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

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Old 04-10-2006, 12:18 PM   #1
Neal Winkler
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This summer I am planning to conduct a study on CrossFit. I just got done talking to one of my professors and I told him the basic premise of what I want to do and he said that it would be a great idea.

He said that undergrad's hardly ever conduct experiements here, and that I can use the data for my senior project that everyone has to do.

I probably won't be able to get more than 10 people to participate, but basically what I'm going to do is have 5 do CrossFit for 2 or 3 months, and 5 do a program according to the ACSM guidelines.

I want to test them for increases in VO2, lactate threshold, strength, changes in fat mass and lean mass, and I think I should also try and test them for changes in a CrossFit workout time, and then say a 5k time. Obviously, to see if CrossFit will improve running time better than the ACSM group that actually did running, and to show that ACSM training will barely improve CrossFit style performance.

Any suggestiosn for me?
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Old 04-10-2006, 12:55 PM   #2
joseph elberti
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you should also test 5 who do nothing
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Old 04-10-2006, 01:24 PM   #3
Mark Reinke
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Other factors to take in for both groups are their nutrition and rest. How would you moderate those variables? Also, if I'm not mistaken the ACSM guidelines and workouts are more geared towards the periodization of a program, taking the body through different phases of training each lasting approximately 4-6 weeks in length. So an adequet length for the experiment would fall just in your time frame of 12 weeks. Good Luck!

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Old 04-10-2006, 02:19 PM   #4
Jamila Bey
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Great idea!

Make sure you test some female participants in both groups.
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Old 04-10-2006, 09:35 PM   #5
Kenneth Urakawa
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Keep it as simple as possible--every variable you want to test adds to the complexity of everything exponentially. Maybe just pick 1 or 2 variables, do pre- and post-testing, runa simple T-test or ANOVA. No muss, no fuss.
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Old 04-11-2006, 01:23 AM   #6
Christian Lemburg
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Great project!

However, having only 5 participants for each group is risky. What if one or two decide to drop out of the program? Then you are basically left with case studies. And given the variances you usually see in behavioral measures like this, you will probably not see any effect with this few participants.

If you decide on a "classic" experiment, choose your variables carefully. Collect some anecdotal data from your friends, compute some variances, and determine the number of participants you would need to make the expected effect significant (see and for a short intro on this).

Another option is to conduct case studies on a few individuals. Now, that does not mean you can not use statistics (e.g., see

A third option is to rely on data that others have collected for you, e.g., analyze the WOD page archives. Of course, this is not an experiment, and you can always question the validity of the data. But - and this is a big but - you *have* data, and with an archive like the WOD pages, this data is much more valid than any data set that you can collect on your own with the limited means available in an university course.

BTW, is the data from the WOD pages already "harvested"? I mean, has somebody already done the work to extract the numbers out of the many posts? Or is that yet to be done?


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Old 04-11-2006, 05:55 AM   #7
Neal Winkler
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Christian, collecting the WOD data is something that has definatly crossed my mind. What were you thinking could be done with it exatly? For example, could you look at todays 10k times, and then see if there is a correlation of those 10k times to past WOD times (since people usually use the same name every day)?

The five subjects is not my choice, it's merely because it will be hard to find people to participate in the study. That's one reason I was thinking of not having a control group in this study, and instead just getting all 10 people to do CrossFit. Since other forms of training have already been done in countless other studies I could just compare my results to the results of other the studies on a variety of other training methods.
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Old 04-11-2006, 10:51 AM   #8
Paul Theodorescu
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Compiling the data from the WOD mainpage would be very interesting.

I think fitness is a lot like dieting tho. Most of it is just being consistent. Many people make fabulous gains off shear guts and dedication.
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Old 04-11-2006, 12:32 PM   #9
Gabe Rinaldi
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If this is for a senior project and not original research that you intend on publishing, then I might go about this a bit differently. You may not do a full statistical analysis with every variable; however, the results may yield some real world feedback. Consider this option:

take as many people as you can get and randomly split them into two groups

group 1 will do:

3 sets of 10 for each of the following exercise-
barbell squats, step-ups, pullups, dumbbell bench press, and dumbbell shoulder press

do this Mon, Wed, and Fri, add weight as needed so each set is just shy of failure (maybe a 12RM)
then on two other days per week have them jog or run - start at 15 minutes and add 2 min. to each workout (this should be steady state)

group 2 will follow a CrossFit protocol and train 3 days on, 1 day off

The variables you might choose to measure could be body fat percentage, VO2 max, 1RM on the squat, 5k run time, and max number of body-weight pullups.

Track total time spent training between the two protocols as that might be interesting as well.

Again, this would be interesting and in-line with a senior project, but would not qualify as research that could be published.
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Old 04-11-2006, 12:51 PM   #10
Joseph Hart
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If you were observing something that a regular person (no access to hi tech measuring stuff) could do (5K) I bet many people here would give you the info you want. Query the crowd, have them follow the WOD, get the basic info what ever that may be. I would gladly keep track of stuff like that. I think it would be harder to find people here to not CF. How would you explain nutrition in your research though?
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