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The Problem with CrossFit, Kettlebells, and Functional Training | Starting Strength Radio #36

Mark Rippetoe | December 27, 2019

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Mark Rippetoe:
Strength is force production, production of force. The ability to produce force is strength. And that's all there is to it. And if you want to pretend that strength is something else, then you go ahead and pretend.

Mark Rippetoe:
And while you're at it, don't you pretend that... Jeffrey EPSTEIN didn't kill himselftoo.

Mark Wulfe:
From the Aasgaard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry... The one true voice in the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and Gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back to Starting Strength Radio. Good Friday afternoon to you. Our little radio podcast comes to you on Friday. Ever Friday. Brand new, brilliant content. The likes of which cannot be and never has been duplicated anywhere on the internet for obvious reasons.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, this audio goes up...when does stef put this thing up? Early Friday morning? When? Midnight or... it's real early Friday morning and the [post about the] video goes up at noon on, the thing you're actually watching right now goes up at noon on Friday.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know, of course, the audio is for you to listen to or you drive to work in your busy urban commute between your house and wherever it is you work an hour and forty five minutes away. I don't see how you do that. Why do you have a job that requires you to be in a car an hour and forty five minutes on the way to work on the way home? What the hell is wrong with you?

Mark Rippetoe:
Get a... look just get a fence repair business or something, you know, but don't do that to yourself. That's stupid. It frustrates me that that you would voluntarily bring this level of hardship on yourself. But I guess you know what you're doing. I guess you are comfortable with three and a half hours in the car every day.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, maybe enjoy the peace and quiet. Maybe things aren't so good at home. Maybe you'd rather be sitting by yourself in the car than fighting with her, you know. Than listening to the kids throw another baseball through the front window, you know. There's all kinds of reasons why you might rationally choose to be in the car an hour and forty 45 minutes both ways every day. But I don't understand it. I I couldn't do it. And, you know, the fact that you can... I guess that it makes you better than me. I don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
Anyway, it's time now for Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. And this this comes from Mugflub. Mudflug. "Yes, because only leftists lie. Stick to strength training, Rip. Every time you open your mouth about anything else you show what an ignoramus you are."

[off-camera]:
I like that word.

Mark Rippetoe:
I haven't heard ignoramus in a while.

[off-camera]:
It's been a while.

Mark Rippetoe:
Children's cartoon word isn't it. Is that like a hippopotamus? Is it ignoramus like a small hippopotamus? I'm not that fat, am I? I know I'm a huge, fat, wallowing slob, but am I really MUS size? I don't think so.

[off-camera]:
Is there a comment about your size in there?

Mark Rippetoe:
There always is. I'm just not going to read, I'm not going read that particular comment right now. Got to save it.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. No Name says... No Name says -- and this is not really a Comment from the Haters! tt's just an interesting observation. "If Epstein ran the Starting Strength program, his neck would have been too thick for Hillary to choke him out with.".

Mark Rippetoe:
What he means is for Hillary to choke him out. Because to say "with" would would imply that Hillary choked him out with his own neck, which is grammatically not correct is it?

[off-camera]:
Be interesting to see that.

Mark Rippetoe:
It would be to have enough neck where Hillary could take her claws and take a chunk of your neck, wrap it around your neck, and pull it tight enough to choke you out.

[off-camera]:
I like how Hillary has claws. Like a fucking monster.

Mark Rippetoe:
She she does have claws. Notice they never show her hands? Ever wondered about why they never show her hands? Because they're not really hands.

Mark Rippetoe:
And finally, The Depraved Epoch, writes, "Who is Rip's coke connect?".

Mark Rippetoe:
Now by this I'm assuming that we're not talking about Coca-Cola. We must be talking about cocaine. Cocaine.

Mark Rippetoe:
Since since we've been into personal disclosure in the past few episodes, I've never done cocain. I swear to God, I've never done cocaine. I was afraid I'd like it too much. And I have never done it. I know a bunch of people that did do cocaine, like quite a bit of cocaine. And the outcome was not good.

Mark Rippetoe:
But that's not why I didn't do it, because I don't have an addictive personality. I just I was just afraid that it would be another... and it's expensive. And, you know, I've just always been broke and shit and never, never really had any interest in doing cocaine.

Mark Rippetoe:
I've never done acid either. Yeah, and I've got people telling me that that acid is good for you, that LSD. You know, like it's like a growth experience or some shit.

[off-camera]:
A lot of therapists giving LSD to patients and then going through a session and they say they get more done in that one session than like...

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, I've heard that I've heard of people being treated with... for PTSD with LSD or mushrooms or something like that. I have no experience with it. So I I don't know. I don't know. Maybe. Maybe it helps. I don't know. Mushrooms are supposed to change your life like, you know, change your life. You heard that. You ever heard that? Bre, you never heard that they change your life? They make you puke. I do know that. You vomit when you... you heard that, right? Well, anyway, I don't like to vomit. So I really dislike vomiting, so I'm not going to do that either.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'd rather not vomit than double my capacity as a human being. That's how averse I am to vomiting.

Mark Rippetoe:
And that's Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
OK, now. Here... that was a waste of paper. All right this thing is gonna go over here, all right. We're gonna save that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now. I've got a note here in front of me about what we're going to talk about today. And here's what we're gonna talk about today. We are going to talk about our little two factor model that we have proposed about the difference between training and exercising all right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think that it it explains a lot of things about strength and conditioning that can't be explained as well with any other analysis. I think that it sheds a lot of light on what you should be doing and what is a waste of time. And we present this two factor model in every one of our seminars and we talk extensively about the ramifications of analyzing sports preparation and life preparation with this model.

Mark Rippetoe:
And it applies to lots and lots of things. Hell, it applies to music. It applies to learning. Really anything that that requires that you do something with what you've learned. And it's a terribly useful model, and then what we're going to talk about is how that how that two factor model sheds some light on on three important trends in strength conditioning. In exercise and fitness: CrossFit, kettlebells and functional training.

Mark Rippetoe:
So first, let's discuss the two factor model itself. Exercising is the term... It's a term everyone is familiar with. You want to get some exercise. Your doctor tells you you need to get some exercise. Take some exercise was the term used a long, long time ago. Your doctor would... back in the 1940s, you'd waddle into the doctor's office and he would say to you, "Looks to me like you need to take some exercise." And by that, he meant get up off of your ass and do something harder than you're doing right now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Despite the fact that he was not in any better shape than you were. Doctors have always been willing to advise things. And the exercise he was talking about really honestly meant just do something harder than what you're doing right now in a physical sense.

Mark Rippetoe:
For instance, if you don't walk during the day, then you need start walking. And by starting walking -- they weren't ever really particularly specific about what starting walking looks like -- you just need to walk around a block or something, you know. Park way out on the far edge of the parking lot to walk into the store. You know, if you go to the mall, pick an empty spot out by the street and walk all the way into the mall. And that was exercising, taking some exercise.

Mark Rippetoe:
In the modern sense, exercising usually gets interpreted as either running or riding a bike or doing some stationary exercise like a elliptical or something or going into the gym and just fiddling around in front of the dumbbell rack. All right, that's exercising.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Now, this can be done, exercising can be done by yourself. If you get home from work and you go walk around the block, you're exercising because that's more activity than you had at work, assuming you don't have a walking job, in which case that would be stupid. Walking around the block if you're a postman would be kind of a pointless waste of time and wouldn't even constitute exercise.

Mark Rippetoe:
If on the other hand, you're an office worker and you decide that you're going to start taking some exercise and you come home and you walk around the block a couple of times. Yeah, well then you move up your physical activity level. All right. And that's there's nothing wrong with it. It's it's perfectly adequate for some people.

Mark Rippetoe:
If your baseline is so low that walking around a block twice constitutes an increase in physical activity, what the hell, you got to start somewhere. So that's just fine. You know, that's what you need to do.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you're going to go to the gym, which is the... here it is 2019, about to be 2020. The the gym business has exploded over the past 30 years. I've sat here and watched it occur. When I opened my gym in 1984 in Wichita Falls, there were five places to train here and five places to go "take some exercise" in Wichita Falls.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now there are at least 32 places in Wichita Falls in the same size market. A hundred and twenty five thousand people in this market, a hundred thousand in Wichita Falls. And similar growth in exercise facilities have have been seen all over the country, all over the world.

Mark Rippetoe:
I wonder how many gyms there were in Shanghai, in the People's Republic of China 30 years ago? I bet 1 or 2, if it.. maybe that it might have been illegal, who knows? You know, it wasn't work being performed for the revolution, so it could very well have been none.

[off-camera]:
Probably just the Olympic training centers there and that's it.

Mark Rippetoe:
It could very well have been. It could very well have been. All exercise must be sanctioned by the state.

Mark Rippetoe:
And similar growth has taken place in every major market across the world. So exercise has been on everybody's mind quite a bit for, you know, most people's... the vast majority of most people's lifetimes. You have to be old like me before you remember a time when there weren't any big, strong guys wandering around except you. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
There's several of us listening to the show today [that] remember when a guy squatting 500 pounds was an exceptional specimen, you know. Nowadays, you know, most most gyms have got a guy in there squatting five hundred pounds. So exercise is a is a commonly encountered thing nowadays.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is not commonly encountered. What never has been commonly encountered and what remains uncommon is a training approach to the concept of physical activity. Training is different from exercise.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's fundamentally different from exercise because exercise is what you do when you when your point in doing it that day is just to get hot, sweaty and tired. Just elevate your heart rate, elevate your respiration rate is... exercise is what you do for the effect it produces on you at the end of the exercise bout or workout. All right. Exercise is done to burn some calories, for the effect it produces immediately on heart rate and respiration.

Mark Rippetoe:
It is it is not done as a part of a long time, a long term, approach to solving a problem. Whereas training is the process of accumulating a physiologic adaptation. A physiologic adaptation that you have thought about that you have determined is going to be advantageous for your physical situation. And the process has been designed specifically to produce that physiologic adaptation.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, physiologic adaptation could be on either end of the bioenergetic spectrum. A physiologic adaptation to the challenge, the performance challenge of running a marathon -- twenty-six point two -- is a completely different physiologic adaptation than one would require if performing in a weightlifting meet or a powerlifting meet. All right they're on completely separate ends of the bioenergetic, bio energetic spectrum. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
As a result, the processes that would be involved in accumulating that physiologic adaptation over time will be completely different, although the overarching principle is the same. And the principle is we we determine where we are now, A. B we determine where we want to be. Both in terms of the degree of adaptation and the specific nature of the physiologic adaptation, and then see, we design a program to be executed over time to get us to that goal. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, an easy way to think of that goal is a performance. And a performance is a point in time where you demonstrate your ability to execute the physical activity at the highest level you can execute it. That level, that physical activity that you've chosen to do the adaptation for.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you sign up for Boston, that's your marathon and the day of the Boston is your performance. If you sign up for the Greater Texas Classic Powerlifting Championship, then that's the performance. Uou know, well in advance when the performance is. You know what's going to be required of you that day in terms of the physical effort involved in executing that performance. And you have prepared for it over a period of months, possibly years to better execute your physical performance that day.

Mark Rippetoe:
Exercise is not a process. Exercise is a workout. Exercise is a is an approach to the problem of physical activity that involves what we are going to do today. To punch the ticket. On the way home from work, you stopped by the gym.

Mark Rippetoe:
You stopped by the gym. You parked the car way out at the edge of the parking lot and you get your gym bag out of the back seat. You go into the gym and yougo to the locker room. You sign in, right. You go to the locker room and you get your locker and you get your gym clothes out of the bag, throw your work clothes in the locker, put on your gym clothes, go outside into the gym and then decide what you want to do today. Are you to use the leg extension machine? Cause you've got to have legs, got to do legs. Everybody knows you gotta do legs. You might do the leg press machine. Might do some some leg curls, you know, to balance out quads with hammies, right? Might go over to the dumbbell rack and invent complicated movements with dumbbells, you know, like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
And called, you know, this is this that this this. That's one rep, right. With the five pound dumbbell. Hey, you hit all the movements.

[off-camera]:
All the deltoids

Mark Rippetoe:
All the delts, all the muscle groups are hit, all the movement planes, all the directions of movement are hit.

Mark Rippetoe:
You might then, you know, you might you might even go up from the five pound dumbbells to the 10 pound dumbbells and do the same thing. Man, you're... it's a challenge for today. I mean, we just were feeling cocky. So we'll go up to ten pound dumbbells and then let's see, what else could you do?

Mark Rippetoe:
Got to lat pull. Got to go over on the lat machine. Sit there and do some lat pulls and then you're gonna go over and ride the treadmill while you watch CNN. Right. And have people just lie to you for 30 minutes because nothing is as satisfying as being lied to while you're being sweated upon at the same time.

[off-camera]:
Well, you obviously hate yourself.

Mark Rippetoe:
You hate yourself. So it's penance, you know, it's penance. You listen to this shit you go. How can he say that? He is standing there saying that. And I have to endure this. And you do have to endure it because it's you're punching a ticket, you're paying your dues. Getting some exercise. You're taking some exercise. You've...

Mark Rippetoe:
And then when you get off the through riding the treadmill or riding the elliptical, then you go back into the locker room and you, you know, take your little gym clothes off and you wrap that towel around your waist and you go back and sit in the sauna because the steam room's broken again.

[off-camera]:
If you're over 45, you don't bother with the fucking towel.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, I don't.

[off-camera]:
And you have to find the youngest guy in there and just talk to him.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, that's that. That's really what. Yeah. I forgot about that. That's what you have to do. You've got to go into the sauna completely naked and talk to the 25 year old kid that, you know, was not raised around other naked men.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, when I was when I was in, dude, this is important, guys, my age and guys your age have been raised completely different because in junior high school, everybody in the seventh grade was in the shower with everybody else in the seventh grade taking a shower, you know, completely naked. That's when your first, you know !!!! that lasted a couple of days. And pretty soon nobody gives a shit. Right. Thereby you wandering around in a locker room, naked. They put their clothes back on and they go back to school. Right. And old guys like me don't worry about being naked in front of other men. It's just not a big deal. Right. But little turds like, you know, "He's looking at my tee tee!" He can barely see your tee tee to begin with. He can barely see it. He doesn't have his microscope with him. OK, so he can't really see your tee tee. But why do you care? You know. Anyway, that's what we call an aside.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, so then you get out of the sauna and you go to the shower and you rinse off and you go back the locker, you put your clothes back on. Get your gym bag ready. And then you go by car and you have punched the ticket. You have exercised. That's what you have done today.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you're a good boy for having done it. OK. And really, for lots and lots of people, this is all they need to do. You know, if you're not in terrible shape already and you don't really want to do this anyway, you're not in love with the physical aspects of your existence. You're just, you know, one of these guys that just knows he you know, he doesn't want... his dad had high blood pressure and you don't want it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And, you know, you got to do something to keep your health and stuff and she's on your ass about your belly and everything. Then that's what you're gonna do. Go by the gym and exercise. That's fine.

Mark Rippetoe:
But there's a better way to do it. You can train. You can sit down and think about things. You can think about what it is you want to accomplish physically. And this is going to require that you prepare. This is going to require that you learn some things. It's going to require that you determine what is bullshit and what is not bullshit. Right. It's going to determine... it's going to require you to determine that. Not every approach to exercising as physical preparation applies to your particular situation. Some of it's complete bullshit.

Mark Rippetoe:
What's a good example of complete bullshit? Anything that folds up and stores under your bed is complete bullshit.

[off-camera]:
And being sold at in the morning.

Mark Rippetoe:
Infomercial stuff is usually bullshit. You know, there's just there's just a lot of a lot of things out there on the market that are that are bullshit. And the reason I'm having problems coming up with the name of one of these things are complete bullshit is because I don't watch television and I only deal with my little corner of the market, so I can't tell you. But you know what I'm talking about.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you'll think about what you want to get done physically, if you'll think about it, a lot of things that are available to you as a consumer do not apply to the problem of solving your physical situation. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, a large part of answering the question, how do I train correctly is going to is going to be determined by the performance, this thing over here on the on the end of the spectrum that you're preparing for. Not everybody wants to run a marathon. And there's a reason why a marathon is not the thing you want to prepare for if your goal is to just be healthier as a human being.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, marathons. If you're a marathon athlete, if you're a competitive marathon runner than your... This is this is competitive sports. All right. And let me say right up front that competitive sports are not about health.

Mark Rippetoe:
Competitive sports, sports competition, is about winning, not about being healthy. If you've decided to enter a sporting competition, then your health has suddenly become of secondary importance to placing in the event.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you're an actual competitor, then... and not everybody enters a meet is an actual competitor, you know. A lot of people enter a meet just have a training goal and that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Mark Rippetoe:
But if you've decided that, you're going to see if you can get your marathon time now below two and a half hours, then you're you're serious about this. And you will find over the course of of trying to get your marathon time down over two and a half hours that your health has suffered. In the same way that you might find that a nine hundred pound squat has compromised your health, too, because these are extremes. They're on the very tails of the bell curve and the tails of the bell curve are usually where problems occur.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if you are just interested in being a more useful, functional human being, then there is a way to analyze what to do in order to tailor your training to produce that effect. And what you want to do is get stronger. Strength training is the middle ground. All right. Because...

Mark Rippetoe:
Shut up and listen to me!

Mark Rippetoe:
Because strength training is the type of preparation that produces results in every other field of physical endeavor. For example, if you are not strong and you want to be better at running. What should you do? Run or get stronger?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, the dumb asses that are listening to this will say, well, you got run. And that's not true. The process of taking your squat from nothing -- from 115 to 405 makes you a better runner.

[off-camera]:
Three of my youth lifters have all said that when their squat went up their 100 yard dash time went down.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's always the case, especially with kids. It's always the case because running is, believe it or not, a series of submaximal repetitions with respect to your squat. One of the specific reasons that your kids are getting faster on their on their sprint times is because their lower back is stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
We've observed this for decades that if you if you if you've got a kid that you want to demonstrate this to, don't have him do anything but deadlift six times. Bring him in the gym, have him deadlift three times a week for two weeks. Time him in, time him out on the forty and every single time your 40 will go down. Because a stable low back is a better forcedtransfer segment between the body and the ground. Works every single time. And that's just an example of how getting strong benefits running.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, on the other hand, does running make you stronger? No. It doesn't.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you're going to do an activity that benefits both running and strength training, and strength. So if you're going to do an activity that benefits both running and strength, what do you do? Run or train for strength? Well, you train for strength because that's logic. I don't understand why you would think that a healthy twenty five year old guy who gets his squat up to five fifty suddenly can't run.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is what is wrong with you? Why would you say something stupid like that?

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, not only has it been my personal experience that, you know, as a 550 squatter, I could run five miles three days a week if I wanted to. It's not good for my strength training, but I could do it because I did it. And the guys I trained with did it too. And everybody I know did it. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
On the other hand, if all you did was run five miles and you didn't squat or deadlift or bench press, then you got better at one thing and one thing only. Whereas we got better at everything. We got better at everything.

Mark Rippetoe:
When I was lifting weights, I also played soccer. I was a better soccer player. I was real hard to run into. I was hard to get off the ball. OK. When I was lifting weights, I did all kinds of things. Played tennis. And flag football and all kinds of things, because a young, strong guy is capable of everything physical, whereas a guy that only runs is capable of running and that's all.

Mark Rippetoe:
There's more. It's there's a greater return on investment from getting strong than there is from pursuing any other avenue of accumulating a physiological adaptation in training. Ok. There, there... it just makes more sense to get stronger than it does to take that same amount of time and do anything else.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, once you're stronger, what can you do? Well, everything better. Which means that if you are going to to play a sport. A sport like tennis or soccer. Or Olympic weightlifting. Or golf. Then you can do it better if you're strong. And then you can if you're not strong.

Mark Rippetoe:
And obviously, the amount of strength you accumulate has got to be measured against the amount of time it takes to perform, to play the actual sport and do the sports skills that you have to execute during the sports performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is where we get into the other part of the two factor model. All right. Those types of activities that are dependent on accuracy and precision in in movement pattern execution. Like tennis or golf or downhill skiing or BJJ. Or football or baseball or basketball or any other sport where accuracy and precision are part of the equation.

Mark Rippetoe:
Then the execution of the accuracy and precision part of sports preparation is called practice. So you have training on the one hand, which produces the physiologic adaptation that allows you to execute the movement patterns at a high level during the performance. And then you have the practice of the movement patterns themselves that will be executed with your now stronger body. These are two separate aspects of performance preparation. Two completely separate aspects of performance preparation. And they must be thought of as separate processes because they are.

Mark Rippetoe:
Ok. Now to take an extreme example, golf is usually approached as a game, and a game is a thing that you do without any training for it. All right. Billiards is a game. All right. Golf is usually approached as a game. But if you add a training aspect to golf, what happens to your drive?

Mark Rippetoe:
Guess what? It gets longer. And if you can take a stroke off every hole, I kind of think that's of benefit to you as a golfer. But in order to do that, you got to get stronger because stronger hits the ball harder.

Mark Rippetoe:
You'd rather just buy new clubs. I understand that it'd be better to for you to just buy new clubs instead of having to squat and deadlift. How does squat and deadlift benefit golf? Doesn't look like golf, does it? It's not rotational. Doesn't matter that it's not rotational. It makes you stronger, rotational comes with practice.

Mark Rippetoe:
Strength comes with squats and deadlifts. Training does not have to look like practice. And if you try to make it look like practice, you're diluting both the effectiveness of your training and your approach to practice, which must be specific to the performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
Ok, in other words, practice cannot be executed with a heavy club. Because to use a heavy club, a club weight, the head weight, you're not going to use on the course under the assumption that that's gonna make you stronger. What you're doing is practicing swinging the club slower. Swinging it in a different mechanical pattern, a pattern that is should be extremely specific to what's actually going to happen on the course when you play golf as a performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's much better, much more effective to get strong in ways that just make you stronger and then to take your now stronger body and practice it using the exact circumstances and conditions that will be required during the performance. That's a much better use of your time. OK. Because not getting under the bar doing your squats, deadlifts is wasting an opportunity to get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
And assuming that swinging a heavier club is going to make you stronger is both wrong -- because an extra five ounces on the club head does not, five ounces doesn't make you stronger, honey. I'm sorry about that, but it just doesn't make you stronger. But what it does do is cause you to practice swinging the club in a different way than you are going to swing it during the performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now what sounds better? Thousands and thousands of reps exactly like you're going to execute them during the performance or doing enough reps in a different way to constitute confusion in the movement pattern when it comes time to execute a performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't think that you can make a case that swinging a heavy club or swinging a heavy bat or throwing a heavy baseball contributes to either strength training or practice in a productive way. Yet that's what's done. It's what's done.

Mark Rippetoe:
You've got strength coaches report that the golf coach wants to have the kids hook up a cable to the to the cable machine and do a rotational movement so it looks like golf. I you know, I've got a couple of buddies that are high level strength coaches at colleges and universities, they get so sick of this bullshit, but that's what's done.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sports coaches think that it... that strength training must look like the performance. And it it doesn't. The most effective way to train for strength, if strength is what we want, is defined by the most effective way to get strong. There's no such thing as strength training for golf. There is strength training for strength. And there is practice for golf. OK. That's the golf coach needs to practice his kids on the course and coach golf and leave the strength and conditioning coach to squat, deadlift, press, bench press, power clean to get a stronger golfer ready for practice. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now I hope this is clear it to everyone we explain this to. This is perfectly intuitive. And all you're doing when you try to make your strength training in the weight room look like the sport that your athlete is competing in is watering down the effectiveness of the strength training. The job of the strength coach is to get the kids strong, not to get the kids strong for golf. The strength coach hands the golf coach a stronger golfer. And then a golf coach converts strong into longer drive by golf coaching. Okay.

Mark Rippetoe:
Same with everything else. Tennis, baseball, basketball, football, any attempt to try to make the process by which we are going to accumulate the physiologic adaptation or strength look like the end performance movement patterns is a way to dilute the effectiveness of the time spent in the weight room.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, I hope this is clear because no one has ever refuted this argument. If you've got a refutation for it besides "What does Rip know, he doesn't play golf." I don't hear that shit. OK, you're right. I don't play golf. But I'm also smarter than you are. OK, so if you've got an objection to this, but it seemed perfectly clear to me that the way you measure a strength coaches effectiveness in the weight room is not by how closely he can mimic the performance aspects of the athlete's sport in a loaded situation in the weight room.

Mark Rippetoe:
It seems to me that the way to judge the effectiveness of the strength coach is how much stronger he made the athletes in an objective way. How much more can the kid squat now than he did when he got there? What's his deadlift before and after? How much is he pressing overhead? How much can he clean? How much can he snatch? Did all his lifts go up? If they did, then the strength coach is doing his job.

Mark Rippetoe:
But if the sports coach comes in and insists that the strength coach have the athletes move in the weight room in a way that looks to the sport coach like the game, the sport coach has just fixed it up so that the strength and conditioning program is not optimal anymore. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's the sport coach's responsibility to teach the movement patterns used in the performance. It is the strength of conditioning coach - his job is to get the kids stronger so that he can more effectively perform the movement patterns used in the performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, that in mind, we got two factors in in sports performance. We got training, which is the process of accumulating a physiologic adaptation that is specific to the demands of the sport. And we got practice, which is the process of. Getting better accuracy and profit and precision in the execution of the movement patterns specifically utilized in the performance, two completely different things, completely different things.

Mark Rippetoe:
One is a structural metabolic adaptation and the other is honing neuromuscular patterns that are embedded in the athlete's nervous system that allow accuracy and precision of movement that's specific to the performance. Two complete things, though, they have to be done at the same time. OK. They have to be done while the other is being done, too. So you've got practice and you've got training going on at the same time because both of those factors figure in to the performance. OK. Both are necessary.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, now there, if you want to get out on the tails we talked about earlier, the tail end of the accumulated physiologic adaptation for endurance would be a marathon. Now, what does practice look like for a marathon? Well, practice for a marathon would be running and training for a marathon would be running.

Mark Rippetoe:
The practice aspects of marathon are beyond my scope, I don't know, but the training aspects of marathon, I know that these guys don't run 26 miles of training. That's not how they do it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the practice aspects of marathon probably have quite a bit to do with the size of the field that leaves the start line that day. There are ways to get in a better place on the road and these things have to be practiced and you've got to you've got to get in the correct position and stay there. These are practice aspects of marathon performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
On the other end of the spectrum, what is practice for powerlifting and what is training for powerlifting? Well, they're more similar than practice and training would be for football. All right. We're going to try to squat 800 pounds at the power meet. Squatting 800 pounds for a single and squatting 725 for a set of five are two different things. If you're going to practice, you're going to perform heavy singles with equipment. You've got to practice heavy singles with the equipment. There's a practice aspect to it.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's not intuitively obvious. At first it seems like they'd be the same thing, but they're not. Just like going out and running is not the only thing that you have to do to get involved... to get prepared for a marathon. OK. But out on the tails practice and training, begin to look more and more similar.

Mark Rippetoe:
Whereas in the middle of the bell curve, what is practice for tennis? Practice for tennis involves being on the court with your racquet, learning ball skills, learning racket skills, position skills, learning how to see where the ball's gonna go. Learning how to get where you need to be. All of these things are practice aspects of tennis.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is training for tennis? Squats, deadlifts, presses, benches, power cleans. Because that's what makes you stronger for tennis.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is swinging a weighted racket? Practice for tennis? Do you see why I laugh about it? How do you make your hips and legs - the things that are involved in shuttling you rapidly across the court - how do you make those stronger with a weighted racquet? How do you put an eight ounce leg weight on your ankles and shuttle back and forth across the court and assume that that is sufficient strength for your legs and hips, strength training for your legs and hips? When you could be taking the kids deadlift from 135 up to 315 without a great deal of complexity.

Mark Rippetoe:
This this involves that you take the giant leap of understanding here and and and understand that I'm not advocating that you turn the marathon athlete into a power lifter. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
It would be... you would be doing me a favor by assuming I'm intelligent enough to understand that we don't want marathon competitors to deadlift 475. What I'm actually saying is it would be it would be better if a marathon competitor could deadlift 135 instead of nothing. That's that that's the case I'm trying to make. You have to understand that I have... I don't want... by training everybody for strength, I don't want to change their sport. I want to make them better at the sport they've chosen to compete in.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the sport you probably have chosen to compete in is just not being dead. All right. The sport of be staying alive is a very important sport. That's the one most of us participate in after we get out of school. Now, some of us stay in Masters swimming, some of us stay in Masters lifting. You get to 50 years old, there are tennis leagues for old farts. You know, there's ways for us to continue to compete in sports.

Mark Rippetoe:
But a lot of people don't decide to stay in sports, for the competitive part of the thing, lots and lots of them have decided we don't want to grow old and fat and incapable and skinny and frail and everything else, and as a result of our decision to not give up on being alive physically, what we've decided to do is maintain some level of preparation for it. So we train if we're smart about it. We train. We don't just go in and exercise. We design things so that we get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
And depending on what else we need to do in our own particular situation, we may decide to do some conditioning. And that's certainly a wonderful thing to do. So most of us that have decided to to stay in the game - he game of not being dead - have decided that we're going to train for something.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, there are several things that are popular these days. Ways to do this. All right. And I earlier mentioned CrossFit, kettlebells and functional training.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, let's go ahead and talk about CrossFit first. CrossFit is a very, very popular exercise method. And I say it's an exercise method because main site CrossFit is not training. Mainsite CrossFit is extremely vigorous, high intensity exercising. Right. Because it is not programmed. It is intentionally kept random because the thinking is that random is better. Random is better only if you do not know specifically what physiologic adaptation you want to try to achieve. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the vast majority of the most important physiologic adaptations that you can achieve are strength oriented. Strength training is the best adaptation. But if you only squat five sets of five or whatever they have at random, perhaps only once in three weeks or once in six weeks. That changes all the time. You're not training for strength in the squat. You're exposing yourself to random hard things. And if those random hard things are also skill dependent like snatches, like 30 snatches with 60 kilos for time, that depend on you being able to snatch the thing correctly. Then you're going to have to be strong enough to snatch it that many times and you're going to have to be good enough at snatching it to do it 30 times without hurting yourself. But if you don't train for strength and you don't practice the snatch then you are essentially doing a performance with no preparation. And this is a problem. This is a problem.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, CrossFit as a whole I've been critical of for years. I was involved with CrossFit from 2006 until the last month of 2009. I know what goes on at CrossFit and, you know, Greg Glassman and I are still friends, but I disagree with their with their training methods.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the ways in which they motivate people are are terribly, terribly effective, and sometimes that gets everybody in trouble. If you're terribly effective to perform in the absence of training or practice, you can see that that might present an injury risk.

Mark Rippetoe:
CrossFit on the whole, though, I think has been one of the best things that's ever happened to the exercise industry, especially the end of it that we occupy, because CrossFit has put more barbells in more people's hands than anything in the history of the human race. There is no doubt that CrossFit has benefited both Olympic weightlifting and barbell training.

Mark Rippetoe:
As recently as 15 years ago, in the entire city of Dallas, Texas, there was one place to do the Olympic lifts in an organized setting, and that was a guy's garage. OK, back in in the in the early 2000s, Tom Witherspoon was holding down the fort for the Olympic lifts. Now there are countless places down there with bumper plates and platforms and good bars for you to snatch and clean a jerk.

Mark Rippetoe:
It has transformed - CrossFit is completely transformed - that end of barbell training. All right. And CrossFit has done several other very important things for what we do. CrossFit taught you to expect to pay for coaching and for coaching education, which is the end of the business that I'm in.

Mark Rippetoe:
CrossFit essentially created a market for what I do and I'm grateful to Glassman and CrossFit for having done that. But I recognize that there are problems with the methodology and I disagree with it. And I think I've presented a case for the basis of my disagreement with it. And I mean, there are intelligent ways to approach the thing called CrossFit.

Mark Rippetoe:
The other problem with CrossFit is that the intelligent ways to approach it are not often taught by most CrossFit coaches because most CrossFit coaches lack the experience to understand the problems. They don't understand this two factor model thing and they don't understand how to correctly approach what it is they're trying to do. Yet they were made CrossFit coaches. They were allowed to open a CrossFit affiliate and the general public doesn't know what the problem is. The general public never knows what the problem is with anything that's a problem because they're the general public and they're busy with other shit and they rely on people they consider to be professionals to make the correct judgment for them.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is not a problem that's specific CrossFit. My God, the entirety of strength conditioning, the entirety of the fitness industry is... Ninety five percent of the fitness industry is bullshit. You know, those of you that are paying attention to our podcast and familiar with our method methods know the problems involved in walking into Gold's Gym someplace and getting one of the little kids on the floor to set pins for you on a on a personal training appointment and do leg extensions. That's... they don't know anything about it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Furthermore, they're prepared to not know anything about this by the exercise science program that they're involved with at their little four year school. You know, that the profession of strength and conditioning coaching - barbell coaching - is not taught anywhere. And anybody that's good at this figured out how to do it by themselves or with our help.

Mark Rippetoe:
Ok, but you can graduate with a master's degree in exercise physiology and not have the slightest idea how to teach somebody to deadlift 135 off the floor. Happens every day. Happens every year to thousands and thousands people all across the country.

Mark Rippetoe:
They're handed a masters degree in something they cannot practice. Now if they want to. If they want to do the laboratory aspect, you guys want to do Westerns [Western blots] the rest of your life, you go right ahead and do that, but in terms of making a living in a gym, you don't know what the hell you're doing.

Mark Rippetoe:
How is the general public supposed to sort all that shit out? Well, they can't because they're the general public. But my point is you're not helping anything because you don't know your job and you need to learn your job. Okay, word to the wise.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now kettlebells. Kettlebells are an interesting phenomena. Kettlebells have been a fad at various points throughout the past 100 years. Kettlebells are supposed to be Russian. Right. Russians are cool. Because Russians are severe. Russian communism built tough men, right? Russians are tough. You know. And I don't want to get into my judgment of Russian culture. Yes, it would be unnecessary. Although I would like to observe that we won the Cold War. We won the Cold War. All right, so.

Mark Rippetoe:
Russian kettlebell, blah, blah, blah. You know, it's a fad and... Let's look at kettlebells specifically. A kettlebell is a hunk of iron with a handle on it. Asymmetrical. Lighter on top than it is on the bottom.

Mark Rippetoe:
Any movement perform with a kettlebell, usually except for a Turkish get up, is is a swinging motion of some sort. Kettlebell competitions and kettlebell training involve multiple reps. Lots and lots of reps. A kettlebell test is -- and I am sure this varies with the federation or the association that you're competing in -- the kettlebell test for competition is how many swings you can do in a period of time, 5, 10 minutes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Anything done for five or 10 minutes is not strength training. Sorry, not strength training. Anything done for five or 10 minutes is obviously quite submaximal. And if it's submaximal, it can't build strength [effectively]. It can build endurance. You know, breathing exercises, it's basically timed breathing and timed swinging. But the stronger you are, the heavier a kettlebell you can swing for 10 minutes.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the question would be, how do I get stronger in order to swing the kettlebell for 10 minutes? Swing a heavier kettlebell for 10 minutes? Or do your squats and deadlifts? It shouldn't complicated, right? If you want to swing kettlebells, go ahead and swing kettlebells. But anything done for 10 minutes is not strength training. You know, you could argue that sets of 10 are strength training. I think that's probably too many. I like fives because they've work for a century, set to fives work every time they're tried. But seventy five kettlebell swings in a period of time as a seventy five RM. It's not a heavy. And if it's not heavy enough that the last rep is grindy and hard, then it's not building strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
So what would be the best way to build strength for kettlebells? Same thing that's the best way to build strength for football or tennis or golf or anything else is the exercises that are the most effective at making you strong. The exercises that involve a full range of motion that involve a huge amount of muscle mass that allow you to lift heavy weights. Those are the exercises that make you strong. And those exercises are the squat, the deadlift, the bench press, press and the Olympic lifts in order to keep power expression commensurate with increasing strength.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, you know, people that are listening to this will say, well, you know, just repeat those opinion. What about the incline bench press? Why leave that out? Because it's not using the most amount of muscle mass over the longest range motion and therefore doesn't let you use the greatest amount of weight. And what is strength? Strength is force production. Strength is force protection. That's all strength is, is force protection, force production is strength. Strength is force production. Production of force. The ability to produce force is strength. And that's all there is to it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if you want to pretend that strength is something else, then you go ahead and pretend. And while you're at it, why don't you pretend that Jeffrey EPSTEIN didn't kill himself, too?

Mark Rippetoe:
So anything that is done for time is not strength training. Right. This is why sprinters who run for 10 seconds in a 100 meter sprint also trained with barbells. They're running for time, but they know that sprinting by itself doesn't make you strong enough to be a better sprinter. They squat. They deadlift. They train with weights. They always have because they've got this figured out.

Mark Rippetoe:
For some reason, their brothers on the longer end of the scale, the 10,000 meter guys and the marathon guys haven't figured that part of it out yet. Ah, it's their coaches. It's never the athletes. It's always the coaches.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you're going to run, you do anything for time, you're doing a sub maximal RM expression of strength and an increase in your absolute strength will improve the performance. Kettlebells having been done for time, high reps for time, are not strength training.

Mark Rippetoe:
You like doing kettlebells? Wonderful. Do kettlebells. I will tell you this. The only young person you know, 40 year old woman, that we've ever had Starting Strength Seminar that we could not get into a below parallel squat was a female kettlebell champion. Just wouldn't go down there. Wouldn't go. I couldn't get one squat rep below parallel out of her. A weird day. Hadn't ever had it happened before or since. But that's what I think kettlebells bring to the table.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, functional training. Now, there's an interesting thing. If you've been on YouTube or you have read Sports Illustrated or you have looked at ESPN or been exposed to any of the media that are covering Division 1, college athletics and pro teams, that you have seen what is called "functional training." You've seen an incredibly talented athlete being forced to stand with one foot on an unstable surface, holding a light dumbbell in one hand and a heavy dumbbell in the other hand, and then switching the position of those two implements of doing it on the other foot.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because this is functional training. These are the kind of things this guy needs to needs to do on the field. Except that it's not what he does on the field now is it? That's not what he does on the field. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
The strength coach ought to be held accountable for making players stronger, right? Now, at the professional level, most of the strength and conditioning people that are employed by the professional sports teams their primary role is to - believe it or not - to not get anybody hurt. Not to make anybody stronger. Because the assumption is, is, hey, this guy's already strong enough to play football for us for four million dollars a year, what the hell are you gonna do in a weight room that's gonna make him better?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, if that's the case, why have the weight room? You know, if he's already strong enough. What the hell have a weight room for? Why don't you guys just have a bosu ball room? You know, but I'll tell you, the guys on the field that are the most effective guys on the field, the ones that everybody else on the field is afraid of are the strongest guys. Aren't they? You know that. If a guy is strong, he's a better player.

Mark Rippetoe:
So why can't we get him stronger than he is right now? Well, one of the best explanations for why we can't get him stronger is because we have been taught as strength and conditioning coaches that unstable surfaces and light weights are the best thing to produce "functional fitness.".

Mark Rippetoe:
"Functional training" does not make you stronger because it can't. And if you'll go back to the two factor model of sports performance preparation, you'll understand why training is the process of accumulating physiologic adaptation over and above where we are right now. That's what training does. It gets us better over time to do the metabolic and structural force performance, things that are necessary for that sports performance. And practice is what we do during the performance and get better and better at what we're actually doing. Actually doing during the performance.

Mark Rippetoe:
And what is "functional training"? What is standing on a bosu ball with a 10 pound dumbbell in one hand and an 80 pound kettlebell in the other han, doing for either accumulating a physiologic adaptation or practicing the precise sports movements patterns that are required during the performance?

Mark Rippetoe:
It does neither. It does neither one of them and it is a waste of time. And so what you're relegated to is an exceptionally genetically gifted, physically intelligent kid coming onto your team that is going to be demonstrating what he's already got. What he brought with him to the table because you're not giving him anything. You're not making him stronger and you're not making it better at his position. If you're relying on the functional training bullshit and the strength in the weight room to get something accomplished. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
So what you're doing is failing. You're failing to develop his potential as a player by doing this functional training bullshit. Waste of time. That is all the rage. It's the fad right now. Rate of force development training. Making him... making him more explosive, making a more agile. Things that are so dependent on his genetics that we're wasting time doing it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Power. Power production is force production strength displayed quickly. What's the best way to to improve power? To try to get his display time down or to increase the amount of force he can produce during the time he's already using developing that display?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, all you need to know is. You can improve an athlete's vertical jump about 20 percent at most, but you can double his deadlift without a lot of trouble in just several months, especially with kids of that kind of genetic talent. You can make them much, much stronger in a very short period of time and improve their power that way. This is just an algebra problem. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
Power is force times distance over time. The "t" part of that variable doesn't very, very much. It's not very trainable, but the force part, the strength part, how much he can deadlift, how much he can squat determines far more about how hard that kid can hit you than making him more sprongy.

Mark Rippetoe:
Look he was sprongy. When you hired him, that's why you hired him. We already know he's sproingy. Right. But he's not as strong as he could be. And if you hire a strength coach that actually knows how to make him stronger, then that kid will be a much, much better player for you than if you have him standing around him on an unstable surface against which he can not develop maximum force. Because the instability is the bottleneck and not the force production.

Mark Rippetoe:
Keep that in mind, if you set up your training so that the instability is the bottleneck instead of the amount of force that can increasingly be performed during the training process and thereby accumulate a physiologic adaptation where he's producing more force, then you're fixing it up to this kid so that this kid can't get stronger.

Mark Rippetoe:
Think about it like this. OK, you've got two things involved in the preparation for sports performance. You have training which produces an accumulation of a physiologic adaptation, the specifics of which are dependent on the nature of the performance. The physiologic adaptation is not specific to the movement patterns that you're going to display with that physiologic adaptation. The accumulation of the physiologic adaptation should be accomplished in the way that causes the most efficient accumulation of the physiologic adaptation. And you don't... in other words, you don't have to squat with your offensive lineman stance in order to have the squat be specific to the offensive line. The squat is not specific to the offensive line. The strength is.

Mark Rippetoe:
So how do you get stronger? Well you get stronger with the stance that you need to squat the most weight in. And now you're stronger, right? And then after we have established a process for accumulating the physiologic adaptation.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now we have to understand that our sport that we're going to play is... involves specific movement patterns in its execution. We must practice those specifically and practice is exquisitely specific to the performance, whereas training is not OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
I have written about this quite a bit. OK. All right. In this discussion, this two factor model applies to athletes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, what about you that just want to get better at not being dead? Well, you need to train. You have to accurately assess the physiologic adaptation you want. And I hope you understand that that's most likely going to be strength. And if you understand that and what's the best way to get strong? And that question is easily answered. And we do it here every Friday. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
So your questions, as always, are welcome, but good questions we accept on the website at Starting Strength dot com. Where do they need to send these to? If you'll look in the report at Starting Strength , there's a link for you'd have to submit questions for the Q&A if this discussion prompts any any question. I'm sure it should.

Mark Rippetoe:
I want you to talk to us about it. So ask us where of what about left out? I'm sure I've left quite a bit out. And if I can clarify this, this is productive discussion, and I hope it makes you think a little bit better, think a little bit more clearly about what it is you want to get accomplished.

Mark Rippetoe:
So submit those questions and let us know what we can clear up. We're always looking for future things to talk about here on the show. I think that about nails it. So looking forward to hearing from you. And we'll see you next Friday on Starting Strength Radio. Later.

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Mark Rippetoe discusses the Two Factor Model of Sports Performance and why "functional training," kettlebell, or CrossFit workouts are not training.

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 03:07 Comments from the Haters!
  • 08:13 The Fundamentals
  • 19:59 Just punching the ticket
  • 25:35 A Better Way
  • 29:46 Training in the middle
  • 38:39 Separating factors improves performance
  • 42:15 Strength training for strength
  • 45:15 How to judge a strength coach
  • 47:55 Training the tails
  • 52:38 The Be Staying Alive Sport
  • 54:13 Now popular methods: CrossFit,
  • 1:02:25 Kettlebells,
  • 1:09:57 "Functional training"

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