Starting Strength Seminar FAQ


The Starting Strength Seminar is the first of its type in the fitness industry. Led by Mark Rippetoe, the SSS teaches the methods of basic barbell training detailed in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training and Practical Programming for Strength Training. This method deconstructs the five basic barbell exercises down to their elements in skeletal and muscular anatomy, and then derives a system for performing and coaching them based on the biomechanics of the loaded human body moving in a gravitational framework.

The Starting Strength Seminar is an intensive exposure to all the information from which the Starting Strength system is derived. The 3-day format allows for an in-depth exploration of the theoretical basis of the system, as well as a thorough under-the-bar practical session for each exercise. The basics of coaching, biomechanics, lifting efficiency, and safety are developed into a logical and effective system of barbell training that forms the best possible foundation for any strength and conditioning program.

The Starting Strength Seminar offers different levels of completion. Attendance at the seminar provides an educational experience in barbell training that is absolutely unavailable anywhere else in the fitness education market. Competence in the system will also be evaluated by the staff on the ability of the participant to demonstrate understanding as both lifter and coach in the practical sessions, as well as an exam that can be taken after the seminar. The attendee that passes the examination and has shown the ability to apply efficient mechanical analysis and to adequately coach the Starting Strength method is granted the Starting Strength Coach designation.

It is recommended that the candidate come prepared with a background in weight training, a working knowledge of muscular and skeletal anatomy, familiarity with the foundational texts, and a willingness to communicate effectively.

Program Schedule

  • Friday, 5-9 pm :: Coaching, Strength Training Theory, Biomechanics
  • Saturday, 8 am - 8 pm, with a 1-hour break :: Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press
  • Sunday, 8 am - 7 pm, with a 1-hour break :: Power Clean, Press, Programming, Q&A


Q1—How should I prepare for the seminar?

Background reading: A good foundation will allow you to learn more during the seminar. This is true even though theory and teaching methods are updated continually and are significantly advanced from the current published foundational texts Starting Strength: Basic Barbell TrainingPractical Programming for Strength Training). It is recommended that you be familiar with these, as well as the The Novice Effect article available at Reviews of basic skeletal and muscular anatomy may also be helpful.

Physical prep: Please do not make good training during the seminar difficult by depleting your reserves and creating extreme soreness with ambitious and/or silly workouts in the week leading up to the seminar. Excessive volume is the main enemy here. Please use common sense. You will be working up to relatively heavy sets on each lift as your form allows (~80-90% of 5RM for squat/press/deadlift/bench press and 85-95% of 3RM on power clean).


Q2—What should I bring to the seminar?

Friday: 5-9 pm Please arrive a few minutes before start time to check in, sign the waiver, fill out the registration form and fight for the best seats. The entire period will be lecture, so come ready to listen and take notes. A course binder with an outline of the material will be handed out. You may want to bring extra paper so that there's no chance you'll run out of writing room.

Since room temperature preferences vary, and the environment may not match yours, make sure to bring appropriate clothing for your needs. If you have questions about the venue (eg is a refrigerator/microwave/etc available for use), please contact the hosting facility listed on the seminar store page.

Saturday: 8 am-8 pm Saturday will alternate between lecture and practical sessions covering the squat, deadlift and bench press. Lunch will be ~1hr, between squat and deadlift sessions.

Bring: training shoes, training clothes (cotton t-shirt, long socks/long pants/sweats for deadlift, some kind of shorts/pants for the squat & bench press -- note that pants/shorts/sweats MUST be stretchy to prevent interference with movement.), your writing materials from Friday and food/drinks to get you through a long day.

Sunday: 8 am-7 pm. Sunday will cover lecture and practical sessions on the clean and the press. Lunch will be ~1hr. The afternoon will be devoted to programming and the Q&A session.

Bring: training shoes, training clothes (cotton t-shirt, long socks/long pants/sweats for clean, some kind of shorts/pants for the press -- note that pants/shorts/sweats MUST be stretchy to prevent interference with movement.), your writing materials from Friday + Saturday and food/drinks to get you through another long day.

PLEASE NOTE THAT FINISH TIMES FOR EACH DAY ARE GUIDELINES. Days run longer when additional discussion or platform time is required to meet the needs of attendees.  

Q3—Who attends Starting Strength Seminars?

Starting Strength Seminars are attended by lifters of all levels of experience - from those who haven't started barbell training to advanced lifters. Ages of attendees have ranged from 16 to 83. About one-third of the seminar attendees are working in the fitness industry as personal trainers or strength coaches.

Q4—How do I test to become a Starting Strength Coach?

Starting Strength Coach candidates must display mastery of the Starting Strength method:

    1. Must be at least 18 years of age.
    2. Must elect to be evaluated as a coach at the beginning of the seminar. The cost for opting in for coaching evaluation is $200, paid Friday at the seminar by cash, check, or credit card.
    3. Platform performance :: The coaching staff evaluates each attendee on their ability to demonstrate basic competence in each lift as well as to effectively coach each movement. Coaching is evaluted according to the criteria discussed in the coaching lecture:
      1. Understanding of the model of the lift
      2. Use of the teaching method
      3. Ability to identify deviations from the model and provide direct, concise, appropriately-timed and prioritized cues to effectively correct movement errors in real time.
    4. Oral exam :: In the weeks after the seminar, an oral exam will be administered by videoconference to those who have completed the course and passed the platform performance evaluation. The oral exam tests the ability of the attendee to integrate an understanding of the theoretical model on which the Starting Strength method is based, basic physiology and anatomy, and strength training programming. Course material, foundational texts, general science, as well as practical experience are sources which the attendee is expected to draw on to provide detailed answers to each question.
    5. Remedial written/oral exam :: The oral board examiners may allow make-up exam to follow up with promising candidates who required extra study in specific areas of the initial exam.

The attendee that meets all of the requirements above, has shown the ability to apply efficient mechanical analysis based on the material taught in the seminar and to adequately coach the Starting Strength method is granted a Starting Strength Coach certificate.


Q5—How do I get a completion certificate and continuing education for attending a seminar?

Completion certificates are distributed at the end of each seminar to attendees who have been participated throughout the weekend.

Continuing education credits are available to professionals who are licensed or certified through other organizations. Inquire with your overseeing body to determine their procedures and documentation of attendance. We'll provide additional information to your authority as needed. Typically documentation includes verification of your attendance, documentation of the hours of the course, description of the course, and credentials of instructors involved in course delivery.

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