I'm starting strength

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WholeLottaSean
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I'm starting strength

Postby WholeLottaSean » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:00 pm UTC

I've been exercising and playing sports for a while now, and I've finally decided to begin the Starting Strength programme. I'm putting this up here so that I make sure I achieve my goals, as well as to ask for advice when I will inevitably need it. I did the first workout today, and although I've used higher weights than these before, I'd rather work my way back up with correct form.
I'm a 19 year old male, and I weigh 73.5kg (162lb)
I want to be at least 80kg, and hopefully progress further from there. I also want to be able to squat twice my bodyweight and bench my bodyweight.

Today's workout:
Rower- 5mins
Sit Ups- BW x 12
Squat- 40kg x 5 x3
Bench- 30kg x 5 x3
Deadlift- 55kg x 5

There was no one able to check my form was good today, but I'll get someone to do so as soon as possible so as not to learn bad habits.

Cheers,
Sean

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby psyck0 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

Check out the officlal starting strength forums where you can get way more knowledgeable people than are here to answer your questions, including Rippetoe himself. It also has a forum specifically for training logs. I think you would find it more useful doing it there.

Good for you! Too many people half-ass it and don't listen to the recommendations to follow what is simply the best strength training program around for novices.

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WholeLottaSean
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby WholeLottaSean » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:02 pm UTC

That looks good I'll check those out. Thought I'd post my other workouts here anyways:

11/03
Squat- 47.5kg x 5 x 3
Press- 25kg x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 65kg x 5

13/03
Squat- 55kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 35kg x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 72.5kg x 5

16/03
Squat- 60kg x 5 x 3
Press- 27.5kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 25kg x 5 x 3

18/03
Squat- 65kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 40kg x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 80kg x 5

I had to miss a workout here due to a kung fu training weekend

23/03
Squat- 70kg x 5 x 3
Press- 30kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 27.5 x 3 x 5

I now weigh 75.75kg, (167lb), which means a 5lb increase over 2 weeks, which I'm pretty proud of.

TGM
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby TGM » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:54 pm UTC

Good on you, I've been doing SS for the last four months and the strength gains have been great. Gone from a 45kg to a 152.5kg squat.

Remember to eat enough to fuel your recovery, and then some to gain some weight.

And yeah, check out the SS forums. Start a log in the Novice section.
- TGM

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WholeLottaSean
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby WholeLottaSean » Fri Apr 23, 2010 7:02 pm UTC

Cool.
I've been browsing the SS forums but haven't started a log yet.

25/03
Squat- 75kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 42.5 x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 87.5 x 5

27/03
Squat- 80kg x 5 x 3
Press- 32.5kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 30kg x 3 x 5

30/03
Squat- 85kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 45kg x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 95kg x 5

01/04
Squat- 90kg x 5 x 3
Press- 35kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 32.5kg x 3 x 5

03/04
Squat- 95kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 47.5 x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 100kg x 5

06/04
Squat- 97.5kg x 5 x 3
Press- 37.5kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 35kg x 3 x 5

08/04
Squat- 100kg x 5 x 3
Bench- 50kg x 5 x 3
Deadlift- 105kg x 5

22/04
Squat- 97.5kg x 5 x 3
Press- 37.5kg x 5 x 3
Power Clean- 37.5kg x 3 x 5

As you can see there is a two week gap between my last two workouts, because I was gallivanting around Ireland then got stuck there and had to ferry and coach it back home. That's why I dropped the weights of the squat and press down to those of the previous workout- is this the correct thing to do, or should I have dropped the weight lower after such long a break?

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CorruptUser
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:25 am UTC

How tall?

80 Kgs might be ok for someone that is 1.78m/5'10, but not someone that is 1.7 or less.

Good on the improvement though.

I don't know if I'm just stating everything you already know or not, so I apologize if I seem patronizing.

Be sure to vary your workout, so you don't plateau. E.G., you could do decline or incline bench instead of flatbench, add in fly's or tricep rope, or do dumbells instead of barbells. I find that fly's, tri-rope, and/or close-grip right after bench does wonders, as does the leg extension right after squats or leg-press. Bent-over-rows and lunges instead of or in addition to deadlift/squat, running up and down stairs.

I don't know where pullups would fit in, but I would assume you would want some upper back, abs, biceps, etc, as well as legs and chest.

As for form, as long as your feet are flat and your legs go at least parallel to the ground in squats, you should be fine. For bench, go down as far as you can, but don't bounce the bar off your chest, and don't arch your back. Breathe out on the way up for bench. I wouldn't be able to tell you further without seeing.

(Current max of ~152 KG bench, I weigh around 80 kg, although I'm not a good comparison since my bench is more than my squat. Not that I'm too weak to squat, just that it hurts my neck too much after ~100 kg. Also, I normally use imperial, but I just assumed most people on this forum use metric.)

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Victoria Maddison » Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:18 am UTC

WholeLottaSean wrote:As you can see there is a two week gap between my last two workouts, because I was gallivanting around Ireland then got stuck there and had to ferry and coach it back home. That's why I dropped the weights of the squat and press down to those of the previous workout- is this the correct thing to do, or should I have dropped the weight lower after such long a break?

If you make your sets/reps then its fine.

CorruptUser wrote:80 Kgs might be ok for someone that is 1.78m/5'10, but not someone that is 1.7 or less.

Adult males should be 90+kg unless they specifically want to be smaller.

CorruptUser wrote:Be sure to vary your workout, so you don't plateau. E.G., you could do decline or incline bench instead of flatbench, add in fly's or tricep rope, or do dumbells instead of barbells. I find that fly's, tri-rope, and/or close-grip right after bench does wonders, as does the leg extension right after squats or leg-press. Bent-over-rows and lunges instead of or in addition to deadlift/squat, running up and down stairs.

Bad advice. If you're making progress do NOT mess it up by varying things.

CorruptUser wrote:For bench, go down as far as you can

Go all the way down to your chest or the rep doesn't count.

CorruptUser wrote:and don't arch your back.

Wrong.

CorruptUser wrote:Breathe out on the way up for bench.

Wrong.

CorruptUser wrote:my bench is more than my squat. Not that I'm too weak to squat, just that it hurts my neck too much after ~100 kg.

Switch to a low bar rack, just below the spine of the scapula, there should be no pressure on the neck.

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CorruptUser
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:33 pm UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:80 Kgs might be ok for someone that is 1.78m/5'10, but not someone that is 1.7 or less.

Adult males should be 90+kg unless they specifically want to be smaller.


Depends on height. Someone who is 1.6m should NOT weigh 90 kgs. People with a larger BMI, as much as I dislike the BMI system, still have more health risks than those with a normal BMI even if the extra weight is from muscle. Muscle is much better than fat, but extra mass is still extra strain on the heart and joints, and still has an increased risk of diabetes.

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Be sure to vary your workout, so you don't plateau. E.G., you could do decline or incline bench instead of flatbench, add in fly's or tricep rope, or do dumbells instead of barbells. I find that fly's, tri-rope, and/or close-grip right after bench does wonders, as does the leg extension right after squats or leg-press. Bent-over-rows and lunges instead of or in addition to deadlift/squat, running up and down stairs.

Bad advice. If you're making progress do NOT mess it up by varying things.


Ever hear of P90x? Besides, you don't want to form muscle mass that can only work in one direction.

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:For bench, go down as far as you can

Go all the way down to your chest or the rep doesn't count.


Alright, I will agree with you on this, but again, don't bounce the bar off your chest.

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:and don't arch your back.

Wrong.


Sticking your ass out in the air gets your rep disqualified in most competions for a reason.

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Breathe out on the way up for bench.

Wrong.


Not going to fight you on this one. I'll admit I don't have proof. It's just what I do.

Victoria Maddison wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:my bench is more than my squat. Not that I'm too weak to squat, just that it hurts my neck too much after ~100 kg.

Switch to a low bar rack, just below the spine of the scapula, there should be no pressure on the neck.


I rest the bar on my shoulders, with the bar pad thing, but it still hurts my neck and spine. Mostly my spine, but still.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby psyck0 » Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:51 pm UTC

I'm not going to continue the quote tree.

You very clearly have no idea what you are talking about, whereas Victoria is a highly educated strength professional.

An adult male should weigh at least 180 lbs if they have any muscle on their frame, and over 200 if they are anywhere near 6 feet tall, again if they have any muscle on their frame. That's something you have to work towards- our current culture wants wimpy skinny guys with no muscle, or worse FAT skinny guys with no muscle and flab, so most males need to put on a significant amount of muscle. However, it's not that hard. The caveat is that they have some muscle on their frame- they shouldn't be 200 lbs and wimpy.

p90x is not a particularly good program. It has brutally high intensity, but the principles behind it are not very well developed nor very scientific. It is also not a strength-training program but a conditioning program.

It is perfectly possible to arch your back extremely without having your ass leave the bench. In fact, that's the proper technique for bench. You want your chest as high as possible to reduce the range of motion so that your elbows don't go below parallel at the bottom- if they do, the strain on your shoulders increases hugely. To do that, you arch your back. It's one of the reasons bench pressing causes so many shoulder injuries- people who don't know how to bench properly, i.e. 95% of the gym-going population. Look up Dave Tate's bench press cure, specifically the video, for PROPER bench press form.

As for breathing, we have already established that you don't know what you are talking about and are doing it wrong. It's called the valsalva manoeuvre and is how you do every compound exercise. Fill your lungs as full of air as possible and contract your abs hard. It creates high pressure inside your chest cavity that helps stabilise your back. It gives you more power on the bench, pushes your chest up and decreases the range of motion (again saving your shoulders) and prevents your back from blowing out when squatting or deadlifting.

You rest the bar with one of the pad things and you can bench more than you squat. Those are both terrible. I'd be surprised if you squat to parallel, either. Again, you don't know what you are talking about. You should pick up starting strength yourself, or at least read the wiki, and educate yourself on proper form and basic programming for strength training before you hurt yourself, because you are going to.

OP, keep on trucking. Make sure you're hip driving those squats and hitting parallel!

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Victoria Maddison » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:12 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Depends on height. Someone who is 1.6m should NOT weigh 90 kgs.

I doubt the OP is 5'3" (1.6m). Even if he was, 80 kg is a perfectly reasonable body weight to shoot for.

CorruptUser wrote:People with a larger BMI, as much as I dislike the BMI system, still have more health risks than those with a normal BMI even if the extra weight is from muscle. Muscle is much better than fat, but extra mass is still extra strain on the heart and joints, and still has an increased risk of diabetes.

This is all wrong.

CorruptUser wrote:you don't want to form muscle mass that can only work in one direction.

The OP's program consists of the squat, bench press, deadlift, press, and power clean. He's got it covered. Anything else would just be accessory work.

CorruptUser wrote:Sticking your ass out in the air gets your rep disqualified in most competions for a reason.

To arch correctly your butt and retracted scapula must be planted firmly into the bench at all times.

CorruptUser wrote:I rest the bar on my shoulders, with the bar pad thing, but it still hurts my neck and spine. Mostly my spine, but still.

So get rid of the padding and switch to a low bar squat. Problem solved.

Edit: Ninja'd.

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CorruptUser
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:13 am UTC

Alright, I'll concede the point about breathing. As for arching the back, that's more of a translation thing; when I think of back-arching, I think of the people who have their butts in the air, as I see that far too often. That and the people that love to scream every time they do a rep, or bounce the bar off their chest...

As for the health effects of extra weight, I'm an actuary (well, actuarial trainee), and I know there is an exceedingly strong negative correlation between life expectancy and body weight, even after body fat % has been factored out. Heavy athletes with low bodyfat % are at a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease than athletes of 'normal' weight. The problem seems to be the size of the athlete, as less mass in general seems to be better (to a paoint); shorter people have longer life expectancies than taller people (again, to a point). This is one of several reasons women tend to outlive men.

The heart is not really meant to pump blood for a 100 kg body, let alone a 150 kg bodybuilder. The spine faces enough stress without the addition of 20-30 kg of extra muscle to support.

That isn't to say a 120 kg bodybuilder is as unhealthy as a 120 kg sack of lard. Muscle is MUCH healthier mass to have than fat. But too much is still a health problem.

As for what society seems to want, society does try and give us muscular men; Brad Pitt, 'sexiest man' or whatever, is often used as an example of the flaws of the BMI system, as he is "obese" with a BMI of over 30. Christian Bale in Batman (and American Psycho) wasn't exactly noodle-armed. Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson aren't skinny either. The Rock and Vin Diesel are very muscular, as is Mickey Rourke. Ahnold didn't make a career based on his personality or acting ability. Just because not every actor is a Nordic strongman doesn't mean that Hollywood has a vendetta against muscle.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Victoria Maddison » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:41 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Heavy athletes with low bodyfat % are at a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease than athletes of 'normal' weight. The problem seems to be the size of the athlete, as less mass in general seems to be better

[citation needed]

I doubt you can name a single study showing a causal relationship between muscle mass and heart disease/diabetes in athletes. In reality the stronger a person is the less likely they are to die from all causes, and the more muscle mass a person has the stronger they can become. Not to mention that increasing muscle mass helps to control diabetes and strength training builds a strong heart capable of pumping blood under harsh conditions; conditions that would cause a runner's heart to struggle.

CorruptUser wrote:The heart is not really meant to pump blood for a 100 kg body, let alone a 150 kg bodybuilder. The spine faces enough stress without the addition of 20-30 kg of extra muscle to lug around.

This is ridiculous. The human body adapts to the stresses placed on it and supercompensates.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:20 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:As for the health effects of extra weight, I'm an actuary (well, actuarial trainee), and I know there is an exceedingly strong negative correlation between life expectancy and body weight, even after body fat % has been factored out.

This is interesting. Is there some academic paper or something you could point me to, or is this just your impression from looking at the data you work with?

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:42 pm UTC

Mostly from the data I've worked with, which always has its limits, mainly that you can't control for data that is unreported; steroids, HGH, and so forth are not exactly things you would report. This is a huge problem (especially for my conclusions, I'll admit), as the body's natural safe limit for exercise and muscle may simply be what you can become without extra hormones. All I can conclusively say is that larger athletes have, on average, more health problems than smaller athletes.

A lot of my assumptions do come from what I notice with animals; huge dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane are lucky to make it to 8 years, while medium sized and small dogs can live 18 years or more. This doesn't mean that the same holds true for humans, but biology does tend to drop very large hints for physiology and medicine. For example, people with gigantism tend to die young http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_people.

I'm perusing the British Medical Journal and American Journal of Medicine for some interesting stuff. Most of the research seems to be for the population at whole, not for the subset of athletes, or the subset (subsubset?) of bodybuilders.

For some reason, the BMJ is .com instead of .co.uk

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/308/6923/231?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=athlete+health&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&fdate=10/1/1840&tdate=4/30/2010&resourcetype=HWCIT

http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(09)00441-0/abstract


Also interesting is this, as it appears to debunk something we were always taught,

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/325/7362/468?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=muscle+weight&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=10&fdate=10/1/1840&tdate=4/30/2010&resourcetype=HWCIT

but I would still recommend stretching. Even without reducing the effects of injury, I would still assume that being flexible is still better than inflexible.


As for the previous comments that the body adapts to anything, that's only to a point. Skin grows thicker, repeated stress does make the bones (slowly) grow larger, muscle becomes stronger, but there are limits. I know of no way to strengthen your tendons and ligaments. In fact, tendons, if torn, will NEVER completely heal. Cartilage repairs itself only slowly. The liver can regrow, but the matrix doesn't repair itself with full function. Injuries scar over, but scars are weaker than skin.

Just because something doesn't kill you, doesn't make you stronger.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby psyck0 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

Euuuuuuugh. Lifting a few weights doesn't make you huge the way Wolfhounds are huge. The entire basis of your comparison is flawed. Andy Bolton and Konstantinov are perhaps huge that way, Arnold was huge that way, but virtually nobody else is and having 50 lbs of muscle on your frame isn't going to be detrimental for that reason.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Dave_Wise » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:10 pm UTC

What's more I think the implications for actuarial tables are based on the fact that, by and large, extra weight does tend to be fat and not muscle. So on average, being heavier is a health risk.

Within reason, it's not a problem. I tend to go on belt notches more than I do on weight- I've often gone down a belt notch and actually put on weight. Obviously the odd extreme case involving lots and lots of excess muscle might be different, but really, you're not going to get into that situation by accident, you really aren't.
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:31 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:All I can conclusively say is that larger athletes have, on average, more health problems than smaller athletes.

I'm not sure how you get from there to:
CorruptUser wrote:As for the health effects of extra weight, I'm an actuary (well, actuarial trainee), and I know there is an exceedingly strong negative correlation between life expectancy and body weight, even after body fat % has been factored out.


Also:
but I would still recommend stretching. Even without reducing the effects of injury, I would still assume that being flexible is still better than inflexible.

Not really. There's a tradeoff between flexibility and stability; extremely flexible people are more prone to various injuries. (A quick search should find you some references.) There's an optimal amount of flexibility, depending on your goals, beyond which more is not better.

This is true of muscular bodyweight as well. The optimal point for a marathon runner is very different from that of a powerlifter. But just like most people could afford to be more flexible, most people are well short of the optimal amount of muscle for their goals.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Victoria Maddison » Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:38 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:A lot of my assumptions do come from what I notice with animals; huge dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane are lucky to make it to 8 years, while medium sized and small dogs can live 18 years or more. This doesn't mean that the same holds true for humans, but biology does tend to drop very large hints for physiology and medicine. For example, people with gigantism tend to die young http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_people.

The major killer of the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane is canine congenital/hereditary heart disease, meaning that it's present at birth/inherited. Dogs are bred for certain qualities and often this leads to genetic health problems. People with gigantism have an overactive pituitary gland that floods the body with growth hormone 24-7 the effects of which are not comparable to an athlete training hard in the gym.


This paper states that the odds for admission to hospital were similar in all there groups (endurance/mixed/power) after adjusting for confounding factors, and that elite athletes of all types have a higher likelihood of hospitalization than the control. This doesn't back up your claim that increased muscle mass caused their health problems. Also a followup study found that "[e]ven though athletes have been reported to be at an increased risk for lower-limb osteoarthritis, our data show that former elite male endurance and track and field athletes and all athletes combined reported less hip disability than the control subjects." [1]


This paper discusses health problems in obese ex-football players. There is nothing surprising here. Please show me the papers you've found that indicate a causal link between muscle mass and heart disease/diabetes in lean athletes.

CorruptUser wrote:but I would still recommend stretching. Even without reducing the effects of injury, I would still assume that being flexible is still better than inflexible.

Stretching harms maximal force production. I wouldn't recommend it unless it was required to cope with a preexisting injury.

CorruptUser wrote:As for the previous comments that the body adapts to anything, that's only to a point.

I'm well aware of the third stage of Selye's general adaptation syndrome and simply being a 100 kg athlete does not qualify.

CorruptUser wrote:I know of no way to strengthen your tendons and ligaments.

Squat, bench press, deadlift.

  1. Kettunen JA, Kujala UM, Kaprio J, Koskenvuo M, Sarna S. Lower-limb function among former elite male athletes. Am J Sports Med. 2001 Jan-Feb;29(1):2-8.
Edit: Here are some studies that may interest you.

This study demonstrates support for the hypothesis that the U-shaped relationship between body mass index and mortality rate is due to the opposing effects of fat mass and fat-free mass. Allison DB, Zhu SK, Plankey M, Faith MS, Heo M. Differential associations of body mass index and adiposity with all-cause mortality among men in the first and second National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES I and NHANES II) follow-up studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):410-6.

"... the recommendation of low BMI as a means of obtaining a survival advantage in the elderly is not supported. Instead, higher lean mass and higher LMI are associated with better survival in the elderly Asian population." Han, Seung Seok; Kim, Ki Woong; Kim, Kwang-Il; Na, Ki Young; Chae, Dong-Wan; Kim, Suhnggwon; Chin, Ho Jun. Lean Mass Index: A Better Predictor of Mortality than Body Mass Index in Elderly Asians. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 58, Number 2, February 2010 , pp. 312-317(6).

"Muscle mass [indicated by midarm muscle circumference (MAMC)] was significantly and inversely associated with mortality." S Goya Wannamethee, A Gerald Shaper, Lucy Lennon and Peter H Whincup. Decreased muscle mass and increased central adiposity are independently related to mortality in older men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No. 5, 1339-1346, November 2007.

Muscle mass is negatively correlated to mortality while fat mass is positively correlated with mortality. Jean-Michel Oppert, Marie-Aline Charles, Nadine Thibult, Bernard Guy-Grand, Eveline Eschwège and Pierre Ducimetière. Anthropometric estimates of muscle and fat mass in relation to cardiac and cancer mortality in men: the Paris Prospective Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 75, No. 6, 1107-1113, June 2002.

"Body fat and fat-free body mass, when mutually adjusted, show with increasing values an increasing and decreasing relation to all-cause mortality." J Bigaard, K Frederiksen, A Tjønneland, BL Thomsen, K Overvad, BL Heitmann and TIA Sørensen. Waist circumference and body composition in relation to all-cause mortality in middle-aged men and women. International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 778–784. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802976 Published online 3 May 2005.

Fat mass and fat free mass are independent and inversely related to mortality. Bigaard J, Frederiksen K, Tjønneland A, Thomsen BL, Overvad K, Heitmann BL, Sørensen TI. Body fat and fat-free mass and all-cause mortality. Obes Res. 2004 Jul;12(7):1042-9.

Fat free mass is negatively correlated with mortality. BL Heitmann, H Erikson, B-M Ellsinger, KL Mikkelsen, B Larsson. Mortality associated with body fat, fat-free mass and body mass index among 60-year-old Swedish men. A 22-year follow-up. The study of men born in 1913. International Journal of Obesity, January 2000, Volume 24, Number 1, Pages 33-37.

BMI is inversely related to mortality after accounting for intra-abdominal fat. Ian Janssen; Peter T. Katzmarzyk; Robert Ross. Body Mass Index Is Inversely Related to Mortality in Older People After Adjustment for Waist Circumference. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005;53(12):2112-2118.

"... death increased linearly with fat mass and decreased linearly with fat-free mass ..." David B. Allison, Myles S. Faith, Moonseong Heo and Donald P. Kotler. Hypothesis Concerning the U-shaped Relation between Body Mass Index and Mortality. American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 146, No. 4: 339-349.

"There was no significant trend across BMI categories for mortality after adjustment for fitness. Similar results were found when the fitness-mortality relation was examined within levels of body composition." Timothy S. Church, Yiling J. Cheng, Conrad P. Earnest, Carolyn E. Barlow, Larry W. Gibbons, Elisa L. Priest, Steven N. Blair. Exercise Capacity and Body Composition as Predictors of Mortality Among Men With Diabetes. Diabetes Care January 2004 vol. 27 no. 1 83-88.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Gears » Sun May 09, 2010 2:59 am UTC

I have never once in my life been told to hold in my breath while lifting weights, nor to arch my back. Holding your breath when lifting can lead to dizziness which can hurt you by you know, falling over. Your eyes are the first thing to go out. It builds up pressure in all the wrong places.
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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Sun May 09, 2010 5:37 am UTC

I was taught to hold my breath and tighten my midsection while lifting, particularly with my spine under load. I've never heard of a powerlifter or Olympic lifter who does otherwise. It builds up intra-abdominal pressure, protecting the spine. It's never made me dizzy (except sometimes after I rack the bar and sit down).

Besides, this is the breathing method recommended in Starting Strength, the program the OP is doing.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby psyck0 » Sun May 09, 2010 5:54 am UTC

You don't hold your breath to the point of getting dizzy. You're right, that would be stupid. You breathe every rep or every other rep, but you hold it during the second-and-a-half it takes to actually do the rep because having a giant lungful of air greatly increases the rigidity of your torso and helps prevent back injuries. It is dangerous to do otherwise.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Gears » Sun May 09, 2010 4:16 pm UTC

Or you rupture your diaphragm, but hey to each their own.
General_Norris wrote:I notice a lack of counter-arguments and a lot of fisting.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby psyck0 » Sun May 09, 2010 5:06 pm UTC

If you ruptured your diaphragm from holding your breath, thousands of swimmers would have incurred that injury. The blood pressure spike that you get when lifting heavy is far more likely to be damaging. Learn what you're talking about before you comment, please and thank you.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Sun May 09, 2010 9:54 pm UTC

Gears wrote:Or you rupture your diaphragm, but hey to each their own.

So no powerlifters or Olympic lifters have intact diaphragms?

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Gears » Mon May 10, 2010 12:34 am UTC

psyck0 wrote:If you ruptured your diaphragm from holding your breath, thousands of swimmers would have incurred that injury. The blood pressure spike that you get when lifting heavy is far more likely to be damaging. Learn what you're talking about before you comment, please and thank you.
Not just holding your breath, straining while not breathing. I also said that your eyes can be damaged from the sudden increase in blood pressure.
General_Norris wrote:I notice a lack of counter-arguments and a lot of fisting.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Mon May 10, 2010 12:51 am UTC

Is there a study you could cite supporting this hypothesis? Do you know anybody who damaged their eyes by lifting weights?

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Gears » Mon May 10, 2010 2:07 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:I notice a lack of counter-arguments and a lot of fisting.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Nath » Mon May 10, 2010 5:05 am UTC

You might want to take a closer look at those links you posted. The second one is a rebuttal to the study in the first link, and recommends the same kind of breathing as psyck0. The third one does mention some risks, but says that serious consequences are rare. In any case, a brief Valsalva is involuntary and unavoidable during heavy weight training (see this paper). From that same source: "Although many weight lifting instructors counsel against performing a Valsalva maneuver during lifting, it probably acts as an important protective mechanism for the cerebral vasculature by elevating cerebrospinal pressure and thus reducing transmural pressure".

It's plausible that it increases risks of glaucoma and hernias for genetically vulnerable people, but if you don't do the Valsalva maneuver, you can't lift heavy weights. People need to weigh the risks according to their objectives and family histories.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Victoria Maddison » Mon May 10, 2010 5:33 am UTC


In the first citation the breath was held for the entire set. The second citation argues against everything that you've been saying. And the third is a straw man because it refers to the use of the Valsalva maneuver in a clinical setting.

Gears wrote:I personally haven't hurt my eyes doing it, but I did get a hernia, which is why I breathe now.

That doesn't make sense to me; you had a weak abdominal wall and instead of resolving that deficiency you decided to jeopardize the safety of your lumbar spine.

Here's an excerpt from Supertraining by Dr. Siff and Dr. Verkhoshansky:

"Normal breathing is an involuntary act to which little attention is paid by the average person. However, the pattern, duration and rate of breathing are all factors which can have a profound effect on the production of strength in a given situation. For instance, the Valsalva maneuver associated with breath-holding plays a vital role in increasing the intra-abdominal pressure to support and stabilize the lumbar spine during heavy lifting. The importance of strong abdominal and oblique muscles in acting as an anatomical corset then becomes obvious. It has been corroborated on many occasions that spinal stress is diminished during any movement against high resistance loading and that exhalation during lifting increases the risk of lumber injury. Thus, it is unwise to follow the popular medical advice that one should exhale during effort. While this may be appropriate for patients with cardiac disease or hypertension, such action by an athlete during strenuous lifting, squatting or overhead pressing can seriously compromise spinal stability and safety.

Moreover, common sporting actions such as jumping, throwing, pushing against an opponent, striking a ball, standing from a squat or kicking usually elicit involuntary breath-holding, since this serves to enhance performance and accuracy of control in short duration movements. In archery and pistol shooting, stability and accuracy are intimately connected with brief phases of breath-holding. Other research has shown that speed-strength actions are optimally enhanced if the volume of air in the lungs is maintained at about 75% of their maximum capacity (Vorobyev, 1978).

Against this background of information, a study was done to investigate more precisely the relationship between the difference phases of weightlifting movements and breathing (Blokhin & Monastirskii, 1985). Using a group of 34 highly qualified weightlifters, bar movement during the clean-and-jerk was recorded biomechanically and breathing patterns were monitored with an electronic spirometer. Each athlete was required to perform several repetitions with lifts of 60-90% of his 1RM and the volume of air inhaled and exhaled was recorded during all the phases of movement. The aggregate of the results was plotted and three major variants of the lifting were identified (Fig 3.31). Besides confirming that all lifters held their breath during the pull from the ground and during the jerk, it was found that when breathing occurred during the other stages of the lift the volume of exhalation always exceeded that of inhalation by at least 125 ml.

... [data, plots, etc.] ...

Similar results were observed in the case of the snatch and it may be concluded that the same variants occur during many other training lifts.

Consequently, it may be recommended that breath-holding should precede and accompany maximal efforts, which should be followed by brief exhalation-inhalation, unless technical adjustments have to [be] made, in which case breath-holding must persist. Exercise with submaximal loading may be executed with longer phases of normal exhalation-inhalation and shorter phases of breath-holding. Neither rapid, short hyperventialation breathing, nor forced maximal inhalation is desirable for production of maximal effort during any phase of lifting."

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby Gears » Tue May 11, 2010 12:01 am UTC

Alright so I went lifting today and tried the Valsalva and it didn't do anything for me except make my face red and my eyes hurt after a while.
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1228106-overview
Immediately following a Valsalva maneuver, a sudden rise in intraocular venous pressure causes retinal capillaries to spontaneously rupture.
General_Norris wrote:I notice a lack of counter-arguments and a lot of fisting.

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Re: I'm starting strength

Postby TGM » Tue May 11, 2010 5:42 am UTC

^ You're probably doing it wrong.

I've done the valsalva countless times and never ruptured a capillary.

Are you going to pop a capillary or have a stroke every time you try to push a broken down car? You do know that a valsalva is a natural response right?
- TGM


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