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Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe-Starting Strength FAQ

Training discussion on Guide to Novice Barbell Training, aka the Official Rippetoe-Starting Strength FAQ, within the Bodybuilding Forum; II. The Exercises ** A. The Main Exercises ***** 1. The Squat ***** 2. The Bench Press ***** 3. The ...


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Old 01-14-2007, 10:11 PM   #11
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift, Part 1
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions
**D. Exercise Substitution Questions

3. The Deadlift, Part 1

Question - How do I perform a deadlift properly?

The short version:

"Grip it and rip it"

The long, detailed version

Mark Rippetoe's comments in the "comments" log for that article, specifically in the "shoulders behind the bar or scapula above the bar" arena:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe
Here are 3 video clips that will be instructive. Note that when Bolton makes an attempt his shoulders stay in position, scapulas directly over the bar. When he misses, that position is not maintained well. All of these clips show fairly clearly, despite the variety of observation positions, that the shoulder blades are plumb to the bar as it comes off the floor, and that they stay that way until the bar is above the knee.

This is a critical difference in the clean and the deadlift: the shoulders stay out over the bar longer in a clean to facilitate the second pull, but the deadlift begins the rotation back lower on the thigh. This may be the source of the misperception of the shoulder position. But the ride up from the floor to the lower thigh is the same in both, and the videos clearly show this position. Even sumo deadlifts look the same off the floor, although it is harder to see the scapula position with the back in a more vertical position.

Another point is that if the deadlift is viewed from the side of the supine hand, the shoulder on that side is not as far forward due to the external rotation of the humerus, and the rest of the arm is further back because the elbow is pointed back instead of out. Try this yourself and see.

Bolton WR Deadlift
Bolton, #1 – good, #2 – missed
Bolton and Magnusson



Deadlift videos
a variety of styles of deadlifts

Conventional deadlifts
Konstantins Konstantinovs 948lb (430kg) @ 275
Note his rounded upper back and arched lower back. You need a very strong upper back to perform this correctly. Most people can't do it this way.
The first (and only) 1000+ lb deadlift, courtesy of Andy Bolton
2 of the best in the world
Benni Magnusson at his best in the gym (very fun video to watch)

Sumo deadlifts
sumo @ 1:52
extremely wide sumo stance

Romanian deadlifts
Excellent "technical" description and video
700x8 - Romanian Deadlift @ 6:59
Hola Bola does 365x9 - it states "SLDL", but as he readily admits, he does more of a hybrid, and it ends up looking like a RDL to me. Obviously it is working for him, and his technique is spot on for what i would consider to be a proper RDL

Stiff-leg deadlifts
Good description, so-so video
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...gDeadlift.html
Technique notes:
1) The 2 primary discriminators between this exercise and the RDL are lower back arch and knee straightness. If your knees are bent, then you are not performing a stiff-leg deadlift, you are performing an RDL.
2) Especially important here...note how, even when the bar is at its' low point, the LOWER BACK REMAINS ARCHED. This puts the hamstrings on an especially intense stretch, which causes them to bear the brunt of the load. Additionally, it takes stress of the lower back area and reduces the chance of you popping a vertebral disc, which is not particularly anabolic.

Luke does some heavy rack pulls - this is a good assistance exercise for the lower and upper back, although it is frequently recommended for upper back assistance (i.e. an alternative to rows for thickness)

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:12 PM   #12
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift, Part 2
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions
**D. Exercise Substitution Questions

3. The Deadlift, Part 2

How NOT to deadlift:

Hitching - notice how, as soon as he begins to pull the bar from the floor, his lower back rounds and his knees straighten out almost entirely. Once the bar gets to the knees, which straighten far too early, he rests the bar on his lower thighs, leans back and then shrugs it up along his thighs while doing mini-calf raises...that is not good. In addition to being improper form (kinda like bouncing the bar off your chest in a bench press), it can also predispose one to injury. The rounding of the lower back is the biggest safety issue here.

Yes, that is the infamous Diesel Weasel. He can pull 405 for perfect repetitions, but he persists in performing them with weight above and beyond what he can properly perform. He hasn't gotten injured...yet. But he's young, and he will learn the hard way, unfortunately. Commendable effort and intensity, questionable intelligence and logic.

Question - Do I need to deweight between reps of a deadlift?

Yes. What you do as a physique athlete in future years is entirely up to you, but in order to properly learn and reinforce proper technique, you MUST begin all deadlifts from...a deadlift position, bar on the floor, motionless.

Watch someone perform a set of 8 "touch-n-go" reps. Specifically, look at their body positioning at the beginning of the first rep, relative to the rest of the repetitions in the set. Notice how the first rep looks very dissimilar to the 2nd rep, as well as all subsequent reps? You only perform 1 proper rep this way, and 7 marginal reps. This is bad news for a novice because the motor skills learned during that 1 proper rep will get overwhelmed by the improper performance during the other 7 reps.

This won't happen in a set of 5 on the basic deadlift when you deweight between reps, unless you are pulling a load that is beyond your capabilities and you fatigue prematurely.

By deweighting, you also (intelligently) limit the amount of weight you can use, because the stretch reflex and the bouncing of the weights off the floor will not occur. This will save your lower back from potential injury.

Pull from the floor, every single set, every single repetition. Once you gain more experience, do as you wish.

Question - Should I do sumo deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, romanian deadlifts (RDL) or stiff-legged deadlifts (SLDL)?

The sumo deadlift, RDL and SLDL are fantastic assistance exercises for the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, to be used by intermediate-and-beyond lifters, but the conventional deadlift is the preferred variation for this program and for general strength building.

Question - I am having problems with my grip during deadlifts, what should I do? Should I use straps?

1) Chalk - get some now. Well, what are you waiting for? NOW!
2) Use a double-overhand grip during ALL ramping sets, then switch to alternate (over/under) on your heavier sets. This will help develop your grip
3) Did you get the chalk yet? Why the hell not?

Straps can be useful, but the grip builds so insanely fast, there is no reason for a novice not to simply develop their grip. Your forearms will thank you as well.

*taps fingertips on the table*

Did you get your chalk ordered yet?

Question - Should I use an alternating mixed grip or a double overhand or underhand grip during deadlifts?

To promote a stronger grip, perform as many of your sets as possible with a double overhand grip using chalk. Once you get to the heavier sets, you will probably need to use a mixed grip because you will not be able to pull effectively from the floor with a conventional grip.

Never use a double underhand grip during deadlifts. This is asking for trouble, as well as a torn biceps tendon.

Question - My traps are growing unevenly from using a mixed grip. What can I do to fix my trap development?

Before I address this, I'm going to state that I think this is, for the most part, a non-issue. However, I'll entertain the several individuals who honestly think this is a problem worth addressing.

What to do?

1) Do all warmup and ramping sets with a double overhand grip. This will help stress both traps equally, as well as help develop your grip
2) Switch your over/under hands every rep when you reset your grip. i.e. left over/right under for rep 1, left under/right over for rep 2.
3) Another option for someone who is a bit more advanced is to do shrugs with the exact opposite grip you are using now for deadlifts, right after you're done with your deadlifts. Take total workload into account, i.e. weight lifted on deadlift total = weight lifting on shrugs with opposite grip. Include your warmups in total weight.

Please, if you haven't ever thought of this or noticed that your traps are developing unevenly, then don't start agonizing over this (non-)issue.

Question - Should I use the 35s or 25s for deadlifts, so I can get a greater range of motion (ROM)?

No. Use the 45s. Doing what amounts to "platform deadlifts" is not necessary nor desirable at this stage in your training (novice/beginner). Learn to do the exercise with the standard size plate on either side of the bar. You can incorporate platform deadlifts, or deadlifts with smaller plates, later on once you have some additional time under the bar.

Question - Can I do trap bar deadlifts instead?

Trap bar deadlifts are an outstanding exercise to use as an assistance motion for the basic deadlift and the squat. They can sometimes be used by someone who can't normally squat or deadlift due to some knee, shoulder or back problems. They are also great for farmer's walks and shrugs.

However, as you can probably guess from my responses elsewhere, the trap bar is not a lift that is used in this program. It is a great exercise for both strength and mass, but it is not an exercise that will be used in the beginner's program.

Question - What are the most common mistakes in the deadlift?

Look at the videos posted and read the excellent CrossFit article by Mark Rippetoe. You'll see what the problems are.

Question - My hands hurt and I'm getting really bad callouses. Can I use gloves?

Those who are purely bodybuilders will probably end up gravitating toward this, but before you go this route, consider a few things

1) The gloves make the bar larger in your hands, which makes it tougher to hold
2) Gloves stop some callouses, but won't stop all of them
3) Your grip strength will be very problematic, as you will almost always be forced to use straps when gloves are used.

The reason you are getting callouses, aside from potential lack of chalk (see above), is that you are holding the bar too high, up near the palm of your hand. The bar is going to pull downward until it gets into the "crotch" of your hand next to the knuckles. Chalk up and grip the bar down near the knuckle to start with, and you will save yourself a lot of pain and agony in the hands. With diligent chalk use, proper grip, and a little moisturizer in your hands when you wash, you can avoid the big nasty callouses and you won't have to worry about creating a run in your pantyhose.[/quote]

Question - How close should the bar be to my shins while I perform the deadlift?

The bar should damn near scrape your shins all the way up and all the way down. I have hairy legs, and I know I'm not pulling properly unless I lose some hair on my shins.

In doing this, you will help ensure a few things

1) Your scapula stay above the bar during the initial pull to the knees
2) Your glutes, hams and lower back are in a better position of support
3) You are more easily able to maintain a lower back arch

The initial pull involves a lot of leg drive, as well as what could be referred to as "shoulder drive", where you use your hips to pull your shoulders back by performing hip extension. Wondering why your lats and traps get sore during deadlifts? it's during this phase, where your traps and lats have to pull the bar back into your body, when the bar wants to try to pull you forward.

Your hips keep your torso from leaning forward (which is bad), and your traps and lats keep your shoulder girdle pulled back and in place, which, in turn, keeps the bar close to your body which, in turn, helps make life easier on your hips and lower back.

If the bar drifts out away from your shins during the deadlift, you increase the distance between the "puller" (your hips) and the "pull-ee" (the bar). As a result, you are leaned over more (torso at < 45 degrees above parallel), and this is a far less powerful position to be in than the one where you are sitting back slightly (torso > 45 degrees above parallel)

Keep the bar close, and you will use more weight and you'll do so in a safer manner. Keep the bar farther away from your body, and you will use LESS weight, but it'll be MORE dangerous.

The choice seems simple enough to me. Lift more weight safely, or lift less weight and possibly end your lifting career.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:13 PM   #13
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions
**D. Exercise Substitution Questions

4. The Power Clean

Question - How do I properly perform a power clean?

I will not even attempt to describe in words how to perform this exercise. If you don't have a coach, or if you don't already know how to do them, then don't trust my words. Get Starting Strength and read the chapter on the power clean.

Also, check these videos:

Click on the power clean link to the right

Great description and video
Note that in this video, you see the fellow jumping into the air. Although you want to try to do this, you will be using a weight that will render you unable to jump into the air. They show the jumping to demonstrate full explosiveness for this motion. Since homeboy is using a light weight, he goes airborne.

Question - What kind of clean should I do? Power clean, hang clean, or squat clean?

Both power cleans and hang cleans are outstanding exercises for bodybuilders, athletes, powerlifters and, of course, O-lifters alike. Hang cleans can be used to fill one (or more) of several different purposes

1) They can be "assistance" work for an O-lifter or football player
2) They can be outstanding trap/delt developers for a bodybuilder
3) They can develop excellent explosiveness for powerlifters, especially when done seated

The squat clean is merely a variation of both the power clean or the hang clean where you drop into a full squat to assist in racking the bar across the front of your shoulders.

For now, stick with the basic power cleans. Hang cleans are great for an intermediate-and-beyond trainee, and squat cleans are specific to Olympic lifters.

The Hang clean (video shows full squat hang clean variety)

The hanging clean is essentially a clean done from knee level instead of the floor. You stand up with the bar, bend your knees, keep your torso upright. You bend your knees and allow the bar to travel downward just to your knees, then you explosively straighten your legs, perform a power shrug/upright row, and flip your arms underneath the bar, just like in a regular clean.
From there, you can use a bit of leg drive and push-press the weight overhead. Then control the weight back down. At the intermediate level, the "HCP" (hanging clean and press) can be used as a double-substitute for the power clean and the standing overhead press. It makes for a serious conditioning workout as well as an incredible developer of the delt and trap areas.

The majority of cleans that you see Olympic lifters do are going to include the full squat component. For general athletics and muscle/strength building, don't bother with the squat component, as it takes a technically complex exercise and adds a few layers of complexity while reducing actual muscular involvement (i.e. you can do more weight with less strength because of the potential for very significant technique improvements)

Question - What is so tough about power cleans? Why are they the only exercise that Rippetoe thinks a coach is 100% necessary?

Power cleans are included in the program with a few "provisos", so to speak.

1) Mastery of the deadlift is necessary before the clean can even be considered. This doesn't mean "wow, he deadlifted 225", it means "wow, that guy's deadlifting technique is outstanding." The power clean cannot be performed properly without the base technique mastery of the deadlift.

2) A properly trained, critical eye will be present to teach, observe, and correct technique with the power clean.
Starting Strength was written with the primary target audience being the knowledgeable athletic coach. The idea was to give the coach some tools for progression and training for his kids. However, the vast, vast majority of people in the US (and the world, for that matter) do not have access to a competent coach who can guide the trainee in their power clean technique. As a result, most trainees would be BETTER served by NOT doing the clean, rather than do the clean, but do it wrong, which will require de-training and re-training, a much more time-consuming process than simply the initial training of a lift. If you know how to do the clean, or if you have a knowledgeable eye to help you out with your technique, then by all means, include it! The explosive strength and acceleration it develops is a critical motor skill for athletics, and will be incredibly helpful in training many of the other lifts for the aspiring bodybuilder. However, if you don't have the ability to perform it under the tutelage of someone knowledgeable, you are best served finding a different exercise as a substitute.

3) In the book Practical Programming, Mark Rippetoe recommends that in place of the clean, the pullup and/or chinup be used until a solid base of conditioning has occured and overall strength has been developed. Once the trainee has progressed to the point where he requires a time of "backoff/reset/deload" (details discussed in Section III - Programming), then adjustments can be made to the training, and the power clean can be introduced at this time.

The original target audience of Starting Strength was the athletic coach, and it was assumed that the coach knew how to give the proper instruction in the clean. What is now known is that the target audience has somewhat morphed into the basic kid who wants to get big and strong, and is unable to properly piece together the technique necessary to perform the power clean safely and effectively.

Additionally, the power clean REQUIRES that the barbell be dropped rather than lowered slowly during the eccentric phase. Most gyms don't have bumper plates, and they frown on your dropping iron weights to the deck, even with padding on the floor. Mom certainly doesn't want little Jimmy dropping his weights onto the floor in the basement.

As such, the clean, though the preferred exercise, will probably not be practical or safe for most trainees. The row fills the niche vacated by the clean in this program.

Question - I want to be a bodybuilder, not an Olympic lifter, why should I do cleans?

For a variety of reasons

1) Incredible traps
2) Great explosiveness which helps in deadlifts and squats
3) Grip and forearm development
4) Deltoid development
5) Technique improvement for initial pull from floor on deadlifts
6) Variety

Question - Should I do cleans or rows?

Depends on your goals. The majority of football players, track/field athletes and obviously olympic lifters will want to do power cleans rather than rows. That being said, bent rows are an excellent exercise no matter what your specific athletic goals are.

The bottom line:

If you have a competent coach, take advantage of the coach and learn to do power cleans. Even if you decide to scrap these in favor of rows later on in your athletic/training "career", you'll at least have the opportunity to learn how to do them now so that if you choose to bring them back into your program later on, you have a solid technique knowledge base.

If you don't have a coach and you don't know how to do cleans, then don't even try. Learn to do the rows instead.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:13 PM   #14
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions

5. The Press

Question - How do I properly perform the press?

First, go here and watch the video. Take note of the following things:

1) He maintains an "elevated" chest position throughout the exercise.

2) Neither his upper nor his lower back round during execution. They stay tight and supportive throughout. The entire body is a direct part of the kinetic exercise chain, and as such, he maintains his entire body in proper alignment and proper tightness throughout the exercise. Much like the "tight upper back and shoulders" through which you push the bar in a bench or squat, the body serves as the "strong base" from which you press.

3) He leans ONLY HIS HEAD back, and just slightly, until the bar clears his head, then he presses upward and allows his head to come forward so that the bar is directly overhead

4) There is NO LEANING BACK WHATSOEVER. This is not a standing incline press, this is the standing barbell press with no backward lean.

5) Note that at the top, with arms extended, it almost seems as though he has pressed it slightly behind himself? That is because the bar should, at the top, be aligned with the spine. Guess where on the body the spine points? it points straight up through the BACK of the head.

Grip should be close, just outside of shoulder width. Elbows should stay underneath the hands throughout the exercise. Again, DO NOT LEAN BACKWARD.

If you have a weak set of abs or a weak set of spinal erectors, you will find out rapidly during the execution of this exercise.

Question - Can I use DBs instead? Can i do these seated? Can I use a smith rack or a Hammer strength machine? Can I do push-presses instead? Can I do these behind-the-neck (BTN) instead?

The answer is going to be "no" to all of the above...however:

1) DBs are an outstanding tool to use, as are seated presses, push presses and BTN presses. Refer to the section on the bench press for the reasons behind not using DBs.

2) Seated presses are an outstanding exercise to develop specific deltoid musculature, but when starting off, the extra added benefit of balance, proprioception, core stabilization and CNS stimulation is pretty tough to beat with the standing press. Use the seated press "later on down the line", but for now, stick with the standing version. You will benefit immensely for the reasons stated above.

3) Push presses are an outstanding exercise which will develop power and strength throughout the deltoid/trapezius/upper back complex. Unfortunately, because it potentially involves a large degree of hip and leg drive, large weights can be used, possibly more than the novice really has any business using at this stage in his training. As such, it will not be used until the trainee advances more. In fact, in Practical Programming, Rip demonstrates the "Volume-Recovery-Intensity" method of training using the push-press and the basic press as his template. He considers this to be an "intermediate" assistance exercise.

4) Smith/hammers....do you really have to ask? Use them later. Stick to the free weights and the barbells for now. Move onward to machines and such once you have developed a solid base of strength and training competency using the free weight barbell versions

5) BTN - The BTN is an absolutely fantastic development tool for the entire delt/trap/upper back complex. Ted Arcidi, among many others, is well-known for his incredible BTN pressing ability. It requires a good degree of flexibility in the pectoral/shoulder girdle in order to perform safely. Many people will lack this flexibility naturally, and unless a seasoned coach is there to observe technique, the trainee could be setting himself up for serious shoulder problems if he does this exercise wrong. As such, it is not recommended this exercise be used...yet.

Question - I don't like doing overhead presses, can I do DB front raises instead?

No. DB front raises serve 2 purposes.

1) To allow powerlifters to get some additional anterior delt work without having to do MORE heavy presses
2) To allow physique athletes to "touch up" an area which is rarely a problem spot for anyone.

DB front raises are "nice", but like DB flyes, they aren't going to be necessary unless you are training for a physique contest or simply want to get some front delt work without stressing your shoulder joint.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:14 PM   #15
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row, Part 1
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions

5. The Row, Part 1

Question - How do I properly perform the barbell row?

YOU WILL MAINTAIN THE NATURAL LUMBAR ARCH THROUGHOUT THIS EXERCISE. At NO TIME will your lower back round for ANY reason.

Here it is, step-by-step.

1) You maintain your lumbar arch, bend your knees, and lean over at the hips, not the lower back, so that you can grasp the bar. When you lean over, you MAINTAIN YOUR NATURAL LUMBAR (lower back) ARCH/CURVATURE. Yes, this means your bootie sticks up in the air. Deal with it, and don't do these if you go to prison.

2) You reach to the bar and grasp it with a "medium-wide grip". Don't belabor this point. Your hands should be outside of shoulder width. Exactly how far is up to you, I personally extend my thumbs to the smooth, and use that for grip width. Reaching for the bar without allowing your lower back to round will require your shoulder blades to rotate forward, which will round the shoulders forward (protraction). This is natural and normal. At this point, ENSURE YOUR LOWER BACK/LUMBAR ARCH IS STILL BEING MAINTAINED.

3) Suck in a deep breath of air, check to ensure your abs and lower back are tight, which maintains the natural lumbar arch, and EXPLOSIVELY arch your SHOULDER BLADES backward and upward while yanking your elbows up behind your body. Of course, your lumbar arch is maintained throughout, and there is NO motion at the hips. that is, hip extension (the motion you would use to stand upward from this position) does NOT occur during the rep.

4) The bar should hit in the upper abdomen and you should try to pull it through your body, while squeezing your shoulder blades together hard and arching your lats. The "arched lats" affect can be seen in runway models or swimsuit models who arch the lats. This brings the shoulders back (retraction) and it shoves their boobies up in the air (elevates the chest). This is the same action that should occur when you are readying yourself to perform the bench press, but of course, you'll be supine on a bench rather than bent over.

5) Control the weight as it returns to the ground while maintaining your lumbar arch. At this time, learn to control the weight using your lats and upper/midback muscles as much as possible, and your elbow flexors (biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis) as little as possible.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Note - You must "deload" between *every* repetition. That is, you actually put the bar down and release (or simply relax) your grip so that you remove any type of static tension in the muscles at that time. DO THIS! It is almost counter-intuitive, and I resisted doing this for quite some time. After all, I have lifted 20 years and never deloaded between reps, why should I start now? It will be annoying at first, because you can't use as much weight.

Of course, you can't use as much weight when you do a full squat, nor can you use as much weight when you DON'T bounce the bar off your chest in a bench press. More weight isn't better if the technique isn't proper.

If you are able to row more than 135 with this exercise and you have longer arms, you may need to use 35s so that you can get a better range of motion while pulling from more of a stretch position. Stand on a low, wide box if need be. Do not, however, allow the lower back to round, and do not squat down to reach the bar.

Use less weight on this exercise than on normal 45 degree rows. Reduction in weight, increase in lat stimulation.

Question - Are there any videos of these, I don't quite get the idea

Okay, here are a few videos with some discussion of the "do's" and "don't's". I don't use these videos to mock or poke fun, so please don't take it as such.

What Stump is doing here is a conventional barbell row with a deweighting in between reps. This is NOT a bad thing, mind you, it simply isn't how you do a pendlay row. The video does provide a good list of common mistakes. Many people think that the Pendlay row is a conventional row done with a deweighting between reps.

Note a few things while watching this video:

1) Improper starting position - hips too low, shoulders too high. Your upper body should be nearly parallel.
2) Hip extension to get bar off floor, followed by hip extension to accelerate bar - note that he "stands up" while his arms are still straight, and doesn't begin rowing until his torso is at a 45 degree angle.
3) Knee flexion and extension - your quads shouldn't get a workout
4) Dipping and forward motion of the hips just as bar is about to contact body
5) Touching bar too low on the body - don't touch the navel area (this is easy), touch the upper abdomen

This video is a much better example. He uses proper starting position and no leg or hip drive to get the bar from the floor. However, this lifter's traps begin to overpower his lats at the top point, and he uses the "forward hip dip" as the bar is about to touch his midsection. By rolling your hips forward, you take stress off the lats and place it squarely onto the traps, which are always a lot stronger.

This is probably the best example yet. A very small issue with keeping his head down, which will not allow for maximum lat arch at the top. However, note the almost perfectly parallel upper body positioning throughout the motion. Do everything like Vike did it, except find a point a few feet in front of you to focus your eyes on, which forces you to keep your head looking slightly upward, relative to your positioning (i.e. look at the 2nd rung in the power rack or whatever). By doing this, you will keep your head up throughout, and you will be able to finish with a strong lat arch.

(Thanks to Vike, Lencho and Stump for their videos)


Quesiton - Do I have to deweight between repetitions of the row? What about continuous tension?

Continuous tension is a term widely used in bodybuilding circles. It is associated with hypertrophy and muscle mass accumulation. It is, however, only one part of the equation.

The purpose of deweighting (i.e. allowing the barbell to rest the entirety of its weight on the ground for a brief moment between repetitions, a la the deadlift) is to develop the ability to produce force rapidly and explosively in the upper back muscles. Remember, this is an exercise which isn't just a "lighter pull from the floor", like the power clean is, it is an exercise to develop explosiveness.

Continuous tension is a fine concept, and a barbell row is going to be an incredibly effective strength and mass producer with or without the deweight. The deweight is a better teaching tool for explosiveness, and also makes the somewhat vague technique of the basic barbell row a bit more concrete. It also significantly reduces the amount of stress and strain on the somewhat vulnerable lower back. With training frequency being what it is, and since the rows follow squats in this program, giving the lower back a rest can be rather desirable.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:14 PM   #16
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II. The Exercises
** A. The Main Exercises
*****1. The Squat
*****2. The Bench Press
*****3. The Deadlift
*****4. The Power Clean
*****5. The Press
*****6. The Row, Part 2
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions

5. The Row, Part 2

Question - I use a lot less weight on these than on normal barbell rows. I'd rather do them with more weight

Far be it from me to stand in the way of a fellow and his ego. You want to use more weight, then go for it. I won't stop you.

While you're at it, go ahead, load up an extra 45 on either side of the bar, and do partial squats. Stick an extra couple of 10s on either side and bounce the bar off your chest while benching.

Here's one that should hit home...stick 45s and some change on the end of a barbell and see how well you do the reverse-grip power clean a.k.a. "the power curl"

Anyway, i'm being facetious here. You use less weight on these than with regular rows because the perfectly parallel position keeps your traps out of the motion. Your traps are an enormously powerful muscle, and they have a tendency to overwhelm the lats in a variety of exercises. You will see some people with seemingly perfect technique on bent rows doing some pretty tremendous weights, yet their lats are "fair", whereas their traps are bulging.

If this describes you, then stay away from the regular "45 degree" barbell rows and especially from the yates rows, as they tend to incorporate a lot of trapezius action if you're not careful. It took me FOREVER to learn how to do these suckers properly. Yes, my traps were always big. Yes, my lats sucked for years.

Seriously though, no one is telling you to do bent rows this way FOREVER. You will, however, receive payback for your diligence in this exercise by developing a very powerful set of lats.

Why do you recommend rows in place of power cleans?

Rows are NOT an "official Rippetoe Starting Strength" exercise, but it found its way onto the "adjusted writeup" that I did. The power clean is the ideal pull of choice to alternate with the deadlift in this program. However, I recommended the row in place of the power clean for a vareity of reasons

1) It's an easier exercise to perform

2) It is a FAR easier exercise to "teach" online - it is a controlled exercise, so the whole "mind/muscle connection" thing can be emphasized a bit better than with a fast lift like the clean.

3) Proper rowing is more easily duplicated by watching videos, such as those found on youtube, whereas watching videos of a power clean won't yield the same positive results because the exercise is, when performed properly, too rapid to really observe for an untrained eye

4) It's easier to sell barbell rows to an aspiring 16-year old bodybuilder by showing pics of Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman, who are both proponents of the barbell row. Most of the best guys in the world at the power clean are probably not built the way the "bicepts peak"-seeking teenager wants to be built.

5) A final advantage of including rows in this writeup is because it is more closely associated with the highly coveted and elusive "hypertrophy response" which most young guys are interested in.

Pulling a barbell from the floor is an important skill to develop in the weight room from the start, and although the power clean is ideal for this (Especially if you have a football strength coach who hounds you about your power clean), the row is an "easier sell" to the average kid who wants to be big and strong and is easier to teach online and via text.

The row can fill the same niche as the clean because the row can be done in an explosive manner, just like the power clean. It can be performed as a pull from the floor that is a lighter alternative than the deadlift, just like the power clean. It develops the upper/midback musculature, shoulder girdle, and traps, as well as the posterior chain, just like the power clean. It is also a "strength benchmark", just like the power clean.

The original program in Starting Strength does not contain any references to doing any type of rows, although it is listed as a useful and desirable "semi-core" exercise in both Practial Programming and the updated/next-edition version of Starting Strength (due sometime in early-mid 2007). Direct discussion with Mr. Rippetoe reveals that he finds the bent row a suitable substitute for the power clean if the clean simply cannot be performed safely/properly.

I don't necessarily recommend cleans INSTEAD of rows because "rows are always better for everyone." I present them as an alternative. Choose whichever you like, whichever suits your goals. Strength athletes, such as football players, will probably be better served by doing power cleans. In fact, I almost guarantee your coach wants you to do power cleans. Recreational lifters and bodybuilders will almost definitely prefer the barbell row because it has a more direct carryover to their probable physique goals. In the end, learn how to do both properly, and find a place for both in your program as you advance in your training experience and conditioning, and you will be better off than if you had neglected one or the other.

Can I do DB rows, T-Bar rows, 45-degree rows or Yates rows instead of Pendlay rows?

All of these exercises are outstanding free weight exercises and can be used as benchmark strength exercises for many trainees. They develop overall body strength, especially in the posterior chain and "pulling" muscles.

In this program, however, the bent row is more than just a "lat exercise", it replaces the power clean. As such, it must replicate the PURPOSE of the power clean. Muscular recruitment between the 2 exercises is somewhat similar (i.e. rows and cleans works the upper back, lats, rear delts, traps, and spinal erectors, as well as the grip and, to a certain extent, the elbow flexors). However, the explosiveness that the clean develops is very difficult to replicate with most versions of barbell rows.

The bent barbell row, when performed with a deweight between repetitions, allows for the development of explosiveness and helps develop the trainee's ability to produce force rapidly. As such, it is the preferred barbell exercise for this program.

It isn't necessarily "better" than any of the other barbell/DB/T-Bar row exercises. It is, however, a more suitable exercise for this program. Deweighting between reps is a very useful tool in your barbell training arsenal. Like any tool, you use it wisely and in the right situation.

Question - Can I do cable rows or Hammer Strength rows instead?

No.

These are popular exercises for physique athletes, as well as powerlifters who wish to train their upper back while resting their lower backs. These machines have their uses, but they do not belong in the program of a novice barbell trainee. Take these up in a few months after you've spent time mastering the bent row
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:15 PM   #17
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II. The Exercises
**A. The Main Exercises
**B. Accessory Exercises
*****1. Abdominals
*****2. Arms
*****3. Dips
*****4. Back extensions
*****5. Pull-ups/Chin-ups
**C. Other Questions

The beach muscles – teh bicepts ‘n’ teh 6-pakc

teh 6-pakc

Question - What ab exercises should I do, and how should I do them?

Volumes have been written on this subject, so I will briefly explain a few good ab exercises

1) NS Situps - (NS = Needsize, the creator of this exercise) - lie on a slant board, start at the up position, lower yourself until your upper body is parallel to the ground, hold for 5 seconds, return to the top. Add weight to your chest (i.e. hold a plate or DB or a sandbag across your chest)

2) Leg raises from a chinup bar

3) Leg raises on a slantboard

4) Ab pulldowns

A few points:

-Start off easy so that your abs aren't trashed for days.
-Try to keep reps lower. Over 15 is unneccessary in most cases, add weight to increase resistance. Strong abs produced by weight are going to be better able to stabilize you during a squat or pull than skinny abs that have been eroded by 1908432-rep situp workouts
-Do these AFTER weight training, not before, and not on your off-days. Sore abs can wreck your back if you aren't careful when doing squats and pulls, so just do the ab work right after your workout.

Question - I have heard of Standing Ab Pulldowns. What are these and how are these done? Should I do these instead?

Standing ab pulldowns are a very good exercise that is frequently performed by powerlifters. Because the squat and deadlift (2 primary powerlifting exercises) are taxing on the midsection, and both require you to stand up, the train of thought is that doing ab work in a standing position will have better carryover.

Here and here are a few pics of the standing ab pulldown. You attach a towel or a strap or whatever to a lat pulldown machine, face away from the machine, hold the straps on either side of your head, and use your abs to pull you down.

If you prefer those over situps or leg raises, then go for it! Be smart, start out easy, and gradually increase volume and/or intensity. Keep reps per set relatively low again (no 30-rep marathon sets)

Question - Do I need to do ab work? I know several people who think doing squats, deadlifts and rows are good enough for abs.

If you think this is true for you, then go ahead and skip ab work. Most people, especially most novices, could do pretty well if they do a few sets of abs 3x per week. It certainly isn't going to kill you and generally will help 99% of most novices, who have flabby bellies, even if their midsection isn't large.

Remember, your midsection is responsible for keeping your spinal column tight and in proper alignment, along with the muscles of your lower back. If your lower back fatigues, whatever "slack" is created by the weakened lower back muscles will need to be taken up by your abs. As such, it is much better to have abs that are "too strong" than "not quite strong enough", because "not quite strong enough" may very well lead to a back injury, which is horribly un-anabolic, as well as painful and aggravating (and chronic)

Question - I want to cut up for the beach and get a 6-pack. Can I get a 6-pack from this program?

The "6-pack" is a result of 3 things

1) Muscular development of the abs
2) Low bodyfat
3) Enough muscle all over the body so that the skin is stretched thin enough across the abs to demonstrate them

Some people who are barbell novices may have abs, but usually they are involved in some type of strength/endurance sport, such as soccer, hockey, track, and especially martial arts and wrestling, etc. These individuals may be naturally muscular and lean, and probably have developed a good bit of muscle via their sport. As a result, they may not have significant muscle mass as compared to a bodybuilder, but they are still well developed compared to the untrained individual.

This program builds muscle mass. Diet and cardio are used to burn bodyfat. If your bodyfat is low, then you may very well find that the muscular development you get from this program is enough to help your abs show, especially if you eat a very clean, well-balanced (for muscle building) diet.

If you don't have abs now, and you are a chubby, NO weight training program will get you a 6-pack without dietary adjustments and cardio. As a newb to weight training, your best bet is simply to clean up your diet, maintain a strict food log, and monitor your calorie intake and morning post-take-a-dump bodyweight. Don't try to lose weight (unless you're pretty fat), try to maintain. This will allow your body to burn bodyfat for fuel while building muscle. This is ESPECIALLY effective for chubby teenagers and out-of-shape older guys who used to be athletic/lean and can use muscle memory to help them get back in shape.

Take 6 weeks and focus on eating a maintenance diet and developing your strength. Monitor your progress and THEN start tweeking.

teh bicepts

Question - Why isn't there any direct arm work? I wunt my gunz!

There is direct arm work included in this program, but it is designed so that the inexperienced newb doesn't overdo his arm work.

Here is what typically happens with a novice weight trainee.

1) They suck at the "big exercises" because compounds like squats, deads, benches, presses and pulls are difficult when you first start out. You can't get the technique right, you are wobbly and uneven, etc. As a result, you are unable to truly tax your torso or leg muscle groups.

2) They have TONS of leftover energy because the weight they used on the compounds doesn't really stress their muscles excessively, so when it comes time to train arms, they get overzealous and obliterate the arms with all their leftover zeal

3) Arm work is VERY easy to perform, both from a physical standpoint and from a mental standpoint. Curls are easy, squats are hard. The untrained, unconditioned novice is also undisciplined, and a result, will put less effort into the big exercises and more into the arm exercises, because they are easy

4) Arms are, even for newbs, EXTREMELY easy to hit hard and "get that burn/pump". As a result, newbs end up w/ crippling DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in their arms, and on the 2nd day following, they are unable to train their presses or pulls because their arms are complete jello.

5) Couple the above with the ridiculously intense "arm fascination" that the typical 14-year old has, and you have a recipe for disaster.

By placing the direct arm work approximately 3-4 weeks into the program, you are able to develop a base conditioning level so that once you DO add the arm work, your arms are already well conditioned, and the arm work becomes icing on the cake and doesn't interfere with your main workout exercises. This means significantly greater growth in their entire body, including their arms. In the end, very experienced people have developed this to maximize your growth all over, including your arms. Your arms will grow better if you don't overdo it at first.

Question - When and how do I add direct arm work?

See section III - Programming

Question - What are the best biceps exercises to incorporate into the program?

Don't get fancy here. Use BBs and DBs and try not to let your ego get in the way of things.

There are millions of articles in Flex and M&F about the various biceps exercises. Go pick one of the barbell or DB ones out and go for it.

Here are my fave’s:

1) 1-arm Barbell curls (yes, one arm)
2) Alternating Hammer DB curls
3) Incline DB curls

Question - Should I use DBs, barbells or the curl bar for my biceps exercise?

Yes

Question - Are cheat curls good? Arnold used to do them.

Arnold also thought getting a pump in his muscle was like cumming. Take what Arnie said with a grain of salt. For now, avoid cheat curls. Use them later on once you have more experience, and you will know how and when to incorporate these.

Question - Will this program help me get 'teh bicept p3ak'? I wunt my gunz!

The original Starting Strength workout is a beginner's program. If you are a candidate for this program, then you have to understand that NO program can build your peak right now because you have no biceps. Build your biceps (Along with the rest of your body) and then start asking about your peak development. If your arms are under 17 or so inches, then you really shouldn't concern yourself with your "peak". Your peak is going to suck as long as your arms are spindly and weak.

Question - Why doesn't this program have concentration curls in it? Arnold did concentration curls

You aren't Arnold, and you don't need concentration curls yet. If you are a good candidate for this program, then worry less about concentration curls and more about putting some muscular bodyweight on. Skinny kids don't spend much time on concentration curls unless they want to look skinny the rest of their lives.

Nothing wrong with arm work OR concentration curls, but they have their place, and in the workout of an inexperienced trainee who isn't well conditioned, they are out of place.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:16 PM   #18
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II. The Exercises
**A. The Main Exercises
**B. Accessory Exercises
*****1. Abdominals
*****2. Arms
*****3. Dips
*****4. Back extensions
*****5. Pull-ups/Chin-ups
**C. Other Questions

Dips

Question - What kind of dips should I do? Triceps dips, chest dips, bench dips, etc?

Do them like this or this

If you prefer to keep your feet behind you like this, then go for it. It won't block out the sun and cause mass destruction, havoc, and/or genital herpes. This isn't something to obsess about, really.

Question - How wide should my grip be during dips?

Just slightly wider than your body. An excessively wide grip will wreck the shoulders, an excessively close grip will generally not allow for proper ROM (range of motion). The exercise should not feel uncomfortable in the shoulder joint or tendon area.

Question - How deep should I go?

This will be a function of shoulder joint and pectoral flexibility. Go as low as you can go without overly stressing the area. Not everyone is a Hola Bola-like freak, with the ability to go deep with heavy weight.

At least get your upper arms to parallel. If you can't do this due to flexibility, then you really need to work on your shoulder joint flexibility.

Question - Can I do close grip bench presses or hammer-grip DB presses instead of dips?

No, absolutely no, no doubt about it...NO.

Decline DB presses and close grip bench presses (CGBPs) work the individual muscles in a somewhat similar manner, but the overall difference in workload and the resultant stress on your CNS means that these exercises can NOT be substituted evenly.

Do NOT substitute ANY free weight (or machine) exercise for a bodyweight-type exercise, even if you normally add weight to yourself when doing chins/dips

Both DB presses and CGBP are OUTSTANDING exercises, and they are both in my present training regimen. You won't need them just yet, however. They are great additions to the intermediate's training program. Stick with the dippity-dips for now, however.

Question - I'm not strong enough to do dips/I don't have dip bars, what exercise can I use as a substitution?

Probably the best alternative is to do do pushups with a heavy backpack. Touch chest to ground/floor every repetition and control every rep. This will probably be your best bet, unless you are needing to do the pushups from your knees, in which case, you have your work cut out for you.

Back Extensions

Question - How do I work back extensions or hyperextensions into my training program?

For additional training of the posterior chain (i.e. the lower back, the glutes and the hamstrings), you can add back extensions, aka "hyperextensions", reverse hypers or GHR (glute ham raises). BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN ADDING THESE EXERCISES.

The lower back muscles (the spinal erectors) are NOTORIOUSLY slow to recover. As you add weight on the deadlift, your lower back will get worked more. As you add weight on the squat, your lower back will get worked more. As you add weight on the row/clean, your lower back will get worked more. Since squats, rows, cleans and ESPECIALLY deadlifts work the crap out of your lower back, you will probably find that you won't need to do these at all.

If your lower back is tired the day after you squat and deadlift, do NOT add this work, it is unnecessary! If you do decide to add it, add 1 set to Workout A, and do only that one additional set for at least 2 weeks before gauging the necessity for a 2nd set. This is not "balls to the wall, all-out" type of training on these exercises. Do a set or 2 of 12-15 reps. It is more of a "pump set" which will allow the slight increase of workload and volume. It's not supposed to be exhausting, so don't make it so. You are doing this exercise right after heavy squats and deadlifts, so your lower back shouldn't need much additional work.

If all you have is a 45 degree or parallel back extension machine, then tread lightly and carefully.

Question - What are some other exercises I can do in place of back extensions for additional lumbar area work?

1) If you have access to a reverse hyperextension machine, then do a ton of reading at various Westside barbell training sites. You can use the reverse hyper to actually help rehabilitate and facilitate the recovery of your spinal erectors, but that is outside the scope of this discussion. This exercise is an outstanding replacement for the back extension.

2) If you have access to a proper Glute-Ham Raise, then you can fiddle with this apparatus until you get the hang of nailing your hamstrings hard. These, when done properly, only mildly stimulate the lower back area, but NAIL the hamstrings hard. You will have to gauge your own hamstring recovery in order to know if these are necessary.
You can also do "ghetto" GHR, but these are DIFFICULT. Your hamstrings probably aren't strong enough yet.

I HIGHLY recommend the use of the GHR and/or the reverse hyper.

An additional exercise which might be considered for use by an intermediate athlete would be the pull-through.

This is one of the only cable exercises you'll ever see me recommend because there is no real free weight alternative. Grab an attached rope and face away from a low cable, squat down a bit and spread your legs, reach all the way through your legs (see thestart position). Slowly pull your upper body back through your legs until you are in an upright position, like so

Question - Can I do SLDL or GMs instead of the back extensions?

This is an absolute no-no. Unless you are a mutant with a set of spinal erectors that recover insanely fast, you CANNOT do good mornings (GMs) or stiff leg deadlifts (SLDLs - or Romanian deadlifts - RDLs) in place of hyperextensions. GMs and RDLs/SLDLs are DEADLIFT REPLACEMENTS, not hyperextension replacements.

Read that one again....RDLs, SLDLs, and GMs are HEAVY CORE and CORE ASSISTANCE EXERCISES, not accessory work. They should be treated and trained as such.

The vast majority of trainees won't even need to do hyperextensions until at least the 2nd or 3rd month of training, many won't really need to do these for QUITE some time, and at that point, they should be moving heavy enough weights in the deadlift and squat that good mornings and SLDLs would be counterproductive to recovery if added in.

Even if you "just go light" on these exercises, they are not appropriate substitutions for hyperextensions. Hypers, reverse hypers, glute-ham raises (GHRs) are accessory exercises. They aren't needed and they absolutely MUST NOT get in the way of progress on the main lifts (squats, presses and pulls). GMs and/or SLDLs in addition to squats and deadlifts will most definitely get in the way of progress for the novice and most intermediates.

heck, there are tons of advanced athletes who can't do GMs and SLDLs after conventional heavy deadlifting without requiring close to a week to recover.

If you know for a fact that you can do GMs and/or SLDLs along with regular heavy deadlifting (up to twice weekly) and squatting 3x weekly, then One or more of the following is true

1) You are an advanced-elite athlete
2) You are a mutant
3) You are on steroids
4) You are Spytech (which goes hand-in-hand with #1 and #2 above)

Question - My lower back is tired. Do I have to do the back extensions?

Hell no. If your lower back is getting hit hard, stay the hell away from the hypers. Your back is obviously getting nailed nice and hard. ACCESSORY = unnecessary.

They are fluff. Do them if you need fluff in your life. If your lower back is getting nailed by the pulls and squats, then no fluff is needed.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:17 PM   #19
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II. The Exercises
**A. The Main Exercises
**B. Accessory Exercises
*****1. Abdominals
*****2. Arms
*****3. Dips
*****4. Back extensions
*****5. Pull-ups/Chin-ups
**C. Other Questions

Pullups/Chinups

Question - Should I do pullups or chinups?

Doesn't matter, really. Use whatever you're strongest at. The delineation between chinup and pullup is overemphasized in importance. Most newbs will be strongest with a grip that is parallel (i.e. hammer grip), with a hand spacing just closer than shoulder width.

Whatever you do, pick one and stick with it and add weight once you can hit 10/12ish reps in a set. Go hard on these, don't be afraid to use a little kick on your last rep, and have fun.

Question - How do I properly perform chinups and pullups?

The pullup can be performed with any of a variety of hand spacings, from wide to close, overhand grip (pronated, frequently called "pullups"), underhand grip (frequently called "chinups"), and if your shoulder girdle flexibilty allows it, you can even do "BTNs" - Behind-the-Necks.

They are ALL incredibly beneficial. Differences in strength mean that people will be able to do these differently. You might only have the strength to do BTNs so that the bar gets to ear level. Others will be able to touch their upper shoulders. You might have the strength to do front pullups so that your upper chest touches the bar. Others can go all the way to their lower chests. Others might be lucky to clear the bar with their chin.

Don't sweat this. Start from a full hang, so that your shoulder blades are stretched, but do NOT straighten your arms, keep them bent slightly in the low position. Also, maintain some tension in your upper back so that in the low position, you aren't "dead hanging", which can put a lot of stress on your tendons and shoulder girdle. i.e. keep your shoulder girdle tight and your elbows bent slightly, but allow your scapulae to stretch downward.

In a smooth motion, pull yourself upward in a manner commensurate with your hand spacing. If you have a wide hand spacing, your elbows will travel out to the sides of your shoulders. If you have a close hand spacing, your elbows will pass in front of your body. At all times, try to think of "pulling your elbows down" rather than pulling your body upward. This tends to help people develop that elusive "mind-muscle connection", which tends to be very difficult for some people to develop for the posterior of their bodies, especially the lats.

Go as high as you can, then lower yourself under control. Again, think of allowing your elbows to go up, rather than thinking of your body as lowering.

Once you get a bit tired, the tendency will be to "kick" yourself up for another rep. Although it is preferable not to do this, as long as the kick isn't extreme, and you only do this for a single rep at the very end of a set, it isn't the end of the world.

YES, you're damn right. I just told you to do a cheat rep at the end of each set of your pullups. Save the flaming, you know damn well you do it too!

Anyway, here's a few videos of some dudes doing pullups and chinups.

Hola does hammer chins

Luke does wide grip hammer pullups

Extremist Pullup does wide grip overhand pullups

Lencho does BTN pullups

Some kid does close-hand chinups

Some other dude does medium-grip chinups

Question - Do I have to do chinups and pullups?

No.

The squats, pulls, and presses ARE the workout. If you want to do 3 exercises per day (Squats/bench/deadlift or squat/press/light pull) then do it! That is what the program is based around.

chinups, dips, arm work, back extension work...that's all accessory fluff (but good fluff!), so it is not necessary. The ONLY goal of this program is to get you to add weight to the squat, bench, deadlift, press and pull while using proper technique. If "it" gets in the way of the goal, then "it" needs to be removed.

If the accessory work helps you progress, then use it. If it doesn't help you progress, then ditch it. If you can't do it, then don't sweat it, it is not necessary at all. Dips and chinups are undeniably the "more necessary" of the accessory exercises, and they are quite beneficial to do, but they are not absolutely necessary for a novice.

Question - What kind of grip should I use on these?

Doesn't matter. Don't obsess over whether you should do "chinups" or "pullups" or "behind the necks" or "wide grip front" or "medium grip" blahblahblah

just pick a grip and get better at it in a progressive manner. No, chinups aren't cheating. No, chinups aren't all biceps (can you REALLY curl your entire bodyweight?) Do whichever hand space variation allows you to work hardest and get the most reps with.

Question - I'm not strong enough to do chinups or pullups. What should I do?

Rack chins are an outstanding way to get stronger at pullups, and they also make for a fantastic way for a bodybuilder type to learn how to hit their lats more directly with the various pullup grips.

Always strive to use full bodyweight, but rack chins can certainly be used if you are unable to do regular chinups. The primary suggestion is to add 2-5 reps per set, because they are easier. i.e. instead of doing about 8 reps per set, try to get 10-12 per set if you do them rack-style. Be very wary of the angle of pull. Don't allow this to turn into a swinging body row-up. Do these VERY VERY STRICTLY. There is no excuse for cheating on this exercise.

Question - I don't want to do pullups or rack chins, can I just do cable pulldowns instead?

No.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:18 PM   #20
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II. The Exercises
**A. The Main Exercises
**B. Accessory Exercises
**C. Other Questions

Question - Can I do both cleans and rows in the same program?

Both exercises are very effective, certainly both have their place in the routine of the beginner/novice trainee. If you have someone to coach your technique, or you are confident in your technique, you can employ both of them within the confines of the program.

Note - this is NOT endorsed by Mark Rippetoe. However, this is the exact workout template that Tad_T used, with resounding success.

Workout 1
Squats = 3 x 5
Bench = 3 x 5
Deadlift = 1 x 5
Dips = 3 sets
Pendlay rows = 3 x 5
Abs = 3 sets

Workout 2
Squats = 3 x 5
Overhead press = 3 x 5
Power clean = 3 x 5
Pullups = 3 sets
Abs = 3 sets

This is a slightly more advanced version, and is not for "novice consumption". Tad_T is/was an experienced individual so he was able to incorporate this into his training plan successfully.

Question - Should I arch my back when doing squats, deadlifts, rows and power cleans? Or should I keep my back flat?

Normal spinal curvature of the lumbar spine IS an arch. It's a natural arch, it's the lumbar curvature, and it is arched, rather than "flat". A "flat back", if taken literally, is a back position which requires you to actually attempt to round your spine. "Flat back" is and always has been a misrepresentation of the normal positioning of the lumbar spinal area. When a strength coach says "keep your back flat", he really means "keep your back in its normal, naturally arched position"

So, to make it short and sweet, "normal spinal extension" equals "flat" equals "normal arch".

For further visual description of this, look at Figure 19 on page 119 of Starting Strength. In the 2nd and especially the 4th picture in Figure 19 (counted left to right) you can see the trainee's lumbar spine is in a natural arch. It isn't "flat", per se, like a straight line, but it is "appropriate", and in various circles is referred to as keeping a "flat" back or keeping your back "arched". As long as the back is not EXCESSIVELY arched backward, this is the proper lumbar positioning for deadlifts, squats, rows, cleans, and any other exercise which requires support of the lumbar spine.

Here and here are lateral views of the lumbar spine. You can see the natural curvature of the lumbar region demonstrates an obvious (though not exaggerated) "arch".

You use your abdominal muscles and your lumbar spinal muscles to maintain this arch. Although advanced and elite-level strength athletes do exercises with a rounded back for a specific purpose, there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER for a beginner to round his back on ANY exercise, aside from abdominal exercises, obviously.

Question - What type of accessory work can I add to the program to help maintain progress?

Initially, you should NOT add ANY form of accessory work to the basic outline of the program with the possible exception of some abdominal work and calf work done after your main work is done. Do your squats, benches, deadlifts, standing presses, and rows/cleans for at least 2 weeks before you even THINK about adding other stuff. After 2 weeks, you will have gone through 3 iterations of the program, and you will have developed the conditioning necessary to fully recover from each of the original workouts. At this time, you can think about adding some accessory work. But understand that most novices will actually do BETTER if they hold off and start the accessory work at the latest possible time.

Accessory work is OPTIONAL and NONESSENTIAL. You do NOT need to do this. However, 99% of you will wade through the first 2 weeks with marginal intensity just chomping at the bit until you can do the beloved arm curls.

The first exercises you should consider adding would be pullups/chinups and/or dips. Just hold your horses, you'll get to the damn arm work soon enough. You can add the dips and chins in a variety of ways, but the predominant marching order for the addition of this (and any other accessory work) is that the accessory work CANNOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOUR PRIMARY TRAINING.

Yes, it's in caps for a reason. Pay attention to it. The best way to short-circuit your progress and cut your nose off to spite your face is to go apeshit at the beginning of the 3rd week and add dips and chinups and pullups and barbell curls and triceps extensions and cable pressdowns and kickbacks and close-grip bench presses and whatever other arm work you find in the latest issue of Flex Magazine.

Add accessory work SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY. Start with no more than 2 sets of dips and/or chins/pullups for 8-12 reps per set. If you wish to add weight so that you can do 2 sets of 5 or 6 repetitions for strength building, then so be it, but tread carefully as additional weight can have a pretty major effect on your overall workload and can drain your capacity for recovery (as well as expose the trainee to potential injury, especially if their technique is shoddy).

Also consider that you will be working your "push" torso muscles heavily with the 5-rep sets of the benches/standing presses, so heavy dips may actually be counter-productive for many. By the same token, the heavy deadlifts and cleans/rows may be all the heavy pulling work that you need, and doing sets of 8+ reps rather than 5 reps for chinup/pullups would be advantageous.
The phrases of the day here are "caution" and "ease into it". Remember, this stuff is add-on, it is not even icing on the cake; it is more like the sprinkles that you put on the icing that you put on the cake.

Probably the "easiest/best" (and seemingly the most common) way to add the dips and chins would be as I directed in the original Rippetoe writeup, as follows:

Workout A -
squats - 3x5
benches - 3x5
deadlifts - 1x5
dips - 2x8

Workout B
squats - 3x5
standing press - 3x5
rows/cleans 3x5/5x3
chins/pullups - 2x8/3x8

The wise will probably do the first run-through with only 1 set of dips and chins/pullups. Gauge your recovery, and if you can get away with it, add a second set of chins/pullups and/or dips. Some may find their triceps and delts simply do not need the additional heavy dips, and 1 set would be sufficient. If you are doing cleans, you may find it feasible to up the chins/pullups by a set (or 2)

Now then, give it a few weeks, and gauge your arm development. Some people will notice immediate increases in the circumference of their arms from the simple addition of dips and chinup/pullups. Others won't. If your arms seem to grow from simply adding dips and chinups, then hold off on the arm work! your arms are getting hit hard, why mess with things if progress is good?

If you don't see/feel some extra arm stimulation after a few run-throughs with the 2 sets of dips and chins/pullups, then add in 2 sets, 8-12 reps of skullcrushers (a.k.a. lying extensions - any angle will do) and 2 sets, 8-12 reps Barbell, EZ-Bar or DB Curls on Fridays. DO NOT ADD THE ARM WORK RIGHT AWAY. If you jump from doing only the 3 exercises per day to adding the dips, chins, curls and extensions all in one fell swoop, you WILL suffer a short-circuit to your program and progress, and you will probably end up hurting your elbows and possibly your wrists. Ease into it.

Wait, I haven't made that clear yet, have I? Give it at least a few weeks. I'm betting you'll learn what I learned long ago...that direct arm work is highly overrated for someone who just walked into a gym for the first time and can actually be counterproductive when the trainee is left to do arm work as he pleases.

For more exacting detail, see section III - Programming

Question - What exactly is Accessory work? Do I do this everyday?

"Daily" accessory work is a set of potentially useful exercises that might be beneficial to add to the program once you progress in your conditioning and strength development. These accessory exercises are not necessary right off the bat, but can be used to add extra volume to your training if you need additional work. The goal of this program is to make you stronger at the squat, bench, deadlift, press and pull of choice. Accessory work MUST bring you closer to this goal if it is to be effective. Some people will progress SLOWER if they add the accessory work, and EVERYONE will progress slower if they add the accessory work too soon, or they add too much.

You would only do accessory exercises on the days you lift weights, and you would train these exercises AFTER your regular training program of the "Big 3" for that day. Ensure that you don't haphazardly add the accessory work. See Section III for specific recommendations on how to add the accessory work, as well as information contained within this section.
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