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

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Old 02-23-2009, 12:00 PM   #21
David Meverden
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Re: Exercise "Science"

Well put, Barry.

Coach does not have disdain for science in general: as Katherine pointed out he is trying to apply sound scientific principles to fitness. He does have disdain, however, for people trying to make training recommendations based on micro research--or faulty/limited research--when those same people have demonstrate no capacity to actually produce a better athlete.

He sees what most people do in the gym as the problem, and that problem has largely stemmed from the drawing of improper conclusions from these research studies. So, when people stop making recommendations to the public based on things like cellular lipid metabolism ("fat burning zone" fallacy ring a bell?), and demonstrate FIRST that they can achieve a REAL and desirable end point (faster runner, subcutaneous fat loss, etc) then maybe he won't have so much contempt for them.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:12 PM   #22
Christian Gotcher
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Re: Exercise "Science"

It's not 'science' that's the problem, but bull****- scientists producing research outside their field of experience with little relevance. Studies with ridiculously small sample sizes (sometimes less than 10), untrained populations, guiding survey questions (did your knees feel 'loose' after that set of heavy squats?), improper or undefined movement (a squat is a squat, right?), you name it, it's out there, and it's hideous science.

See this (wfs) study on the positive impact on vegetarianism on ischemic heart disease and cancer. Note that the "non-meat-eaters" were selected out of a vegetarian health journal (more likely to be health-conscious then non-readers), the "meat-eaters" were selected by the non-meat-eaters after being told the purpose of the study (the flaw in this is obvious), and the non-meat-eaters were composed of females by a significant percentage (and women suffer lower rates of ischemic heart disease). They compensated for some factors (smoking, drinking, age), but not all. The best part of the study is that they admit it's not enough to encourage a vegetarian diet, but people cite it anyway.

Sometimes, you get studies like this (wfs), where the end result seems accurate and meaningful, but (for any coach with even a few years' experience) common sense. Yes, practicing balance drills, squats, agility drills (wind sprints), and the like will prevent injury if balance and agility are issues in your sport.

Glassman, Rippetoe, etc. have provided examples of silly bs studies in a couple of different videos/articles in the CFJ and their estimations on why it happens, so I wouldn't repeat those, but they're good reads if you can find them.

It's not even necessarily the fault of 'science.' The human body is so complex, with so many thousands of interactions, that isolating one element of performance against a control is oftentimes, at best, irrelevant (especially in dealing with nutrition). Attempts at isolating, for instance, cholesterol, dietary fat, or stress as the primary factor in heart disease have proven flawed because, individually, these measures don't account for much, and when they do, the way of treating them (often with medications), oftentimes has other side-effects that skew the end result.

It isn't science, sometimes, that's the problem, but its application within institutions. If I can improve my HDLs, LDLs, resting heart rate, bone density, 'happiness,' strength, flexibility, etc., through one program with relatively insignificant side effects, it would help to know why (and science can help with this), but it's not necessary. When organizations try to stall a successful program like this because it hasn't been "scientifically proven," you see the kind of disdain you get from Glassman et. al.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:12 PM   #23
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Exercise "Science"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Cooper View Post
I think an overarching--and in my view empirically well supported--assumption is that most scientists are not scientific. By this, I mean that they lose the forest for the trees. They are not fully open to all the potential sourcs of information in their environment.

They look not for what works, but for what they can explain. And what can be explained is a subset of what works.

Moreover, the need for precision in explanation necessarily makes the topics of focus progressively smaller and smaller, to where the big picture--increased human performance--is lost entirely.

How can one rationalize a failure to define fitness in a way which is measurable? How can it be that CrossFit, seemingly, is the first system to stumble on the retrospectively obvious idea of "work capacity"?

How can you rationalize long term failures to diagnose any number of errors, like the low fat diets, and the overemphasis on aerobic exercise?

As Coach says, the magic is in the movement, the art is in the programming, and the science is in the explanation.

You don't really need someone to tell you after the fact that what you just did is possible. And you certainly don't need them to tell you it is impossible, which in point of fact has been a claim made against CrossFit.

Add to this the arrogance of many of the top people in the exercise community, and his disdain is in my view well founded.

Exercise Science is not useless. It is just not in general useful. It adds little to the debate that anyone really would want to know or use. When I was an NSCA member, I got their journal, and there were probably 300 articles I could have read. I read maybe three. I would scan the article titles, and most of the time in 40 articles, I couldn't find one that interested me at all.
Actually thats the exact opposite of how science and scientists work. They are open to all possibilities and explanations that can be validated with evidence. Exercise is very useful. Where did you learn all the things you know about sports performance and nutrition, they came from exercise and nutrition science. Cf wasn't the 1st workout to stumble upon "work capacity" and work capacity isn't the only component that makes for an effective workout program.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 12:15 PM   #24
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Exercise "Science"

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Originally Posted by Christian Gotcher View Post
It's not 'science' that's the problem, but bull****- scientists producing research outside their field of experience with little relevance. Studies with ridiculously small sample sizes (sometimes less than 10), untrained populations, guiding survey questions (did your knees feel 'loose' after that set of heavy squats?), improper or undefined movement (a squat is a squat, right?), you name it, it's out there, and it's hideous science.

See this (wfs) study on the positive impact on vegetarianism on ischemic heart disease and cancer. Note that the "non-meat-eaters" were selected out of a vegetarian health journal (more likely to be health-conscious then non-readers), the "meat-eaters" were selected by the non-meat-eaters after being told the purpose of the study (the flaw in this is obvious), and the non-meat-eaters were composed of females by a significant percentage (and women suffer lower rates of ischemic heart disease). They compensated for some factors (smoking, drinking, age), but not all. The best part of the study is that they admit it's not enough to encourage a vegetarian diet, but people cite it anyway.

Sometimes, you get studies like this (wfs), where the end result seems accurate and meaningful, but (for any coach with even a few years' experience) common sense. Yes, practicing balance drills, squats, agility drills (wind sprints), and the like will prevent injury if balance and agility are issues in your sport.

Glassman, Rippetoe, etc. have provided examples of silly bs studies in a couple of different videos/articles in the CFJ and their estimations on why it happens, so I wouldn't repeat those, but they're good reads if you can find them.

It's not even necessarily the fault of 'science.' The human body is so complex, with so many thousands of interactions, that isolating one element of performance against a control is oftentimes, at best, irrelevant (especially in dealing with nutrition). Attempts at isolating, for instance, cholesterol, dietary fat, or stress as the primary factor in heart disease have proven flawed because, individually, these measures don't account for much, and when they do, the way of treating them (often with medications), oftentimes has other side-effects that skew the end result.

It isn't science, sometimes, that's the problem, but its application within institutions. If I can improve my HDLs, LDLs, resting heart rate, bone density, 'happiness,' strength, flexibility, etc., through one program with relatively insignificant side effects, it would help to know why (and science can help with this), but it's not necessary. When organizations try to stall a successful program like this because it hasn't been "scientifically proven," you see the kind of disdain you get from Glassman et. al.
Are you referring to people trying to stall CF? If so, I'd like to know who is attempting to do so. People dislike the minutiae of science becuase they don't see the value. But the smallest details often make the difference. Imagine if no one had ever bothered to understand the Krebs cycle, or lactate cycle? Or how phosphocreatine works.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 12:17 PM   #25
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Exercise "Science"

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
Yes, but the goal of those astronomers you mention was to explain the universe. The goal of a coach is not to explain how his athlete runs, it's to make his mile time go from a 4:13 to a 4:10. In many cases, it's just a matter of "how can I change this number?"
Knowing how to change that number comes from knowing how and why the body does what it does. The coach wouldn't be able to drop his time without knowing biomechanics, energy system development, recovery methods etc. If it weren't for science, the coaches only recourse would be to just have the athlete run harder and longer in hopes it would improve performance.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 12:19 PM   #26
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Exercise "Science"

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Originally Posted by David Meverden View Post
Well put, Barry.

Coach does not have disdain for science in general: as Katherine pointed out he is trying to apply sound scientific principles to fitness. He does have disdain, however, for people trying to make training recommendations based on micro research--or faulty/limited research--when those same people have demonstrate no capacity to actually produce a better athlete.

He sees what most people do in the gym as the problem, and that problem has largely stemmed from the drawing of improper conclusions from these research studies. So, when people stop making recommendations to the public based on things like cellular lipid metabolism ("fat burning zone" fallacy ring a bell?), and demonstrate FIRST that they can achieve a REAL and desirable end point (faster runner, subcutaneous fat loss, etc) then maybe he won't have so much contempt for them.

It's not the scientists doing this, it's the media.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 12:34 PM   #27
Christian Gotcher
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Re: Exercise "Science"

Quote:
Are you referring to people trying to stall CF? If so, I'd like to know who is attempting to do so. People dislike the minutiae of science becuase they don't see the value. But the smallest details often make the difference. Imagine if no one had ever bothered to understand the Krebs cycle, or lactate cycle? Or how phosphocreatine works.
The "Military Leaning Away From Crossfit" thread in the community forum is one example, but there are others. Large organizations need some kind of 'accreditation,' and publication in a scientific journal seems to do the job, but that doesn't validate or negate the value of a program.

I'm not saying science is invalid, Phillip- you may be finding an argument that's not here. The science is difficult (and, as one person pointed out, studies on nutrition can be seen as even unethical and can be sticky wickets), and is often incorrect or incomplete. Take for instance this new news on the egg (wfs). After years of encouraging limits, they backtrack. The people actually doing the research understand this and do what they can to improve their methods progressively.

Large organizations/magazines/newspapers (the media, I agree with you) grab hold of these findings and package them for the masses as "Science" (with a capital S), misleading who they can with the best intentions. Rippetoe's article, "Silly Bull****," puts it well. What good does come out of the exercise science community is often degraded by the time it reaches the consumer.

Quote:
The coach wouldn't be able to drop his time without knowing biomechanics, energy system development, recovery methods etc. If it weren't for science, the coaches only recourse would be to just have the athlete run harder and longer in hopes it would improve performance.
Not really. Any coach with half a brain can figure out through observation that overworking an athlete slows progress, that long slow distance running doesn't produce a bigger bench press, or that a deadlift should go straight up (recovery, energy systems, recovery method). All you would need is for one coach to come up with an idea, have it work, and spread the information. Coaches come up with great ideas by accident all the time ("HS Wall Walking," an exercise Coach Sommer stressed for his press-challenged athletes, is a good example). It's less clean a process, but there are thousands of coaches making these observations, and 'science' sometimes can't keep up with them. This isn't to say science can't find great things: PNF stretching and SMR are great examples. If a coach found a great thing without a white lab coat on, however, we can't discredit his findings.
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Last edited by Christian Gotcher : 02-23-2009 at 12:39 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 12:46 PM   #28
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Exercise "Science"

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Originally Posted by Christian Gotcher View Post
The "Military Leaning Away From CrossFit" thread in the community forum is one example, but there are others. Large organizations need some kind of 'accreditation,' and publication in a scientific journal seems to do the job, but that doesn't validate or negate the value of a program.

I'm not saying science is invalid, Phillip- you may be finding an argument that's not here. The science is difficult (and, as one person pointed out, studies on nutrition can be seen as even unethical and can be sticky wickets), and is often incorrect or incomplete. Take for instance this new news on the egg (wfs). After years of encouraging limits, they backtrack. The people actually doing the research understand this and do what they can to improve their methods progressively.

Large organizations/magazines/newspapers (the media, I agree with you) grab hold of these findings and package them for the masses as "Science" (with a capital S), misleading who they can with the best intentions. Rippetoe's article, "Silly Bull****," puts it well. What good does come out of the exercise science community is often degraded by the time it reaches the consumer.



Not really. Any coach with half a brain can figure out through observation that overworking an athlete slows progress, that long slow distance running doesn't produce a bigger bench press, or that a deadlift should go straight up (recovery, energy systems, recovery method). All you would need is for one coach to come up with an idea, have it work, and spread the information. Coaches come up with great ideas by accident all the time ("HS Wall Walking," an exercise Coach Sommer stressed for his press-challenged athletes, is a good example). It's less clean a process, but there are thousands of coaches making these observations, and 'science' sometimes can't keep up with them. This isn't to say science can't find great things: PNF stretching and SMR are great examples. If a coach found a great thing without a white lab coat on, however, we can't discredit his findings.

And you know all this becuase you of course are a sport performance coach who has actually trained athletes and knows what it takes to get that last litle bit out of already well trained athletes? Coaches spreading ideas and sharing info is science. That's why there are journals and conferences. Before a dedicated science community, the common knowledge was that weight training made athletes slow, inflexible,a nd possibly dimiwitted, but science, and the sharing of ideas proved that weight training helps performance, not hurts it. Wanting an exercise modaility to hold itself up to scrutiny is a good thing not a bad thing. I love CF but it makes alot of claims it can't really back up.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 01:54 PM   #29
Nick Cummings
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Re: Exercise "Science"

Phillip, attitudes like yours are what is killing this forum. The number of well thought out posts by the people who have spent years walking the walk are overwhelmed by some guy wwho has spent months thinking about it who decides to talk the talk.

Please give more thought to your ideas before you post them as fact. Many of your posts in this thread detract from it and I see this happening at the entire level of the board here. A few years ago when a question was asked you would get 2-5 responses from owners and trainers at some of the top CrossFit gyms out there. Now your question gets answered by some guy who read a book on exercise....
 
Old 02-23-2009, 02:20 PM   #30
David Meverden
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Re: Exercise "Science"

I definitely see where you are coming from Nick: people over step the bounds of their knowledge frequently, but I don't think that is some kind of horrible death spiral for the forum. On the whole this is still an amazingly respectful, reasonable forum (or at least it is compared to every other internet forum I've seen, hehe. Maybe that's setting the bar a little too low), and I also don't think that someone who spends a lot of time reading and thinking can't have a worthwhile opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip Garrison View Post
But the smallest details often make the difference. Imagine if no one had ever bothered to understand the Krebs cycle, or lactate cycle? Or how phosphocreatine works.
I think Coaches whole point, though, is that you DON'T have to under stand a krebs cycle to improve human performance. Coach Glassman studies human performance: He makes people perform at a higher level than they did before. If he produces measurable end point results, the mechanisms, at a biomechanical level, are irrelevant. As he said, if they discover a new form of energy transport in the future it won't affect his training, because to a large extent it doesn't matter how it works if what you do produces demonstratively superior results.

Coach has said the following on these boards: "There is no diet, no exercise program, no sport training program anywhere founded on or developed on first principles" and I believe him. You look up any successful training program anywhere, find any strength and conditioning coach and their implementation will depend almost entirely on empirical findings and shared experience. They know what works because they've tried it, which is a separate source of knowledge from strict scientific inquiry.

Why does Rippetoe have novices do 3 sets of 5 reps? Is is because broad, large sample, controlled studies with novices who varied in experience, age, and size were held? Did they evaluate the cumulative effect of every concieveable rep range, set number, exercise frequency, etc? No. Were Rips views INFORMED by a scientific understanding of what he was doing? Yes. But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of his--and any other--athletic program it will be derived almost entirely from past experience into what was successful.

Or at least IMHO, hehe
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