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Starting Strength
An Interview with Mark Rippetoe


What do you get when you combine 30 years of coaching experience with a deep-seated need to teach as many people as possible the benefits of lifting heavy iron? You get Mark Rippetoe, a guy who's written not one, not two, but three of the most comprehensive books explaining the basics of strength training, and beyond.

Mark Rippetoe

Testosterone: Coach, I know you've been certified through the NSCA since 1985 (with their first certification group), you've been a competitive powerlifter, and you've been involved with Crossfit. How'd it all come about?

Mark Rippetoe:

weight lifting

This guy's workouts shouldn't involve doing 50 muscle-ups or running a 5K.

T-Nation: Sometimes there does seem to be a misinterpretation of those goals. While it's not ideal for bodybuilding, it does appeal to a lot of firefighters, law enforcement, and the military. I think people in those lines of work seem drawn to it.

Rippetoe:

starting strength

T-Nation: One thing about the Starting Strength program that I've noticed, especially because of the Internet, it that it's starting to suffer from the telephone game syndrome. One person read the book and figured they knew how to do it, then they told someone else who tweaked it a bit, and they told two friends, and they told two friends.

Here's the million-dollar question. What is the Starting Strength program and why does it seem to work so well?

Rippetoe:

strength training

T-Nation: That's actually one of those telephone game problems that's popped up. Any reason for not using rows much?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: You're okay with recreational lifters using the Olympic lifts? Do you think Average Joes can benefit from them?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: Aw come on, everyone loves the occasional pump. Another major criticism of the Starting Strength program comes from squatting three times a week. People say it's "bad" for the lower back. Just like they say you shouldn't squat and deadlift in the same workout.

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: So it all comes back to experience being part of the program design?

Rippetoe:

strength training

Coach Rippetoe walking the walk, back in the day.

T-Nation: But is Starting Strength effective regardless of someone's eventual goal? Would the "I wanna be a bodybuilder"-guy and the "I wanna be a powerlifter"-guy both start with this plan?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: So it's a good plan for size, too? I guess calling the book "Starting Size and Strength" would've been too long.

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: Even though it's a non-traditional plan with lower reps and lower volume?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: You said the Starting Strength program could work for an 18-year old kid, but you have lots of experience coaching younger kids too. A lot of people think little kids and weights shouldn't mix.

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: Like what, elementary school? Junior high?

Rippetoe:

strength training

T-Nation: No, but that's the norm.

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: Speaking of stupid shit, or rather, crazy shit, a section of your book Strong Enough?: Thoughts from Thirty Years of Barbell Training talked about the mental benefits of 20-rep squats. Can you go a bit more into that?

strong enough

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: To switch gears, even though you're primarily a strength coach, summer's here and we all get a little 6-pack happy. Do you have any tips about fat loss for recreational lifters or athletes?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: No, seriously.

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: It's been interesting stuff so far, but unfortunately, we have to wrap up. Any closing thoughts?

Rippetoe:

T-Nation: You've definitely given us that, and so much more. I appreciate you taking the time to explain things.


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