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

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Old 03-21-2010, 01:46 PM   #1
Danny Healy
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A more functional definition of functional?


Nerd Alert! I’ve got some very philosophical question about CF. I'm L1 Certified. Hope someone can help.

My understanding of functional would be something that effectively serves it’s purpose.
Dictionary.com offers a few definitions that hover over similar territory

1. of or pertaining to a function or functions: functional difficulties in the administration.
2. capable of operating or functioning: When will the ventilating system be functional again?

3. having or serving a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed: functional architecture; a chair that is functional as well as decorative.

I think the Purpose of Crossfit is to develop fitness as defined by Crossfit’s three standards of fitness. Therefore for the movements of Crossfit to be functional they need to serve the purpose of developing “fitness.”
I think Crossfit’s current definition of functional movement is superfluous. Sure, the use of
a. Universal motor recruitment patterns
b. Movements from Core to extremity
c. Compound movements
d. Ability to Move large loads long distances quickly (most important)
may lead to greater “fitness” but they miss the point. If you’ve got 300pound guy that can squat like a demon and his purpose is to be “Crossfit” but all you gave him was a heavy squats program then you would by Crossfit standards be giving him a program based on a movement that is functional but in no way effective. This is a non sequiter. The movement cannot be functional if it doesn’t serve the athletes purpose of becoming Crossfit. In this situation a squat is not functional.

I think a better definition of functional is: Movements which best contribute to the “fitness” of an athlete through universal motor recruitment patterns that
e. Strengthen an athletes weakness
f. Utilize all three energy pathways
g. Are constantly varied from workout to workout

What do you think?
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:22 PM   #2
Lonnie Johnson
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Forgive me if your question is over my head and I totally miss it, but the thoughts that come to mind are:
1) Yes, squats alone do not comprise a completely functional program under the example given, however, squats in conjunction with other movements would be functional (same would be true of any exercise done to masterly level w/o other movements to assist in pursuit of the goals). So, in this thought, we are mixing the definition of a singular functional movement (i.e. squat) vs. a total functional program (i.e. squats are a piece of the puzzle for a total program).
2) Under the proposed definition, I would suggest that they should strengthen an athletes weakness' AND strengths (total progression), even if the relative progression of the weakness' is greater due to the fact that by definition a weakness has more room for improvement.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:37 PM   #3
Robert D Taylor Jr
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Healy View Post
Nerd Alert! I’ve got some very philosophical question about CF. I'm L1 Certified. Hope someone can help.

My understanding of functional would be something that effectively serves it’s purpose.
Dictionary.com offers a few definitions that hover over similar territory

1. of or pertaining to a function or functions: functional difficulties in the administration.
2. capable of operating or functioning: When will the ventilating system be functional again?

3. having or serving a utilitarian purpose; capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed: functional architecture; a chair that is functional as well as decorative.

I think the Purpose of Crossfit is to develop fitness as defined by Crossfit’s three standards of fitness. Therefore for the movements of Crossfit to be functional they need to serve the purpose of developing “fitness.”
I think Crossfit’s current definition of functional movement is superfluous. Sure, the use of
a. Universal motor recruitment patterns
b. Movements from Core to extremity
c. Compound movements
d. Ability to Move large loads long distances quickly (most important)
may lead to greater “fitness” but they miss the point. If you’ve got 300pound guy that can squat like a demon and his purpose is to be “Crossfit” but all you gave him was a heavy squats program then you would by Crossfit standards be giving him a program based on a movement that is functional but in no way effective. This is a non sequiter. The movement cannot be functional if it doesn’t serve the athletes purpose of becoming Crossfit. In this situation a squat is not functional.

I think a better definition of functional is: Movements which best contribute to the “fitness” of an athlete through universal motor recruitment patterns that
e. Strengthen an athletes weakness
f. Utilize all three energy pathways
g. Are constantly varied from workout to workout

What do you think?
Functional what?
Functional movements might not do any of what you're talking about, but a functional fitness program would cover all of them.
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:47 PM   #4
Tom Reyes
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

My head is spinning after reading this. I think the purpose of Crossfit is putting the fun back in functional. (oooh, T-shirt idea there....)
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:21 PM   #5
David Meverden
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

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Originally Posted by Robert D Taylor Jr View Post
Functional what?
Functional movements might not do any of what you're talking about, but a functional fitness program would cover all of them.
2nd.

"I think a better definition of functional is: Movements which best contribute to the “fitness” of an athlete through universal motor recruitment patterns that
e. Strengthen an athletes weakness
f. Utilize all three energy pathways
g. Are constantly varied from workout to workout"

Items e, f, and g, is a potential definition of a functional fitness PLAN, but has nothing to do with individual exercises. If you DO try to apply these criteria to individual exercises you'll leave out many of the most effective exercises. For example, for a strength day you want something that will work strength the best, even if it does nothing for other attributes. Replacing heavy back squats with light jumping squats just because they work more energy pathways is not an effective substitute because you won't get as strong. Or, put another way, working every pathway every workout is not the most effective plan.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:29 PM   #6
Sean J Hunter
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Functional is as functional does.

Isolated Bodybuilding exercises are functional for a body builder.

You've got the Adjective now where's the Noun.

Crossfit is about increase in all general fitness domains equally (give or take) - often refered to as GPP.

Exercises that are functional to GPP are....

For example there does come a time where you may need to do isolationist exercises to improve heavy lifts. Iso lift's are functional - when used for the right reason to achieve the right goals.

For me functional means using the RIGHT tools for your goals, and goals that are well thought out with good reasoning and holistic health in mind. CF goals are pretty stright forward, sport, or work specific goals not so much.

I don't kip all the time, because I have a Pull-up test for work that doesn't allow it. My goal is strict PLU therefore kipping is not functional.

But for GPP kipping is functional due to the coordination and hip opening abilities achieved, plus the increase in reps I can do and the speed at which I can do them makes doing WOD a little more "functional". Therefore Kipping is GPP functional and strict is SPP functional.

Another exmaple, I don't snatch, I just havn't yet seen what is gives me GPP that cleaning doesn't. Now I could be wrong and I'd love someone to educate me. I am most definately no oly expert. But Snatching isn't functional for ME (Assuming I'm correct here).

So movement selection comes down to goals which CF would argue is almost always a good GPP will add value to SPP.

I tend to think like this...a movement should be multi joint and multi system and executed with correct techneique.

Don't know if that helps or even if I'm right, just throwing my hat in the ring here.

Sean
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:16 AM   #7
Danny Healy
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert D Taylor Jr View Post
Functional what?
Functional movements might not do any of what you're talking about, but a functional fitness program would cover all of them.
My bad. Good call. Yep reffering to "functional movement." For a movement to be functional it must lend to the intended outcome of the athlete. I'm making the assumption that the broad function of Crossift is to create fitness. Therefor a funtional movement(s) would be deemed the best movement to contribute to this outcome. So wether a movement is functional or not varies depending on the goal or the state of fitness of the individual. A lot of the time carrying large loads long distances for example does contribute to fitness but not necessarily all the time.
Sounds like quibbling but it's important as functional is one of the three pillars of Crossfit (Intense, functional, varied)
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:29 AM   #8
Danny Healy
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean J Hunter View Post
Functional is as functional does.

Isolated Bodybuilding exercises are functional for a body builder.

You've got the Adjective now where's the Noun.

Crossfit is about increase in all general fitness domains equally (give or take) - often refered to as GPP.

Exercises that are functional to GPP are....

For example there does come a time where you may need to do isolationist exercises to improve heavy lifts. Iso lift's are functional - when used for the right reason to achieve the right goals.

For me functional means using the RIGHT tools for your goals, and goals that are well thought out with good reasoning and holistic health in mind. CF goals are pretty stright forward, sport, or work specific goals not so much.

I don't kip all the time, because I have a Pull-up test for work that doesn't allow it. My goal is strict PLU therefore kipping is not functional.

But for GPP kipping is functional due to the coordination and hip opening abilities achieved, plus the increase in reps I can do and the speed at which I can do them makes doing WOD a little more "functional". Therefore Kipping is GPP functional and strict is SPP functional.

Another exmaple, I don't snatch, I just havn't yet seen what is gives me GPP that cleaning doesn't. Now I could be wrong and I'd love someone to educate me. I am most definately no oly expert. But Snatching isn't functional for ME (Assuming I'm correct here).

So movement selection comes down to goals which CF would argue is almost always a good GPP will add value to SPP.

I tend to think like this...a movement should be multi joint and multi system and executed with correct techneique.

Don't know if that helps or even if I'm right, just throwing my hat in the ring here.

Sean
Oh yeah, thanks everyone for reading and taking time to respond...I'm pumped!
Yep think we're on the same path Sean. Appreciate your thoughts. Snatch is good just for the variety. Broader stimulus, broader adaption greater GPP. I guess you've also gotta take into account your goal, if variety isn't a massive priority then maybe stick with the cleans to increase hip extension capacity (???) Greater load, greater power, stronger hips!
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:31 AM   #9
Danny Healy
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Healy View Post
Oh yeah, thanks everyone for reading and taking time to respond...I'm pumped!
Yep think we're on the same path Sean. Appreciate your thoughts. Snatch is good just for the variety. Broader stimulus, broader adaption greater GPP. I guess you've also gotta take into account your goal, if variety isn't a massive priority then maybe stick with the cleans to increase hip extension capacity (???) Greater load, greater power, stronger hips!
****. I'm sure snatching is good for a lot of other things other than variety! But if nothing else it provides that...apologies!
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Old 03-24-2010, 06:51 PM   #10
Brandon Tullos
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Re: A more functional definition of functional?

I think what crossfit really means by functional is that one can use it in daily life. For ex. When are you ever going to do a reverse fly or wrist curls in life? Your not! However, you may need to squat to lift a couch, or deadlift a heavy object, or pull yourself up onto something or get somethign from ground to shoulders and then overhead. Functional is simply something that can be put to use.
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