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

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Old 08-09-2004, 04:14 PM   #1
Ben Jackson
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My question regards the CF and leg mass and strength. I am still new to CF,and may be missing this. From what I've seen from the WOD, it seems that the legs are not emphasized nearly as much as the upper body. I know that there are the heavy days (3-3-2-2-2-1-1-1-1-1) of squat, deadlift, and clean/snatch squat, but it seems that a lot of the "leg days" are high rep body weight squats. However the upper body is stressed much more (with mostly bodyweight exercise).
I have only been doing CF for about four weeks now. My previous workouts were from John Davies (Renegade training), John DeFranco (Westside for Skinny Bastards), and a few workouts from college. Those workouts involved a lot more leg training and heavier weight in general. In college we did squats two times each week in addition to two days of the Olympic lifts including pulls from the floor.
I've been trying to notice if I have lost any size/mass. I think I have noticed a loss in my legs/hips, shoulders, and chest, but there has been a slight gain in back mass. My weight has stayed consistent or maybe gone up slightly. Call me a sissy if you want, but I like some size to my frame. I don't really like body building, but I do like to stand out in a crowd.
Does CF effectively train the legs for size & strength? Is CF mostly foccussed on being small & strong (kinda like Pavel "the skinny Russian"). What is CF's theory on leg training? Has anyone tried workouts by Davies, DeFranco, or similar; how does CF compare in your opinion? Does anyone perform extra work for strength/size for chest, legs, etc..? Any ideas & thoughts will help.
Sorry I was so long winded.

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Old 08-09-2004, 07:49 PM   #2
David Wood
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I don't think I can fully answer your questions. Not because they're bad, or wrong, but because a) I don't have enough experience with all the trainers you mention, and b) because muscle size for it's own sake is pretty much irrelevant in CrossFit.

If you truly want to have striking (i.e., "stand out in a crowd") muscle size / mass, then you're going to need to do bodybuilding-type exercises. And yes, I'd strongly support doing Westside-type powerlifting training, with a heavy emphasis on the squat and DL.

That said, CrossFit is much more about what you can do with your muscles, rather than what they look like. In general, most of us find that those who are skinny get substantially more muscular, and those who are fat get substantially thinner, when they start doing CrossFit regularly. (I'm in the latter group, and I've now reached the point where I'll actually have to control my diet if I want to make further improvement . . . darn it:uhoh:.)

So CrossFit is probably a little closer to being VERY strong for your bodyweight, and very "athletic" (able to control your own body, or external objects (heavy weights) with ease), than about being as big and "strong" (in the 1-rep maximum sense) as possible.

But yes, CF does train the legs for strength. My DL went up from 300 (nothing much) to 395 (decent, but not spectactular) doing NOTHING but the occasional training the WOD provides (BW=155, height = 5'5").

I could get it higher (it would be nice to say that "I can deadlift 400 pounds") with specialized training. But I realized a while back I don't care any more about that.

What I do care about is being in the absolutely best all-around shape I can be. CrossFit provides an opportunity to be that, in abundance.

You can probably get (or stay) "big" with other kinds of training more effectively than CrossFit. If that's your objective, then it's good that you recognize it, and seek out those training modalities. No hard feelings.

But if you'd actuall like to have your muscles provide you with the maximum possible functionality across ALL physical challenges you might meet (including the possibility of having to sling your own bodyweight around, or move your body with maximum intensity for 60 seconds, or 600 seconds (10 minutes)), then you might give CrossFit an extended trial.

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Old 08-09-2004, 09:35 PM   #3
Kevin Roddy
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The best opinion that I can give you is: Try it for a while and see if it does. Try one of Davies' programs, try one of Defranco's programs. See what they do for you. Don't just follow a method, grab different methods, make your method your own. If you want your legs to get big, you have to make them a priority.

That said, I'm sure you will have great results with Crossfit if you give it a try. ;D
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Old 08-09-2004, 09:55 PM   #4
Carrie Klumpar
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My legs are bigger now. FWIW.
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Old 08-10-2004, 04:49 AM   #5
Larry Lindenman
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I like what David said. Cross fit prepares you for general fitness like no other program. Get the free CFJ, read and absorb. I, like you, came to CF from being a regular T-Nation (T-mag, whatever) reader. I've tried programs from most of the trainers you've mentioned. To ME nothing compares to CF. I have not lost muscle mass but have gained a great deal of anerobic strength. My 5K times have come down drasticly (from having to walk to about 24 min). Compound movements with with a short time limitation + heavy = lots of muscle building hormones + excess protein and calories = increases in muscle mass. Give it a solid month, if you don't like it go to another program. Personally I'm done program shopping and have found a home here.
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Old 08-10-2004, 08:59 AM   #6
Beth Moscov
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My legs are bigger (back, chest, and arms too). My weight has dropped too. The amounts I lift in DL and squat have gone up. 6 weeks of doing crossfit. What's more - my real goals weren't any of those. They were/are to be able to do whatever I want to do whenever I want. Like climb a tree, jump over a wall, run as far as I want, throw anything I want as far as I want. In other words - overall fitness that is functional in my day to day life. Oh - I am meeting that goal more and more every day too.
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Old 08-26-2004, 04:41 AM   #7
Daniel B Silver
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My partner at work (who I recently introduced to Crossfit) asked me today "you've been doing Crossfit since the beginning of the year right?"

To which I replied "yep. about 66% of the WOD's- as my MMA training schedual allows."

He then asked "how come your arms aren't bigger?"

I then stated "uh, er, dunno. Never really thought about it."

I just wanted to say thanks to Dave Wood for the above listed posting. I just cut and pasted it to an email and sent it to my parter. I imagine it will help a lot. Now, I'm gonna go do five different types of curls and tricep extensions in front of a big mirror.

Or not.

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