Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 92: Interview with Mark Rippetoe on the good, bad and ugly of sport training

MFL Podcast 92: Interview with Mark Rippetoe on the good, bad and ugly of sport training

This is the second part of a two-part interview with the always enlightening and entertaining Mark Rippetoe, who you’ve probably heard of if you take fitness seriously.

In case you don’t know who Mark is, though, he was a competitive powerlifter for a decade and is the author of several books, including two classics that everyone that’s into weightlifting should read–Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength.

Mark has also coached thousands of people all over the country on proper barbell training through his seminars, which you can learn more about at www.startingstrength.com.

He’s also just a fun guy to chat with because he’s colorful and just shares his thoughts and openly and isn’t one for euphemisms or minced words, which I think is refreshing, really.

So, in this interview Mark and I talk about training for sports and why a lot of what goes on in the upper echelons of sports training is nonsensical and even counterproductive and what athletes should be focusing on instead.

I’ve run into a fair amount of this just working with people because I’ve heard from quite a few high-level college athletes and some professionals as well that were a bit perplexed by the types of things their strength trainers were having them do (as well as the things the trainers would leave out).

I helped many of them simplify their routines and straighten things out and, one for one, they were amazed at how much of a difference in made in their respective sports.

So, if you have any desire to be a better athlete, I think you’ll like the interview. Here it is…



2:00 – How athletes should tailor their training for their profession and what they do wrong.

8:23 – Do top athletes perform well because of their training programs, or in spite of them?

18:48 – How trainers who only deal with high-level athletes can get away with not knowing their profession.

30:05 – Why any training will give results to an un-trained individual vs. optimized training.


5:30 – How athletes should tailor their training for their profession and what they do wrong.

11:47 – Do top athletes perform well because of their training programs, or in spite of them?

22:10 – How trainers who only deal with high-level athletes can get away with not knowing their profession.

33:28 – Why any training will give results to an un-trained individual vs. optimized training.

Starting Strength

Practical Progress


The Best Way to Gain Muscle Without Getting Fat

How to Make Meal Plans That Work For Any Diet

How to Create the Ultimate Muscle Building Workout

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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Really enjoying the insight of these last 3 pieces with Mark. The dude is super knowledgable. Plus, how can you not be entertained by his charismatic delivery.

    “Half squats are masturbation” – Mark Rippetoe

    Another solid collaboration!

  • Gavin James

    For the most part, I enjoyed the last 2 episodes and really like all the work that yourself and Mark Rippetoe produce. I especially appreciate how much research that you use to support all of your articles.

    However, a few concepts discussed in the latest episode can lead to misconceptions. I am on board that the best way to build strength for all individuals is with the basic larger compound heavy lifts (deadlift, squat, etc..) Being a physical therapist myself and having worked with different levels of strength and conditioning coaches, I understand that it is usually the Strength and Conditioning coach’s job to not only improve strength, but to also minimize the risk of injury. Usually at the higher levels, this is a joint effort with athletic trainers, physical therapists, and other medical professionals. I agree that stronger muscles help reduce the risk of injury, especially the benfits of stability with closed kinetic chain activities like the squat and the deadlift. When it comes to something like preventing ACL injuries or other common knee injuries, functional training has it’s purpose. A vast majority of research shows that the most common mechanism for an ACL injury is a non-contact plant and twist during the single leg support phase of a movement (running/cutting/jumping). Building strength with double leg squat and deadlift has carryover to single leg support strength. The strength does not translate to neuromuscular control, unless trained in a functional way. Just like practicing a squat, you need increased exposure to the task for efficient motor programming. The same concept applies to strengthening glute medius muscles to help control the rotary stability of the single leg stance. Larger compound movements such as the Squat and the Deadlift, require glute med activation, however EMG studies show the glute max and quadriceps (for the squat) to significantly overpower those muscles as well.

    I am a huge fan of heavy compound movements for strength development, and agree that it is under utilized even at the higher level at strength and conditioning. I do not think it is worth dismissing the importance of functional training in conjunction with strength training for optimal results from a strength, performance, and injury reduction stance. When Mark said that it is a bunch of physical therapists performing strength and conditioning, I laughed to myself because I have seen it myself to be true. As a physical therapist, I think that more physical therapists need to better understand the importance of large progressive loads and the value of heavy compound movements. I also feel that strength coaches and trainers need more insight on the rationale of injury prevention so the best of both worlds can provide great benefit for the athlete.

    Just wanted to share this… Love all that you do on here Mike

  • Ben Smerud

    This was great podcast! I had one quick question, what role does stretching and flexibility play in Mark’s strength programs? or does he feel that stretching is just something you do to warm up? I am just curious on his take on the common man/woman instead of the freak athletes.

    • Thanks!

      Good question. I haven’t gotten his take on it. But I can tell you that mobility/flexiblity becomes more and more important as you get more and more training under your belt.

  • Thomas

    Mike–I seem to have issues with maintaining flexibility and range of motion as I have been building strength. I feel physical therapy exercises are needed to maintain the range of motion I need when playing sports-especially my golf swing and tightness in my upper body/shoulders. As a golfer yourself what has your experience been and what are your recommendations for this issue.

  • Jay Kim

    Mike, I finally got around to listening to this one. Awesome episode! You had me in stitches at minute 15 “… More dangerous than [email protected]#*ing off..” haha!

  • Jon

    Hey Mike,
    Awesome podcast. I really enjoyed it as I am a big fan of Rippetoe. So I was wondering what would your recommendation be for an athlete when it comes to strength training. I compete in MMA and I train 2 to 3 hours about 6 days a week in my sport. In combat sports there are no off seasons to get strong. How should a strength program look in this situation?
    Thank you,

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