Mark Rippetoe, “Starting Strength” and the Crossfit London connection

03 Jul

(For the uninitiated “Starting Strength”By Mark Rippetoe is a coaching guide to the squat, deadlift, press and Power clean (and some other bits)

There is no need for me to criticize  the work of Mark Rippetoe, who in 2007 decided to share the knowledge he has accumulated over a life time of training and  teaching.  His later view of his work was “stale, incomplete, , or just plain wrong”.

I don’t complain. At Crossfit london we almost have a secondary business of putting right, people who have bought a copy of “starting strength”

I must say that “Starting Strength” is the best book on the market about the squat. ( and  deadlift and press: cannot comment on the bench press as it’s a tossers exercise) .  So was the 1st and 2nd edition. It is never the less a book.  In the same way that my brain fails to grasp the easy instructions of a car (Haynes, or is that Haines) manual, the chances are that you have not grasped what Mark means in most of his exercises and cute quips.

100% of the Starting Strength book owners  I see, have totally missed the point. ( There must, ofcourse be those who get it, who I don’t see)

Our advantage at Crossfit London is that our coaches see an awful lot of people every week. Most of our key trainers are also leading personal trainers. Our Elite i-course instructors train  novices to a near okish squat , 20 at a time. in about an hour. Our extraordinary women’s Wonderbar coaching team  teaches from scratch more women to squat than probably any other London institution ( and we dont mean  a quarter slump that a “prance along to music instructor” palms off as quality movement)

Today ( I wrote this on a Wednesday) I fixed 40 peoples squat( in classes and PT sessions).

Another of our great advantages is that we don’t hang around in power lifting gyms hoping to coach oafish boys. We run an open facility that attracts as many Zumba girls, yoga victims  and sedentary office workers as it does elite athlete.

We  simply have to fix your squat, otherwise you cannot train with us.

We don’t want to flog you a book. We need to make you good.

Put simply Rippetoe’s book lacks feedback: as all books do. Do you think you are pushing your knees out? Yes? Really??

In many cases, we can fix squats in an hour. If it takes longer, Its because you need longer. The simple fact is that, At the end of the day we fix your squat and deadlift.

If you are training with us, and your squat and deadlift isn’t fixed. Its because its not yet the end of the day.

So should you buy the book, Hell yes! I got my (expensive) copy From Amazon and its worth every penny

To get started, with our coaching workshop press the getting started button


25 thoughts on “Mark Rippetoe, “Starting Strength” and the Crossfit London connection

  1. 2011 Crossfit Games Champion Rich Froning Jr and Dan Bailey both bench press, elite tossers?

  2. i think there are lots of elite sportman who bench out of habit and would be better using their training time to do other stuff.

    I think Crossfit has it spot on. the fundamental moves do not include the bench.

    I also suspect that every elite sorts person has a favourite exercise that they love to do even though it doesn’t really help them. One of my Thai coaches loved bicep curling…..

  3. Westside guys advocate specific bicep and tricep exercises, and there is no way they are doing it for vanity, they just want to lift more. These and other moves (eg good mornings, glute ham raises) are something to do outside of crossfit classes to improve weaknesses in big lifts.
    Bench press is an all out good move. Guarantee that getting a better bench will directly benefit push ups, HSPU, dips, presses to name a few.
    Doesn’t work for crossfit due to impracticality of having lots of benches. High cost, takes up too much space etc.

    1. @Alex – agreed. Bill Starr is a big proponent of the bench press as a means of increasing his strict press, and all overhead work. I somewhat side with John Welbourn (of CrossFit Football fame) when he states that the bench is most certainly a fundamental movement of his (admittedly more sports specific) CrossFit programme. A strong and powerful “push” is a critical part of most contact sports.

  4. i rate bench for both performance and vanity reasons

    think it helped me on stability for shoulder press, hspus, press ups and also pull ups

    in terms of vanity it is good for balancing the physique as all the shoulder stuff makes me look a bit lopsided

    bicep curls for time…….

  5. I would like to do some bench for rugby. Is there anyway it can be combined with the Sunday sessions? Also, need some way to fill out the moobs! 😉

  6. steven. An on your feet push! spot on! As a former doorman, thai boxer ( blah blah) , and having spent a lot of time this weekend learning to fight using a shield ( please dont ask!!) , a great push is essential. It transmits the drive of your leg into an object be it, pushing a car, pushing a drunk. Cannot really see the connection with lying on your back pushing arms up over your chest.

    A big chest is essential for most sports, but its the underlying size of the chest cavity thats crucial, not the size of pecs.

    lets face it, if someone tells you they have a “decent*” squat and decent deadlift, you can begin formulating an opinion about their athletic ability. A decent bench, often indicates nothing about athletic prowess. If you measure the bench against the Crossfit 10 standards ( strength …flexibility) it scores quite low. If you follow the idea that you had a mixed bag of athletes and what exercises would you choose that would help them all, i think all the fundamental moves we do, come waaaaay ahead of a bench press.

    But, Im happy with the description of it being an assistance exercise for the press. I think it also has a place as a fun alternative exercise that boys enjoy ( like bicep curling and crunches)

    * Re Decent, I mean 2 ish plus times body weight.

  7. bench of 2 times bw is a massive indicator of athletic prowess imo- quite rare

  8. US college american football players hoping to be drafted into the NFL are tested on the 40 yard dash, bench press and squat as standard. The bench press shouldn’t be defined as a ‘lying on back’ exercise as the strength gained from it transfers into real sport situations. I think it has a place in Crossfit more so than a made up exercise like SDHP which would be functional if I was trying to start the worlds tallest lawn mower.

  9. “The bench press is the best exercise for absolute strength in the upper body”.
    Mark Rippetoe June 1st 2006 crossfit Journal.

    Bench Press – Adult Men –
    Body Weight Un-trained Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
    114 lbs 84 107 130 179 222
    This shows that a bench press of 2x bw by crossfit standards is elite.

    I was always under the impression that crossfit fully supported the bench press. I have seen it as WODS on the main site many times , which surely coach glassman has to have final say?
    The powerlifting crossfit cert is with ‘Westside barbell’ who definately advocate the bench press!
    Girl WODS Lynne and Linda both have the bench press.

    I totally agree that the other main lifts are more functional! however a strong bench will help improve the deadlift and the press! no other move improves all over upper body strength! This will help with ring dips also so i can get out of the bath easier lol (btw i love ring dips)

  10. Since I started CF and have only benched once since I’ve come to london and that was Chris’ class a few weeks back, we do use rings quite often though as strength and in wods. At that morning class with Chris my one rep bench was 120kgs (and I think I could ve pushed a few reps out if I needed). Before xfit my max bench was at best 100kgs and I did this movement every time I used go to the gym before.

    So no we do need to bench press, we already do, Ring dips is the same as benching!!!

    I own all your bases.


  11. So if ring dips are the same as bench press because they work the same muscles then why do we do both back squats and front squats? The reason is because they work different muscles (front squat quad dominant, back squat hamstrings and glutes primarily) just as the ring dips primarily use the triceps, the bench primarily uses the chest.

    @Colm – Rich Froning Jr bench presses regularly, Do you own Rich Froning Jr Crossfit Games Champion of the World (including Crossfit London lol) bases as well?

  12. @paul, agree but fs is the link to a lot of the oly lifts bs too so u need both IMO. Rings bring more to the table than the bench and given most people only have an hour a day is a better alternative to the bench given it also leads to some of the more gymnastic moves.

    As to owning Froning he is a full time athlete btw so doesn’t need to compromise in his training. So as working out is hiS job i d say yeah if he did walk into my job i would own him…… He can’t do what I do and I can’t do what he does.

  13. i think we need to focus on the discussion. Which is should we value the bench press as an exercise? not whether other exercises are better or not. I think the bench press has gotten a bad rap due to body builders just wanting huge chests for the ladies! but the thing is they also squat and deadlift! should we ditch these then? No because we have scientific evidence to prove their benefit! but so do we have tons and tons of SCIENTIFIC evidence for the benefits for the bench press! Im really shocked that this is even a debate.

    We shouldn’t be talking about whether we need it as a move. no we don’t. Do I need to do snatch? Do i need to do back squat? No but I do because they help! so do bench presses! far more than ring dips IMO…..

  14. i think this is an interesting article on the bench press. feel free to read it, but I drifted off after the 2nd paragraph

    Thankfully we dont do the bench press at Crossfit London ( crops up occasionally in the odd wod as a floor press)

    Our advantage is that we have chosen to focus on those exercises that benefit everyone. Everyone is free to spice up their regimes with whatever exercises they like. Im sure there are lots of site for those who worship the bench to get together and hang out. This probably isn’t the best one for that purpose

  15. I totally agree with that article Andrew. You shouldn’t over emphasize the bench press in your training. That is the beauty of crossfit that no exercise is over emphasized. The article does seem to support the bench press though when used correctly and not over used.

    “Our advantage is that we have chosen to focus on those exercises that benefit everyone”.
    Who would it not benefit and why?

    “Thankfully we dont do the bench press at Crossfit London”
    Colin has stated here that he has recently done bench press during Coach Chris morning session.
    Some have done bench press during Colin’s free strength sessions.

    I personally do not mind that crossfit London in general don’t bench press as I do this elsewhere. I love crossfit london and love learning the new skills I have never done before and are completely humbled by.

    “Im sure there are lots of site for those who worship the bench to get together and hang out. This probably isn’t the best one for that purpose”
    I don’t want bench press worshippers at crossfit London either, that is why I stopped going to a gym and joined crossfit, to avoid those types. Thanks God no one here is saying they worship the bench press. I’m glad that we can debate this issue maturely. It’s what I love about the crossfit community.

  16. I think we should be doing more yoga related excecises, looking at the stability flexibility positives is this something we should incorporate into CF London classes?

    How about a Yoga wod?

  17. kind of defeats the purpose of yoga practice colmster! you should go do some bikram sessions, is quite intense and a good way to get rid of long standing injuries

  18. Now we’ve done a full circle, Yoga is a tossers exercise.

    Thank You and Goodnight.

  19. Ok, lets agree that Crossfit has it pretty right in its central exercises. Lets also agree that there are other exercises that the individual needs to think about carefully before they use them. What could be essential for one person, may not be be so essential for another.

    I accept that I ought not to have called anyone a tosser, even though it can be amazing fun

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest