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Old 01-05-2007, 07:45 PM   #1
Barry Cooper
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Louisville  KY
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I had this idea a while back, and was just reading the thread on the lack of swimming gains, started to reply, then decided maybe a whole new thread was in order.

Being the touchy-feely Humanities type that I am, I was roughly 20 years late getting up to speed on fractals. Those of you who are the mathematical/physics types please correct me if I'm wrong--and it's overwhelmingly likely I'll be wrong in at least some particulars--but my understanding of what a fractal is is a graphical representation of an orderly chaotic system.

By this I mean that it has been discovered that most apparently chaotic systems can actually be described/created with a relatively small number of equations. What is unpredictable is exactly what will happen in what precise order--these are definitionally non-linear systems--but what can be predicted is that certain patterns will recur, and what a fractal (which I believe is short for "fractional dimension") shows is self similar patterns, on all scales of analysis. They combine the properties of infinite linear distances, in finite space. Creating these things, that look like snowflakes, or spirals, or whatever, was a big deal when PC's started becoming widely commercially available back in the 80's.

Now, CrossFit is constantly varied, if not randomized. According to whatever CrossFit Journal that was, Coach has a relatively simple template for the creation of the WOD's, but is able to create essentially limitless variety with that template. However, there is still clearly a pattern. This, it seems to me, roughly fulfills the requirement for the creation of a fractal. If you could symbolically represent various movements, then you could literally create a visual pattern with the WOD's, I think. If you were much smarter than me.

Now, this raises an interesting question with respect to health and fitness. Our goal is to simultaneously increase and decrease our systemic homeostasis. Increase it, in the sense of physical capacity and capability. Decrease it, in the sense of avoiding accomodation to repeated stimuli, which in this analysis would represent a linear function. Progressive Resistance, of course, is a paradigmatic straight line. Most periodization schedules, though, would also fall under that rubric.

Now, periodization makes sense to people, because they can SEE the underlining patterns. However, the point is made repeatedly in the book I'm stealing these ideas from--Chaos, by James Gleick--that nature, by and large, eschews straight lines. It works better with embedded patterns that are neither fully random nor fully predictable.

Given all of this, it occurred to me that this might be an interesting way to create periodization relative to specific fitness goals, without unesthetic straight lines.

Specifically, the relation between GPP and SPP is still an relatively vague area. We know there is a clear relation between generalized work capacity and the ability to handle varied tasks. This is definitionally the outcome we cultivate, and I suppose in that phrasing is perhaps redundant.

However--and this is my "what if"--we could define programs with specific biasses. For example, decreasing 10K times, or increasing max deadlifts, or pushups, or whatever. Now, clearly, this can be done without getting too fancy just by the application of common sense. But wouldn't it be interesting to represent various elements symbolically, plug them into equations, and pop out a workout schedule that will trend for that individual towards a specific goal. Which would reliably increase SPP without unnecessary sacrifice of GPP.

Now, this would apply more obviously to the physical components of fitness than to the neurological components, but both could theoretically be included. If you want to improve basketball performance, you could allocate basketball practice as one of your variables. However, I think you need neurological cycling as much as physical cycling, so I'm not sure time on the court shooting baskets is always the only good way to improve your ability to shoot baskets. I could be wrong, but that's my hunch.

Anyway, all this may be WAY too complicated, but I'd be curious what the mathematical types think.

This is a hot Friday night for me. Whoo-HOO!!!!

I suppose I could go get a beer somewhere.
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