I believe "CrossFitting" or "Strength Training" could be called "Training" or "Exercising", depending on the application.
Quick Google search on definition of:
1: he systematic use of exercises to promote bodily fitness and strength.
1: engage in physical activity to sustain or improve health and fitness; take exercise
What is training goal of CrossFit?
Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
A blanket statement cannot be given on CrossFit such as it is all just training or all just exercising, just as it couldn't be applied to Runners, Olympic Weightlifters, Powerlifters, Swimmers, Bodybuilders, etc... It isn't JUST CrossFit.com anymore. There are what, over 7,000 Affiliates now? I think we have to consider all of them CrossFit. I LOVE CrossFit, and have since I started with it in 2006.
I believe there are Affiliates that offer Physical Training, and some that offer Exercising. Structured, organized, and systematic training plans using "Constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity" to achieve a goal of "increased work capacity across broad times and modal domains" would be training.
When I started CrossFit in 2006 my training was just a CrossFit WOD. In a continued pursuit of "increased work capacity across broad times and modal domains" after time I realized that to continue INCREASING that would have to include more than that. 7 years later to continue to allow progress forward the same approach I used in 2006 wouldn't allow me to continue pushing forward to meet my personal goals. For example-- My best Front Squat is 425lbs @ just under 200lbs BW. Even with a structured organized program based around just a WOD this probably wouldn't have happened, nor would it ever. We're seeing this now because there are now a LOT of CrossFitters that have been training longer than 1-2 years, more over 3-4, and more over 5 years.
Novice/Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Elite athletes in ALL sports have to approach their training depending on what ability level they are at in their respective field. I don't understand what isn't understood about this. Starting Strength is an example of a NOVICE/BEGINNER strength training program. Is it great? I guess it would depend on if you were a beginner or if you were advanced. I wouldn't expect Dan Green to use Starting Strength to prepare for his next Powerlifting meet anymore than I would expect Rich Froning to do JUST main site workouts. I bet if Dan Green followed Starting Strength template for 12 months he would start spreading the word that it's a piece of ****.
Most people in the pure barbell strength sports community understand that there are different program designs for different levels. I don't think most people in the CrossFit community understand that this can also apply to their sport, especially if they want to compete.
The more advanced you become, the more time that must be spent on each individual aspect of fitness exclusively as well as increased training time in general. CF Games Athletes are a prime example. They are absolute physical phenoms. I'm blown away at the levels these guys and gals compete at, and how the bar is raised each year across the board. They separate training time to improve gymnastic ability, Olympic Lifting, Swimming, Running, etc. in addition to a normal WOD approach.
To become truly strong and technically proficient in Olympic Weightlifting, you need to spend training time JUST Olympic Weightlifting outside of WODs or the occasional 1-1-1-1-1 or 3-3-3-3-3 spread in periodically... but include training similar to what an Olympic Weightlifter at your ability level would do. The same with running. To bring running up to a more advanced level, just doing 400m or 800m runs in WODs isn't going to cut it. It applies to anything.
This is why you always see something along the lines of "CF Games Athletes don't even do CrossFit(especially last 2-3 years"... That is incorrect. They are at an Elite level in their sport and to continue to increase work capacity across broad times and modal domains that is the only way they can continue their Physical Training to achieve that goal.
I also believe that just "Exercising" using "Constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity" with no real goal in mind can also "increase work capacity across broad times and modal domains" ... to a point.
Just as there are plenty of Affiliates that approach it as Physical Training, there are those that approach it as Exercise. If you go to the gym and randomly select Monostructrual, Gymnastic, or Weight-lifting movements, mix them together with no plan and exercise your *** off you will still "increase work capacity across broad times and modal domains", but it will only take you so far.
That's not just with CrossFit though, that could be said for ANYTHING. If your Strength Training was just a random assortment of lifts with no structure or plan... could someone get stronger? Absolutely. It's still the same, it will only take you so far.
Originally Posted by Russell Greene
I've been doing it for 11 years, and still set PRs (465 deadlift and 178 lb. press in the past week).
Although I would agree that Russel is training, by looking at these numbers I would just say his training program isn't optimal to take his fitness to it's maximal level. But that doesn't mean it isn't training, or he should change it. Maybe his personal goal is to make slow steady progress, while maximizing workout time to enjoy other things in life, and there's NOTHING wrong with that. That could be what he wants to accomplish in his pursuit of personal fitness.
Could he have hit those numbers faster or have them significantly higher training differently while still making progress in other domains of fitness? Almost definitely. Would it still be CrossFit... Yes, absolutely. If Russel would have liked to progress faster, or be at a more advanced level, he could have modified his approach the same way you would in any other sport.
Physical Training to meet your personal goal of fitness is a lot different than training to be the most physically fit man/woman on earth.