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Rippetoe's 'Conditioning is a Sham' Article

Hey, long-time lurker, just registered so can’t comment on articles yet.

I like the focus on getting stronger over traditional steady-state conditioning, e.g. jogging. But I haven’t found it to work out quite like Rippetoe seems to promise. Like, after a period of heavy lifting with little conditioning, if I go out and do a sport like skiing, basketball, martial arts, I find that I am sucking wind pretty hard.

In terms of my strength levels I am a long way behind many here, so maybe I am just not strong enough. I wonder though if there aren’t some assumptions behind Rippetoe’s thinking that may not apply to the casual lifter/athlete.

Specifically, he seems to assume that in addition to strength training, you are doing a lot of pretty strenuous sports practice, like his athletes are. Maybe a better title would be, “Conditioning is a sham (if you are already practicing your sport 2-3 hours a day).”

So for those who aren’t, what’s the balance between gaining strength and cardiovascular fitness?

The only time I have ever done much consistent cardio training is when I was cutting for a photoshoot. I didn’t feel like I got any better at cardio over the 7 week period of running/biking 4-6 times a week.

However, since I started to lift for strength I have found that if I ever for some reason need to run, say, 5 miles, I know that I can.

I don’t run it fast and I huff and puff like hell the whole time, but my muscles are working efficiently enough that I can make it through.

Most of what I saw in that article is that he says weak people would benefit more from getting strong than they would from getting “conditioned”, when “conditioned” only means able to run farther and for longer.

Once you start doing some conditioning work or participating regularly in a sport, then you’ll notice a difference versus if you lacked strength. Take two people, one runner and one weight-trainer, condition them for two weeks and set them loose on the world. The second one will be way more useful. They will move things (debris, medicine balls, people, etc) with less effort, and consequently spend less energy performing those tasks. They will not run as well as the runner but will dwarf the runner in terms of force production. Does that make sense?

Of course, if you personally were doing some conditioning and then dropped it, your conditioning will suffer. His argument is for building a strength base initially and not detracting from it - or ignoring it altogether - to pursue conditioning. If you’re dealing with an athlete who regularly participates in a sport then their time will generally be best spent training strength, rather than conditioning, outside of their sport.

I’m a strength guy. I’ve been a crossfit guy too and I think that style of conditioning is great; very fun. Being strong is king though. I find that my conditioning comes back almost as soon as I decide I want it to, even if I’ve put on weight. One or two weeks and I’m back. Seriously, mitochondrial density is made and lost in a matter of days. Strength isn’t. You can get a lot of conditioning done in ten minutes twice a week plus a few power walks. More than enough for most rec sports and life scenarios. I feel very good about my chances against 99% of the population.

I imagine the title was an editorial decision and not a first choice.

[quote]Adversary wrote:
Hey, long-time lurker, just registered so can’t comment on articles yet.

I like the focus on getting stronger over traditional steady-state conditioning, e.g. jogging. But I haven’t found it to work out quite like Rippetoe seems to promise. Like, after a period of heavy lifting with little conditioning, if I go out and do a sport like skiing, basketball, martial arts, I find that I am sucking wind pretty hard.

In terms of my strength levels I am a long way behind many here, so maybe I am just not strong enough. I wonder though if there aren’t some assumptions behind Rippetoe’s thinking that may not apply to the casual lifter/athlete.

Specifically, he seems to assume that in addition to strength training, you are doing a lot of pretty strenuous sports practice, like his athletes are. Maybe a better title would be, “Conditioning is a sham (if you are already practicing your sport 2-3 hours a day).”

So for those who aren’t, what’s the balance between gaining strength and cardiovascular fitness? [/quote]

As you discovered first hand, it’s myopic to believe that strength training alone will improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Yes, yes, yes, to all the Rippetoe sycophants: I understand his message that novices should focus on strength and place conditioning work on the back burner.

However, IF your sport or profession of choice requires a high-level of conditioning, I believe a certain amount of conditioning work must be done on a regular basis. The exact ratio of strength to conditioning work will vary with each individual.

The recent article by Rippetoe was amusing, to say the least. One example is the following statement:

“… VO2max, like the standing vertical jump, is one of those physical abilities that doesn’t improve much with training. Go ahead, look it up.”

While it is established that VO2 max does have a finite room for improvement, Rippetoe conveniently forgets to mention that LT, or lactate thresh hold, can be SIGNIFICANTLY improved with proper and consistent training. Improving your LT has tremendous ramifications for martial artists, rugby players, smoke jumpers, swimmers, cyclists, etc.

And how does one improve LT?

You get a gold star if your answer is conditioning work.

Now, I do agree with him in that intense conditioning work WILL hamper one’s progress in strength gains. Something has to give and you simply cannot go all-in with both endeavors and hope to accomplish anything meaningful. You’ll be lucky if you avoid injury.

So, for those whose primary goal is strength gains, do NOT be the myopic dumb fuck who completely stops doing any conditioning work. Simply do less of it at a moderate intensity. There is a thread in this forum where many debated the value of steady-state cardio. Take some time and read it; I think you will find some of the posts informative.

As for the argument that merely practicing one’s chosen sport is sufficient, I disagree. Yes, specificity is important. However, practicing other forms of conditioning work can positively help you against events such as burn out, repetitive stress injury, and so on. And what if your sport involves a hard/brief effort followed by a short rest period, etc? If you subscribe to the belief that steady state cardio is beneficial (which is my stance), how are you ever going to get this type of work in by ONLY practicing your sport?

As far as I’m concerned, Rippetoe had some innovative ideas but has regressed into a cranky old man who angrily and stubbornly spits on anything that challenges his paradigm.

And there is absolutely positively a conspiracy of silence among the published writers of T-Nation. In other words, even though there may be authors out there who disagree with Ripp’s view point, they dare not publicly challenge him. The reason, IMO, include professional courtesy, respect for his past work, or the fear that their own future articles will receive retaliatory condemnation.

Treat Ripp like the grumpy old man who still watches movies on vhs and listens to music on cassette.

If you believe that strength gains will help your goals, then fine, work on that. But if the sports you play also require a high degree of conditioning, I believe it’s important to continually strive for improvement in that as well.

OP
personally, i would never take advice from a guys that look like rippetoe. all these smart guys that got all the answers on how to workout, then they look like they never lifted or ran in their life. maybe one day years ago when they were all eating roids for breakfast lunch and dinnner they were average lifters, but to listen to them… not for me…do this, do that, then they look like they couldnt run a 5k, or do 20 pullups…i’ll listen to coachs who practices what they preach…

[quote]spk wrote:
OP
personally, i would never take advice from a guys that look like rippetoe. all these smart guys that got all the answers on how to workout, then they look like they never lifted or ran in their life. maybe one day years ago when they were all eating roids for breakfast lunch and dinnner they were average lifters, but to listen to them… not for me…do this, do that, then they look like they couldnt run a 5k, or do 20 pullups…i’ll listen to coachs who practices what they preach…[/quote]

Amen!

When I first started out lifting, I took the “no cardio advice”. Well guess what, I ended up in the worst shape of my life. I was strong, but could not walk up a flight of stairs without sucking wind.

Endurance in my mind, is a basic ability, just like strenght. Not training it makes no sense whatsoever to me.

Those who can’t, teach

[quote]56x11 wrote:

[quote]Adversary wrote:
Hey, long-time lurker, just registered so can’t comment on articles yet.

I like the focus on getting stronger over traditional steady-state conditioning, e.g. jogging. But I haven’t found it to work out quite like Rippetoe seems to promise. Like, after a period of heavy lifting with little conditioning, if I go out and do a sport like skiing, basketball, martial arts, I find that I am sucking wind pretty hard.

In terms of my strength levels I am a long way behind many here, so maybe I am just not strong enough. I wonder though if there aren’t some assumptions behind Rippetoe’s thinking that may not apply to the casual lifter/athlete.

Specifically, he seems to assume that in addition to strength training, you are doing a lot of pretty strenuous sports practice, like his athletes are. Maybe a better title would be, “Conditioning is a sham (if you are already practicing your sport 2-3 hours a day).”

So for those who aren’t, what’s the balance between gaining strength and cardiovascular fitness? [/quote]

As you discovered first hand, it’s myopic to believe that strength training alone will improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Yes, yes, yes, to all the Rippetoe sycophants: I understand his message that novices should focus on strength and place conditioning work on the back burner.

However, IF your sport or profession of choice requires a high-level of conditioning, I believe a certain amount of conditioning work must be done on a regular basis. The exact ratio of strength to conditioning work will vary with each individual.

The recent article by Rippetoe was amusing, to say the least. One example is the following statement:

“… VO2max, like the standing vertical jump, is one of those physical abilities that doesn’t improve much with training. Go ahead, look it up.”

While it is established that VO2 max does have a finite room for improvement, Rippetoe conveniently forgets to mention that LT, or lactate thresh hold, can be SIGNIFICANTLY improved with proper and consistent training. Improving your LT has tremendous ramifications for martial artists, rugby players, smoke jumpers, swimmers, cyclists, etc.

And how does one improve LT?

You get a gold star if your answer is conditioning work.

Now, I do agree with him in that intense conditioning work WILL hamper one’s progress in strength gains. Something has to give and you simply cannot go all-in with both endeavors and hope to accomplish anything meaningful. You’ll be lucky if you avoid injury.

So, for those whose primary goal is strength gains, do NOT be the myopic dumb fuck who completely stops doing any conditioning work. Simply do less of it at a moderate intensity. There is a thread in this forum where many debated the value of steady-state cardio. Take some time and read it; I think you will find some of the posts informative.

As for the argument that merely practicing one’s chosen sport is sufficient, I disagree. Yes, specificity is important. However, practicing other forms of conditioning work can positively help you against events such as burn out, repetitive stress injury, and so on. And what if your sport involves a hard/brief effort followed by a short rest period, etc? If you subscribe to the belief that steady state cardio is beneficial (which is my stance), how are you ever going to get this type of work in by ONLY practicing your sport?

As far as I’m concerned, Rippetoe had some innovative ideas but has regressed into a cranky old man who angrily and stubbornly spits on anything that challenges his paradigm.

And there is absolutely positively a conspiracy of silence among the published writers of T-Nation. In other words, even though there may be authors out there who disagree with Ripp’s view point, they dare not publicly challenge him. The reason, IMO, include professional courtesy, respect for his past work, or the fear that their own future articles will receive retaliatory condemnation.

Treat Ripp like the grumpy old man who still watches movies on vhs and listens to music on cassette.

If you believe that strength gains will help your goals, then fine, work on that. But if the sports you play also require a high degree of conditioning, I believe it’s important to continually strive for improvement in that as well.
[/quote]

Good post man. I agree with what you say, to some degree (because I think this is a very complex subject that involves a lot of variables and that is also very case specific). But you have to take into account where Ripptoe is coming from: training 16 year old football player whose limiting factor in the field is almost invariably strength and not their aerobic capacity. For this and similar crowds, strength gain would be the surest way to improve overall performance and fitness.

Those who cant, teach…most retarded statement that could be said. You basically negate every person with any kind of wisdom or advice.

Ripp doesnt look like a bodybuilder, true, because he is not. Dude (and Ive met him) doesnt give a rats ass about anything other than lifting (meaning non-asthetic).
Thats like saying Tate or Wendler dont know what they are talking about either because they look(ed) like fat fucks. Please use logic, it helps.
I dont think he is a couch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVKEl4Wxoqc

I can’t believe I’m stepping into another thread where one of the most respected coaches in the industry is being attacked, but what the hell. I’ll throw in my two cents.

[quote]Adversary wrote:
I like the focus on getting stronger over traditional steady-state conditioning, e.g. jogging. But I haven’t found it to work out quite like Rippetoe seems to promise.

In terms of my strength levels I am a long way behind many here, so maybe I am just not strong enough.[/quote]
You pretty much answered your own question, with regard to where Rippetoe is coming from.

Read the article comments. He clarifies/expands on this idea, somewhat.

[quote]spk wrote:
i would never take advice from a guys that look like rippetoe. all these smart guys that got all the answers on how to workout, then they look like they never lifted or ran in their life.[/quote]
Aren’t you the 6’, 150-pound guy who was complaining that the guys in article photos were too muscular? I have to think your general perspective is skewed.

[quote]Whatever2k wrote:
When I first started out lifting, I took the “no cardio advice”. Well guess what, I ended up in the worst shape of my life. I was strong, but could not walk up a flight of stairs without sucking wind. [/quote]
You were 16 years old when you started training. A teenager that out of shape likely has bigger issues going on. Also, your reading comprehension sucks. He’s not simply saying “don’t do cardio.” He’s saying to build a significant strength base before overfocusing on conditioning.

You can’t cherry-pick his advice by not lifting as he recommends and then complaining about his stance on conditioning. Especially when you’ve admitted previously, “It must be noted that in the beginning, 90% of my routine consisted of consentration curls.”

[quote]hipsr4runnin wrote:
Those who cant, teach…most retarded statement that could be said.[/quote]
x2. Saying Rippetoe “can’t” or doesn’t look like he lifts is absofuckinglutely absurd. It’s also as disrespectful as it is ignorant.


Show me a guy in his mid-50s with a 500 pound deadlift and I’ll show you a guy didn’t just start training yesterday.

[quote]56x11 wrote:
However, IF your sport or profession of choice requires a high-level of conditioning, I believe a certain amount of conditioning work must be done on a regular basis. The exact ratio of strength to conditioning work will vary with each individual.[/quote]
If you’re currently playing a sport that requires a high level of conditioning, you were not the intended audience for this article. He basically said this in the opening.

All due respect, but get the fuck outta here with this nonsense. There are no conspiracy theories going on here. If anything, T-Nation is pretty consistent with offering different theories on cardio, lifting, and nutrition.


Man, Wendler must think Rippetoe is a serious dumbass and probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him since they’re 180 degrees apart on their thoughts on conditioning. Oh, wait…

[quote]Adversary wrote:

So for those who aren’t, what’s the balance between gaining strength and cardiovascular fitness? [/quote]

I took out conditioning for several years. I was still able to play basketball for most of the time. I did once or twice a week. Once I stopped playing my conditioning completely dropped. When I came back while I could move I just didn’t move the way I did before. Of course some of this comes with age but just concentrating on strength will leave you stiff and robotic. Even if you heart can handle it the more robotic you are the more difficult activities will be. That difficulty will make you feel like you are out of shape, when really you just lost a lot of skills.

If you want to be able to participate fairly well in your activities you should strive for once a week, or at least as much as the people you are competing against are doing.

Chris unless you think exactly as he does your starting to over defend Ripptoe.

These are two clearly defined statements, the final one I disagree with. Most examples in life seem to contradict it. 90% if not all of the best athletes were the best far before training for strength and more people out there need to learn how to move efficiently more then worry about training for strength.

“There’s simply no better way to increase your work capacity than increasing your ability to produce force. If your primary interest is being more effective at moving yourself and/or submaximal or maximal loads more efficiently, training for strength contributes much more to your goal than training for endurance”

Chris Colucci,
Thank you for saying things that needed to be said. Disagreeing with an author is one thing, but the disrespect shown to Mr. Rippetoe has been unreal. For the record I think he is pretty spot on, but even if I didn’t I would not be as disrespectful as the people you called out. It makes me wonder if any of the realize his body of work. You have earned even more respect in my book Chris.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
Chris unless you think exactly as he does your starting to over defend Ripptoe.[/quote]
Possibly. Though I’m just trying to speak for the other side of the “debate”.

In the last 48 hours, it seems like a huge dogpile has showed up making ridiculous, sweeping statements about all things Rippetoe-related ranging from the Starting Strength program “ruining people” to there being a conspiracy on the part of T-Nation editors and contributors to favor/protect the guy.

I’m going to go count to 10, breathe deep, and maybe watch a video about puppies or something. The craziness is getting to me.

wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
sssssssssssssaaaahhhhhhh

This may not be in keeping with the tone of this thread so far, but I really appreciated what Mr. Rippetoe said about training in the military.

We absolutely don’t do anything conducive to strength gains, we run way too much, and our ranks are, for the most part, filled with skinny-fat soft-bodies who resemble suckling pigs.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]56x11 wrote:
However, IF your sport or profession of choice requires a high-level of conditioning, I believe a certain amount of conditioning work must be done on a regular basis. The exact ratio of strength to conditioning work will vary with each individual.[/quote]
If you’re currently playing a sport that requires a high level of conditioning, you were not the intended audience for this article. He basically said this in the opening.

All due respect, but get the fuck outta here with this nonsense. There are no conspiracy theories going on here. If anything, T-Nation is pretty consistent with offering different theories on cardio, lifting, and nutrition.


Man, Wendler must think Rippetoe is a serious dumbass and probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him since they’re 180 degrees apart on their thoughts on conditioning. Oh, wait…

[/quote]

And I acknowledged who the intended audience is for Ripp’s latest article. Re-read my original post. The OP, by empirical knowledge, had doubts on whether Ripp’s philosophies are effective and I explained to him why he should not take blind faith on what he or anyone else said.

As for telling me, “all due respect, get the fuck out of here” that kind of passive-aggressive behavior only reflects what everyone else who reads your posts know: that you are very much one of the Ripp sycophants that I mentioned.

You worship the guy…that’s painfully obvious. And you appear to have plenty of time on your hands to be his gatekeeper/cheerleader. Fine, but going on the warpath to over-defend him only erodes your credibility.

As for published authors biting their tongue on an article that they don’t agree with, there is an obvious unspoken agreement to not step out of line (back when Poliquin was writing here, he was refreshing enough to call bull shit from time to time). If your reading comprehension is such that you took my phrase “conspiracy” literally, then I hope this clarifies matters.

BTW, you are now making a career out of staunchly defending Rip and writing articles that are little more than regurgitation of what others have written in the past. Perhaps it would benefit you to step away from the keyboard and take some time for self-reflection.

The only people you are making any headway with your posts are those who already blindly worship the guy.

[quote]56x11 wrote:
you are very much one of the Ripp sycophants that I mentioned.

You worship the guy…that’s painfully obvious.[/quote]

[quote]56x11 wrote:

As for published authors biting their tongue on an article that they don’t agree with, there is an obvious unspoken agreement to not step out of line (back when Poliquin was writing here, he was refreshing enough to call bull shit from time to time).
[/quote]

Step out of line? I didn’t know we even had a line!

Guys are free to write about what they like my friend. If we feel it’s interesting and could potentially resonate with or help the audience, we’re in.

I thought this Rippetoe article was exceptional – a compelling argument (not that I agree 100% with everything in it) and great writing.