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Old 07-10-2009, 10:14 PM   #1
Andrew H. Meador
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An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

Hello everyone . In this thread I hope to begin a conversation on what an athlete needs to accomplish in the realms of gymnastics and weightlifting before beginning metabolic conditioning. With a nod towards the Starting Strength regimen and the increasing popularity of protocols like MEBB, CFFB and CFSB, barbell strength has often been advocated prior to beginning CrossFit proper for those of us who don't come from a strength-sport background. But that strength is largely tilted towards powerlifting, and from what we've seen in the 2007-08 CF Games (and might soon see from the 2009 Games), gymnastics and weightlifting take primacy over powerlifting as strength modalities. So what level of gymnastics and weightlifting strength is appropriate or necessary to tackle the WOD without scaling? Essentially, my proposal is that metcon is, in fact, not at the bottom of the pyramid, as competence across broad time and modal domains depends so dramatically on maximal strength and speed.

I propose this for a set of minimum standards (keeping in mind that these are significantly higher than the level where most of us start). These standards are for men without any significant injury or a dramatically large or small body type - appropriate scaling for women would perhaps be better suggested by one of our scaling gurus (like Jeff Martin? ). The italicized items are probably the most difficult to attain:

solid freestanding handstand
handstand push-up on parallettes, full range of motion
muscle-up on rings
L-sit slightly above parallel, held for at least 10 seconds
15 kipping pull-ups
some basic progression of a press handstand
rope climbing without feet, we'll say for at least 5 feet

squat snatch - half-bodyweight plus 20 pounds
squat clean and split/push jerk - half bodyweight plus 60 pounds

I would add that some sprinting in the realm of 50m-300m will benefit new CFers enormously, and that sprinting speed is an oft-neglected component of middle-distance and endurance running. Recent discussions in the forum have made this much clear: elite runners at any distance need to be able to run about an 11 sec. 100m - the marathon world record, for example, is run at about a 4:43/mile (or a 17.5 second/100m pace more than 400 times consecutively). Without a fast top speed, that pace is unsustainable.

All thoughts, criticisms, and gripes are welcome
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Old 07-11-2009, 12:52 AM   #2
Justin Shipley
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

Are you stating that, based on your experience and observations, in order to perform unscaled WOD's, this is what one would need to bring to the party, as a minimum requirement?
Or, taking your first line at face value, these requirements MUST be in place BEFORE you would even dream of attempting metcon WODs?

I think I get what you're saying but can you clarify it a little further? No sarcasm here; I'm on the same page
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:14 AM   #3
Ryan Lynch
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

Interesting. Can we clarify the intent some more?

As in what would be the overall goal here? To develop a pre-crossfit training program? Just define an arbitrary minimum standard to answer the newbie question of "when should I start xxx?". Other?

I think Metcon's are of immediate value. Perhaps in the pre-main page wod days they take an entirely different focus, as I think you suggest, but I think they are crucial here to developing the work capacity to do some of the gymnastic movements. Think Angie for a moment. Even un-timed, that is a monster endeavor.

I know I personally did a significant amount of strength work (2 months of SS) and lots of gymnastic movements to get me up to a level where I could scale the main page (about 6 months). Still no Muscle up. I wish I had added in sprint work (50's to 800's) though in that progression. So from my perspective, there is definite value in going from couch to main-page via a strength only focused program, but again, I wish I had done more metcon type work.

my 2 cents...

-Ryan
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:14 AM   #4
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

I'm suggesting them as a guideline before beginning unscaled WODs. We get all sorts of questions about scaling - and some people who have been CFing for months and years are still scaling almost every metcon. I think that there is a minimum level of strength that is necessary to finish most metcons with intensity - that is, if you are not strong enough in pull-ups to hammer out Helen with intensity, and it becomes somewhat of a grinder for you, then you're missing much of the benefit. It is common around here to recommend SS before beginning metcons, or just to hit scaled WODs immediately, but I think that it would be of greater benefit if people would begin gymnastics and olympic lifting. The scaled WODs aren't building the sort of strength necessary to hit the main page WOD with intensity. People are languishing indefinitely.
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:30 AM   #5
Ryan Lynch
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

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Originally Posted by Andrew H. Meador View Post
I'm suggesting them as a guideline before beginning unscaled WODs. We get all sorts of questions about scaling - and some people who have been CFing for months and years are still scaling almost every metcon. I think that there is a minimum level of strength that is necessary to finish most metcons with intensity - that is, if you are not strong enough in pull-ups to hammer out Helen with intensity, and it becomes somewhat of a grinder for you, then you're missing much of the benefit. It is common around here to recommend SS before beginning metcons, or just to hit scaled WODs immediately, but I think that it would be of greater benefit if people would begin gymnastics and olympic lifting. The scaled WODs aren't building the sort of strength necessary to hit the main page WOD with intensity. People are languishing indefinitely.
I would submit to you the Performance Menu Issue 53 on scaling WODs using Relative Intensity. This article changed my whole perspective on WOD's, scaling and the intensity needed to perform such work. It all comes down to power output. By properly scaling, and the article gives clear dummy proof method (IMO anyway) to scale any WOD effectively, one can maximize their power output for their level.

I do agree that we (Crossfitters in General) do lack overall strength. I've been supplementing weekly with extra strength work and so far and am enjoying good success and improvement.


-Ryan
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:27 AM   #6
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

I'll check out the PMenu article. As regards this thread, it should be in the fitness forum - I wavered on that before starting the thread. My bad.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:30 AM   #7
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Shipley View Post
Are you stating that, based on your experience and observations, in order to perform unscaled WOD's, this is what one would need to bring to the party, as a minimum requirement?
Or, taking your first line at face value, these requirements MUST be in place BEFORE you would even dream of attempting metcon WODs?
The former. This is what one should bring to the party. Some people do this for general fitness or to supplement their sport. Not everybody wants to be a monster.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:53 AM   #8
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

I'm sorry, but I've read your posts twice and still don't see what you're getting at. Yes, obviously you need to be able to do muscle-ups before you can do a workout that requires them without scaling. Are you proposing an SS-like pre-CF program for gymnastics and oly lifts, are you suggesting that people should spend more time on skill work within the WOD context, or what?

There seems to be a common perception that scaling is bad, that people who have to scale are somehow "not ready" for "real" Crossfit. But it seems pretty clear to me that Coach doesn't share that perception, and in fact views both the scalability of Crossfit and the extreme difficulty of the unscaled workouts as major advantages of the program.

Katherine
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Old 07-11-2009, 12:36 PM   #9
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
Are you proposing an SS-like pre-CF program for gymnastics and oly lifts?
Bingo. Perhaps my original post was too convoluted. I'm proposing an organized program for newbies to achieve certain strength standards before progressing on to metcons and the WOD. This is intended for those who do not want to scale the WOD, or for those who want to be high performers. It is not for those who, in the interests of just staying fit, come into a CF affiliate or work out in their own garage, etc. For that segment of the community, scaling is appropriate, because hey - not everybody feels the need to throw 250 lbs. over their head.
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Old 07-11-2009, 12:51 PM   #10
Thomas Green
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Re: An acceptable level of strength prior to beginning metcons

I'm pretty sure Rippetoe's been advocating that for years(same idea, without the gymnastics stuff). Even before he joined up with CrossFit, he was always about doing a general strength program before trying more specific stuff. But yeah, I do think encorporating gymnastics is a good idea. Still, before trying the o-lifts, it's crucial(I think at least) to be quite proficient in the squat and deadlift. Pretty hard to learn the clean without knowing how to pick stuff up off the ground.

Last edited by Thomas Green : 07-11-2009 at 12:57 PM.
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