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

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Old 11-22-2005, 03:53 AM   #1
Fraser Auld
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Being a tall, naturally bony guy...I've always had issues gaining strength. I'm sick of it...having finally read Nicole Carroll's article about her experience with the Zone in the CFJ (Oct 05), I'm willing hit the Zone straight up with food scales, lunch bags, feed bags, whatever! Aside from losing unnecessary weight, has anyone had strength gains using the Zone strictly? (absolute strength gains, not relative gains that factor in body weight)

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-22-2005, 04:44 AM   #2
Graham Tidey
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It's hard to say for me, and probably most, because I started the zone pretty much as soon as I put serious effort into CrossFit. Therefore is it crossfit that's improved my bench (Without ever doing bench presses) or is it the zone?

Probable answer is "both".

I've lost weight on the zone (not intentionally), but am also eating more than before. All that protein has to be doing some good for your muscles, thereby making them stronger. From a completely "makes sense to me" unscientific viewpoint.

"The Zone: Try it, today!"
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:47 AM   #3
Mark Beck
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I've been doing the zone for just over a year and Crossfit for almost 2. My strength gains have been as much if not more in this second year (the year on the zone) than in the first. I am pretty skinny and so these absolute lifts are meagre but relative to my 132lb bodyweight (which has remained pretty consistent while on the zone despite the considerable loss of body fat) they are less feeble.

I suppose the unknowable is how much the improvements are down to improved skill levels and technique, but immediately prior to starting the zone I was doing:
5 reps OH Squat with 105lb
now I am at 10 reps with 135lb

my jerk was a feeble 135lb or bodyweight.
now it is 180lb

my deadlift was 245lb
now it is 275 (more than 2x bodyweight)

thruster 1RM was 125lb
now in the region of 155lb

pullups were 28
now I hope to get the 50 on Eugene's birthday challenge this sunday.

Clean was 150lb
now 180lb

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Old 11-22-2005, 10:01 AM   #4
Larry Lindenman
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I don't know if there is a direct correlation between diet and strength gain other than having enough protein for muscle mass to repair and grow, and enough carbs to fuel intense efforts. One of the main advantages of dietary disipline is the loss of body fat. Body fat is useless. The more you have, the more you have to move through space and since we use functional exercises which involve the full body, high bodyfat is a huge disadvantage. At 175 lean body mass and 20% bodyfat, you weight 201. At 175 lean body mass and 5% body fat, you weigh 183.75: A 26.25 pound diffrence. Think it doesn't matter, strap on a 26.25 pound weighted vest and crank out Tabata squats! Don't get me wrong, I think diet plays a huge role in health and fitness, but in terms of direct strengh, hang around with a large power lifter for a couple of days and pay attention to his diet, you will be appalled.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:10 PM   #5
Steve Shafley
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It's always been my experience that it was way easier to get stronger with a calorie surplus.

I don't remember getting weaker when I did the Zone, though, but I did get leaner.
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Old 11-22-2005, 02:05 PM   #6
Lincoln Brigham
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I'm with Shaf on this. Crappy surplus calories makes me stronger than a quality calorie deficit. Now I just need to work on getting a quality calorie surplus...
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Old 11-23-2005, 05:53 AM   #7
Jesse Woody
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Why the focus on absolute strength when relative strength is the only true measure of overall ability? The way I see it, you might be able to bench 500, but if you can't do one pull-up, that strength is somewhat useless...perhaps it's the crossfit conditioning that's fried my brain...I dunno'...

That's why I've only had passsing interest in heavyweight powerlifters and olympic lifters, they can lift huge amounts of weight, but I've always been more impressed with the lighter guys who can lift 3 times their bodyweight, a much grander feat in my opinion.
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Old 11-23-2005, 09:00 AM   #8
Fraser Auld
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In the purest sense I think you're right...the problem is, my job requires one to optimize both absolute and relative strength.

It intuitive that if you can maximize the ratio -[absolute strength gain / weight gain] ... one will have become stronger "pound for pound." This ratio clearly correlates directly to changes in relative strength.

Feedback about the Zone on this board makes it clear that the diet is a star at reducing "waste-weight" (ie- non-work producing flab) while maintaining absolute strength. This clearly results in greater relative strength. That's great for someone with 20-pounds to lose...but for someone who's naturally thin (ie - me)'s not the way I want to go. So for a person in that boat, what's required to improve relative strength if you don't want to lose bodyweight?

The answer lies in the correlation between relative strength and the ratio [absolute strength gain / weight gain]...

maximize absolute strength while minimizing weight gain.

This rationale is what generated my original question about using the Zone to increase absolute strength.
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Old 11-23-2005, 10:20 AM   #9
Chris Goodrich
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Here's my experience as a naturally skinny guy after 2 months on zone/crossfit: My bodyweight went from 183 @ ~13%BF to 162 @ ~6%BF and I've had to go to quadruple fat blocks to keep from getting even skinnier. My performance has improved steadily on WODs as well as DL, squats, and bench. My lean mass hasn't increased at all, which is the one area I'm kind of disappointed. I'm not a bodybuilder and I'm after performance, not size, but I would have expected to pack on a few pounds of muscle, especially considering I came to crossfit from more of a high-rep bodyweight exercise/endurance running background. I still do some suplementary endurance work which may be limiting my gains, but I still expected to see something. I've started doing more strength work after the WOD and I may experiment with upping my protein intake if that doesn't start to make a difference after a month or so. Chris (Edited for typo)

(Message edited by ChrisG on November 23, 2005)
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Old 11-23-2005, 12:00 PM   #10
Larry Lindenman
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Fraser, excellent clairfication! The Athlete's Zone is the way to go. Like Christopher related, Start the Zone with the standard 40-30-30 ratios. You will maintain lean mass and lose some body fat. When bodyfat levels get too low, your feeling crappy and performance levels start to drop, add additional fat blocks per meal/snack (x2 seems to be the way to start). When weight loss stops (bodyfat stablizes) and performance improves, level off fat blocks. For some this may be X4! Because fat is so calorie dense, you will be getting a calorie surplus, of healthy food. The protein will support muscle mass. Barry Sears recommends adding 1 block of protein per day if you want to gain muscle mass. That's ONE block Per day. So a two block snack would contain 2 blocks carbs, 3 blocks protein, and 2 blocks (or your athlete zone RX) fat.
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