##### Edition – Starting Strength Weekly Report January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

##### Edition

On Starting Strength

  • Following the Process and Setting Goals –
    Rip discusses a common question of trainees: “What should my goals be?” and explains the importance of following a process while keeping priorities straight.

  • How Strong is Strong Enough? by Jordan Burnett –
    Let me start by saying that I hate this fucking question. It’s a question that I get asked at least once a week, and rather than pulling my hair out…

  • Introduction to Shotguns –
    Nick Delgadillo kicks off a series on defensive shotgun selection, training, and use as he talks about some historically significant shotguns, different types of defensive shotguns, and why having ammunition on the gun is important.

  • Fix Your Knee Slide! –
    Jacob Pearce, SSC, explains the correct position of the knees during the descent of a squat and the importance of avoiding knee slide, which is when the knees move forward past their initial position.

  • Pulling from the Floor: A Reminder by Mark Rippetoe –
    The basic rule of pulling a heavy weight off the floor is that the lifter/barbell system must be in balance. This means that…
  • Weekend Archives:

    Blue Falcons by Hannah Pralle –
    I talked to a psychic yesterday. Rip asked why – if she’s psychic, oughtn’t we simply commune in silence? I said…
  • Weekend Archives:

    The Profession of Barbell Coaching by Mark Rippetoe –
    What difference does a 2-inch stance width adjustment make in the execution of a squat? What happens if…

In the Trenches

patrick driving his hips out of the bottom of a squat
Patrick in position for a strong hip drive on his way out of the squat. [photo courtesy of Carl Raghavan]
gabriel locking out a deadlift in stockholm
Gabriel with a solid lockout in Stockholm. [photo courtesy of Carl Raghavan]
chris palladino coaches thomas through his final set of five presses
At the bench and press camp on Long Island, Chris Palladino coaches Thomas Fahy as he completes his final set of five on the press platform. [photo courtesy of Inna Koppel]
inna koppel coaches david's bench press at the long island training camp
During the New York bench and press camp this past weekend, Inna Koppel spots the last set of five on the bench platform for David Dillon. [photo courtesy of Chris Palladino]
inna coaches jay on a pr press at the starting strength training camp
Inna Koppel coaches Jay Shah as he achieved a PR of 140×5 during the Long Island training camp this past weekend. Jay, an online trainee of Chris Palladino, traveled from Canada to attend our NY camp! [photo courtesy of Chris Palladino]
brian kohl locking out a rack pull at starting strength boise
Brian Kohl rack pulls at Starting Strength Boise while being coached by Starting Strength Coach John Dowdy. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]
mike locking out a press at starting strength austin
Mike at Starting Strength Austin locks out his press. His class includes both his parents and his wife. It’s a family affair. [photo courtesy of Brian Payne]
composite photo of family members across three generations lifting at testify
Three generations! Grandpa Rich locks out the deadlift on his first day at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE, and since his son, Jeremiah, and granddaughters, Aubrey and Addi, already train at Testify, this family now has three generations training and getting stronger together. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
bre thayer pressing at starting strength boise
Bre Thayer works on her press at Starting Strength Boise. [photo courtesy of Nick Delgadillo]

Get Involved

Best of the Week

How common is it for someone to not gain strength while following the program?


Hi Mark, first of all, thank you for taking the time to help so many people gain strength. I have the book, read your articles and have watched the videos countless times. Whenever I have a question about something, the first thing I do is google “startingstrength.com” followed by my question, to see what you have said about it in the past. It’s really cool how much advice you have given out that is now a part of history for anyone to find.

I was curious about how often in your years of experience that you have seen cases where an otherwise seemingly healthy adult male follows the program and is adhering to all the points in your “The Clarification” article, yet is still not gaining significant strength?

Do you sometimes see this scenario and figure the person must have low testosterone? Or should a person with low testosterone still be able to increase their strength to a significant degree following the program and The Clarification article, and they are just being a pussy?

If the answer is a man should still be able to gain significant strength following your program, even if they have low t, I assume their strength numbers will be lower than if they were to increase their testosterone, and I know you generally you do not like giving benchmark strength standards, but would you say there is a minimum strength standard for a man at a Rippetoe approved body-weight, with low testosterone, following the program, should still be able to attain, until they are able to increase their testosterone?

Best of the Forum

Structural back issues


Hello Mark. I was wondering if you’ve ever coached anybody with structural issues in their low back like lumbar transitional vertebrae that have caused back pain issues. If so, are there any exercises like the power clean that these people should avoid?

I am a 32 year old male with a lumbarized sacral vertebrae ( what is supposed to be my s1 and s2 vertebrae were separated with a disk in between and no joint). As you can imagine, with no joint supporting it I experienced early disk degeneration at that level in my mid twenties and “blew my back out” a few times resulting me spending the better part of three years in pain ranging from “so bad I couldn’t move” to “noticeable all the time but but still able to carry my ass to work”. Now, my x-ray shows no disk at all and bone on bone at that level. Through a lot of PT and patience I was able to start being active again and actually completed a marathon last year, although it still hurts mostly when I’m not moving or if I’m doing high impact things like jumping.

I was 5 ’10’ ‘ 178 lbs and recently started doing the linear progression instead of running 3 weeks ago. Lifts have progressed substantially, I’m 188 lbs, and I FEEL BETTER THAN I HAVE SINCE HIGH SCHOOL (THANK YOU):

Squat: 175 to 240 for reps of 5

Deadlift: 185 to 265×5

Press: 90 to 110

Bench:135 to 155

I know the program starts adding power clean soon, but trying it out at stupid low weight like 95lbs has caused shots pain in the low back/sacrum area. Other lifts that aren’t as “jerky” feel fine and I truly have experienced that getting stronger helps the pain. I would rather do the cleans than not, but I’m wondering if you guys have run into these issues before and what you tell people. Is it worth it to be doing the cleans at a weight I can curl and seeing if I can up the weight eventually or would you keep deadlifting only for longer if you were me?

I’ve learned through all my reading that up to 10 percent of people have some kind of “anomaly” in how their low back is structured so it may be of interest to a lot of people.

Mark Rippetoe

I have never personally trained a client with a structural deformity like this, that I remember. No, cleans are not an option for you. Have they recommended a fusion?

Will Morris

You’ve trained hundreds of clients with the same structural deformity and probably hundreds with lumbarization of the sacrum. Either way, it saw you hundreds of times and you didn’t see it. The correlation between transitional vertebrae and back pain is very loose, and it, in my reading and clinical experience, is that it is virtually no different than normal back pain. There is extremely poor inter-rater reliability in assessing stiffness or hypermobility of spinal segments, but, it is maybe more common in people with sacralization to report feeling stiff, and people with lumbarization to be hypermobile.

The best advice I would suggest to someone with lumbarization is to treat it like you have a hypermobile back, and therefore, strengthening and being cognizant of staying out of extreme extension would probably serve them well.

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