Renowned strength coach and former competitive powerlifter Mark Rippetoe has never been shy about sharing his perspective on the proper way to train. In a far-ranging interview with Men’s Health earlier this week, the bestselling Starting Strength author pulled no punches when it came to his opinion of CrossFit workouts.
Specifically, Rippetoe took issue with a theory known as “muscle confusion,” which many CrossFit boxes support, and which posits that challenging your muscles in different ways using a variety of workouts can lead to bigger gains in size and strength. It seems you can safely count Rippetoe among the theory’s detractors.
“Muscle confusion is just a marketing thing that programs like CrossFit use to sell product; it’s not training. Training is the process by which you come into the gym, add weight to the bar, and get stronger. Exercising is just fucking around in front of the dumbbell,” Rippetoe says. “CrossFit is exercising. It may be hard and make you sore, but it’s just exercising. It doesn’t have the capacity to program a strength increase.”
Rippetoe went on to add that he thinks programs like CrossFit are popular—in part—because people crave variety and complexity, but often for the wrong reasons.
“They think complexity is cool. Complexity appeals to stupid people—it makes them feel superior intellectually, even if they’re making no real progress. CrossFit works initially because anything works for six weeks,” Rippetoe added.
Check out the rest of the interview for Rippetoe’s no-holds-barred advice on which types of exercises he recommends doing instead to build muscle safely and effectively, as well as what you should eat to build serious strength, especially if you’re over 40 or new to weightlifting.
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