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

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Old 02-23-2004, 07:38 PM   #1
Michael Halbfish
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Hi,

Like me, many of you have probably considered giving up at some point during a Crossfit Workout. This subject lead to some fascinating discussions at the recent Crossfit seminar. I hope that my ramble that follows might spark some useful and interesting discussion.
I've often wondered how to gage the correct point to give up. There is a part of me that would rather die than give up. I have to balance this part with the part of me that realizes that sometimes stopping is the path to optimum progress. I've noticed that my bestworkouts are usually workouts where I feel really tempted to quit at the point when the workout is 60-70% done and the feeling stays with me until the end of the workout. If I make it through that 70% point then the feeling usually peaks and I will usually complete the workout. I wonder whether there is a physical component to this or whether it is purely mental.
At the seminar, I had a conversation with J-Dog (JD)about the balance between quiting and pushing on. JD commented that he believes there is something very spiritual that happens here. I mentioned that Greg Amunson prays before and after workouts. JD added that he sometimes prays during workouts. For me, this was the source of great laughter and insight. JD commented about how many Crossfitters find something spiritual in working out. I'm curious as to what other people have found. What motivates you to keep going? What is the optimum point? When do you get your best workouts? Any thoughts about this? J-Dog care to chime in?
As an aside, Greg's praying here is another example of how he works out with his heart, soul, amazing focus, dedication, and discipline. There are very good reasons why he excels. What do you put into your workouts? Is there something more that you can put into it?
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Old 02-23-2004, 07:55 PM   #2
Kevin Roddy
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One day, as I was doing gymnastics, I was trying to think of how I would be able to convince myself to get over fear of certain tricks. I made a pact with myself (hahaha) that I would always remember to have conviction with everything I do in life. And that word, conviction, has just kind of stuck with me ever since. I always start a workout with intent to finish, no matter how much I have to rest, drop weight, whatever.
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Old 02-23-2004, 11:03 PM   #3
Lincoln Brigham
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Today it was the 4th rep into the workout. I finished it anyway.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:14 AM   #4
Ahmed Moussa
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This post is way too interesting to just read through like I have done all the others for nearly a year now.

This topic has opened my eye to what I seem to to do as part of my workout "ritual." I have found that my best days working out have come when I have began my day with the intent of completing the workout that I would be tackling for that day. My warmup would consist of pullups, pushups, squats, and handstands. After all of this would come what you have brought to point.

I feel that visualizing my workout and deep breathing help out immensely. ALthough I am no new age hippie or deeply religious being, I find that shutting my eyes and letting all thought pass through and finding a moment of peace before and after the workouts has seemed to change me as a person.

I dont think we ever really take into account just how spiritual these workouts can be. There are an ultimate test of strength, will, and character. It sounds cliche and cheesy, however, these workouts have translated into my attitude changing profoundly in everything I have done. My coworkers as well as my peers at school have commented on my different approach towrads everything.

To save you all my life story, I believe that this connection between tackling a WOD has every carryover possible into every other task whether be it work, school, religion, relationships. It has seemed to enable me to open my eyes and approach everything with a well thought strategy of what I will do.
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Old 02-24-2004, 04:05 AM   #5
Alexander Karatis
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This is the very stuff that animates me when tackling a WOD! :happy:

That moment of hesitation right before you move from one station to the next is where it all boils down. Finding the inner strength to surpass that and give that next exercise all you have, or all you can give based on your strategy has been phenomenally maturing for me. The music will help, thinking about my goals and what it will take to get there helps too, but most of all, what helps me get through the WOD, is an almost masochistic desire to exhaust myself to the point I'm feeling dizzy.

Those photos of Greg A., Dave L, Brad H. and the rest, that coach puts up every now and then, showing them lying on the floor capture that very moment of satisfaction and transendence.

You finish your WOD like that and you really feel you took something from it.

On a macro level, overall stress and pshychology and really mess up your workout. At times when I had family and work problems get in my head during the workout, I simply quit. That's why I always try to do the WOD with a "zoned-out" approach. Otherwise I'll either quit, or get injured by not concetrating. And they both suck.

You're right, there is something spiritual about the WODs. It makes you feel like a demi-god!
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Old 02-24-2004, 04:52 AM   #6
Graham Hayes
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That reminds me of something I read in 'The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India'. There is one or two chapters on the training that Indian wrestlers do, which many of you probably know involves thousands of squats and cat stretchs. Going through what could be half-an-hour to one hour of squats is thought of as being a spiritual thing.

I think that the Crossfit develops the a persons will and determination to elite levels due to the fact the workouts are designed to be unsustainable at the proper intensity.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:14 PM   #7
David Wood
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I try to never quit a WOD that I committed to doing . . . only an actual (or legitimately feared) injury is reason enough to quit in the middle.

Sometimes, however, I've backed off the pace so much that it was akin to quitting . . . but the requirement that I must finish all the reps, and then *must* post the humiliating time, helps keep me going.

Finding the will to do this is sometimes the hardest part of the WOD, and even more valuable than the "merely physical" conditioning.

Having a workout partner crazy enough to do this with you is a big help . . . I'm lucky in that regard, because I have a partner about half the time. Competition, or just not wanting to quit when someone's watching, is a powerful motivator.

Interestingly enough, however, I find the very best workouts are the ones that *are* done completely alone, with only myself to know whether I completed it, or punked out.

Ultimately, the fact that you "do it" (what "it" is doesn't matter, as long as it is harder than you thought you could) is more important than how fast you do it or how much weight you lift. This is equally true at the highest levels of competition, or for the 200-pound fatty who desperately needs to change their life to lose 50 pounds . . . doing it is more important than doing it perfectly.
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:22 PM   #8
Michael Halbfish
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Great responses people! I think if you've never quit a WOD than perhaps you're not pushing yourself hard enough. Yet, at the same time quiting should be a rare event. I remember as a competitive track athlete we had a run til you puke event each year. Many of us kept going after we hit the puking point. It can be a lot of fun pushing past what you thought were limits and discovering the extremes of what is possible.
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Old 02-24-2004, 09:52 PM   #9
Mike Minium
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Great thread....OK, I'll bite and play devil's advocate.

I've only quit WODs twice, and both times it was very early in the game for me, having just found CrossFit. I quit not because I absolutely couldn't finish, but because I had an appointment to keep and didn't allocate nearly enough time for the WOD (if I recall, I had to pull the plug after about 70 minutes on both workouts). Now that I'm better-adapted to the rigors of the WOD (I usually take 15-25 minutes to complete the WODs these days--still nothing to write home about), and I'm much smarter about scheduling time for the WODs, quitting is never an issue (that doesn't mean I don't feel the pain of the WODs, though!).

However, I'm not chiming in to confess that I've quit twice. I'm thinking about something else....

Let's say someone takes 70 minutes to complete every WOD for the first month they're doing CrossFit. I'm going to assume that this person would get a tremendous amount of spiritual/mental satisfaction from knowing that he completed the WODs, rightly so.

However, is this person really doing himself a favor completing the WODs no matter how long they take? Or would he be better served to go as hard as he can and then cut it off at 45 minutes (or 35, or 55, whatever the magic number might be)? I guess what I'm saying is that at some point, purely from a physical standpoint, the marginal cost of continuing a workout starts to exceed the marginal benefit of continuing (the catabolic effects will become too great).

So does the spiritual satisfaction of finishing the WOD, no matter how long it takes (and what kind of toll it takes, short of injury, of course) cover the cost of continuing (or recoup the cost of continuing)?

You see, I'm interested in increasing performance, and fitness, as quickly as possible. I took the path of not quitting (except twice) to get me there. But I'm not married to the idea of not quitting. It just happens to be the approach I take currently. If someone were to tell me that you go full intensity and stop, no matter what, after __ minutes, and if that person (and others employing the same methodology) demonstrated very rapid progress in the WODs, I'd definitely consider changing my approach.

So...is there anyone out there who's taken an approach different than the finish-at-all-costs approach and seen good, or even great, results?

Again, just playing devil's advocate and throwing out something different...

Mike
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Old 02-24-2004, 11:50 PM   #10
Ahmed Moussa
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Mike,

There was an interview with Andre Agassi in I know, Mens Health, not the greatest of sources but an interesting read once in a while. They asked Andre his approach towards his conditioning and I believe he hit the spot.

Andre contended that one should decrease the volume if necessary, but NEVER the intensity of the workout. For it is the intensity, mentally as well as physically that elicits this neuroendocrine response. This would be the point of the puke.
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