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Old 10-15-2007, 01:48 PM   #1
Jason Peck
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Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

This is what Mark Sisson, a former anti-doping official in the sport of triathlon, said:

"Most people don't realize it, but training at the elite level is actually the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle," said Sisson, who is also a founder and owner of a nutritional supplement company. "The definition of peak fitness means that you are constantly at or near a state of physical breakdown."

What do you guys think about this? Obviously CF espouses that general/broad (yet very hardcore) training is the key to elite fitness. Does what Sisson says contradict this? What do you make of his definition of peak fitness?

I have my opinions but wanted to see what everyone else thought, since I figured this might lead to a good discussion...
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:36 PM   #2
Pierre Auge
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

I think his opinion is exactly what CrossFit has been saying for a long, long time. The difference is that I think his definition and use of the word fitness should more appropriately be labeled "fringe athleticism".

Elite fitness as a term indicates and points to a superior level of health and wellness. While "fringe athleticism" indicates a sacrifice in health and/or physical capacities in other domains for the sake of performance in a smaller domain.

Elite fitness with our definition is a protective measure against the ravages of "elite athleticism".

So yes he is right because the individuals he is referring too are elite athletes, in many sports and domains few of them are healthy. CrossFit seems to be an antithesis to Elitism - it is to be the most Elite of the greatest average!
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Old 10-15-2007, 03:52 PM   #3
Susie Rosenberg
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

Elite athletes usually specialize, and within their season, train to a max peak for at most one or two events because a peak can't be held indefinitely. Usually it's a matter of weeks.

Training like that---say, for an Ironman, or Olympic competition, or to scale Mount Everest, or do a long-distance open-water swim or the Badwater 135--is dancing on the line of breakdown. It is like being marginally ill. That's when all the recovery efforts are critical: nutrition, relaxation, supplements, stress reduction, sleep. Lots of deep, restorative sleep.

The ideal is to dance around that line lightly, never so far over that work has to halt for too long. Balancing recovery with work. As an athlete nears his/her limits, the oscillations around that line have to get finer and finer, because there's not as much "play" left in the body. Less room for error. It's the small forays OVER the line that make an athlete stronger, faster, better, as long as it's balanced with recovery.


But yeah, I understand elite training as work so intense that one dances on the line of maginal illness. On the "right" side of the line---feeling limitless and tireless, the peak, maximal performance. On the wrong side---breakdown, injury, illness, poor performance.

Susie
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:41 PM   #4
Derek Maffett
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

"Show me an athlete who has never overtrained and Iíll show you someone far from his potential."

Greg Glassman, from "What About Recovery." See Crossfit Journal.

People who are elite in their sport must maximize potential, and so are likely to overtrain. We at Crossfit pursue elite fitness, and so would like to go as close to max potential as possible. Overtraining is not something we pursue at Crossfit and should certainly be avoided, but it's just one of the dangers of elite fitness.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:01 AM   #5
John Tuitele
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

Focus on health without any concern for performance improvements is unbalanced. A focus on human performance without concern for health can also be unbalanced. It is fair to say that many high level specialized athletes push past healthy conditions to obtain performance. That doesn't mean that all athletes who focus on performance improvements ignore health.

Somebody else posted this pic a few months back of M. Rasmussen, who wore the yellow jersey (up until his team voted him out under suspicion of doping) during the last TDF. His performance was elite and high, but I have to wonder about his committment to healthy living:
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Old 10-16-2007, 02:08 PM   #6
Jason Peck
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

Wow, that picture is frightening. No way I would consider that to be healthy.
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Old 10-16-2007, 02:52 PM   #7
Brandon Oto
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

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Originally Posted by John Tuitele View Post
Focus on health without any concern for performance improvements is unbalanced.
This is an interesting take. Unbalanced even if I don't care about any sport applications?

Possibly you just worded that weird, but the impression given is "desire for increased performance is central to the human experience," which is a little bit hard-charging to be a generality.
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:08 PM   #8
Dimitri Dziabenko
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

I am probably in the minority when I say that I agree with the quote. To me, it just doesn't make sense that pushing always pushing your body to the limit, even if it is in different disciplines such as crossfit, can possibly be good for you. Neither is puking while working out (video not long ago). So saying that crossfit is more balanced and therefore less extreme does not convince me (our mascot is a clown that pukes ). Is fitness important? Sure. It is important to have mobility, flexibility, a healthy heart, etc. Should we do extreme metcon? To some extent, yes. A short all out effort, followed by long rests and sleep (!) is said to be healthier than the regular stuff people do. But is the person with a 2 min fran healthier than a person with a 5:00 fran? I wouldn't bet my money on it. In that same article, Coach outlines his case against massages. Some argument that they make you soft and decrease your times. Hmmm, muscle spasms (from lack of relaxation, something that happens with heavy lifting) vs. better time? Personally, I'd rather be soft from time to time.

I think it is important to realize that exercise is a stress, just like any other stress and requires adequate recuperation.
If you ate too much, don't push yourself into puking. Also stop before you get dizzy. A lower fran time just isn't worth the risk of rhabdo. Just my opinion, hopefully someone will disagree.

Dimitri Dziabenko
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Old 10-16-2007, 05:03 PM   #9
Derek Maffett
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

I don't disagree with that. I personally would love to be able to dance on the edge of overtraining and recieve maximum results (okay, I'd like to think I'd be willing to) but I don't think you really can go that close without occasionally falling over. How close should a person go? I would think that to be up to the individual. There are those who refuse to go anywhere near that line. They don't get results and probably won't be all that healthy. Then there are those who give the workouts a great deal of their focus, but don't consider it worth the damage to the rest of their life to go close to overtraining. And some people want a 2 minute Fran, and are willing to make sacrifices for it. That's fine, as long as they aren't letting their health deteriorate. Those people might be faster and and stronger, but they will also crash and burn every once in a while.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:31 PM   #10
John Tuitele
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Re: Elite training is the antithesis of a healthy lifestyle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
This is an interesting take. Unbalanced even if I don't care about any sport applications?

Possibly you just worded that weird, but the impression given is "desire for increased performance is central to the human experience," which is a little bit hard-charging to be a generality.
Yea, I probably wasn't clear....what I meant to say was that a fitness program focused on simply "improving health" without periodic measurement of some measure of human performance strikes me as incomplete. I don't mean sports performance, althought that could be the goal, but I mean some measurement that reflects (force*distance)/time. Are you running faster, lifting more, jumping higher, cranking out more reps in less time, etc. If we are not looking to create positive changes in functional performance, what's the point? Better scores on the blood lipid profiles and a lower dress size?

Not that I've ever been concerned about dress size, mind you.
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