Saturday, September 15, 2012

Books: Starting Strength

If you're a longtime Shangrila Towers reader, you might recall that I lifted weights on and off during law school. Back then, I took my training routines from exercise books and magazines: working certain body parts on each day and doing a lot of isolation lifts (like bicep and tricep curls).

I got fairly toned, but I never really increased my strength dramatically, and the workouts took a lot of time.  I guess it isn't surprising that since I joined the rat race a couple years ago, I haven't touched a dumbbell, barbell, or weight machine.

One day, though, I realized just how much strength I had lost (again). I needed to workout - not in a way that made me look stronger, but in a way that just plain made me stronger. Enter...


"Starting Strength" is a book about barbell training, perhaps the most detailed book on the subject ever written. The author, Mark Rippetoe, has taken the old-school Bill Starr-era barbell regime and broken it down from every conceivable angle - how to perform an exercise, why an exercise strengthens your body, why an exercise is better than other exercises, and so on (there's dozens and dozens of pages about the squat, for instance). Rippetoe only recommends tried-and-true, compound joint exercises - squats, deadlifts, presses, and the like.

I followed the "Starting Strength" approach for a couple weeks (well, as modified by, and I'm already noticing increases in my real world strength: I can get more stick on a tennis ball, I can hold a rifle steadier, etc. Of course, the flip side is that I'm pretty sore the day after a workout, but it's a small price to pay for getting stronger. As Coach Rippetoe says, "Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general."


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