beginner-program/020/same-but-different

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D6. Same but different

I left some juicy breadcrumbs to get us to this point, where we now hop back into the Starting Strength programming structure. Now that exercises are stressors and we have this world mapped out in more personable way, SS makes a lot more sense.

Look at both training days side by side.

BACK SQUAT – BACK SQUAT

DEADLIFT – POWERCLEAN

BENCH PRESS – OVERHEAD PRESS

We see that the back squat falls into the squat pattern. The deadlift and power clean are hingeish. The bench press and the overhead press are pushes.

The hinge and push rotate between two different exercises, but both exercises fall under the same pattern. So why rotate? To hit different muscles?

Yes. Kind of.

But also because the global stress differs.

The overhead press strengthens the shoulder in a way the bench press doesn't, but the overhead press also serves as a “lighter” push exercise from a global stress standpoint.

For a million and one reasons, you'll always be able to bench press more than you can overhead press (assuming no dysfunctions and consistent training programs for both).

So say you max out on bench pressing and you get 225 pounds. You max out on overhead pressing and get 165 pounds. Even though you're working at the same intensity (maxing out), the overhead press isn't quite as big of a load.

And to help understand this, let's use a neoRPG analogy.

You go Monday and bench press 200 pounds. It's a Level 20 pour. Your recovery clock starts. But, say, Wednesday, you only recover your magic to 17. If you went in and tried to 1-UP your previous bench press attempt, you'd fail. Instead, you overhead press 135 pounds. It's only a Level 13 pour. Meaning you're able to lift the weight.

So if you tit for tat bench pressing and overhead pressing, you’re rotating the stressors placed on your body…even when training at your highest effort for each lift.

Monday – max bench
Wednesday – max overhead press
Friday – max bench

Wednesday is a “lighter” day compared to Monday or Friday even though they’re all “max.” And by alternating high(er) and low(er) stress exercises, you're able to continue the strength progression longer.

And, yes: the power clean serves as a “lighter” exercise for the deadlift. These exercises included in the rotation are similar…but different (a concept I'm stealing from Pavel Tsatsouline).

They are similar in their local stress. The overhead press and the bench press both train the pressing muscles of the upper body. The deadlift and the power clean both hit the backside of the body from head to toe.

What changes is the global stress. Because of body position and mechanics, you can ALWAYS bench press more than you can overhead press, just as you can ALWAYS deadlift more than you can power clean. So, in a sense, these exercises have self-limiters built into them. You can't stress yourself more even if you tried.

Why is the squat always the back squat? Why not rotate it with, say, the front squat using the same logic?

Good question.

Rippetoe, the program creator, eventually includes the front squat. But he feels the front squat interferes with learning his specific back squatting technique.

021 →

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Maybe you’re a little lost right now.

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Everything you need is inside of you.

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My weekly column can help.

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Unless I’m hungover.

And then it comes Monday.

What I’m trying to say is that it’ll come Monday.

(These weekly columns don’t get posted to the site.)

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