not dangerous, but it is unproductive for your training. Takes the edge off, but you don’t want your edge off under the bar. And there are probably better ways to deal with job loss, in my opinion.
I was on beta blockers long ago for problems with unexplained syncope. They didn’t help with much of anything. What they did do was make me tired and make it really hard to achieve any kind of intensity when exercising.
I think it does reduce ability to get heart rate up which is what it’s supposed to do, but you can select a particular drug within the class than minimizes the disruption and shows less exercise restriction than others. Nebivolol is much better than atenolol in my case. Atenolol and the first gen beta blockers reduce cardiac output, lead to metabolic inefficiencies, and increase central aortic pressure. Newer beta blockers such as nebivolol do not reduce cardiac output and are vasodilating which isn’t all bad. I found switching from atenolol to nebivolol greatly improved my ability to workout probably too close to where I was before treatment. Ask your doc what he thinks.
You couldn’t put me on beta blockers for love or money, especially not for anxiety. My two cents.
I was prescribed beta blockers for severe anxiety and high blood pressure last year, serendipitously. I couldn’t take them because of my asthma so they tried aropax/paxil instead. Shit worked wonders and it actually improved my training because I could focus and have quality rest. I would look into it.
I didn’t make the decision lightly, I did a lot of research and spoke to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, cardiologists and friends. Best of luck.
Beta blockers may impair your ability to generate a high heart rate in response to a stressor. There are a number of alternatives to treat anxiety medically, depending on whether it’s chronic generalized anxiety or if it’s panics.
I also had really low blood pressure at the time. I think the beta blocker was a roundabout way of treating me for a psychological cause which didn’t exist, which I told them didn’t exist, but no other cause seemed possible. I stopped taking it after a few months, because it was making me tired, and it wasn’t helping anything else.
It did mostly go away, but it took years. Regular high-intensity exercise helped a lot and made the episodes much less common. It still happens now and again. I get that prodromal I-better-find-a-seat feeling on occasion when I’m walking around and I’ve been hard on myself or have gone through extended periods of not training due to work or injury, but it’s thankfully pretty rare these days.
Beta blockers block reflex tachycardia, decrease catecholamine release, promote autonomic dysfunction, fuck up glucose and fat metabolism, and can lead to sexual dysfunction. There are a host of other potential side effects, as a cursory web search will reveal. There are better alternatives for most if not all indications. If I had hypertension, I’d go for an ACE inhibitor or an ARB. If I needed an av nodal blocker, I’d rather go with diltiazem (although not by much).
The great thing about beta blockers is they’re cheap. Perfect for an under-insured population.
And beta blockers for anxiety is just dumb. There are plenty of anxiolytics that dont have such profound cardiovascular and metabolic effects.
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I’m much more interested in teaching Tom Brady’s mother how to get stronger than I am interested in trying to wade through Tom’s problems.
From The Aasgaard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas… From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry… The One True Voice is the strength and conditioning profession… The most important podcast on the internet… Ladies and gentlemen… Starting Strength Radio.
Thank you Mark Wulfe. Welcome to Starting Strength Radio where the finest mind in the strength and conditioning industry pontificates from time to time. Well actually every Friday and your questions get answered occasionally. And this is one of those occasions.
Today we are going to read and answer the best questions off of the SpeakUp, the SpeakUp channel and that is linked to by the way on my Q and A. If you’d like to submit a question to Starting Strength Radio for future consideration and one of these podcasts we encourage you to do that at the SpeakUp link to be found at the Q and A. The Mark Rippetoe Q and A on the website.
Now we don’t do all of the questions. Back when we used to do the Ask Rip we would do all of the questions and… Yeah just for entertainment purposes. But we’re… we’re actually trying to make this an informative, hourlong podcast instead of 12 minutes making fun of the general public.
So today what we’re going to do is just read the best of these questions and we’re going to leave the stupid ones out because it’s not productive and maybe we’ll be funny, you know, accidentally. Sometimes we are.
All right so let’s just dive right into these questions. Now these things have been submitted over – this is probably two or three weeks ago these things were submitted. We’re just getting around to them. Hey it’s our schedule, you know?
Sam asks. And you’ll you’ll note that I have checked off some of the ones. Those are the ones, having reviewed them first, these are the ones we’re going to talk to today we’re gonna speak to Sam’s question which says: “Do you remember the first person you trained using the Starting Strength model? If so, can you share the experience and if he or she is still strength training.”
All right. First off, the Starting Strength model evolved over about 20 years of me operating the gym – and I’ve said this on several occasions – what ended up happening that generated the Starting Strength model is I was a competitive powerlifter and and as a result of that I thought it was probably a good idea to teach everybody to squat, bench, and deadlift.
Now over the years we have we have tailored the execution of the exercises to meet the needs of general strength training and not competitive powerlifting. Competitive powerlifting is not what it used to be. Okay. With the arrival of thirty, thirty-five different federations on the scene only only one of which best I can tell actually judges is depth in the squat. If you got thirty-five federations you’ve got thirty-four federations that are recreational. They’re for you to go to to lift heavy weights in your suit and wraps and you know go out in the parking lot and smoke between lifts and you know, trade tattoo ideas, and talk like Macho Man Randy Savage. It’s a completely different activity now than it was a long time ago.
So when I was teaching people in the gym a long time ago what we what we did was just teach the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. at some later date I added the standing press, the overhead press, which is just called the press. And I’ve always taught the power clean along with all the other lifts. And these were these five lifts are the core of the Starting Strength method and it developed over time.
And what I did was keep a logbook for my personal training clients and when I would write down Monday’s workout, for example, I would write it down and in a vertical column in the in the logbook and I’d get five per page, five workouts per page, so I’d have 10 workouts open on two pages of of paper. And I noticed something quite early. If we just went up a little bit every workout – five pounds depending on who the client was – what I could do is at the end of 10 workouts open these things… open the two pages up and show these people a linear increase in the amount of weight they were lifting on all of the exercises because we just go up every time.
We didn’t vary the exercises. We varied the load on the exercises and that’s the basis of the Starting Strength method and that developed as a result of my interest in retaining personal training clients and in my interest in showing my members some actual return on their investment month to month.
So this is where the the thing came from I didn’t… This was not in a published paper. I didn’t… I’ve never read anything that even indicates any activity in that direction in a journal article. I developed this this method using the general public. There have been some people recently saying that the Starting Strength method included power clean because I developed the method for high school kids. Nothing could be further from the truth because I’ve never had any significant number of high school athletes in my gym at any one time anyway. Because they’re not allowed to come in. Because if you’re on a high school varsity sports team your training is controlled by the lunatics that run that program not me because they’re not going to let me have control of something that they desperately want control of because high school coaches are, you know they’re about control. You may have noticed that. And so that was that was never a factor.
What it what it was this is just a commercial effort on my part to to demonstrate progress from workout to workout, week to week, month to month. And that’s where it developed. It developed out of the out of the power lifts done in a progressively heavier manner when I was running the gym.
Now since that’s the case, I don’t remember who the first one was. No. Because the program developed, I didn’t just write it down one day. It’s not what happened. It just occurred over time and I’ve still got two or three members now – that are members of the gym right now – that have been members with me the whole time. But most people’s training history, oh you know there’s an attrition rate, a rather high attrition rate in any gym. Most people don’t train all their lives and if you keep a member for three or four years that’s pretty good. But usually life presents things to compete with your training and most people just go ahead and stop after a while.
So, no ,I don’t have and don’t have the information for you about who was first and are they still training because of the way the whole thing developed. Okay.
Now, Anonymous asks: “Which articles or sections of the book do you think you’ve been underappreciated or perhaps misunderstood by your audience?”.
Nobody reads the book. Nobody reads the book. What are you talking about? The whole damn thing has been misunderstood and underappreciated because you didn’t read it either.
All right, you read at it, but you didn’t read it now did you? When you got the book you started thumbing through it and tried to find the workout that you wanted it to to help you with. And then you did that and… but you didn’t read the book. Practical Programming you certainly as hell did not read Practical Programming because it’s a dense and it’s it’s busy and it’s got a bunch of complicated concepts in it and it’s a textbook. It’s not… it’s not light reading. It’s not People magazine. It’s not Muscle and Fitness. It’s not what’s what’s one of the publications they’ve got now I haven’t even kept track. Is Flex still being published? You haven’t seen it? Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness those two those are… the two big ones. Is there a Women’s Health? That’s about like lipstick though right? Bigger butt? OK.
Well so those are what we’re competing with and they’re easier to read than our shit. Starting Strength is a long book. It’s a complicated book. There’s 60 pages about the squat. No other book in existence devotes 60 pages to the execution of the squat. Practical Programming is a… is a textbook. It’s it’s the most thorough treatment of strength training that’s ever been published and no, I doubt you read it.
I really doubt you read it. I think you might have a copy, but I don’t think you actually read the thing. So you don’t really know what’s in it. And as a result you misunderstand it. If you’ll read it, it will be helpful to you and you will… you will see that most of the questions that arise in fact are dealt with at… in detail in in one of those two books. And and I think you’ll… you’ll appreciate the the the work that went into it if you’ll just, if you’ll just read it.
Now those of you that are aspiring to be Starting Strength coaches have probably read it. Read it again. Read both of them again because this is dense. It’s dense material. It’s not dense like Taleb’s stuff, but it’s headed in that direction because every time I thought of an idea I put it back in the book and it’s it’s just a whole bunch of stuff in there.
So I would… I would suggest that if you… if the books have been misunderstood and under appreciated it’s because they haven’t been read because we know that’s the case. We know that you haven’t read them. We know.
All right now. Here is Chad Hughes. Chad Hughes asks: “Why isn’t Starting Strength used more often to train competitive athletes? I’ve read your two factor model for training athletes [which is] (get stronger under the bar and then go practice your sport) but what I ask if you were training a baseball player, what (if anything) would you have them do differently? I know your recommendation about the press being very important for overhead throwing athletes, but I know some others disagree with this. [I] would love to hear your thoughts.”
Well, there are several questions in here. Why isn’t it used more often to train competitive athletes? Because competitive athletes have a strength coach and most strength coaches that are not Starting Strength coaches do not understand or appreciate the effectiveness of this program. And that’s not my fault, that’s their fault. Because once again they haven’t read the book. Just like everybody else, they haven’t read the book. They don’t see how… how precisely and exactly an increase in strength over time is possible and how it positively affects their athlete’s performance in any sport. And the systematic, simple, progressive nature of this thing is not… is not romantic to sports coaches – who aren’t very smart. And they they just don’t understand that if we if we get your squat and your deadlift up that your tennis game improves, because they don’t see the relationship between the squat and tennis. And once again, this is not my fault.
But what we what we see in… especially in Division 1 and pro level athletics is a complete absence of this methodology being applied to these athletes’ training. And the reason they get away with it is because athletes at the D1 and professional level are all freaks who are performing at a very high level anyway.
All right. Now the question I would ask is “Would they be better off if they were stronger? Would would an NFL team be better on the field in the fourth quarter and have less people on the injured reserve list if everyone on the team did this simple approach to strength training and everybody on the team had a 500 squat?” And it’s possible for those athletes at that level to have a 500 squat without a great deal of specialization.
Yes they’d be better off. They would all be better off. Why don’t they do it? Because they’re not competing against anybody that does. And and and you know how we get this all the time. You know “If your program is so good, why aren’t the best athletes in the world doing it?” Because the best ask… best athletes in the world don’t have to do it. They don’t have to do it, so they don’t. Because it’s easier to take steroids, you know.
But if you take steroids to get strong instead of doing your deadlifts and adding five pounds a week to your deadlifts to get strong then there are complications that come along with that some of which involve having to go talk to John McCain in the Senate committee as Mr. Bonds had to do.
Now, I’d rather not have to talk to the Senate if I was, you know, at the professional level. I don’t want to go talk to the Senate. I’d much rather just add five pounds a week to my deadlift and get it up and get strong that way. It’s really easier. It’s quite a bit easier to do it that way than it is to take steroids. It’s legal. You don’t draw the ire of the ingenious sportswriters at Sports Illustrated or ESPN. And they’re a.. you know I’d… you just have a, you have a situation here where this hasn’t caught on yet. It’s it’s excessively simple which means that only people of above average intelligence understand it is as odd as that sounds.
Complexity appeals to stupid people. That may seem harsh, but that that’s actually the case. Complexity appeals to stupid people. Occam’s razor being an extremely important concept here. Look that up. And I think you find that extremely elite athletes are extremely elite athletes because of their genetics and the trainers of extremely elite athletes are hiding behind the genetics of the players. We’ve said that for decades and that remains to be the case.
Some of the very worst strength of conditioning people, strength and conditioning professionals, working in sports are found at the pro and D1 levels. Because you don’t have to be good if you’re dealing with athletes of that caliber. And that’s the case.
Now try to explain that to the general public. How you explain to the general public that the best athlete may be using a terribly ineffective system of strength and conditioning. How do you explain that to them? It’s hard to do. It’s hard to explain it because it seems logical that the best athlete would be doing the best stuff. And that’s not true. Not at all. And nonetheless it remains extremely difficult to have a conversation about with most people. But you know some people understand it.
So A, and B we don’t care about being in professional athletics. We’re… I’m much more interested in teaching… Who’s the quarterback? Tom Brady. I’m much more interested in teaching Tom Brady’s mother how to get stronger than I am interested in trying to wade through Tom’s problems. OK.
His mom is more important to us than he is because there are more moms than there are elite freak athletes. They comprise a larger percentage of the market and there are enough of those people that are sufficiently intelligent to understand what we’re trying to tell them that we don’t need to deal with the thousand or so freak athletes in the United States at any given time. I don’t care about them. The only reason I’d be interested in training an athlete like that would be the notoriety it would bring the program, but that hasn’t happened yet. It will eventually. Until then I’m content to just be effective at what I do. Okay.
Now the second half of that question: How would I train a baseball player? Well I’d have him press. Yes, I know that that physical therapists don’t understand that pressing overhead is good for the shoulder. Once again, that’s not my fault. Physical therapists don’t understand lots of things and maybe we’ll do it a little expose on physical therapy here one of these days. But I… I don’t know how to explain any more thoroughly than I have explained that shoulder impingement does not occur in an overhead press. We demonstrated that anatomically. Experience has shown it. In fact, there are several physical therapists that have realized this and are now using our overhead press method to rehab rotator cuff repairs. A strong shoulder is a healthier shoulder and a more injury-resistant shoulder.
I… if that’s complicated, I’m sorry, but that’s just all there is to it. So if I was going to train a baseball player -if I was training a baseball player – he would guess what? He would squat. He would press. He would bench press. He would deadlift and he would power clean. He might even power snatch since he’s a good athlete and he can learn that movement without a lot of drama. And then I would have him practice on the field. Just like we do everything. Baseball is a perfect example of how the two factor model directly applies to what they’re trying to do. So those are my thoughts on that.
So next, Ryan wants to know: “Can you sell your Wichita Falls Athletic Club meet shirts to the public? They’re cool.”
Yeah, we can do that Ryan. I think we do. I think they’re on Amazon. Where are they obtained on Amazon?
“W-F-A-C strengthlifting” and the shirts come up. Beat you to it, didn’t we?
All right now. Here’s a little more involved question. It’s also from Anonymous. Why do you think people don’t want to list their names when they put these question… I haven’t ridiculed anybody because of their name. You know, like if somebody lists his name is like, “Monkey Vomit” well you know that might draw a little criticism, but some guy named “Jeff Hairston” why would I make fun of his name? Yeah. I mean I’m sitting here with “Rippetoe” right? Doesn’t leave me a lot of room to make fun of other people’s. And yet “Anonymous” is popular here. All right.
“How much pain do you think is a good sign to make us rethink about our lifting technique or programming?” I’m not responsible for the grammar. “I’m sore and have pain here and there all the time ever since I started lifting weights.”
Well. Ahhh…this going to take a while, but I think it’s probably good to go ahead and differentiate between a few things here. Soreness can be interpreted as pain. When I think of pain, I don’t think of soreness. Soreness is chronic. It’s systemic. It’s all over a group of muscles. It’s a result of eccentric loading. Look that up. And it’s a normal consequence of training. Although bone deep horrible soreness all the time is neither a sign of intelligently designed training or something good for you. Soreness does not make you stronger. Lifting more weight than you did last time makes you stronger. That might also make you sore, but the soreness isn’t the point. And if you’re training because you like the feeling of being sore, grow the fuck up.
You know we’re not here to help you pay penance to some idea that you’ve got that you’re guilty of something, OK. We’re not… that’s that’s not what we’re doing. You can go on… all the way through a six months novice progression and be badly sore one time, that’s all. And if you’re badly sore all the time something’s wrong with your programming. You shouldn’t be badly sore.
But soreness, once again I guess it could be interpreted as pain, but when I think of pain I think of acute pain in one area – in a joint or a muscle belly that’s torn or something else that is a result of an injury. Injury and soreness — delayed-onset muscle soreness — are two completely different sensations and they’re two completely different events. The event that makes you sore is the normal execution of a workout to which you are not adapted – the eccentric part of which you’re not adapted. An injury means something is wrong. Something got hurt. Something… something broke. Something ruptured. Something gave way under the execution of the of the force against the load. Something got pushed into the wrong position. Something got stretched too far, too rapidly in a deceleration. There’s several, obviously several mechanisms, by which injuries occur.
Injuries are not good for you either. All right. Any more than chronic, extreme soreness is, but the mechanisms the mechanisms are similar at some level. The chronic soreness that you feel for example in your hamstrings after lunge walks – loaded lunge walks or something stupid like that – are the result of an inflammatory process by which that tissue is attempting to heal itself okay. Soreness is an inflammatory process. This is why it is delayed in its onset. When you stress a muscle group with eccentric loading. The current theory on this is that you are damaging that the contractile crossbridges within the sarcomere and that this damage is healed through the inflammatory process, the inflammatory cascade. These are all things you can look up on Wikipedia. And as a result of the need for the tissue to heal itself, inflammation ensues. This process takes two or three days and then the soreness goes away.
When you hurt yourself – if you, for example you damage a spinal component or you rupture a muscle belly or you tear a few muscle fibres which is more common – you will feel that injury immediately after it occurs. It is… it’s an acute process – a very short time frame.
If you come up out of the bottom of the squat and you tear a quad in the process it it becomes perceptible to you right now. So it’s a fundamentally different process than delayed-onset muscle soreness. I wouldn’t describe delayed-onset muscle soreness as pain, it’s just soreness. I’d call it soreness and that’s all. Pain, the term pain I reserve for more acute stuff like muscle belly injuries, although back pain ,low back pain presents as a as a chronic problem as well. And it is probably the result of accumulated damage that you’ve done by being an upright biped. And we talked about back pain before and so that would have to be separated from from this definition.
When I’m talking about delayed-onset muscle soreness I’m talking about the kind that comes on 24 to 48 hours after the work, sometimes faster than that maybe 12 to 18 hours after the work, and that goes away within 72 hours. Chronic back pain doesn’t go away. All right. A muscle belly tear comes on immediately. It’s obvious when it occurs that the injury has caused an immediate deficit in a movement pattern, in the movement pattern that caused it. If you come up with… out of the bottom of a squat with a torn quad belly you can’t walk. You can’t contract the quad because the acute pain prevents that from happening.
Now that tends to heal up fairly rapidly as well because of the fact that a muscle belly is very vascular. And vascular tissue bathed in blood heals faster than non-vascular tissue like ligament and tendon. Everything heals except cancer and low back pain unless you… well low back pain can be fixed sometimes, sometimes can’t but just depends on, depends on the nature of it. Low back pain is just the human condition, you know. Kings and Queens as well as you and I have low back pain. They don’t like it anymore than we do and it doesn’t sometimes go away. But an acute injury like a muscle belly tear will heal up within a couple of weeks.
While it’s healing it’s very important for you to understand that you must be making that muscle belly contract during the healing process or it’s going to heal in a scar and that scar is going to be the source of continued injury because the scar itself is not contractile. And since it’s not contractile it’s also not expansive. It’s not extensible either and if it extends under a big load there will be another injury proximal to that scar and it’ll happen from now on. This is why a bad hamstring tear quite often ends an athletic career because they’re very seldom rehabbed correctly. You have to… if you have a hamstring belly tear you have to get on it within 48 hours and start making it work. Start making it contract. Start making the site of the injury have to function in the way that it will need to function when it’s healed up. If you rest it, it will scar. I assure you it will scar. Rest it long enough to make it stop bleeding and then start making it contract again. Start with a light weight, high reps over the course of a couple weeks. Head down to a heavier weight with lower reps. Making the thing remodel in a functional way. And that’s how we that’s how we rehab these kinds of things.
But the pain, the pain that you will see during the process of rehabbing that muscle belly tear will go from acute and sharp and focused to – as the healing progresses – less acute, more broadly perceived and “blurry” to use of a metaphor. The pain goes from focused to blurry and finally it goes away. And if you do it correctly muscle belly tears are fairly amenable to to healing. The exception to that would be a complete pec belly rupture. Those don’t… those won’t rehab they just… the ends of the pec detach and lay down on the rib and reattach someplace where they’re not supposed to be. This is why a pec belly tear is a pretty bad injury. They’re real hard to fix.
So you’re sore and have pain here and there all the time since you started lifting weights. I wonder how old you are? I would bet you’re older than 40 and… it’s unusual for a 20-year-old kid to be in pain like that all the time. But old guys – let’s assume you’re 40 to 45 – you’re hurt anyway because you’re an old human and old humans just hurt. You want to hurt and be strong or you want to hurt and be weak?
You know as you get older you’re going to hurt, everybody does. Something hurts on me all the time and it’s just.. you learn to ignore it. Just like tinnitus. You learn to ignore it. you know. That kind of thing. I know I can’t tell you what to do about it. If it’s interfering with your ability to get to sleep it’s going to have to be dealt with somehow. I have found that a combination of naproxen, Tylenol, and alcohol works pretty good to get you to sleep. And you know I’m not recommending alcoholism as the cure for this, but you know if you have a drink before you go to bed you’ll probably sleep better.
Alcohol is really… alcohols an amazing, it’s an amazing drug. People have understood this for thousands of years. And if something’s hurting it takes your attention away from it and it can be useful. It can be a bad problem, but it can be useful. I guess there’ve probably been a lot of doses of alcoholism that have been attributed to chronic pain. Could’ve happened, but here we sit. What do you want to do you know? So I hope that helps.
Now we have Pan Iacov, says: “Hello Rip, what is your opinion on combining fasting and lifting? I’ve come up with a fasting routine/regimen routine slash regimen. And I am considering running it for a while. It basically looks like this: train three days a week on Starting Strength, 4 rest days as per usual. Training days are eating days with lots of carbs and proteins to fuel the workout, rest days are fasting days. Do you think this is sustainable slash effective for someone looking to get stronger and cut some fat? Thanks.”
Well, Pan, what are you planning on doing about recovery and when do you plan on doing it? I plan on recovering on my resting days. That’s why I am resting those days, I’m recovering. And if I’m going to recover, I know that I’m going to need protein, fat, and carbohydrate in order to accomplish that process on my resting days. So the question is do you plan on recovering? If you plan on getting recovered. If I were you, I would eat on my resting days.
You will find that it doesn’t work nearly as well to stress the piss out of yourself on your workout days and then provide no substrate whatsoever for recovery on the on the days that are designed for recovery. So just keep that in mind. But as usual you’re free to do this anyway you like.
Caesar asks: “Do you discuss torque in relation… in regard to the Big Three during coach development?”
No, we discuss moment force not torque because they’re not the same thing. That’s… we’ve talked about it before.
Now some guy with the clever name Rip Uhanewon. Do you think this is some kind of Star Wars thing here or something? Did you? Uhanewon Uhanewon Rip Uhanewon. [Off camera: It does sound like a Disney/Star Wars name] It does, doesn’t it. Maybe it’s… maybe the guy’s a Nigerian or something. I have no idea. Don’t recognize the name though. Would Rip be a Nigerian prop… a given name? Could be.
Nonetheless he says: “What would be your thoughts on substituting some plant-based protein (for example pea protein) for dairy-based protein for middle-aged Starting Strength lifters? If one were to do that, what other supplements might be useful?”.
Well. I am a proponent of psychological health. All right. And veganism is a psychological disorder as far as I’m concerned. Now this may come as a shock to some of you people, but there is absolutely nothing from a physiological or anthropological analysis that would indicate that veganism is a reasonable approach to the human diet. Nothing whatsoever. It is a.. it’s a it’s religious, possibly a religious or moral consideration, but I’m… I’m not a theologian and I’m not a psychologist and I’m primarily concerned with efficiency here.
Plant-based diets are not efficient. Plant-based proteins are incomplete. If you’re going to do pea protein it’s going to have to be engineered to the point that it’s no longer pea protein. It’s going to have to have amino acids added to it. It’s going to be synthetic. It’s going to be an additive-based product. Why don’t you just, you know, have some meat and just shut up, you know just have some meat. You object to killing animals. Do you disinfect your mouth? With mouthwash? What about the poor little bacteria? Well, they’re not really animals, but you know they’re alive.
You know. They’re alive.
You’re killing them.
What about when you walk around in the yard and step on nematodes. Nematodes don’t have a right to be in your yard uninterrupted in their little crawly business by your feet squishing them into protoplasm?
How do you think they feel about that?
You know… do you what do you do about roaches in your house? You just coexist peacefully with the roaches in your house? What about mice and rats? What about the rats in your attic chewing the insulation off of your wiring, potentially subjecting your house to being burned down.
How do you peacefully co-exist with those? Where does this shit stop?
I just don’t understand it. And maybe Rip Uhanewon Uhanewon is not asking about this. Maybe he just wanting to add some pea… plant-based crap. Why don’t you just take some whey? Why don’t you take some whey protein? No, no cow died in the production of whey protein. You know it’s certainly a sustainable source for animal protein. It’s very high quality – whey protein isolate – very high quality food product.
If you’re going to supplement, I would suggest that you use whey. And if you object to the use of whey because of the perceived inconvenience it has been to dairy cattle.
Raping the dairy cattle sucking on their titties. I never thought about it like that. OK well I guess we are raping them. Even if there’s no penetration involved, could be considered rape. Right. Oh it makes me uncomfortable.
So. All right. Now Anonymous is a novice and: “[M]y stomach can’t even take two full glasses of milk without extreme pain and constipation. What should I do? Serious question.”
Stop drinking milk, you moron. Don’t drink milk. I don’t drink milk. If it’s murdering you to drink milk, don’t drink milk. Have you tried Fair Life? It’s a apparently a tasty alternative to lactose- bearing milk. It’s a lactaid treated product. It’s delicious, widely available these days, give it a try. But if if milk is is you know producing extreme gastric distress, don’t drink the shit.
Nobody told you you had to drink milk. Are you people still belaboring under the… laboring under the delusion that I want everybody on the surface of the planet to drink a gallon of milk a day? Good god get over that. That’s so twelve years ago, you know. We’ve never said that. And that’s stupid. And if you think that, you’re a fool.
I don’t drink milk. I haven’t drunk milk in 30 years. I’m not trying to grow. I’m a fat, old man. I don’t need to grow.
And if you’re a skinny, underweight 18-year-old kid, yes drink a gallon of milk a day, maybe a gallon and a half of milk a day. But I have never suggested that you have to drink milk if it’s if it’s not appropriate to your particular situation. And there are certain circumstances under which you need to drink a whole bunch of milk, but there are far more circumstances under which you need to not drink any milk at all.
Did you hear what I just said? More people need to not drink milk then need to drink milk. All right.
Ok. Not everybody needs to drink a gallon of milk a day. OK.
Wait. So if I’m thirty-eight years old and 325 pounds, should I drink a gallon of milk a day?
So Nick asks if he’s 38 years old and 325 pounds should he drank a gallon of milk a day. Well, maybe. Tell him he’s got to drink a gallon of milk a day. GOMAD and shit, you know.
What about Bre?
Bre? Who’s a female, 31 years old. One forty six or something like that should she drank a gallon of milk a day? Oh maybe, you know. Everybody needs to be fat like us. Chocolate milk. Yes. Absolutely. Right. All right. People are stupid motherfuckers. They just really are. They insist on… This once again goes right back into not reading the book, not reading anything. You know the standard Facebook situation is: read the headline and start typing, right? Isn’t that what you do on Facebook? Maybe the first paragraph. Maybe just half the first paragraph and immediately start recording your ultra-important thoughts on this subject.
She’s 30 not 31. I remember when that was important. I remember a long time ago when that was important to me.
So D Greer asks: “Hi Rip.” Well D didn’t ask hi, he said hi. “What are your thoughts on intersex individuals in regard to participation in sports and training in general? As I understand it, intersex is different from a trans person. Is there an impact on neuromuscular efficiency such that there could be an intersex individual with the external appearance of a female, but with the neuromuscular efficiency of a male. Should this person be able to compete in women’s sports?”
Well we debated on whether to include this, but I think it is important to understand that these people are are extreme outliers. You know the name Caster Semenya because she’s been in the news recently. She’s an XY chromosome female. She was born with and assigned the congenital sex of female at birth because of her physical appearance. I don’t know all of the physiological details of Miss Semenya situation. I understand that her testosterone levels are high and have been high for quite some time and therefore if she was XY in the womb she probably was exposed to in utero levels of testosterone that were higher than other females.
So you’re asking what do we do about Caster Semenya. And I don’t know. I don’t have the slightest idea of what we do about Caster Semenya. Fortunately, it doesn’t come up that often. I’m glad I’m not in a position to have to tell her that she can’t compete in the women’s division. I’d hate to have to tell her that. Would it be fair for her to contribute to women who were who did not have the advantage of in utero testosterone? I don’t know.
She’s a female and best I can tell she gets to compete with the other females in the Women’s division. But what we do about extreme outliers like that I am far, far less concerned with than what we do with cock and balls men who want to lift against the uterus and ovaries females in the Women’s division. That’s rather odd… that that’s rather cut and dried. I’m obviously not in favor of that. And neither are you really. If you’ll think about it for more than about five seconds, you’re not either. Especially those of you that have sisters and daughters and mothers and cousins who would like an opportunity to compete in the Women’s division and not have to compete against men in the Women’s division okay. But about Caster Semenya, I don’t know. I don’t know. That is a difficult question and it’s outside my purview. Thankfully.
Ok now who is next. Anonymous again asks: if I had to abstain from whisky red meat or milk which one would I choose.
Well, I don’t drink milk. So there’s my choice, right. I don’t drink milk anyway, so I don’t have to abstain from it.
And Khaled asks… Khalid. Khalid: “Have you ever tried camel?”
I prefer women, Khalid.
Thanks for joining us this week at Starting Strength Radio. Send us your questions, we’ll talk about them. Bye.
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Mark Rippetoe answers questions about blood pressure and training, Deadwood, and doing curls.
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Taken in Afghanistan, 2018
A handful of years ago content on 70’s Big was hard to come by. You fine folk have been asking where I’ve gone ever since, and now I finally choose to let you know in the face of extraordinary circumstances. I am a United States Army Special Forces soldier, also known as a Green Beret. Ever since I put on the hat, I poured myself into this job in order to prepare for and participate in war. I wanted to kill people that deserve to be killed, save people that deserved to be saved (medically), and free people that deserve to be freed. And I did all of those things on my first deployment along with all kinds of combat and near-death experiences.
While there were exciting times, there were others full of terrible loss. There are much finer men than me who have been in much more combat and done much better things than I have. I don’t think I’m cool – it’s more that I’m lucky to have been in a handful of fire fights and done some things in order to live through them.
While there were exciting times on the first deployment, we lost a US Army Infantry soldier and I lost a long-term relationship. Because of those hardships, I spent 2018 preparing for a second combat deployment and, just as importantly, bettering myself as a healthy individual.
About one month into the next deployment we were on a combat operation in a very mountainous area. My element conducted a short hault and I discussed how we would clear a set of compounds that were tactically in a disadvantageous area. The area I stood had been cleared by EOD personnel and had foot traffic around the area. I shifted my weight under my ruck, took a step, and was blown up. As my best friends and teammates treated me, I gave them medical instructions to help their care. My teammates were heroes that day. Despite the initiation of a “troops in contact,” I didn’t die in the dirt in a far away land. Instead, they put me on a helicopter, and countless other fine individuals did and continue to do their jobs of caring for me.
I am a double below-the-knee (BTK) amputee. The fact that my right leg is a BTK is amazing and a testament to the fantastic surgeons at Walter Reed. My testicles were also blown off, so I require testosterone replacement therapy for the rest of my life, and whether or not I can have children is an unknown. I work hard every day to improve and will continue doing so. There’s no definitive date because there are too many variables, but I’ll leave the hospital some time later this year.
Lastly, the next question I’m asked is whether or not you can do anything for me. Your support is invaluable and all I could ever ask for. There are currently more of us wounded and killed, my friends included. If you should feel inclined to donate money, the Special Forces Foundation is an amazing organization. All of the money goes to us “wounded warriors” and the Gold Star families (the wives and families of personnel killed in action). I know the gentleman who runs it personally, and he’s both honorable and kind.
Justin, Rip, and AC pose by the Bill Starr Memorial in WFAC around 2009.
As for me, I’m good. My big medical issues are progressing as planned. Physical training and rehab are a part of my daily future, but I also rest and take care of myself via meditation and journaling. I’ll take some time to let this situation percolate, but I’ll be back. There’ll be more writing, podcasts, and other ways to facilitate teaching, learning, and sharing. I’m especially interested in stories of extreme human experience and the lessons learned from them. Strength and conditioning will always be here, but my scope of practice has grown. It’ll be just like old times, but I’ll dive into any topic that is interesting and helpful.
When I was MEDEVAC’d, I went to the Role II and received 68 units of blood. Which is a lot of somebody else’s blood. Above all else, I’m grateful to be alive. I’m honored you still think of me and even more honored when you want to donate. You can do so through the Special Forces Foundation (SFF). There’s also a fundraiser being conducted on my behalf called Climbing for Casualties. My friend Matt Randle will conduct an asinine climb in Nepal and donations go to the SFF. Look for @climbingforcasualties on Instagram. Again, thank you for your interest and I look forward to getting my legs jacked, pressing over body weight, entertaining you, and learning along the way. Stronger every day.
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How to Set Up Your Power Rack
by Grant Broggi, SSC | May 02, 2019
Grant Broggi, Starting Strength Coach and owner of The Strength Co., demonstrates how to set up your bar and rack for the squat, press, and bench press.
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Starting Strength Coach and Marine Captain Grant Broggi discusses applying the Starting Strength Method for those who need to train for military physical fitness tests.
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From the Archives: Maybe You Are a Special Snowflake
by John F Musser, SSC | May 04, 2019
You made the decision to be strong. Perhaps your original goal was weight loss, or some vague idea of needing exercise, maybe you simply wanted to look and feel better. Eventually, those goals led you to understand you were weak, and you needed to be strong.
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