Interview With Mark Rippetoe On A New Three-Lift Total
Myles Kantor interviews Mark Rippetoe on his proposal of a new three-lift total, called the CrossFit Total. The Crossfit Total replaces the bench press with a standing overhead press from a rack.
...It’s a better indicator because any use of upper body strength that doesn’t involve a pressing bench always starts at the ground where the feet go. This is the way bipeds interact with their environment. The bench is obviously the best exercise for developing raw pressing strength, but for sports and physical tasks involving the arms, the kinetic chain always starts at the ground. A strength test that duplicates this functional approach is useful. Weightlifting eliminated the clean and press in 1972, and we’re putting the pressing part back in competition where it belongs only without the more technically demanding (and therefore somewhat exclusionary) clean. The press from the rack is the perfect way to test absolute strength in a functional way.
...Thick shoulders, thick arms, and a heavy trunk musculature with better shoulder flexibility than mine are essential for a big press. Because the lift is performed standing, a big seated press won’t necessarily convert. The press tests not only shoulder and arm strength but the ability to stabilize the force against the floor. It tests “core” (I really hate this term, especially when it’s associated with large, brightly colored rubber balls) strength as well as any other movement in the gym.
...The deadlift is more functional in that it’s very hard to imagine a more useful application of strength than picking heavy shit up off the ground. But the squat is more useful in terms of an exercise because it produces such a profound hormonal response due to the range of motion and the muscle mass involved. The press is a useful test of functional strength because it mimics the way the upper body is actually used. However, if I had to pick one of the three, I suppose it would have to be the deadlift as a test of functional and absolute strength.
...I firmly believe that the monolift is an invention of Satan. The day the squat ceased being a lift that required the bar to be walked back, stabilized, squatted, walked back in, and replaced in the rack was a black day indeed. It was one of the factors that helped me decide to leave the sport. Chip McCain could literally squat anything he could set up, but for him, the hike was the limiting factor. I think that chipping away at the skills and abilities needed to perform a test diminishes the value of the test.