Book Review: Starting Strength
Anyone looking for serious strength training insight needs to check out Mark Rippetoes Starting Strength. Rippetoe is a highly educated fellow; he has the unique ability to showcase his intellect through his writings and displaying a healthy balance between scientific jargon and practical experience.. In combination with this intellect comes a sharp wit and tons of experience that Rippetoe will lay out in practical terms for you. Here’s a breakdown of the book.
Starting off, Mr. Rippetoe does a great job of explaining the qualities of strength . Regardless of your own personal level of experience lifting heavy weights, the first chapter has plenty of “aha” moments that make a lot of sense: if you want to have higher quality of life and simply make the things that we d everyday easier, then you need to start strength training. Mark also points out that no matter what you want to do – gain muscle, compete in a sport, or just look good naked – a foundation of strength is a necessity.
From there on, Rippetoe devotes a chapter to each lift: the squat, deadlift, press, bench press are covered in great detail. There’s even a chapter dedicated to the power versions of the Olympic lifts. The author explains everything with appreciation to the science of the lift along with biomechanics; but don’t worry, all the cues that you need to learn are broken down in practical coaching tips that you can remember and implement when trying the lifts yourself. After all, you can’t get more direct and clear than “chest up.”
Along the way, Rippetoe cracks jokes about mainstream training, poor coaches, gym buddies, and even bro science. If you’ve spent several months in a gym, you’ll pick up on his sarcasm right away. He ends the book with basic accessory moves to the main lifts and approaches programming in sensible way. One chunk of the book that I really appreciated was the concept of outcome based decision making in which Mark explains that if you’re not piling weight on the bar and gaining weight yourself, then “you’re not following the program.”
I actually read this book on the plane ride to my honeymoon. Yes- my wife was extremely thrilled at my choice for leisure reading. Ever sit on a beach and have someone talk to you about the mechanics of a back angle in the squat? When I got back home, using Rippetoe’s tips helped my strength levels return twice as fast as it normally would have took (it was a long honeymoon); and since then, my strength levels have superseded what they ever were before.
Whether you read it on your honeymoon or not, Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is an excellent read for the newbie to the barbell of even the experienced lifter looking to fix any holes they might have in their technique.