Starting Strength Seminar

“When one teaches, two learn.”
–Robert Heinlein

Some of you may be familiar with barbell training as it has been taught by Mark Rippetoe, whether learning it by attending the Basic Barbell seminar through CrossFit, reading his books, Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and Practical Programming for Strength Training, that are published by The Aasgaard Company, or viewing the media that has been available through over the past few years.

In order to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the coaches, the Basic Barbell seminar has been expanded into the Starting Strength Seminar. This new seminar is longer and more detailed with a 3-day format that allows the attendee to gain a better, more thorough understanding of the biomechanical model of the exercises that operate in a gravitational framework, how to appropriately coach the basic barbell exercises, how to program these exercises into an effective strength and conditioning program, as well as learning and performing the exercises.

The SSS is an incredibly valuable learning experience that cannot be attained anywhere else in the fitness industry. The value is augmented by the new testing format that will include an evaluation on the ability to coach and perform the exercises as well as an online exam that can be taken after the seminar. Passing both the practical and written assessments will award the attendee with a Starting Strength Coach certificate as well as access to an online “coaches only” message board, being included in an online directory of barbell coaches to refer trainees to you, as well as instant access to the experienced staff of the SSS. Many will learn extensively from attending the seminar, but only the best will earn the certificate.

If you have ever been interested in coaching barbell training, this is a good place to start. The more coaches we have with their heads on straight, the better the strength and conditioning field will become. More information on the seminars can be found at here. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to e-mail me any time.


Hi Chris

Hi Chris

By now you have read about my training partner (and super friend), Chris. We did a bit of filming last Friday, and the video below consists of his training session. Chris’ “story” is important for a few reasons.

1. Shoulder Injury
In January Chris had pretty serious shoulder injury — we think he had some kind of tear in his supraspinatus. He could barely lift a 15 pound bar overhead. I started working with him, getting him to press that bar for more and more reps every day. Eventually he could do 3 sets of 25. Chris slowly increased the weight while titrating the reps down until he was able to do 3 sets of 5 for sets across. We did the same thing on the bench press, and eventually he worked up to being on a linear progression in both presses. At the end of his linear progression, he benched 317x5x3 and pressed 210x5x3. Not bad considering he started at zero.

Riley v. Lascek

Riley v. Lascek

2. Bigger Guy on the Linear Progression
When Chris started all of this, he was a pretty big guy at 6’ and 250 lbs. We talked multiple times about his diet early on, and it was made clear that he should eat plenty of eggs, meat, and milk and take it easy on the carbs. Larger guys don’t need extraneous calories, they need protein, and calories to fuel their training. Gant always says eat enough protein to maintain or increase your muscle mass, enough carbs to fuel your workout, and enough fat to recover. With strength training, you don’t need a whole lot of carbs if you aren’t trying to gain a lot of weight. Chris loves to grill, so he eats a LOT of meat and eggs. “They are the BAYST”, he says.

Chris and I drinking 70’s Big shakes when we were skinnier

Chris and I drinking 70’s Big shakes when we were skinnier

About 2 months ago, Chris and I were training and he was at the water fountain. When he walked by, his back looked massive. I said, “Dude, you’re lookin’ kinda big, how much do you weigh?”
“250, I think.”
“Well, go weigh yourself.”
He was 265 and didn’t even know it. 15 pounds of muscle in a few months time. I assure you, his girlfriend wasn’t complaining. (Fun fact: Chris’ girlfriend and sister were some of the original gals to be supportive of our 70’s Big idea early on.)

3. Groin Injury
During the linear progression, Chris got up to squatting around 450 for his work sets, but strained something in his lateral groin area (I think it was the sartorius). This kept him from squatting with a bar for at least a month and a half. The injury got a little better, so I had him start squatting with an empty bar while in pain. We went through the injury protocol, working up the weight, titrating the reps down. He got back up into the upper 300’s for his work sets, but he still felt some residual pain. So, instead, we moved his squat to the Texas Method. This injury was not due to a form problem, and so we experimented with the Texas Method (5×5 volume on Monday, light day on Wednesday, and 3RM intensity on Friday) to see if it would heal up with less weekly volume. It did; as you can see in the video, he squats 500 for a very easy triple.

Chris pulling 625

Chris pulling 625

4. Natural Deadlifter
When I started working with Chris on the linear progression, he pulled 445 for an easy set of five. From there, he made quick work of the deadlift (his favorite lift) by making 15 pound jumps up until 500. From there he made 10 pound jumps, then a few five pound jumps to finish with 545 for a set of 5 (the most he had ever pulled). A few weeks later he pulled 600 and 625 (with a slight hitch on the latter). Chris loves him some deadlift.

28 thoughts on “Starting Strength Seminar

  1. That blender pic makes me miss my blender. Oh, to be back in the good old USA…

    Justin, rehabbing Chris with the Basic Barbell Lifts definitely shows your wisdom as a good coach. I””ve had to rehab myself after a herniated L5-S1 caused some nerve pinching which manifested itself in my right hip.

    After trying all sorts of physical therapy, heavy supplemental exercises, jane fonda type glute activation exercises, foam rolling, acupuncture, and a whole mess of other mess of hoopla, I discovered that the best remedy for my injury that kept me from Squatting and Deadlifting was, in fact Squatting and Deadlifting.

    99% of all trainers would have had Chris doing nothing but waving a bunch of Dumbbells in the air, putting him on wobble boards, and rubbing snake oil on his injuries before they wold have him get within 10 feet of a barbell. They would have wasted his time.

    I have rehabbed people with worse disc injuries (lumbar/sacral ad cervical) than yours. You are correct in your assessment. The universe dictates that you strengthen your back in the way that it has evolved to function.


  2. @Smed

    Sucks, don”t it? I should mention that I did take several months off Squatting, Deadlifting, and Spinal Loading entirely. But during this time I did lots of Heavy, High Rep Belt Squats. There are two ways to do them, the sissy squat way that is more of a quad isolation exercise or doing them while standing on blocks.

    That”s not me in the video, but it”s the exact same movement. When I went back to Squatting, it wasn”t long before I was breaking pre-injury PRs since I was able to maintain my hip and leg strength through belt squatting.

    I feel the time off from spinal loading was necessary in order for the spinal goo that shot out of my disk to stop being inflamed, get metabolized, and disappear so it would stop pressing against my sciatic nerve. This and belt squatting were some of the things I got right.

    Deadlifting is a different story. I”ve only figured out recently that Deadlifting and only Deadlifting will give me back my ability to Deadlift.

  3. Hey Justin! When doing lifts like OHP and Powerclean if you miss a rep and think it was mostly form(like Chris letting the bar get away from his face) is there a good reason not to just reset (with no break) and do the rep correctly? I missed #5 on my second set of OHP Mon but immediatly redid the rep and I considered it a complete set,what do y””””all think? Thanks

    Don””t overthink it. It depends where you are in your progression. If you””re micro-micro-loading (1.25-2.5 lb. increases), and you miss the 4th or 5th rep of the last set, you””re close to done. But, if you””re cruising along with 5 lb. increases every week and you flub the 3rd rep of the second set, keep going, especially if it””s a form issue. Re-repping is fine, or you can keep the same weight for the next training session (because 15 completed reps is “stronger” than 14 completed reps per tonnage that day).

    Power cleans can be a different story. Like Rip says, you might be able to clean 110 all day long, but 112 just won””t rack. There are too many variables to diagnose on here.



    Chris will repeat 215 on the next intensity press workout. I may bump him up to 217 though, because there will have been two weeks in between the attempts. His problem was also not pressing heavy in probably a month for a few different reasons.

    Everything is always based on the individual and their current state of adaptation. This is why having someone who is more experienced than you (i.e. a coach) tell you what to do as a novice or make suggestions when you are an intermediate.

    There have been plenty of times where I miss some reps on my second or even first set of press, and I continue to hit the rest of the reps. This is typically a form issue, and should be treated as such. Actually, I did this last week with 208.5×3 after clean and jerking. I missed the third rep on the second set and somehow ground out two reps for a total of four. The last set I hit all five as if the previous set didn’t happen.

    Anyway, the answer is: as always, it depends.


  4. @Skinny99:

    I think there is a reasonable point at which you can still progress, and a point where you shouldn”t. If you only missed 1 rep, and finished the rest of your sets you should progress. If you are missing multiple reps (2 in one set or one in multiple sets) you probably should redo teh weights the next time you train that lift. Of course, this is just my opionion and your mileage may vary.

  5. The socks and headbands are rocking! But, and this is a a big but, you guys are mssing the essence of the 70””s Big look – shorts. Instead you are wearing the 90””s small Michael Jordan inspired basketball style shorts. Scrawny little shits who don””t squat love those shorts because they disguise their bony knees and high calf insertions. The skinnier the twerp, the longer the shorts! Cowboy up and get some proper shorts. Look in online rugby equipment catalogs. They still sell heavy gauge, cotton shorts for rugby that will allow those 70””s Big quads and hams to fully extend and contract without restriction, as the longer, baggier shorts tend to do. The cotton rugby shorts (get the so-called New Zealand style which do not have a fly, just an elastic waistband) have pockets, and after a few washes get really comfortable.

    We are also young, poor dudes. Why don’t you buy a shirt and then I can buy some shorts.

    The shorts I wore for Halloween would undoubtedly have my balls dangling out in certain instances. Not something we need happening as I air-guitar on video.


  6. Reading this makes me feel the need to find a SSS or barbell certified trainer in Dallas. I have read the books and watched the videos multiple times and continue to watch them before more workouts, but I still feel my form struggling for squats and cleans. Anyone have any recommendations?

    If you are in Dallas and I am in Wichita Falls, then you should be able to do something about this.


  7. Unbalanced: nice suggestion. I once made the mistake of training in my rugby shorts on C&J day. I removed a decent amount of skin off my thigh.

    Good suggestion on the rugby shorts. I played inside center, so my kit fit like spandex. We”re also trying to locate some old school coaching shorts.

    I think we can agree that John Stockton is a good guide for bottomwear.

    Snyder: Wichita Falls is 2 hours away from you.

  8. @Gant

    I was curious about the DB assistnace on BP day that you mentioned to a noob on the CF boards. What was the rep scheme/weight/exercise? I BP”d today and then did a few high rep sets of See Saw DB presses. I”m also going to add one set of push ups to failure after Pressing on Monday … thanks!

  9. Rugby shorts are great, but mine are a bit too tight on the thighs for training.

    I found a couple pairs of khaki shorts at KMart several months ago. Very short, loose on the thighs with pockets and an elastic waistband. Perfect attire for gaining weight. I”ve worn them every day, even now that its November.

  10. I””m moving right along on the SS programming. I am hitting 5lb increases every time i squat and it gets easier every time. On the other lifts i was hitting ten pound increases every time and will be scaling back to 5lb increases soon. At what point do i stop SS? Do i go with supermicro increases (1.5 and 2.5 lb increases) until there is no room for increasing left? And at that point do i move to the Intermediate programming? Any advice is appreciated.

    Advice such as this is way too general for this forum. It is conveniently available in the book. Or you can find an e-mail address to ask…


  11. Justin, or anyone else with an opinion:

    I attempted a 20 rep max back squat for the first time last night. We were supposed to take 80% of our 1 rep max, instead of picking our 10 rep max as Rip suggests.

    I haven”t done a 1 rep max BS in a few weeks, but I had done a 1 rep max FS (I”m an olympic lifter, or trying to be). So I projected that since my max FS was 245#, my max BS was going to be around 275#.

    I tried to do the set of 20 at 220# and failed on rep 11. I felt like a huge pussy.

    I”m just curious as to how many people fail a 20 rep max. I could think of loads of reasons why I wasn”t 100% recovered, but I don”t think that does any good. But I don”t think I was especially prepared to attempt this.

    At what point in their training do most people decide to attempt a 20 rep max?

  12. Great vid! Does Chris have an athletic background before he came to WFAC? Where””s the shirt from? “My bar is my therapist” – awesome.

    Chris did some weightlifting over the past couple of years. He played some football in high school. I consider him athletic, especially for his size. He likes to focus that into lifting heavy things.

    Oh, and his dad weighs 200 pounds.


  13. That”s some strong pressing. I notice that on the first rep of the press set and most of the clean & presses, Chris seems to bounce the bar just a bit just before the rep. It seems like this would be a good way to get a little bounce to help get the bar started. I was wondering if one of the guys could expand on this – am I imagining it, or is this something that is being intentionally done to help start the rep?

  14. Does Rip sell a book that covers the making of that face as well. I can””t do it yet, but with some hard work and Whole Milk I may get there. Further as I am not 70””s big yet, I was wondering what the stance is on 70””s vehicles? I just acquired a 1977 El Camino that will haul me around when I achieve man status. Does this help my 70””s bigness?

    Why would Rip have anything to do with the face?


  15. Hi Justin,

    I notice on Chris”” clean and presses he doen””t adopt the normal clean rack position. Is this an acceptable alternative to the usual rack in this situation?

    Most people cannot rack a clean with a press grip (because their forearms are too long — Chris’ are long), and realistically speaking, nobody should anyway. If you noticed, Chris is doing a clean and press. With a fat bar. The exercise itself and the equipment he is using demand a particular technique to execute the movement.

    An experienced weighlifter would want to catch the clean in a position that they would jerk from to minimize the farting around between the rack and the jerk. Alexander Kurlovich is an excellent example of someone doing this correctly. In the same instance, someone doing a clean and press would prefer to rack their clean in the manner they are going to press from. If the clean demanded that it be squatted to full depth, this may change the considerations, but catching the clean in the jerk/clean position is most desirable.


  16. Justin.

    How about we all submit photos of the ””70s Big Face. Perhaps in different and amusing scenarios like; at McDonalds, the pharmacist, with a Police Officer, etc.

    I””m loving it.

    I like your enthusiasm. AC, Chris, and I have been doing this for quite a while.


  17. dhagerty, I don”t care what anyone says, that El Camino screams awesome, if not 70sbig. Hope it has at least 2 different colors of paint on it to complete the look. However, I do believe the true 70sbig official vehicle would have to be a truck – and I can”t wait to get back to Texas and my 66 F100, Floyd.

  18. Chris great video, nice lifts

    Sorry to bring this subject up again. A few days ago I was asking about the power racks that you use at WFAC, and I downloaded the diagrams. In looking at them as well as in the video they are very narrow. I am working out by myself, I know we had a discussion the other day about a partner, but right now that is not happening. I assume the power racks can be built so that you could work inside of them, but how big do they need to be to be able to squat in the rack without worrying about hitting the uprights?


    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. It depends on which rack you have the dimensions for. One of the racks we have is big enough to squat in. In such a case, you could modify the dimensions of the base to allow enough room to squat in.

    If you have the dimensions of the larger rack, then…I’m at a loss as to what you are asking.


  19. Being a big guy myself 6””6″ 285, I””m curious on a big guys eating on SS. I””ve been just eating as much as I can and drinking GOMAD and been doing very well on my progression. Is it widely accepted that big guys just need to cut back on the carbs? Fat is not my concern I just want to be strong and hit 300, 70””s big style!

    If bodyfat is not a concern, then obviously you are going to eat whatever you can to get stronger. How is this different than anybody else trying to gain weight?


  20. Nice lifting Chris! It is inspiring to hear stories of individuals with the fortitude to fight thru injuries like yours and Ron”s, previous post. I was curious if you currently compete or have plans to in the future?

  21. crouton:

    Thanks, I always try and push myself and acomplish my goals.
    So much of it is mental because your body is capable of so much more, and mentally you just need to keep up. (if that makes sense)

    I used to compete in Olympic weightlifting, but now I am pursuing powerlifting. But my main goal is to compete in strong man competitions.

  22. First of all, Chris has legitimate retard strength. I was there the day he pulled 625. It”s crazy to think that he got there on linear progression. He should hit 700 within the next few months.

    The most striking thing about Chris (or Justin, or anyone on the quest) is his consistent form. He faithfully executes his warmup the same way. Every day. When he squats, it”s the same way every time. He doesn”t miss.

    The other key is consistently showing up. If you”re injured, too bad. You still show up, and you still go through a routine. You might have to press a broomstick for 3×20, but that”s ok. You”re still in the gym, and you”re still grooving that pattern into your body and mind. Adding weight is just a natural consequence of healing.

  23. I think I am going to incorporate the 70s big face into my training. On a related training tip, I recently found out that if you call the weights little #$%^@$ers before you lift them they get lighter.

    btw, first post. this site is great.

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