IN THE MAIL: Mark Rippetoe & Lon Kilgore’s Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training. Glancing through it, I see that it’s clearly illustrated and targeted at people who haven’t done serious weight training in the past. Looks good. Also, the reader reviews — all 101 of them — are extremely favorable.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Parmly emails: “Starting Strength is a great book by a great guy. Mark is very popular on the fitness program I do called CrossFit. If you really want to get bored one day, ask me about it. I can go on and on about why functional fitness is the exercise our nation needs most and hears about least. Rip is a great teacher and coach.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bart Hall writes:

Let me add my encouragement to working with free weights. I’ll be 60 in a few months and am now back *up* to my high school and college football playing weight after functional strength training (Olympic free weights) for the last seven years . I’m stronger now than I was 25 years ago, and was not weak then. Free weights are absolutely the way to go, at any age, because they inadvertently work lots of small muscle groups along with the major ones. Throw in a good range of abs and you’ll most definitely add quality, energy, and useful years to your life.

Yep. I work out with weights, and have for years. Reader Matthew Queen emails:

Love the site. Saw your post on Starting Strength and had to concur with Dave Parmly that it’s a great workout. I devoted myself to the SS routine for 4 weeks and saw enormous gains in agility, strength and endurance. Rippetoe really knows his stuff.

Also, Parmly is a fellow crossfitter. Our gym espouses the virtue of GPP (general physical preparedness). We feel that acronyms give our methodologies more authority. The idea behind crossfit isn’t to work out for aesthetics, but to train your body in a variety of intense ways that mirror real world challenges, such as lifting heavy things up. Thus, SS works well for us because it teaches perfect dead lift, squat and cleaning techniques that are the foundation for any lifting you’ll ever do.

We at Crossfit use SS as a part of our routine and have had great results. Just like Dave, I could go on and on and on about the value of crossfit and SS.

Yeah, that’s the focus of my workouts, too. And Don King sends a link to