Silly Bullshit

By Mark Rippetoe

In Classic, Rest Day/Theory

July 01, 2007

PDF Article

There is a lot of advice, information, and well-understood knowledge regarding the field in which I practice--strength training and fitness--that is just silly bullshit, writes Mark Rippetoe, co-author of Starting Strength and owner Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita Falls.

Often times it’s physicians who are perpetuating this, well, BS. The medical community is famous for equating exercise with running, walking, and cycling, all undertakings that are measured by the time spent engaging in them. Isn’t it fascinating that your pediatrician will advise your child from lifting weights, but will never advise against activities that arguably provide more risk (soccer, for example).

The training of doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers requires no formal education in the use of effective barbell techniques used by serious athletes who rely on superior performance. Methods sufficient for getting sick and injured people back to “normal parameters,” fall short when taking a healthy athlete from baseline to elite athletics, much less making a healthy non-athlete fitter and stronger. Lack of perspective on this issue is the medical professions’ largest obstacle-- they don’t even know the problem exists!

It is incumbent on you to educate yourself. When information is issued from a position of authority, be sure you have the tools to recognize what is sound advice and what is silly bullshit.

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26 Comments on “Silly Bullshit”


wrote …

This article should be read by everyone who lives in the modern world.


wrote …

I'm a doctor and what Rip says about the medical community's knowledge of fitness is true. Essentially there is no level of proficient athletic or fitness knowledge required for someone to get an MD. We learn basic physiology and a little about adaptation from exercise (mostly cardiovascular as I remember) but learn NOTHING about programming or technique for increasing other, sometimes more important, areas of fitness such as strength. I can't count the number of old ladies I've seen who can barely lower themselves safely down a flight of stairs or walk with mildly heavy grocery bags who think they are keeping fit from walking on a treadmill for an hour a day at 1 mph. Its sad actually. How terrible it must be to be alone, elderly and so weak that slightly uneven ground gives you trouble causing you to stumble and sometimes fall. It would be terrifying to live like that. And Rip is right, almost nobody will tell these older people to get stronger. I do. But I guess most health care professionals are afraid they'll get hurt lifting weights. Well hell, they're gonna get hurt if they DON'T lift weights! And maybe fall down somewhere they can't call for help and DIE!
I've read Rip's books, crossfit lit, other exercise texts (and I have to admit a few issues of Muscle and Fiction) but I am probably in the minority.
I think that there need to be sweeping changes in the way the mainstream media, the medical profession, and government-funded agencies (eg Medicare) treat exercise and fitness. We pay it lip service, but we don't really seem to BELIEVE that high levels of fitness are really necessary or helpful. They are. But when we look at what we are actually doing--prescribing pills for people AFTER they are fat, diabetic and have heart disease and high blood pressure--it shows that fitness is an afterthought. We should take all the money from Medicare (or some of it) and build gyms--proper ones with barbells and pull-up bars and start community programs, advertised during some IQ destroying TV show, and encourage people to go to their local free Gym and work out. Heck, while we're at it, include some nutrition classes. Or something of that sort. Something different, because what we're doing isn't working. And by "we" I mean the medical community, health agencies paid for by taxes and the media.
In one of Rip's books he says (if I remember correctly) that physical strength is the most important thing in life. At first I thought this was kind of strange and an overstatement, but really in a lot of ways physical strength is or can quickly become the most important thing in life. Especially when you don't have any.


wrote …

great article, this is such an apt piece about the western world's misconceptions about fitness. I agree with the first comment, everyone should read this and then maybe i wouldnt see shit like 'vibrating plate training' and get frustrated when people actually go and think it will work!!!


wrote …

I think Rip is totally right about this article I see these bull shit tv imfomercials before I go to bed at night and when im turning on the tv in the morning to catch the local news.As a teenager I was guilty of buying all of the bodybuilding and muscle mags I read one that my teenage son bought a few months ago and couldn't agree with Rip anymore,these mags have become nothing but billboards for supplement companies.And 75% of what they're advertising doesn't work anyways.


wrote …

I agree with pretty much everything in this article. However, I think Rip has left out a major source of SB - bad
personal trainers. Just as MD's are arrogant enough to think they know everything about exercise, PTs and fitness coaches
seem to have adopted the same arrogance, both with regard to various forms of exercise and with regard to nutrition.
I am continually astonished at the garbage that comes out of trainers mouths and poor, unknowing clients are paying handsomely to soak up the BS. Lets just try to be a little reflective, both of others' professions and our own. There are bad apples in every bunch.


wrote …

The best article there is


wrote …

Tamara, you're so unfortunately right - bad personal trainers, hell, the personal training industry in general is one of the worst sources of recycled SB. So bad, in fact, that it makes me hate my job (almost don't even want to admit it's what I do). As the front line between the public and their GloboGyms, you'd think personal trainers would gain some perspective - I know trainers that have worked with clients for YEARS and still, these same clients show absolutely no progress. It's just the same rehashed SB.

"It’s like you were about Santa Claus when you were nine." Absolute genius.


wrote …

I too have relatively low tolerance for SB or BS or whatever we want to call it. As a physician, I find it difficult to truly defend my professional colleagues re: their knowledge of training and exercise...not to mention their knowledge of diet and nutrition (though I think the medical literature is catching up to reality on the latter issue). Having said that, I am troubled by the wholesale indictment of ALL physicians. At our best, we are trained to think critically and skeptically. To site a few examples coming from an exceedingly small fraction of the medical community as representative of that community clearly violates the principles of "science". In other words, anecdotes and case examples don't necessarily tell us much about anything. In my experience, very few of my colleagues pretend to know anything about exercise since the practice of medicine is (sadly) far more focused on pathology and disease than on wellness and health.


wrote …

Great read! What happened to common sense?


wrote …

I'm a physician, too, and Dr. Nathan Graves note is right on and couldn't be more true about our wonderful profession when it comes to exercise. After 40 years of running and umpteen marathons, combined with those little light weight 8-10 exercises of 10 reps, I've found that lifting larger amounts of weight is really a lot of fun. ( I have a really long way to go thanks to the stiffness of unused hamstrings an annoying side effect from running!) Thanks to Coach Glassman, Coach Burgener, and Coach Rippetoe for showing that being a weight lifter does not mean one is a crazed steroid user. The profession that Dr. Graves and I have chosen is about sick care, Crossfit is healthcare!
Jim Rooks, MD
Crossfit No limits, Steilacoom, WA


wrote …

should be in the NYtimes op ed page. many thanx mr riptoe.


replied to comment from Huw Owen

sorry got spelling wrong its Mr. Rippetoe.


wrote …

Brilliant article, Rip! And sadly so very true.

As frustrating as it is to most of us (even with minimal knowledge of the subject) who can tell the bullshit when they see it, I can't imagine what it must be like for coaches of the calibre found in the CrossFit community!

I'm still a newbie to CrossFit, but I'm making it my mission to get my family (at least) on the bandwagon. In particular my parents - I don't want to see them follow the same path as the majority of the population and waste away into immobility and a nursing home!

Keep fighting the SB, Coach (and CrossFit in general) and thanks for the article.


wrote …

I'm also a physician and have had some major sports injuries in the past. Mr. Rippetoe's article is a was very much right on the mark. I enjoyed reading it and learned from his insights. It is incredible that those academics who do the research in this area don't even consult those that are involved personally with training and the atheletes themselves.


wrote …

Rip!! How come when you speak your mind you are a hero?? I am well known for speaking my mind...sometimes not what people want to hear!!!! but I loose friends over it!!! Maybe I am not doing it correctly!!! lol

By the way, are you coming to Scotland again and visiting Gym Division in Inverness??...I hope not to miss you this time if you are!!! :-)


wrote …

Best thing I've read in a while.


wrote …

Spot on! I'm going to make this required reading for all my Marines!

Semper Fi!
Major Jordan Walzer, USMC
3d Recon Battalion


wrote …

Yet another physician here (and Level 1 certified). I have honestly learned more about helping people live well through CrossFit than I did through the 8 years of medical training. I will soon be opening a CrossFit gym and utilizing its health promoting benefits for the betterment of my patients.
I won't make gobs of cash but I sleep great at night.


James Zipperer wrote …

This article is spot on! I m only 28 years old, but I have done all different types of physical training (Especially while in the USMC). I have been saying most of what Rip said in this article for years. I hate to say it, but I laughed histerically while reading this.

Keep it coming Rip!


wrote …

One more doctor here, loving the benefits of Crossfit i see in myself, and always encouraging patients to join as well. Thanks Rip for your insight and speaking the truth- the medical profession needs you to seriously educate them! I agree with Dr Graves, and believe we need to focus on primary prevention and not just medicating after the fact. Almost every disease i treat can be either prevented or seriously diminished with a change in diet and exercise- so simple yet so difficult for most to grasp and execute.
Lauren Vigna, MD
Gunxcrossfit, New Paltz, NY


Tammi Byxbee wrote …

Great article-this is why I left mainstream fitness as an ACE certifed personal trainer, and have began my CrossFit journey.


wrote …

This is perhaps the best article I've ever read on the Journal. The fitness industry needs more people like Rippetoe who are just completely upfront and straightforward with everything they say. Thank you Mark, this was a real eye opener.


wrote …

I love ppl like Coach Rip who know their stuff and keep it real. We need more people like him in our industry. I'm an instructor at a globo gym but I'm the only instructor here with any kind of formal education and background.(BS in Exericse Science, MS in Health and Nutrition, plus a bunch of other crap that let's me put letters behind my name... and of course my level 1 crossfit)I'm also the only trainer here who questions ACSM and FDA guidelines and teaches Paleo, Zone, and Crossfit. I hate getting tossed into the mix of "certified personal trainer" when all the other trainers around here are just that, "certified", by taking a weekend course or whatever silly bullshit they did do get the title and the job. Then they quote muscle and fiction articles and preach about supplements when half of them are look to be in worse shape than their clients. The majority of my clients are in the healthcare field, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, etc, and I was very surprised at first of their lack of knowledge in regards to fitness and nutrition. I joke with them that they are just "practicing" medicine. Lame, I know. Anyways, a quote from Rip on page 3 hit home with me when he said "it pisses me off to waste my time with people who ask and the won't listen to what I know will work" and it does get aggravating. I couldn't tell you how many times or how many hours I've spent programming specific plans for some people who never carry it out or say they tried it for a while and went right back to tinkering with the elliptical and doing nautilus torso rotations. Reading stuff from men like Rip and Zach Even-Esh gets me fired up and keeps me fighting the good fight. Thanks guys!


replied to comment from Jim Rooks

great comments, totally agree and also all the other great reading in the discussion. learn alot, especially, Jim, when you put it in a better perspective, "med fields= sick care, crossfit= healthcare"......


wrote …

Great article


wrote …

Composed six years ago - still true and even more relevant

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