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

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Old 02-04-2004, 04:17 PM   #1
Michael Halbfish
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Like many of you, I am participating in the Pullup Quest. I think it is great that so many people are getting involved and participating. At the same time, I think it is time to play the Devil's Advocate. What is the purpose and goal of Crossfit? Isn't variety and all around fitness at the core? Is this really the best and most productive way for everyone to train? Is it possible that Coach might (maybe not even consciously) start to skew his workouts more toward pullups? What are the real purposes to doing pullups? What is gained by increasing numbers? Could there be better ways to supplement training or better exercises?

It seems to me there might be many other exercises that might yield better returns on all around fitness and athleticism. Also variety might be better. Here are some examples that I think might be more productive...
Squat Thrust/Burpee (ie a daily prisoners workout)
Tabata Squats and Tabata Hindu Pushups.
L-Sits and Handstand training
Deadlifts (ie Pavel's PTP system)
Turkish Getup
Clean & Jerks
Kettlebell swings, snatches, etc.

Are we staying balanced with pushing actions? I think in sports and in life pushing actions may be more useful than pulling. It seems the body has more strenght for pushing. This seems to me an evolutionary or natural indicator that this is the case.
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Old 02-04-2004, 05:45 PM   #2
Jim Butts
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The latest issue of Pure Power magazine has an article about John Welbourn, 6'5" 310 pound starting guard for the Philadelphia Eagles. He says that he used to do 'typical' training for football players until an injury in his first pro game forced him to reevaluate. He found a trainer that did things differently, and he now says his workouts "have become very specific and timed to the second. A lot of my focus is high-intensity type stuff... I don't take a lot of rest periods... I would say one of the biggest gains I've made on my bench and my upper body strength was when I started doing a lot of pullups and dips... When I started doing this I really saw my bench jump through the roof... I've actually looked at my biggest measure, the way that I know I'm strong, which is by how many pullups I can do." He lists his best performance doing pullups as 20 reps with a 45-pound plate hung from his waist... and 30 without a plate. "At 310 pounds, I don't know many guys who can do that. When I was able to do that, I was the strongest I've been in my whole life." (By the way, Functional Training for Sports author Mike Boyle says that the average number of pullups done by NFL linemen tested at his facility is 8-10!)
Just some food for thought...}
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Old 02-04-2004, 06:12 PM   #3
Kevin Roddy
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I think you need to find your own practical applications for pullups. As a gymnast, pullups are extraordinarily important to me. Crossfit is also helping me develop routine endurance (Probably the most important factor) and particular strength for other events.

Of course, being a gymnast, Crossfit may be more suited to me than a non-gymnast. But what's important here is the methodology, not the workouts themselves. If you have a specific goal in mind, it's not difficult to create your own workouts in Crossfit style with that goal.

My two cents, of course.

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Old 02-04-2004, 08:07 PM   #4
Barry Cooper
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I'm curious: do you do the WOD on a consistent (3+ times/week) basis, as written?
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Old 02-05-2004, 05:20 AM   #5
Chris Longley
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I'm also doing the pull-up quest and I can see your point about variety. However, I would say that most people are very weak at pull ups and as coach states in this month's journal, it's one of only a few real pulling movements that people do compared to the number of pushing movements there are (the journal covers this a lot deeper).

Therefore, i would say that it's a case of bringing pull-up performance up to the the same level as the pushing movements that we perform and hence the quest will actually balance out our total performance.

I have found that pull-ups have really helped my grappling ability for the precise reason that they have strengthened the myriad of pulling movements that are needed - thats my reason for doing them.
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Old 02-05-2004, 09:34 AM   #6
David Werner
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We are far weaker in the pulling motions than we should be.

Functional? How about paddling, pulling an Elk you just shot to a stable position on a hill so you can clean it, climbing a tree to get away from mother bear, pulling a fishing net into your boat, hauling your food up onto a ledge to keep it away from marauding animals, fighting, pulling your spear out of your foe, the list of functional movements that depend on pulling strength is endless.

Furthermore shoulder stability and health depends heavily on Lat and rhomboid strength, how many people do you know with injured shoulders? Again, in our modern fitness culture most humans are far weaker than they should be in the pulling motions.

Is the current emphasis on pull-ups slightly unbalanced? Sure, but we are trying to correct an imbalance. Pushing motions are worked on plenty in most peoples fitness strategies.

The observation that the body is stronger in pushing than in pulling motions is confusing cause and effect. We're not weak in pulling because of genetics but because of neglect.

Dave Werner
Crossfit North
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Old 02-05-2004, 10:06 AM   #7
bill fox
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Great post. On-line compititon is a great and dangerous thing. I got caught up in training for KB comps and lost an incredible amount of "fitness" in a short time. Despite winning the master's division at the Philly comp, I was sore for a week after doing a workout a few days later with Steve Maxwell that 3 months earlier would have been hard, but fine.

If your weak in pulling, cycling in the challange might be a good motivator, but I'd watch that it doesn't replace the "cross-fit" definition for any extended period of time.

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Old 02-05-2004, 10:39 AM   #8
Ross Burke
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I think it's best to concentrate on your weak points and try to bring them up to your strong points. So if for all these people, pullups are the weak point of their physical development, then concentrating on pullups is a great idea. However, if they, like me, suck at olympic lifting, it makes a lot more sense to me for them to try to get themselves up to say 1.5 bodyweight clean and jerk than try to go from 25 to 40 pullups, considering 25 pullups is already pretty damn good. Plus the pullups will improve anyway just from the WOD most likely. Also, maybe if they're going to concentrate on pullups so much, they could make them even more effective by doing L-pullups, one of my favorite exercises.
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Old 02-05-2004, 11:50 AM   #9
Chris Kantarjiev
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Not just pulling, but grip strength, too. And abs! My cross-sports application for pullups is obvious - I'm a climber. Doing pullup sets has made it really clear how weak my grip is, how much my abs are getting worked, as well as the large pulling muscles breaking down.

I'm trying to do the WOD as written 5x/week, as well as bumping up the pullup count. As far as I can tell after only a couple of weeks of doing the WOD, improving my pullups will improve my WOD scores! :-)
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Old 02-09-2004, 04:35 PM   #10
Michael Halbfish
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Sorry, it took so long to respond to you. Yes, for the most part I do the c-fit workout consistently. I also supplement it a bit ... primarily with tabata squats every morning, yoga, long distance running, and other assorted things that are more along the lines of old time strongman training.
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