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

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Old 05-13-2009, 11:03 AM   #1
Justin McCallon
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Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

We kinda touched on some of this in a couple other threads (Plandomization thread, for one), but I felt like I was hijacking other discussion when I tried to make this a focus.
For the purpose of this thread, it may be easier to think of fitness in terms of strength, power, coordination (etc) as opposed to the work capacity model (which is admittedly a better model).

CF basically has the idea of certain proportions for maximizing fitness as is reflected on the main page programming. i.e. If they thought strength was more important, they would do more strength work; if they thought endurance work was more important, more endurance work, etc. So anyway theoretically following the main site without scaling will push every athlete to pretty similar proportions of strength/stamina/cardio endurance/muscle endurance.

CF main site, as you probably know, follows Ordinary Concurrent periodization sequencing. So, all the elements of fitness are improved at the same time, with no change in focus.

Greg Everett has convinced me that a better way to improve fitness is through Long Conjugate Sequencing. So, instead of focusing on everything at the same time, you merely do just enough to MAINTAIN (and this level of emphasis is key -- maintenance requires less work than 'slightly improve') the areas that that are not being focused on, while you maximize the area of fitness that IS being focused on.
Recall, you will be limited by overtraining on the area you are focusing on (i.e. it is a given that when you focus, you won't spend so much time that you overtrain).

So, questions:
(1) How broad should the focus be? i.e. should the focus be on maximizing your Strength in general, or your pushing strength, or specifically your Overhead Press strength?
(2) Is it better to fully develop an area, and then move on to the next (i.e. spend 1-5 years working on strength until you hit the desired level, and then maintain that ability and work on cardio for 1-5 years), or to constantly cycle (i.e. strength for 2 months while maintaining other abilities, then cardio for 2 months while maintaining others, then muscle endurance, then repeat, repeat, repeat)?
(3) If you think the latter is optimal, how often should the switch take place?
(4) Do you think Long Conjugate sequencing (only maintaining 'dormant' abilities) is preferable to Emphasized Concurrent sequencing (emphasizing one ability, but continuing to bring up others)? (Keep in mind, theoretically, with emphasized concurrent sequencing, you are bringing up all abilities, but you are not bringing up your focus by as much as you would through Long Conjugate Sequencing).
(5) Kinda related: Everett takes the stance that strength is much more important in CF than cardio (stamina, endurance). What are your thoughts? Do you think that cardio is easier to gain faster, and tends to be lost faster than strength? What about the other attributes of fitness?

Note: I am leaving out coordination, flexibility and accuracy from this discussion. You can spend hours on end focusing on those abilities without overtraining, so they aren't really relevant in this discussion. You can only spend so much time working on strength, power, muscle endurance (what ability does this fall under?), speed, agility, stamina and cardiovascular endurance without overtraining. (I'm not positive where Balance goes, but probably mostly under the latter group)

Just to be clear -- I realize there are not absolute/definite answers here. I'm just looking for discussion.

Background reading if any of this was unclear:
EliteFTS (Dave Tate's Site) - Periodization Models
Plandomization by Greg Everett, but just focus on the "Compromise is For Pussies"

Last edited by Justin McCallon : 05-13-2009 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:45 AM   #2
Sam Ser
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

won't the answer to these questions depend on your goals?
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:08 PM   #3
Justin McCallon
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

Sorry if I wasn't clear -- the implicit goal in all this is to improve Fitness in general. i.e. to perform well at the CF Games.

(Although, as long as the goals are somewhat broad, i.e. compete at MMA, then it shouldn't matter for purposes of discussion)
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:28 PM   #4
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

If you have a specific event in mind, then obviously you should plan your schedule around that event. A five year strength improvement plan won't be much help with the 2009 CF Games, while focused skill work on HSPUs and muscleups might be hugely useful for a 2009 Games competitor.

Katherine
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Old 05-13-2009, 03:25 PM   #5
Justin McCallon
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
If you have a specific event in mind, then obviously you should plan your schedule around that event. A five year strength improvement plan won't be much help with the 2009 CF Games, while focused skill work on HSPUs and muscleups might be hugely useful for a 2009 Games competitor.

Katherine
I guess I wasn't very clear here.

The hypothetical is for someone that wants to reach the max level of fitness possible in 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 10 years, etc. In a certain fixed time frame. Assuming we accept Greg Everett's plan (focus on one thing at a time), is it best to go rotate the focus continually (i.e. if you have A, B, C, then 1 month A, 1 month B, 1 month C, 1 month A, 1 month B, 1 month C, 1 month A, etc..), or to focus on one ability until it's at where you want it (i.e. A for 3 months, B for 3 months, C for 3 months, then compete)?
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:26 PM   #6
Steven Low
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

Anything with a strength/power focus will help develop the other attributes the best.

There's a reason why the "other 3" programs developed off CF mainpage have been strength focused -- Gant's hybrid, CFSB, Rut's MEBB.

In my opinon, the stuff it would be best to work on are the most complex skill movements in crossfit -- Olys and certain gymnastics work (like muscle ups, etc.). The fact that once you can do these proficiently you can do most everything in the CF WODs efficiently..... and if you have strength in those movements it's easily transferable to anything else.

Don't feel like answering anything more specific. I think this covers most of it though.
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Last edited by Steven Low : 05-13-2009 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:41 PM   #7
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: Using the Long-Conjugate Model / Switching Focus

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
In my opinon, the stuff it would be best to work on are the most complex skill movements in crossfit -- Olys and certain gymnastics work (like muscle ups, etc.). The fact that once you can do these proficiently you can do most everything in the CF WODs efficiently..... and if you have strength in those movements it's easily transferable to anything else.
I agree. I haven't done a ring dip or sumo-deadlift high pull in a while, and I'm not worried about it. I'm confident that big oly lift numbers and press handstand and muscle-up ability transfer well to those exercises. Strength bias should be fairly obvious by now. So, be a gymnast and olympic weightlifter and do the occasional 5-10 min. metcon with those complicated movements and you'll be golden.
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