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

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Old 12-04-2007, 07:03 PM   #21
Steven Low
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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I'm giving advice to my teenaged son about his fitness goals. Since 99% of mortals will never compete at the 'elite' level, I advise him to just train mixed modal so he's better equipped for facing any of life's challenges. Sure enough, he get better at everything. Eventually, he finds that he's especially gifted or really enjoys one specific sport, and so start placing more emphasis on that pursuit. At what point does he make the decision that he has a chance to be successful at an elite level, and should dump the mixed modal traing for (unhealthy) sport specific training in order to excel? Is it too late, since training is cumulative, and his buddies that were training specifically since they were 13 are way ahead?
Interesting applicable question. Let's take a look at a couple of things first though.

Let's first look at say Tiger Woods who plays golf which is non-elite power/strength/enduranced based but more based on skill/technique. When we examine his background we see that he started playing at like age 2 or something. By age 4 he was already shooting 48 over 9 holes which is amazing. He has a huge advantage he had over his competition is basically focused thousands if not more hours of practice and practically it looks like all his motor patterns are geared towards golf. Granted, he is probably just gifted otherwise, but he still has had much more focused.

If we look at say most football players a lot of them excelled in middle and high school as basketball players and some dabble in baseball and track. Basketball and football definitely require lots of power, vertical leaps, sprinting speed and such, although nothing power based at elite levels based on their sprint times compared to say elite sprinters. That is is definitely to say because each of those sports also require a pretty high level of conditioning. The track guys who come over to say football tend to be some of the faster guys in the sport although they would usually not be elite in track sprinting.

Now if we look at the profile of say a dominant sprinter like let's say Carl Lewis we will see that he was involved at an early age with track and only track specifically sprinting and long jumping which actually go pretty well with each other. As a kid when he was being babysat he used to practice long jumping into the sand (well, from his wiki profile) and then started running track as soon as his school had a team.

So really all these athletes are really gifted genetically no doubt, but it SEEMS that most of the better athletes in their sport TEND to start from a very early age especially if their sport requires technical training.

On the other hand, it SEEMS though that if you're going to put your kid through non-elite power/strength/endurance athletics such as football or basketball as your main sport a base of playing multiple sports may be very useful from a coordination perspective as well as mixed modal fitness. As it is, most popular sports tend to be like this (not only football, basketball but hocket, soccer, rugby, etc.) and actually tend to bias according to body type and size moreso than power, strength and endurance.

It can be said though that football, basketball and track all require the athlete to be powerful.. so if you are going to be selecting sports for your kid to participate in they should be related in some way IMO as it will help them to excel in them while improving somewhat at the other if only by just through being more powerful. Gymnastics and diving go very well together since they require the athlete to have extremely good body awareness flipping and twisting. Endurance sports like long distance running and swimming tend to go well together as well and you already know about the power sports.

If they are going to be in anything more technical or skill based like baseball or golf it's better to have them in at an early age to develop the necessary coordination and skills for the sports, and if they want to be elite at those technical sports then it's probably best to have them do only that. It's in these technical sports that you see people who are less genetically gifted and the technicians become the elite.

In any case, as for deciding what to go into it's up to you really. As far as age goes I'd say you introduce your kid to as many sports as you can very early on and then let them find something that interests them. If it's a fairly technical sport and they really, really love it then let them keep on doing that. If it's more athletic based depending on how power, strength or endurance based they are introduce them to something similar to things they like to develop other coordination aspects. If it's something common like football or basketball which require pretty much elite fitness with a power bias just avoid too much endurance. Simple stuff like that it seems.

Last edited by Steven Low : 12-04-2007 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:59 PM   #22
Steven Low
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

Well, that's if your kid wants to eventually play sports and compete professionally..

Otherwise I'd just say play as many sports as possible to develop good proprioception, coordination and all that good stuff.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:19 PM   #23
Steven Anderson
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

Because we are talking about elite fitness and elite athletes on this post I suppose I'll comment here. Yet, on another post on the boards right now, "How fit are you?" someone asked the question about scoring. Steven Low answered simply by saying that obtaining a score of 80 one would be considered "one of the fittest athletes on the planet." I agree. Yet on this post someone commented on how 99% of us mortals will never be elite athletes. I disagree. I'm not sure what constitutes in everyones mind what is an elite athlete. Being professional, being on T.V., making millions of dollars? Not to go too off subject here but there are many models and actors(beautiful people) who go undiscovered everyday and will never be recognized for their talents or beauty. Just as there are many elite athletes who will never compete professionaly or on T.V. or in a huge arena or for any sum of money, ever. No one will ever know who they are. Hence, the first ever crossfit games held this summer. What was that guy's name who won or who has the 2:19 Fran? I all ready forgot, yet he is extremely elite. He's fast, strong, agile and would score very high as being one of the fittest athletes on the planet. I guess the reason why everyone brings up Lance Armstrong is because per the media, he is the epitamy of fitness. He is the example. Let's face it, most people still don't know about crossfit or crossfit type workouts. The "way" to get in shape is still to run, bike and do the stairmaster at the gym for long ardous sessions. Most people still have not caught on and this really isn't all that new. Crossfit (the name) is fairly new but this style of keeping fit has been around a while. It's simply too hard for most people. I encounter people everyday (so-called physical and "in shape people"). They just want to keep going on that six mile run. I like to give credit where credit is due. No, not all of us or even most of us here at crossfit are at the elite level, but those that are, are right up there with all the spotlighted people. Think about it next time you perform X amount of double unders and then press X amount of weight over your head and then sprint X amount of meters. You just performed a workout that possibly a professional athlete never has nor maybe could he or she perform as well as you.
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:59 AM   #24
Larry Lindenman
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

I have to tell you, if kids do Crossfit, even if competing in high school athletics, they're getting better exercise programing than 99% of their peers. I would venture a guess that most elite level (professional athletes) got to that level on bodybuilding workouts ripped from the pages of muscle and fitness. The key with kids is to develop as broad an athletic base as possible, early and often. Make sure they have fun and learn life lessons through sports. Specific training at an early age most likely will lead to burn out at an early age. Check out your local HS training program, cutting edge...not! Believe me, superior genetics, excellent sports skill coaching, and desire, will overcome poor general training/conditioning, or "wrong" conditioning for the specific chosen sport. Get your kids on Crossfit, when their Div 1 conditioning coach or Olympic Center coach forces them into a specific training modality, tell them to listen.
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Old 12-05-2007, 08:14 AM   #25
Matt DeMinico
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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Originally Posted by Aaron Trent View Post
I fully agree, and I believe that the main page is misleading when they say the needs of the Olympic athlete are the same as the needs of the elderly woman with the only difference being the scale. Crossfit builds elite fitness monsters, but not elite athletes. The CF athletes are still very good, but not elite.
Sorry Aaron, but I fully disagree with this statement. Your body acts as a system, whether you use those muscles (or energy system) in a sporting event or not. If one part is lacking undergoing atrophy, it will affect the other parts in some manner. Even if your "elite contest" is a one-legged leg press in a machine, the rest of your body needs to be trained beyond just the demands of a one-legged leg press. If even only for the recovery potential, causing greater neuroendocrine response, or other whole-body processes.

Look at Eva's training. As I understand it, Crossfit was her main training regimen, even during her Olympic Skiing career. And when she went to compete in Weightlifting, she didn't ditch the WOD alltogether from what I understand, although she obviously did skew her training towards the O-lifts.

Last edited by Matt DeMinico : 12-05-2007 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:14 AM   #26
Aaron Trent
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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Originally Posted by Matt DeMinico View Post
Sorry Aaron, but I fully disagree with this statement. Your body acts as a system, whether you use those muscles (or energy system) in a sporting event or not. If one part is lacking undergoing atrophy, it will affect the other parts in some manner. Even if your "elite contest" is a one-legged leg press in a machine, the rest of your body needs to be trained beyond just the demands of a one-legged leg press. If even only for the recovery potential, causing greater neuroendocrine response, or other whole-body processes.

Look at Eva's training. As I understand it, Crossfit was her main training regimen, even during her Olympic Skiing career. And when she went to compete in Weightlifting, she didn't ditch the WOD alltogether from what I understand, although she obviously did skew her training towards the O-lifts.
I want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. I am talking about Olympic athletes, not Oly Lifters...

I think you are correct when it comes to some sports, but not all Olympic sports. To be Elite, you will likely have to give up some part of your strength or power base in some area to specialize. It is event specific, though. Your claim that Eva dropped the strict WOD is affirming the truth of what I said. Elite athletes have to specialize, while Grandma does not. She needs strong bones and joints, but I would adamantly advise against training her the same way you train a 100m sprinter, or CX skier, or a shot-putter, she does not need the specialization.
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:40 AM   #27
John Schneider
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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Originally Posted by Matt DeMinico View Post
Sorry Aaron, but I fully disagree with this statement. Your body acts as a system, whether you use those muscles (or energy system) in a sporting event or not. If one part is lacking undergoing atrophy, it will affect the other parts in some manner. Even if your "elite contest" is a one-legged leg press in a machine, the rest of your body needs to be trained beyond just the demands of a one-legged leg press. If even only for the recovery potential, causing greater neuroendocrine response, or other whole-body processes.

Look at Eva's training. As I understand it, Crossfit was her main training regimen, even during her Olympic Skiing career. And when she went to compete in Weightlifting, she didn't ditch the WOD alltogether from what I understand, although she obviously did skew her training towards the O-lifts.
Actually from what Eva told me, she didn't have Crossfit during her Olympic Skiing career, but she wishes she did. She saw a lot of athletes over training and getting injured that could have been avoided with a more varied program.

All in all, I have to say I agree with Steven Low here, but let me put my own spin on it. I think crossfit admits that elite fringe athletes are operating outside of the normand are not the target user for your typical CrossFit programming. Normally the endurance athlete is used as an example, but this would apply to sprinters and strength/ power athletes as well. Those athletes still have the same requirements of all 10 components of fitness, but they are in much higher demand in one or two areas. So, should the elite athlete even in these fringe sports neglect all the other components of fitness? You have to look at the point of diminished returns on your training. Yes, the elite sprinter needs to have their training heavily scewed for speed, power, and strength, but if they are all ready getting a lot of that in their track training and actually running, and are at the point where they are making miniscule improvementes which is what happens as you get closer to the top of the pyramid and reaching your maximal potential (although that miniscule improvement is what wins the Olympics) then maybe some flexibility, agility, or balance training will actually yield higher gains in terms of performance. Is CrossFit a good training program for an elite sprinter, marathoner, or power lifter? No. Is it a good supplemental training program for one of those athletes? maybe.

We have this debate frequently on the judo forum in the fitness section. Someone asks what a good training program would be and most suggest CrossFit type workouts and sprint intervals etc. Then some old school judoka comes in and states the obvious "judo is the best way to get better at judo." Well no kidding, I would never expect that doing Fran alone would make me a champion player, but you can't be on the mat all the time, and even if you could, you reach a point of diminished returns and some supplemental training is just the answer to improve your weaknesses, and keep from getting injured.

Ofcourse if your definition of CrossFit is taking anything and everything that works and using it for your needs, then yes, do CrossFit all the time
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:41 AM   #28
Tom Rawls
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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Originally Posted by Matt DeMinico View Post

Look at Eva's training. As I understand it, Crossfit was her main training regimen, even during her Olympic Skiing career.
Out of curiosity, did Crossfit exist in 1992 when Eva went to Albertville?
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Old 12-05-2007, 12:02 PM   #29
Matt DeMinico
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

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Originally Posted by Aaron Trent View Post
I want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. I am talking about Olympic athletes, not Oly Lifters...

I think you are correct when it comes to some sports, but not all Olympic sports. To be Elite, you will likely have to give up some part of your strength or power base in some area to specialize. It is event specific, though. Your claim that Eva dropped the strict WOD is affirming the truth of what I said. Elite athletes have to specialize, while Grandma does not. She needs strong bones and joints, but I would adamantly advise against training her the same way you train a 100m sprinter, or CX skier, or a shot-putter, she does not need the specialization.
Right, I thought people were saying that using Crossfit wasn't going to be beneficial for the Olympic level 100m sprinter at all. Obviously it shouldn't be his only training, but it could (and I think should) be a part of it.
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Old 12-05-2007, 12:08 PM   #30
Jason M Struck
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Re: goals and elite fitness vs. elite athletes

I used to hate crossfit-random, unplanned smorgasbord.

then i realised that crossfit was SPORT SPECIFIC training for the sport of working out, particularly in events like the named (girls) WODs. As such, it is a wonderful new model for large scale health/fitness/performance, much better than globo-gym that advocates bodybuilding plus cardio.

What it is not is a panacea and everything to everyone. There will come a point in any athlete's career when training must be highly specific to reach new levels in that one narrow event. Crossfit (the national webpage, WOD for 3/2 or 3/1) can not fulfill this role for someone like an elite sprinter.

However, up until say the end of college, I'd rather have a kid (not elite) do something as broad as crossfit (in the conjugate undulating periodization model) for 75% or more of their training. I'd also like them to 'enjoy' playing on the volley ball, wrestling and soccer team until they are 14-17 years old...

That reality is changing because of the 'Tiger Woods' myth... parents and coaches are forcing kids to specialize at younger and younger ages to the detriment of their long term development as athletes and people.
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