Interview With Mark Rippetoe On A New Three-Lift Total

Create: 09/09/2007 - 01:08
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.


Submitted by Ed Kutin (not verified) on
The press? The press was dropped due to problems with bending backs way back and the like. What has changed to suddenly make it ok? And why rail against the monolift? The lift is called a "squat", not a "walk and squat".

Submitted by A.M.Smith (not verified) on
Good point on the squat...wonder why I haven't heard that before

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
If you actually read the article you would know why he is opposed to the use of the monolift... it is a limiting factor and some believe an integral part of the lift. Some people are of the philosophy of do whatever you can with the lift to move more weight... others are not.

Submitted by Gary Reichert (not verified) on
In any case, the last thing we need is another way to dilute the competition and divide the sport.

Submitted by Mike Pelosi (not verified) on
I hope these Cross Fit Total contests become more popular I'd like to eventually do one.Long live the over head press!!! lol

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Hmm.... methinks he doth not bench a mighty lot and is bound and determined to point out other upper body exercises.. OL had the Push/Press event. it was safe enough, it just was making OL too long for IOC lol. People were angry when it got kicked out then too. I'm not sure the overhead press is a wise idea for the women's division, remember guys? ladies lift here too and the bench despite its macho image is less of a factor in injury for ladies than the overhead press may be. Course his motivation might be to get rid of any gals who are creeping up on the original poster's bench press single too lol. Interesting that he doesn't want to kick the DL to the curb....given that provision, I agree with the guy! But then, I'm not in love with bench or the mammoth shirts that are around either. Removing the bench would yes, remove the darned bench shirt problem... but it is too strange, too non PL. if you put in power cleans, or push press with deadlift, squat, and maybe curls, perhaps it might be amusing and possibly a popular cross over for the OL crowd too. How bored or depressed about a monolift do ya have to be to come up with this?

Submitted by mastermonster on
No excuses! Just lift it! I totally disagree that an overhead press is a better lift for sport application than the bench press. In how many sports does a competitor lift another competitor over his head? (WWE is not real folks! LOL!) Most sports that are combative or strength related involve pushing or hitting with the hand or fist thrust forward from the chest. Almost exactly like the bench press. Ex: Hand shivers in football or punches in boxing and MMA. The shoulder joint is not even designed to lock out overhead without impingeing on itself. So, long term; locked out overhead presses are even damaging to the shoulder joint in there very nature; even when done strictly.

Submitted by Putt Houston on
Yeah, let's really muddle shit up and mix weightlifting with powerlifting. Try and explain the sport then to someone on the street. WTF???? Putt Houston.... now with more Bom Chicka Wahwahhhhhh

Submitted by rodgersmadmax on
I personally think it is a waste of time to even discuss it, mainly because just how many of us is ever going to enter an event like that? None of us, we are all set in our ways and going to keep lifting the 3 lifts that we already do. Sounds like someone justs wants to start a new event so maybe they can win a trophy, and thats all good, but there is already so many weight classes, Divisions and events it hard to get 2 or 3 people to compete against each other already. Over head pressing will just get someones back hurt or head busted, plus no one is going to do it, not enough to pay any bills any way. Some one will try incline Bench next,LOL Jesse

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Cross Fit? That is a lame name. Where do people come up with this stuff? And why? Try squatting out of a monolift and tell me you dont need a strong trunk to do it. The walkout was only a part of a squat becuase we didnt have the monolift then. Remember when they didnt have the uprights in the bench? They have them now but nobody complains about that. Also what about drive(from the feet) in bench? You have to drive hard if you want to press big weight. Ever watch any of the big benchers they are driving with the feet(lower body) All power comes from driving of the feet. When I do an over head press I rarely get enough weight on the bar to ever feel any strain on my lower half.(Maybe in a push press)

Submitted by T.Johnson on
I agree that the overhead press is a dangerous lift if taken to extremes. I've hurt my shoulder doing it, but it is a great way to strengthen your shoulders. I have to argue about the monolift and the fact that if you would walk out all of your "training" lifts then using a monolift at a contest is a cake walk, but that's just my opinion. I believe you should train harder "not necessarily heavier" than what you expect or do at a contest.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The press was dropped from OL because it became impossible to judge. Rather than a knee kick the lifters used a full-body sag and then on press command an upward extension followed by a super fast lay back and recovery. The press had become a 'quick lift.' What rules will Mark R. use to prevent this?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I'm sure Titan and Inzer could design new shirts optimized for overhead pressing as well, if the overhead press once again became a competition lift. The other shirt manufacturers would soon follow with their own offerings.

Submitted by rodgersmadmax on
Sure Inzer, and Titan, and everyone would make equiptment for the lift, why wouldn't they? Even if none of it ever worked everybody out there would buy it. Just like the deadlift shirt, how many people own them, and how many actually get anything out of it. Just the promise that you might get lbs. out of it, is all it will take, it's called sales. As far as judging it as it has already been said, impossible, and would be more argued about than the Squat. Can't even start to think that Full Powerlifters would ever change. As far as equiptment I can't wait to see the next generation of Bench Shirts and Squat Suits, and they will change, and lift even more, without a doubt.

Submitted by TOny_quist (not verified) on
Crossfit is a great way for average joes in the gym to do real lifts again. People take this as an attack on powerlifting. I disagree with some of his view but at leat he is getting people more involved with real lifting. You guys ever look inside commercial gyms today? It is getting to be more machines and light curls. The barbell lifts are going to be extinct pretty soon if something isn't done. My friend lives in San Diego and he said Cross Fit is getting pretty popular. There are some hot looking women on you tube doing some cross fit. Check it out sometime! Hopefully this will stick a fork in bodybuilding and all the fitness bullshit myths out there. (Not hardcore bodybuilding but the wannabes that only do machines)