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

(Click here for Part One.)

Prior to working with Coach Mark Rippetoe, I’d have recommended the budget route to acquaintances interested in strength training: get all the information you can online, as much of it is excellent quality and all you need to know; then, get yourself to a squat rack.

I will no longer give that advice. I would enthusiastically recommend a number of online educational courses and how-tos for folks interested in a wide range of activities, but for strength training, you simply need to schedule a visit with the most esteemed coach you can find. Taking up a language, or learning calculus? Online options are arguably superior. But I regret the several years of time wasted, lumbar discs damaged, and stalled progress because I didn’t call up Rippetoe sooner. Getting immediate feedback from an expert eye critiquing every rep is worth the expense.

In this installment, recorded during a visit from Rippetoe and two members of his coaching team — John Petrizzo and Nicholas D’Agostino — to my lifting partner’s home gym, Rippetoe shared a tremendous amount of technical knowledge that I simply never noticed via training on my own, even with the use of video. And the results since this visit, which I will report in a future post, have been excellent.

Click to the following page to watch the video “The Squat, Part Two.” Topics covered:

Hand placement: Ideally, you want thumbs on top of the bar, wrists neutral, elbows up. You can progress without this, but it’s the best configuration for keeping the bar where it needs to be without causing wrist strain.

Back angle: As in Part One, Rippetoe explains the primacy of back angle. You need to be more horizontal to get the load on your hips instead of your knees. Think about exiting the hole with your hips first. Everything else taught here is secondary.

Rippetoe points out why the squat is a hips movement — and why it’s safe for your knees — by pointing out the difference in the “moment arm” for each joint. Simply, the hips are much further from your center of gravity.

Knee position: Most people will see their knees slightly ahead of their toes at the bottom of the squat. And the bottom of the squat is hips below knees, otherwise the rear muscle chain doesn’t get fully utilized.

Forget your rack: Want to get stronger? Never give up on a rep because you know you can safely fail by dropping the bar on the pins. You need to figure out what max effort actually feels like, mentally and physically.