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Old 05-26-2008, 08:11 PM   #1
Fergus Lally
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Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Hi all !!!

This being my first post its easy to guess that I'm new to the forum.

First off let me apologise for the length but there is method to my madness.

I also do recognise that Bodybuilding and crossfitting has been discussed previously.

To start a bit about me...

I'm a 27 year Irish guy living in Manchester (moved over in Jan) who recently red an article in Muscle & Fitness on Crossfitting.

Body wise I am 5'9.5" (about 175cm) and I am about 13.25 stone (which is about 185lb, well thats what I weighted this morning before my workout). I am a natural endomorph, meaning that I have a tendancy to carry excess fat easily but on the plus side I find it somewhat easier to put on size. Thats me in the aviator pic, I took that a few hours ago.

My training background is bodybuilding and I train on a 5/6 day split and I do cardio (interval training of 1 minute running 1 minute walking for 20 minutes) in the mornings before eating again 5/6 times a week.

After reading the article in Muscle & Fitness I decided to look into it a bit more and to cut a long story short here I am. I did my first WOD last saturday(the day before my 27th bday) (which was a rest day so I did the previous Thursday's routine) about 6 hours after my hamstring and calf workout and have followed the WOD on Crossfit.com since, on the two rest days I did my previously mentioned cardio routine on a spinning bike (to emphasise legs) and on the previous rest day I completed the "300" workout.

Now to the reason for my post...

Having a bodybuilding background I was intrigued to see how many people used crossfitting as a bodybuilding workout (particularly in the "off season" to gain mass) which for me was a rational decision given that bodybuilding routines use the same compound exercise as the basis for the routines. What I read couldn't have been further from what I expected.

From this forum I have come to a few broad conclusions namely:

1) Crossfitters (I understand that this is a gross generalisation but I am doing this to emphasise a point) view bodybuilders as either those who walk around a gym doing "easy" isolation movements or as steroided freaks or the elite whom you see if the Olympia which obviously can attribute a great deal of their physiques to drugs(Ronnie Coleman seems to be mentioned on this site more than on bodybuilding.com).

The reality is that average bodybuilder is more like me, someone who leads a healthy lifestyle and basis his excercise program around compound lifts... it almost sounds like crossfitting eh...

2) Crossfitters don't really know much about what a bodybuilding program consists or i.e. they believe its all isolation exercises... again a gross generalisation to make a point.

The reason I find the above confusing is because any bodybuilding routine will inculde the majority of the same excercises used in crossfitting in fact a bodybuilding routine will use the same compound movements as the basis of the workout with the isolation exercises as "add ons" to refine and isolate the muscle more (now i do know that for example muscle ups and floor wipes won't be found in the average routine so there is no need to point this out).

For example to take my own routine the similar excercises would include: Squats, deadlifts, clean and presses, push press, chins, pull ups, dips, push ups, kettle ball swings, turkish get ups (i'm not sure if thats the correct name), back extensions, farmers walk, interval cardio etc I have even used handstand push ups at various times throughout my training. To be completely honest I don't think I have seen an exercise on this site which I have not seen in the pages of Muscle & Fitness or Flex at some point. I have even read about and seen (via a video on bodybuilding.com) bodybuilders pushing cars on leg day (after squatting!) again it almost sounds like Crossfit eh.

3) Crossfitting is completely different to bodybuilding.

Crossfitting is anerobic excercise, bodybuilding is anerobic exercise.

Crossfitting uses compound movements done with as little rest as possible, in bodybuilding this is called supersetting (two exercises back to back similar to todays WOD) and giant sets which is a combination of 4 or more exercises done back to back with as little break as possible (FYI 3 exercises are called a triset). Therefore on this basis I would consider Crossfitting to be bodybuilding and in fact very similar to how Milos Sarcev trains himself and his clients (i.e. lots of giants sets and compound movements)- see bodybuilding.coms "the fit show" or just go on youtube/google Milos.

The main differences seem to lie in the use of diet to shape the body i.e. (again generalising) the average bodybuilder seems to know a lot more about diet (and specifically what works for them) than the average crossfitter and has learned that how various types of foods and the timing of these can be used to maximise lean muscle devolopment and increase recovery.

For example fast acting carbs seem to be a big no no for crossfitters which i find strange given the vast amount of scientific research that has proven the huge benefits of these post workout.

I also found a post basically saying that whey was useless confusing for exactly the same reasons.

Whole foods are superior generally but first thing in the morning and post workout fast acting foods like whey are superior (scientifically proven) due to the fact that they get into the system faster.

4) Crossfitters believe that there workout is superior due to the functionality of it and that their athletes have a more astetic look.

The functionality point can be argued all day but I believe that a bicep curl makes your arms stronger which makes it easier to do chins therefore it increases your functionality etc...

regarding the astetic look - I agree that todays bodybuilders aren't astetically pleasing but the ideals of what a bodybuilding physique should look like are based on astetic with, for example, Michaelangelo's David being the ideal (see Frank Zane, Franco Columbo, Arnie and lou Ferringo etc) and this is what the average bodybuilder aspires to.

5) Bodybuilding empahasis the front "show" muscles while crossfitting emphasis the rear muscles.

I really cound't believe this one, this type of points shows a lack of knowledge on what muscles the various crossfitting exercise actually work, but to prove a point I can point to the fact that I get as much a pump and workout (if not more) in my chest, biceps and quads doing the crossfit routines as I do using my bodybuilding split.

6) you cannot build a bodybuilding physique through crossfitting. I beg to differ and intent to put this to the test but more about that later.

What your physique looks like is more defined by your diet and sleep than your training, this is what bodybuilders base their lifestyle on and how they manage to build such impressive physiques naturally and in some cases as well as with help from drugs.

To use the crossfitting rational to prove my point, crossfitting give you a more balanced physique (per this forum). If you keep doing the same amount of exercise and eat more you get bigger. Therefore if crossfitting gives you a more balanced physique and if you eat more you get bigger, eating more while crossfitting will give you a bigger more balanced physique. (very simplified methodology but you get the idea).

If you need any proof just revert to the bodybuilders on this site who use crossfitting for bodybuilding or previous bodybuilders who now crossfit. I believe I read comments from both a woman and a man who say they've improved their physiques using crossfitting exercise routines.


Now for the main reason for my post / really long rant (sorry again)....

Although this subject has been discussed previously there was never a conclusion reached outside of the hypothecially situation where a crossfitter would enter a bodybuilding contest or a bodybuilder would start crossfitting an track his changes.

Here where I put my money where my mouth is...

well seeing as I have done 9 crossfit workouts in total and therefore have not done enough to really have much effect on my physique I believe I can use myself as a test subject and see if I can improve my physique form a bodybuilding point of view using crossfitting.


What happens next...

What I intend to do is follow the WOD exclusively for the next month, the only exception is that I'll do cardio (the previously mentioned type that I currently do) on the rest days and no other planned exercise. Thus reducing my number of workouts per week from a current level of 10-12 to 7.

My diet will not change from what it currently is i.e. a predominately bodybuilding diet.

At the end of the month I'll compare pics I took earlier today (with crossfit.com open on my laptop to prove the date) with those I take in a month from now ( and possibly ones taken weekly).

My conclusions on my progress after one month will be made based on physical mass (weight) and the pics/mirror i.e. am I bigger and do I look bigger and has my physique improved from an astestic point of view. The details of which I'll post here.

After the first month I may adjust my diet accordingly and possibly my training (I may decide to add in extra cardio or and extra workout every rest day or every other) and work at that level for another month.

After two months I should be able to come to some pretty concrete conclusions on whether or not crossfitting can be used to build a "bodybuilding physique".



I welcome any comments and suggestions on how I should proceed...
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:27 PM   #2
Jason Lopez-Ota
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

If you're just beginning and are going to be doing cardio on the rest days, it might be too much for you. If you go through with this please put your workouts in the workout journal section, I would like to see what happens.
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:43 PM   #3
Jack Westman
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Fergus,

Obviously you're going to get a lot of flack for some of your comments, but I'm sure you expected that.

Although I disagree with quite a bit of what you said, I don't think debating the points in the forums will prove anything to you. I believe you have the right idea with trying Crossfit, but I don't think you are taking it far enough.

If you want a true test, then you need to give yourself over completely to Crossfit for your test period: STRICT zone/Paleo diet and get to an affiliate for a bit to train and make sure you are doing the WODs correctly. I'm not talking form only, but also intensity, skill training, etc. There is much more to Crossfit than what you see posted on the main page daily.

If cost of an affiliate membership is an issue, then do a few drop-ins to get the proper feel for what you should be doing.

In addition read the "Start Here", "FAQ" and as much of the forums as you can. I think you'll find the level of knowledge here second to none.
Some additional resources you might find interesting:

http://www.*************/
http://www.performancemenu.com/
************ forums, especially Rippetoe

READ:
Mastering the Zone , Dr. Barry Sears
The Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain
Starting Strength, Rippetoe and Kilgore

In short, immerse yourself in Crossfit for your test period, and please post again after your test is over. I would love to hear your impression of Crossfit at that point. But if you only go halfway(WODs at what you think is intensity and same diet), then no one will give your comments any credit.

Many of the folks here started with bodybuilding routines, and switched over after giving Crossfit a try for a period of time. I think if you really try the program, you'll end up hooked as well, but if not I would still like to hear your impressions of the diet, WODs, etc, as well as your reasons for choosing not to continue.

Good luck
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:48 PM   #4
Scott Blake
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Hi Fergus,

Please excuse my ignorance and correct me if I'm wrong, but from my understanding, body building is essentially aesthetically based. Body builders are looking to improve/increase their muscle mass and proportion so they will look like whatever their ideal proportions are. Obviously some take this a little far and end up looking cartoonish, while some hardly seem like 'body builders' at all, but like wikipedia says "Bodybuilding is the process of maximizing muscle hypertrophy through the combination of weight training, sufficient caloric intake, and rest." Also, from my understanding Crossfit has almost a polar opposite goal.

From my initial introduction to coach Glassman in 2001, Crossfit was a way to reorganize the best practices of what he considered the top athletic abilities from a wide variety of sports. This information isn't conjecture or anecdotal, it is for all intents and purposes measured and widely accepted.

For example:

Gymnasts probably have the best strength to weight ratio in sports.

Olympic lifters generate the most power, regardless of whether their physique is what you consider to be 'proportional.'

The idea is complete and total functionality as it applies to the way you move in your chosen competition (which has changed a bit as many 'crossfitters' are now using the WOD as their sport). The idea that athletes could and should learn from the best practices of other sports -- and that anybody can strive for this functionality, albeit at varying levels, is the main tenant of this methodology. And that's what it is, a methodology, whereas body building as a 'goal'. The exercises in both fields overlap because the exercises themselves are as old as the hills, and by definition of Crossfit, they were taken from other activities. I would imagine body building 'exercises' also were born out of that were first used in pursuit of other ends.

Body builders may know a lot about a diet that puts on mass or rapidly cuts fat, but putting on mass as a goal isn't remotely part of the mentality of the myriad of sports and activities that Crossfit is trying to benefit and therefore not a real comparison. I would also add that if you're not on a bulking and cutting cycle, you're probably not really bodybuilding (see definition above) but instead trying to remain fit and gain some mass and form but keep your physique year round. Crossfit is a tool to make your performance better in a chosen activity - be it sports or general life, so you don't see the design of trying to grow for the sake of growing once some initial gains are made to get your body to the performance level you want. Many Crossfitters try to gain some mass/strength (see any of the Starting Strength threads), but then try to reel in that strength in the pursuit of better performance.

Personally, I'm interested in your experiment because once you get through the "I crossfit and you don't so you're wrong" attitudes that occasionally pop up in the boards you'll see that the website, along with its information and methodology are posted free so people will use it as a means to their personal goal and I'm generally curious to see who it helps, particularly people with different goals than mine.

Frankly, I wonder if you will be successful within your chosen parameters, because as a bodybuilder you're trying to get bigger -- hence the whole "bulk then cut" diet structure. Crossfitters are trying to perform better and excess bulk is a hindrance - regardless of what the body looks like. The workouts are structured to keep the body guessing and keep it's parts working together. I would, however, be interested to see in what you think of your body changes, but I do feel that if you're already training in some respect, it may take more than a month.

Good luck in your endeavor and welcome to Jonestown.


~scott
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:48 PM   #5
David Meverden
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Edit: Some other people posted while I was finishing up my answer. Oh well. My responses to some of your points, Fergus:

Quote:
The reality is that average bodybuilder is more like me, someone who leads a healthy lifestyle and basis his excercise program around compound lifts... it almost sounds like crossfitting eh...
My bodybuilder coworker is the only non-crossfitter I know that does deadlifts. Fair point. But no, it doesn’t sound like crossfitting as the intensity is completely different, and because crossfitters do NO isolation exercises (with the possible exception of situps). What percentage of your time spent in the gym is isolation exercises? I know mine. 0%

Quote:
Crossfitting is anerobic excercise, bodybuilding is anerobic exercise.
The intensity difference between MOST bodybuilders and crossfitters is WAY different. I did look for Milos on u-tube and I’ll admit his workout appears as intense as crossfit metcon, but I’ve never met nor heard of any other body builder working out to the point of vomiting. I think he’s in a very small minority.

Quote:
The functionality point can be argued all day but I believe that a bicep curl makes your arms stronger which makes it easier to do chins therefore it increases your functionality etc...
Body building is not about functionality. If you are using bodybuilding exercises to gain functionality, good for you, but if you just want PERFORMANCE you are not getting it via the most efficient path. After all, if you want to be better at chinups I don't see how doing bicep curls is possibly more efficient than just DOING chinups.

Even die hard crossfitters spend MUCH less time in the gym than people serious about body building, yet I'm confident the crossfitter could come much closer to doing what the body builder does than the body builder could come to doing what the crossfitter does simply because the crossfitter is ready to do a much wider range of tasks at a much wider range of intensity.

Quote:
6) you cannot build a bodybuilding physique through crossfitting. I beg to differ and intent to put this to the test but more about that later.

What your physique looks like is more defined by your diet and sleep than your training, this is what bodybuilders base their lifestyle on and how they manage to build such impressive physiques naturally and in some cases as well as with help from drugs.
Come on now. Have you see the workouts on the website? Maybe you need to go look through the archives some more (drop down menu about half way down the main page on the right). There are pure strength days (usually consisting of 5 or fewer reps per set which promotes a higher strength to weight ratio than the 8-12 of most body building programs) but many workouts have purely body weight exercises and some are just “run 5k.” You know perfectly well that pushups, regardless of diet, have no chance of building muscle mass the way Bench Press followed by Incline Bench, followed by Chest Fly will. This is not to say crossfitters don’t gain muscle mass or aren’t strong, but hypertrophy is not the goal. Athletic performance is.

Quote:
[crossfitters think] Bodybuilding empahasis the front "show" muscles while crossfitting emphasis the rear muscles.
Not sure where you got this from. And as for what muscles crossfit “emphasizes” the answer would be “whatever muscles we need to reach our performance goals.”

Quote:
What I intend to do is follow the WOD exclusively for the next month, the only exception is that I'll do cardio (the previously mentioned type that I currently do) on the rest days and no other planned exercise. Thus reducing my number of workouts per week from a current level of 10-12 to 7.
Great! But I have some observations based on what I’ve learned from my personal experience, from reading, and from this forum.

1) You seem to think you need additional cardio on your rest days. For your goals this is not true, and as pointed out by Jason, would probably be counter productive. If you REALLY hit the workout of the day HARD and give it everything you’ve got you DO NOT need additional cardio. Especially if you can find other crossfitters to help motivate you.

2) Be careful just diving into crossfit. Overuse injuries can happen when people underestimate the impact of long runs, or hundreds of kipping pullups, or whatever (thank you elbow tendon for teaching me this one, grrr).

3) The crossfit WOD has been shown time and again (from the testimonials and personal accounts I have seen on these boards) to NOT be the fastest or most effective way to gain strength or muscle mass. That is why so many people talk about doing a Starting Strength cycle before starting crossfit or subbing metcon workouts of the day with “Max Effort” days where they just lift heavy. Maybe you are at a place where you can gain some good muscle (or maybe just differently balanced muscle) just from the main page WOD, but pretty much everyone will tell you after that month or two that you could have gained more mass if you had done something else. That “something else” won’t make you the awesome machine that crossfit could, but it will build more mass. Maybe you need a couple months on crossfit to prove it to yourself, which is fine. Let us know how it goes!
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Last edited by David Meverden; 05-27-2008 at 12:02 AM..
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:48 PM   #6
Steven Low
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

I think you read the wrong posts when you read the forum.

edit: Wow, that's a lot of long answers.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:49 AM   #7
Matthew Green
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Firstly always good to see a UK face on the boards!

In short, bodybuilding is not similar to Crossfit. Bodybuilding is not about fitness but purely about aesthetics and muscle hypertrophy, anything you do ontop of your routine which involves running/rowing/etc is not bodybuilding,
Supersetting is once again unlike crossfit, as the aim is still hypertrophy and lifting weights slowly. The differences will become crystal clear as you spend more time researching CF.

Havent seen many bodybuilders doing HSPU recently.

Have fun exploring the boards
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:53 AM   #8
Matthew Green
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Ouch........ as I started my reply there were no responses on this post. Thought i'd go for the welcoming approach rather than the beat down Think this boy has made a lot of Crossfitters angry........ probably not the best idea, don't think bodybuilders do much sprinting.
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:39 AM   #9
Veronica Davis
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Fergus...

First of all welcome to the boards. I'm a bb'r (figure competitor) and I've been crossfitting since October 2007. Like other athletes on this board I let crossfit be a compliment to my bb training. I like the crossfit principle of performance based, but I know that I have to worry about my symmetry.

That being said... I'm kind of dumbfounded by your post. It comes across as antagonistic, hence why people responded the way they did. Yes, there are misconcpetions about bb'ing they same way bb'rs have misconceptions about crossfit. BUT I think the best approach is mutual respect for eachother as athletes. . I appreciate all the support I received from the crossfit community as I was preparing for a show recently.

Regarding your experiment, there is one design flaw. If you have been bb'ing for a period of time and you are going to switch to just crossfitting you are going to experience gains just for the fact that it is a new stimulus. Hence why most bb'rs change their routine every 12-16 weeks.
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Old 05-27-2008, 05:10 AM   #10
Rory Gibson
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Re: Bodybuilding & Crossfitting

Hi Fergus,
Have you visited CrossFit Manchester in Stockport?
You should, it's highly recommended and will give you a sense of what CF is all about.
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