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03 Feb

February 03, 2020

Starting Strength Radio
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Training Log

In the Trenches

rich squats his first plate at starting strength denverrich squats his first plate at starting strength denver
Rich squats a plate to begin his third week of training at Starting Strength Denver with Amanda Sheppard watching on. [photo courtesy of Jay Livsey]
jt squat work set at annino strengthjt squat work set at annino strength
JT finishing up his final work set of squats at Annino Strength & Conditioning during last weekends Squat and Deadlift Training Camp in Moodus, CT. [photo courtesy of Rebecca Skinner]
aerielle locking out a PR set of five deadlifts at a starting strength training campaerielle locking out a PR set of five deadlifts at a starting strength training camp
Aerielle locking out a PR set of five deadlifts with Starting Strength Coach Rebecca Skinner at the same camp. [photo courtesy of Cody Annino]
jeff hairston points knee position using the starting strength squat teaching methodjeff hairston points knee position using the starting strength squat teaching method
Starting Strength Coach Jeff Hairston points out knee position in the bottom of the squat at The Strength Co. Villa Park. [photo courtesy of Mike Minigell]

Best of the Week

Need Some Advice
Mark E. Hurling

Some advice would be welcome from anyone who might have encountered this situation when training others.

I am coaching and training some Special Olympians two of whom keep wanting to bend their elbows near the top of the deadlift. Both are fairly new to training with one having trained for a couple of months with me and the second just starting to get the foundational basics from his team coaches.

The first is high functioning and receptive to what I ask him to do and demonstrate in correcting his departures from the Starting Strength models for the lifts. Not perfect yet, but working toward better as he goes along. Last week I even tried wrapping his elbows with wrist wraps to cue him to not bend them. It didn’t help. He’s not stubborn, he just seems unable to alter his current practice.

The second is significantly lower functioning but is very eager to please. I was just invited to assist his coaches last week and met him for the first time yesterday.

As mentioned, both cannot seem to get the idea that their arms are only there as “hooks and levers” (sort of) to stabilize the bar on it’s upward path.

Does anyone or can anyone offer any tips on how I can help them fix this?

Mark Rippetoe

Have them “pose the triceps” during the pull. Like a bodybuilder.

Mark E. Hurling

Hm. Worth a try. This is likely to appeal to the first guy better given his higher function.


Best of the Forum

Older Men, Younger Women, Testosterone

This is NOT a how to get back into training question. I recently turned 57. I had to take a layoff for about 10 months and am about to jump back in. I lost 30+ pounds as well as a good percentage of strength. I’m thinking I’ll just run the standard LP 3x/week again for a while, even though the common knowledge is that the “masters” crowd should modify their training due to decreased ability to adapt/recover from training. Which brought me to this question – young healthy women in their twenties do not, as far as I know, modify the program. I’m sure most normal guys in their 50s have much more testosterone than a 20 something woman. So why do older guys need to modify? The only thing I could possibly come up with is that because although we may be older, we are still stronger, so we can generate forces that affect the CNS much more deeply. Is that anywhere close to the reason?

Mark Rippetoe

Young women in their 20s modify the program after a few months by switching from 5s to 3s. You may find this helpful as well, in your more-female dotage, as have I.


The modification with masters is due to their inability to recover as quickly as younger athletes.

The modification with women is due to their inability to stress their bodies enough with the same rep/set scheme as men.

Because of the different mechanisms, different modifications are required.


I certainly found it helpful to switch to 3s towards the end of a fixed 2 day program I ran profitably from February to August of this year.

But I was starting to adjust by doing one work set of 3 followed by two drop sets with 10% less. I felt like the volume I was doing could not sustain gains for much longer so I reached out to Coach Baker and he set me up with a fixed 2 day/wk program where I drive my intensity day poundages up monthly. While I miss making small incremental increases on a weekly basis, I feel so much better in terms of how my training blends with my skills practice now and the longer time interval allowed Coach Baker to program a lot of PR building volume for me.

How do you play with the variables so that your current focus on 3s continues to drive progress? Do you balance the lower rep volume with more sets?


I looked up “dotage.” Dammit, say it ain’t so, Rip! I’m a 64 year-old, proactive, “Dotage Denier.” It’s one thing I believe we all have in common on this forum.

Mark Rippetoe

It’s been quite a while since I made what you would call progress. I have been training for 40 years, and I train to stave off death only.

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02 Feb

Time is money. Money is scarce these days, everywhere but DC. You want to be stronger, so you go to the gym. The best use of your time there is the simple progressive barbell training program we have discussed before, one that drives an upward strength adaptation with a programmed increase in load over a full range of motion using as much of your muscle mass as possible. This approach allows you to lift a gradually increasing amount of weight, thus making you stronger. Stronger means only one thing: you can apply more force with your muscles. The process of getting stronger improves the capacity of every aspect of your physical existence. So, getting stronger in the gym is the best reason to go there.

But it is incredibly easy to waste precious time once you’re inside. Here are the top three:

Read article

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24 Jan

Years and years of research have elapsed in the pursuit to completely understand the intricacies of human skeletal muscle contraction.It has included human, amphibian, and feline muscle biopsies, laboratory tests, practical hands-on experiments, and deductive reasoning. Thankfully, we now have a solid grip on evidence-based practical applications when it comes to designing and implementing resistance training programs. However, there still exists much controversy, ignorance, and confusion, even among educated trainers and trainees on this topic.


Before I begin to simplify this issue, I understand it can become an emotional topic due to the various schools of thought that exist regarding the best way to get stronger, increase power, maximize hypertrophy, improve endurance, or improve skill. Because there are a number of philosophies on the best way to attain these attributes, both ego and financial gain are at the root of this. Hey, it’s the world we live in, but hanging on to proven science and research will offer you some solace and common sense to move forward.



If everyone just accepted the following three indisputable facts, training program design and implementation would be much more objective, safer, and sensible:


  1. Activity on Earth is governed by basic laws of physics – one being gravitational pull.
  2. The Henneman’s Size Principle of muscle fiber recruitment is the accepted gold-standard.
  3. Your genetic skeletal structure, muscle fiber endowment, and nervous system “hook-ups” cannot be ignored.


Gravity’s Pull and Resistance Training

The law of gravity clearly dictates you cannot move a relatively heavy resistance quickly. That is if a resistance moves quickly it must be “light” relative to your ability. Similarly, you can move a light resistance relatively quickly as compared to “heavy” resistance. The lighter resistance is, the faster your potential speed of movement, all other factors being equal. Common sense, people.


Take Olympic lifters. These people are strong. Look at their training regimens: they use training protocols to increase muscular strength, and then practice the skills of lifting heavy resistances with proper technique.


They can only move heavy resistances so fast and so high, so they need the ability to move fast to secure it. That is, the resistance does not move fast, but their technique does. Slower-moving front squatting, back squatting, and overhead pressing is done to get stronger. Faster-moving skill practice is then implemented to perfect the required body actions.


What about a conventional exercise such as a bench press or leg press? It’s pretty straight-forward: load more resistance on the bar or machine and it will move slower as compared to using a lighter resistance relative to your ability.


Think about it: you can surely throw a baseball further than a 16-pound shot used in the shot put. Likewise, all other factors being equal, a stronger person can throw both implements even further as compared to someone relatively weaker.


Henneman’s Size Principle: Slow vs. Fast Muscle Fiber

Muscle fibers are recruited sequentially based on need. That is, the lower the demand, the fewer fibers required and the greater the demand, the more fibers required. Low-demand efforts recruit the smaller, lower threshold, slower-to-fatigue motor units.


When more effort is required, the larger, higher threshold, faster-to-fatigue motor units are called upon. It makes perfect sense and explains why you can jog for a longer time as compared to sprinting, or why a lighter resistance can be moved for more repetitions as compared to heavier resistance.



The “slow” versus “fast” muscle fiber classification is a misnomer and has created mayhem among both the scholarly-educated and the average Joe Schmoe trainer and trainee. Conventional wisdom suggests the smaller, slow muscle fibers contract slowly and is not capable of “fast” muscle contraction.


Similarly, larger, faster muscle fibers are thought to be the only fibers recruited for lightening-fast muscle activity. Yes, slow fibers do contract relatively slower than fast fibers, but the difference is between 60 to 90 milliseconds. Yes, milliseconds. This difference is virtually negligible.


Understand the fast versus slow fiber classification does not only refer to the speed of contraction. It also refers to a fiber’s fatigue capacity. The larger, greater force-producing muscle fibers are faster to fatigue as compared to slow fibers, which exert slightly less force-output but are slower to fatigue.


An explosive, bodyweight-only vertical jump is a great example:


  • A single maximum-effort jump recruits both slow and fast fibers. Although it is high-effort, it creates minimal fatigue because of its brevity. Perform multiple jumps and fatigue will eventually ensue because of the greater demand and recruitment of higher threshold, faster fatiguing fibers.
  • Now, jump while holding heavy dumbbells or wearing a weighted vest. What happens? The speed of movement and jump height will decrease due to gravitational pull, but you will be using more muscle fibers. Jump multiple times and fatigue will come sooner because more fibers are initially required (the faster-to-fatigue type). This higher-demand event cannot match the time frame as jumping without resistance.
  • Finally, use a five-repetition maximum (5RM) resistance in a squat or deadlift and try to jump (which I don’t recommend, by the way). Because it is ultra-high demand, a large pool of muscle fibers will be recruited, the resistance cannot be moved fast, and fatigue will be realized quickly.


Genetics, Body Type and Your Ability to Contract Muscle

Touching just briefly on this topic, your body type, and the neuromuscular system can affect your ability to contract the muscle and perform, all other factors being equal:


  • Longer limbs may move slower than shorter limbs.
  • Having exceptional tendon origins and insertions may allow you to exert greater force/speed as compared to poor origins/insertions.
  • Greater muscle mass may exert more force than smaller mass.
  • Possessing more high-threshold, fast muscle fibers may allow you to exert more force than possessing more slow-type fibers.
  • If you don’t “look the part” (i.e., small muscles, gangly, over-fat) but can contract muscle/exert force with above-average ability, you probably have good neurological ability (muscle fiber-nervous system “hook-ups”).


Training Mode Implications

  • If you despise gravity, move to the Moon.
  • Relatively heavy resistance requires the recruitment of many muscle fibers, including the high-threshold, greater force-generating fibers.
  • High-threshold/greater force-generating fibers are used in explosive/speed movements outside the weight room in sports competition.
  • Relatively heavy resistance cannot be moved fast. If you can move a resistance fast, it is light relative to your ability.
  • Although inherently unsafe, moving relatively fast with resistance can recruit and overload many fibers provided maximum repetitions are achieved (i.e., aim for complete volitional muscle fatigue).
  • If a fast speed of movement were important in resistance training, what amount of resistance would you use and how fast would you move it? 35%, 50%, or 80% of a 1RM? 115, 360, or 600 degrees per second?
  • You don’t have to move fast when resistance training to develop power. Power = force x distance/time. Get stronger, (increase force) then practice your sports skills/timing (maximize distance and time), which leads to this:
  • Move fast when skill training, unabated by resistance. Refine and hone sport-specific skills as they will be required in competition.



1. Brooks, G.A., T.D. Fahey, and K.M. Baldwin. (2005). Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and its Applications. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Companies.

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15 Jan

While chasing the pump is undoubtedly an effective way to stimulate hypertrophy, it’s not the only way to make your muscles grow. Mechanical tension, the force created when a muscle contracts isotonically against a load, is also a potent stimulator of muscle growth and should be incorporated into your weight training routine for maximal development.


This can be done by simply performing heavy, multi-joint free weight exercises, but there are also a number of training variables that can be manipulated to ensure you yield maximal hypertrophic gains from your training. Everything from loading parameters to exercise selection can be adjusted for better results and in this article, I’m going to share three of my favorite techniques that can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your workouts.



Choose the Correct Load

Using progressively heavier weights is the simplest and most effective way to increase the amount of mechanical tension being generated during an exercise. Load and tension are directly related and as the amount of weight on the bar increases, more muscular force is required to overcome the downward force exerted on the bar by gravity. This produces tension in the muscle fibers in an amount that is almost directly proportional to the load being used in the exercise.


The relationship between tension and load has important implications for program design and the intensity of the load (the amount of weight you lift expressed as a percentage of your 1RM) correlates directly with the number of reps you should perform for each exercise. To increase lean muscle mass, it is advisable that you lift weights in the 3-12 rep range. These rep ranges are equivalent to 90-70% of your 1RM and have been shown to produce the highest amount of mechanical tension during exercise.


In addition to selecting the correct loads and rep ranges, it is also important to apply the principle of progressive overload to your training. This can be achieved by simply adding 1.25-2.5kg to the bar every time you train and will ensure that you continue to place more tension on the muscle over time, forcing them to adapt by growing bigger and stronger.


Increase the Range of Motion

Not all exercises are created equal and the range of motion, strength curve, and the length-tension relationship of an exercise can all exert influence on the amount of mechanical tension generated by an exercise. For that reason it is important that you pay close attention to the different exercises that you incorporate into your routine, ensuring that only the most effective exercises make their way into your workouts.


Exercising your muscles through a full range of motion forces them to contract at the same time that they are being stretched. This creates a huge amount of tension and is just one of the reasons why working through a full range of motion is of paramount importance for anyone that is looking to build a muscular and athletic physique. In some instances, it can also be beneficial to deliberately extend the range of motion of an exercise to create even greater levels of tension.


The dumbbell bench press, for example, allows you to lower the dumbbells into a position past where the barbell would normally stop at the chest. This stretches the pecs to their full length, maximizing the length-tension relationship, before forcing them to contract and press the weights back up to the start position. Given the extended range of motion, you will likely have to use lighter weights for such an exercise so it is recommended that you use this technique for your accessory work rather than your main lifts which should be aiming to create tension by using loads that are equivalent to your 3-5RM.


Create Passive Tension

Passive tension is created when a two-joint muscle is stretched at one joint while it is forced to contract at the other joint. This produces a favorable length-tension relationship and maximizes the capacity of a muscle to produce force. It also increases the amount of mechanical tension the muscle is placed under, potentially increasing the hypertrophic response that will occur with proper rest and recovery.


Used correctly, passive tension can be used to target specific groups of fibers within a muscle which can accentuate muscular development and help you to develop a well proportioned, symmetrical physique.


Training the triceps in 180 degrees of shoulder flexion is a good example of how passive tension can be used to develop weak or under-developed body parts. The triceps are biarticulate crossing both the shoulder and then elbow joint however most tricep exercises, such as close-grip bench presses, dips, and press downs are all performed with the humerus starting or finishing in extension. This places the long head of the triceps in a shortened position, reducing tension and diminishing its role in the exercise. Placing the humerus above the head in shoulder flexion stretches out the long head of the triceps to its full length, maximizing the length-tension relationship and creating a large amount of passive tension. This enables you to target the long head of the triceps more effectively, promoting full and even development of the largest muscle of the upper arm. As well as the triceps, this technique can be applied to all two joint muscles including the biceps, calves, and hamstrings.


Use Loading and Tension to Your Advantage

Incremental loading, working through an extended range of motion, and creating passive tension are all effective strategies for increasing the amount of mechanical tension a muscle is subjected to during exercise. While incorporating these techniques into your routine will undoubtedly produce great results, it is important to remember that mechanical tension is just one way we can stimulate hypertrophy in skeletal muscle. For that reason, it is important that you do not get hung up on one particular style of training and instead utilize a variety of different exercises, rep ranges, and training styles into your weight lifting routine. This will help ensure that full muscular development is achieved.


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23 Sep
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)
Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Palette (September 2019)

Release Date + About the Launch

Anastasia and Norvina just announced the final installment in the Norvina palette series, Volume 3, which arrives at Sephora on September 26th online and in-store. The palette will be available exclusively at Sephora, per the brand’s Instagram.

9/26 online and in-store

Products in the Launch

Anastasia Norvina Vol. 3 Pigment Palette, $60.00 (Limited Edition, Sephora Exclusive)

Following on the heels of the announcement of Norvina Vol. 2 Palette, Vol. 3 will launch simultaneously alongside as the “fall” inspired palette.  We expect the brand to reveal more details, including photos, shortly and will update this post as more information becomes available.  At this time, we know there will be 30 shades, likely including warmer, fall tones (as indicated by the inspiration as well as the initial campaign imagery) with a mix of mattes (Pressed Pigments and Eyeshadows) and shimmers.

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23 Sep

It’s no secret that lubricants are an important part of sex – whether alone or with a partner – yet many of us forgo it, possibly because we think our bodies have somehow failed us by not getting wet on demand and we’re cheating by using lube. Of course, this is not the case – lubricant is an amazing tool to get things going.

It’s important to understand that simply because our minds are ready for sex, it doesn’t mean our bodies have quite caught up. Lube is a great way to bridge the gap between mind and body. And even if you do get wet easily, there’s no such thing as too much lube!

The experts at Désir understand the important role lube plays in sex, especially when there are toys involved, and have put together a list of great toy and lubricant pairings. Read on to find your next great match…

READ MORE: You Can Totally Have Multiple Orgasms – And It’s Easier Than You Think

Sex toy and lubricant pairings

+ XES Sensual Cannabis Vaginal & Clitoral Stimulating Serum

The Satisfyer promises waves of pleasure to your clitoris with intense vibrational stimulation. For heightened clitoral stimulation, pair the Pro Plus with the XES Sensual Cannabis clitoral stimulating serum for increased stimulation and more explosive orgasms.


READ MORE: Ordinary Women Open Up About The Porn They’re Watching

+ PjurSpa Cherry Dream ScenTouch Massage Lotion

For the ultimate sophistication in massage wand technology, the Doxy Die Cast is perfect for both men and women alike. Pair your Doxy with the sensually soft Scentouch massage lotion for an easy glide that softens, arouses and moisturises your skin.


+ Intimate Earth Discover G-Spot Stimulating Gel

For a more intense G-Spot experience, pair your Serenity with Intimate Earth’s Discover G-Spot Arousing Serum. This G-spot vibrator is perfect for beginners and experts alike and offers 20 different functions. The stimulating gel is designed to heighten your stimulation and increase your orgasms. Its silky soft finish leaves you feeling more sensitive to the touch and fully aroused.

Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

READ MORE ON: Lube Masturbation Sex Sex Toys

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23 Sep

The Well—a new wellness club in New York City that integrates Eastern and Western healing practices

Courtesy of The Well

Website: the-well.com | Instagram: @thewell | Monthly membership: Rates start at $375

Build a Foundation

Start your mornings in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to feel grounded and steady during fall’s unpredictability. “Mountain Pose is solid and enduring and represents the potential for dealing with anything,” says Joyce Englander Levy, director of Mindful Movement. “It’s a reminder that you can cultivate a broader vision for your life.” Build the pose from the ground up: Anchor your feet, stand tall, and hold your gaze at the horizon or into your own eyes in the mirror. Breathe mindfully for 5–10 breaths, or until you feel a sense of confidence. If at any point of the day you feel overwhelmed, revert to Mountain Pose for 5 more breaths.

Thanks for watching!

Watch + Learn: Mountain Pose

Savor the Sunlight

Tempting as it may be to hunker down indoors when it gets chilly, sunlight helps sync your body with the natural rhythm of the changing weather. “Natural light lets your brain and your hormones know when it is time to wake or go to sleep,” says Amanda Carney, director of Health Coaching. “Exposure first thing in the morning supports this cycle and can positively affect your mood, energy levels, and mental clarity throughout the day.” When natural light hits your retina, it sends a direct message to your brain that triggers alertness. A few minutes outside, even on a cloudy day, provides tangible benefits.

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