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

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Old 08-13-2003, 01:54 PM   #1
Travis John Mulroy
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I told a friend of mine about crossfit. He is fairly knowledgable about powerlifting, and he liked much of what Crossfit is doing (especially the use of high and low rep O-lifts). However, he has one MAJOR complaint. He thinks that using the same routine (WOD) for everyone makes no sense. This theory actually makes him angry, and he claims that it defies all science and evidence. His claim is that people have different weaknesses that they should focus on, and he cites Westside Lifting as an example of this theory.

Can anyone summerize the logic behind not focusing on individual weaknesses and using the same workouts for everyone? I'd like to have something direct, clear, and simple to tell him. Thanks.
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Old 08-13-2003, 02:21 PM   #2
Lincoln Brigham
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It's a moot point. I doubt that every person who does the W.O.D. does it the same way. I suspect the folks here will post the W.O.D. knowing full well that people will modify and adapt it to their specific needs. The W.O.D. the day is a suggestion, not a commandment written in stone.

Besides, your buddy is preparing for a specific need. His point about working weaknesses is valid when there is a specific goal, e.g. squatting, bench pressing, deadlifting strength. Crossfit seems to be more about all-purpose fitness, not specific strength.
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:53 PM   #3
David Werner
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Lincoln has it exactly right. Crossfit is about preparing us for the WIDEST variety possible of physical demands, with that in mind how in the world could you work on weaknesses, they are literally endless. The reason the WOD is the same for everyone is that it focuses on basic movements like powerfull hip extention.

Keep in mind, the Westside folks are oriented toward powerlifting competition - a well defined set of tasks. Crossfit acknowledges that you sacrifice maximum performance at any given physical task, in return you get near world class (or actual world class) performance at nearly ALL physical tasks. This is not an unreasonable claim given that the basics of human motion and power generation don't change from sport to sport.

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Old 08-13-2003, 05:45 PM   #4
Larry Lindenman
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Just wanted to echo Lincoln and David's excellent thoughts. Your friend is training for Powerlifting, he is willing to live with some weaknesses necessitated by his sport ie. at times excessive body fat, less power generation, reletively low strength to weight ratio, decreased cardiovascular fitness, etc. to work on his weak areas as precieved by his sport ie. weak triceps lowers bench poundage. Have him define weaknesses and you will see his defination is probably confined to powerlifting. Jusst my two cents.
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Old 08-13-2003, 06:08 PM   #5
Travis John Mulroy
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Thanks for the responses, but I'm still a bit unsatisfied. Here's an example of my difficulty. My hamstrings are proportionally VERY weak compared to my quads, resulting in a bad squat form. Now, my friend's (vehement) claim is that unless I focus on exercises for my hamstrings, they will remain proportionally weak. Thus, I will never be able to do the squats in the WODs with good form, and I will never become well rounded. The hamstrings will remain proportionally weak.

Even if Crossfit is designed to make one as well rounded as possible, isn't it true that people will have different natural weaknesses, which need to be focused on in order to become well rounded? Maybe it's true that one can't focus on ALL of his weakness, but shouldn't he target his largest weakness? How can one become well rounded with great disproportions between the large muscle groups?

Shouldn't one use specific WODs that target these large weaknesses?

PS I think crossfit is great, and I don't mean to start an argument. It's just that my friend's point about needing to focus on weaknesses in order to become well rounded seems right to me. I'm thinking about mixing the WODs with days in which I target my large weaknesses. Is this a good idea?

More feedback would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-13-2003, 07:03 PM   #6
Patrick Johnston
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In my opinion, one of the great things about CrossFit is that it actually exposes any weaknesses one may have. I also believe that by doing the WODs, these weaknesses will, out of necessity, be improved upon. This has been my experience. When I started, I felt that my pull-ups were a real weakness. When these came up in the WODs, I made a special effort to really hammer them. As a result, pull-ups are no longer what I would consider to be a weakness. Now, I feel like my deadlift is a real weakness. I have been concentrating on it, and it too has improved. Having said all that, I think that some minor work, in addition to the WOD, can be very beneficial in improving weak areas. I hope this helps.
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Old 08-13-2003, 08:01 PM   #7
Travis John Mulroy
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That does help alot, but I have a question. What exactly do you mean by "some minor work" on your weak spots? Do you set aside one or two days a week to really focus on the deadlift (proper form, heavy weight, etc), or do you do a little extra deadlift work a couple times a week after your WOD? Or perhaps something else alltogether? I'd just like to know so I can think about how best to organize my workouts. Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-13-2003, 08:56 PM   #8
Robert Wolf
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I frequently train "weak spots" in that I may emphasize walking on my hands for a month or more doing varying amounts of them before or after the WOD very much in accordance with Pavels' Grease the Groove principles. My "thing" is capoeira and this emphasis has paid off quite well.

Your friends anger is perhaps misguided in that on the surface Westsides Conjugate method is very cookie cutter and can look quite a bit like Crossfit (Max Effort press day, Speed squat/DL etc.) The weaknesses your friend mentions are only observed by a knowledgable coach (Louie Simons, Dave Tate) and a solution is prescribed. Crossfit is no different. The WOD is a starting point as are the areas of emphasis in the Conjugate Method of Westside. Both methodologies are based on sound principles and the bottom line is they deliver.

As to addressing your hamstring issue the WOD constantly trains the posterior chain (please read the Crossfit Journal covering the press, push press, push jerk...the concept of muted hip function is covered extensively) DL, Cleans, snatches, sprints, rowing, KB swings etc. The training stimulus is there as to whether the technique is there that is up to you. Finding a qualified coach or having the ability for excellent self analysis is key.

I hope this helps

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Old 08-14-2003, 04:15 AM   #9
David Heyer
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In my opinion, the biggest weakness most people have isn't with a physical limitation, it is the mental limitation. Most people are too tired to workout, too much work to do, the kids, etc.
The WOD changes everyday, therefore greatly reducing the weakness in your body/mind. Pushing through a WOD when PUKIE is on you backside is one step closer to losing the weakness!
Let your friend talk the talk, you continue to walk the walk.
Pain is only weakness leaving the body!
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Old 08-14-2003, 05:53 AM   #10
Barry Cooper
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I always seem to have a spare two cents. If I could put it all together at once, maybe I could retire.

Be that as it may: Smart people put this program together. Some of them may well be better Powerlifters than your friend, even in absolute terms.

If he tries CrossFit for a month, I can just about guarantee he won't lose strength. I haven't. What he will gain is a FIRST HAND understanding of how this stuff works. Same with you. I don't if you've actually done the WOD with any consistency, but the saying is true: "everybody has a plan until they get hit." WOD is something other than anything you've tried, I can almost guarantee you. I see people on message boards like this all over handwringing over this workout or that workout. Screw what people tell you. Just try stuff and see what works for you, but try it long enough to actually give it a chance. I would say that's a month in most cases.

As an aside, running will work your hams pretty well, and we do a lot of that. Westside guys won't usually think of stuff like that b/c they usally weigh a lot, and running is not something they think about, at least in my (admittedly superficial) impression.

CrossFit does so many movements that you will be training every part of your body on a regular basis.

NOw that I think about it, let's make it four cents: we do deadlifts constantly, why not substitute Stiff Legged or Romanian Deadlifts? Change the weights to make sense and you're good to go. I did 63 deadlifts yesterday (broken into sets). If you did those Stiff-Legged, you'd working on your weak hams, and improving your wind too.
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