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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 08-23-2010, 01:07 PM   #1
Maximus Lewin
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5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

5/3/1 and CrossFit by Max Lewin, Owner, CrossFit East Bay WAFS

As you know by now: "CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program designed to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. It is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains: Cardiovascular & Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy." These domains fall along a continuum pairing ease of acquisition with persistence from quick to develop/easy to lose to slow to develop/hard to lose.

Of these domains Cardiovascular & Respiratory Endurance is the quickest to develop and easiest to lose. A novice or beginner who stops training will lose ALL of their gains and return to baseline in about two-three months (depending on what study you are looking at). An advanced athlete who stops training will lose roughly half of their capacity in three months.

On the other end of the spectrum is Strength. This takes a long time (years) to develop and is amazingly persistent. Studies vary, but it is fairly clear that even intermediates don't show any loss of strength for up to six weeks!

So what are the implications for developing broad adaptational responses? It is pretty clear by now that for CrossFit competitors or anyone who wants to get really good at the WODs, strength must be JOB ONE. A secondary implication is that conditioning can be ramped up as competitions near and strength training can be made secondary, even tertiary, without any loss of strength. Let's take everyone's favorite WOD, "Fran" as an example. Even if you have great cardio-respiratory ability (let's say you can run a 5:30 mile) if your 1RM Front squat is 115/75 and your max push-press is 95/65 you are not even going to be able to do this Rx. For me to get this person to a 3 minute Fran is going to take a long, long time. Maybe years. It will require lots of direct strength training and multiple linear progressions. On the other hand give me a guy in reasonable shape (let's say a 8:00 mile time) with a 300# Front Squat and 225# Push-press (assuming he is not too fat to do good pull-ups) and let me train him for six weeks with intervals and metcons (and zero additional strength training), and I will show you a 3 minute Fran.

One outstanding program for building strength, which can be stacked, combined or leveraged with CrossFit, is Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 Program.

The program is really quite brilliant: it is, technically, undulating periodization, in both the micro and meso-cycles. You will start by working in the rep range typically thought to elicit muscle endurance (this should be highly familiar to CrossFitters). You will then move through Hypertrophy One (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) and Hypertrophy 2 (myofibrillar hypertrophy), speed-strength (power) and limit strength as you approach your real 1RM. You will inevitably fail, deload, retest and start over, yielding an undulating wave that could be good for some 9-18 months of gains, which is, to use the technical term, a ****-ton of time. If you could put even 5 pounds per month on a lift for 18 months... well, you figure it out.

As above for those interested in CF competition, strength training can, and should, take a back seat to conditioning in the months coming up to a competition. However, as above, one can simply pick up the cycle where one left off when the competition season is over, as there will likely be no loss of strength, and in fact, it is quite possible that strength will continue to increase (with good programming) in conjunction with metcon ability.

Here is a graphical and vastly oversimplified (it does not show weight going up or micro-cycles) representation of what is going on:

http://www.crossfiteastbay.com/asset...raph-2029.html WAFS

After being stuck at the same strength level for about 18 months despite several attempts to budge it (SS 5x5, MEBB) I have gotten some amazing results in only two months of using his program:

Deadlift has gone from 390 to 405 (lifetime PR)
Squat has gone from 270 to 295 (6 pounds away from lifetime PR)
Press has gone from 165 to 175 (lifetime PR)
Bench Press has gone from 235 to 250 (38 pounds away from lifetime PR)
Power Clean has gone from 180 to 205 (lifetime PR) without training it even once
Power Snatch has gone from 135 to 145 (lifetime PR) without training it even once

ALL of the above numbers have been done within 15 minutes of the last set of the 5/3/1 workout, therefore my real 1RMs, rested, would logically be higher.

In addition I have carefully stacked CrossFit on top of this as conditioning/assistance and have hit PRs in two benchmarks, "Grace" and "Diane" due purely to increased strength, as conditioning has been only secondary. 225# deadlifts now feel like a joke.

It is my plan to use this program to get to 500/400/300/200 DL/SQ/BP/PR in order to become competitive in the CF Masters category when I am old enough (or further age classes are developed). In my best estimation, the above strength level is enough to be a strong competitor in any age class. Equivalent numbers for women would be 315/250/185/115.

So now that you are convinced you need to get strong, how do we do this? I strongly suggest you buy the book 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler.

Also you can get it as an ebook.

Once you have read the book, take your 1RMs and plug them into the following spreadsheet:

5/3/1 Spreadsheet. I also have a modified version that can track multiple waves. Email Me for this.

Use the spreadsheet to calculate lifts based on your ACTUAL (not imaginary) 1RMs - what you could do TODAY - this can be calculated based on multiple reps using the following formula:

W(R)(.0333)+W = Predictive 1RM, or "P". Reps of 5 or less will be most accurate.

The spreadsheet will calculate percentages based on 90% of your 1RM, therefore the sets will be, and should be, quite light. The point of this program is to start too light and extend it out as long as possible.

On the last set of each of the first three "weeks" of the spreadsheet do the number of reps OR MORE (this can be, but does not have to be, to failure). In addition you will do assistance exercises, as spelled out in Wendler's excellent book. At the very least you should do 5x10 sets of the exercise at a challenging weight, or put together a metcon that is complementary: example: squat + "Last Ascent" or Press + "Diane" with a doable DL weight.

Use the Predictor, above, to gauge progress. Always try to beat your last predictor (this will not always be possible for fairly technical reasons).

On the deload week, DELOAD! This includes assistance and CrossFit, etc. You do NOT do more than the listed reps in the deload week.

On the next wave add 5 pounds to the upper body lifts and 10 pounds to the lower body lifts. Women might want to use 2.5/5 jumps. DO NOT RETEST YOUR MAX!

When you fail to get the required number of reps in a lift, take a deload week, test your max and start over.

The program is finished when you cannot finish one wave.

CF can be used as assistance and conditioning, however one should not do a metcon that is going to destroy the ability to do the movement in question the day before the lift (or two to three days before for the advanced lifter).
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:56 PM   #2
Brian Wilson
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

Good stuff Max, we're doing the same stuff at PCF.

I found the same results you did, and after years of stagnating. More on my blog (wfs):

http://brian.potomaccrossfit.com/?p=1842
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:37 PM   #3
John Stone
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

I've been doing it on my own for almost 16 weeks now, and I love the mix (as shows in my log).
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Old 09-20-2010, 08:02 AM   #4
Maximus Lewin
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

I continue to have excellent gains:

Squat has gone from 270 to 301x3
Deadlift has gone from 390 to 415

This is 3 waves (about 3 months) and both of the above tests were AFTER the big work sets (i.e 350x12 DL).

I'm pretty excited about this, and am putting most of my PT clients on it. In addition, I think I have found a way to do this in the context of mixed skill level group classes and will be doing a 5/3/1 + metcon cycle from Nov 1 to Feb 1 followed by and all metcon all the time cycle leading up to the sectionals in (I am assuming here) early May.

Personally I have gone down to a M/W/F schedule, as for the relatively advanced masters athlete, recovery is key: for example one workout was 315x22 deadlift + metcon + tire drags, a very heavy hit to the system. The downside is that my medium domain metcon is mediocre currently and my aerobic capacity on anything over 12 minutes is total crap. However I am confident that with three months or so of hard conditioning, I will come into the sectionals in the best shape of my life at age 44.
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Old 09-22-2010, 05:29 AM   #5
Scott Spencer
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

max has the same idea i do. I did 2 cycles of 531 with great results just like you. Now i think i'm going to try it out 3 days a week to see if i can keep my metcons a little higher and still gain strength. 4 days a week of lifting wasnt giving me much time to high metcons. Maybe 3 times a week. So now i want to try 3 lift/4-5 metcons. Most of those will be short couplets and maybe 1-2 longer 20min/chippers/runs. I got 6 months until sectionals.
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Old 09-23-2010, 12:24 AM   #6
Sean J Hunter
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

Would like some input here.

Haven’t trained since May...work / moving continents has literally got in the way of sleep and eating let alone lifting, things are quieting down enough now that I'm going to take a vacation and then come back into training.

So...I would have lost a hell of a lot of limit strength from Intermediate+ (past PRs) down to I don't know perhaps Beginner+ ? Havn't tested yet but getting a gaurge set tomorrow.

I figured there are quicker gains on CFSB type continual ramping program seeing as weight is added every week...do this until I stall...

And then start waving the meso by dropping weights 90% like 5-3-1 but still adding weight every week until I really start to stall out on the waves...

And then move into 5-3-1 proper by waving the micro as well...

Figured I can get my previous strength back this way the quickest take advantage of the old / newbie gains with CFSB type continual gain ramping and then once stalled stay with CFSB type but wave the meso and then once stalled wave the micro like 5-3-1 does?

Good thinking or am I missing something here...

Feedback welcome

Cheers

Sean
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Old 09-23-2010, 01:21 AM   #7
Tim Nakashima
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean J Hunter View Post
Would like some input here.

Havenít trained since May...work / moving continents has literally got in the way of sleep and eating let alone lifting, things are quieting down enough now that I'm going to take a vacation and then come back into training.

So...I would have lost a hell of a lot of limit strength from Intermediate+ (past PRs) down to I don't know perhaps Beginner+ ? Havn't tested yet but getting a gaurge set tomorrow.

I figured there are quicker gains on CFSB type continual ramping program seeing as weight is added every week...do this until I stall...

And then start waving the meso by dropping weights 90% like 5-3-1 but still adding weight every week until I really start to stall out on the waves...

And then move into 5-3-1 proper by waving the micro as well...

Figured I can get my previous strength back this way the quickest take advantage of the old / newbie gains with CFSB type continual gain ramping and then once stalled stay with CFSB type but wave the meso and then once stalled wave the micro like 5-3-1 does?

Good thinking or am I missing something here...

Feedback welcome

Cheers

Sean
Are you talking about dropping down to 90% of your 1RM, 5RM, or 3RM and continuing CFSB?

If doing CFSB, I'd go till you stall, like you mentioned. Then I'd drop it to 90% of your last completed 5RM and try it again, maybe making smaller jumps week to week. Depending on how quickly you stall the second time, I'd consider going 5/3/1 as written or something else.

Tim
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:18 AM   #8
Stephen Flamm
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

Scott, I've programmed 5/3/1 with 3 lifting days/week for my affiliate's general population for the past seven months with tremendous success. Doing so definitely allows for the inclusion of longer conditioning sessions once or twice a week while continuing to make steady gains. Take a look at www.crossfitnasti.wordpress.com (wfs) for ideas on how I've set it up.
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:07 PM   #9
Sean J Hunter
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Nakashima View Post
Are you talking about dropping down to 90% of your 1RM, 5RM, or 3RM and continuing CFSB?

If doing CFSB, I'd go till you stall, like you mentioned. Then I'd drop it to 90% of your last completed 5RM and try it again, maybe making smaller jumps week to week. Depending on how quickly you stall the second time, I'd consider going 5/3/1 as written or something else.

Tim
Yip Tim thats exactly what I had in mind.

I've been told you get back to your original RM much quicker the second time around but figured it not worth taking the slower road of 5-3-1 until I actually hit the end of my newbie gains (again).

Just didn't want to assume anything...any further advice appreciated
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:04 AM   #10
Maximus Lewin
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Re: 5/3/1 and CrossFit/Competion

111111
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Last edited by Maximus Lewin; 09-24-2010 at 09:07 AM..
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