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Rippetoes - Starting Strength FAQ

Rippetoes - Starting Strength FAQ

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Published by Tim Donahey
Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe / Starting Strength FAQ
By Kethnaab
Based on "Starting Strength," by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore

Answers frequently asked questions on the Starting Strength Beginner Program aka "Rippetoe's" and how to properly perform the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Standing Press, Power Clean, and Bentover Row as well as accessory exercises. Includes the original program and "Kethnaab's Adjusted Rippetoe Program." Also some dietary considerations. A must read for novice barbell trainees or for intermediate/advanced trainees who want to brush up on the basics.

startingstrength.wikia.com
Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe / Starting Strength FAQ
By Kethnaab
Based on "Starting Strength," by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore

Answers frequently asked questions on the Starting Strength Beginner Program aka "Rippetoe's" and how to properly perform the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Standing Press, Power Clean, and Bentover Row as well as accessory exercises. Includes the original program and "Kethnaab's Adjusted Rippetoe Program." Also some dietary considerations. A must read for novice barbell trainees or for intermediate/advanced trainees who want to brush up on the basics.

startingstrength.wikia.com

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Published by: Tim Donahey on Apr 27, 2008
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06/11/2014

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Question - Are deep squats bad for the knees?

Deep, controlled squats not only are NOT "bad for the knees", they are, in fact, good for
the knees. Properly performed, they evenly and proportionately strengthen all muscles
which stabilize and control the knee (in addition to strengthening the muscles of the hip
and posterior chain, upper back, shoulder girdle etc). When the hips are lowered in a
controlled fashion below the level of the top of the patella, full hip flexion has occured,
and this will activate the hamstrings and glutes. In doing so, the hamstrings are
stretched at the bottom of the motion and they pull the tibia backwards (toward da' butt)
which counteracts the forward-pulling force the quadriceps apply during the motion. As
a result, the stress on the knee tendons is lessened since the hamstrings assist the
patellar tendon in stabilization of the knee. A muscle supporting a tendon which
supports the kneecap is going to be better than the tendon having to take up the entirety
of the strain by itself.

Think about Olympic lifters. They squat VERY deep (almost ridiculously deep) all the
time, frequently 5 or 6 times weekly, with very heavy weight. If deep squats were so bad
for their knees, they wouldn't be able to squat that deep, that often, and that heavy.

Partial squats, however, will NOT activate the hamstrings, and the amount of shearing
force on the patellar tendon increases exponentially. What WILL happen if you do partial
squats is that your quadriceps will become disproportionately strong as compared to
your hamstrings, and the following are likely results:

1) In partial squats, the hamstrings aren't activated, which means the patellar tendon
takes up all the strain/stress/pull during squats. As a result, fatigue and damage to the
tendon can accumulate because tendons recover MUCH slower than muscles. Any type
of action involving knee bend can then cause further stress and strain during daily
activity. This is asking for trouble. If the hamstring is strong, it drastically reduces the

kethnaab - bodybuilding.com

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amount of stress on the patellar tendon. Full squats make the hamstrings strong. Partial
squats allow the hamstrings to become weak. Weak hamstrings are bad Bad BAD.

2) Partial squats develop the quads and neglect the hamstrings. Weak hamstrings
coupled with strong quads result in hamstring pulls while sprinting, starting or stopping
suddenly, playing sports, etc.. They frequently occur as the result of muscular
imbalances across the knee joint. Strong quadriceps and weaker hamstrings result in a
knee joint that is unstable during rapid acceleration and slowing, and the hamstrings are
unable to counteract the powerful forces that occur during sudden stops and starts. In
other words, you do a sprint with extra-strong quads and weak hammies, and you are
begging for a pulled hamstring because your hamstring isn't as strong as the quads and
isn't able to perform an adequate eccentric contraction to keep your knee joint from
hyperextending during a sprint. As a result, you strain the hamstring because, although
it isn't strong enough to do the job, it will hurt itself trying.

3) In sports, your acceleration will be weak, as will your jumping ability, as a result of
underdeveloped hamstrings and hips. Poor speed/acceleration = poor performance

4) You will end up using stupidly heavy weights in the partial squat due to the
mechanical advantage afforded by partial squats, and you put your back and even
shoulder girdle at risk due to the extreme loading of the spine.

Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe, pg 18, Starting Strength

If it's too heavy to squat below parallel, it's too heavy to have on the back.
Besides, everytime you do partial squats, Jesus kills a kitten. Don't be a pussy, save the kittens.
Squat deep.

Question - Are there light days, or do I lift as heavy as I can all the time?

The idea of this program is to maintain "linear progress" at all times. Once your
technique is proper, EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT should be an increase in weight on
each of your exercises, even if it is only a few pounds of increase at a time. You,
eventually, will be unable to add weight to the bar each time you train. At this point in
time, you may need to either take a rest, "reset" your squat (discussed in Section III) or
perform a "deload" (also discussed in Section III). Until this time, you should try to add
weight to the bar and maintain your technique.

That being said, "old farts" like me simply cannot squat hard and heavy 3x per week. If
you are older or have had problematic knees, you may find it necessary to make
adjustments and make Wednesday a "light" squat day, or perhaps skip squats on those
days altogether and perform another exercise (not recommended).

Now then, before anybody gets any wise ideas, if you aren't old enough to have voted
G-Dub into office the first time, DO NOT SKIP SQUATS ON THIS PROGRAM.

kethnaab - bodybuilding.com

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Get it? Old dudes can make those adjustments. Young snots cannot. Suck it up. :D

Question - Can I deadlift first, instead of doing squats first? Do I really need to squat
everyday?

Deadlifts are an outstanding exercise, however, squatting before deadlifting is
necessary for a variety of reasons

Squats serve as a more efficient and general "warmup" and preparation for your weight
training sessions than deadlifts.
Deadlifts will fatigue the upper and especially the lower back muscles prior to beginning
the squats, which can definitely be hazardous to the health of a trainee, especially a
new trainee. The last thing you want while squatting is a set of spinal erectors that are
unable to bear the load. You can still frequently deadlift to near-limit poundages after
squatting, but you will NOT be able to do that on your squats if you deadlift first.

Squatting first and squatting everyday is also ideal because it sends a strong growth
signal to the entire body.

3 sets of 5 != (does not equal) a set of the fabled "widowmaker" 20-rep squats, where
after you're done with the squats, you are done with the training. Your lower body will
get taxed during the 3 sets of squats, but a novice won't be able to squat enough weight
to leave them unable to properly perform their next exercise, which is a bench press or
a deltoid press (the standing press or variation). The lower body rests as you work the
upper body with the pressing exercise.

So, as mentioned elsewhere, perform the squat properly as often as possible, and you
will maximize growth in your entire body (assuming you train your entire body). Just
make sure you do it everyday, and you do it first. If you have bum knees or you're an old
fart like me, then you will possibly need to make adjustments. See Section III for some
other ideas.

Question - Can I use a back pad while squatting?

Meow.

No. Don't use the "puss pad".

If your back hurts excessively while squatting, then chances are good you aren't flexing
your upper back muscles sufficiently to "pad" your skeleton. When you grip the bar, you
must keep your hands in toward the body as closely as possible while gripping the bar
BEFORE you unrack the bar and start squatting.

In other words, get under the bar, bring your hands in as closely as possible along the
bar, grip the bar with a thumbless grip, lift your elbows back and up, and step under the

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weight. By keeping your hands close and your elbows back and up, the muscles of your
entire shoulder girdle, as well as your trapezius muscles, will all "bunch/hunch up",
which will provide significant padding for the bar. Ensure the bar is kept in the "low bar
position" at the lower-rear portion of your traps and rear deltoids, and you should be
fine.

The main problem with the pad, in addition to making you look like a wuss, is that it
tends to throw the center of gravity off. For an experienced trainee, this won't be a
problem, they can compensate (and they probably wouldn't ask to use a pad anyway).
For a novice trainee, this can be VERY detrimental to proper technique and balance
development inherent in the learning process of the squat. So, all joking aside, the pad
might help your upper shoulders "feel better" while squatting, but once you get to heavy
weight, that little pad won't do jack squat, except for throw off your technique! If you
have a shoulder injury, then the pad won't help at all. Look into using a Buffalo Bar, a
Safety Squat Bar, or a Manta Ray

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