May 29

My Starting Strength Journey (So Far… May 2017)


For the purposes of this post I won’t go all the way into my background.

(For that, you can hit up the About page!)

I’m going to pick up the story somewhere around November 2016, but really it started at several random times before that.

I had seen many people recommend Starting Strength as a great place for people to begin weight training.

However, I fell prey to the opinions of some internet “experts” and their disparaging comments about Rippetoe.

“He’s too cocky for my taste.”

“He’s fat! Look at his gut, do you want to look like that?” 

“They’re like a cult.”

And so on…

Just the usual nonsense that people who don’t really know the program and haven’t actually followed the program say.

But I digress, back to my story.

Finding Starting Strength Again

After experiencing absolutely mediocre results (at best) on yet another program that I had purchased from a fitness guru on the internet (this one involving a 6 day split with 8x8s, 100 rep sets and other such things), I was frustrated and looking for something different.

Once again the same recommendations started to pop up, and somehow this time I couldn’t shake the idea that I should finally buy Starting Strength.

At the same time I had been bingeing on fitness related podcasts and I found the an interview with Matt Reynolds on Zach Even-Esh’s podcast. So another sign!

So off to Amazon I went and bought the blue book.

I started listening to any podcast Rippetoe was on, including the Starting Strength podcasts and also dipped my toe into the Starting Strength forums as well.

I can go to my workout log and see exactly when my first workout was, but I’m pretty sure it was just after Thanksgiving.

I distinctly remember reading the book around the holiday so I would have a basic understanding of the lifts!

And then I started in earnest.

I began with modest weights because I didn’t want to make a mistake I’d made in the past and start too heavy. I also wanted to make sure that I was getting as close to the right form as possible.

Now, I didn’t really succeed that well with this, but I didn’t know it.

Despite this, I committed myself to the novice linear progression. I worked out every M, W, F and put 5 pounds on the bar each time I went in to the gym.


Then I got word that Starting Strength Online Coaching would be launching In December 2016. I had researched Matt Reynolds online coaching and read the reviews and was sold on the fact that this would be a good option for me, as there are no Starting Strength coaches anywhere that close to me.

So I was right on the SSOC website when the program launched and signed up on the first day.

I got hooked up with coach Dan Flanick and then the work really started.

He immediately identified a number of form issues with all of my lifts.

Honestly, it kinda sucked at first because I would video my working sets and post them and then would get a message back with a laundry list of things to fix.

But I stuck with it and got to work.

The first real bump in the road I experienced was with my squat.

I was basically making all the common errors that can be made. I got up to the point where I barely eeked out 270x5x3 and Dan broke the news to me…

My lower back was in flexion and we had to get that fixed. So we dropped the weight back a bit and started again.


This might have been fine, but when I started trying to fix my lower back I must have changed something else that caused me tremendous problems with my right knee.

I couldn’t squat even close to the weight I had been doing because my knee was just not cooperating.

I remember one day I was supposed to squat 255x5x3, but on the first set I went down and barely got back up becauseI started to have this stabbing pain in my knee. So I tried dropping to 245. Nope. 225. Nope.

Basically my knee was ending my workouts. So we had to figure out what to do. We tried a few different things, mainly box squats and TUBOW squats, but with no real luck.

Those were dark days for me. I truly thought I would never really squat again. There was another workout I remember that I had to end my squat at 115 because my knee started hurting.

But this is where the coaching comes in. Working together, we decided to back my weight all the way off to 135, maybe even lower and work back up 5 pounds at a time.

My hope was that if I focused on form and slowly increased the weight, my knee would get stronger at the same time and the knee pain would subside.

Thankfully so far so good.

In fact, here is a video from today (5-29-17) of my third set of 5 at 275. Now I know that’s not a hugely impressive squat (though I’d guess that if you looked at all the people at my gym who actually squatted properly, it might put me in the top 10-15%!), but it represents a PR for me. Even more important, it wasn’t that hard, so I probably have several more workouts of PRs on the horizon for the squat.

I don’t really have dramatic stories for them, but my bench press and overhead press are also heavier than they’ve ever been in my life.

Going Forward

I didn’t talk at all about my deadlift either, but I pulled a PR of 330×5 a few months ago. Lately I’ve had some issues with tweaking my back on the deadlift and have had to reset that as well.

That’s still a work in progress as of today but based on my knee, I’m hopeful.

And frankly, the silver lining is the experience and knowledge I will have gained as a lifter to help out my future clients.

But just think about it… Using a program that progresses the lifter in a linear fashion, with incremental jumps each workout, in tandem with an extremely knowledgable coach, I’m stronger today at 37 than I was at 27. Or at any other point in my life.

That’s pretty unbelievable when I think about it.

I’m looking forward to what’s coming next.


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