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We’ve seen hundreds of clients in the past year at Starting Strength Online Coaching (formerly “ReynoldsStrong”). While we have clients from all demographics and walks of life, our most common demographic are middle-aged novices (between 28-45), who are looking for a Starting Strength Coach’s eye on all of their heavy sets, and then adjust their programming appropriately in order to continue to make progress on the program.

We wanted you to be able to read, in their own words, what their experience has been with Starting Strength Online Coaching.

Annie Paladino, Seattle, WA, 29 years old, teacher and performing artist, female:


“My road to strength training was rocky and unexpected. As a college senior with absolutely zero athletic experience (I was the kid who claimed “stomach ache” when PE class rolled around), my boyfriend handed me the 2nd Edition of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. A brief, self-taught, uncoached Linear Progression brought me from barely being able to squat my own bodyweight, to squatting the “big girl plates” (135lbs), which felt like superhuman strength at the time. Post-college life led me to abandon barbell training for several years until a new neighborhood gym with quality equipment led me back under the bar. Having never had my lifts coached by an outside eye, I decided to attend a Starting Strength Seminar.

As one of the platform coaches at the SS Seminar, Matt Reynolds’ expertise and skill as an educator was immediately clear to me. As an educator myself, I place high value on good teaching and my online coach is certainly one of the best. His coaching is clear, effective, and supportive without coddling. In the 9 months since working online with an SSC, my lifts have dramatically improved. The coaching and programming produces real progress by focusing on objective, measurable results. Less than a year ago, the most weight I had ever had on my back was 155lbs; last month, at the Starting Strength Fall Classic, I squatted 258lbs and EASILY broke the 300lb deadlift barrier.

Matt sets the bar high; he calmly, confidently, and caringly knows that you’ll meet it.

“Just get stronger” is sometimes a hard sell, especially for women. Most of us have been implicitly told all our lives to constantly strive to be smaller. For me, the benefits of strength training are 100% non-appearance-based. I can confidently volunteer when “some strong men” are requested and I never have to make more than one trip when carrying in groceries. As a performing artist, I’ve discovered the way to increase my agility, flexibility, endurance, and physical abilities in theater and dance is not by making my body smaller, but instead by making it stronger. Thus, I have seen remarkable improvements in my artistic life. I have more muscle than I’ve ever had in my adult life, yet I am the happiest and most confident in my body that I have ever been.

The most important benefits, which my coach emphasizes, are mental. Approaching the bar requires courage every single time you do it. Failing a lift requires the humility and resilience to bounce back and try again next time — and I fail often! The value of this cannot be overstated. Practicing courage, humility, and resilience every training session leads to turning these virtues into habits. Learning how to exert maximum effort continues to be a struggle for me, but is easily the most valuable skill the bar has taught me. Having an SSC as my online coach is invaluable in this regard: he calls me out when I need it, and pushes when I need to be pushed to just do the thing, and get stronger.

John Floeder, St. Paul, MN, 35 years old, Priest/ University Professor:


“About a year ago, I was helping my brother move. After nearly killing myself trying to carry a sleeper sofa with my 20-year-old nephew who hardly broke a sweat, I resolved to get stronger. I wanted to find some sort of exercise to help me lose weight, but I hated running, cycling takes too long to get a good benefit, and pickup hockey (Minnesota!) was too much driving. My best friend had just started weight training and raved about the strength and confidence he was gaining. I was fat, weak, and doing anything physical would make me lose my breath. Motivated to get stronger, I turned to my brother, a long time black iron gym goer, who gave me Starting Strength.

The lifts were initially intimidating and despite the detailed explanations in Rip’s book, it was challenging as a beginner to learn the lifts correctly. I turned to YouTube and watched as many videos of Rip coaching that I could. Among the best were the videos he did with Brett McKay for Art of Manliness. Doing this helped me to begin and allowed me to see decent progress in my attempt at a Linear Progression.

Roughly five months after beginning my linear progression, I began to hit some roadblocks. I’m built like a soccer player, so I have always had strong legs but not a strong upper body. Growing up, my brothers would mock me calling me “Pipes” in a crackly, pubescent voice. I lacked the confidence and mental toughness necessary to make upper body gains. When I would press, I was scared that I’d drop the bar on my head. I did better on the lower body lifts, but my bad squat form was starting to hurt my knees. I found out I was struggling with patella-femoral syndrome. It got to the point that one night I went to a concert and after three hours my knees were absolutely killing me. If that was what lifting did to my body, I wanted none of it.

That’s where Matt Reynolds and SSOC came in. One night, I was scrolling through my podcasts and noticed one from Art of Manliness where Brett interviewed Matt. I appreciated his straight talk about what it takes to get strong: hard work both physically and mentally. That podcast got me thinking that I was probably squatting wrong so I looked up the SSOC website. I sent a casual email explaining my problems and I wasn’t really expecting a reply, but Matt sent me a response right away with some concrete suggestions for rehabbing my knees. His promptness helped me pull the trigger and give it a shot.

I had to restart pretty light in order to focus on form. I would only lift heavy if I could do so pain free. My SSOC coach immediately fixed some big issues in a positive and encouraging way. The biggest thing my coach helped me with was my mental toughness. He helped me break through mental barriers and learn to GRIND through lifts with respect for the weight but confidence in my strength. I now love the mental battles of lifting more than anything. I’m seeing those victories under the bar carry over into the rest of my life. People are noticing not only my increased size, but my increased confidence and ease of being. I am able to overcome all those parts of my work that had induced fear with greater mental strength.

Since I began working with SSOC:

  • My bench has gone from 135lbs to 230lbs.
  • My press has increased from 75lbs to 165lbs.
  • My squat has gone from 185lbs to 415lbs.
  • My deadlift has gone from 286lbs to 463lbs.

My coach has helped me to achieve tremendous gains. He’s helped me overcome my fear of the weight and I am now strong with zero knee pain. The biggest key to my success has been consistency. I don’t miss a training session. Ever. I love the stress relief and mental battle too much.

Starting Strength Online Coaching provides high-touch, personalized online coaching from Starting Strength Coaches. This includes individualized programming through a convenient, user friendly app that you can use right from your phone, video-conference calls with your coach, video breakdown of every single workout form your coach with a rapid turn-around time, and access to a private forum for SSOC clients and coaches only. For more info go to www.StartingStrengthOnlineCoaching.com



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