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

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Old 01-09-2010, 02:15 PM   #1
Ivan Wolfe
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Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit


In a recent article on his Starting Strength website
("The Novice Effect"), Rippetoe made some interesting comments regarding CrossFit (link is wfs, of course):

Quote:
The vast majority of programs don’t make use of the novice effect to its full potential. CrossFit is an example of a training method that neglects to make full use of the fact that strength will increase rapidly if you ask it to, and that a strength increase makes all other fitness parameters increase along with it in an untrained person, male or female. It works very well since it is most people’s first exposure to an exercise protocol that’s supposed to be hard, and the impression of most inexperienced people who have tried it is very positive. P90X works well for the same reason, as does HIT, Turbo-Jam, the first week of football practice, and all participation in the first phases of any reasonably challenging sport. A strenuous physical effort – no matter what it is – acts as a stimulus for adaptation, up until the point that the adaptation occurs and the program fails to further progressively load.
This failure may be inherent in the program, like HIT-type Nautilus or Hammer Strength training, which rapidly exhausts the potential of one or two sets of about 10 reps to failure on singlejoint/single “bodypart” or “muscle group” machines to continue to produce enough systemic stress to drive an adaptation. Or it may be a function of the inability of the programmers to utilize the tools properly, since CrossFit certainly embraces the concepts of training useful movements that affect the body systemically.
First, a caveat: I don't want this to turn into a "why Rippetoe left/was kicked out of CrossFit" or anything like that (I don't want this thread to get closed). I posted this in the Fitness section because I felt it was a good spur to discuss the philosophy of fitness.

Here are my initial thoughts:

1. Strength is what Rippetoe does, and I've read all his books (except the recent Mean Ol' Mr. Gravity). He knows his stuff and he is right that maximal strength positively affects all other types of fitness (while this is not true of other fitness domains).

2. However, methinks Rippetoe is too focused on strength here. The goal of CrossFit is not maximal strength - just enough strength.

3. I also think the CFSB overcomes some of these problems that Rippetoe has with CF.

Other thoughts?
 
Old 01-09-2010, 02:36 PM   #2
Shane Skowron
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

How does an increase in strength (say, adding 20# to your back squat) necessitate an improvement in cardiovascular endurance?

Last edited by Shane Skowron; 01-09-2010 at 02:46 PM..
 
Old 01-09-2010, 02:42 PM   #3
Joshua Morgan
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Can you provide a link? I'd like to see the discussion that was involved in his statement.
 
Old 01-09-2010, 02:45 PM   #4
Mauricio Leal
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
Someone explain to me how strength improves cardiovascular endurance.
Not directly, but it goes something like:

If you initially can lift 10% of your 1RM, say, 50 times, and then you double your 1RM over some period of time, that original 10% is now only 5% of your new 1RM and doing it 50 times should be relatively easy. The converse is not true though, meaning if you just worked the hell out of 10% of 1RM for 50+ reps, you would not increase your 1RM substantially, although you would increase your ability to perform that particular endurance set. These are extreme examples, but the general idea is the point.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:51 PM   #5
Donald Lee
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauricio Leal View Post
Not directly, but it goes something like:

If you initially can lift 10% of your 1RM, say, 50 times, and then you double your 1RM over some period of time, that original 10% is now only 5% of your new 1RM and doing it 50 times should be relatively easy. The converse is not true though, meaning if you just worked the hell out of 10% of 1RM for 50+ reps, you would not increase your 1RM substantially, although you would increase your ability to perform that particular endurance set. These are extreme examples, but the general idea is the point.
You're talking about muscular endurance, not cardiovascular endurance.
 
Old 01-09-2010, 02:55 PM   #6
Shane Skowron
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
You're talking about muscular endurance, not cardiovascular endurance.
Exactly.

How does an increase in strength necessitate an increase in one's VO2Max, resting heart rate, lung capacity, etc?
 
Old 01-09-2010, 02:58 PM   #7
Nathan Kulas
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Thats not cardiovascular improvement though - thats muscular endurance and has extreme diminishing returns - and the effect is not directly affected by strength improvements, so much as the training used to get the strength - e.g., the 1RM and 3 rep training will not improve your your 10% 1RM repetitions, so much as the 6-12 reps at 60-70% and the 5-8 reps at the 70-80% range will.
(edit: got beat to the punch. ^^)

However, I would venture to say that if you train at a specific amount (e.g. 200# - lets call it 85% 1RM to begin) and increase your repetitions on that, it is likely that you will see improvements in your 1RM, such that eventually it becomes 80% or 75% of your 1RM. So I would say the converse IS true.

Also, strength training doesn't help other aspects of fitness: agility, balance, flexibility, etc.

He seems to think of fitness as "the ability to lift heavy things" which is terribly, terribly wrong. Other aspects of fitness also benefit from the novice effect - endurance, etc.
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Old 01-09-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
Shane Skowron
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mauricio Leal View Post
Not directly, but it goes something like:

If you initially can lift 10% of your 1RM, say, 50 times, and then you double your 1RM over some period of time, that original 10% is now only 5% of your new 1RM and doing it 50 times should be relatively easy. The converse is not true though, meaning if you just worked the hell out of 10% of 1RM for 50+ reps, you would not increase your 1RM substantially, although you would increase your ability to perform that particular endurance set. These are extreme examples, but the general idea is the point.
Take someone who has a 600# deadlift and give him a 700# deadlift. That increase in strength doesn't mean he's going to be able to do 50x125# deadlifts any faster than if his deadlift was 600#, because a set of 50 reps requires cardiovascular endurance.

We can even look at the 2008 Games 30x155# c&j event. Guys with bigger c&j's tended to do better, but the guys with the biggest c&j (Max Mormont) did not win. Why? Because 30 reps requires cardiovascular endurance that simply cannot be obtained from a pure increase in strength.

Last edited by Shane Skowron; 01-09-2010 at 03:07 PM..
 
Old 01-09-2010, 03:03 PM   #9
Andrew Williams
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Rip's 100% correct, following the mainpage wod for 2.5 years my shoulder press only improved 5 pounds. In a month and a half following starting strength it increased by 30 pounds.

Quote:
How does an increase in strength (say, adding 20# to your back squat) necessitate an improvement in cardiovascular endurance?
There's some capillary changes
 
Old 01-09-2010, 03:33 PM   #10
Donald Lee
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Re: Rippetoe's recent comments on Crossfit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Williams View Post
Rip's 100% correct, following the mainpage wod for 2.5 years my shoulder press only improved 5 pounds. In a month and a half following starting strength it increased by 30 pounds.


There's some capillary changes
Capillary density is improved by bodybuilding/higher rep stuff, not pure strength work.
 
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