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

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Old 08-24-2005, 08:17 PM   #1
John Dowd
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I just read the kipping pull-up thread, and reread the Fooling around with Fran CFJ article. There were a lot of great comments about the importance of seeking high average power out in order to maximize nueroendicrine response.

That seems to suggest that, in order to maximize my fitness returns, I ought to experiment with, say, Fran, and find the weight and format that yields my highest avg power out. Whenever the WOD calls for Fran I ought to do this tailored version. To do otherwise would be to fail to make the most of the opportunity, right? Though every now and then it would probably be worthwhile to do the traditional version for the benchmarking value, but that would be the exception rather than the rule.

Can i get some feedback from the 800 lb brains on this?
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Old 08-24-2005, 08:24 PM   #2
John Dowd
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wrong title...should read "maximizing power output"

my password manager "helped" me by remembering the title of my last post.
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Old 08-25-2005, 01:49 AM   #3
Chris Kemp
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John, although you have used Fran as an example, to follow your thoughts EACH WOD would have to be experimented with to determine the appropriate load, format etc. Not really feasible in the long run.

Guess it all really boils down to the same question of how best to modify the WOD to improve your fitness. Sticking with Fran, are 95lb thrusters a struggle making you break em up into tiny little sets, are your pull-ups taking half of forever. If so you may need to lighten the load to something that is still challenging (say breaking each set into three chunks) but achievable at high intensity.

I know that when I first dropped down under 10 minutes I thought my lungs were going to burst and I could truly answer the question "What do you do for cardio?"

As to whether you have failed to make the most of the opportunity, as long as you have given some thought to appropriate loading, worked hard and kept rest to a minimum you have done more than 99% of people will ever do. Don't sweat the details, just do the WOD, clean up the diet and the results will come.

Cheers, kempie
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Old 08-25-2005, 03:22 AM   #4
John Dowd
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i wouldn't have to modify each WOD - some we only see once, so that would be impossible anyway. If max power out is desireable then there would be a return for each workout that I was able to tailor. Since the benchmarks repeat, that would be the place to start.

i'm getting Fran in the 8:30ish range as Rx'd. "fractured fran" bumped up my power out a bit, and reducing the weight (but using the 21-15-9 format) bumped it up 20% or so (and it felt even more crushing than normal version).

I'm going to keep playing around with it, if for no other reason then just that it's interesting to look at the picture it paints about my fitness. But I would like to know if chasing max power out (when practical) is a formula others have had success with or think would be worthwhile.
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Old 08-25-2005, 06:41 AM   #5
Craig Bucher
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My concern with this would be that you are adjusting the workout to your strengths and neglecting your weaknesses. If you think that the other workouts will cover that for you fine. But I like to assume that these workouts are balanced, and I need to improve whatever it is that is holding me back. If I can produce more power with a lighter load and a faster time, I need to get stronger. Therefore I am better off doing it a bit slower, with the heavy load to improve my strength. I know what you are saying though. If the goal is power output, it is a good idea to adjust; but doing so too often will over work your strenghts. There are some WODs where you choose a load and still work for time, these are where I would work on maximixing power.
eg:
Monday 050613
For time:
-Run 800 meters
-Snatch, 30 reps
-Run 800 meters

Post load and total time to comments.


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Old 08-25-2005, 09:56 AM   #6
Eric Moffit
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here are some posts about this topic:

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/21/11167.html

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/24/12207.html

also, i have to disagree with Craig on this one. the time for focusing solely on strength is a max effort day. every other day multiple aspects of fitness are coming into play, and to trudge through one because you think it will help your strength is to neglect the fact that maximizing power output (or coming close) will result in quicker fitness gains. this is why workouts are done for time...intensity works. when youre working near your max's, you simply cannot maintain intensity. i guarantee if we took two individuals of similarly poor or average fitness and had one always do the WOD exactly as prescribed and the other scaled to ability in an attempt to maximize power output/intensity, the latter would dominate the former in most if not all categories of fitness after a given amount of time. when i finally admitted some of the prescribed weights were beyond my ability, thats when i really started getting fit fast...AND workouts became a lot more fun.
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Old 08-25-2005, 10:56 AM   #7
John Dowd
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Good links Eric...there are some aspects to the power question in there that I hadn't considered at all.

If I want to get better at Fran, for Fran's sake, I might choose to work on my weakest Fran component - muscular strength/endurance while pressing overhead. But the CF goal is bigger - adaptation across 10 measures of fitness for the whole body - and intensity/high power out has demonstrated itself to yield the fastest progress towards this larger goal. Is that the general gist of what I'm reading?
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Old 08-25-2005, 12:34 PM   #8
Eric Moffit
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yes, dead on...intensity coupled with variation and functionality makes for a very potent fitness program.

and when you focus on the bigger, non-segmented picture, you will find (as i have found) that you make gains in areas rarely, if ever, specifically trained. ex: PRs in DL, squat clean, OHS, FS, BS when only doing the WOD (scaled when necessary) with additional running, swimming, and basic gymnastics work. i scale WODs and rarely lift heavy but when i do, i PR the lifts! and my experience is the norm with CrossFit!
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Old 08-25-2005, 04:56 PM   #9
Mike Donnelly
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Nice work, Eric.

Your postings are exactly what I've found over the past few months. I've been working on all the basic lifts to find my optimum power output for specific exercises.

I first started by running through five different weight variations on “Linda.” While my time approximating prescribed weights clocked in at over 40 minutes, my time at maximum power output clocked in at 26 minutes. Not only I am sure that the latter evoked a more intense neuroendocrine response, but I’m quite sure that it limited the negative impact of cortisol production as well. Believe me, I was left in a nauseous, sweaty, heaving mess for all five trials, but the one in which my efforts were most effective was at maximal power output.

I've been plotting my power charts for thrusters, cleans, weighted (and de-weighted) pull-ups, front squats, back squats, push presses, bench press, and deadlifts to find out what my optimal power outputs would be for each exercise. I've been charting the time that it takes me to bust out 20 reps - at great intensity - for varying weights of each exercise.

I also am learning what my personal power output looks like for each exercise at maximum intensity (at least for 20 reps). The biggest bang for the buck likely comes right at the top of my power curve.

This allows me to maximize each exercise. Elizabeth? Full squat cleans at 115. Fran? Thrusters at 85, pull-ups at bodyweight. Tabata Squats? Might have to add 5-10lbs (experimenting with this one). Muscle-ups? About 10 helium balloons tied to each ankle.

In terms of working on “weaknesses,” the power output profiles self-select for optimal recruitment. It’s always a balancing act – on timed WODs – between metabolic efficiency and strength. Weak on the metabolic side? Maximum power output shows the most efficient AND MOST INTENSE use of workout effort. Weak on the strength side? Maximum power output shows the most weight that can be pushed efficiently. As power outputs change over time, each person has a responsibility to update their output charts and increase weight loads accordingly.

My goal is not to make Crossfit easier; it is to make it more productive. It is to get TO the elite phase. I've found that my biggest gains come after consistent practice at maximum power. I can go balls out at 1/2 the weight, or I can go balls out at 2X the weight. But if I go balls out at the proper weight, I will be maximizing the physiological intensity of my response.


Mike Donnelly
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:11 PM   #10
William Hunter
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Mike, I thought that was a ridiculously good post.

Will you do my taxes next year? :-)
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