This is a book about barbell training.
“The only problem with barbell training is the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of people don’t know how to do it correctly. This is sufficiently serious and legitimate a concern as to justifiably discourage many people from training with barbells in the absence of a way to learn how. This book is my humble attempt to address this problem. This method of teaching the barbell exercises has been developed over 30 years in the commercial fitness industry, the tiny little part of it that remains in the hands of individuals committed to results, honesty about what works, and the time-honored principles of biological science. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.” – Mark Rippetoe
Any frugal person (which I am) would hesitate throwing down ~$30 to buy the 3rd edition of this book, especially if they already own the 2nd edition (which I do). In this post I hope to help you decide whether or not this is a worthwhile investment.
If you don’t own any version of Starting Strength, and you want more of any of the following:
And you don’t already know how to Squat properly and safely, then you don’t need to read anymore of this review, just buy it right now, read it cover to cover, and start training, correctly.
If you’re not convinced or own the 2nd edition, then read on.
“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat. In the absence of an injury that prevents its being performed, everyone who lifts weights should learn to squat, correctly.” -Mark Rippetoe
This book gives you everything you need to know to squat correctly. A full 63 pages (20% of the book) with over 100 pictures and diagrams showing squat mechanics, force diagrams, and people performing the squat, with examples of what to do, and what not to do.
Inevitably, some of you are thinking:
“Won’t squatting destroy my knees?”
“My Doctor said not to squat below parallel”
Worry not, a big change in the third edition is an entire section devoted to “Squat Depth – Safety and Importance” explaining in great detail (with force diagrams included) why squats performed with proper depth, low-bar position, correct foot angle, shoulder width stance, and neutral spine, with proper hip drive pose little to no risk to the knees, and can in fact strengthen the muscles and ligaments that attach to the knee, even fixing many individuals long standing knee issues.
Yet still, a conflict may exist in your mind:
- Every Doctor you talk to, will say something to the effect of “It’s a very simple force diagram to show the strain squatting exerts on the knee” and that squatting shouldn’t be done below parallel
- Ask any decent trainer who understands the squat and teaches proper squat form, they will tell you this is bullshit and that proper form does not cause knee problems.
My take: If you don’t currently have serious knee problems, learn how to squat, correctly.
“The more people who learn to squat correctly, the more people there will be who understand the squat, and then, like ripples in a pond, knowledge and strength will spread. This process starts here, with you.” – Mark Rippetoe
Compared to the 2nd edition
This book is essentially completely rewritten. Some sections, like the introduction and sections of the supplemental exercises might be the same, but I didn’t go through it with a fine tooth comb. I’ve read the entirety of the Squat, Press, and Deadlift sections (as that is what I’m training right now) and the information was updated with new pictures, diagrams, and clearer wording.
The format of every page now involves 2 columns of text, which makes it a lot easier to read. Better print quality, better graphics, more photos, more explanation, more thorough. All around better.
My Verdict: Buy. Worth it even if you own a previous version.
There are few things more satisfying to me than becoming incrementally better or stronger at something, and there’s no better way to get strong than barbell training. You’ll be surprised how progress in this one area of your life will positively spill over to areas you never expected.