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Open Thread: Ask Mark Rippetoe Your Questions About Strength Training

The nation's premier strength coach and PJM contributor is chatting live from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EST today.

by
David Steinberg

Bio

May 7, 2014 - 8:08 am

Mark Rippetoe, the celebrated author of strength training bible Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and three other classic strength training books — Practical Programming for Strength Training, Strong Enough? Thoughts on Thirty Years of Barbell Training, and Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity – will be joining us live today to answer any questions you might have on his topics of expertise.

Rip was a competitive powerlifter himself for ten years, and has since coached many lifters and athletes and given seminars to thousands around the country.

Mark will be answering questions live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST. Ask Mark anything — from beginner to elite level topics — by submitting a comment to this article.

For more background information: Rippetoe has been writing a series of excellently received, introductory-level strength training articles for PJ Media lately. His articles are drawing hundreds of thousands of readers. If you haven’t seen them yet, click on the below links to get yourself up to speed — some of your questions may already have been answered by Mark, either in the articles or the comments:

Strength vs. Endurance: Why You Are Wasting Your Time in the Gym

Squats, Presses, and Deadlifts: Why Gyms Don’t Teach the Only Exercises You Need

The 1 Reason You Aren’t Getting Stronger

Forget What You’ve Heard: 4 Reasons Why Full Squats Save Your Knees

Maybe, You Should Gain Weight

The Deadlift: 3 Reasons Why Just Picking Up Heavy Things Replaces Most of Your Gym

3 Reasons Why You Need to Lift the Barbell Over Your Head

‘Training’ vs. ‘Exercise’: What’s the Difference?

Why You Should Not Be Running

Be sure to check out all of Mark’s Amazon book pages, linked above. And if you’re ready to set up that garage gym, check out the Burgener and Rippetoe Barbell. It’s designed to Mark’s specifications, and is now available at Rogue Fitness.

Now: submit those questions!

David Steinberg is the New York City Editor of PJ Media. Follow his tweets at @DavidSPJM.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Buy the gym.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (104)
All Comments   (104)
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Sorry I missed the session, I'll post this question in case you check back. Any tweaks to the Starting Strength nutrition advice for a 53-year old male novice? Started the program at @5-10, 175, if that matters. Thank you.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Any suggestions for strength training solo? Without a spotter, I might tend to hold off a bit.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only lift you must use a spotter for is the bench, and these can be done safely inside the power rack with pins set just below chest level.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I squat and Bench Press inside a Power Rack with the safety pins set at the proper height.

I'v never had to put a squat on the pins but I fail on bench regularly and have to put the bar on the pins

I never use a spotter, nobody knows how to spot properly anyway
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey JGH, for what it's worth I've been training for years and have almost never used a spotter. They get in the way. The only time I would be concerned is during the bench press, because when the bench press goes wrong it goes really wrong. Otherwise if you can't complete the movement just drop the bar away. Lifting without a spotter is really the safest way, believe it or not.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you do a proper power bench press, you don't lower the bar to the upper chest. On the few occasions where I did fail, the bar ends up on my lower rib cage, and I rolled it down to my stomach (or lowered it carefully to my stomach to begin with when I failed to lock out), sat up. and did a kind of "lap squat" to standing. I'd then just rest the bar across the bench, take some of the weight off, and put it back on the pins.

If someone wants to lower the bar to the upper chest, in the mistaken belief that this works the "upper pecs" harder, it makes more sense to do inclines instead.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
It makes more sense to not do benches without a spotter.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rip,
Thanks for all the guidance and straight talk. Very refreshing!
SS is working great for me, still adding weight to the bar, and me.

Are you going to be in the Chicago area anytime soon?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
No plans to be in Illinois, but see our man Karl Schudt in Chicago.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Someone is cranky today lol. Is there a squat and/or DL routine that will produce the explosiveness in the legs, or is the standard SS routine acceptable? Also, you mention in SS that the Power Clean is the best exercise for explosive power. Does the (mostly) upper body Clean translate to explosive power in the legs?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Someone is asking questions today that have already been answered. Once again: explosion is largely a function of genetics. Since power is a function of strength, to the extent it can be developed strength adds to power. So the question is, what are the best exercises for strength? Squats, deadlifts, and presses.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey Zank, I know you asked Coach Rippetoe but in case he doesn't answer I'll respond that due to the force generation mechanism of the Olympic lifts, most of the 'explosive' element is generated in the lower body. Each lift is a coordinated full body movement that is firmly rooted in your feet and pins. If you ever watch competitive lifters (those with masterful technique) doing cleans and snatches, there is no doubt where the explosive force is coming from: the hips/ legs/ calves.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
An "upper body" or, more properly called, a "hang clean" actually does use the hips, legs and lower back, just not as much as the full movement. Hang cleans have value as an incentivizing variant to the full clean or full high pulls.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey, Mark! I *used* to be strong and fit. I was a concrete construction worker and dug big holes, poured concrete, jackhammered, ran wheelbarrows of concrete, etc. Now I'm in my mid 50s, and spent the last two years caring for a family member with a terminal disease. I'm still pretty strong, though. I figure if you're training a 90-year-old woman, there's hope for me to get back into shape. I'll buy your book and get started.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm 66, and am still at it. My upper body strength is now 85% of my max from 40 years ago. I'm still improving. Lower body is lagging, but I'm experiencing a surge there too. Barring unforeseen events, I should be back to my previous maxes in my 20's within a year at most. That would be 300 bench, 225 clean and push press, 430 squat, 450 DL. I don't intend to max out, but only need to do the multi-rep equivalent of each lift max from my past.

PS: I have arthritis in knees and hips. have to warm up more, get into a zone, and just say "F*ckit, and do it." But then, maybe I'm crazy. :-)
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey, thanks, Don! I've worked out with machines in the gym before, but not free weights. (I hope there are pictures.) My strength training comes from tossing bales of hale, unloading a ton of feed, etc. I'm worried about losing function over time.

Crap, I forgot to ask which book he recommended, so I'm assuming Starting Strength, but maybe it should be Practical Programming for Strength Training.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent idea. Good luck.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mark,

Seventy years old, decent shape, now on hiatus from my favorite sport (tennis) and any strength regimen because of recent rotator cuff surgery.

For years I've been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of resources on strength/weight training. When I read your stuff here on PJ Media, I was attracted to your approach because of its simplicity.

The question: have you worked successfully with people who are coming back from rotator cuff surgery?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Me. I have had a cuff repair on my right side and a Mumford procedure on my left. I rehabbed both. The details are on my website.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good question. I've had rotator cuff and cruciate knee ligament injuries as well.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi Mark,

As I understand it explosive power decreases with age.

At what point or age do Power Cleans stop being effective at developing power and just beat up the lifter?


thanks
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
As you might imagine, it depends on the individual and that person's injury history. The general rule will be that if you're over 45 and starting to train, be very careful with cleans and snatches. If you're over 55 and starting to train, don't do them.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
At 66 I'm content to do the pull portion of what would be heavy cleans, and only do the full movement with warm-up weights.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mark, I bench press, shoulder press and do lat rows on a Schwinn Comp (Bowflex) because it's all I have and can't afford anything else. 6 weeks in and I am getting "stronger," which I mean I can bend more power rods. When you get done laughing, I have a question - wasting my time? Thanks
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have no experience with substitute barbell equipment. Sorry.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mark,

If one cannot go completely Paleo (due to social considerations) what is the best way to drop fat as you are training? The goal being to keep (or increase strength) while getting body fat percentage down to single digits.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eat fewer calories. Why do you want to be blow 10% bodyfat? Are you a bodybuilder? And if you're a bodybuilder, why don't you already know how to diet?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
30 or more years ago -- and correct me if I'm wrong on this -- someone came up with a much more accurate way to measure bodyfat than calipers or water immersion, using a mild electric current. It was discovered that BB'ers in contest shape actually had 7-plus % bodyfat, and not the absurd 2-3% they claimed.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mark,

What are the best exercises for creating explosive skating in ice hockey? In hockey, there is little use of the hamstrings, but lots of quads and groins.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have you tried to skate with a torn hamstring? You have much to learn about this, and a hamstring tear can be very instructive.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Someone is cranky. Is there a squat and/or DL routine that will produce the explosiveness, or is the standard SS routine acceptable? Also, you mention in SS that the Power Clean is the best exercise for explosive power. Does the (mostly) upper body Clean translate to explosive power in the legs?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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