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Workout of the Day Questions & performance regarding CrossFit's WOD

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Old 10-06-2005, 03:24 PM   #11
Christopher Sommer
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Aesthetic reasons have nothing to do with performing repetitions correctly; technically correct repetitions are the very bedrock upon which the body is developed for exceptional future performances and require far more maximum power than any number of poorly performed repetitions. It is this foundation of impeccable physical preparation that makes it possible to perform muscle-ups with 150% bodyweight or 120 reps of muscle-ups in 15 minutes. Without this focus on correct physical execution, future performance levels will ALWAYS be sub-par compared to what they could have been.

I would say that 120 muscle-ups, on a single bar no less (which is far more difficult than on the rings), in 15 minutes far surpasses Greg's mere 36 repetitions in eight minutes. Even if we extrapolate that Greg could have maintained his pace, he still only would have achieved 72 reps or 60% of my athletes' total work. Add to this that 240 jump squats plus a back flip on each rep were also performed and I would say that Greg's overall level of work was exceeded quite dramatically.

(Yes I realize that Greg also did thrusters with 95lbs, however at Greg's size that is only approximately 50% of his bodyweight. I believe that 240 jumping squats with back flips adequetely covers this component of the WOD.)

If this was gymnastics, or approached as I am recommending, Greg would have possibly been able to exceed our benchmark of 120 muscle-ups - toe point or not.


Coach Sommer
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Old 10-06-2005, 03:28 PM   #12
Kalen Meine
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That's kinda what I was thinking, I just wonder where the line is between properly completing a task and doing something "power equivalent" in an effort to take it to the wall. Not that I disagree with Roger, Chris, or Coach ("but they disagree!" "You are also right") but it's something to ponder. Does the wallball shot count if you catch it with your throat? (Or does it count for double? ;-)
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Old 10-06-2005, 05:26 PM   #13
Charlie Reid
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I think this comes to an argument over DEGREE of proper execution. I hardly think it would have been that difficult for Greg to lock-out each rep, albeit his time will probably suffer. Personally, i would rather have a slightly slower time with as much quality exercise as my mental and physical capacity allows.

This is not a question of Greg doing a perfect muscle-up AND a backflip with a kettlebell in his teeth. I don't think it is that much to ask that he lock out each rep. If i were to give a percent on form, i would say that Greg was at a 90%, when locking out the reps would have given him another 10%. However, as coach sommer pointed out, over the long-term, these small dividends can equate to far bigger gains in the future. How many times in sport have minute things become the catalyst for HUGE changes in an athlete over time? Something as simple as breathing a little deeper or aligning the head 1 inch to the left. Little things can equate to huge changes over the long-term.

"Training only with perfect form will keep an athlete from ever outputting at maximum wattage."

In response to this, i would speculate that life and sport often demand the impossible, so just as in the case of the high-rep squat cleans (in the Elizabeth WOD), we SHOULD ask the impossible of our bodies so that our efficiency becomes greater. I hope i'm not out of line by saying this, gut Greg's output is still phenomenal (And i hope that is not the point we are arguing), but i think it should be noted that quality under extremely fatiguing conditions should ALWAYS be demanded. If we slip, we slip, but we will slip less next time if the quality of our execution is maintained as far as our focus allows. Crossfit, to me, is a methodology that is equally as, if not more, cognitively demanding as it is physically. Often times our mental capacity will give before our physical, but i think it is important to train that equally as well. To me, Crossfit is more than power output (amount of work per unit of time), it's about quality work in a unit of time. So i guess we need to measure the cost/benefit ratio here.

How perfect should proper form be in the neccessity of yielding the greatest cost/benefit ratio? And what is the purpose of greater wattage output when form suffers? To me, that is like putting a Supercharged v-12 in a Rusted- out AMC Gremlin. The engine is primed and ready to rip, but the chassis brings down the efficiency and performance of that engine. Power output potential is blunted when the efficiency of the movement isn't optimized as completely as it can be. The tool is only as good as the craftsman who wields it, and visa-versa.

My philosophy is that of the best form possible for the longest amount of time (quality AND quantity). Inevitably so, form will decline eventually with the onset of extreme fatigue, but i think it is fundamentally wrong to assume that form will suffer, thus creating a negative mindset from the start.
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Old 10-06-2005, 06:39 PM   #14
Coach
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“Aesthetic reasons have nothing to do with performing repetitions correctly”
They most certainly do in gymnastics.

“Technically correct repetitions...require far more maximum power than any number of poorly performed repetitions.”
If you mean what you’ve said here, I’ve found the exact root of our disagreement. The statement is completely ludicrous.

I know Greg’s stat’s for the workout. I measured. Here’s what he did:
Muscle-up: 36 reps, 200 pounds of bodyweight, 4 feet of travel for center of mass = 28,800 ft-lbs of work
Squat of Thruster: 36 reps, 200 pounds of bodyweight, 2 feet of travel of center of mass= 14,400 ft-lbs of work
Dumbbell of Thruster = 36 reps, 90 pounds of DB’s, 4 feet of travel = 12,960 ft-lbs of work
Total work: 28,800+14,400+12,960=56,160 ft-lbs of work
Average power: 56,160 ft lbs of work/8 minutes= 7,020 ft-lbs per minute

Here’s your kid and my assumptions:
Muscle-ups: 120 reps, 60 pounds of bodyweight, 3 feet of travel for center of mass = 21,600 ft-lbs of work
Squat: 240 reps, 60 pounds of bodyweight, 1.5 feet of travel = 21,600 ft-lbs of work
Total work: 21,600+21,600 = 43,200 ft-lbs of work
Average power: 43,200 ft-lbs of work/15 minutes = 2,880 ft-lbs per minute

Not even close, Coach. Not even close. We can quibble with the anthropometrics and the added value of the flip in the squat but it won’t make you significantly closer to being correct.

No kid has ever or will ever work at the output that Mr. Amundson and the other CrossFit elite do. Not ever. Not anywhere.

If you can find some kid to put out the watts that Greg Amundson, Josh Everett, Grady McDonald, Eddie Lugo...or any of the full grown elite CrossFitters do I'll buy the kid a brand new car and pay for his college.
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Old 10-06-2005, 06:50 PM   #15
Beth Moscov
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Connor Martin is trying! :biggrin:
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Old 10-06-2005, 07:40 PM   #16
Craig Bucher
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When does form matter? Is virtuosity not a desirable component of fitness, or should it be trained outside of the power workout? There is a significant difference between maximum power and average power. Do we care much about maximum power within a workout?

I can FEEL the answer(I am not as good with words as some of you are), but why would we ever do squat cleans versus power cleans if we are looking for maximum AVERAGE power? Is that not a similar argument to performing complete reps?

I am not trying to challenge anyone, I know there are fitter people than I. My questions are to learn from people who have more experience than I have obtained. There is no need to make any offers if I can outperform your elite. These are simply the thoughts I have had while reading this thread. Is it better for me to do 3/4 push-ups, if I can perform them 2x as fast as full push-ups(50% more work). Is the argument that a slip in form is ok if we are working hard, or to do whatever it takes to have the highest average power output?
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Old 10-06-2005, 10:00 PM   #17
Kalen Meine
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I have to concur, Craig. And while I sense both Coaches getting backed into corners and showing their teeth, I think it boils down to them both being right. Power is important, but I seem to remember nine other things on the list of attributes to develop, and all of them can contribute to power. Would I (not that, as a non-coach, and a non-uber stud, would have any right), tell Greg his reps didn't count? Nope, he pretty hauled from beneath the rings to above when I checked the vid. Would I yell reminders to hit lockout? Sure. It's the whole "virtousity" and gymnastic progression thing.

And not to quibble, but I'm pretty sure they are close, since, if we want to be fair about this, we need to know power output per pound, yes? I mean, we solve debates about relative strength as a fraction of bodyweight, and it seems to me we throw around power-to-weight ratio, albeit of a different kind, pretty often.
Kid: 48 ft-lbs per minute per pound of meat.
Greg: 35.1 ft-lbs per minute per pound of meat. Kid seems to win. Which shouldn't be surprising, honestly, since he has greatly lung area relative to his weight, and other basic benefits courtesy of geometry. And once again, this doesn't mean much, since the sheer humor value of pitting a kid against an uber-hoss like Greg tells you the value of absolutes a fair portion of the time.
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Old 10-06-2005, 11:16 PM   #18
Christopher Sommer
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Interesting turn that this debate has taken. My original post referred to the fact that Greg's execution of his muscle-ups was sub par (true) and that correcting this technical error would enable him to enjoy substantially greater future gains in his ability to both perform high rep and weighted muscle-ups (also true as well as undeniable). In addition, it was written so that other CrossFitters, who were perhaps making the same mistakes, would be able to apply the same corrections and enjoy the same benefits. It was in no way an intended criticism of the CrossFit methodolgy of metabolic conditioning. Now we seem to have morphed into a discussion that they, the muscle-ups, were performed incorrectly on purpose and that that demonstrates superior efficacy as it is much more difficult to move a larger mass.

Let's examine the various points:

1) Coach Sommer - “Aesthetic reasons have nothing to do with performing repetitions correctly”
Coach Glassman - "They most certainly do in gymnastics."

I will assume, sir, that you did not intentionally misunderstand my statement and were not simply attempting to dodge the issue. If you were to re-read my original critique of Greg's performance carefully, you will see that at no time did I make mention to the aesthetic elements of his performance; I was not, and am not, interested in whether or not his legs were straight or toes pointed. I did however take exception to his being portrayed as an example of muscle-up excellence when the pullup and dip portions of the muscle-ups stopped well short of full extension, as this makes the muscle-ups significantly easier and in no way imparts a greater physiological benefit.

My athletes perform the repetitions correctly, to build the greatest possible physical capacity, so that that capacity can in turn be applied to aesthetically pleasing gymnastics. In my program, physical capacity ALWAYS comes first. Our muscle-ups are performed with full extension, top and bottom, simply because this yields the greatest long term gains.


2) Coach Sommer - “Technically correct repetitions...require far more maximum power than any number of poorly performed repetitions.”
Coach Glassman - "If you mean what you’ve said here, I’ve found the exact root of our disagreement. The statement is completely ludicrous."

Based on your current disagreement with my preference for correct technical execution and your seeming preference for what seems to be the most expediate (something that I find somewhat puzzling as in the past you have always been a stickler for the highest levels of execution); I take it to mean that henceforth you will find a high number of half range chin-ups done quickly far superior to a fewer number of full range of motion chin-ups, or a higher number of 1/4 squats with a greater load superior to full deep squat repetitions with a lighter load. Or perhaps we should investigate the efficacy of half range of motion deadlifts. As you said, a ludicrous statement indeed.


3) Coach Glassman - "I know Greg’s stat’s for the workout. I measured. Here’s what he did . . . ."

Actually this is a rather pointless exercise in anthropormorphic mathematics and has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Greg's muscle-ups were performed incorrectly. Muscle mass and the exertion required to move that mass are proportionate to that individual athlete. Yes, Greg is larger and had to move a bigger load a farther distance. Yes, he also carries a proportionately higher muscle mass to deal with it. A larger heavier engine has to produce more power in order to effectively move itself. Being larger is not a virtue, its simply larger.


4) Coach Glassman - "No kid has ever or will ever work at the output that Mr. Amundson and the other CrossFit elite do. Not ever. Not anywhere."
"If you can find some kid to put out the watts that Greg Amundson, Josh Everett, Grady McDonald, Eddie Lugo...or any of the full grown elite CrossFitters do I'll buy the kid a brand new car and pay for his college."

I will ignore the fact that Josh Everett, Grady McDonald and Eddie Lugo were all exceptional athletes before beginning CrossFit, as this entire statement is based on the fact that a smaller athlete, regardless of their athletic excellence, will never be able generate the same wattage as a larger due to their smaller size. I will let JJ Gregory know (please check the avatar picture to the left: 135 lbs., Junior Olympic National Champion on Still Rings, deadlifted 400lbs (nearly triple bodyweight) on his first day of weight lifting class, 48 consecutive dead hang chin ups (NOT kipping), 30 second legs together planche after pushing up from a prone position on the floor, three iron cross pullouts by himself etc. etc.) that you find his athletic achievements without merit in comparison simply because of his low bodyweight.

If I have assumed incorrectly, please let me know and I will inform him that the check is in the mail.

I will also let the other young men know that their achievements of 120 muscle-ups in 15 minutes, as well as a single muscle-up with nearly 150% bodyweight, are also without merit due to their small stature.


Coach, what surprises me the most is not the fact that you made a mistake, but that you appear to be unwilling to admit it and move forward. You have tried to cloud the issue by turning an observation of incorrect technique into a debate of the worthiness of the CrossFit method. With that I find no disagreement: CrossFit is a fine program that has done, and continues to do, an excellent job in preparing individuals athletically. And I am proud to be a part of it.


Yours in Fitness,
Coach Sommer
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Old 10-06-2005, 11:36 PM   #19
Tyler Hass
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I talked to Coach about this a few hours ago. When it comes to range of motion, line of action and amount of work performed, locking out makes it a slightly better movement. In the future, Greg A. will definitely be encouraged to lock out his arms on the dip because there are quantifiable benefits to doing so. Pointing your toes is neither good nor bad in these terms. It's extraneous to the goals of the CrossFit program. However, to say that his reps count for nothing is missing the point. He is still performing a ridiculous amount of work in a short amount of time. It wasn't pretty, but there's no doubt that he increased the entropy of the universe.
One of the things that makes CrossFit interesting is that all of the workouts handicap different types of people. This workout handicaps light people because of the external load on the thrusters and heavy people because of the muscle-ups. Coach Sommer's kids would have no problem cruising through the muscle-ups, but would be stopped in their tracks by the 90 lbs thrusters. Looking at power to weight is definitely an interesting measure, but total power and ultimately time to completion are the measures we're counting.

Tyler
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Old 10-06-2005, 11:42 PM   #20
Eric Moffit
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EDIT: this first paragraph was meant to be in response to Kalen.

if youre smaller, youre doing less work per rep to begin w/...you shouldnt get a bonus because youre lighter and therefore doing less work per repetition. for example, if both Greg (200lbs) and one of Coach Sommer's gymnastic phenomenons (we'll say 100lbs) were to do the same muscleup workout in the same amount of time, Greg's power output would be about twice that of the future Olympian because he moved twice the weight per repetition. theres no reason to look at power output relative to weight because weight is already factored in (power = force x distance / time...where force equals the weight moved (bodyweight + any external weight)).

my opinion (for what its worth), keep it as clean as possible while pushing hard. form is sure to decline as you fatigue, but you shouldnt let it go completely down the tube for your all important time. at the same time, intensity is a key component of making these workouts effective, so you need to be moving. my problem w/ the video of Greg is that he doesnt go to full extension in the early reps. i know he could kick my ***, but i feel like the early reps should be solid.

one nice thing about my daily routine (warmup, focus or ME, WOD, stretch) is getting to focus specifically on form during the focus portion. ive noticed this work translates into my workouts when im going for time. plus, having already spent time focusing on form, i dont feel quite the need to focus too hard on it during the WOD.
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