NO Edition | Starting Strength Weekly Report September 4, 2023

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September 04, 2023

NO Edition

On Starting Strength

  • Rip’s Mental Health, Night Sweats, and Afrin – Rip answers questions from Starting Strength Network subscribers and fans.
  • Avoid These Pressing Mistakes – Starting Strength Coach Zohar Yermiyahu demonstrates common mistakes lifters make while racking the bar during press and how to avoid them.
  • The Inappropriate Use of the Rack Pull by Mark Rippetoe – I have noticed an increasingly common problem in barbell gyms, that I attribute primarily to laziness. Yes, the rack pull exercise is easier…
  • The Press as a “Throw” by Mark Rippetoe – The “Olympic Press” – the form of the overhead press we teach – uses a lot of whole-body movement to drive the bar overhead. It is essentially a “throw”…
  • Andy Gained 50 lb in His 50s – Ray Gillenwater talks to Andy Rutledge about what went into the new website’s design and how strength training has benefited his life. At Age 57, Andy gained 55 lb of bodyweight and got his squat to 405 lb.
  • Weekend Archives: Risk Assessment by John F. Musser – A weak fat person whose goal is to be strong and lean has to make the right decision countless times a day to avoid the habits that got him fat and kept him weak. A strong person has to make the right choices to stay strong…
  • Weekend Archives: The Two-Factor Model of Sports Performance by Mark Rippetoe – The role of strength in athletics has been discussed quite a bit by us, and never enough by anybody else. Strength is the application of force against an external resistance…

In the Trenches

Meet Report

Deadapalooza is the annual Testify Deadlift Festival and is conducted in a “rising bar” format. For the women, first place in the open division went to Jamie Morrissey, first place in the masters division went to Julie Snyder, and the heaviest deadlift award went to Jamie Morrissey. For the men, first place in the open division went to Quinn Eaton, first place in the masters division went to Ross Hamilton, and the heaviest deadlift award went to Quinn Eaton. Full Results

three women lock out deadlifts at the testify meet
The family trio of Nicole (mom), Jordan (daughter), and Grace (daughter) lifted together at the recent “Deadapalooza! The Annual Testify Deadlift Festival” at Testify Strength & Conditioning in Omaha, NE. All three set PRs as – from left to right – Nicole pulled 190 lb, Jordan pulled 215 lb, and Grace pulled 140 lb. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
ross finishes a 405 lb deadlift
Ross Hamilton goes 3 for 3 on the day and pulls a smooth 405 lb for his third attempt at the recent Deadapalooza event at Testify Strength & Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]
quinn pulls a 705 lb deadlift at testify strength and conditioning
Quinn Eaton locks out seven plates and some change – 705 lb for those keeping track at home – at the recent Deadapalooza event at Testify Strength & Conditioning. [photo courtesy of Phil Meggers]

Get Involved

Best of the Week

Structural back issues


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.

Best of the Forum

Chinese Olympic Lifting


The other day I watched a video where a Team USA Olympic Lifting Coach was attacking your views on Olympic Lifting (the video was about a year old). It was pure cope on his behalf because let’s face it, US weight lifting is in a parlous state compared with Chinese Olympic Lifting. I was wondering if you had a view on what makes Chinese weight lifting so successful in comparison? Appreciate from another post on these forums that you tend to regard Olympic lifting questions with some suspicion, but I am genuinely curious on what your viewpoint may be.

Mark Rippetoe

When you have 1.5 billion people to assemble a team from, and no real competition for talent within the country, it’s rather easy to find 8 men and 7 women (or whatever it is now) to beat everybody else in the world. The Chinese coaches aren’t any better than ours, they are just in a much more favorable situation wrt choosing their lifters.

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