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

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Old 06-19-2006, 09:37 PM   #1
Norm Rager
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Does anyone know how/if CF style training compares to LSD regarding the purported claims of LSD increasing capillary density?

I've been in discussion with a friend who is a very successful (top 5?) XC racer, expert 35-39 - who is very accustomed to his LSD training as a means to his seasonal base. Although, his training stepped-up in intensity this year (more/better intervals) and his rankings improved. Seems this capillary thing is the 'focus-de-jour' topic, along with others.

I know - it seems that we're (CF'ers)a little more evidence/performance based in our training, but for those that are a bit mired in the science I was hoping someone might have the magic 'answer' that would help. I don't.

I feel it may be possible for him to reach a higher level from a more solid base of CF GPP vs. the traditional LSD/base training. And, as he's getting older, this seems it would be more time efficient.

Thanks for any input.
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Old 06-19-2006, 10:08 PM   #2
Motion Macivor
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from what I've heard capillary density increases with LOTS of lsd Training but there is a lot of debate as to wether or not this is due to new capillaries or decreased muscle mass (leading to a higher c/m ratio).
I think high volume training is the way to go with xc racing. Intervals are neccesarry but volume and dedication is what puts you on top. You have to be careful though you can waste a lot of time training at the wrong intensity if you dont have a solid plan and an objective method of measuring your progression. I could go on for hours but I'll try to keep it short.
weight training over the winter will pay off on the downhills in the summer. Even if you hav'nt been in the gym since February your arms will thank you.
Time you spend in the gym is time you dont spend on the bike if you really want to be fast spend all your time on the bike (with a few squats in the winter time). You'll be a bit sorer from the down hills but you'll have a way better chance of winning.
It's all about power to weight in XC if you've got extra muscle that's not moving you up the hill your not going to climb at your potential.
having said that crossfit would probably be a great addition to offseason training if you can easily drop the weight by race time.
IF your friend is serious about winning and does'nt mind spending hours on the bike send him to http://www.fact-canada.com/
the guy who runs this site is the real deal. His theories are perfectly oposite to Xfit but he gets AMAZING results for his riders (you might recognize a few names). The forum on his sight will provide you with the information your looking for. hope that helps
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Old 06-20-2006, 04:30 AM   #3
Larry Lindenman
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I have to say any athlete, even endurance type athletes, benefit from a solid GPP program. CF, being a solid GPP program, works on weak links, which will improve performance. I often see an either/or approach inadvertently endorsed. CF is a general sports training program, it is expected that you will train for your chosen sport, in addition to the WOD. So you take 15-30 minutes of your training time away from whatever other type of general fitness program your working on 6 times a week and replace it with a CF WOD. You continue your sport specific training. Any decent athlete should be doing a GPP program with SPP...look at Matt G. a WOD is a small part of his athletic training. GPP remains consistent throughout the training year (except for tapering), SPP will change throughout the year. The cool thing about CF is that the volume of training is relatively low, of course, the intensity is very high. Athletes should be able to incorporate the additional volume of CF, if they modify, or drop, their current conditioning program.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:45 AM   #4
Motion Macivor
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I sort of agree with you larry but in a sport like cycling I would say that the Gpp should be kept to the off season. Like you pointed out the intensity of crossfit is high therefore you will have to drop some cycling workouts and spend less time on the bike, other wise you will become under recovered. You will be a fitter athlete if you do this but you probably wont win at the highest level. I've had years with lots of gpp in the offfseason and years with lots of spp in the offseason. guess which one made me a better cyclist (not fitter just faster). I could still down hill, but would be sore for a couple days after a big race. To be honest it was a trade off I could live with. In a sport like XC racing you can gain seconds in the downhill or minutes on the climb depending where you focus your training.
The reason I went to more SPP in the off season was I pestered the big (skinny) boys to find out what they did to get so fast. I got to speak with coach Jeurge Feldman who sent 8 riders to the world championships that year incuding the world cup champion. I also got to train with few of his riders. It was somewhat humbling. And I got faster the more I trained like them. These guys do GPP (Jeurge was the first person to tell me that you can do a high intensity cardio workout with weights) but its nothing compared to the hours they put in on the bike, and nothing compared to crossfit .
So before I finish I'll say that I do agree with you Larry, and If I were to race XC again I would do crossfit along with my training, but I would seriously modify it to fit my goals better. I think if you tell an XC racer to do the WOD as written you will greatly limit their potential to cross the finish line first.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:57 AM   #5
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norm - capillary density increases from lsd training from the decrease in muscle mass, particularly of fast-twitch muscle. so this creates a person more aerobically efficient, but at the cost of strength, speed and power. so it's a double-edged sword to say the least. developing and maintaining a little more fast twitch muscle would help your friend in terms of sprints, etc., but it would need to be balanced with his curent endurance.

so CF in general more likely decreases cap density because it tends to be hypertrophic, which means not only greater muscle mass, but a greater proportion of fast twitch muscle mass. is that detrimental to your friend's performance overall? not necessarily. that added power will let him dominate sprints and climbs, etc., which is what separates a rider from a pack of folks who tend to have maxed out their aerobic capacity potential years ago.

ideally your friend would take what he could from CF and develop a greater degree of strength, power and speed, while avoiding significant increases in bodyweight.

something else to consider is a point mark rippetoe illustrates well, conveniently enough with a cyclist as an example. if your friend increases his strength, each pedal stroke will become a smaller and smaller percentage of his max effort, which means less energy expenditure and greater cycling economy. so in that sense, strength improves endurance. again, though, it needs to be balanced with his current capacity and independent of much bodyweight increase.
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:22 AM   #6
Motion Macivor
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Yeah what Greg said.
I'll just add that a mountainbike race is a time trial with a lot of people around you. Blowing your load up a short steep hill wont get you across the finish line faster than pacing your effort evenly over the entire race ( the best feeling in the world is passing a guy with authority, 2 minutes after a climb when he thought he left you in the dust). It's all about who can maintain the highest power to weight ratio for the entire race. With that said you should focus your training on increasing your ability to produce power below your AT. When you go above it you'll slow yourself down in a race unless your in the last 10-20 min (Road racing is a completely different kettle of fish and greg's comments are much more relevant to that sport).
I disagree that people top out their aerobic capacity. It takes about a decade to reach the aerobic capacity of a TDF athlete (that's probably the same amount of time it takes an O-lifter to fully develop), most people dont reach their true potential because their programs hold them back not because they've topped out.
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