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

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Old 08-04-2009, 09:46 AM   #1
Oliver Gould
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Accreditation Journal Clip

It seems like CF is facing a problem with this accreditation thing because the tolerance for injury is somehow more lax (not what I've seen in CF affiliates, but I have been around enough to have seen some nasty injuries from CF (torn ACL, torn bicep tendon, rhabdo, dislocated shoulder)). I don't think the right way to address this concern is to dismiss it on the grounds that CF's greater efficacy entails a greater risk for injury. Safety and efficacy don't sit on opposite ends of a scale. The idea that exercise must be less safe to be effective is just ridiculous. I get that there might be more danger in a heavy squat, a power clean or a muscle-up than there is on a Nautilus machine, but the increase in danger should be very small.

The analogy that Crossfit is to life as rugby practice is to rugby is cute, but it's not a good justification for tolerating injuries in a strength and conditioning program. If people are getting hurt in practice, they can't play the game - if your goal is GPP and you injure yourself pursuing it, you're a whole lot worse off than you would be with a little less intensity. Following the analogy, the game CF prepares your for (life) is tough enough. If you play for any length of time, you'll get injured in some way. There's no reason to take any more risk in training beyond what's absolutely necessary. Strains and bruises (which might be what coach Glassman is talking about) are fine, but injuries are not. Injuries in training aren't acceptable losses in the quest for greater work capacity, they represent problems that need to be addressed.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:23 AM   #2
Ron White
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

That's a really good perspective but I think you're missing the big picture. Not every Crossfitter has to be the next to win the games. I'm pretty convinced that Crossfit was designed for people to just be more fit than they were the day before. Yes it's unconventional but that's what makes it fun. I've never been more excited about working out than I am now. Everyday is different.

As far as injuries during training that just means that you're getting the work in. I mean if you look at it in a different view at even the minor injuries. A sore muscle in itself is an injury. No it's not as serious as a torn ACL but an injury none the less.

I've had 5 MMA fights and never once was I completely healthy when I entered the cage. Which in most fighter's opinions is the best because that really lets you know that you got the work done in the gym to really prepare for the fight.

No not everyday are you going to have a pick up game of tackle football. Or are going to be forced to run a marathon. But at least if you're an avid Crossfitter you'd probably be able to hold your own for a while.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:34 AM   #3
Frederic Giraud
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

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The idea that exercise must be less safe to be effective is just ridiculous.
I couldn't agree more with you.

I think the problem is within each individual, or perhaps some individuals, who pursue only to increase their performance by all means, and not only by increasing proeficiency and efficacity of the movements.

Back Squating heavy for example, or should I say heavier, but with the presence of technical flaws, like weight being on the fore-foot, barely on the heels. And squatting that heavy because they don't "feel" like re-learning the movement from the basics, and going back up from there, over the course of a couple of weeks.

I think not enough people remember the pyramid of skills that represent pretty well the value of each "base". Similarly, focusing on the "base" of the movements is a really important part of the whole "getting to raise intensity process", which is too quickly forgotten.

Since you said you didn't see it in CF Affiliates, did all those peoples you have seen getting injured had properly taken the time to master those base before moving on to more complex, advanced exercise/intensity?

Because then it is more likely to be a problem in the implementation, not really the program itself.
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Last edited by Frederic Giraud : 08-04-2009 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 08-04-2009, 02:47 PM   #4
Oliver Gould
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

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Since you said you didn't see it in CF Affiliates, did all those peoples you have seen getting injured had properly taken the time to master those base before moving on to more complex, advanced exercise/intensity?

Because then it is more likely to be a problem in the implementation, not really the program itself.
I don't see the attitude that injury is an acceptable part of training at affiliates, but I do see injuries. All of the injuries I mentioned happened at affiliates that stress proficiency and are staffed by far better trainers than me. The thing that struck me as "off" about the reasoning in coach Glassman's presentation was the idea that we should be finding a justification for these injuries rather than addressing the causes, which may (partly) be the Crossfit method. It's false reasoning to write injuries off as a necessary result of a truly effective training program, just because you keep score in the workouts. This argument was especially strange in the context of the rest of the presentation, which was dedicated to long-term health. The training for seriously competitive sport is intense, it but produces extremely high levels of fitness at the cost of a higher risk of injury, so you don't see people advocating competitive rugby or cage fighting as a path to long-term health. It seems strange that an athlete in search of long-term health would want to pursue a regimen more analogous to competitive athletics than fitness training. There are training methods that stand between high intensity athletic training and doing calf raises with #5 pink dumbbells.

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As far as injuries during training that just means that you're getting the work in. I mean if you look at it in a different view at even the minor injuries. A sore muscle in itself is an injury. No it's not as serious as a torn ACL but an injury none the less.

I've had 5 MMA fights and never once was I completely healthy when I entered the cage. Which in most fighter's opinions is the best because that really lets you know that you got the work done in the gym to really prepare for the fight.
This is good input (and props for getting the in the cage and putting it all out there), but consider a few questions: Would you sacrifice 10% (to choose a random number) of your peaking endurance to get in the cage completely healthy? Maybe not. How about 5%? Would you take a 10% increase in punching power if it came with a sprained wrist? How about a broken wrist? My point is that training programs can be tweaked to balance the potential for injury with efficacy. Maybe Crossfit has found the perfect balance, but my experience leads me to doubt that. It's possible I'm straw-maning CFHQ's approach to this thing, but declaring the program a sport to allow for a higher injury risk doesn't seem like a constructive move towards improving safety, and it doesn't make sense in relation to long-term health goals.

Last edited by Oliver Gould : 08-04-2009 at 02:51 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:39 PM   #5
Matt Charney
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

Quote:
declaring the program a sport to allow for a higher injury risk doesn't seem like a constructive move towards improving safety, and it doesn't make sense in relation to long-term health goals.
I don't think they are declaring it a sport to allow for higher injury.

Declaring it a sport is to combat the government who is being pushed by the hired lobbyists for the corporate globos.

Only one fitness accreditation in the state of CA for "trainers" sounds suspect to me.

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Safety and efficacy don't sit on opposite ends of a scale. The idea that exercise must be less safe to be effective is just ridiculous.
For Elite fitness there has to me some risk for injury. There is a reason Colorado State Police are using CF as theie training. They had less injuries and better results. In Marine Corps bootcamp I bet we had more injuries than the Air Force. Who is going to be the better combat soldier?

The more intense and effective the exercises the greater the risk to some degree. Not all dangerous things are effective but there has to be some risk to have an effective program. I think HQ has argued that this program is safer and more effective than others not less safe. Was it Andy or Dave's work with the Seals that was done with a lot less injuries than the standard training? Others are having the same results. I think these clips were more to do with those that say CF is dangerous.

Is it less safe? Less safe than what?

Your right Safety and Efficacy are not on opposite ends of the scale, they are on 2 different scales.

In my professional world I have to evaluate vendors. Bean counters want me to evaluate price first. Quality and ability to meet the requirements is the first thing to be evaluated. If the vendor can't meet those then the price doesn't matter.

Find an equally effective program to CF then compare safety records. Apples to Apples.
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:56 PM   #6
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

Most of us, and most of Crossfit's target audience, aren't Marines or Navy Seals, and aren't even necessarily looking to "forge elite fitness" or compete in the Crossfit Games. For some people, the idea that you have to accept a risk of serious injury in order to get useful results is questionable at best.

And then there's the fact that injuries lie along a scale from minor to life threatening. Someone who is completely okay with the idea of sore muscles or even broken bones might be unwilling to accept *any* risk of a life threatening injury like rhabdo. Can we agree that severe kidney damage is NOT compatible with anyone's idea of long term health?

As Oliver pointed out, there's a vast spectrum between training that gives people rhabdo and bicep curls with pink dumbbells.

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Old 08-05-2009, 09:48 AM   #7
Matt Charney
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

Yes, I understand everyone is not going for Elite fitness. I am far from “elite”. I consider myself an average Joe. Average in the CF world is far superior to average in the rest of the world.

When I was referencing the Seals and Marines, I was comparing programs. I assume we all agree that those are “effective” programs. I believe the CF programming is not only as good or better but is safer than both of those programs.

Kat, I know you have shared a lot about yourself on these boards. I'll share a little about my past.

Many moons ago I experienced the Marine Corps programming. I don’t know the exact numbers but we lost close to 30% of our starting group. Some for injury, some for weight and some didn’t have the mental toughness. Many of the injury and weight issues were only set backs and they had to repeat a cycle or two, I am not sure how many of them were able to complete boot camp. Some meant their life as a Marine would never begin. I had a sprained ankle in boot camp that could have set me back. I stuck it out and am stronger because of it. I lived in pain for 3-4 weeks. I had one of my slowest run times on my final PFT but I made it. I am thankful I didn’t cause any permanent damage. Was I fitter when I finished boot camp than when I entered? Yes of course I was! I was also damaged goods, but 10 days of leave allowed me to recover from the injury. I also think that I was more prepared for a combat situation that involved an injury going forward.

At my unit our PT consisted of running and calisthenics, mostly push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, not much else. I experienced another injury. My knees couldn’t handle the running. Tried different things, saw different Doctors my knees would not recover. It ended my career in the Corps. If I had CF in my life this may not have been the case. I lived with knee issues for 13 years. I still hear pops and cracks from time to time but the pain issues are all but gone.

Back to the original subject. I still believe safety and efficacy are on two different scales.

I also believe, when done as prescribed by the How to Start page http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/start-how.html obviously WFS, CF programming is one of the safest out there.

As coaches we have to be aware of the risk of injury for all our athletes. Risk of injury and actual injuries are two entirely different things. The great coaches will have the fewest injuries with the greatest results no matter the fitness level of their “athletes”.

Those that are against CF bring up that it is not safe. At the cert they discuss this subject also. Safety is very important and should always be a top priority. That is why many affiliates have on ramp classes or you must do so many 1-1 sessions before you can start classes. I would not recommend a gym that does not have some kind of set up like this.

Safety is paramount but without efficacy safety is meaningless.

Thanks for reading,

Matt
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
Mike Romano
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

I think that it is ridiculous to label crossfit "training for life". I do crossfit because it is my goal to get good at crossfit. For every other end, there are more effective and possibly safer means. A football player might want to use Rut's blackbox, and a runner might run. One who wants to "train for life" would be better suited using a workout program that included more frequent bouts of maximally-weighted lifts, and less frequent, but short and intense metcons. This, I feel, would lend itself less toward injury and would deliver an adequate amount of strength and fitness, especially considering the fact that fast twitch muscle is the first thing to go with age.

Anyone interested in training for life should, imo, consider a program akin to that of Mark Sisson (marksdailyapple.com, w/fs)
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:26 PM   #9
Steven Low
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

Quote:
Safety and efficacy don't sit on opposite ends of a scale.
Absolutely true. 2 points on why this isn't always the case:


1. Mostly the only injuries I've seen are when trainers let or inadvertently let (their eyes were on other clients) poor technique slide during metabolic or heavy workouts.

This is still the fault of the gym trainer (1) in making cue corrections on the clients, or (2) not drilling technique before putting them into heavy/metabolic workouts. Most of the time it's both.


2. Some people are willing to let their form slide for "faster times" but that doesn't mean the efficacy of a faster time-poor technique workout is better than a slower time-better technique workout.

There's a reason why striving for perfect form in all movements is advantageous.... sprinting, Oly lifting, gymnastics, etc. performed with perfect form conveys greater benefits especially in movement patterns to perform full out AND when fatigued as well.

There's no benefit to sacrificing form except in dick measuring (excuse the langauge!) or actual competition. Both of which should occur with VERY little frequency especially in a program that claims to be a sport or training for sports.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:43 PM   #10
Jason Ashman
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Re: Accreditation Journal Clip

I don't have an issue with streamlining accreditation to improve the caliber of trainer conducting PT. I'm a mainstream Certified Personal Trainer, and my accreditation- despite being one of the most popular in Canada- is something of a joke for anyone with a background in fitness. In fact, the only reason I obtained it was so that I could use it as a base for obtaining certs and specialized accreditation, and to work in a globo if things got REALLY tough.

What bothers me is the idea that the state- or national, should it grow legs- accreditation should consist of listening to people who only have making money at heart. Mainstream fitness in its current state is a scam, based more on getting memberships and selling PT sessions than it is about actually making people fit. The industry focuses on the ILLUSION of fitness for all but a select few, while maximizing profit along the way.

From what little I've taken in regarding this subject, it strikes me that Crossfit's difficulties in getting accredited lie more in its "Anti-Gym" origins, fast expansion, and overall level of success than in its tendency towards injury. After all, I've seen mangled fingers from weight stack pinching and legs ripped raw from treadmill "incidents", not to mention the countless episodes- some bloody, some structural- that occur when you let a bunch of clueless idiots loose in a Globo's weight room, and indoctrinate them in that age-old mantra "The heavier you lift, the cooler you are". Anyone who's seen the stupidity that goes on in your average weight room has no case against saying a well-run Crossfit facility with a competent training staff has a greater tendency towards injury than a mainstream club.

Key words there: Well run & competent staff. As Crossfit continues to gain popularity, you're going to see your share of idiots popping up, some as trainers, some as affiliate owners. Admittedly, the high cost of Crossfit certs will help keep the idiots away, especially in tougher economic times. But there's always an idiot with too much cash on his/her hands who takes the certs, but never bothers to actually listen. That can make for some tough issues should he/she injure or kill someone because of their ignorance.

Perhaps the answer to getting accredited- assuming for a second that it's not just the GloboGyms trying to keep their market-share- lies more towards buckling down on who becomes certified and who's allowed to affiliate (through diligent, in-depth testing on Crossfit's theory and methods, perhaps) than it does in worrying about whether or not an ex-bodybuilder governor is going to side with the guys who market and sell bodybuilding as a very lucrative "proper fitness" to the general public. Its not a battle that can be won, nor is it perhaps a battle that need be fought- If I follow the concept (and please correct me if I'm wrong), NOT having the accreditation makes Crossfit a specialized cert- the same thing as Peter Twist's Sports Conditioning Specialist or Paul Chek's Exercise Coach. You can get it, but you have to be part of said base accreditation (NSCA) in order to USE it- or anything else- to legally train others.

Now, my Crossfit cert is in October, which means that within 6 months of getting my CPT, I'll have obtained my Crossfit cert. My total investment for Crossfit and the CPT in total was a hair more than $1500, and only because VISA insists on ridiculous exchange rates for USD.

$1500 seems like an awful small price to pay to completely forget the BS machine and LSD stuff five minutes after I got the CPT cert, and to go teach/train Crossfit. I know this is likely not what Coach and Co. had in mind, but to me personally down here at the bottom its all the same. Point being, if all else fails, I have no issues paying an extra $400, listening to some idiot drone on about heart rate zones and VO2 max for a weekend, then taking- and acing- a ridiculously easy test for the privilege of taking- and then training people in- Crossfit.

Nor would I have issues prepping for and taking a Crossfit L1 Certification Exam.

Just my thoughts.
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