Saturday, January 13, 2007

First read through of Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgor

Overall I like the book very much and would recommend it as a resource for anyone training with barbells or training others with barbells. Mark and Lon lay out a very detailed approach to teaching the basic barbell lifts (Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, Power Clean). Included in the descriptions are lots of great coaching tips.

The writing style is direct and dead on in many areas. Great descriptions and tips on understanding the Valsalva Maneuver (although he doesn't deal enough with the diaphragm). More evidence and EMG proof that 5 reps and under are the "best" rep range especially for learning and adherence to proper form.

Mark does some statements in the squat section that I don't agree with/need to research. He states that an inability to keep the knees open/out during the squat (preventing valgus knee stress/colapsing) is a function of the adductors not the abductors. Reasoning that since you get sore in the adductors (from an interview on not the book) and that the ABductors are small muscles that the ADductors are responsible for preventing this collapse. Although his teaching cues are dead on and a good open hip position is achieved and emphasized - we both end up the same place. BUT I will have to say that I do think that ABductor weakness/improper firing is a major factor in the collapse during the squat (this and pronation of the feet). More on this at another time.

This and a coaching cue in the Overhead press (which I need to practice and use before I comment on) are the only real areas where I had any question.

He includes and likes the Power Clean - I prefer Kettlebells and "jump training".

Squat, Deadlift and Bench covered very well - Overhead lift covered very well (except for that thing I need to try) and the first line in the book: paraphrasing:
"Physical strength is of the upmost importance" - Yes! The introductory chapter needs to shouted from the roof tops and drilled into everyones head!

A good two thumbs up with a couple of caveats but certainly recommended.


Mark Reifkind said...

interesting brett. although I agree with you about it being aBductors that are weaker when one adducts the knee during a squat I think the true weakness is usally in the glute maximus; when that isnt strong enough to extend the hip the knees come together in an attempt to get leg mass under the COM and use the quadriceps to finish the extension.
when the glutes are strong the hip ABductors are strong too, right?

Brett Jones said...

80% of the fibers of the Glute Max become the TFL and IT band - so it is a very interconnected area. I am finding that it is a patterning issue - peoples Glute Med won't fire and the collapse begins. Some reactive Neuromuscular cueing and then they can squat again - so the squat with the right firing pattern takes care of all of this.

Randy said...

This is one of my favorite books...I especially like it as a primer for beginning coaches as much as for its instructions and teaching cues.
I think Mark Rippetoe is right about ADductor weakness (as opposed to abductor weakness) contributing to knees buckling in...adductor group also externally/laterally rotate the femur. From my observations "buckling in" is due to internal rotation of the femur...not the abductors becoming overwhelmed but a matter of the adductors not sufficiently holding external rotation.
I discovered this book over a year ago and loaned out all my copies (never to see them again) but the weightroom would be a safer and more productive place if every H.S. sports coach would follow the examples set in this book. (PS, the press cues are right is essentially the same "lean into the path" of the bell we use in locking out the KB press...we don't have to accomodate the bar in the front of the face with KBs of course, hence the "rock away from the bar" at the's how I teach the barbell press, for what it's worth.

Randy Hauer

Brett Jones said...

I will have to research the adductor thing - A reactive neuromuscular technique for "fixing" the valgus during the squat is when the person squats you apply inward pressure at the knees - amplifying the mistake - and the person has to push back out and the hips open and a good squat usually results.
Just because we get sore in an area does not mean that area is "responsible" for something. It is not the adductors that prevent a Positive Trendelenburg sign - it is the ABductors - their stablilizing role is of primary importance in hip function - gait and squat.
I think it is a co-contraction - not one to the exclusion of the other but the glute med is responsible for keeping the hip in alignment. IMO
The shoulder press tip I had issues with was the "shrug up with the shoulders once the triceps were extended" - this sounds like the opposite of the cue we use for "keeping the shoulders in the socket and not shrugging the shoulders."

Randy said...

The trap shrug tip is interesting. I think it is more appropriate for barbell than db or kb..I know on BB sn and c/j I start with traps depressed but as it approaches lock out to get the bar behind my head elevating the scapula facilitates the required (for me at least)shoulder rotation and seems to support the bone on bone lockout...the bar makes things a lot different. I asked Pavel about this topic last year at the cert...I seem to recall he agreed there is a difference in technique because of the bar.

Brett Jones said...

Cool - I just need to hit a few barbell presses and give it a try -probably has to do with fixed hands instead of independant hands.
The hip thing is interesting - I think in the end that both are "correct" since I suspect it is one of those Lumbard's Paradox situations where it is a co-contraction and separating them is near impossible.

Randy said...

Lombard's Paradox...yes, that was a good thread/discussion! I sent Jason C. Brown my article on Bigger Brakes for Bigger Performance (or whatever I called it) to comment on and he questioned my use of the term "antagonist" to describe the hamstrings in the vertical jump motion because after all, the hams do function to powerfully extend the hips (not just flex the knee). My response was indeed the neuro-muscular realities (co-contraction etc) really do defy the old "lever and pulley" explanations for what is going on (but I wouldn't call the quads in that example antagonists either)
I think Pavel's simple cue..."pull the hips out of the sockets" or "lengthening" from the hips really addresses quite neatly all the involved groups when squatting: abductor, external rotation/adductor etc involvement. The hips do rotate and flex in the squatting motion and the knee joint, I learned in grad school, has +-20 degrees of total rotation cycling from flexion to extension and back in the simple walking gait so throw that in the mix too. Some weightlifters (not all by any stretch) "go valgus" as an actual technical manuever to better utilize the adductor group as the "third hamstring"... lot's of stuff to keep track of when "fixing" an issue. It makes me feel very inadequate to the task of coaching much of the time. Find what works..."problem solving and engineering" as Rif said in his DD post.

Brett Jones said...

Gray Cook (who can break down a movement like no one else I know) is fond of saying - just fix the movement - the muscles (tight, weak etc...) will take care of themselves if the movement is correct. If you have a strategy that cleans up the movement - great - use it - just because the exact culprit is in dispute shouldn't stop us from fixing the movement.

Charlie said...

The reason the ADDuctors get sore is indeed the glut weakness. As glut medius is not firing strongly, the glut max is also inhibited to a degree. Without the powerful glut max on full throttle, the hip recruits other players in hip extension, and indeed the ADDuctor Magnus is a hip extender. It is oddly sore when squatting because the glutes aren't keeping their part of the bargain.

About Me

My photo
Personal Trainer and Strength Enthusiast Email:

Blog Archive