What the hell, Rip! 

In an article written by Men’s Health, the outspoken and legendary strength coach, Mark Rippetoe, rips his former associate’s, CrossFit, method of training for strength. “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,” he says.

Let’s just say Rip does not mince words. He says what he means to say. There is no beating around the bush with the man who says, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.” 

So, let’s dive into what Mr. Rippetoe is saying. It shouldn’t be difficult since we know Rip is a straight shooter. Unless, of course, we allow our own biases to cloud our perception. I know I did. 

When I first read the headline, I jumped straight into my CrossFit apologist robe and started to defend the “faith” with the vigor of a crusader on his way to Jerusalem! I had to put down my shield and sword and listen to what the old strength coach said.

And here is what he said,

“It doesn’t have the capacity to program a strength increase.” except initially, because as he says, “anything works for six weeks.”

Yes, Rip is preaching gospel! He is correct. 

I know–I know! I know you are wondering how I can take sides with someone dishing on the “faith”! Aren’t I, after all, the one who gave up powerlifting for daily WODs?

Yes, I did, and yes, I believe CrossFit is a very effective training method, but Rip is correct. It is not the most effective method to build raw and pure strength. And, if you are following the daily WODs provided by CrossFit, you’re probably not going to get strong after the initial increases.

And, here is why.

When it comes to increasing your bench, squat, deadlift, or any other feats of strength, only a single method works–progressive overload.

Progressive overload is when you continually add gradual increases of stress (weight) on your muscles to build strength, and Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength is an excellent program to do just that. It takes the added stress to tear down muscles so they can rebuild stronger.

You can get away with adding reps to sets for a short period to build strength; however, you’ll eventually stop getting stronger and start building endurance.

So, if you’re doing Isabel, 30 reps of Snatches at 135lb or 95lbs for time, twice a week, do not expect to increase your deadlift or snatch weight significantly. However, do expect to get better at Isabel.

Strongman, Eddie Hall, world record Isabel

And that is what Rip is saying.

If your goal is to become a powerlifting champion, CrossFit will not get you there quickly or at all. 

However, if being functional in various areas of life is your goal, then CrossFit is for you.