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

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Old 04-01-2003, 08:09 PM   #1
Ross Burke
Member Ross Burke is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Location: Santa Cruz  CA
Posts: 67
Had a discussion with a very successful (100 breastroke around a minute I think) swimmer from my high school. Thought you guys would find it interesting.
megamatt129: powerlifting vs weightlifting
megamatt129: whats the difference
PMiBiZkit: weightlifting is better in my opinion
megamatt129: besides people ****ting their guts out(in reference to pic of powerlifter tearing his anus)
PMiBiZkit: it's the two olympic lifts
megamatt129: for what?
PMiBiZkit: weightlifting builds speed and flexibility
PMiBiZkit: it's basically pulling the bar over your head in two different ways
PMiBiZkit: powerlifting is slower and doesn't involve as much flexibility
megamatt129: whats powerlifting
PMiBiZkit: bench, parallel squat, deadlift
megamatt129: those olympic types aren't too flexible
megamatt129: huge beefy guys couldn
PMiBiZkit: weightlifting is snatch and the unfortunately named clean and jerk
megamatt129: t run a mile
PMiBiZkit: flexibility has nothing to do with running
megamatt129: it does
megamatt129: and swimming
megamatt129: you ever seen huge beefy runners?
PMiBiZkit: sprinters
PMiBiZkit: they're strong as hell
megamatt129: real running
megamatt129: 5 miles and up
megamatt129: and swimming
megamatt129: strength vs flexibility
PMiBiZkit: your vision of fitness is warped as you only consider endurance
megamatt129: I consider strength
megamatt129: but pure strength is useless
PMiBiZkit: actually olympic weightlifters are the most flexible athletes besides gymnasts
PMiBiZkit: pure endurance is useless too
megamatt129: swimmers?
megamatt129: I think not
megamatt129: it is
PMiBiZkit: if you can run 100 miles but can't squat bodyweight you are not going to last very long in a fight, you will be able to run away though
megamatt129: but how many times can lifters throw around a thousand pounds
megamatt129: squats have nothing to do with a fight
megamatt129: maybe a wrestling match
megamatt129: but not unless you're kickboxing it wouldn't matter much
PMiBiZkit: punching power originates in the hips and waist
PMiBiZkit: which are strengthened by squats
megamatt129: you're thinking of rotation
megamatt129: versus abduction
megamatt129: two different movements
megamatt129: upper body has more to do with it
PMiBiZkit: go to and click on foundations
PMiBiZkit: that basically sums up my view of fitness
PMiBiZkit: another thing, there is no lower body or upper body, it is all intrinsically interconnected
megamatt129: I agree
megamatt129: intrinsically
megamatt129: but you can't possibly claim that benching 500 makes you a better runner
PMiBiZkit: of course not
PMiBiZkit: but that's contrasting power with endurance, not lower with upper body
megamatt129: but benching 100 reps of body weight would not improve running either
PMiBiZkit: actually upper body endurance is important in long distance running
PMiBiZkit: those skinny marathoners get cramps in their arms if they don't at least do pushups and pullups
megamatt129: cramps in your arms running?
megamatt129: never heard of that one
PMiBiZkit: long distance running actually decreases muscle mass so that they're so damn weak that they do get cramps there
PMiBiZkit: read the crossfit thing
megamatt129: lose muscle mass by not eating enough?
PMiBiZkit: actually aerobic exercise performed at that level is canabolic, the body uses its own muscle as energy
megamatt129: I see
PMiBiZkit: and they burn so many damn calories they can't replenish them no matter how much they eat
megamatt129: yeah this foundation stuff is theoretical gibberish
PMiBiZkit: give me a specific complaint
megamatt129: Numerous studies have demonstrated the Olympic lifts unique capacity to develop strength, muscle, power, speed, coordination, vertical leap, muscular endurance, bone strength, and the physical capacity to withstand stress. It is also worth mentioning that the Olympic lifts are the only lifts shown to increase maximum oxygen uptake, the most important marker for cardiovascular fitness.

megamatt129: lifts increasing cardio fitness?
megamatt129: also
megamatt129: vertical leap?
megamatt129: wouldn't one get better at jumping thru squats/calf/heel raises
PMiBiZkit: no
megamatt129: why
PMiBiZkit: squats are good, but isolation movements are basically useless
megamatt129: except for the motion which they isolate
PMiBiZkit: because olympic lifting involves a higher amount of power in a shorter period of time than slower more controlled movements
PMiBiZkit: it's basically jumping with weights
megamatt129: lunges vs squat then
megamatt129: why do lunges work better
PMiBiZkit: i'm not convinced they do
megamatt129: they do
PMiBiZkit: why
megamatt129: think breaststroke kick
megamatt129: last year I did squats, dropped 2 seconds
megamatt129: this year I did lunges, dropped 4 already
megamatt129: probably another 1 in FL
PMiBiZkit: how much did you squat
megamatt129: starting at 80 and moving up to around 120 by end of year
megamatt129: this being last season
megamatt129: freshman yera
megamatt129: year
PMiBiZkit: therein lies the problem, you weren't using enough weight
megamatt129: I could max out more, but there is no point in maxing out three or four times as a routine
PMiBiZkit: I know, but you should get up to at least 160 X 8
PMiBiZkit: which is possible without getting "bulky"
megamatt129: it is
megamatt129: then why did lunges work better
megamatt129: at 115
megamatt129: only one leg then?
megamatt129: if I can lunge 115 easily why can't I squat 330?
megamatt129: or 230
megamatt129: whatever
PMiBiZkit: the only possible reason for lunges working better I could think of is that squats are so damn hard for the nervous system that they hurt your other training
PMiBiZkit: lunges are actually probably better in season for that reason
megamatt129: I see
megamatt129: CrossFit considers the Sumo Wrestler, triathlete, marathoner, and power lifter to be "fringe athletes" in that their fitness demands are so specialized as to be inconsistent with the adaptations that give maximum competency at all physical challenges. Elite strength and conditioning is a compromise between each of the ten physical adaptations.
megamatt129: this is a specific complaint
megamatt129: what is their idea of the ideal athlete then?
megamatt129: no one can be good at everything, it is why there are specialized lifters and distance runners and so on
PMiBiZkit: someone who can squat 400, military press bodyweight, do 40 pullups, and run a 5 minute mile
megamatt129: 40 pullups
PMiBiZkit: and it is possible
PMiBiZkit: yeah
megamatt129: who the hell can do 40 pullups
megamatt129: someone the size of tom bell maybe
PMiBiZkit: I can do 6 with 35 pounds, once I get up to 70 pounds I'll be able to do it
megamatt129: how many can you do
megamatt129: without weight
PMiBiZkit: it is impossible to be elite at everything, but it is possible to be very good at most things
PMiBiZkit: I don't know
PMiBiZkit: I can do like 26 full parallel dips though
megamatt129: damn
megamatt129: I've done 18 once
megamatt129: course I never try them with weight
PMiBiZkit: if you do them with weight the bodyweight ones become so damn easy it's ridiculous
megamatt129: interesting
PMiBiZkit: weighted dips and pullups are probably the two best upper body exercises
megamatt129: bench still against your religion?
PMiBiZkit: it's good but not the best, I can't do every exercise so I only do the best exercises
megamatt129: I see
megamatt129: what is your definition of the best?
PMiBiZkit: the big exercises, which use the most muscle groups at once, which promotes the largest gains in power, and if accompanied with a lot of food, muscle mass
PMiBiZkit: usually the entire body is moving to accomodate the movement, as in a squat, pullup, or dip
megamatt129: how much do they do for endurance?
PMiBiZkit: usually it would be something like run 800 meters, deadlift for 10 reps, run 800 meters, bench 10 reps, do 40 squat thrusts.
megamatt129: who has the facility for all that
PMiBiZkit: i do
megamatt129: run 800 m where?
PMiBiZkit: I have weights at home and can just run around the block twice which is about two thirds of a mile
megamatt129: I see
megamatt129: so why do you think so little of bodyweight exercise
megamatt129: pure calisthenics
PMiBiZkit: they are great, but truthfully they just become boring to me
PMiBiZkit: and doing them with weights builds endurance and strength equally, rather than mostly endurance
PMiBiZkit: I like to combing them with running
megamatt129: boring
megamatt129: how many pushups/situps can you bang out
PMiBiZkit: I don't know how many I can do fresh, I normally do them when I'm tired from running
megamatt129: I see
PMiBiZkit: like sprint 100 yards, 25 pushups, sprint, 8 pullups, sprint, 10 squat thrusts, sprint, 50 mountain climbers, sprint, 50 situps
megamatt129: that's interesting
megamatt129: military type PT
PMiBiZkit: boxing or military types call it roadwork
megamatt129: I see
PMiBiZkit: its great for wrestling
PMiBiZkit: much better than just running at a constant pace for a few miles
megamatt129: ok
megamatt129: how does swimming figure into all this?
PMiBiZkit: very good too, I don't do it right now, but I will during the summer
PMiBiZkit: the seals(the teams he swims for is named the Seals) workouts are actually rather similar in theory to what I do
PMiBiZkit: you don't just swim for a few hundred laps, you swim hard, rest a few seconds or do some recovery laps, swim very hard, recover, etc
megamatt129: that's what we do at practice
megamatt129: we hardly ever do straight 1000
megamatt129: today was 12x200 fast, 12x100 fast
PMiBiZkit: yet you still have amazing endurance, as Emil Zapotopek said, you need speed so you do sprints, and you need endurance, so you do lots of sprints
PMiBiZkit: he was an olympic runner
megamatt129: inetersting way to put it
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Old 04-02-2003, 05:50 AM   #2
Founding Father Coach is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 391
Hi Ross,

Interesting indeed! You clearly get it, champ.

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Old 04-02-2003, 07:33 AM   #3
John Frankl
Member John Frankl is offline
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cambridge  MA
Posts: 20
Yes, Ross gets it. But the swimmer has been effectively brainwashed. Perhaps because, depending of course on the individual person and events, many swimmers border on the fringe athlete description.

I played water polo througout high school. The sport itself is very CrossFit--sprint 20 yards, wrestle, sprint, throw, wrestle again, and repeat ad nauseum (literally!). Also, all rest is active, since you must tread water to "rest."

But I had to swim in the off-season. The nerve of this guy to call running boring! At least you can hear birds and see trees (as opposed to staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool). In any case, the best swimmers absolutely were not the best water polo athletes. They were good at one specialized aspect of the sport--swimming--but lacked the combination of attributes that makes a good water polo player. Which, of course, brings us squarely back to the CrossFit model--yeah!

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Old 04-02-2003, 10:43 AM   #4
Ryan Atkins
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Location: Racine  WI
Posts: 925
I agree with you John, swimming is boring (I quit after two seasons in high school to resume martial arts training). A mentor of mine told me about an interesting study. The researchers took a group of swimmers and a group of gymnasts with similar muscle builds, heights and weights and had them do a series of bodyweight exercises (dips, pull-ups and others). End result - the gymnasts smoked the swimmers in all events. Probably no surprise given the nature of gymnastic training. However, my friend emphasized that the absence (or serious reduction)of gravity while exercising in the water may have been an important factor in the swimmers inability to perform activities in the 'real world.'

Coach - if this falls into the 'obvious and worthless' category of sport information that you talked about in a different post, then I apologize.
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