Pro Tips

Mark Rippetoe’s Secrets to Strength

World-renowned strength coach Mark Rippetoe has the perfect antidote to “functional” training—a barbell.

by
Mark Rippetoe

I was never a good lifter. I was 622 (squat), 396 (bench), and 633 (deadlift). People don’t pay me to lift weights. People pay me to teach them how to lift weights. I see on the Internet all the time that “Rippetoe only squatted 622. What does he know?” I know a lot of stupid people who are stronger than me but who couldn’t coach their way out of a sack. The general pattern has been that only a handful of elite athletes have ever become effective coaches. Mediocre athletes who tried very hard to become great athletes
and didn’t make it due to genetics learned, in the process of trying very hard, what it takes to become great at the sport. Genetics determine freak athletes. A freak genetic athlete who learns everything easily actually can’t coach
a sport at a higher level because he never had to learn the intimate details as well as the people who tried and never made it. The trying part is when you learn, not the doing-it part. Were Tom Landry or Vince Lombardi great football players?

SEE ALSO: Rippetoe's 4-Week Guide to Starting Strength

Someone who is very strong can’t get stronger easily. But somebody who’s never trained before can get stronger quickly. A novice hasn’t progressed very far toward their physical potential and can recover from the stress of one workout, or overload event, in 48–72 hours. You’re only a novice for about 6–8 months, then you’re intermediate... For a more advanced athlete, the overload might be a month’s worth of training and it may take that long to adapt and recover from the stress of an overload.

starting-strength-rippetoe

People trying to get strong need only a few exercises their entire career. We select exercises for clients that will encourage them to use the most muscle mass over the greatest effective range of motion, allowing them to lift
the most weight. We don’t balance on Bosu balls with one foot behind us and one in front with 10-pound dumbbells in our hands because that doesn’t cause adaptation to occur. It’s not hard enough. The prowler (a push sled that weight can be added to) is the most useful conditioning tool because it doesn’t have an eccentric component and therefore doesn’t produce an inflammatory soreness response.

There is no such thing as sport-specific strength training. There should be no attempt made to make strength training look like your sport because that waters down the effectiveness of the exercise. Athletes simply need to acquire strength, then practice on the field with the sport’s movement patterns. Functional training isn’t as effective as barbell training because the loads are too damn light. It’s not done heavily enough to constitute training, and it’s not similar enough to the sport to constitute practice. Functional training is an exercise method that places the balance problem ahead of the force-production problem.

Rippetoe’s Top 3 Strength Tips for All Lifters

1. Use Hip Drive
To most effectively use your hips in a squat, point your toes out 30 degrees and shove knees out to be parallel with your feet. Look at the floor four feet in front of you and drive vertically with your hips.

2. Pull in Balance
When setting up for a deadlift, place your feet in a position so the bar is one inch away from your shins. The bar will be directly over the middle of the foot, which is the center of balance for the pull.

3. Press Safely
At the top of the overhead press, shrug your traps upward to lock the bar out. You won’t impinge (cause inflammation) the shoulder in this position.

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