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

Steve Liberati 11-11-2008 08:22 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Good to see that our T-Nation friends are smart enough to realize that 'If you can't beat them, you might as well join them.' (And I say this with regard to leading a movement).

Welcome to the community!

Bart Hodlik 11-11-2008 10:56 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
I think there is a point that is being broadly missed here.
Crossfit was never designed to make any one person the best at any one sport or activity. The whole point was to make you good at everything. Not the best, but good. That's where the elite comes in. You're not elite because you can DL 3x your body weight. You're not elite because you can do a 400m sprint in 20 seconds... etc... You're elite, because you are good at everything that you attempt. MANY people, if not most, do not have those capabilities.
The description of "work capacity across broad modal domains" fits, because you are making yourself well rounded. Not elite in any one domain.
Of course you sacrifice some capability in any one given domain, by expanding yourself across many domains. But if you wanted to excel in one or two area's, then CF is not for you. That's not what it was designed for.
We want to sit here and discuss the scientific and measurable value of increase in fitness through CF. Yet, the very tools of measurement that are quoted as a standard, are broken in themselves.
Its like saying we have to prove the world is round, by the standards used to prove the world was flat.
I find work capacity to be a great way to measure myself. If I know I started doing x reps of x lift, and over time I'm able to increase both load and reps, I know I've improved my fitness. Now spread that across all domains of fitness that I attempt, and I become elite. Of course the guy next to me, who blows me away in lets say bench press (since that's the favorite man maker measure), is not necessarily going to be better in say deadlifts, or pull ups. Which I will blow him away in. And as you add in more and more lifts, or physical activities, its pretty safe to say that the person that comes out ahead in the most categories, is a better athlete.

Brandon Oto 11-11-2008 11:39 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Still excited to hear back from you if you're willing, Glassman.

Here are is the specific assertion that I'm interested in investigating (from http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/C...tionsPart3.mov wfs):

Quote:

Now, for us this single metric [work capacity] has primacy over just about anything else that's ever been looked at in terms of fitness. Would you take an increase in strength if it meant an increase in work capacity across broad time and modal domains? I say that would be a foolish choice. . . .

And what we're seeing is that this increased work capacity correlates beautifuly to favorable adaptations across any of these correlates that are traditionally looked at: V02/max, lactate threshold, muscle mass, even the 10 general physical skills (stamina, strength . . .). . . .

When you have a scenario where a single metric would have in your mind, in your estimation, primacy over all of the others, then I'm going to suggest to you that those others are but correlates. And they may or may not be useful, may or may not be interesting, but I certainly wouldn't in any case take a decrease in work capacity for an increase in any one of the correlates or the 10 physical skills or any other metric I know of. This leads us to kind of a stunning if not revolutionary claim that fitness IS work capacity across broad time and modal domains. We want to be able to a lot of work on the short end, the mid range, and long range.
In short, work capacity is synonymous with level of fitness, and everything else is, at best, related to or indicative of fitness. In the most extreme example, this would mean that someone with excellent work capacity but lousy strength, speed, agility, sporting success, or whatever would be more fit than someone in the opposite state. (Whether this would actually be possible is not relevant; that's a point about training, not definitions.)

I don't understand why this definition was chosen and I'm interested in hearing more.

Derek Maffett 11-11-2008 11:59 PM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
Brandon, you seem to be hovering excessively around the idea of increased work capacity.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 444355)
... winning a football game is the same as losing one if you do the same amount of work, handcycling is the same as hitting a speedbag, and dropping 5 minutes from your Helen time while losing 200 pounds from your deadlift is an increase in fitness.

And yet no one claims that winning a football game is the same as losing, that handcycling is no greater than hitting a speedbag (unless I misunderstand handcycling. Because I'm thinking about an acrobat doing a handstand on a unicycle and pedaling around. I'm probably wrong), or that dropping 200lbs from your deadlift is okay if you simultaneously drop 5 minutes from your Helen time (another point worth making is that this theoretical 200lb drop is not going to happen to anyone but advanced powerlifters).

The fact remains, however, that your example of the deadlift exchange would not be acceptable in Crossfit, despite the seeming increase in work capacity (which itself would be debatable, since the loss of strength would definitely hurt in the metcons). Actually, losing a great deal of strength like that would compromise one of the very central ideas of Crossfit - broad time and modal domains. A four second max effort deadlift (or tree lift) is one such domain, and a very important one. So no, the loss of deadlift ability for the sake of a better Helen time, even with your preoccupation with improving work capacity as supposedly being the definition of Crossfit, would not be an increase in fitness.

Do you know of a better base for fitness than increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains? Keeping in mind that "broad" really does mean "broad" and not "5-40 minute metcons?" Obviously there is much to built on that base (such as the skill to win a football game or the body awareness and control required to ride a unicycle while holding a handstand) and that base may vary depending on your specific needs (certainly a powerlifter would limit this base to what aids his sport and a city-dweller might safely leave snake wrestling off the modal domain list), I see absolutely no reason this shouldn't be accepted as true. That is, unless you or someone else has a better idea. Besides standing on one leg or playing darts and bocce.

Ability to do more faster in the case of everything sounds good to me. But even so, there are articles in the CF journal which I'm sure you've read that talk about the necessity of more than just "work capacity." For that matter, even the common everyday articles imply it - would there be martial arts articles otherwise?

Robert Wolf 11-12-2008 12:01 AM

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

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 444355)
Rob:

Nevertheless my question remains, because work capacity or "power" is not a universal, homogenous, Platonic form to which all activity can be equivalently reduced. Under this take, for instance, 5 100lb squats in 5 seconds are identical to one 500lb squat in 5 seconds, winning a football game is the same as losing one if you do the same amount of work, handcycling is the same as hitting a speedbag, and dropping 5 minutes from your Helen time while losing 200 pounds from your deadlift is an increase in fitness. All of these may be true, though they would be debated, but they're only true because of the particular definition of fitness chosen, which could be otherwise. So I have to ask again why this one was chosen, as long as it's not arbitrary. (If it's arbitrary, then I'm going to define "accuracy" as the key component of fitness, and in that case WoDs are a terrible tool and we should all playing a lot of darts and bocce.)

No, the two squats are NOT the same and this is what you are NOT getting: Modality. A 500lb squat performed one time is completely different in with regards to modality. Most people can not even think of doing it...it's been a LONG time since I did that much, (hoping to get in that neighborhood again) but the point remains that is a completely different test than the 100lb x 5.

That 500lb squat represents a singular test. For me right now, that would be "fail". At 425 that would be "pass". 100lbs x 5 reps...not sure, have to test my speed on that...but they each represent a different test, and they are tests we'd like to have some competency in...if we are to be fit by the aforementioned definition....we would have to run the same test on your examples of the hand-bike and speed bag because one is a skill-less "dumb" movement, while the other is a highly technical, skill intensive movement. Again, the contention, is to have both modal competency and engine.

You are throwing in a bunch of sport specific stuff here...winning/loosing a football game...the claim has been that crossfit can make you fitter, not forgo sport specific training...it's only among the crossfit haters that these accusations fly.

If you want to call the key component of fitness "accuracy", that's cool...I'm going to call the key component of fitness "Fred".

Now, you and I need to take "Fred" and "accuracy" and build some kind of mathematical description of daily activities, diet, and lifestyle that provides predictive values in how we should train, eat and live to be "fit". This is what has been accomplished with the definition of Fitness being "Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains".

So, if you have a deep insight about how accuracy is the key to fitness, I'd set yourself to pen one of the most stunning upsets in history...the Accuracy Based Fitness model that jives with commonly practiced coaching methods and evolutionary biology BETTER than Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains.

This feels vaguely reminiscent of arguing with vegetarians about the Zone or paleo diet...answer the questions, lay out the material...have the whole mess dismissed with the wave of a hand, only to face the same questions...

Robert Wolf 11-12-2008 12:08 AM

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

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 444558)
Still excited to hear back from you if you're willing, Glassman.

Here are is the specific assertion that I'm interested in investigating (from http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/C...tionsPart3.mov wfs):



In short, work capacity is synonymous with level of fitness, and everything else is, at best, related to or indicative of fitness. In the most extreme example, this would mean that someone with excellent work capacity but lousy strength, speed, agility, sporting success, or whatever would be more fit than someone in the opposite state. (Whether this would actually be possible is not relevant; that's a point about training, not definitions.)

I don't understand why this definition was chosen and I'm interested in hearing more.

Brandon...this is what you are NOT getting: YOU can NOT have "excellent work capacity" if your strength, speed or agility suck!! The definition was chosen because this is what is built up from functional movements, performed at high intensity! I'm done, I think you are just trying to get a phucking rise out of me.

Derek Maffett 11-12-2008 12:11 AM

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

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 444558)
In short, work capacity is synonymous with level of fitness, and everything else is, at best, related to or indicative of fitness. In the most extreme example, this would mean that someone with excellent work capacity but lousy strength, speed, agility, sporting success, or whatever would be more fit than someone in the opposite state. (Whether this would actually be possible is not relevant; that's a point about training, not definitions.)

Actually, it is very relevant. If excellent work capacity did not have (or we can avoid this potential argument since you're talking about definitions, not training, and just say that if Mr. Glassman did not believe excellent work capacity to have) such a great correlation to these other points, then he would not have made an attempt at such a definition. The quote you posted implies just that.

Brandon Oto 11-12-2008 01:12 AM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
The points you both seem to be making are:

1. Work capacity correlates well with other aspects of fitness.

Objection: This may or may not be true, but that's not the claim that Glassman is making; he's stating that "work capacity across broad time and modal domains" is fitness -- it is identical to fitness, amounts to the same thing as fitness, is necessary and sufficient for it. In other words, the point isn't that work capacity is a good training methodology to develop other traits (that would imply that those other traits "are" fitness). Work capacity is fitness. Why? Why not, say, strength? Or any of the other 9 aspects, or all of them together? Or Fred?

2. Actual competence in specific modalities is necessary for fitness, not just the work their activities represent.

Objection: I agree wholeheartedly, but this is not captured in the definition provided; actually, it's very nearly the opposite of that reduction. If you're going to say that we still need to examine modal competence in order to test someone's fitness, then what exactly has the "work capacity" definition brought to the table? You can have both, or you can have modal competencies, but you can't try to reduce modal competencies to work capacity, because that's not included in that model. Yes, in a certain sense work is being done in a 1RM snatch, a parallel bar kip, or a tightrope walk, but it completely misses the point of them; it's not what they're about, and doing "more work faster" does not constitute an improvement in those modalities.

If you're going to say "well, work notwithstanding, you still have to see if they're competent in xyz areas," then you've cast aside the concept of work capacity as the defining feature of fitness; you've essentially recreated the hopper model ("how well do you do in random physical tasks?"). And the hopper is great, but it's a different model, and it's also not an intrinsic definition, in the sense that it defines fitness by example (you're more fit if you can do most things better than someone who's less fit) rather than substantively (what IS fitness?). If work capacity is fitness, then you don't get to also demand competence in infinite physical tasks -- that is, competence basically unrelated to work, such as balance on a tightrope -- as a prerequisite for fitness; you have to accept that more work capacity equals more fitness, no exceptions. And maybe competence in those tasks (hopper model) is fitness, but that's not the same as work capacity. Or maybe the physical traits required to be competent in those tasks (10 aspects of fitness) is fitness, but that's not the same as work capacity either.

All of these models are available to define fitness, and I actually like many of them (particularly the 10 aspects and the hopper), but for one reason or another the model of work capacity has emerged to the forefront as the essential feature of fitness, something that's obviously shaped CF programming. And so, once again, I'm curious why. As quoted below, Glassman suggests that improved work capacity tends to correlate well with "V02/max, lactate threshold, muscle mass, even the 10 general physical skills," but what suggests to me is that the actual definition of fitness is V02/max, lactate threshold, muscle mass, and the 10 general physical skills, and maybe some other stuff. I agree with that. But he also suggests that he'd rather have work capacity than any one of those, so that seems to belie that model, in which case we're just confused.

Do the two of you understand the difference between "an important correlate" and "the definition"? If "work capacity across broad time and modal domains" is the definition of fitness, then in any circumstance or modality where I can demonstrate that you were able to do more work faster, you are necessarily more fit. You can introduce other qualifications if you want, but that is changing the definition. And you certainly can't change it to say "physical competence across broad time and modal domains," which is a radically different thing.

If anyone wants to make the point that work capacity alone may not completely capture the idea of fitness, but it's the best we can do while creating a quantifiable metric, and for certain purpose quantifiability is more important than absolute definitional validity, then I'm willing to entertain that notion. But that's another thing as well.

Derek Maffett 11-12-2008 02:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto (Post 444581)
The points you both seem to be making are:

1. Work capacity correlates well with other aspects of fitness.

Objection: This may or may not be true, but that's not the claim that Glassman is making; he's stating that "work capacity across broad time and modal domains" is fitness -- it is identical to fitness, amounts to the same thing as fitness, is necessary and sufficient for it. In other words, the point isn't that work capacity is a good training methodology to develop other traits (that would imply that those other traits "are" fitness). Work capacity is fitness. Why? Why not, say, strength? Or any of the other 9 aspects, or all of them together? Or Fred?

Why strength? Why any of the other 9 aspects, or all of them together, or anything if all are correlates of something else? Yes, they are correlates of fitness, but what Mr. Glassman is pointing out is that they are also correlates of work capacity (across broad time and modal domains). If everything that is a correlate of A is a correlate of B, then it is much more sensible to say that A is closer to B than to the shared correlates. Wouldn't you agree?

2. Actual competence in specific modalities is necessary for fitness, not just the work their activities represent.

Objection: I agree wholeheartedly, but this is not captured in the definition provided; actually, it's very nearly the opposite of that reduction. If you're going to say that we still need to examine modal competence in order to test someone's fitness, then what exactly has the "work capacity" definition brought to the table? You can have both, or you can have modal competencies, but you can't try to reduce modal competencies to work capacity, because that's not included in that model. Yes, in a certain sense work is being done in a 1RM snatch, a parallel bar kip, or a tightrope walk, but it completely misses the point of them; it's not what they're about, and doing "more work faster" does not constitute an improvement in those modalities.

Without modal competency, you can have no work capacity in that modal domain. If your form is bad, that 1RM snatch will involve very little work. If your flexibility is bad, then parallel bars work may be inhibited. If your balance is bad, then you will just fall off the tightrope (ignoring the fact that tightrope-walking is on the far end of "broad modal domains" here).

If you're going to say "well, work notwithstanding, you still have to see if they're competent in xyz areas," then you've cast aside the concept of work capacity as the defining feature of fitness; you've essentially recreated the hopper model ("how well do you do in random physical tasks?"). And the hopper is great, but it's a different model, and it's also not an intrinsic definition, in the sense that it defines fitness by example (you're more fit if you can do most things better than someone who's less fit) rather than substantively (what IS fitness?). If work capacity is fitness, then you don't get to also demand competence in infinite physical tasks -- that is, competence basically unrelated to work, such as balance on a tightrope -- as a prerequisite for fitness; you have to accept that more work capacity equals more fitness, no exceptions.

Balance on a tightrope is one correlate of fitness (and again, on the far end of "broad modal domains." It somewhat suggests fitness, but does not guarantee it. I would not consider that a good test of fitness, nor would you, nor, I'm sure, would Greg Glassman.

And maybe competence in those tasks (hopper model) is fitness, but that's not the same as work capacity. Or maybe the physical traits required to be competent in those tasks (10 aspects of fitness) is fitness, but that's not the same as work capacity either.

But if the physical trait required to be competent in the various correlates of fitness is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains, it would be.

All of these models are available to define fitness, and I actually like many of them (particularly the 10 aspects and the hopper), but for one reason or another the model of work capacity has emerged to the forefront as the essential feature of fitness, something that's obviously shaped CF programming. And so, once again, I'm curious why. As quoted below, Glassman suggests that improved work capacity tends to correlate well with "V02/max, lactate threshold, muscle mass, even the 10 general physical skills," but what suggests to me is that the actual definition of fitness is V02/max, lactate threshold, muscle mass, and the 10 general physical skills, and maybe some other stuff. I agree with that. But he also suggests that he'd rather have work capacity than any one of those, so that seems to belie that model, in which case we're just confused.

I point to my previous argument in this post. The fact is that correlates of something are not that thing. However, something else that has all those same correlates might be that thing.

Do the two of you understand the difference between "an important correlate" and "the definition"? If "work capacity across broad time and modal domains" is the definition of fitness, then in any circumstance or modality where I can demonstrate that you were able to do more work faster, you are necessarily more fit. You can introduce other qualifications if you want, but that is changing the definition. And you certainly can't change it to say "physical competence across broad time and modal domains," which is a radically different thing.

No, that sounds about right, and it seems to be what Greg Glassman is arguing. The fittest person is the one with the greatest work capacity in any circumstance or modality.

If anyone wants to make the point that work capacity alone may not completely capture the idea of fitness, but it's the best we can do while creating a quantifiable metric, and for certain purpose quantifiability is more important than absolute definitional validity, then I'm willing to entertain that notion. But that's another thing as well.

......

Matt Schellinger 11-12-2008 07:03 AM

Re: T-Nation, Shugart and the Truth About CrossFit
 
In the same essence broad time (0-∞) does include that 1rm attempt, and increasing that 1rm would be the only way to increase your work capacity at that time domain. The real question is on what 'broad time' domain you place your emphasis on.


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