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

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Old 06-27-2005, 08:20 PM   #1
Eugene R. Allen
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From an article in Athlete's Performance.

The Six-Minute-Per-Week Workout Experiment

June 23, 2005

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that very intense exercise sessions three times a week lasting a total of only six minutes could have the same effect as six hours of moderate exercise. The study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, involved only 23 subjects, all of whom were active, fit exercisers.

At the start of the study, all of the participants completed an 18.6-mile cycle ride and their times were recorded. Then the cyclists were divided into three groups, each of which was asked to cycle at a different intensity and duration three days a week for two weeks. The first group cycled for two hours each day at a moderate pace. The second cycled at a slightly more intense pace for 10 minutes a day in 60-second segments. The third group cycled as fast as possible for two minutes in 30-second bursts, resting for four minutes between each sprint. After the two-week training period, the volunteers again completed the 18.6 miles ride.

The researchers found that the cyclists in all three groups improved at the same level, based on an analysis of the rate at which their muscles absorbed oxygen. Levels of citrate synthase, an enzyme that helps muscle tissue process oxygen, were also found to be similar, regardless of the exercise regime.

If these findings are verified in other studies, the results will contradict conventional guidelines, which recommend moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes, three to five times a week in order to maintain or improve aerobic fitness and muscle endurance. The lead author of the study concluded that short bouts of very intense exercise improved muscle health and performance when compared to several weeks of traditional training. He also said that sprint training may be an option for trained individuals who don't have time for conventional workouts.

However, there are limitations to this kind of workout. The participants in the McMaster study were active and fit. The demanding sprint protocol might not be appropriate (and could be dangerous) for those who are sedentary or who have lower levels of fitness than those in the study. However, the study suggests that short bursts of intense exercise might be useful for a small percentage of reasonably fit exercisers. If nothing else, six minutes of exercise per week is better than no exercise at all.

[SPJ Comments from Paul Robbins, Metabolic Specialist, Athletes’ Performance – I have several concerns about the study and the concept of short, intensive training cycles. First, it is not for the unfit. Only well-conditioned athletes and exercisers, if anyone, should experiment with this approach. Second, it would not be effective for weight loss because not enough calories are burned during short bursts of exercise. Third, the study lasted only two weeks. What are the long-term effects going to be? Will those who try it have higher injury rates? Will they burn out sooner than those in more conventional programs? Does the degree of improvement justify the approach? Finally, I like the interval idea, not as the total workout, but as part of great overall Energy System Development.]

This has CrossFit written all over it.

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Old 06-27-2005, 09:04 PM   #2
Bryce Lane
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I think if you raise the top of something, the middle tends to rise too.

A "moderate" squat for a good PLer, might be around 450# for several reps. A moderate run for a good miler might be 5 min pace which he can do for several miles is need be. If someone can do 100 barbell squats with 225 on the bar its not too much of a leap to think they could probably do 200r+ without the bar. I think this works for longer periods into the aerobic system also if you dont' take it too far and forget the details. 6min is well past the time when you have generally gone through the other energy systems and are well into the aerobic pathway. The only question at that point is how much "work" can you do at a steady state.

Your heart has a certain maximum maintainable rate and there is a rate also at which oxygen can be utilized to make fuel. However, how much "work" you can do at that level has alot more to do with training intensity rather than time.

However I think (just my opinion) that people tend to adapt to and level out at things if pursued past their useful points so the answer isn't so much one or the other but "both and other things too" perhaps.

I saw a book on intervals from the late fifties when they were trying to figure out how to do fitness on submarines. They would have people do steps and other exercises in 1-3min (or more I think, this was a long time ago I read this) intervals and it worked fine for longer tests also according to the book.


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Old 06-28-2005, 12:45 AM   #3
Kawika Harbottle
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Didn't Tabata come to these findings much earlier? I'm just sayin'.
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Old 06-28-2005, 09:50 AM   #4
Eugene R. Allen
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Kawika - Yes, that's exactly why I posted this thing. People are coming up with this stuff or at least writing about it as if it is a new discovery. Much like the sociologists who spend a bunch of money and time on a study that informs us that girls are different than boys. Wow, thanks for that. I'm just happy to see that there is an awareness developing about how 5 minutes ago most of the current exercise methods really are.
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:09 AM   #5
Larry Lindenman
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Once again, Coach is correct! Science lags behind clinical experience. Black Box rules again. Intensity promotes greater adaptation, who would have thunk it! Next thing you know scientists are going to tell us pull-ups develop greater back strength and power than lat pulldowns. Ask a rich guy how to get rich, not a poor guy. Ask some one who trains sucessful athletes how to train for performance, not a scientist.
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Old 07-02-2005, 03:00 PM   #6
Kalen Meine
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I'm just amazed this isn't common sense. When you were in PE class, the kids who ran faster and were panting at the end of their laps were the ones everyone new was in shape. I never understood people who thought they got a great deal of good out of going slow. Next they'll tell us that lifting heavier weights is an indicator of being strong.
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Old 07-03-2005, 12:47 AM   #7
Jim Glover
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But Kalen working hard hurts and 90% of most gym rats don't want to work hard you know that.
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