Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Re-Starting Strength

This injury-recovery business gets tiresome at times.  (So does my day job, which is in government and therefore absorbs more than its fair share of time and energy during the legislative session; hence my dirth of posts lately.)

I can walk normally now, but sudden stops still send an unpleasant jolt through my hip.  I can jog a few miles, as long as I ice afterwards.  I have full range of motion for most lifts, though little strength in my newly-knit lumbar and hip tissue.

Having just stepped back under the bar a few days ago, I decided this is a perfect time to break out the new copy of Rippetoe’s Starting Strength that his been tapping its fingers on my bookshelf since I ordered it last spring.  As long as I’m rebuilding slowly, why not double-check to make sure I have the details right?

The first line caught my attention:  “Physical strength is the most important thing in life.”

Really?  Being at least as much an intellectual as an athlete, I questioned this — and was amused to encounter the end of the paragraph, which read, “A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong.  This reality is offensive to some people who would like the intellectual or spiritual to take precedence.  It is instructive to see what happens to these very people as their squat strength goes up.”

Hmm.  Shades of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  And this post, which resonated with me enough that I shared it on In the Night Farm’s Facebook page.  I wonder whether Rippetoe would agree with me that development of all three elements — intellectual, spiritual, and physical — is imperative to ultimate happiness.

Anyway, I particularly like Rippetoe’s observation that physical prowess (particularly strength) is our natural state:

“We previously were physically strong as a function of our continued existence in a simple physical world.  We were adapted to this existence well, since we had no other choice.  Those whose strength was adequate to the task of staying alive continued doing so.  This shaped our basic physiology…

“Over and above any considerations of performance for sports, exercise is the stimulus that returns our bodies to the conditions for which they were designed.  Humans are not physically normal in the absence of hard physical effort.  Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem — it is…a thing without which there will always be problems” (emphasis added).

Amen, brother. 

I’ll admit it’s fun to impress people with my strength relative to my size.  Just about everyone is surprised to see what a small female is capable of — not to mention interested in — when it comes to moving heavy things.   People regularly comment on my “guns” and even my glutes(!).  I’m sure many of you readers share my experience.

To the modern world, we’re weird.  Good weird, but weird. 

To Rippetoe, we’re just normal.

If everyone pumped iron, they’d be healthier and happier.  More confident.  Safer.  Better. 



6 responses

  1. Good to hear you’re back training; Starting Strength is a wicked resource. I gave my original copy away years ago, and I’m curious about the newer edition. Practical Programming by Rippetoe and Kilgore is a nice compliment to SS, albeit a bit geeky.

    If your hip is still giving you grief, I recommend trying out some self-myofascial release, a la K-Star style:

    MWod is a goldmine of info. The foam rollers and lacrosse balls are staples at our gym, in my home, and at the fire station.

    I recently starting seeing a ART-trained massage therapist who has been doing magic on my left hip; if you can find someone in your area, it’d be well worth it. After an acute injury like yours, There’s probably some new-ish scar tissue that could be dealt with fairly swiftly.

    February 20, 2011 at 9:59 am

    • Thanks for the links, Mike — I’ve been interested in foam rolling for a while. This is probably the time to get serious!

      February 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

  2. I’ve been a Ripptoe crusader for years. 🙂 I didn’t lose any weight trying, but I sure got really strong following a variant of his plan. Being strong is awesome.

    February 20, 2011 at 10:30 am

    • Indeed. Who gives a flying flip about weight, anyway? I’m cool with being lean, strong, and heavier than the charts say I’m supposed to be.

      February 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

  3. Annlee

    BarbeyGirl, you would appreciate this: my “foam roller” is a good quality rolling pin I no longer have much kitchen use for. It has handles that ride bearings, so it rolls freely, it’s small enough to be maneuverable, yet large enough to get a significant surface on my hamstrings and ITBs. Works for me ….

    February 27, 2011 at 9:42 am

    • Ooooh! Fantastic idea, thanks!! I even have an extra rolling pin lying about. 😀

      February 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

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