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

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Old 05-23-2006, 12:09 PM   #1
Mike Quon
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There's a part in Stuart McRobert's book Beyond Brawn where he talks about training intensity (effort intensity) and asks the question "Why train brutally hard when just training hard is good enough?"

I think this question is highly applicable to trainees like myself who tend to overdo things at times. Most training sessions leave me in a lying heap gasping for air, most Interval sessions have me close to tears (no joke). Now I'm all for people pushing themselves, I mean it's what sets us apart from those who settle but really, is training EXTREMELY/BRUTALLY hard necessary? Is modest hard work good enough?

I thought I'd ask for input here as you guys seem like the sort of sick bunch who can relate to me here!
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:19 PM   #2
Matt Gagliardi
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Way too many variables to give a solid answer. Ability to recover is a factor. So are the conditions you'll be expected to perform under when it's "real". Many people don't actually have the ability to perceive "hard" vs. "brutally hard". Etc. etc. etc.

People with the ability (or schedule) to recover well from "brutally hard" training don't need to worry about whether they'll recover in time for their next session. We have some folks around here who are expected to perform some very demanding work under the worst conditions possible...for them, the mental strength that is developed by training "brutally hard" would be a benefit. And I'll bet if you walk into most gyms and ask "typical guy/gal" if they're training hard, they'll tell you that they are. I'm sure you realize that's not in fact true...for those folks, they need to train "brutally hard" in order for their perception to match reality.

IMO, you need to train harder than your closest competitor. The catch is, you don't know how hard they're training. So don't leave things to chance.
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:46 PM   #3
Jesse Woody
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Matt, that last sentence is basically what I try to live by. I want to know that if I fall behind, it's not from lack of hard work, and since I really can only guess how hard everybody else is working, I might as well bust my *** 110% no matter what. That way you know you couldn't have done anything else to prepare :D

Needless to say, it seems to work great, as most people call 50% their max and head for the couch. That's not too hard to out-do.
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:53 PM   #4
bill fox
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Matt

Good answer. Clearly the way most people train is simply not hard enough, period.

Once you get into legitimate hard work it becomes very indivdual and there's lot's of variables. Having trained "brutally hard" I know now I train simply hard most days, with a brutal day thrown in now and then. I don't fight anymore, and any "comps" I do are for fun, and there's no consequence to the result. Real hard is good for me.

Matt points out that some of us who are in the warrior business, whether that's MA or job realted, can benefit from the character building aspect of brutally hard. But even here you have to look at, for instance, can a SWAT guy who can get called out at any time afford to be so whipped he can't move the day after a workout?

Trying to apply a subjective standard across a large field of individuals is a tough call. I think again the CF standard, performance, is the most reliable guide.

If it's working it works, if not, it needs to be fixed.
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:59 PM   #5
Matt Gagliardi
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Good call on the SWAT situation Bill. That's a tough hybrid between "ability/time to recover" and "mental toughness needed". I think in a perfect situation, you'd have a period of time where you (SWAT guy) were not going to be in the rotation, which would allow you to go "brutally hard" without worrying about getting a call while leaned over the puke bucket. Not being a LEO, I don't know if that perfect situation exists. Perhaps Eugene can jump in and comment.
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Old 05-23-2006, 01:09 PM   #6
Russ Greene
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It's funny, there are really different types of "hard." Heavy lifting is very hard, but in a different way from high rep metabolic conditioning workouts. I think the Bulgarian weightlifters talk about a concept called "today's max." As in not the most you've ever done, but just the most you can do today. That's what I usually try to shoot for in my day-to-day training. I think as long as you're making progress, that amount of intensity is perfect.


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Old 05-23-2006, 01:18 PM   #7
Mike Quon
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Good point Russ. Personally, I can breeze through multiple sets of heavy deadlifts, yeah it's challenging but it doesn't kill me the way conditioning work does. In fact, I would rather go for max attempts on the dead any day of the week instead of doing burpees or tabatas.

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Old 05-23-2006, 02:31 PM   #8
Motion Macivor
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I think it boils down to training smarter not harder. If you really kill yourself in a workout you wont be able to repeat that workout the next day. I think if you really go 110% you have to limit the time you spend past the red line so that your fresh enough to hit your next workout with the same intensity.
I guess thats sort of the point with crossfit. Short intense workouts that allow you to train a bit over 5 times a week.
Personaly I try to save the brutaly hard days for the day before a rest break.
BTW Mike,
to address your original question yes I think it is neccessary to train brutaly hard but not every day. I treat it like medicine.

(Message edited by motion on May 23, 2006)
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Old 05-23-2006, 03:33 PM   #9
Scott Kustes
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"Why train brutally hard when just training hard is good enough?"
My layman's response: Training hard may be "good enough", but most of us aren't here for "good enough". That's not to say that those that are here just to improve their health and appearance and train "hard" are doing anything wrong. Just saying that most of us here are seeking "elite fitness", which requires training "brutally hard". I doubt Jerry Rice, Michael Johnson, Michael Jordan, and all the top Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and swimmers got to where they are by training "hard".
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Old 05-23-2006, 06:35 PM   #10
Ross Hunt
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Another thing to consider is the development of the ability to tolerate more training volume. The more frequently you can approach, equal, or exceed your maximum, the more you improve.

So maybe the idea is:

Go heavy or go home! --but spend less and less time at home. :biggrin:
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