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27 Nov

Rip has been notoriously critical of Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches. Probably, to some extent, for good reason. We can be our own worst enemy. Just pull up some of the outrageous YouTube videos of the circus acts performed in the weight room or the clown shows prior to football games. However, there are also a lot of good, hard working, knowledgeable people in the profession, working their asses off, staying behind the scenes, putting their athletes first, doing some great work. It is my aim to promote some of these people. A few of these people even implement the Starting Strength methodologies into their programs. 

To my knowledge, there are not many collegiate strength coaches doing so. Tom DiStasio SSC, was my former assistant for over 7 years, and is currently the Head Strength Coach at Morgan State. He uses the methodology, and is one of the best strength coaches I have ever encountered. He will be the subject of a future interview. Josh Jirgal is my former assistant, and currently Head Strength Coach at UT Permian Basin, and is starting to implement the program. Jennifer Pfohl also uses the methods as my assistant at Sacramento State. 

There are others that I have not worked with directly or recently, but are using the methodology and implementing it in the collegiate setting. I wanted to learn more about how they are using the program and their experiences with it, and I figured you might also. The strength coaches I spoke to are Nate Moe, Amanda Sheppard, and John Norcott. 

nate moenate moe

Nate Moe

Nate Moe is currently the Assistant Athletic Director for Strength and Conditioning at South Dakota State. He has served as the Head Strength Coach there since 2005, with previous stops at Eastern Illinois, Rice University, and the University of Texas. He holds the MSCC credential and is a board member for the CSCCa organization. I first met Coach Moe in 2008 while I was working at Southern Illinois University, and we played them in football – I think we beat them that first year, and then they proceeded to kick our butts the next 2 years. You knew you were going to have to buckle your chinstrap and bring your lunch pail when you played his teams. I have the utmost respect for Coach Moe and his program. His teams are big, strong, and physical, and you can tell they value the weight room. 

Amanda Sheppard

Amanda Sheppard is the Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports at Northern Illinois University, where previously she served as a Graduate Assistant and competed in Softball. Amanda also worked for me as an Assistant at Sacramento State for 2 years. She holds the SCCC and CSCS certifications. By the time of this publication, she will have moved on from the University setting to pursue a career with the Starting Strength Franchise Gyms. Amanda was one of the finest coaches I have had the pleasure of working with in my 20 years – no nonsense, a very good technical eye, excellent floor presence, extremely sharp, and a huge proponent of the Starting Strength methodology. I am very much looking forward to working with her again at Starting Strength Denver. 

John Norcott is currently the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Southwestern University. He has served as the Head Strength Coach there since 2018, with previous stops at Wayne State University, Wofford College, the Buffalo Bills, Eastern Michigan, and Harvard. He is SCCC and CSCS certified. John is also an elite powerlifter with five National Championships in the USAPL. He holds multiple Massachusetts State and New England Regional records. The Starting Strength movements have been a staple for him during his training the past 4 years. He has significantly adjusted his approach to powerlifting and his training due to the SS methods. I first met John 2.5 years ago when I interviewed him for an assistant position here at Sacramento State. Typical university politics factored into the process and we did not end up hiring John, which was a huge mistake, but I came away very impressed with him and have kept in contact since. I am very happy to see that he is having success and running his own program. 

The following is our roundtable discussion.


Jared: Thank you all for joining us. First off, I am curious how and when each of you came across Starting Strength? 

Nate Moe: I remember buying and reading the first edition of Practical Programming for Strength Training shortly after it was published. I cannot say I had a great understanding of the program at that time. I am not sure exactly how or when I became aware of Starting Strength but I do remember knowing about the program and website as early as 2010. We began using some basic concepts of a linear progression with our freshman redshirt football players shortly after that but I could not/would not call it “The Starting Strength method.” 

Amanda Sheppard: I first came across Starting Strength, in particular, after my interview with Sacramento State back in the summer of 2015. After my interview, the coaching staff stressed their use of the methodology with the athletes and insisted on the importance of me diving into the books as soon as possible. Prior to that, I had read Practical Programming for Strength Training 2nd Edition during my graduate assistant position at NIU. 

John Norcott: I was about 3 years into the profession of strength and conditioning when I got a chance to hang out with my former strength coach at his house. We were talking shop and I was asking him questions when he threw the book, “Strong Enough?” at me. Told me to read it and then read Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. This was back in 2015. It has been a total game changer in my approach ever since. 

Jared: What was your initial reaction when you first started diving into the Starting Strength methodology? Were you sold on it immediately? Did you pass it off and pick it up later? Did you try it on yourself first, etc.? 

NM: I remember agreeing with much of what I read and I was already sold on basic barbell training. I loved the simplicity of it all, but also the depth and complexity of reasons behind the method. Early on, I thought I understood it but I truly did not. I am sure I still have a lot to learn. Of course, I felt I was “trained” so I jumped right into a Texas method with myself and I was already in my mid 30’s. That was a rough start and I have since done an LP and modified Texas method with myself with much greater success in my mid 40’s. It did shift my thinking with our redshirt football players, in that we would use it for their initial program and progression. 

We followed a basic linear progression of increasing the weight each week, but early on we still used a high-bar and front squat. In addition, we used a lot more variety in our exercises in those early days.

With our volleyball team, I utilize the LP with our freshman when they arrive, whether that is in the summer where we follow a 3x/week A/B linear progression for about 8 weeks, or in fall camp where we utilize a 2x/week A/B program. During their in-season, I only have them twice per week and the second workout is one day before they compete. This has meant that we have to make some modifications, but we still have had significant success in improving strength in-season with our freshman volleyball players. 

AS: After reading the books post-interview, I immediately attempted to start training with the methodology and began a NLP over the summer to prepare myself for coaching after being offered and accepting the position at Sac State. This progressed over a choppy 4 weeks with different events, and the stress of moving across the country. Also, this attempt was all on my own. After arriving on campus I received some initial coaching from Jared and Tom DiStasio, two SSCs, in order to better understand and implement the method with myself. I was able to train for about another 4 weeks before my athletes were on campus. At that point, I was thrown into the fire of coaching it with my athletes, as well as assisting with the football team. It consisted of constantly watching the videos for teaching progressions and hearing the lifts taught every chance I got. I was definitely sold, not only with my athletes but also personally, with how I knew it worked myself. 

JN: My first initial thought was, “Why is no one doing this?” I could not believe it. I was never taught how to squat, press, or pull in any of the ways that the book says. Therefore, two things clicked for me. The first was, even though this seems like the best way, there are definitely other ways to do it. The second was, I already did it all the other ways, so I’ll try this way. I was not sold right away until I tried it all for myself. Once I tried it on myself and over time saw dramatic changes in my technique as well as overall health, I knew this is what I needed in my life for longevity. 

Jared: How did each of you start to implement it? At Sacramento State, we use all of the technical models for Squat, Deadlift, Clean, Bench, and Press. We also use an LP when we can, obviously adjusted for our specific situation. We have used modified versions of the Texas Method with good success also. We went all in, taught everything, all at once. We quit high-bar and front squatting initially, so as not to interfere with learning the low-bar squat. 

NM: Our use of the Starting Strength techniques has been a progression over several years. In 2015, our redshirt scheduled lifts were on Monday night, and Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Because of that schedule, we performed a predominantly lower body lift on Monday night, a predominantly upper body lift on Tuesday and then a total body lift on Thursday. At that time we squatted 2 days per week, one was a front squat and one was a low-bar squat. We did use a 3×5 linear progression watching the last set and increasing 5 lb for the next workout. At that time, we were not using the technical model to teach the lifts. 

Early on in my career, I did not use the Deadlift with my athletes. My thought was that the back squat was our lower body strength exercise and that our time would be better used focusing on Olympic lift variations instead of the deadlift. In my exposure to Starting Strength, I began using the deadlift in my own training. I noticed that not only was my back stronger but I had much less or no back pain. 

Also in 2015, one of my graduate assistants began using the SS LP and then Texas Method with one of our male cheerleaders. His success and improvement inspired me and the rest of the staff to look into it even closer. Then in 2016, I had a student athlete who was off-campus for an entire semester and would not be participating in spring football practice. This allowed me to train him using a LP and then a Texas method for the entire semester. He had significant improvement over that time even though he was training on his own. 

In 2016, one of my assistants (Adam Parsons, now at Colorado State) convinced me to low-bar squat the football redshirts 2x/week instead of using the front squat. We still had the same 3-day lifting schedule of Monday, Tuesday & Thursday. Additionally, 2016 is when we started deadlifting our redshirts. 

In 2017, I convinced our head FB coach to allow our redshirts to train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which allowed us to use a 3-day total-body program and follow the Starting Strength model more closely. I remember telling my assistants that since we would have them low-bar squatting 3x/week, they might stall out sooner so we would need to be ready to make the modifications earlier. I could not have been more wrong. Hitting this 48-hour stress, recovery, adaptation cycle allowed them to continue to progress and get stronger for a much longer time. Low-bar squatting 3x/week and having them lifting on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule worked so well, our redshirts kept progressing throughout our entire fall in-season period, which included a deep FCS playoff run to the Semifinals. 

Including our fall camp training period, it was a 21-week linear progression. We saw our redshirts get stronger than any previous class of freshman. On average, we saw a 6 lb increase in lean body mass as measured using the Sloan formula and skin caliper measurement. We also saw an average increase of 2.5 inch vertical jump improvement. We did no plyometrics. The only explosive training we did were variations of the Olympic lifts. 

We had a 6’8” offensive lineman that asked me, “Doesn’t the low-bar back squat hurt your back?” when we were teaching them the lifts. I informed him that though the low-bar requires a more horizontal back angle, it will not hurt your back. If you use the back musculature to stabilize the spine in a neutral position and use the Valsalva maneuver to assist that stabilization and progress through a steady slow linear progression, it will strengthen the musculature of the back as well as the legs. 

This 6’8” offensive lineman told me his best set of five in high school was 315 and his best 1RM was 375 lb. During fall camp they only lifted 2x/week, and since he had not been here in the summer we used that time to teach him the lifts. In September, we began the 3x/week Monday/Wednesday/Friday lifting schedule. In week seven of his LP he did 3×5 at 145 kg (319 lb). I remember watching him complete a workout shortly after that where it was really tough and I thought we would have to add a light day soon. Then with adjusting his nutrition, sleep, and rest time between sets, he just took off and was able to keep progressing 3x/week. 

He progressed another 5 weeks on 3×5, and finished his 3×5 with 182.5 kg (402 lb), 25 lb above his previous all-time 1RM. At the end of our playoff run, he hit 3 singles at 207.5 kg (457 lb) over 80 lb above his previous 1RM from high school. Later in off-season training his freshman year he squatted 500 lb. Again, he is a 300 lb offensive linemen, but he is also 6’8”. 

We now use the SS technical model to teach the lifts as well as follow a LP slightly modified. We have used a 4-day split Texas method in our off-season training with football. In the summer training phase, we utilized an Intensity Cycle Texas Method on a four-day split. We used this off-season format for several years now with our football team. 

AS: I attempt to use each aspect of the methodology with my athletes, sometimes needing to modify it based on their frequency in the weight room and the inclusion of what sport coaches deemed “sport specific” movements into the program. At Sacramento State, as well as Northern Illinois University, I started each of my teams on a NLP with the four main barbell lifts – Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Press – with later inclusion of the Power Clean, Power Jerk, and Power Snatch. Each team I worked with learned the low-bar squat and “high hips” variation of the pull from the ground for the deadlift and power clean. Depending on the team, I decided whether to teach the hip bounce in the press or keep a more strict variation. All freshmen each successive year start with a workout A/B format for as long as possible, with the inclusion of a row variation and a chin-grip lat pulldown. I worked mainly with female teams and found that I could continue for a decent period of time – maybe another 4-6 weeks – with a 3×5 work set scheme before changing to 3×3 work sets. With returning athletes that had been training with me for at least a year, I utilize a modified version of Texas Method (Intensity Day and Volume Day) with their off-season training. While some aspects were modified, I generally used every aspect of the SS Model I could with my teams. However, inconvenient breaks in the academic schedule or changes in a team’s training schedule (added voluntary or mandatory hours) always required strategic modification to address the Stress/Recovery/Adaptation cycle, the underpinnings of the SS method. 

JN: For me, as a one-man wrecking crew with 515 student athletes in a 2,000 square foot facility and no help whatsoever, I rely on pure strength-based movements as discussed in Starting Strength. Once I develop a good base of motor pattern development as well as strength, then I incorporate the clean and other variations of triple extension for training power. I love the utilization progression for squatting with the tennis ball under the chin as well as the squat stretch. I also am a big proponent of the rule of 5s. 

Jared: I guess we should let each of you clarify what “Starting Strength” means. What aspects of the methodology are each of you using in your program? 

NM: To me, Starting Strength is an exquisitely simple progression but a complex and detailed teaching method to improve strength. We now use the technical model to teach the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and Press. We have taught the freshman using the SS technical model for the Squat, Deadlift, Press, and Bench Press for 3 years. We utilize the Press 1.0 and Press 1.5 but I have not taught the Press 2.0. We use a slightly modified LP. We use an 3x/week A/B schedule. We squat and deadlift every workout initially and alternate the press and bench press. After about 3-4 weeks, we introduce the power clean and alternate it with the deadlift. We will utilize a rowing exercise on the bench press day and a chin-up on the press day. We will also use an RDL or Glute/Ham Raise on the power clean day. 

AS: As I said before, I was introduced to SS at Sacramento State with two Starting Strength coaches on staff. We implemented all of the models for the main barbell exercises as well as Power Clean, Power Snatch, and Power Jerk being team-dependent. After my transition to Northern Illinois University, I implemented the Starting Strength model with each of my teams (softball and women’s basketball) from scratch as soon as I got on campus, and eventually picked up volleyball and went through the same process with them as well. Each team was a little different, because softball (3x/week) was starting in the off-season, as was volleyball (4x/week). However, women’s basketball was in their “pre-season” stretch so I was limited in the amount of time I was going to be able to spend with them in an LP. I was able to get in about 6 weeks of decent training, but was able to start the full program in the spring post-season with them. 

After my time at Sac State, I had completely adopted the Starting Strength methodology and principles as my philosophy of training. The reason I try to utilize every aspect of Starting Strength is because I think the overall concept is an approach to barbell strength that addresses exactly that – strength. It is a general approach to strengthening the athlete as a whole, and if applied correctly it will progressively make the athlete strong, and when strength is increased it increases all other physical qualities that go with it (i.e. Power, Speed, and Endurance). To me, it’s crazy that this is not a more widely accepted model in strength training. 

JN: I slowly started the implementation. I will say that I do not teach the SS Method to a T, but the BIG components of how to perform each exercise is what I focus on. However, with the level of athletic ability my athletes have, as well as the number of athletes I coach at once, I mix in things from previous years of experience to help along the process. All my strength-based teams low-bar squat. No team does front squats or high-bar. The only time I have my athletes front squat is after they catch the clean and that is purely to help them developing the feel of catching the barbell low and having the strength to stand up. Some weaker individuals start with simple push-ups or dumbbells if they are unable to bench press or military press the barbell. Once I feel the athletes are capable of squatting consistently, hinging properly, and developing some strength, then I will progress them to the clean. 

Jared: Have you noticed any changes in training results or performance (objectively or subjectively) since implementing the SS philosophy? 

NM: This current year with our freshman football players, we had 21 athletes show up in June. We tested their body composition and then tested again the last week of October. Many of the guys have progressed to needing a light day on squat, and several are on sets of 3. On average, those 21 guys have added 8.4 lb of lean body mass and lost 4.76 lb of body fat. The linear progression is the fastest way to get strong, but “slow cooking” the progress allows that progression to continue. Our freshmen are getting a lot stronger than previous classes by the slow steady progression of 3x/week. 

AS: I think the main results I have noticed, objectively, are 1.) the effectiveness of the teaching progressions for the main lifts throughout all the sports I have worked with. Very rarely do I have an athlete that does not understand the movement progression systematically in order to perform it correctly. 2.) The fact that the movements are just about as all-inclusive as you can get, and are applicable to everybody. You will notice if you learn and follow the model of the lift, almost every athlete of any anthropometry can effectively perform the movements. And there is always room for modifications in special circumstances. 3) By meeting the three criteria (most muscle mass, most effective ROM, to move most weight) each of the athletes I have worked with has progressed for a significant period of time, even the ones who “didn’t want to lift heavy.” 

In my career, I have followed the Starting Strength Method since becoming a full-time strength coach, so my comparison with other systems for changes in training results or performance would be difficult to specify. My time spent as a graduate assistant was very much about finding what worked for my athletes, keeping them safe throughout their time in the weight room, and also keeping the coaches happy so as to not ruffle any feathers while just beginning my career. However, prior to my adoption of the SS Method I personally trained with a high-bar squat variation, lower hip pull (deadlift, clean), and rarely barbell pressed. After my time as an athlete, athletic trainers told me that I would never (or should never) squat again because I have practically no menisci in my knees. I continued to do so because of the career I had chosen, but I will say that I have never felt as strong as I do now since beginning SS in 2015. 

I would say the biggest change has been overall back strength. On top of that, my knees have held up well. The occasional ache here and there, but I would say the overall strength in the musculature surrounding my knees has helped tremendously. I owe a lot to Jared Nessland and Tom DiStasio for showing me the light. 

JN: I have definitely noticed a change in training results and performance. The kids are healthier, so they are able to perform more consistently. Whether they win or lose is not something I can control, but the best athletes on our teams are able to be on the field of play longer, to give them a better chance of winning. Claims and surgeries have decreased across the board by 85% within one year. Read that again, as it’s very important. Also, the athletes are easier to coach and improve because they understand the simple coaching cues in the big movements. Therefore, relationship-wise, it has allowed my athletes to trust me and me to trust them. Not to mention that every athlete has gotten stronger across the board. In big or small amounts, all the athletes I train have gotten stronger. There are many factors that play into that, but the SS model has definitely helped me coach a large number of athletes using a simple approach to increase their strength and conditioning. 

Jared: What was been the reaction from the coaches and athletes? I know here, we do not really say “Starting Strength” and have quit saying the words “low-bar.” Instead just saying back squat. It’s just not worth the trouble trying to justify something they do not understand and will not try to. We just have to battle the occasional coach watching a workout and telling the athlete to look up during squats! The athletes just know we back squat differently than they were taught in high school. 

NM: I have not really explained a lot of it to our coaches, but I do explain it to our student athletes. I tell them that we will teach you a little different way to do the barbell exercises than you have probably learned before. The linear progression is a very simple and effective tool to improve strength, but it also becomes a test of mental fortitude to push through and complete the 3 sets of 5. I preach that the athletes need to take responsibility for their effort. I will help motivate them as needed, but I will not yell and scream and act like a clown to try to get them “hyped up.” They need to put in the effort even when they feel tired. In today’s culture, I think the linear progression has helped improve our effort, focus, and fortitude. 

I have had some skill-position players who think this should just be a program for linemen but not for them, because they do not enjoy the heavy lifting. I explain to them that strength will help every position and make them more resistant to injury. I know the redshirt LP has become a rite of passage and guys will look back a year later and watch the new class of freshmen do it and talk about how hard it was. Anecdotally, I have seen that freshmen who do not redshirt and thus are not able to complete the full LP are never as strong, and I have seen many of these guys end up being hurt 2 years into their career. 

AS: After initially addressing the differences in the movements, I have not really addressed it again with my coaches. They understand my appreciation for the barbell lifts and understand that I am a barbell-oriented coach. I think across the board it is always “mixed reviews” depending on the time of year. They like it in the off-season when they see athletes are getting strong and moving some weight well, but they feel as though the barbell lifts are not as “necessary” at certain times throughout the season. 

As for the athletes, I like to believe, for the most part, that the reaction is always positive. After the initial introduction to the movements which always includes a learning curve and unlearning any bad habits/technical errors they learned in high school or with a previous coach, they typically feel as though they are getting stronger and “using more muscles” or “using muscles they never have before.” That being said, I think there is always a spectrum in collegiate athletics: some athletes love the grind and love to train, and others only enjoy the sports-practice aspect of their collegiate experience. 

JN: I say “low-bar squats” all the time. I call it how I see it. I even say we low-bar squat because we squat low…with a bar! There has been great buy-in from the athletes. Everyone understands the difference and they can certainly feel it as well. No coaches give me any issues with my exercises or progressions. Many athletes who have had knee problems no longer have knee problems. Kids with lower back problems no longer have issues because now their backs are actually strong. My baseball and softball players’ shoulder health has been amazing. I managed to decrease the amount of money in claims for injuries and surgeries across the board by 85% in one year, though I still have yet to see a penny of the money saved in claims in my paycheck! 

Jared: Why do you think Starting Strength has not caught on and become more popular in collegiate strength and conditioning?  

NM: There are many reasons why it has not caught on. Some of them are related to the reasons Rip criticizes the collegiate S&C profession. I mentioned above that some skill players think this program should be for linemen but not for them. There has always been the idea in athletics that if you are asking an athlete to lift heavy weights with barbells then you are “trying to make them into a powerlifter.” Additionally, S&C coaches need to keep the sport coach happy, and that can result in less-than-optimal training. In an attempt to keep the coach or athlete happy, enter”train”ment can happen. But I think the biggest reason is that it seems too simple. Everyone wants to seem smart and no one wants to miss out on some new form of training. Coaches see others using big words and complex exercises and periodization schemes. They look around at fancy exercises, and believe they need to use them as well or they will fall behind, or be perceived as “just doing what they did in the “80s.” 

AS: I think one main reason is that you have to be all-in with your teaching progressions and programming. To me, if you adopt the model and teach it all right off the bat, it becomes more efficient to teach with each incoming class, because the expectations have already been set. In addition, you are dealing with an array of different stresses in collegiate athletics – whether we care to admit it or not, we are not the only stress on the athlete’s body. They endure upwards of 3-4 hour practices that consist of sport skills and more often than not conditioning or workouts of some sort implemented by the sport coaches. 

This has a major effect on their recovery and ultimately their progression through the program; however, there are ways to implement this with athletes appropriately. It just takes some manipulation and a solid coaching eye to do so. I think some strength coaches try to find an appropriate way to marry all of these stresses, so they end up sacrificing things that would help strengthen their athletes and prevent injury. I also believe that sometimes we are afraid for our athletes to push through or grind through a set fearing injury, or athletes saying you “made them sore.” I think that dampens the collegiate strength coach’s ability to apply a new strength stress to the athlete, so they err on the side of variation or complexity. I think given the time to understand the Starting Strength model they would see the basic and general theme of the method: making athletes stronger and more resilient. 

 JN: With decades of research and application from various strength professionals there are many things young collegiate strength coaches read about and want to implement. I am a big believer in not coaching an exercise you are unable to perform correctly yourself. Many young coaches will try multiple variations of training as they read about each one – HIIT, Starting Strength, Velocity Based, etc. But ultimately it is the person who is going to be coaching the movement that should feel comfortable teaching it. Getting younger coaches to read and learn about Starting Strength would certainly help this profession. A lot of young strength coaches just fall into the system in which they developed. 

For a young strength coach who grew up playing football, did a bodybuilding split in high school, got to college and had a strength coach who was more HIIT-based, graduates, goes on to do an internship with the same strength coach, and then finally moves on to be an assistant or head strength coach at a different school, chances are they are going to coach athletes using the same model of bodybuilding mixed with some HIIT. Young coaches tend to mimic what they already know until they either get fired or check their ego to learn more forms and styles of training athletes. I certainly think we should get the Starting Strength book into young coaches hands, the earlier the better. That’s what I do with my interns at Southwestern. 

Jared: What obstacles have you encountered implementing the program, either with the types of athletes you get or in a big group setting? 

NM: It can be hard to implement the LP with a large group if you do not have enough coaches to get around and see everyone’s last set. We are able to use it with our FB freshman because we will have 4-5 coaches on the floor. That may not be possible with a large swim team because there may be only 1 or 2 coaches on the floor. Other obstacles can be like I mentioned previously there is a perception that you are trying to make the student-athlete into a powerlifter. This can come from the athletes themselves or the coaches. Additionally, there can be a motivation obstacle: often the athlete loves playing the sport but does not enjoy training for the sport. In today’s social media quick fix, short attention span culture the monotony of squatting three times per week and always doing the same thing can lead to a motivation challenge. 

AS: I think the most difficult obstacle I’ve encountered are the breaks in the academic schedule or voluntary periods of training where you are not able to continue the progression with the athletes. You will always have a group of athletes that come in voluntarily or stick around during breaks; those are usually a rarity in college. But they will be a big help in determining the best course of action for the majority when they return to campus. 

As far as implementing the program with different types of athletes, I work primarily with female sports and you will sometimes get the age-old objection that “I don’t want to lift too much because I don’t want to get bulky.” It will always be an uphill battle, convincing some female athletes that the structure of the program is strength and they are not performing the volume or doing the “outside activities” necessary to put on a great deal of muscle mass. 

As far as a group setting, I like to perform “watch” sets on their last work set of the movement in order to progress them appropriately during the phase they are in. This requires a great amount of coaching during their work sets before in order to ensure that the sets prior to their last, when my eyes are on them, all look the same. This, more often than not, requires a superset/triple in order to help the athletes finish the whole workout while they rest for their watch set. Not an ideal situation, but necessary for the environment I work in. 

JN: As I have mentioned before, I am a one-man wrecking crew in charge of 515 student athletes within 2,000 square feet of space. The biggest group I train at a time is about 50 athletes and the smallest is about 12 athletes. There are many challenges I face when dealing with that many athletes in a small space – I average anywhere from 25-35 athletes at a time in the weight room. I have found it necessary to use other avenues, like the bodyweight squat stretch with a tennis ball under the chin, more than some other coaches who have a better situation than I do. The amount of equipment, the layout of the room, and time I have with each team does not always allow me to progress as fast as I would like. Some athletes pick up the coaching quicker, but others are not able to. 

I also don’t like to move on from one teaching progression to another unless everyone is on the same page. This is due to the lack of supervising eyes I have in the weight room besides myself, which is none. The types of athletes I have are just slightly more advanced than a good high school football program produces. A lot of the athletes have zero training experience when they come in as freshmen. Some athletes from sports like football, basketball, softball, baseball, or maybe lacrosse have some idea about weight training. Most of the ones that do only like bench pressing and curls. I’d say maybe a handful of kids had an actual strength coach in their high school, who sometimes did more harm than good. I walk around a lot and coach the athletes quickly, using one or two coaching points each week. I hammer on the bigger issues, then work towards the smaller ones as they develop the pattern. 

Is it ideal? Absolutely not. Has it worked for me? Absolutely. One last note, the athletes do not stick around in the summer. Including breaks during the academic year and summertime, the athletes have a total of about 5 months of unsupervised work, where I rely on them to continue their training with the program I give them. So, long-term consistent training is a problem. Imagine if every other month every company in the world just stopped working. Nothing would ever progress much, and that’s what I have to work with. 

Jared: Thanks everyone for taking time out of your busy schedules and giving us a look into a collegiate strength program. Good luck this year!


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25 Nov

November 25, 2019


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lala duncan coaches angel blount through the squat teaching methodlala duncan coaches angel blount through the squat teaching method
Lala Duncan takes Angel Blount through the squat teaching method during the Squat Coach Development Camp held at Fivex3 Training in Baltimore. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
michael boyle coaches eric strong at the coach development campmichael boyle coaches eric strong at the coach development camp
Michael Boyle coaches Eric Strong at the same event. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]


Best of the Week

Strength/Conditioning Combo?
PrimalFish

I was just reading over a quote of yours on why 5s are so useful, where you give the extremes of 1s and 20s as an example on both sides of the spectrum.


You end by saying: “Sets of five reps are a very effective compromise for the novice, and even for the advanced lifter more interested in strength than in muscular endurance. They allow enough weight to be used that force production must increase, but they are not so heavy that the cardiovascular component is completely absent from the exercise. Sets of five may be the most useful rep range you will use over your entire training career, and as long as you lift weights, sets of five will be important.”

I was just wondering if this means sets of 1 (more realistically sets of 1-3 only) could be used exclusively for the trainee only concerned with strength when it comes to lifting. Could a combination of only training singles, doubles, and sometimes triples, (and never 4s and 5s) produce better and quicker pure strength gains than 5s?

Also, I’d like to know how useful the “muscular endurance” you mentioned is to a lifter who just wants to be strong? What is muscular endurance really, and what is practical real-world use and translation of it? If someone could get very strong never going above 3s, what would they lack by not having the muscular endurance higher reps train?

I’m wondering if a good combination for someone who just wants to be strong and somewhat cardio-conditioned could be training exclusively with singles, doubles, and occasional triples and then running some sprints or pushing the prowler once a week or so. The shorter lifting sets would lack the cardio component I feel on sets of 5, but I feel the sprints produce a similar cardio feeling and could train that aspect. The only gap I see and am unsure about is that I see how the sprints are not really training “muscular endurance” and only cardiovascular endurance. Does this mean this type of setup/combination would leave some detrimental gap in training?

Or maybe there is something I am missing entirely in regard to volume and muscle-building that helps with strength gains that 5s are more helpful for?

Mark Rippetoe

Maybe. Try it and see. Most people train for the overall effects of the program. You may be different. Try it and see.

Seems to me that since 5s provide all the cardiovascular work you need for just walking-around health, you’d just do the 5s. But if you want to reinvent the wheel, try it and see.

Maybe you’re missing the part about the millions of people over the past 100 years who have tried every permutation of training and have concluded that 5s are the best rep-range for strength and conditioning.

Mark E. Hurling

I am currently using an old school Hepburn routine with sets of singles increasing from 6 to 10 with deload/dynamic effort/speed sets interspersed every 3 weeks. It hasn’t hurt my VO2 max any, I test in the 38-42 range which is way up in the excellent end of the scale for the 65+ geezers. My heart rate hovers in the 70-80% range during these lifting sessions. I do back it up with several other days per week of straight conditioning work as well, so it may not be an apples to apples comparison for what you are looking at. I have no idea if my age (69) is a factor in this.

Maybe getting or borrowing a heart rate monitor for some lifting sessions might give you some data to look at for yourself.

PrimalFish

Cool, glad to hear I’m not way off with this line of thinking. Gonna try it out and see. Truth be told, I just really enjoy lifting in the 1-3 rep range allot more then 5s and when I read your quote about lower reps being best for straight up force production (or strength) that’s what got me thinking about this. I go for a walk everyday anyway and don’t mind throwing in some sprints here and there to keep cardio up. So this way of training just sounds great to me. Excited to apply it and try it out.

It seems you know more about how to set up low-rep set type training then me; I have to look into this more (or experiment) and figure out how much volume I need to make progress. I’ll look into Hepburn routine. Thanks!

Zappey1

I was just talking about this the other day. The only problem when you do reps of 1-2-3 is it is hard to add weight because it is so close to your 1RM. If I’m doing a work out of 5×5 at 70% ish it is easy to add 5ish pounds almost every week for a long period. If I’m doing a work out at lets say five heavy singles or 3×5 at 95% or 85% of my 1RM it is going to be almost impossible to add any weight for more than a few weeks.

You do need a combination of both. Several weeks of 5s followed by a few weeks of 3s followed by a peaking phase. It is covered pretty well in Practical Programming.

Mark Rippetoe

Yes, if you’re an advanced lifter.

PrimalFish

This is what I don’t really understand – why are you not able to keep adding weight? I read practical programming, but I don’t think I fully grasp the concepts of volume and intensity and why they are both needed. Also, balancing workload with recovery.

I think about Rip’s famous suntan analogy – you need more stress each time for more results – and then about his quote on 1-20 reps and low reps being best for straight up force production. So if I come in and do 315×2 then my body needs to recover from that stress and make it stronger for next session where I should be able to do 317.15 or 320×2. Why do we eventually hit a wall where this cannot go on any further?. I really don’t know. Obviously you’re not gonna come in just do 1 set of 2 reps and get up to a 700 pound squat…but I really don’t know why. I think it’s because you need more volume to create more stress, but not so much that you can’t recover from it. But, I don’t really know why we need the volume and why intensity is not enough.

So my plan for now is that Im gonna just do 1 double and see if I can add weight the next session. If I can’t, I will do 2 doubles, the 3 for more volume. I want to experiment with this and do the minimum amount of sets to keep making strength gains. I’m going to train exclusively in the 1-3 rep range because I prefer it and it seems it is best for pure strength gains which is all I care about when lifting weights. I can get my conditioning pushing the prowler or sprinting once a week.

I get the feeling that I’m missing something with this line of thinking, but Im gonna test it out and see how it works.

If someone could explain why we need volume (or point me in that direction) that would be really cool. Thank you.

Mark Rippetoe

Maybe you’re missing the part about the millions of people over the past 100 years who have tried every permutation of training and have concluded that 5s are the best rep-range for strength and conditioning.

PrimalFish

I hear you Rip; sets of 5 are the best rep range for strength AND Conditioning – it’s like an extremely efficient jack of all trades rep range, nothing else needed to get both strong and conditioned for most. I see you’re not a fan of trying to separate these components, whereas I am – just a personal preference. I was thinking I could make the strength training component even more focused on pure strength gains and just do the conditioning work on another day – this only came to mind after reading your quote that lower reps are best for pure strength (but sacrifice the conditioning component – I hear you loud and clear on this). But like I said, since I personally wouldn’t mind separating them (and would even enjoy it) it is something I would be willing to experiment with. I’m gonna go with your first comment to try it out and see how it works out. Thanks again.


Best of the Forum

Training after a bend
Drmwc

I picked up a vestibular bend last weekend on a dive. It was on a conservative dive profile, so I am very likely to have a PFO. I had a week in the pot; and now I have recovered. I fancy getting back under a barbell later today. It feels wise to reset and take it easy for a week or two. Other than this, is anyone aware of any restrictions this could place on my lifting, either over the shorter or longer term?

Mark Rippetoe

You’ll have to explain to us rubes how you know that a patent foramen ovale is the cause of your decompression problems.

Drmwc

The diving docs think a PFO is very likely. I saw a few; they were unanimous.

My bend was in the inner ear. (I believe the area affected is actually the cerebellum rather than the ear fluids.) The most likely explanation for my bend is that nitrogen rich blood shunted through the PFO to the arterial blood. It’s not 100% that this was the cause; however this bend type, if there was a conservative dive profile, is highly correlated with PFOs.

I will get a test at some point.

Mark Rippetoe

I’d like to hear about why you think that nitrogen saturation has a gradient within the circulatory system. Is it being sequestered by some mechanism I don’t know about?

Drmwc

I am not an expert on decompression theory. With that caveat, my understanding is:

My dive was to 31m. I was breathing air. At this depth, the pressure is roughly 4 atmospheres. Air is roughly 79% nitrogen, so I was breathing in nitrogen at around 3.2 time atmospheric pressure. The tissues would still contain nitrogen at roughly .79 atmospheres’ pressure.

So at this point of the dive, I was on- gassing. My tissues were absorbing pressurised nitrogen. Different tissues absorb and release nitrogen at different rates. (My dive computer uses a common algorithm which assumes 16 tissue compartments, all with different half lives for absorption.)

Later, I slowly ascended. Then my tissues started to off-gas. So the tissues absorb oxygen from the blood, and off-gas the pressurised nitrogen they absorbed earlier. So the venal blood contains micro-bubbles of nitrogen from the off-gas get process.

My bend happened 40 minutes after the dive. Arterial blood at this point should come straight from the lungs, so be oxygen rich and have few (if any) nitrogen bubbles. However, my slower tissue compartments were still off-gassing, and so the venal blood was nitrogen rich.

Following the shunt, the arterial blood gas nitrogen by bubbles, all hell breaks loose and the bubbles become big.

pendaluft

It’s an interesting question. Without the PFO, bubbles formed on the venous side would get filtered by the lungs. With the PFO, they can enter cerebral circulation. Bubbles formed on the arterial side will likely stick where they form (joints, tissues) and not come back to wind up in the brain.


At least, I think so. Tough research to do and a lot of it is modelling. Sample sizes of actual subjects are usually small. Like this tiny series: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27334999

But I am interested in the question of lifting weights after decompression illness. I haven’t thought about that, opinions there would be welcome.

Mark Rippetoe

Got it. The pressure causes the gradient due to abnormal absorption in the tissues. Sounds to me like your PFO was benign when you were training before, and it will be benign when you train now. The bubbles are gone, right? Just don’t train at 4 atmospheres.

Drmwc

Sounds reasonable. I will lift later today.

Jonathon Sullivan

It’s always the sports and activities in the z-axis that get you.


Credit: Source link

22 Nov

https://youtu.be/Ko_jlTrCPI4 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your video to text in 2019.

[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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21 Nov

https://youtu.be/_WAzcda4AP4 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your video to text in 2019.

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 Starting Strength Radio. We’re glad you’re here with us this week. We have a guest in the studio today, Blake Wilson from Dominion Strength, the guys who make Starting Strength belts. And we’re going to have a long, detailed, boring, horrible discussion with him about belt manufacture and leather and everything that you want to know.

Mark Rippetoe:
And as usual, we start with Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
This week, we have a particularly lovely crop of comments from the haters. This… most of this, I think, is from the Stan Efferding video that ran a while back. And we got…

Mark Rippetoe:
Let’s see Erick Miranda says, “I’m not an expert, but after analyzing this video and all the contents, I cannot say anything because as I said in the beginning, I’m not an expert.”

Mark Rippetoe:
Thanks. This is the most sensible comment that I have ever read in YouTube comments anywhere, anytime, about anything. So really, he’s not a hater, is he? Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
Here’s one. Nick Baker says, “Both of them have lobster hands. For some reason they have the inability to move their four index fingers separately.” You hear that? Four index fingers separately. “And are only able to make a pincer like movement with their thumbs. Rip wins on the lobster look-alike scale, though, since he his hands and forearms look like they came out of a Soviet nuclear power plant, but his upper body is like a 98-yearold overweight grandma.”

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh God. Here, Nick. [Uses one finger separately to pretend to pick his nose] Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
Angel of Cake says, “I don’t think Mark has lifted for 20 years. He looks like he has the nice soft hands of an office worker who moisturizes” no, “who moistures a lot.”

Mark Rippetoe:
Now I have ne-… That’s the first time I have ever heard that I had soft hands. Angel, sweetheart, I can caress you and show you that they’re not soft.

Mark Rippetoe:
Come see me. Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
And Audioventura says… Now this is a good one, all right. I love this. “I only have the outmost respect for both Stan and Rip, but why in the hell would order this whatever it is it’s not food mash stuff. If you have problems with calories, just make a sauce hollandaise with your steak. That ought to do it. Don’t know if this is an American thing, but as a half French half German, I would never even think about ordering, let alone eating something like this. It’s..it’s utterly cultureless tf this word exists.”

Mark Rippetoe:
[Laughter] Oh shit. The bottom three percent. Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, Blake, thank you for coming from where in the hell ever it is that you live in Florida.

Blake Wilson:
Edgewater, Florida. Right there where Dorian just tried to come through and wipe us out.

Mark Rippetoe:
Did you watch that or what?

Blake Wilson:
Well, we had several different plans depending on what was going to happen. It looked like we might get hit directly by a Cat 4 Cat 5 hurricane.

Mark Rippetoe:
It could have happened.

Blake Wilson:
We had plans to leave Florida. We had plans to possibly hole up at the shop, which is a few miles off the coast. We ended up the day that it actually that it would have made landfall had it done so, we went west over to… Now I’m going to forget the name. What’s the name of that? Lakeland.

Mark Rippetoe:
Lakeland. I’ve heard of Lakeland, Florida.

Blake Wilson:
Just over on west coast. So that’s what we ended up doing. But we got lucky and we we dodged a bullet on that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, you did. Is the shop reinforced for hurricanes?

Blake Wilson:
I don’t know that it’s reinforced. It’s all built to withstand.

Mark Rippetoe:
Why don’t you reinforce it, Blake, you bonehead. I mean, it’s Florida. There’s hurricanes.

Blake Wilson:
Well, I’m a renter.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, I see. It’s not yours.

Blake Wilson:
I was totally rated to one hundred and forty miles an hour. So all we did, we got three roll up doors there.

Mark Rippetoe:
That sounds like bullshit.

Blake Wilson:
Two of them are east-facing so we barricaded those. Because that would be the worst case scenario I thought, would be to have a door blow in and then have days and days of rain.

Mark Rippetoe:
All that industry screwed up.

Blake Wilson:
That all got pushed into the middle of the shop and top… tarps over everything.

Mark Rippetoe:
Up off the floor.

Blake Wilson:
Everything up off the floor. So we we prepared is as good as we thought we could. And then…

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, good.

Blake Wilson:
Getting lucky.

Mark Rippetoe:
We’re all Happy that you didn’t get blown around and flooded and wet and everything.

Mark Rippetoe:
So, Blake, tell us about how long you’ve been in the weightlifting belt business and how you got into it.

Blake Wilson:
Well, I got to say, this is pretty much all your fault.

Mark Rippetoe:
I’m sorry.

Blake Wilson:
I didn’t know anything about weight lifting belts until I heard a podcast with you on it. At the time I was doing CrossFit and I realized I did not have the same motor that some of those people do to do metcons and stuff like that. But people that could whip me pretty handily at that, I could be stronger than them when we’d do the weight training portion of their…

Mark Rippetoe:
Once every six weeks when they squat.

Blake Wilson:
Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
You were using stellar at that.

Blake Wilson:
I don’t know that I was stellar, but I realized maybe there’d be some room to specialize in that as opposed to getting into metcons and everything. So. But continuing to do CrossFit then is not really ideal because I just wanted to lift weights. I don’t care about all the extra cardio and everything.

Blake Wilson:
So I started poking around and actually found you randomly I think on a Mike Matthews podcast. I you had him on a couple times.

Mark Rippetoe:
We just had Mike on recently here on on our on our actual podcast. I’ve done several audio only Skype podcasts with Mike. In fact I’m going to do another one next month. And he and I have gotten to be buddies. And you probably heard the one about back injuries. Oh know that was kind of recent. Couldn’t have been that.

Blake Wilson:
No, it was it was probably three, three-ish years ago.

Mark Rippetoe:
Might have been. Might have been the first one we did.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. But it was the first time I’d heard of Starting Strength and heard of Mark Rippetoe. And I was like, all right, well, this guy’s at least funny as hell to listen to. Let me see what else he talks about.

Blake Wilson:
And so I went down the rabbit hole of the Starting Strength podcast. At the time you had done…. We were actually living, Katie and I, and Katie is over there for moral support. Say “hey” Katie. We were live in Decatur and there was a Starting Strength affiliate gym there that we found out about through your podcast.

Mark Rippetoe:
Decatur, Georgia.

Blake Wilson:
Decatur, Georgia. And I’d go in there getting some, you know, proper coaching, going through a an LP. We pretty quickly realized, you know, we need a belt, you know, after several weeks into this. And so we started asking around, you know, who makes good belts? Where do you buy these things? Of course, there’s a bunch on Amazon, but you kind of assume that they’re…

Mark Rippetoe:
That’s all junk.

Blake Wilson:
Those are overseas pieces of junk. So the names we would get, we would look at these companies and say, well, you know, if you’re going to get a nice belt, it’s going to be made to order. It’s going to take you six weeks, eight weeks, something like that to get it.

Blake Wilson:
Why isn’t there just an option where you can buy a good belt now? Maybe there’s limited options, you know, one color or something like that. And, you know, my background is in mechanical engineering. I was working for an engineering company at the time and I would source a lot of different products just in my everyday jobs, I thought, well, heck, maybe, maybe I could come up with something that could be sourced, you know, maybe it could be made cheaply enough that we could sell them. You know, at the very least, maybe we can get one made for ourselves.

Blake Wilson:
And the gears started turning. There’s a lot of steps from here to there that was, I guess, right about three years ago now. That all of that started. And we started getting samples in and everything. And one thing led to another. And now we’re making the belts ourselves down at our own shop in Edgewater, Florida.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Well, I think, you know, you’ve probably talked to our buddy Dean Best. Dean makes a damn good belt. He and I have talked about this quite a bit and he’s just backed up. He’s… if you want a suede belt, I always recommend Dean. He does a great job, has a fabulous product. I know that you talked to Dean several times and you guys are on good terms and everything.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what you’re doing is a completely different thing. Dean, it takes a while to get product out of him. He’s a small… he’s a small shop and does things his own way and makes a real high quality product. But there’s a market for something that’s got a little faster turnaround time than that. And you guys have stepped up and filled this hole in the market quite handily.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the finished product is laid here on the table. This is the two ply Starting Strength belt. This thing retails for $175. And how long does it take you to get this order filled?

Blake Wilson:
We’ll ship all of our orders out within a week. Ship them within a week. And in the U.S., you’ll get it in two to three days. Priority mail doesn’t take any time. So from the time you place the order, you know you’re looking at less than…

Mark Rippetoe:
Should be no longer than 10 days.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah 10 days. You’ll have it in your hands. And a lot of these you know, now that we know what sells the best, we’ll keep a lot of those in stock. So there’s plenty of people that order a belt, it’ll go out the next day. Or even the same day.

Mark Rippetoe:
If it’s not if it’s not an oddball.

Mark Rippetoe:
But the Starting Strength belt they’re just two versions of it. The one you see on the on the table here is the two-ply belt. And we’re talking more about this in detail in a minute. And we’re going to talk about leather and how these are made and what they’re made of and how leather is sourced and all this stuff.

Mark Rippetoe:
But this is the single-ply version of the Starting Strength Belt. This is a lot cheaper. This is a lot lower price point. This is what, 85?

Blake Wilson:
We got it for 90.

Mark Rippetoe:
90. And again, this is a this is a top quality product. If you’ll look at the rivets, they’re nice big fat rivets that do not come loose. Anytime you see a belt with little bitty teeny ballpoint pen size rivets…

Blake Wilson:
These are industrial rivets. They have tension and a shear rating that will never be tested on one of these belts.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the little ones pull out. They always pull out. You will not use one of those belts for any length of time and the thing not destroy itself.

Mark Rippetoe:
So these are some of the some of the features of the Starting Strength belt. This is a two-ply and once it breaks in, it’s very, very comfortable. It’s tight, provides a lot of hoop tension.

Mark Rippetoe:
Those of you that have read my article about the belt and the deadlift to understand how the belt works. If you haven’t read it, you’ll save yourself some time to stop the podcast right now. Just push the little button in the middle. Go read the article and then come back. And we’ll wait on you.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back. Now these things you’re going to do what a belt is supposed to do. And they do it nicely. They do it with class. They do it… They’re beautiful pieces of workmanship. And let’s talk about what goes into these two things. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Let’s talk about the easy one first. What is this single-ply belt made out of?

Blake Wilson:
This is made out of a type of top grain leather called sole leather. And it’s cut from the the bend, which is a section of the hide that runs along the backbone of the animal.

Blake Wilson:
I guess first maybe the best thing to do would be backup and talk about…

Mark Rippetoe:
Talk about the grades of leather. And this is a top grain.

Blake Wilson:
This is a top grain. So you can think of the cowhide as basically three separate layers. So that the outermost layer is called the full grain. And that’s got all of the imperfections.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you’ve got a cross section of hide may be this thick.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, maybe an inch thick. Maybe a little more, a little less.

Mark Rippetoe:
Really an inch thick. The hide on the back of a steer, especially on the back of a bull, is very, very thick. It’s that way for protection from the elements, from fights, from ornery creatures jumping on his back in the middle of Africa, that sort of thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
And people are surprised at how thick leather is, how thick the section of the hide is. It comes off an animal and it is very, very thick. And it’s thickest along the spine at the shoulders. That’s where it’s thickest.

Mark Rippetoe:
In fact, if you’ll remember back from your history lessons, the Indians used to make rawhide, buffalo rawhide, shields. Remember this? Little target size shields out of the shoulder hide of a buffalo. And when… those things were… they would cut those things to shape from that piece of hide and they would dry them and they’d shrink and contract. And you had a piece of material that was an inch and a half thick. It would turn a bullet if you were clever enough to get it in the way.

Blake Wilson:
That’s that’s the trick.

Mark Rippetoe:
Putting it between you and the bullet. Yeah. So people aren’t familiar with how thick that hide is.

Mark Rippetoe:
But so the… What the first layer is called?

Blake Wilson:
That’s the full grain.

Mark Rippetoe:
The full grain.

Blake Wilson:
Yes. So the tannery’s gonna get the hide in and they’re going to first split that full grain layer off. And they’re going to take a look at it. If it’s a really high grade — so there’s not a lot of imperfections, defects, it’s just got a nice natural grain. Or they can tell that it will have a nice natural grain after the tanning process. It’ll go on and just become something usually called like aniline leather or something like that. It’s gonna be like the highest end couches, handbags, stuff like that are made from that full grain leather.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is where they want to show the texture of the…

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. They they want that actual…

Mark Rippetoe:
The pores and the obvious surface features that are the piece and this is called full grain.

Blake Wilson:
Full grain.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you see a full grain cowhide this is the top layer of the skin.

Blake Wilson:
Right. And the times where they just take it and put, you know, a transparent dye or something like that. It’s very rare. I’ve read that only a few percent of guys, like maybe about three percent of all hides can be done in that manner just because there’s so many imperfections that you’ll have in a hide.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what are imperfections? Scratches from…

Blake Wilson:
Yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sides and holes.

Blake Wilson:
Scratches, warts, scars, branding marks. Right. Even even just…

Mark Rippetoe:
Unpleasantries.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. Even just damage that happened to it after it was taken off the animal just in transport and everything. So that’s that’s the top grain leather now. Something about the top grain leather and the next layer. I’m sorry.

Blake Wilson:
The full grain and the top grain, which is the next layer down is they have the same I guess you’d call it a fiber structure. So so both of these layers have fibres that are very densely packed, very tightly woven together, and they make a very durable product as a result. So it’s something that’s not going to wear out and break over time. It’s going to wear in and just develop character and things like that.

Blake Wilson:
There’s one more layer down that after the full grain is split off, after the top grain is split off, you have something that’s just called split leather. And this is down the hide far enough so those fibers are no longer as densely packed. They’re both further apart and less intertwined. So you’ve got something that is very flexible, but is not going to have near the durability that a top grain product is gonna have.

Blake Wilson:
So they take the split leather and they make suede out of it. Garment upholstery type stuff.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it’s inherently more flexible.

Blake Wilson:
Inherently more flexible. But for a weightlifting belt, not really the the material you’d want to use.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Because it’s also in addition being flexible this way. It’s also stretchy. When we wear a belt, we wear it for the specific purpose of not yielding to pressure.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, right. But the only thing I haven’t done is, you know, send a sample off to a lab and have them do like an inch drawn pull test of a cross-section of this versus a cross-section of the split to see what that tensile strain would be for a given load. Just from holding pieces in your hands and moving them, it’s got to be an order of magnitude at least, because this stuff it is not noticeable [top grain belts on table], but a split you can stretch.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So to recap, we have full grain. When you want the visual effect of the of the pores and the surface features of a natural hide. Then you have the top grain which is the same structural density as the full grain, but with a smooth, even finish like this because it is a it’s a cut.

Blake Wilson:
There’s been a layer split off of that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Layer taking off. And then you have the split which is the flimsy stuff that we’re not interested in for belts.

Blake Wilson:
Right. Which is not to say people don’t use it on belts. And a lot of those cheap belts that you’d find on Amazon or coming from overseas, they make them out of that split leather because it’s cheap. You know, it’s very inexpensive. And it’d probably work for a month or something.

Mark Rippetoe:
It might or until you got up to 135, you know. And I wonder if perhaps split leather was the reason that people started making belts in two and three ply. I don’t know. It just occurs to me that maybe that was their answer for having to use cheap materials to make a belt out of.

Blake Wilson:
There are definitely belts that do that. One of our belts we have is… has this same piece of leather on the inside and then suede on both sides. It’s the standard double suede belt. And we don’t put any edge paint on it or anything. We like to see that nice leather edge and stuff.

Blake Wilson:
Other manufacturers will take a piece of split leather, substitute it in for the top grain. Put this weight on it. Edge paint it. And then they’ll go in and dye the holes and inside the buckle area brown so that you wouldn’t know. Or unless you cut into it, you wouldn’t know that you didn’t actually have what you thought you had.

Mark Rippetoe:
How ’bout that. Very clever of them, huh?

Blake Wilson:
Well, we outsmarted them.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, good.

Mark Rippetoe:
What now, you mentioned sole leather. So we we go from terminology that that involves the description of the source of the leather from the from the hide to end purpose of the leather. So sole leather is what?

Blake Wilson:
Shoe sole leather. So this was originally developed to be durable enough to be worn on the bottom of your foot. You walk around on it all day on whatever and it’s going to hold up.

Mark Rippetoe:
And it’s top grain usually, right?

Blake Wilson:
It’s top grain. All shoe sole leather is going to be top grain. You can’t make it out of a split.

Blake Wilson:
And what makes it sole leather then is the tanning process that happens after we split this into the three layers and and do any other, you know, pre-processes to it.

Blake Wilson:
Sole bend in particular goes through a process after…

Mark Rippetoe:
Sole bend? Is that another? Is it is synonymous with…

Blake Wilson:
It ends up being used interchangeably because typically the cut of the hide that the solar is made from is the bend. So people…

Mark Rippetoe:
Where’s the bend?

Blake Wilson:
The bend runs down the back of the animal.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, right. You mentioned that.

Blake Wilson:
Right along the spine.

Mark Rippetoe:
Up high, down the flank to the posterior then. That’s called the bend.

Blake Wilson:
Yes. And that that term just ends up being used interchangeably. When you hear shoe sole leather, sole bend. People will say that. You can make sole leather out of a shoulder. It’s just people tend not to do it for whatever reason.

Mark Rippetoe:
It’s probably too thick.

Blake Wilson:
It could be.

Mark Rippetoe:
Could be too thick. And I guess if it’s it’s got to have some… Sole leather must have some degree of flexibility or you couldn’t walk in the thing.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. And that’s another part of the tanning process where they make this in different tempers. They make firm, they make semi-flexible, they make flexible.

Blake Wilson:
So so for for this guy, just part of the process that makes it shoe sole leather is the compression that they do to it after it’s stained. So where the the fibers were already extremely densely packed, they’re now even more so.

Mark Rippetoe:
How do they do that?

Blake Wilson:
So they’ll run it through some rollers that compress the material.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it’s actually mashed.

Blake Wilson:
It’s mashed.

Mark Rippetoe:
Flatter.

Blake Wilson:
And they’ll pack, they’ll pack oils…

Mark Rippetoe:
And it stays mashed. You can make it denser with the pressure.

Blake Wilson:
That’s that’s one of the properties of you know, leather that is vegetable tanned, which sole bend is, is that it will take a set. So if you stamp it or something like that it will be permanent. Or if you just compress the whole thing as far as you can compress it will hold that set.

Mark Rippetoe:
So temper refers to the flexibility of the finished leather?

Blake Wilson:
Correct. Yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
And it comes in three or four different grades?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. You were firm, semi-flexible and flexible are the ones I’ve seen. Depending on…

Mark Rippetoe:
What is this? [motioning with the single-ply belt]

Blake Wilson:
This is semi flexible.

Mark Rippetoe:
Semi-flexible. Why don’t you use flexible?

Blake Wilson:
I think it would be too flexible. the one thing about especially this belt, the single ply. There’s nothing to protect this piece of leather from breaking down at all. So I think going with something that is going to have a more dense fiber structure from the beginning would be better for this belt than to go… because.

Mark Rippetoe:
In terms of lifespan.

Blake Wilson:
Yes, because yes, it is more flexible, but that’s also going to give rise to other properties. It’s not just more flexible, but the same strength and tension. It’s gonna be weaker in tension as well.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, I guess you give up one for the other.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, right. Yeah. There’s no there’s no free lunch there. So after trying and the semi flexible has just turned out to be… seems to be the best one for what we’re doing.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sole leather is an example of of a type of of a term for the end use of the product. What are some other examples of that?

Blake Wilson:
Is…as far as the tanning processes?

Mark Rippetoe:
No as far as the… this is for soles.

Blake Wilson:
It’s for shoe soles.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you have luggage leather. Would you have…vamp leather for the top part of the shoe.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. You could. You can make whatever type of leather you want. There’s a lot of them are named for different parts of like… saddlery that they’d be used for. So you have skirting leather. You’ve got harness leather. You’ve got like you were saying there’s upholstery layer leather. There’s suede.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. Tooling leather. Tooling leather really just refers to any type of vegetable tanned leather that can be…

Mark Rippetoe:
Can be embossed.

Blake Wilson:
Can be embossed or carved.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is and you’d mentioned earlier vegetable tanned. How many different tanning processes are commonly employed and what are the terms for those?

Blake Wilson:
There’s two major ones. The vegetable tanning is the oldest. It probably came about the first time humans killed an animal and then started trying to figure out what to do with the skin. They probably came across it by accident. The fact that you could soak this in tree bark, tannins and…and some other salts and have it be cured into something that doesn’t become rawhide. It stays flexible, but it also doesn’t rot. So vegetable tanning now just refers to this.

Mark Rippetoe:
Rawhide. Let’s explain.

Blake Wilson:
Rawhide would just be if you took the hide off the animal and let it dry, just let all the moisture dry out of it.

Mark Rippetoe:
You took it off, scraped it, scraped all the hair off and scraped all the flesh off of it. And it looks it looks like it’s flinty. It looks like parchment. Semi transparent. It’s translucent. And if it’s not too thick. And it is absolutely rigid. Doesn’t give at all.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you’ve heard the term…you people have heard the term “rawhide.” Rawhide is not leather. Rawhide is not leather. Rawhide can’t be used for leather. And it’s not… I guess probably one of the commercial purposes for rawhide would be for lacing other things right? Do they still lace things with rawhide or what?

Blake Wilson:
They make dog bones out of it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh yeah. Well, food items. Yeah. Those aren’t nearly as good for your dog as just raw bones. You guys are giving your dogs pieces of rawhide. You’ll notice they soften up and get kind of snot-like after the dog messes with them for 5 or 10 minutes. That’s not a dog bone. OK, raw bones.

Blake Wilson:
So, yeah. So vegetable tanning currently refers to a tanning process that uses, you know, plant plant matter for the tannin. You know, bark tannins was the most common. Now I think they they’ve incorporated some other stuff because it’s not practical to use bark tanning for everything.

Mark Rippetoe:
I’m sure they’ve got commercially… synthetically produced tannins and other things. I have used the old alum tanning method for curing hides myself back when I used to mess around with stuff like that. I tanned stuff myself with the old alum which was aluminum sulfate and and sodium chloride solution.

Mark Rippetoe:
You take warm water and put as much salt in it – table salt in it – and just stir it up and dissolve as much of it into the solution as you can. And then you put alum in it. And you…these are ground products and you that’ll also go into solution and as much solution as it will hold in the warm water, you stir into it. And then when it cools off, some out of it, you know, will crystallize out, precipitate out onto the bottom of the vessel.

Mark Rippetoe:
But then you take a a fleshed hide with the fur on it and put it in there and leave it for two weeks. Make sure it stays submerged in the thing. Pull it out after two weeks. It’s tanned. It’s tanned leather.

Blake Wilson:
Will the hair follicles just scrape off?

Mark Rippetoe:
No, the hair is… it sets the hair. So if you want to make a pelt. If you want to preserve a pelt. And that’s how they… Some version of that is how they’ll do a fur. Right. But that’s how I’ve done it. It’s easy to do. It’s easy to make a homemade version of this of this tanning brine. And it works like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
I would imagine that that commercial furs are prepared with a similar – probably a lot more efficient way to do it than that. I’m sure they have faster ways to do it, but that’s probably not the equivalent of a vegetable tanned product. I don’t know how the two would compare. I think the whole purpose of the whole process, though, is to cross link the proteins in the skin so that they’re permanently stuck together. It’s not oxidation. I don’t guess, but it’s a…

Blake Wilson:
And also to remove the moisture and replace it with something else. These will get packed in with oils and waxes and sole leather actually gets some clay added into it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Really? What does that do?

Blake Wilson:
It helps it to just be more firm, more durable.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it resists scuff, that sort of thing.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. Something you’re gonna be walking around on rocks or whatever surface you might walk on. It helps.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, leather wears out eventually. That is the problem with. I used to wear leather-soled boots all the time, but you get tired of having to resole them all the time, so the neoprene is what I go with now.

Mark Rippetoe:
So what is it… What’s the other process that’s predominant in the leather making industry?

Blake Wilson:
Yes, so the two big commercial ones are the veg tan and chrome tanning. So instead of using organic matter to do the tanning, they use chromium salts. And it’s it’s actually the most common method of tanning now. I’ve read that over 80 percent of all leather that’s tanned, it uses chrome tanning at this point.

Mark Rippetoe:
So chromium salts, well, that probably similar to my alum and table salt method. It probably does about the same thing.

Blake Wilson:
The difference with them is they would go through a lining process before that to remove all the hair and everything before tanning. It wouldn’t be for making pelts or anything.

Blake Wilson:
So yeah, those are the big to the veg tan and the chrome tanning. The reason I think that chrome tanning has has caught on the way it has is because it’s so much quicker.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh really? How long does it take the two processes in comparison?

Blake Wilson:
So the vegetable tanning, this is gonna go into a tanning liquor in a just in a large vat for six weeks, sometimes, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. And they have to be checked the whole time. They got to pull it out, make sure that the tanning liquor is, you know, evenly contacting all of the skins and everything. And the chrome tanning, they put this in a drum. They spin it and it only takes two to three days. So it’s it’s it’s a much faster process.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it stays in the drum spinning for two to three days.

Blake Wilson:
Yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
In motion.

Blake Wilson:
Yes.

Mark Rippetoe:
That’s interesting. So that ensures uniform exposure to the to the tanning product. But two to three days. Yeah. That’s why. That’s why vodka is cheaper than bourbon. Time is money.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. I was thinking about some of the different tanning processes in terms of how similar it is or how analogous it is almost to making whiskey. Whiskey, you start, you know, with the same raw material every time. There’s barley malt and then through your own secret recipe, you can come up with something that is wildly different in the end and also depending on how it’s aged and all those different things.

Blake Wilson:
So it seems to be very similar with tanning leather. I’ve tried to read everything I could find about it. The only thing you could do more would be to just go start visit visiting tanneries and seeing their process just.

Mark Rippetoe:
If they would even let you in.

Blake Wilson:
If they would let you, because there’s probably a lot of there’s probably so much tribal knowledge that they have and, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
People have been making leather for a hell of a long time. Been making leather as long as they’ve been making weapons, you know. So it’s one of the oldest manufacturing industries in the human experience.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is… all right so oil tanned. I’m familiar with that term. Where does that fit into this?

Blake Wilson:
Oil tans? I’m not sure that that wouldn’t just be a veg tan product that then goes through a milling process afterwards. So what they’ll do after they have tanned the leather so it’s been cured. They’ll put it in a mill, which is another large drum. They’ll throw in oil and waxes and and different things like that. And then they’ll roll it for, you know, several hours, up to several days, depending on what temper and hand feel they’re trying to accomplish with the leather. And I believe that’s what what oil tanning would be.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So it’s really not formally a different tanning process.

Blake Wilson:
No, I don’t believe so.

Mark Rippetoe:
It’s a finishing process.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, like that older belt that I’ve got that I handed you. That was sold at the time as a product called harness leather. What is what is that?

Blake Wilson:
Harness leather they actually take beef tallow and they pack it in by hand. And then apparently the the hide gets so waxy and so full of fat that it won’t even feed through the industrial machines they have that are supposed to squeeze excess back out. So I’ve watched videos of some poor guy with a hand tool going over hides by hand to squeeze out the excess beef tallow.

Mark Rippetoe:
And that is a obviously a preservation process, right?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you’re going to use a piece of leather in real horrible conditions like on the back of a horse where it’s wet and sweaty and salt and scuff and all this other stuff.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, it’s a natural product – beef tallow – so it’s not going to harm, you know, the skin of the animal that’s wearing it. It also makes it somewhat waterproof. So you don’t have to just ride in the sunshine.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So all of the pretty much all of the material that you deal with is is vegetable tan. And the one ply belt that you see right here is just one thickness. And how… do you order it this thick or do you skive it down to this thickness while you’re preparing it?

Blake Wilson:
We order it in that thickness.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is what? Six or seven millimeters.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, it’s about that. They they weigh it out in ounces. That’s just the old way of measuring the thickness of leather. So they’d call that 15, 17 ounce. It could be anywhere from 15 to 17 ounces and…

Mark Rippetoe:
Per 15, 17, ounces per length or per square inch, square foot?

Blake Wilson:
It’d be the whole hide. So the hide after it had gone through its tanning process is they’ll run it through a splitter or a leveller. It’ll take the entire hide down to a single thickness and an ounce is just a sixty fourth of an inch. So it’s between 15 and 17 sixty fourths of an inch – which yeah it’s easier to think in millimeters at that point.

Mark Rippetoe:
It really is.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. Six or seven millimeters.

Mark Rippetoe:
So it’s an archaic way of measuring.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. There’s another one called irons that…

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh I’ve heard that referred to when we’re talking about harness leather. Seven iron. Like if you’re buying, if you’re buying stirrup leathers for your English saddle that will come in iron. And I guess that’s also a term for the thickness.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. And I I’d have to look up the conversion because it doesn’t ever come up with what we’re doing, but yeah it would map straight to a certain thickness. One iron would equal whatever.

Mark Rippetoe:
So this is just. So you buy this. This comes in off the truck this thick. Ready to use. And then you’ll cut it. And in the case. This one ply. It’s a fairly simple manufacturing process. You’re gonna have to skive down the buckle bend. Right there. And how much do you take off that? That looks like that’s down to about 4.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Mark Rippetoe:
You take about half of the thickness, a little less than half the thickness off it so that it’ll bend around the buckle. Cut the slot.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I’m talking about this thickness right here [pointing to place on the belt]. Then they cut the slot for the for the pin of the buckle and then assemble it with these good rivets. Right. And this is called the keeper. This is the belt keeper. Is that what you’ll call it too?

Blake Wilson:
Keeper or loop.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is the traditionally called the keeper. This thing right here and it’s just looks like a not quite exactly the same. No, it’s the same thickness as the is the rest of the belt. I’m beating my microphone up here. And then you rivet these things together.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, tell us about these good rivets, because these are high quality rivets that and I’ve already talked about the little skinny ones that come apart really easily. These things are lifetime installations, right?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I’ve used I’ve seen, in fact, that I’ve used them myself and I’ve got several belts that are assembled with called Chicago Screws, which are a… Have you got one with the Chicago screw? Those are the old rivets there.

Mark Rippetoe:
Chicago screws kinda look like this [turns belt to show the rivets] but they’re actually a threaded device with a flat surface area on one side and then a usually a flathead screw on the other side in it. It threads into a female side and it just sucks the leather together like that. And it’s a nice method of assembly. Why do you not use Chicago screws in favor of this type of rivet and what’s this called?

Blake Wilson:
Well, a screw can come undone for one thing. So you’ve added a liability there and really you’d never have to take this area apart.

Blake Wilson:
You know, if you if you needed to change the buckle or something like that, for some reason, these can be drilled out. But that’s that’s the only way that would come apart. I just don’t see any reason to have screws there and you don’t have to worry about your belt coming apart on you.

Mark Rippetoe:
And honestly, I’ve seen Chicago screws on dress belts more frequently because you might want to change the buckle on a dress belt.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, makes sense. Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. T

Blake Wilson:
hese are called two piece mate rivets. So one piece mate rivets…

Mark Rippetoe:
Make rivets m-a-t-e?

Blake Wilson:
M-a-t-e. There’s a there’s a there’s a male and a female side. The male side functions the same way that a normal pop rivet does. So it’s got a mandrell with a shank going through it. When you pull that shank out, the mandrell collapses down, expands outward. And in a pop rivet, if you just had two pieces of metal that you were trying to rivet together, when that piece that you’re pulling through expands out, it pulls those two pieces of metal together and then they can never come apart.

Blake Wilson:
And that doesn’t really work for leather because, you know, metal is not gonna deform when that tries to pull through, whereas leather can. So these you just put a cap on top of that pop rivet. So when you pull it, it expands into the cap. And now you’ve got two pieces that are permanently joined together. And then that’s the two piece mate rivet. And it’s made for industrial applications. Like we could look up, you know, shear and a tensile rating, you know, for these guys…

Mark Rippetoe:
Are they aluminum?

Blake Wilson:
They’re aluminum. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So they don’t they don’t corrode.

Blake Wilson:
They don’t corrode.

Mark Rippetoe:
Don’t make a pretty green patina around the rivet like rivets and burrs do. But you know, these things are they are they’re a damned secure fastening method. And then for the single ply we’re basically done with it.

Blake Wilson:
Now there’s this is just one of the thing I’d point out in that area. It’s not…

Mark Rippetoe:
I’ve got a question in a second, about both of these. It’s been on my mind for quite some time. Watch your microphone.

Blake Wilson:
So like in this area right here [pointing to the buckle end of the belt], it’s important to punch these holes such that when you feed the keeper through and put this together, you don’t end up with a giant bulge. That you don’t end up with a giant bulge..

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, I see what you’re doing…

Blake Wilson:
…on the bottom side.

Mark Rippetoe:
So this side is going to be longer than that dimension between those two punches.

Blake Wilson:
Exactly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is longer than this one.

Blake Wilson:
Right. And you do that because this is what’s gonna be digging into your stomach. You want the least amount of extra material right there as possible.

Blake Wilson:
That was one of the example belts that I was gonna show you. This is one of the samples we got. [Holds up sample belt with bulge near bucklle]

Mark Rippetoe:
You can clearly see the problem.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, right. They obviously for even thinking about this at all. So that was that’s just one of the little details that we tried to think about and incorporate that into the design of these belts.

Mark Rippetoe:
So I guess that dimension is going to vary with the thickness of the leather?

Blake Wilson:
It does a…

Mark Rippetoe:
Little bit. You’ve got a formula down for this now. I guess you do.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. And we’ve got one single die made that punches out all eight holes plus this slot all at the same time.

Mark Rippetoe:
And then you skive that down and it assembles in that shape.

Blake Wilson:
Correct. Right. Yeah. And you know, theoretically it probably ought to vary a little bit with the thickness of the leather, but it doesn’t vary enough that it t’s worth having a whole new set of dies made.

Mark Rippetoe:
This die was used for this [single ply belt] and that [double ply belt].

Blake Wilson:
Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Okay. All right that’s interesting.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, here’s the question that I’ve got. I’ve messed around with leather for years and years. How do you get these damn things so nice and straight? How do you get the cut straight? How do you make these edges perfectly uniform? How does this thing end up looking like an absolute ruler? How do you how do you do that?

Blake Wilson:
That’s the secret.

Mark Rippetoe:
We’re asking.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, we… right now we actually have our supplier strap cut these for us. So we’ll order however many hides and they’ll run it through, you know, this giant machine with rotating cutting wheels on it. And we’ve actually got one in our shop and we have used it. But right now, it’s actually more economical in terms of time to have them go ahead and cut it for us.

Mark Rippetoe:
Do they cut it to length or do you just get a hide length?

Blake Wilson:
Yes, it comes out and it’ll have jagged edges on on each end and they’ll just be whatever length the hide was. And they do pretty good, though. They’ll start out and cut a straight edge down one edge and they’ll have a guide that they feed it through. And then we’ve got a fixture at our shop. If we get them in and there’s any more than a half inch of bend in one we’ll case it. So we’ll soak it in water and we’ll hammer it down into this fixture that is exactly three inches wide, leave it overnight and let it dry. Once it comes out of that. It’s more or less perfectly straight.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right.

Blake Wilson:
So we can straighten this out if they don’t start out that way.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So basically these come in pre-cut as blanks. I would imagine what they do is they cut these under pressure and then and then the straight edge, you know, makes a nice straight cut so that it doesn’t deviate according to the pressure of the blade going through the leather ff it’s not. They probably have to hold down, right? Under a lot of pressure to do that, right?

Blake Wilson:
Well, it actually…

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that how it works?

Blake Wilson:
The cutter will cut multiple straps at a time so that…

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, you’ve seen it. You’ve seen it done.

Blake Wilson:
We’ve got one in our shop.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh that will do the same multi layer…oh really?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. We can cut. I think it’s eight three inch straps at one time. And so at that point you’ve shown you’re almost the whole width of the hide, if you’re strap cutting that many at once. So you don’t really have a problem with the work trying to turn on you based on that because you’ve got so many cutters going into it once.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. And they’re stabilizing the one adjacent to the…

Blake Wilson:
Right. And those cutters are just bearing down on a plastic roller that’s underneath that. So there’s not really anything to do other than just feed it in through as straight as you possibly can.

Mark Rippetoe:
Have you ever bought a side of a whole side of a top grain.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. We’ve bought…

Mark Rippetoe:
That’s how it comes in. Is that uniform in thickness when you get it?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. More or less. It’s supposed to be within that 15-17 ounce, you know, whatever that is. A couple 64th of an inch.

Mark Rippetoe:
Thing may be this big. [opens arms wide] ou know, nine feet long. Right. That sort of thing.

Blake Wilson:
And you know, not to say we don’t ever get stuff in that’s obviously too thin or too thick or something like that. We can split it down if it’s too thick. If it’s too thin, make a deadlift jack out of it. Something like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
So well, that’s that’s the cutting process that I was concerned with.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now…

Blake Wilson:
Yeah you asked about the edges too.

Mark Rippetoe:
We all right… Let’s talk about the edges first. These look like they’ve been sanded. Is that correct? Is it a sanding process or is it a…

Blake Wilson:
These have been on the double ply. When you glue these two layers together, it’s impossible to get them to line up exactly perfect. So we’ll just come back with a drum sander and go down go down both edges.

Mark Rippetoe:
It still remains perfectly straight. How did you do that?

Blake Wilson:
Well, usually it’s off just in one direction. A lot of times what will happen is maybe one strap is just ever so slightly thicker than the other one. So when you’re gluing it together, you want to make sure that you align that one side perfectly. Leave all your mismatch on the other side.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you only have to do one side corrected for…

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. You’ve only got to correct the unevenness on one side and then you may have a little bit of a rough edge where you got a little glue squeeze out or something like that. Plus you want it to look the same so you just go and sand the other side too.

Blake Wilson:
And then they’re tools called edge bevelers, just little hand tools that we run down the edge to round it over so you don’t have a sharp edge.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. I’ve seen those.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Looks like a little curvy thing with the blade on it.

Mark Rippetoe:
How do you sew? This the the stitching on these things is absolutely beautiful and uniform. How is…what kind of machine do you use for that?

Blake Wilson:
We’ve got a couple of union lock stitch machines. So a normal sewing machine is just going to have a single needle. It just punches up and down and a presser foot feeds the work. To sew this material in this thickness, we use something called a needle and awl sewing machine.

Blake Wilson:
So instead of a needle coming down and punching into the work, there’s an awl there and it’s only job is to come down, punch the hole.

Mark Rippetoe:
An awl is a tool that looks like an ice pick, like a short ice pick. It’s thicker than needle.

Blake Wilson:
It is. It’s always a gauge thicker.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right and it doesn’t have a hole for the thread. It just punches a hole.

Blake Wilson:
Right. And then on our machine, the needle is then fed up through the bottom, through the hole that the awl just punched. And you’ve got a mechanism that’ll actually loop the string, the thread, around the needle. The needle doesn’t have a hole through. It just got a barb. So you’re hooking it through there and then the needle descends back down.

Blake Wilson:
And the two machines we’ve got, it’s hard to tell exactly how old your particular machine is. The patent for them was in the early nineteen hundreds. That was when this machine was designed. And we think ours are probably from the 1920s, the original castings.

Mark Rippetoe:
Where did you get them?

Blake Wilson:
A company called Campbell Randall. They’re in they’re in Texas.

Mark Rippetoe:
This thread is is what? It’s very stout.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, it’s a it’s a synthetic it’s a polyester thread.

Mark Rippetoe:
Would this be the same kind of thread that shoes aree assembled with?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, it would be. Most likely. Most thread today is polyester. Cotton thread will just fray over time.

Mark Rippetoe:
Probably rots too.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, the polyester just holds up a lot better and it sews better, especially in these really heavy duty machines. If you tried to run just any thread through them, you’re just gonna keep breaking thread. And so.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what glue is used?

Blake Wilson:
We use a contact cement. So you’ll take a contact cement…

Mark Rippetoe:
Contact cement’s wonderful stuff isn’t it?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, it’s weird stuff if you haven’t used it before because…

Mark Rippetoe:
I use it all the time and it’s been around for a hundred years I guess. And hell, I remember my dad using it, you know, 50 years ago. He didn’t really know how, but he… Contact cement’s interesting stuff. It really is.

Mark Rippetoe:
You paint both sides of the leather with it and let it dry.

Blake Wilson:
Let it dry completely.

Mark Rippetoe:
Dry completely. And which can take at least 20 minutes. But if you let this stuff sit overnight, it’s it’s fine.

Mark Rippetoe:
And then once it’s thoroughly dry, you put the two sides together and they’re…

Blake Wilson:
That’s it.

Mark Rippetoe:
…And they’re not coming apart. Yeah, it’s a permanent assembly and contacts and it is really amazing stuff.

Mark Rippetoe:
So those of you who’s running shoes are continually coming apart. What you do is… just like the sole comes off usually at the toe. Pull it apart. Go ahead and break it apart a little bit more. Take some contacts cement. They sell it in small bottles and they’ll be a little swab inside the bottle that you can paint both sides of it on there with. Paint it, pry the thing open with a little toothpick or a match or something like that so that it will dry not in contact.

Mark Rippetoe:
And leave it apart 20 minutes. Take the match out, put the thing back together and it’s fixed. It won’t come apart. You can repair it. Don’t just throw your shoes away because they start to separate because they’re easy to fix with contact cement.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you guys, you’re using just plain old contact cement, right?

Blake Wilson:
Yep. Yep. It’s it’s kind of nasty stuff. It’s the our least favorite day in the shop because you’ve got to put on a mask and everything, the amount we’re using.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think the solvent is MEK isn’t it? High volatile acetone or…

Blake Wilson:
And we have to thin it down to get it to spread, so we’ve got even more that solvent in the air due to the thinner we’re using.

Mark Rippetoe:
Have you got exhaust fan just to try to keep the building from exploding?

Blake Wilson:
We’ve got fans and everything that we set up. We probably should have a little bit more in the way of like a vent hood or something like that long term, but it’s working for right now, the lower volumes that we’re doing. Keep that mask on.

Mark Rippetoe:
And how do you punch the holes?

Blake Wilson:
That’s a separate die.

Blake Wilson:
So for a three inch belts, we’ve got the die that does the buckle end and we’ve got the die that does the billet end. So there’s a die that sits on here. It’s the longest die that our press will accept, but it cuts out this end shape and all eleven holes at the same time.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. So this is an eleven hole belt. So when when you order the build from Dominion you’re gonna be ordering your waist size to the middle hole.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. So when you order a 38, that’s 38 [points to the middle hole on the belt]. This thing right here is 38 and if then you lose weight gain weightm, you’re fine. It allows you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the the sizing of the belt.

Mark Rippetoe:
And that hole looks like about a seven sixteenth… What is that thing it’s a nice big fat one.

Blake Wilson:
It’s a five sixteenths, but it’s kind of it’s got a little bit of taper to it so it’s going to look bigger on this side than it actually is on the on the backside when you feed the prong through.

Mark Rippetoe:
I have… I had a cheap belt several years ago, and I think it was a combination of the leather not being quite the consistency it should have been. It might have meant a split. Might have been made out of a split or two layers of split or something like that. And too thin a buckle pin. And it cut. It actually cut all the way through. What do you think the problem was?

Blake Wilson:
Stress is force divided by area. So the bearing stress on one of these holes as that pin gets smaller and smaller is gonna go up and up till eventually you’ve got a knife edge basically trying to pull through there.

Mark Rippetoe:
You’ve got a cheese wire don’t you?

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you you guys have calculated the size of the hole, the curve that size makes, and the size of the buckle pin and these don’t tear?

Blake Wilson:
They don’t. We’ve never had anyone. You know, that they might ovalize slightly again…

Mark Rippetoe:
Well you can deal with that as long as it’s not cutting through the punch.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. And that’s just due to the fact that the hole is punched vertically, the prong is trying to go through at an angle. So it’s going to deform slightly on the top and bottom. But it should stabilize.

Mark Rippetoe:
Have you ever thought about angling the holes toward the buckle pin?

Blake Wilson:
I talked to talk to you about that the first time I met you.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Yeah, I do remember that. What did you decide about that?

Blake Wilson:
Well, we’re still trying to figure out logistically how you would do that in volume…

Mark Rippetoe:
We’ll you’d have to… So when you when you take this die as the stamp, a straight vertical stamp.. So. Yeah, that would be kind of right on. You’d almost have to come in and create each hole with a separate process.

Blake Wilson:
You would you’d probably need a stamp that was guided by linear guides on an angle so that when you put it in the press it actually slid down and in came back up. It would be a it would be an engineering feat to design and build something like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
And nobody does that.

Blake Wilson:
Not that I know of. You can punch …can punch holes by hand. You can set this on a wedge and get your punch just right and you can tap them through. But you can’t really do that consistently enough.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, not if you’re doing each one by hand. It would be all over the belt.

Mark Rippetoe:
And last… How do you how do you do the Starting Strength logo on the tongue down here?

Blake Wilson:
We’ve got a brass embossing stamp that we had made from the artwork file that you guys gave us. And we’ve got just an ink pad, you know, similar to what you’d use a rubber stamp with. So we’ll put the die that’s the color we need on the pad. Get just enough of it on there so you can put the stamp in it. We’ve got a fixture that holds this belt just so and guides the stamp so that it’s consistent every time. And then we’ll put it in a press and just lightly hit it. So it just very slightly embosses that into it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, it’s a nice clean stamp. It’s in the leather. It’s embossed in the leather and the ink is not running around. It’s a real nice looking clean job.

Blake Wilson:
It’s a very high stress thing to do, though, because usually the belts completed at that point and the only thing left to do is screw up the stamp. So. But Katie does a good job on that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, now, here’s another really important question. One of the hallmarks of a cheap belt is a cheap buckle, a cheap roller buckle with a split roller. Those damn things are a maintenance problem. I have several… a bunch of belt in my gym.

Mark Rippetoe:
You guys that have been in the gym understand that I’ve got lots and lots of belt in the gym. And we we have them in there for everybody to use. And we’ve had some of them in there for 20, 25 years.

Mark Rippetoe:
And one of the things that always happens to a cheap split roller is it will start to flare out right at the end of the at the end of the roller. It’ll flare out around the around the right at the edge, usually bend the buckle. And it will start to come apart right at the split and will make a nice little pointy thing for you to slice your thumb open on.

Blake Wilson:
Not to mention scratch your belt.

Mark Rippetoe:
And scratch your belt up and you know. In your gym bag, you know, poke holes in your shirts and stuff like that. So these things are a solid roller. Where do you get these?

Blake Wilson:
Those come from the same people that supply our leather. It’s a company called Weaver Leather in Ohio. They’re a leather distributor. They’re not a tannery, but they they bring in leather and they sell us everything we need as far as that goes.

Mark Rippetoe:
And where do they get these things? It’s interesting that they know they need a solid roller. It is… It’s a three inch solid roller buckle. Hard to find. They probably…

Blake Wilson:
It was in the beginning.

Mark Rippetoe:
I bet.

Blake Wilson:
They have a supplier that makes them for them. It’s an overseas supplier that makes them for them. They made a four inch roller and it took a lot of convincing to get them to carry a three inch version. In the beginning, we just had to make these massive orders because they would do it all at one time. They had a five month lead time coming from overseas, so you’d have to order a year’s supply of buckles just about at a time.

Blake Wilson:
We finally convinced them that people are coming around to the three inch belt and that they’re going to have lots of lots and lots of business selling these things. So they’re finally coming around and they’re going to stock them as a stock item. And we don’t have to have pallets of buckles sitting in the shop.

Mark Rippetoe:
Another thing about the buckle that is important is the slot cut in the bend here. There is nothing more annoying than than a company that cuts that slot too wide so that the pin wiggles too much back and forth and makes it hard for you to find the hole when you’re trying to tighten your belt right before you go under the bar. Nothing is more irritating than that. And the width of that slot is is important in terms of your being able to use the belt quickly and efficiently. So how do you determine how wide the slots are going to be? I guess at this point your die… was there are a lot of trial and error on that?

Blake Wilson:
There was. Cutting them out with an Exacto knife and then just made a bunch of samples. Measuring exactly what you did and putting the thing together, because the other thing you can do is get it slightly too tight. And that’s really bad too, because then you can bind that up completely by it just a little bit too tight. So it’s a it’s a fine line between having it be, you know, unusable either because too loose or too tight. Right. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, these are just exactly right. The.. I’ve never had one that was too tight, but I can assume it just wouldn’t…[motions with hand] it has to flop quickly. Right. And if it was too tight, it would probably quickly wear out to the point where it would.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh here’s a sample…

Blake Wilson:
Through the middle it’s not so bad, ut at the extents it’s.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know what? You know why this one’s too tight? They didn’t cut the slot long enough.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. It rotates around its hit and just the edge of the slot.

Mark Rippetoe:
It rams into the edge of the slot right there.

Blake Wilson:
And this is what you can expect if you just go on Amazon and order the random 30 dollar belt.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is a piece of Chinese junk. Apparently…

Blake Wilson:
At least that one is at least that one is made out of the top grain leather…

Mark Rippetoe:
See the underside of the of the keeper? So exactly what Blake was talking about earlier. Look what they did at the top. It works fine at the top. But the side that lays against you. It’s just this is upside down basically.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. And this is the one that was made out of the split leather where I had to cut into it to find that out because they painted the edges and then…

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh they did.

Blake Wilson:
You probably can’t see it on the camera, but inside the buckle area, they they painted it brown. Or they dyed at brown somehow. So they would… you would think you were getting a top grain leather, but really you weren’t. And you wouldn’t know any better unless you cut into it or you just tore through it eventually.

Mark Rippetoe:
How about that. That’s two plys isn’t it?

Blake Wilson:
It’s yes, I think it’s two plys of split leather.

Mark Rippetoe:
It looks. Yeah. Just exactly. You can’t see that on the camera. But it’s two plys of split letter.

Blake Wilson:
And then, you know…

Mark Rippetoe:
You can stick your thumbnail right down in there and pry it open. That is two plys of split.

Blake Wilson:
And then you can see… I’ve done videos before where I’d take a screwdriver and just pop these rivets off that they have on here. These are decorative rivets. That’s not something that belongs on a weightlifting belt.

Blake Wilson:
And then one of the the last ones that I saw was this guy. It’s important that that keeper be sized correctly or you end up with this situation where you buckle the belt and then you can’t get physically … It won’t physically go in the keeper so…

Mark Rippetoe:
Well and the keeper can’t be too close to the bend for the buckle either. It’s gotta be far enough back down the bend to where it actually functions.

Blake Wilson:
It’s gonna be far enough back from here and it’s gotta be tall enough. So it’s not…

Mark Rippetoe:
Got enough slop in the thing to allow you to put it on quickly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Oh but look at this. This one is made of genuine leather.

Blake Wilson:
That’s code for split leather.

Mark Rippetoe:
But it’s genuine leather. See the picture of our friend the cow? Yes, genuine leather.

Blake Wilson:
So, you’re dealing with a lot of companies out there that are not obviously not even trying their belt on to make sure that it works.

Mark Rippetoe:
They’re not lifters.

Blake Wilson:
No.

Mark Rippetoe:
They’ve never used the product. They don’t care. They made an order of 10000 from a factory in rural China.

Blake Wilson:
Or Pakistan.

Mark Rippetoe:
Or Pakistan or India or Oklahoma. You know, where, you know, primitive conditions.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, I should say, too. It’s not that it it can’t be done, because that’s after all, what I did in the beginning was having one source. But, man, you’ve really got to stay on top of them because they’ll send you a couple of samples that are perfectly fine. You’ve got some in your gym.

Mark Rippetoe:
And then one thousand belts get here and they’re all wrong. And what the hell are you going to do?

Blake Wilson:
Well, and that’s that’s exactly what happened to us.

Mark Rippetoe:
I’m sure.

Blake Wilson:
Year two into this. We got a thousand belts in right before Christmas time. It was a it was right at what? Thanksgiving?Yeah. And every single one of them had rust on the buckles when we got it in. So we spent…

Mark Rippetoe:
Rust on the buckles?

Blake Wilson:
Every one of them.

Mark Rippetoe:
What were the buckles made of?

Blake Wilson:
It was a plated steel, but it was obviously an inferior plating process. And they came over, you know, they slow boated them over. And after sitting in all that humid, salty air and not being sealed up correctly, we had a thousand belts at Christmas time that we couldn’t sell the first one.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God almighty.

Blake Wilson:
And so…

Mark Rippetoe:
What did you do with them?

Blake Wilson:
Well, we got them sending us buckles. We also found some people that were willing to sell us some of their buckles that they had in stock. And we drilled out all the rivets, took every single belt apart and put new hardware on.

Mark Rippetoe:
That really sounds like a lot of fun.

Blake Wilson:
It sucked. It really sucked.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you…and you don’t make any money on the whole deal now. When you do that much stuff to fix it up so they’re actually available for sale.

Blake Wilson:
And even then, you know, they had other problems with them, too. As we’re taking them apart, you’re seeing all the other shortcuts that are being taken, you know, as you dig into it. So even with replacing the hardware, we might find something else about the belt that wasn’t something we could fix at that point. So that was sort of the last straw with those guys.

Blake Wilson:
It just sourcing that kind of thing overseas unless you’re willing to go over there and manage it on the ground. It looked to me like it was unmanageable.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, this is one of the reasons why we print all of our books in the United States up in Michigan. If we and the guys we use are great. They have never, never sent us a shipment of books with an upside down signature. Nothing has ever been wrong with these guys. It’s DRC in Michigan, Data Reproduction Corporation in Michigan. Just to brag on them. They do a great job.

Mark Rippetoe:
But we could save a whole bunch of money on our unit cost by having all this done in China.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah, in theory.

Mark Rippetoe:
In theory. In practice, I’d rather spend the extra dollar. Because if we had to set a load of books back, there’d be a giant nightmare if they would even take them back. And if we we got a, you know, order in 10000 books, any time we’d place an order like that, we are at the end of the previous inventory and we need them now. And they came in and they’re defective. If I’ve got to send them back, I’d much rather send them back to Michigan than to communist China. So we’ve always stayed domestic.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you guys are doing all of this stuff. Is is made the United States, right?

Blake Wilson:
Yep. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
Except for the buckle.

Blake Wilson:
Except for the buckle. And, you know, probably the rivets, too. I mean, just about anything you buy today that’s made out of metal is right. That metal is gonna be sourced overseas. And, you know, it’s one of the things you try to do the best you can. How far down the rabbit hole do you go with the Made in America thing? Your hand tools, some of those are not gonna be made in America. Any power tools you have. So you do the best you can.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, and you do what’s necessary for the quality of the product. If you can find a quality roller buckle that’s made in China then why worry too much about it? But if you know it’s a part that you can’t get the quality in that you want you better go ahead and source it where you know the thing is going to not cost you a bunch of time and money to replace it if it comes in and fails.

Blake Wilson:
Right. And it’s not the you know, U.S. manufacturers never screw up. It’s not that we’ve never screwed up. But people know where we live.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. Right.

Blake Wilson:
You know, there’s some there’s somebody you can strangle.

Mark Rippetoe:
It’s easier to come beat you up than it would be to go to communist China and beat the guy.

Blake Wilson:
At the end of the day, they’re over there. You’re over here. If they say buzz off. Yeah. What are you going to do?

Mark Rippetoe:
The Pacific Ocean makes it stick, you know?

Blake Wilson:
Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
So what we end up with, though, is as far as I’m concerned, this is this is the best built in the industry. If you are looking for a natural leather belt, you know, I’m not going to poor mouth my buddy Dean Best. Dean makes a great product, you know, and I know he makes it a great product. But we had these things made like this for a very particular reason.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don’t like a suede belt nearly as well as I like a plain leather belt. I don’t like the way it feels. I don’t like the way it ages. Suede is not as durable long term as this belt.

Mark Rippetoe:
You’ll buy this belt, and if you don’t gain weight or lose weight out of it, you will use this the rest of your life. It is a lifetime investment.

Mark Rippetoe:
I’m sorry about the no repeat business, but maybe the guy will tell his brother in law about it and he’ll buy one from you too. Because you buy this belt one time, it lasts the rest of your life.

Blake Wilson:
Or like you said, people tend to either blow up or shrink. So maybe they’ll need another one.

Mark Rippetoe:
It’s what people do. You know, people will in fact, if you buy the thing correctly and size for the middle hole, this is… you’re quite likely to just buy one belt. And I know one hundred and seventy five dollars for this quality product sounds like a hell of a lot of money.

Mark Rippetoe:
You don’t want a quality belt, don’t buy one. Go on Amazon and get a cheap piece of junk. Be my guest. But if you’re serious about your training this Starting Strength belt. Or this Starting Strength belt is what you want.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think you ought to have one of each. And I’ll tell you the reason for that. When I when I bench press. When I press, I like the way the single ply feels better and I can’t really even tell you why I like it that way. But it just it feels better to me on when I’m doing it. Especially when I’m doing a bench press.

Mark Rippetoe:
No. I can get this real tight. OK. This thing tightens quickly. And when you’re laying down on a bench, you’re gonna be one hole tighter than your squat or your deadlift adjustment. This thing goes on quickly and easily and I can lay back against this thing and tighten it way down. And it’s and I can’t get I can get this one tighter and I get this one.

Mark Rippetoe:
So me being wealthy and powerful. I’ve got one of each. And I use them all. Use both of em all the time. And I’d advise you to do the same thing. This is one hundred and seventy five dollars. This is ninety nine ninety dollars. Orders are filled quickly and efficiently. And these things for this type of belt. This is the best built in the world.

Mark Rippetoe:
And Blake intends to keep it that way. If you’ve got any feedback about your belt for him, contact him at Dominion Strength dot com.

Blake Wilson:
Yeah. Dominion Strength dot com. Email us. Email us. Team at Dominion Strength dot com. Instagram at DominionSTG and Dominion Strength Training on Facebook. Get in touch with us any way.

Mark Rippetoe:
You can get in touch with him off of our web site Starting Strength dot com. You look under the equipment tab and the link to their web site is there.

Mark Rippetoe:
Thanks for coming to visit. Enjoyed it.

Blake Wilson:
Thanks for having me.

Mark Rippetoe:
And it’s been enlightening, educational. Hope you guys enjoyed the talk about leather. And we appreciate you being here for Starting Strength Radio. We’ll see you next time.

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20 Nov

There is nothing novel about the observation that training under the guidance of a coach, three times a week, is the most effective way to get stronger. What is novel is the hypothesis that there are enough trainees in major US markets that are willing to pay over $300/month to make it worthwhile for an entrepreneur to open a Starting Strength Gym.

On one hand, paying $300+ a month for a gym membership is nearly equivalent to a car lease – a material part of anyone’s budget that’s not independently wealthy. On the other hand, getting access to a Starting Strength Coach for less than $30 per training session is easy to justify for anyone that’s attempted to do the program on their own and has hit snags with technique, programming, or recovery. Or for anyone that wants to get stronger and realizes there is no other option on the market – not a single national gym chain offers actual strength training.

Now that we have three gyms open, we’ve had several months to test these hypotheses. We’ve also been able to test our assumptions about which cities are most suitable for gyms, which areas in each city make the most sense to place the gyms, which class of real estate is optimal, what size gym is ideal, how to manage each member’s individual programming, how to manage group training sessions, and many others.

Evaluating our performance comes down to two important questions: First, are we making people stronger? If we’re not, we are just like every other gym franchise. Second, are the gyms performing well financially? If not, they won’t be able to pay SSCs the premium they deserve, nor will gym owners be able to make a living. Let’s look at the data:

Are We Making People Stronger?

Our first data pull from our digital logbook app shows results that stand alone in the fitness industry, since we actually measure them. Below are the average weight-on-the-bar increases, in pounds, between April 15 and August 12, 2019:

Trainee Performance

 

Women

Men

Squat

+64.6

+79.2

Press

+20.2

+30.7

Bench

+32.8

+36.3

Deadlift

+62.8

+100.3

Filters: Minimum 4 weeks of training at least 2.5x/week, on average

Are the Gyms Performing Well Financially?

Sales Performance Prior to Gym Openings (Pre-Sales)

 

Austin

Opened 4.15.19

Dallas

Opened 7.1.19

Houston

Opened 8.19.19

Memberships Sold

38 + 20*

39

40

Average Membership Price

$315

$326

$342

Lowest Priced Membership

$315

$315

$275

Median Priced Membership

$315

$340

$315

Highest Priced Membership

$315

$365

$365

Monthly Recurring Revenue

$18,270

$12,731

$13,680

Total Pre-Sale Revenue

$18,870

$16,790

$22,330

*Austin opened with 58 members. 20 of those were from the gym owner’s previous gym business.

Year to Date Sales Performance as of August 26, 2019

 

Austin

Open for 20 Weeks

Dallas

Open for 8 Weeks

Houston

Open for 1 Week

Memberships Sold

73

53

43

Average Membership Price

$313

$332

$347

—Lowest Priced Membership

$225

$275

$275

—Median Priced Membership

$315

$315

$315

—Highest Priced Membership

$585

$365

$365

Monthly Recurring Revenue

$23,798

$17,603

$14,921

Year to Date Revenue

$120,027

$45,172

$28,065

The pre-sales performance of the gyms indicates latent demand for Starting Strength. Most trainees signed up, before ever seeing the gyms (since they weren’t built yet), prepaid between $500-550 ($185 intro plus the first month’s dues), and committed to a 3x/week training schedule with a coach that most had never met. These early adopters are willing to make that big a commitment because they understand how important it is to be strong and how important it is to hire a competent coach.

Our next two gym openings, Starting Strength Denver and Starting Strength Boston will be first to run a pre-sale with a lower barrier to entry: $185 at time of sign up, with monthly billing starting after the gym opens. We are running this and several other experiments in parallel. For example, Austin and Dallas are each owned and operated by an SSC. Denver and Boston will join Houston as gyms that are owned and operating by non-SSC entrepreneurs that have hired SSCs. It will be interesting to compare the pros and cons of each approach as the gyms continue to progress.

To date, we have proven several important parts of the model. Our job now is to ensure that everyone involved with the gyms (both trainees and gym owners) get what they signed up for: steady gains in strength. The goal of Starting Strength Gyms is to become to the gym business what Starting Strength is to fitness: a complete model that produces the desired result every time it’s applied correctly.


Discuss in Forums


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20 Nov

October 07, 2019


Starting Strength Radio
Starting Strength Channel

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Exercise and Diet – In the third installment of our series on Type II Diabetes, Sully discusses the power of diet and exercise for metabolic disease and why there is no one-size-fits-all lifestyle prescription for diabetes.


Articles
Training Log
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

dumbell presses at the strong kids contestdumbell presses at the strong kids contest
Three young lifters compete in the StrongKids Contest at Fivex3 Training in Baltimore, MD. [photo courtesy of Juliana Molina]
carry at strongkids contestcarry at strongkids contest
A competitor at the StrongKids event hurries with the carry while the audience cheers her on. [photo courtesy of Juliana Molina]
bench press lockout seoul koreabench press lockout seoul korea

A lifter bench locks out a bench press at the Starting Strength Press & Bench Press Training Camp in Seoul, Korea this past weekend. [photo courtesy of Inhyuk Eun]
jeff hairston coaches bill dillenger squatjeff hairston coaches bill dillenger squat
Starting Strength Coach Jeff Hairston coaches Bill Dillinger at The Strength Co. in Orange County California. [photo courtesy of Ron Mitchell]


Best of the Week

Thinking outside the box for disabilities
Tammy

I’m a 59 yr old female with multiple sclerosis and have been utilizing SS techniques for the last 3 1/2 years. My husband and trainer (evidently you must have an incurable degenerative disease for a spouse to work) has been outstanding for helping me to achieve success for squat, deadlift, press, and bench press. I utilize bent over rows and lat pulls as well. He had always been able to approach a lift from a different perspective to trick my body into performing a lift my brain says I cannot do mostly due to balance. SSC, Phil Meggers in Omaha (60 miles away) has been very helpful as well.

Question – what can I do to help my recent (last 3 months) loss of strength in my upper body? Press is very difficult as much of my strength is lost due to maintaining my balance. Bench press has diminished as well. It took me 6 months to do a body weight squat (mostly due to proprioception issues) and now squat to depth with 115 lb. for 3 sets of 5. I lost strength in the deadlift as well at one time and now I’ve set a new PR at 155 lbs. for a set of 5 when my husband introduced rows (you would think I would face plant – go figure). I am relatively sure my brain creates new pathways which would explain the ability to achieve success over time. I train seniors and others with disabilities using your tried and true method in our home gym. If you can help me, others will certainly benefit. Any input or criticism concerning regaining my upper body strength is greatly appreciated.

Mark Rippetoe

Have you had a flare recently that would account for the loss of strength, or has this just become apparent with training?

Tammy

I no longer have relapsing remitting MS and now am the proud owner of secondary progressive MS. Loosely translated, this means I have no real exacerbations to speak of it’s simply a downhill slide. When I experienced this same decrease in muscle strength in squats my husband had me lift as heavy as I could for three sets of three and deload (80-90%) for volume. A very slow process but I was able to set new PRs. Two days of rows and one deadlift day boosted my deadlift strength. I have implemented this same routine in the bench and am seeing some improvement. This program change is not working for my press.

I believe my struggle with balance is affecting my strength to press and may be partly responsible for strength loss. I press because there is no replacement and even though balance is hard it probably helps me hold on to the balance I have for a longer duration. MS goes everywhere I go but strength allows me to captain the ship even if I don’t have control over the weather. So, any suggestions for program or exercise selection to improve or maintain press strength? We are hoping to obtain a taller power rack shortly so I can fence myself in and provide some level of safety to press. This set-up works well for another MSer I train in our gym who is shorter. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

For what it’s worth to anyone else out there with with a degenerative disease, strength training is so worth it. I suspect I have more pain because I lift but the discipline and concentration it takes to lift provides a very decent coping mechanism much better than narcotics. My neurologist is very interested in a study for this type of training. After all, 3 1/2 years ago I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs.

Mark Rippetoe

This is very important: in your situation, DO NOT DO SETS ACROSS OR BACKOFF SETS FOR VOLUME. Warm up to your workset numbers, do them, err on the side of lower tonnage/heavier weight, and stop. You do not need a lot of tonnage to get stronger, and if you overtrain this condition you will cause problems. Do not get hot/sweaty/tired, just go up to your work weight, do a set or two, and stop.

Will Morris

A data point that would be helpful would be to see how much different your strength is in a “seated, back supported shoulder press” is compared to your press. As Rip just said, I am much more in favor of training MS patients with extremely high weight for repeated singles or doubles with long rest periods. Fatigue is the enemy here.


Best of the Forum

Functional Fitness
Jabir Muhammad

Mark, how do you explain to physical therapists and strength and conditioning coaches who pontificate on the necessity to build strength in the transverse and frontal planes with, for example, landmines and lateral lunges that the most optimal way to build strength is with basic barbell movements in the sagittal plane, which develops strength that can then be expressed multi-planarly during athletic performance?

I can’t stand to see my kids performing ridiculous looking movements under the guise of “functional” fitness.

Mark Rippetoe

I have an article that will on T-Nation this Wednesday that will deal with this, among other things. Here is an excerpt:

“An interesting phenomenon, “functional training” is a fairly recent development in S&C. Derived from the practice of Physical Therapy with injured and sick patients, it primarily relies on the use of sub-maximal (light) weights moved through varying ranges of motion in the context of solving a balance problem. The term “functional” is used because it is thought to be more like normal human movement, and therefore more closely mimics the “function” of normal movement patterns than machine-based exercise. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to improve on machine-based exercises. In most cases, the ability to balance the body and the relatively light load is the limiting factor in the amount of weight used in the exercises, not the weight itself.

The theory is apparently that ipsilateral and contralateral movements are so useful in developing “the core” – the muscles that stabilize the spine – that they are therefore sufficient for the production of useable athletic strength, to the extent that heavy barbell exercises are not necessary. Apparently spinal stability is unimportant in a 600 deadlift. The athlete is instead placed in positions of inherent instability and expected to perform stably, damn the force production, damn the increase in force production, and damn the heavy deadlifts.

If it seems obvious that light weights cannot improve strength, and that practices of even dubious effectiveness when used with injured populations have no bearing on healthy young athletes, that’s because it really is. Despite this obvious silliness, many S&C programs around the country have devolved into programs that produce neither strength nor conditioning, under the guise of being “functional.”

It’s important to remember that you can fall down while squatting, pressing, and deadlifting heavy weights, and you learn not to the first day of training. But the balance problem remains as a factor to be dealt with every time you train, even as strength increases rapidly under the bar. The fact that you don’t fall down means that you’ve solved the balance problem while keeping the focus on lifting heavier weights, and therefore getting stronger while remaining balanced.”

Tune in Wednesday morning for a long, hate-filled screed about the current state of Strength and Conditioning coaching at the D1 and Pro levels.

Jabir Muhammad

You’re bang on! It really has infiltrated us from the world of clinical physical therapy. I can see the utility in progressing pathological patients from unilateral work and lighter externally loaded movements made difficult through inefficient movement patterns, but surely this needs to progress to truly “functional” training (i.e. that which increases strength) to mitigate risk of future injury by increasing the resilience of the system. And this is BEST achieved through basic barbell movements. Nevertheless, I see this same logic applied to not only perfectly healthy but athletic populations!

Looking forward to the article, Mark. Really struggling with some of the asininity on proud display by so-called “professionals.”

8odin8

I find being stronger more “functional” than being weaker, sooo…. If I can lift 500 pounds off the ground, I’m functioning more functionally than when I can lift only 200 pounds. Right?

Pluripotent

I have also noticed that a lot of the exercise recommendations health care professionals give their patients are appropriate for the very weak, sick and frail, but there is no plan to progress from that point and the implication, whether implied or implicit, is that you really don’t need to do more than that, and so we end up telling the 35 year old with back pain to do a series of stretches and isometric exercises with some light walking thrown in (which may be appropriate after the acute event) but provide no plan for advancement so the patient can eventually gain the strength so that the back pain never comes back, essentially condemning the patient to a repeat experience.

This is no less true for the whole range of patient frailty…


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