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

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Old 02-14-2005, 10:03 AM   #21
Don Milliken
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This has generated some interesting discussion - thanks to everyone who's offered ideas. I decided to copy and reply to Ross' post, since I think it allows me to give you an idea of the thinking behind my programme. My comments preceded by ***.

Don, I see a couple of 'holes' in using this challenge as the sole training preparation. The first that caught my eye was the Lat Pull downs. It's a non-functional movement, never in nature am I trapped at the hip and pulling something down toward me. I'll get better results both hormonally and neurologically by utilizing a functional movement or series, IE; pull-ups, rowing, and dead lift high pulls. You'll be recruiting more muscle fibers and training the associated innervation's more fully.

*** I agreee that the lat pulldown is a pretty useless movement, but it's one of the movements I have to perform during this competition and I include it in my programme in the interest of specificity. My best performance in doing pulldowns will come from training, well, pulldowns. Once the competition is over, I'll scrap the pulldowns and go back to chins.

Secondly, in the program you've outlined you're spending a considerable amount of time (too much!) in single modality low intensity endurance training, IE; biking, rowing, or treadmilling for 20 - 30 minutes at a crack. Granted though the exercises you're talking about are being done as 'fartlek' intervals it comes down to a heck of a long time of foot spinning which in the long run is a drain you can't afford in your training

***I disagree. The fartleks give me extra practice on the specific movements I'll be performing in competition. Since I've done virtually no running or cycling for the past year (I did a ton of work on the rowing machine), this is helpful for me right now. The fartleks also give me some additional training volume, which will, over time, help with adaptations such as increased capillary density. The winners of these events take 17min+. I will take a bit longer. At this sort of duration, the aerobic system makes a massive contribution. It only makes sense to train it specifically. The fartlek format trains my CV system to tolerate changes in effort level, which will simulate movements between apparatus in the competition. Also, we're looking at around 25min per day - I'm hardly running marathons here!

(that's because I'm rather cynical of 'comfortably' anything. If the clown isn't invading your personal space at least occasionally you ain't training for competition).

***Agreed. And that's why I'm doing intervals and high volume weights/calisthnetics 6 days/week! Trust me, if I want to push myself to the puking point, I can do it on this programme!

You'll have vastly better stamina, cardio-vascular/cardio-respiratory endurance, strength, power and speed (not a complete list) with less of your total training time spent in the oxidative pathway and more time at higher outputs. In this regard I'd mix my high intensity metabolic conditioning intervals right in with the weights and gymnastics.

***I do intervals first in my sessions so that I do my weights and cals under fatigue conditions.

Day one:
500m row in 1:45
***Is this a warm-up? My pb over 500m is 1:28 and my pb pace over 2000m is 1:40.
Push presses
Box jumps
Deadlifts
Bike max resistance for 1.5k in under 2:00
Pull ups
Glute-ham sit ups
Push ups
Run 400m
***A lot of non-specific work here. While I might do this during the off-season, I have a competition in 5 weeks. How are deads and push-presses going to help me at this point?

Day 2:
Something very different

Day 3:
Something different again

It seems to me that the challenge you've entered will favor the athlete who can perform well (read 'perform well' as stay focused, move in and out of apparatus, work specific muscle groups) at high heart rates during a random series of medium intensity exercises.
***No, it will favour the athlete who can perform well on a non-random series of medium intensity exercises, the list of which I wrote down in my first post. It is a specific contest that will favour a specifically-prepared athlete.

I'd go through the challenge as you'll have to do on game day as soon as possible to see how you stack up now. Then I'd throw myself at the WOD's with all the intensity I could muster and 'retest' myself with the challenge again once about 9 days out with an eye on where my weak points are. WOD's for the next 2-4 days, and then easy active rest for at least 4-5 days before the challenge.
***This is an entirely non-specific approach. It's a bit like a swimmer never touching the pool in the 5 weeks prior to a major meet.

In preparing for competitions learning to move hard AND fast is key. Not just hard, not just fast, but hard and fast. The training adaptations we develop both physically, neurologically and emotionally by doing so are simply the best we know of.

***Agreed, but I'd rather make those adaptations using specific apparati, and thereby make skill adaptations that will produce the best performance on 19 March.

Then it's stretch, jump rope very gently, a few bodyweight squats (more for the stretch than any kind of workout value), 'play' without working up a sweat or getting too deeply into any oxygen debt situations, drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep........and give it hell when the time comes.

***Agreed, I have a taper week built into my programme.
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:05 AM   #22
Don Milliken
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Paul - I agree that the pulldown isn't a great exercise. Chins are better for a number of reasons. But bench and shoulder press are excellent developers of the shoulder girdle musculature. I was under the impression that the bench is often included in the WOD. Am I wrong?
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:17 AM   #23
Don Milliken
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I personally think crossfit is a great programme with a lot of upsides, but there are other ways to achieve fantastic general fitness. A guy by the name of Hywel Davies, who trains for cross-training competitions a bit like I've outlined (though I won't say exactly, since he keeps his personal training programme close to his chest), has achieved some amazing all-round fitness. Check these stats out:

Bodyweight - 70kg (154lbs) at around 5'8", I think
Bench Press 1RM - 150kg (330lbs)
Bench Press max reps of 60kg (132lbs) - 63
2000m row on concept 2 - 6:22.9 (damn good for a lightweight!)
10k run - 32:50
marathon - 2:40
Ironman triathlon - 9:32
Push-ups in 60s - 130+ (unbelievable, but verified by many witnesses)

The guy's clearly a freak, and no form of training will produce these results for everyone, but it's interesting to know the best possible outcome for any programme. I would be very interested to hear some numbers produced by some of the top crossfit guys. Not trying to turn this into a ****ing contest, as I'm actually very interested to hear what a programme like crossfit can achieve.
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Old 02-14-2005, 10:40 AM   #24
Larry Lindenman
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I really don't want to come off as a mindless zelot and that's not my intention. The only reason I am so zelous about Crossfit is because IT WORKS. I do depend upon fitness for my life, I also have the perspective of 25 years of training. I've been an athlete my whole life and have done the wod for a year and a half. During that time, I have competed, trained and taught martial arts, fought people trying to hurt me, and taken 3 multi-modal fitness tests for work. The test included: 1.5 mile run, sit and reach, situp, max bench press. With no other training other than the WOD, I maxed out each test and survived each encounter. Overtraining is a non-issue, the freaking WOD takes 15-45 minutes MAX. If you have any work capacity, proper rest, and nutrition, you should be able to work a manual labor job and train for a sport ON TOP OF THE WOD. The ability to do 15 pull-ups translates very well to lat pulldowns. Sure there are other ways to develop all around fitness, I just haven't found any better or more cost effective than Crossfit. You have to give the program a chance, give it a year. If your in your 20s what is the worst case scenerio? You will be fitter, faster, healthier, and if you don't think Crossfit worked you have the rest of your life to look for the fitness holy grail. Paul, I guarentee you if you train Crossfit for a year, all of your questions will be answered, through action not analysis. I don't mean to be harsh, I just don't get it.
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Old 02-14-2005, 12:20 PM   #25
Matt Gagliardi
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You know, I had a really long and detailed response written for the "overtraining" bit...but just decided "why bother?" and erased it.

"Overtraining" is BS for 99.999% of athletes. IMO, unless you're an elite-level athlete that's working out multiple hours per day...you should forget the term even exists.
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Old 02-14-2005, 12:44 PM   #26
Karl Steadman
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Matt,

I like it........
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:33 AM   #27
Ross Burke
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***The fartleks also give me some additional training volume, which will, over time, help with adaptations such as increased capillary density.

But at what cost? There are no free lunches. Yep, you may well get increased capillary density. You may also get decreased lean muscle mass.

My major concern with doing the low intensity fartlek intervals as an integral part of a workout on a daily basis is that it pushes the entire effort into the oxidative pathway. Superficially it appears that the early exercises will cover the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways and the biking, running, and rowing will take care of the aerobics. But as a total effort done on a daily basis it's one long aerobic session. Many a world championship fight has been lost to 'some additional training volume.'

Day one:
500m row in 1:45
***Is this a warm-up? My pb over 500m is 1:28 and my pb pace over 2000m is 1:40

Ummm, no, it wasn't intended as a warm-up. I had a discussion some years ago with Garth Taylor and B.J. Penn (two black belt Brazilian Ju-Jitsu world champions and BJ a professional MMA fighter) as we were beginning a workout. I said 'what should we do for a warm up?'

Garth looked at BJ and they both smirked and Garth said to me; 'ya know what the warm up is in a bar brawl?' and motioned like he was setting down a beer bottle. The three of us laughed, at me.

Without knowing you it's difficult to judge your specific capacities or requirements. I was speaking in a more general sense of how I might structure one days workout. By all means if you need a 1:30 500m to light your wick, get it. In the same way, there's no reason not to utilize bench press and the other exercises specific to your competition in these non-specific workouts.

Address your specifics as part of your overall training, don't sacrifice your fitness as part of your sport.

***This is an entirely non-specific approach. It's a bit like a swimmer never touching the pool in the 5 weeks prior to a major meet.

Personally I don't think bench press and lat pull downs come close in technique specificity to swimming. I do see hand stand push ups, pull ups, and box jumps as being a bit more like bench press, lat pull downs and biking though. But I'm a strength and conditioning guy, not a sport specific technique coach so I'm kinda biased that way.

I'm laughing at myself now. I read your response Don and my first inclination was to let my original post stand and not reply again. Of course a few minutes later I was engrossed in writing this post.......

Now it's an hour later and I realize I'm debating theory rather than encouraging athletics. Coach Glassman has a saying I've really come to appreciate; 'Ready, fire, aim!'

Get to work Don and let us know how it goes!
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:49 AM   #28
Ross Burke
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And Don?

Above all know that we're all pulling for ya. (Think I'd spend all this time writing if I wasn't in your corner?)

Give 'em hell!
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:36 AM   #29
Paul Theodorescu
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"The ability to do 15 pull-ups translates very well to lat pulldowns. "

Do you honestly believe that doing pull-ups is a more efficient way to improve at lat pull-downs than doing lat pull-downs?

"You have to give the program a chance, give it a year."

You are fighting a straw man! We aren't talking about developing the best possible fitness... we're talking about maximizing performance in a very specific event.

"Paul, I guarentee you if you train Crossfit for a year, all of your questions will be answered, through action not analysis."

I do Crossfit! I've never been fitter and I'm very happy. And I have a good 60 years to get even fitter.

Matt, I hate to disagree with you because I love your posts... but your statement is completely unfounded. Let's be honest here: you have tremendous recuperation ability and you've projected this onto everyone else. Overtraining is a very real phenomenon.

To be completely objective here, I would like to see your strength results (from the Max Effort days in the WOD). My guess is that it's not a linear progeression upwards. There are probably times when you're doing less well than the time before. Well...that's overtraining!

I'd go so far as to say that the entire science of bodybuilding, powerlifting, olympic lifting and exercise revolves on how to avoid overtraining to achieve maximal gains.

--------------

I want to make a more provocative point:

I think we are moving away from scientific and empirical explanations to throw away slogans. Some assertions need to be substantiated not just stated as if they were training axioms.

I think that the points I've brought forward (such as doing lat pull-downs to get better at lat-pulldowns) are extensively supported theoretically and in practice by the literature. If someone disagrees, great, we can have a discussion about that. But it's hard to argue against "well I have great success and I know pull-ups are great for lat pull-downs".
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Old 02-15-2005, 06:48 AM   #30
Matt Gagliardi
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Forget it...I'm done. No more discussion of "overtraining" from me. You guys believe what you want to believe. Good luck, and have a nice rest.
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