Friday, April 3, 2009

Starting Strength Review

I just finished reading "Starting Strength" by Mark Rippetoe. All I have to say that this is probably the best written book on barbell training ever. I received the book as a gift, and although I have heard of Mark Rippetoe and his "famous" book, but I never found myself looking for it inside a bookstore. I asked for it as a gift for my birthday and, all I can say is that this book is a gem.

I have been using a barbell for exercises for years. Rippetoe takes it a step further and really details how this "relationship" should exist, and explains which exercises should be the "meat" of your program. I especially loved the chapters on squats and deadlifts. I thought I had known it all. But when I took into account some of the small details that Rippetoe sheds light on, I made some corrections to my squat, deadlift, press, and bench press. He also talks about the clean, but I am not much of a clean guy--simply put--a repaired rotator cuff will do that to you!

Here are some corrections or things that I learned from the book, that I never emphasized before in my training:

My squat is strong. However, after reading Rippetoe's instruction on "tightening the chest" and extending the back. To do this, I keep my hands a bit closer to sides of my chest (when on the bar). This will help tighten the entire rib cage and keep the back solid.

My deadlift is good. My personal record is 415. I know, I know...not that big of a number, but I am working on it. However, I have learned to return the bar the same way it came up--from the hips, knees, floor. Although at the higher loads, the bar gets dropped, I still make it a point to mechanically execute that sequence on the way down, before dropping it. And yes, I have discovered chalk!!!

On the bench, I had a nasty habit of not curling my thumb around the bar. I "shelfed it" --as some bodybuilders call it. After reading Rippetoe, he suggests ridding yourself of this habit and wrapping your thumb around the bar. To do this, I had to drop some of the weight and concentrate on wrapping my thumb (feels weird) and keeping the wrists as straight as possible.

So as you can see, there is always room for knowledge. One should never be stagnant in their quest to learn more about what they love. I highly recommend Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. If you are a lifter and need to an overview on correct technique, this book is for you.


  1. Agreed. The book is fantastic. And a great program for novices. For non-novices, the technical instruction is probably beyond what one would know, even if lifting for years.

    Practical Programming for Strength Training is an another excellent Rippetoe book, not for technique but for planning the training of intermediate, advanced and elite lifters.

  2. Another fan here. I bought the first edition two years ago along with Practical Programming for Strength Training and I am glad I did. The new edition has a few very useful assistance exercises such as partial movements, etc.

    Great book.


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