Why You Should Hire a Coach

Q: Why should I strength train?

Strength is the most important and the most fundamental of all physical adaptations. Since strength is the measure of the ability to produce force, a trainee who goes from weak to strong will also increase his speed, power, stamina, agility, balance, and coordination as a result, since each of those attributes also requires force production.

For the person who doesn't consider himself an athlete, the production of force is still critical in daily life, even in light of modern technological advances and the resultant less-physically demanding lifestyles we are often able to lead. The stronger person has a greater ability to pick up the children or grandchildren, carry all the groceries in from the car in one trip, loosen the over-tightened lug nut and change the flat tire, avoid falling over and breaking a hip, and get up off the toilet unaided.

In addition to the benefits of strength itself, the process of becoming stronger, via the “Stress/Recovery/Adaptation” cycle confers a variety of benefits from both a physiological and psychological standpoint.

Q: Why do I need a coach at all?

Trainees benefit enormously under the watchful eye and correct instruction of an experienced coach. A coach acts as an objective observer, correcting your lifts in real time, keeping you safe, and assuring that your efforts are effective at producing the desired results. Learning to perform your lifts with perfect form should be Goal Number One for every lifter. A lifter with a capable, knowledgeable coach does that far more effectively than the same lifter could manage alone.

Secondly, we use a coach to save time in the gym. Taking instruction from “the bros” and "learning as you go" wastes a lot of time and money. Learning the correct lifts, benefiting from a coach's immense experience, and getting proper programming (the prescription of what to actually do each session in the gym, with the constituent workouts producing a desired result over a period of time) will make the trainee strong much faster than his un-coached peer.

Programming guidance from an experienced coach will prevent you from prematurely hitting "plateaus" and "getting stuck." A qualified coach has been where you are now, and has coached and programmed hundreds of others through the same difficulties. Taking advantage of that experience helps you save time, avoid frustration and increases your likelihood of success.

Getting check-ups from a coach can prevent “form creep” – the slow, steady deterioration of the lifter's technique that naturally occurs over time. The most experienced lifters and even coaches themselves need the objective, dispassionate eye of an experienced, proven coach to assist them in their quest for strength.

Q: Why choose an SSC?

Once you've decided to get healthier and happier by becoming strong, and have elected to hire a coach, the next question becomes: who can do the job? A Starting Strength Coach (SSC) is the right person for the task.

The Starting Strength Coach credential is the only certification in existence that requires a candidate to demonstrate the ability to actually coach the basic barbell exercises. The SSC certification process includes being evaluated by a select group of Staff Coaches while demonstrating personal competence under the bar, and while actually coaching a trainee on the platform in real time in accordance with the correct models of the lifts – templates that have been developed and selected based on decades of coaching experience and a thorough analysis of all the relevant biological and mechanical considerations.

The SSC candidate who successfully demonstrates a mastery of the models of the lifts and his ability to coach a trainee through them must also submit a series of essays that demonstrate a thorough understanding of the physical and physiological concepts involved in strength training, as well as the necessary programming methodology (assigning exercises, working loads, reps, and sets) that guide a trainee through repeated bouts of the Stress/Recovery/Adaptation cycle – the system's model for the acquisition of strength.

Because the knowledge, experience, and coaching ability standards are quite high, the certification rate of coaching candidates is extremely low. Quite simply, most people don't pass. By a large margin, more candidates fail than pass the evaluation at any given seminar. We say we “identify” coaches rather than “produce” them, since it is not possible to turn someone into a coach in a weekend seminar. Candidates who pass the SSC evaluation procedure have thoroughly prepared themselves for the task before the seminar. In addition, the stringent Maintenance of Certification requirements assure that the SSC you hire remains active, involved, and up-to-date.

Q: Who do SSCs coach?

Starting Strength Coaches train anyone interested in getting stronger and improving their quality of life! We specialize in taking novice lifters – people who are new to disciplined barbell training – and increasing their strength enormously. These novice lifters range in age from 15 years old to over 90 in some cases.

Our methods apply to all humans. Each new client starts with a weight that is appropriate for them, in each of the basic barbell exercises, the selection of which varies slightly based upon individual strengths and limitations. Some people start with a broomstick, while others begin progressing with much heavier weights, yet the principles remain the same: we teach the execution of perfect form in the squat, the pressing exercises, and the deadlift with progressively heavier weights, in order to produce strength as an adaptation.

We also train dedicated men and women who are unhappy with their body composition. In the process of becoming stronger, they put on lean muscle mass and become able to utilize more calories without depositing excess energy as fat.

Additionally, we coach and train a substantial number of more advanced lifters. Many competitive lifters come to us for assistance in creating the complex programming necessary for their next personal record. Other lifters who handle the majority of their own programming come to us for pre-meet programming and meet day planning/competitive attempt selection. Additionally, experienced lifters simply come to us for a single session a few times a year in order to brush up on their form.

Q: What should I expect when I work with a Starting Strength Coach?

We define coaching in a very particular way. A Starting Strength Coach will have a complete understanding of the lifts in our program, the ability to effectively teach you to perform them according to the model, to evaluate your lifting in real time, to provide effective feedback so that you can perform them correctly, and to provide effective programming. An SSC knows when and how much you should lift in order for the accumulation of strength to occur.

Having a coach has additional benefits, such as accountability. It's usually harder to make an excuse to skip a workout if you know you're going to have to explain yourself to your coach. While different SSCs may work with clients in different capacities, we all truly care about the progress and success of our clients.

Most of all, you can expect results. A survey of 324 training logs on the Starting Strength Forums reveals that adherence to the letter of the program is pretty poor among even those who go to the trouble of posting a log online. We know that the program works because it's based on the principles of "basic biology and simple arithmetic" (Rip's words), and from the personal and professional experiences of all SSCs.

Yet even with an extremely poor compliance rate – less than 2% of lifters who posted actually applied the program as written (in the absence of a coach) – results were shown to be PROFOUND. With a coach to guide you to proper performance and programming of the lifts, success is effectively guaranteed.

Q: How can I find a Starting Strength Coach?

Right now there are two ways. The first, and best way is to hire a coach for in-person coaching. This can be through Starting Strength Seminars or Training Camps, or by one-on-one coaching with a specific coach. You can find the coach nearest to you on this website. Any Starting Strength Coach you find will be more than able to help you perfect your form, dial in your programming and maximize your strength performance.

If you can't find a SSC near you, you can hire one for online coaching at Starting Strength Online Coaching. There, you'll be connected with a qualified Starting Strength Coach who will critique videos of your lifts, assist you with programming and make sure you are doing the program.