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

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Old 06-15-2003, 11:39 AM   #1
Matt Cullen
Departed Matt Cullen is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Posts: 46

I have been looking at a couple of wod and most of the olyimpic moves go quite high in the rep ranges (about10-15reps)
How can you build on increasing your strenght and weights u use if you go this high. I also saw some workout where you benched your bodyweight 12 times, for me this would be around 65kg and I can only bench that for 4 reps. Would just do it in multiple sets?

Hope you guys can show me the light
Thanks Matt Cullen.
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Old 06-15-2003, 12:40 PM   #2
David Wood
Departed David Wood is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,303
Hello Matt:

Well, I don't know if I'm the best person to answer your questions, but I'll try. Others will have a somewhat different perspective, so you'll want to pay attention to any other responses you get, too.

First of all, I really gotta urge you to read the "What is CrossFit?" section on the website (link on the left side of the "Main" page), and the "What is Fitness?" and "CrossFit Foundations" sections that you'll find there. Those pages explain an awful lot of what CrossFit training is about, its goals, and how it is structured to go after those goals. (Hint: it's not always and only about maximum strength.)

Secondly, I urge you to subscribe to the CrossFit Journal (the best fitness information money can buy), and pick up the back issues, too, if you can swing it. In the Journal, you get even more information about the scope and rationale for the program, how (and why) it works.

Basically, CrossFit is about maximizing athletic performance across a very wide range of parameters, not just maximum (limit load) strength. The program seeks to enhance an athlete's:
- muscular and metabolic endurance,
- cardiovascular response,
- skeletal strength,
- neural system adaptations, and even
- endocrine (hormonal) adaptations.

You can't do all that with the same program that would go directly after max strength (although, interestingly, just about EVERYONE finds their maximum strength improving while on the CrossFit program).

So, you're probably right . . . if your only goal is to improve your 1-rep max single in any set of lifts, then your program should only have days with 12-15 reps for that lift pretty rarely. IMHO, if that's your goal, most days you should follow Pavel's advice of "3-5 sets of 3-5 reps", with an occasional (every 2 weeks?) day of testing out your new limit strength with heavy singles or doubles.

Other people have devised a staggering multitude of strategies for improving performance in the "big 3" of powerlifting or Olympic lifting. The Westside Barbell Club is widely respected for producing champion powerlifters (just Google on that name, you'll find them), and, around here, Dan John is THE MAN for Olympic lifting (he would probably demur the honor, but he really knows his stuff).

So, if you read all of this and do the necessary research (and, unfortunately, no on can do it for you) to decide what you want to pursue, you may come back to CrossFit (smart guy!).

If so, you'll probably want to make adaptions to the WOD (many of us do). Most days, the WOD suggests a specified weight (sometimes as a % of BW) to be used for a specified # of reps, or time, or rounds of exercise. Sometimes it just says to do a specific # of rounds, with a low time for the total package being the goal. And sometimes it lets you pick your own weight, and the "score" is the weight used divided by the time taken (encouraging you to pick the biggest weight you can use without compromising too much speed).

I usually prefer to lower the weight as needed to hit the specified number or rounds (or minutes). On timed WODs, I find I get the best score (weight used / time required) with a markedly "light" weight . . . usually about 10% or 20% less than I think I "ought" to be using.

In general, you should feel free to make the changes that YOUR body needs to get through the WOD in a survivable manner. If the WOD calls for 12 reps of BP at 100% BW, and you can do four, you've got a couple of options:
-- lower the weight to a level that you CAN do 12 consecutive reps
-- break the 12 reps into multiple sets with a little rest as possible between them (you may be able to do 4 reps, then rack the weight and rest for as little as 30 seconds, then get another 3 or 4, then rest, then get 2 or 3 . . . you get the idea).
-- just do the 4 (or however many) reps you *can* do with the specified weight and move on to the next step of the WOD

I generally prefer the middle option unless I know that the weight will require significant rest periods (over 60 seconds) in the middle of the set . . . then I go to the "lower the weight" option. YOU will have to find what works best for your body (note that it may not be the same choice every day).

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Old 06-15-2003, 12:57 PM   #3
Matt Cullen
Departed Matt Cullen is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Posts: 46
Thanks for a reply. Am already a suscriber to the journal, sometimes I get a little confused but what u said makes sense. Cheers for the effort.

Thanks Matt Cullen
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