My Review of Starting Strength

A Book for Newbies Everywhere – Starting Strength

Everyday, there’s some tall, lanky high school kid who walks into the gym for his very first time. Depending on his luck, it either turns out great and he gets big and strong, and it turns out horribly and he either gets hurt or gives up.

We were all in that boy’s shoes at one time, even the ladies out there who are lifters and gym-goers. It’s a learning-experience for everyone, and we all laugh at the end of the day when we think back to those naive times.

You know what would have been a great deal of help during that awkward time, however? A coach, a program, and an explanation of the exercises would have been awesome. If every beginner to lifting had these kind of resources, the risk of injury would be greatly reduced and strength would improve just as well.

Not everyone out there has got tons of money to blow on expensive, albeit extremely valuable, instruction from qualified strength-and-conditioning coaches. Take Mark Rippetoe, for example, teaching the overhead press in the video. Wouldn’t it be cool if we all had a coach like that to teach us the proper execution of lifts from the get-go?


I could honestly say this is a complete yet concise instruction for the overhead press. Quality. Too bad we can’t have a mini-sized Mark Rippetoe in our pocket when we go to the gym. Well, that’s why Coach Rip decided to write Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training.

If I were to summarize this book in one sentence, I’d say this book contains the the best compilation of strength training knowledge to guide you during your lifting program, whether you’re the lifter or the coach

What You’ll Learn in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

  • Why barbells are the most effective tool for building pure strength.
  • Basic concepts in physics that help you understand the art of moving heavy shit.
  • How to properly utilize the valsalva maneuver and weight-lifting belts to prevent injury.
  • How to perform and coach the low-bar back-squat, the overhead press, the deadlift, the bench press, the power clean, and other assistance exercises.
  • Common errors associated with the lifts, as well as injuries that arise from these errors.
  • Basic insight on nutrition, weight-loss, and muscle-building.
  • And much, much more.

There is much to be learned from Mark Rippetoe, thanks to his book.

My Review

Strength is an extremely important aspect of one’s physical fitness, and Coach Rip makes this very apparent in the beginning of his book. He talks about how increases in strength can enhance anyone’s abilities, whether it be an athlete or a weekend warrior.

With that said, Starting Strength focuses on five main lifts : the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, and power clean. These  lifts are fairly essential in anyone’s strength program. Most strength programs that aren’t Starting Strength still include almost all, if not all, of these five big lifts.

Mark Rippetoe’s explanation of each lift is so detailed, yet so straight-froward. He lays out how each lift should be performed, and discusses the nuances afterwards. These nuances include common patterns of error that can occur, coaching cues for getting the lifter to fix the incorrect technique, the injuries that can happen with bad technique, as well as other tidbits that come from Rippetoe’s coaching experience.

Aside from that, each chapter is also a quick lesson on anatomy, or at least the anatomy involved with the respective lifts. Understanding the influence of muscles during various lifts, as well as varying leverage and moment arms in different joint-angles, is greatly helpful for both lifters and coaches. As an analogy, it’s like driving when you have a basic understanding of the internal components of your car, as well as the phenomena that occur as you drive on the road in an external environment.

For each lift, there is a purpose. For example, the squat is of utmost importance. According to coach Rip, it’s because it involves triple-extension of the lower body. Not only that, but his preferred variation for the program, the low-bar back-squat, allows for the greatest distribution of force amongst the muscles of the lower body. In his eyes, this allows for the greatest amount of weight to be used. More weight allows for the greatest increases in strength, and subsequently, muscle-building.

Although I never followed his program, his detailed explanations have helped me tremendously with my own training and coaching. Had I read Starting Strength when I was a kid, I would have followed Rip’s words to the last freakin’ letter.

Starting Strength Review - Mark Rippetoe

In Conclusion

This is the book I wish I read before I stepped into my high school weight-room years ago.

The wealth of information in this book may seem  cumbersome. I believe, however, that taking the time to read  this book from cover-to-cover is 100% worth the effort. Understanding the info is a huge reward for your patience. Without hesitating, I recommend this book to anyone interested in strength training.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned coach, Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training is to go-to resource for understanding strength training. Interested in purchasing of Starting Strength? Click on the hyperlinks listed before. Or, simply click here to go to Amazon to buy a copy.

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