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Book Review: Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity

I have always been a fan of Mark Rippetoe’s writing. Starting Strength was one of the first barbell books I ever picked up, and I’m glad for that. Love him or hate him, Mark speaks his mind and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it. Mean Ol’ Mr. Gravity: Conversations on Strength Training is a compilation of questions and answers taken from Mark’s strength and weight training forum online.

The format is very simple. Someone posts a question, and there is Mark Rippetoe’s answer. Even though I don’t train the way the author advocates anymore, there was something on every single page that made me laugh. I doubt I’ll ever stop reading strength training material, just because I enjoy the culture so much.

Rippetoe does not suffer fools gladly. Other than the practical advice given, my favorite parts of this book are always when he is chastising someone for misinterpreting his (very clear) advice, ignoring his advice and then seeking approval for doing so, or trying to argue with him about things about which he has already made up his mind.

The bad

First, he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of kettlebells, but I’m biased there.

There is a lot of redundancy here. Anyone who has frequented a strength forum online knows that the same questions pop up over and over and over again. “Can I do half-squats instead of squats?”

“Do what you want, but it’s not a squat.”

“Do I have to do this?”

“No, you don’t have to do anything.”

And so on. I find this entertaining. You might hate it.

And of course, because the book is lifted from a forum, the writing is not great on the part of the people asking the questions. Rippetoe is always articulate, but if you’re looking for a great representation of what he is capable of with words, I recommend Strong Enough? Thoughts From 30 Years of Barbell Training.

If you’re one of those people who just loves to read about training, you’ll find something to enjoy in this book. I can open to any page and find something that makes me laugh or nod, or that gives me new ideas for something to test (see my Grip and Rip review if you wonder what that means).

If you’re a fan of Mark’s you’ll be a fan of this book. For all its flaws, I’m glad I read it and I’ll probably pick it up again in the future.


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