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

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Old 07-02-2011, 07:48 AM   #1
Ryan R Johnson
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Elite crossfit athlete development theory

I admire and wish to emulate all of these elite athletes we see in the crossfit games. But several thoughts come to mind when i watch their performance. It seems the vast majority come from elite specialized backgrounds that foster their success.

Examples would be Josh Everetts Oly lifting experience, Rob Orlandos strongman background, and Welbournes Pro NFL days. I love crossfit as much as the next person, but, am playing the devils advocate here.

We use these athletes as the poster children for crossfit, yet, most of them were achievers in a more traditional sport. the question then becomes... can one develop that elite level of performance in the crossfit games, relying solely on a crossfit program and background?

unless i were an olympic lifter or strongman in a past life, can i expect to ever compete at that level, by grinding away at my local box?

in effect, the real question becomes.. is crossfit responsible for these athletes, or are the athletes responsible for crossfit?

food for thought.
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:45 AM   #2
Todd Rehm
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

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Originally Posted by Ryan R Johnson View Post
It seems the vast majority come from elite specialized backgrounds that foster their success.

We use these athletes as the poster children for crossfit, yet, most of them were achievers in a more traditional sport.

the question then becomes... can one develop that elite level of performance in the crossfit games, relying solely on a crossfit program and background?
I think there are two things at work here.

First is that people who are in some way physically gifted are better at sports or a particular sport, thus receiving more enjoyment and rewards from it, and having more people willing to encourage, coach, etc them. They are more likely to find a sport they're good at and keep at it until they get to the point where really good training becomes available.

Second is that lifelong athletes will develop higher-order skillsets, and will develop their physical and mental qualities over the course of years and decades, and these years of work carryover in ways both obvious and non-obvious.

There are physical adaptations that simply take time to accumulate, and no amount of training in the short term will develop them in the way that they are developed in lifelong athletes.

There are physical attributes that will never develop, no matter what you do. Where you drew the short straw genetically, no amount of training will produce superhuman results.

If you're completely new to athletics, chances are you'll never be an elite athlete. But choosing sound programming and developing a strong work ethic will make you the strongest, fastest, etc you that you can be.
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Old 07-02-2011, 08:54 AM   #3
Jakub Kruhlik
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

As long as you're strong as ****, like most of those guys you mentioned are, then you should be able to become an elite crossfitter as long as you practice and get real good at all the skill work. I mean look at Mikko. As far as I know he did not participate in elite level sports. Getting strong is the key!
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:25 AM   #4
Shane Jensen
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

Mikko played pro soccer in Finland for a few years, he mentions it in "Sisu"
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:34 AM   #5
Matt Thomas
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

Just spit balling here so excuse my ramblings.

I'm starting to feel like as crossfit becomes more of a "sport" there are really two crossfits.

There's the crossfit that is for general fitness where someone who will probably never compete can go to a box or do it at home and use crossfit to become a very "fit" person.

Then there's the crossfit of the games where it has become very specialized and almost more of a skill in itself. As a very loose comparison I think of some of the powerlifters that I read about that barely use the three lifts of competition to train, up until a little bit out from competition.

I think a good way to approach the second type of crossfit is going to be to go about it kind of backwards, and maybe counter to what CF would say. I think it would be good to focus on and achieve a high level of various skills separately and afterwards work on the "skill" of crossfit. So work on getting a big deadlift, squat, overhead press. Then work on getting a big clean and jerk. Forcus on getting a super fast 400m and 1 mile run, etc. Once you've achieved these then work on getting good at crossfit, which I think would take the smallest amount of time to do compared to the other skills. I think this will be a good way to be really good at crossfit, but I think it would take longer than most people are willing to stay with it.

I'm actually experimenting with this on myself in sort of a multi-phase approach. I'm keeping track of it all and if it ends up working i'll make sure to post it. Even if it doesn't I'll post the results. Like I said though...it might take a while.
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:45 AM   #6
Steve Bray
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Thomas View Post
Just spit balling here so excuse my ramblings.

I'm starting to feel like as crossfit becomes more of a "sport" there are really two crossfits.

There's the crossfit that is for general fitness where someone who will probably never compete can go to a box or do it at home and use crossfit to become a very "fit" person.

Then there's the crossfit of the games where it has become very specialized and almost more of a skill in itself. As a very loose comparison I think of some of the powerlifters that I read about that barely use the three lifts of competition to train, up until a little bit out from competition.

I think a good way to approach the second type of crossfit is going to be to go about it kind of backwards, and maybe counter to what CF would say. I think it would be good to focus on and achieve a high level of various skills separately and afterwards work on the "skill" of crossfit. So work on getting a big deadlift, squat, overhead press. Then work on getting a big clean and jerk. Forcus on getting a super fast 400m and 1 mile run, etc. Once you've achieved these then work on getting good at crossfit, which I think would take the smallest amount of time to do compared to the other skills. I think this will be a good way to be really good at crossfit, but I think it would take longer than most people are willing to stay with it.

I'm actually experimenting with this on myself in sort of a multi-phase approach. I'm keeping track of it all and if it ends up working i'll make sure to post it. Even if it doesn't I'll post the results. Like I said though...it might take a while.
ill wait... i got a good 15 mins to waste.

lol
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:49 AM   #7
Matt Thomas
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

Haha. If it only took 15 minutes I think I'd start peddling my own program and be OPRAH RICH!
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:16 PM   #8
Jared Ashley
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

I don't think the CF elite are putting up the numbers they are because they used to be in some unrelated specialty, but rather because they have been pushing their bodies physically for 15-20+ years.

Think about it... all those guys are in the ballpark of 30 years old, and have been heavily involved in athletics since high school or before. NOTHING builds strength/endurance/mental toughness/cardo capacity like 20 years of working hard several days a week.

Could you get the the level of the games just by working out at a CF affiliate? yeah you could, if you started at 10 years old and were getting special coaching and competing in it from day 1. We don't see that because 10 year olds would be a lot more likely to be playing football, soccer, wresting, track, or whatever than competing in a CF gym. Plus, the current elite were 10 in 1990 when CF was completely unknown. Hell, the archives only go back to '03.
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Elite CrossFit athlete development theory

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Originally Posted by Ryan R Johnson View Post
the question then becomes... can one develop that elite level of performance in the CrossFit games, relying solely on a CrossFit program and background?
Yes, there are many examples of this in the younger games competitors. As CrossFit ages you will see more competitors who were no more then high school athletes. It is a math and numbers question. If you need 5 years to become elite look back 5 years. Were there more people CrossFitting or in other serious athletic programs in the US? Right now our best athletes are often cross over athletes. As todays teenage CrossFitters become tomorrows early 20's CrossFitters I expect we will have many more home grown athletes.

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Originally Posted by Ryan R Johnson View Post
unless i were an Olympic lifter or strongman in a past life, can i expect to ever compete at that level, by grinding away at my local box?
No. The reason being is top games athletes are training much harder then the programming at your local box or Mainsite. Can you train much harder at your local box and become an elite CrossFitter? Yes with individualized programing.

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Originally Posted by Ryan R Johnson View Post
in effect, the real question becomes.. is CrossFit responsible for these athletes, or are the athletes responsible for CrossFit?
CrossFit is responsible for taking already developed athletes and turning them into elite CrossFitters. I haven't met many strong men that can survive past about the 4 minute mark in a met-con. I expect Rob O. spent much of his early days in CrossFit working on developing metabolic capacity.
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:28 PM   #10
Tamara Cohen
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Re: Elite crossfit athlete development theory

It's really simple.

It doesn't matter what the sport is.

CrossFit isn't magic.

Not everyone is a winner, and CrossFit cannot make you a winner.
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