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VIDEO: Coach Rippetoe Puts PJ Media on Starting Strength (Part One)

What's it like to learn from the best -- in your own home gym? With cameras rolling, the legendary strength coach visits, and gives PJM readers a private seminar.

by
David Steinberg

Bio

July 24, 2014 - 9:19 am
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After spending a few hours with Mark Rippetoe and two members of his coaching team — John Petrizzo and Nicholas D’Agostino — I’ve learned that online strength training information, though often of high quality, takes a distant second to an in-person session from a top-notch coach. And you simply cannot find one at a corporate gym. Maybe you have found one, or thought you had, but my experience from this project has been that years, dollars, and perhaps time spent recovering from injuries could have been saved had I originally sought out the advice considered to be the best by those who train for a living.

For more detail on that, I asked Petrizzo why he was drawn to Rippetoe’s methods and chose to become an affiliated coach:

All through high school and college I read everything I could get my hands on in regards to training for enhanced strength and athletic performance. Starting Strength stood out. I had never seen a comparable level of analysis applied to the barbell lifts in terms of their application and execution. Prior to SS, everything I had read in regards to lifting technique was merely the author’s opinion. I had never read anything that applied a sound biomechanical rationale for every aspect of the movements included in the program, and why they should be coached and taught in the manner they were presented in the book.
This was sorely lacking in my formal undergraduate education as an Exercise Science major.

Coach Rippetoe has been writing introductory strength training articles for PJ Media this year. I called him to suggest we do a “video coaching” project, wherein I would follow the advice from his Starting Strength, record each training session, and then send him the video to critique. He didn’t like that idea, explaining that top-level coaching needs to occur in-person.

A few weeks later, Rippetoe, two coaches, and a cameraman were in my lifting partner’s basement gym, showing us everything we’ve been doing wrong all these years.

There’s a reason potential Olympians move to Colorado Springs, and why talented youth tennis players move to Florida. Serious improvement comes from a trained eye watching your every move, giving immediate and correct feedback. This doesn’t happen online, and the trained eyes who can do this at the highest level are few. The difference between Rippetoe, his colleagues, and every other trainer I have worked with? They are meticulous: they always noticed flaws immediately, they gave me the proper fix, and I felt an immediate improvement in performance. If you want improve your strength for any reason — the best being long-term well-being — then you should consider a visit with the best.

We’re breaking the video from that training session into five parts, which we will publish over the next few weeks at PJ Lifestyle. On the following page is the first video: “The Squat, Part One.” Topics covered:

Weight gainAs Rippetoe has previously covered here, the big, strong guy is both self-sufficient and healthier than the waif. You need to eat if you want to get consistently stronger on a strength program — sometimes those plateaus occur from an insufficient diet. What kind of weight gain might someone pursuing greater strength expect?

Foot placement: How far apart, and at what angle?

Back angle: Rippetoe displays, with a simple hands-on test, that a less vertical back angle instantly helps you move more weight.

Eyes on the floor: With another simple test, Rippetoe shows that the typical eyes-forward squat taught by corporate gyms represents weaker positioning.

Bar placement: You are probably placing the bar too high on your back, which can lead to that more vertical back angle. Dropping it down — where it doesn’t feel so comfortable at first — shortens the lever and gives you a mechanical advantage over the high bar position.

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Top Rated Comments   
Doctors and fitness "experts" have been promoting LSD (long, slow distance) as the only fitness activity necessary for decades.

Coach Rip rightly states that LSD is unnecessary for fitness and detrimental to improving strength. He recommends sprint intervals for endurance training.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Strength is fitness. What do you think it is? How long you can shake your butt on a Bosu Ball?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
But.

Do you say that to his face?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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Is there a part 2?
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
here's the CrossFit games: http://games.crossfit.com/
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
So what is the reason Mark Rippetoe has a big gut and looks like he hasn't lifted weights for years? Any fitness or strength or health program should work forever - for your older years as well as your 20's and 30's. Otherwise, what's the point? I'm 54 and can attest that strength training has shredded belly gut faster than endless ab crunches. But I don't like the fact that all strength training depends on the arms, ending up building giant arm muscles that make the body look out of proportion. Watch the Crossfit Games that are going on right at the moment to see the unnattractive and distorted bodies of the athletes to see what I mean. Not that CrossFit is akin to strength training - but it appears to be heavily weighted towards arm exercise. I'd much rather look like a classical Olympic decathlete than a weight-lifter or a Crossfitter.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Rippetoe's morpholgy is classic endomorph. He is never going to look like a gymnast.
Call up a picture of running guru Jim Fixx right before he died. The very image of "fitness".
You goal seems to be body sculpting. If you want to "look like a classical Olympic decathlete" you had better have the right body type to start with.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone interested can watch a short summary of the first two events of the CrossFit Games (held Wednesday) here:

http://youtu.be/58gXsOrmrS0

"I don't like the fact that all strength training depends on the arms, ending up building giant arm muscles that make the body look out of proportion."

Or maybe you have a distorted idea of what a fit person's arms should look like.

"Not that CrossFit is akin to strength training"

CrossFit competition requires extensive strength training. The athletes you see at the Games use a strength program similar to Coach Rip's as the foundation of their training.

"...it appears to be heavily weighted towards arm exercise."

Every movement you'll see at the CrossFit Games is a full body movement, as is every movement Coach Rip recommends.

"I'd much rather look like a classical Olympic decathlete than a weight-lifter or a Crossfitter."

Do you realize that Olympic decathletes do a lot of strength training, including squats, deadlifts and the Olympic lifts?

You seem to be confusing body building with strength training. Like the Decathlon, Coach Rip's program and CrossFit are performance based, not appearance based.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
compare the body shapes of these decathletes:
https://www.google.com/search?q=decathlete&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=eP3TU9bHMKzqigLi24GYDw&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1290&bih=1106

to these CrossFitters:
https://www.google.com/search?q=crossfitter&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=Y_3TU7v7Hsr0iQKIkoGgBQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1290&bih=1106

I personally think that in general the decathletes look far more natural than the CrossFitters, who often look musclebound. Nothing against CrossFitters, but I doubt most people who want to be strong and fit don't wish to be feeding and working that over-pumped engine anywhere near as much. Strength training is intense, but it appears you don't need to do anywhere near as much work to maintain a sufficient level. CrossFit is more like an all-consuming sport and lifestyle than something that fits conveniently into one's health regime.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. You're still stuck on appearance, when both sports are about performance.

2. If you think you can achieve either the decathletes' or elite CrossFit athletes' level of fitness at 54, you have delusions of grandeur.

Millions of people all over the world fit CrossFit into their "health regime" just fine, including folks well into their 70s.

http://youtu.be/NeLVMgz-yUo
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw three things I have to fix so thanks so much!
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just wanna say thanks to David and Coach Rip. I'm about to start lifting again after a long lay off and these articles - and now video(s) - have been great.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent!

Rip, when can you make it over to my house?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the tech field we used to say RTFManual, in this case people need to RTFB. He advocates and 5X5 program starting out and you don't lift to exhaustion though you do continuously add weight at each session. If you do 3 basic exercises starting out you will be doing 75 lifts. If you do four it will be 4x5x5 which will be 100 lifts.
Even Cooper now says cardio is not the be all and end all of fitness.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I doubt there's anybody saying that cardio is the be all and end all of fitness.

Riptoe says it's garbage.


So who's unbalanced?

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doctors and fitness "experts" have been promoting LSD (long, slow distance) as the only fitness activity necessary for decades.

Coach Rip rightly states that LSD is unnecessary for fitness and detrimental to improving strength. He recommends sprint intervals for endurance training.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
This vid helps. I was so sore the first three days but now I feel so much better. Of course, it's only been a week.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
You allude to all the mistakes you've been making over these years....but did you really study the text of SS prior to the coaching sessions? Really none of this should be news. My sense is that the pointers and common mistakes are all there, you just have to pay attention when you're on the line and do it right. Of course, a knowledgeable observer is always a great help to faster improvement, even if they aren't a Mark R.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
For an example, I did think my back angle was steeper than it was, and I'd been doing it too upright for years in front of numerous trainers, knowledgeable observers, who didn't catch it, nor did I ever catch it. On every rep, they knew if my weight was too far forward on my feet, if my knees were pushing out, etc. I've had trainers catch something here or there, but never every flaw on every rep.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is great. Look forward to all the others....
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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