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-   -   T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=38880)

Brandon Oto 11-20-2008 05:44 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Uh... it doesn't matter how closely the test might resemble what you train. It matters how closely it resembles what you care about. If it turns out that CF has a lot of stuff that's similar, that's just... an obvious indicator that it was intended as a GPP program.

The point isn't to intentionally separate the tests from the training; I'm sorry if I overemphasized that. The reason you wouldn't use a thruster as a test isn't because we do a lot of thrusters, it's because the thruster isn't intrinsically a valuable movement, so noticing improvements in your thruster doesn't mean anything on its own; we'd still need to determine whether better thrusters lead to improvements in stuff we care about, which was the original point of this testing. (Putting this another way: if we already KNEW that people with great WoD times did great in everything, then this would all be irrelevant, WoDs would themselves be the test. This is what a lot of CFers seem to assume. But we don't already know that. That's the point of testing; it would help to establish whether and TO WHAT EXTENT CrossFit improvements correlate with external improvements.)

The reason that something like, oh, sprint times, VO2max, and vertical leap (just some random examples that may or may not be good ones) could serve as good tests is because we already have good reason to think that people with fast sprint times, high VO2max, and strong vertical leaps do well in many, many real physical activities. Of course, you could just have someone do those activities (sports, for instance) as tests, and cut out the middleman, but like I said, those don't yield very quantifiable results, except in some cases like maybe race events (you get a clear numerical time) or field events (you get a clear numerical distance). Maybe a sport like football that collects a lot of personal stats could have something to say though; rush farther, you're more fit.

Brandon Oto 11-20-2008 05:48 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Robert D Taylor Jr (Post 451865)
Brandon,
Why isn't "I've been CFing for 6 months and my MMA endurance/strength, soccer stamina, rugby play...etc is better," like you see on the boards all the time, less valid than "Subject's VO2 Max has increased 15% due to CF" Especially since that is a direct correlation while higher VO2 doesn't neccesarily mean I'm better at soccer etc. I really don't understand.

See the post I just made, that may help, but the direct answer is that while "my MMA endurance/strength, soccer stamina, rugby play...etc is better" may be valid, it's not quantifiable. It may even be wrong, since it's not directly measured. But even if it's true, what of it? Maybe you did another program and you also experienced such improvements. Now can we say that CF is better than that program? No, we can't compare them. Can we tweak CF and say that it's improved? No, we can't compare the results. All we have is your view that you got better, not how much. That's fine for personal, black box feedback -- if you're happy with your results keep doing it. But you can't do very much else with it.

Derek Maffett 11-20-2008 06:10 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Brandon, please go conduct your study. You obviously believe that these points are very important. I'm sure we'll all be happy to hear the results. I think the most you might "prove" is what many people have already been suspecting and working with - that more strength work may be necessary. In the unlikely event that you manage to prove that Crossfit is pathetic and worthless, please tell us.

In the considerably more likely event that your studies lead you to essentially the same conclusions that all of us "non-scientific" types have understood all along... well, I'm sure you'll just chew us all out for not conducting a theoretically important study that turned out to be a complete waste of your own time. Sound familiar, by any chance?

Ganine Vanalst 11-20-2008 06:23 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
I have found this thread interesting. I have wanted to contribute, but have elected to play it safe and keep my mouth shut, but I do have some points to make for whatever they are worth. I address them to no one in particular; just some observations/thoughts on some themes I have heard repeated throughout this thread.

Some of you have stated that you are supporters of CrossFit, but then you demand scientific validity of the results people are achieving using CrossFit methods. First, who is stopping you from conducting those studies? NO ONE. If there is some organization with the funding and desire there is absolutely nothing stopping them from proceeding. All the information into the workings of CrossFit is freely available. It is not as though some piece of information vital to conducting said research is being withheld by CrossFit HQ thereby precluding any study from being conducted. If there were some data or some secret proprietary methods not being disclosed then I can see there being some issue. But that is far from the case, everything is FREELY available, so there can be no issue there. This point has been made ad nauseam in this thread.

Is your problem then that you expect CrossFit HQ to conduct the research? From "What Is Fitness," provided free on the “Start Here” page of the main CrossFit website, it is stated: "...it warrants mention that we are not attempting to demonstrate our program’s legitimacy through scientific principles. We are but sharing the methods of a program whose legitimacy has been established through the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops, and others whose lives or livelihoods depend on fitness." Have you read that? If not, I think that is indicative of a problem plaguing CrossFit; people profess to know what CrossFit is, yet haven't taken the time to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals, even when they are pointed in the right direction and the information is freely provided. (And I am NOT claiming to know all that CrossFit is; what I write here is based on my current understanding which I am trying to deepen by reading this thread/forum.) That is not a fault of CrossFit, but is a problem endemic to our society, namely the failure of people to take the time to research things for themselves. If you have read “What is Fitness” (and if you are a stickler for research your failure to do so before participating in CrossFit renders a proclaimed love of research highly suspect), then you should have understood one of the tenets of CrossFit is that results matter first (again, my understanding based on my reading of the material). If you didn't agree with that tenet, then you didn't have to proceed further. Or perhaps you didn't agree with this tenet, but decided you might still get some results from the program anyway and decided to give it a try.

So lets assume for arguments sake you are now getting results (and from many of your posts you say you are supporters, so I assume this means you are getting results), yet now you want to change the system that has brought you those results. That's why a lot of marriage's and relationships fail - you try to change, and thereby destroy, that which you profess to love. Problem is the results you are getting are a direct result of a system built on what is observed to be effective, on anecdotal evidence, and now you are finding fault with the system. You can't have it both ways. If you want results based on scientific peer-reviewed studies then you are free to pursue those results; the studies are out there (as are the millions of obese and sick people who are a casualty of those studies). If you have went that route and have found it lacking, then you must have some understanding of why some followers of CrossFit has such disdain for the research, or at least could give a rats a$$ what the research shows.

I for one followed a high carb, low-fat diet in my twenties. I read all the research and recommendations; those same recommendations are being made today, albeit with some slight modifications. Initially I lost weight, but gradually it became harder and harder to lose weight and easier and easier to gain weight. I have pretty much always exercised regularly. Several years ago, twenty pounds overweight and frustrated, I decided to get up early every morning and exercise on my treadmill for an hour. Treadmill monitor reported I was burning about 700 calories during each workout. I worked out 5 mornings a week for 2 months. My diet during this period stayed constant and was identical to before I started working out on the treadmill. According to conventional wisdom, all other things being equal (and they were), I should have lost about 8 pounds at the end of those two months. I didn't lose a *****ing ounce. For me there was a major disconnect between what the research said should have happened, and what did. Then I read The Carbohydrate Addicts Healthy Heart Program and the light bulbs started going off. I was very cynical and disgusted, but I had reached the ***** IT point and I gave their eating plan a try. After all, I did everything the "right way" according to all the experts and recommended guidelines but I was still struggling. To my surprise I started losing weight immediately despite stopping my morning treadmill torture routine. Interesting thing was I ate the same net amount of calories or more, so again, according to conventional wisdom I should have stayed the same weight or I should have gained weight, but I started losing weight. Having an understanding of insulin resistance and the role carbohydrates play in contributing to insulin resistance was enough for me to say ***** you to the high carb low fat dogma; and my experience (results) validate my decision. I don't give a sh*t that there is or isn't a study to validate my experience; my blood work is excellent, and I have found something that works for me. I look around me and see a lot of people following the recommendations based on the current peer-reviewed studies; many are obese and many are on medications to control the symptoms of the havoc wrought on their bodies by following these recommendations. IT'S *****ING INSANE.

If your concern is you want to provide your clients with enough scientific evidence to give CrossFit a try (I believe that is a theme I have read in this thread), I suggest you do the following - tell them to look around. Just look the ***** around. Something is broke. Despite all these studies people are getting fatter, more depressed, sicker, and more dependent on medications and then more medications to deal with the side effects of their medications. Keep your studies thank you. I will base what I do on the results. If the studies bare out my results in the future, great. If they don't, I certainly am not going to dismiss what is working just because some research tells me it shouldn't be working. I choose to believe my own eyes, my own ears, and what my own body tells me. Conversely, I am not going to do what does NOT work even if there exists numerous peer-reviewed academic articles/studies telling me it does work.

I don't agree with everything I read on CrossFit. I have read Enter the Zone based on the recommendations here, but have elected to not try it. In part because I have some misgivings over some things in the book, but mostly because I have found something that works for me, the Heller's diet. I have questions and concerns about some aspects of CrossFit, but I am open-minded enough to be willing to try it for myself and see what works and dismiss the rest. Based on what I read in "What is Fitness," and in many other places on the CrossFit main page, journal and forum, my guess is that CrossFit HQ evaluates what is working and not and will do likewise. Maybe I am wrong, but that is the impression I get.

And if I find some elements of CrossFit don't work for me I am not going to dismiss CrossFit wholesale; there is too much in the CrossFit movement that I think is valuable. Nothing and no one is perfect. There seems to be a lot of integrity and genuine intellectual curiosity in the CrossFit community. It seems many of the participants in CrossFit think for themselves and take responsibility for their choices. And no, I haven't drank the kool-aid; I don't like kool-aid (although all the mention of kool-aid on this site has got me to thinking it might be good with some vodka).

As previously mentioned I have questions regarding some elements of CrossFit, and that is one of the reasons I find a thread like this interesting. I agree that it is healthy to discuss opposing view points and flush out discrepancies and inconsistencies and that process should not be shied away from unless there is something to hide. And from what I can see nothing is being hidden - it is all available openly and mostly for free. Don't equate the systems refusal to change to accommodate you (demanding peer-reviewed studies when the system has clearly stated that is not what it is based on) with a refusal to be open to critique. And don't hobble a system that is working (by many of your own admissions CrossFit does work), by demanding it change to become the very system that has proven itself to have serious short-comings.

I can be one of the most nitpicky *****es on the planet when it comes to over analyzing things and harping on slight inconsistencies, but when something works it *****ing works. Yea, I would like to know why it works, but I aint gonna stop doing what works in the meantime until some study gives me the go ahead.

Thank you for listening :)

Scott Erb 11-20-2008 06:56 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Ganine - Well said! Best post in this "strangely compelling" thread. I'll spend my time doing CF and let Brandon and let others spend theirs doing studies.

Kevin B. Sandberg 11-20-2008 07:14 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 451870)
Uh... it doesn't matter how closely the test might resemble what you train. It matters how closely it resembles what you care about. If it turns out that CF has a lot of stuff that's similar, that's just... an obvious indicator that it was intended as a GPP program.

The point isn't to intentionally separate the tests from the training; I'm sorry if I overemphasized that. The reason you wouldn't use a thruster as a test isn't because we do a lot of thrusters, it's because the thruster isn't intrinsically a valuable movement, so noticing improvements in your thruster doesn't mean anything on its own; we'd still need to determine whether better thrusters lead to improvements in stuff we care about, which was the original point of this testing. (Putting this another way: if we already KNEW that people with great WoD times did great in everything, then this would all be irrelevant, WoDs would themselves be the test. This is what a lot of CFers seem to assume. But we don't already know that. That's the point of testing; it would help to establish whether and TO WHAT EXTENT CrossFit improvements correlate with external improvements.)

The reason that something like, oh, sprint times, VO2max, and vertical leap (just some random examples that may or may not be good ones) could serve as good tests is because we already have good reason to think that people with fast sprint times, high VO2max, and strong vertical leaps do well in many, many real physical activities. Of course, you could just have someone do those activities (sports, for instance) as tests, and cut out the middleman, but like I said, those don't yield very quantifiable results, except in some cases like maybe race events (you get a clear numerical time) or field events (you get a clear numerical distance). Maybe a sport like football that collects a lot of personal stats could have something to say though; rush farther, you're more fit.

These metrics emerge from human activity, not the other way around.

If you sat down not knowing anything about Ex Phys or Crossfit or training in general and said let's design a bunch of different test that we can gauge a wide range of physical ability and skill, what would you come up with? I think you would be wise to start with identifying what humans do naturally. They walk, they run, they jump, they throw, they lift things off the ground, they lift things overhead, they lift things from the ground to overhead, they carry stuff, they fight, they climb, they eat and they sleep. Find out who places high in one or two areas, who places high in all of them and who sucks a$% at all of them? What did they do to get there? How would you test these things if the only measurements you had were time, distance and weight? [this would be a great project for Ex Phys students]

Would you be creative enough to design a battery of tests that would satisfactorily compare one person to another and a single person to himself? Would you recognize that lifting a weight, running, climbing etc are rarely a singular act in human activity? Could you make a conceptual leap to design consistent tests that mix these activities, mimicking what you observe in the uncontrolled for real world?

I think if you were creative enough and smart enough, you could devise hundreds of different tests that could measure these natural activities in isolation and in combination. You might even find that the regular performance of these tests improve the results of the tests themselves. Wow. Then you would be really onto something. If your results SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES more people will be curious as to what you are doing and your test population grows. One step further: if you decide not to hoard your protocols and results and actually encourage as many folks to participate and test then you're really kicking tail.

Is this starting to look like something we're all familiar with?

Kevin B. Sandberg 11-20-2008 07:20 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Thank you for that post Ganine. Well said.

Brandon Oto 11-20-2008 07:48 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevin B. Sandberg (Post 451977)
If you sat down not knowing anything about Ex Phys or Crossfit or training in general and said let's design a bunch of different test that we can gauge a wide range of physical ability and skill, what would you come up with? I think you would be wise to start with identifying what humans do naturally. They walk, they run, they jump, they throw, they lift things off the ground, they lift things overhead, they lift things from the ground to overhead, they carry stuff, they fight, they climb, they eat and they sleep. . . .

I think if you were creative enough and smart enough, you could devise hundreds of different tests that could measure these natural activities in isolation and in combination. . . .

Is this starting to look like something we're all familiar with?

No. CrossFit does not consist of walking, running, jumping, throwing, lifting things off the ground, lifting things overhead, lifting things from the ground to overhead, carrying stuff, fighting, climbing, eating, and sleeping in the exhaustive and comprehensive list of ways that it's done in other activities. To the extent that it does represent some of these, it is by the use of several dozen exercises, done in various sequences, over periods of time from several minutes usually up to less than an hour, usually as fast as possible. There is range to this, but it is not infinite range. If you do these workouts, you are not doing everything that humans ever do or could want to do. We probably agree on this. The point here is that we can't do everything, but we want to get better at everything, so how much does what we do improve what we don't do?

What you're essentially implying is that all of the ways someone can move are actually done within CrossFit workouts, which is certainly false. To belabor the example, no listed workout has included shoveling gravel. It's not part of the pantheon of exercises used, in any time domain or variation. Is that activity similar in some important ways to exercises that ARE used, such as the deadlift (or virtual shoveling, if you want to stretch it)? Yes. So we might suppose that doing things like deadlifts makes you better at shoveling gravel. Is this actually true? I don't know. If it's true, how much better? I don't know.

How much does CF improve your 100m run? I don't know. How much does CF improve your basketball game? I don't know. Hell, how much does CF improve your sciatica or your orthostatic hypotension? I don't know. The answer to any of these ranges from zero (well, sub-zero actually, it could always make it worse) to some lofty number and if someone's interested in such things, you can't tell them whether CF will help them or how much.

You could guess. But who cares.

Derek Maffett 11-20-2008 08:04 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Actually, thinking about this more... did you even bother doing any of the tests you advocate before making your own program, Brandon? Because I seem to recall you asking for guinea pigs to test out your AGT program. This doesn't sound hypocritical or anything.

Kevin B. Sandberg 11-20-2008 08:37 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 452004)
No. CrossFit does not consist of walking, running, jumping, throwing, lifting things off the ground, lifting things overhead, lifting things from the ground to overhead, carrying stuff, fighting, climbing, eating, and sleeping in the exhaustive and comprehensive list of ways that it's done in other activities. To the extent that it does represent some of these, it is by the use of several dozen exercises, done in various sequences, over periods of time from several minutes usually up to less than an hour, usually as fast as possible. There is range to this, but it is not infinite range. If you do these workouts, you are not doing everything that humans ever do or could want to do. We probably agree on this. The point here is that we can't do everything, but we want to get better at everything, so how much does what we do improve what we don't do?

What you're essentially implying is that all of the ways someone can move are actually done within CrossFit workouts, which is certainly false. To belabor the example, no listed workout has included shoveling gravel. It's not part of the pantheon of exercises used, in any time domain or variation. Is that activity similar in some important ways to exercises that ARE used, such as the deadlift (or virtual shoveling, if you want to stretch it)? Yes. So we might suppose that doing things like deadlifts makes you better at shoveling gravel. Is this actually true? I don't know. If it's true, how much better? I don't know.

How much does CF improve your 100m run? I don't know. How much does CF improve your basketball game? I don't know. Hell, how much does CF improve your sciatica or your orthostatic hypotension? I don't know. The answer to any of these ranges from zero (well, sub-zero actually, it could always make it worse) to some lofty number and if someone's interested in such things, you can't tell them whether CF will help them or how much.

You could guess. But who cares.

So now I'm being too reductionist? Are you serious? (Those are rhetorical questions. Please don't answer them).

I'm done.

Good luck with your quest.


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