More CF, I’m not sure why.

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Oh good lawd, am I actually dedicating another blog post to the CrossFit universe? The comments section of the last post was simply getting too long… and that’s excuse I’ll use.

I’m going to get a little picky and pedantic here, for the simple reason of having to avoid this argument in the future. CF doesn’t do Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting. Once these lifts leave the max force generation realm and become high rep WODs, it ceases being Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting. In fact, one of the common complaints against CF is the emphasis on ‘Olympic Lifting’ (simply called ‘Weightlifting’ outside of the US), when in reality, Olympic Lifting is a max effort lift. In fact that was how the lifts evolved, to simply get a buttload of weight over your head ONCE. So even though the movements look similar, it could be argued that a high rep clean and jerk shouldn’t be called ‘Olympic Lifting.’ Of course the same goes for powerlifting. As I wrote before, mention to Louie Simmons that CFers ‘powerlift’ and he’ll probably slap you.

Now this brings up a point. Are people who use deadlifts, squats and bench press powerlifters? Competitive powerlifters would say heck no. Same with Olympic weightlifters. So are people who put random, intense combos together Crossfitters? Hmmm…

Danny Segelin wrote: “CF’s main issue is the quality control. They have affiliates all over the place teaching people how to squat or deadlift – and as often as not, it’s unsafe. Just because someone knows how to do the workouts doesn’t mean they can teach them. Many “certified” instructors don’t even have a rudimentary knowledge of anatomy. How can you be a certified trainer if you don’t understand HOW and WHY the hamstrings work in the squat?”

This perception (one that, in my experience with many CrossFitters, I tend to agree with) is considerably different from what Steve C wrote:

“In the vast majority of instructional media coming out of the site the focus is on teaching or coaching others. There is an emphasis in understanding the what the how and the why, and how to teach it to others. That’s an important differentiator for me – CF doesn’t just want you to do, it wants you to understand.”

The list below is always pointed out by the CFers from the HQ homepage, and Brian Degennaro mentions it again in his post.:

CrossFitters adhere to the 10 components of fitness:

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
2. Stamina
3. Strength
4. Flexibility
5. Power
6. Speed
7. Coordination
8. Agility
9. Balance
10. Accuracy

4 always gets me. There is NO joint mobility component to the CF model (no, not your ‘modified’ CF model, and just being able to do deep overhead squats doesn’t count). And 10 doesn’t seem to really fall into the general preparedness protocol too well either. I won’t even get into my spiel about ‘strength,’ since I’ve done that many times before. No, CF is not the tool box.

Danny Segelin also wrote:

“CrossFit is a wonderful way to increase work capacity but it would not be a good tool to train people for SPECIFIC physical challenges (i.e. sport) do to its general nature.”

Let’s take that a little further, not using my own words. This is from Brian’s blog:

“CrossFitters attempt to be average runners, average gymnasts, average powerlifters, average weightlifters, average rowers, and average so on in their quest to ultimate fitness. They do NOT specialize. There is no such thing as a strength or weakness for a CrossFitter. They are slightly above average at everything.”

C+ students, all across the board, eh?.

“So a CrossFitter is defined as someone who wants to be neither good nor bad at any athletic or physical endeavor. CrossFitters make up affiliates and affiliates make up CrossFit but we still haven’t defined what CrossFit is. Is CrossFit the aggregate of all CrossFitters? If so, then that means CrossFitters must CrossFit in order to be deemed “CrossFitters.” A paradox? Yes. I think Chip was trying too hard to look for a definition of CrossFit. There is a pretty obvious definition once you dig deep enough into the old Journal articles and interviews with Glassman.”

I’m not trying ‘too hard,’ I came up with my definition super easy (which is pretty much the one Brian is talking about, deep within those CF journals) But I’m going to guess not everyone will agree with Brian’s definition. “Forging Elite Fitness” doesn’t mean striving for ‘adequate,’ or ‘average,’ does it? But I do think Brian is onto something here (and should open another can of worms for folks who aren’t me):

“If you specialize you are not a CrossFitter. You can utilize elements of CrossFit to bring up your weaknesses but you are doing CrossFit with an emphasis on ______. You defeat the purpose of CF and therefore cannot deem yourself or anything that you do as CrossFit. If you are doing Starting Strength alongside CF, then you are following Mark Rippetoe’s strength program with some GPP. You follow Charles Poliquin’s S&C program you are doing his protocol. You follow the Performance Menu WoD you are doing PMenu training, and so on. You don’t call yourself a gymnast because you do handstands or a runner because you run around the track now do you? So why call yourself a CrossFitter if you do a WoD here and there or after your strength training or sport practices?

Which sort of jives with what I was saying in the opening paragraphs.

Panoptical wrote: “We CrossFitters are very open to answering specific questions about our practices, but most of us won’t be able to make you familiar with CrossFit with a single sentence, a short paragraph, or a list of things that “are” and “are not” CrossFit, and that’s not because of the nature of Crossfit, but rather because of the nature of definitions.”

Too Zen. Why can’t anyone in the community simply admit that CF is a community centered around a time-based workload protocol? Yes, there can be many facets to that. Yes, there are as many interpretations to that as there are members, but why is it so hard to admit this basic premise, since this WAS GLASSMAN’S BASIC PREMISE!! To call yourself a ‘CrossFitter,’ does that simply mean you are one who ‘does CF?’ This again brings us full circle, doesn’t it?

Do you here the guy out there who is screaming “shut up about it and just do it?” I like his idea as well. If you need a name for what you do, and don’t feel like coming up with one yourself, then throw it under the blanket of CF. Meanwhile, let’s just fucking lift already.

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37 Responses to More CF, I’m not sure why.

  1. What about the Rippetoe-designed CrossFit Total? Admittedly, it subs the overhead press for benching, but it can be staged as a contest, so couldn’t it at least be considered a species of powerlifting? And just this past Saturday (Nov. 22nd), the WOD calls for 7 attempts at a 1RM clean and jerk. Why wouldn’t Jim Schmitz recognize that as Olympic lifting?

    The plain fact is that CrossFit has introduced max-effort lifting to tens of thousands of people who never would’ve tried it otherwise. Perhaps back in the day CF was “centered around a time-based workload protocol”, but it’s evolved, and evolving.

  2. chip

    Although Rip has made some progress introducing max effort lifting to CF, until it is a REGULAR part of the curriculum, it remains simply a diversion from (or perhaps a supplementation to) the main task at hand. I’ve even written an article for Performance Menu about how ME lifting could help the GPP training, but it still remains a fringe plaything for CrossFitters, not an actual part of the protocol.

    It is still, despite whatever diversions there might be, a protocol centered around a time-based workout. Maybe the occasional 1-rep max WOD helps that, but until there is a regular implementation of max force development (which I championed in my article, and practice regularly here at Bodytribe), it still reminds me of my martial arts days. Once in a while my Tae Kwon Do instructor would show us some Judo as a bonus workout, but we still remained a Tae Kwon Do class.

  3. Zac

    I’d say that the haphazard way in which ME lifting is introduced into the WODs – 5×1 back squat one week, CFT three weeks later, another three weeks and then 5×1 C&J – is, uhm, uninformed at best. Heavy lifting thrown in every now and then might do something for GPP just because it’s a different stimulus, but it seems to be a terribly inefficient means of building maximal strength (and from what I’ve read of Zatsiorsky, Siff, et al, I’m sure that sports science agrees with me). Yeah, maybe there are some freaks out there that can follow only the WODs with no supplemental training and still end up pulling a 500lb DL, but most folks need some programming and progression to grow to their greatest potential strength (and put said freaks on conjugate periodization and you may see them pulling 700 lbs instead of 500).

    And I am so tired of hearing people involved in CF (I don’t even want to use the phrase “Crossfitter”) talk about Starting Strength as if it is ME lifting. Starting Strength is *textbook* RE lifting. It will yield strength gains, but more than anything, it will yield sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. It’s a *weight gain* program! It’s Rippetoe’s prescription for the 130 lb high schoolers of this world. Starting Strength lifting may be a heckuva lot heavier than you encounter in a typical WOD, but that does not make it ME.

  4. chip

    Let’s see… page 197 of Starting Strength has a prescribed set/rep chart… and…

    Sure enough, most sets, including the heaviest working set are at 5 reps. Not a single to be seen. In fact, there are a couple of paragraphs detailing 10-20 reps sets.

    Good call Zac.

  5. Margie

    Oy.

    CF sure as shit isn’t powerlifting or o-lifting or gymnastics. Of course not. It uses those movements for its own purposes. Which, yes, is primarily about time-based workload.

    What I’m wondering is why this discussion elicits such antagonism? Is the real issue here that powerlifters and oly lifters and gymnasts feel that their respective sport is being co-opted by a bunch of yahoos with something to prove? That because CF is a mishmash of protocols, it is ahistorical and cultureless? And that one man seems to get a helluvalotta credit for “bringing to the masses” these sports that DO have history and culture and were doing just fine, thank you very much, before CF came around?

  6. Steve C

    Oh man, if it wasn’t for that train yesterday…

    My next line was going to be about the quality control issue. I said in my post that there was a call to coaching – ‘an emphasis in [should’ve been on] understanding the what the how and the why, and how to teach it’.

    The issue, I think, is that that call isn’t universally heeded. I’m not completely sure why. Maybe it’s that the ‘thing’ is too poorly defined as you say, but that’s basically what I was hinting at when I said that the cultish and faddish aspects seem to be eclipsing the stuff that really attracted me to it early on – the thinking and practicing side of it, that grappling with what it means to be ‘better’ or ‘fitter’ and how it might be achieved.

    ‘“Forging Elite Fitness” doesn’t mean striving for ‘adequate,’ or ‘average,’ does it?’

    Those (elite/adequate/average) are all loaded words in fitness conversations. What I like about CF is that it begins with a definition for this ‘broad general’ idea of fitness. That’s something that’s been lacking for most GPP-seekers. Maybe not for pre-CF GPP fetishists, but for people out there in the public who ‘want to get really fit’, GPP is what they’re talking about.

    Time-based workloads almost hits it but if you look to why CF keeps track of time you’ll see it’s only a third of the equation. Less time, greater distance, more weight – CF’s holy grail is power, and if you want to get specific (and by specific, I mean general) it’s about producing a lot of power applicable to wide range of real-world tasks.

    Something is always measured, if weight and distance (reps) are fixed (eg Fran), it’ll be time. If time and weight are fixed (eg do X for 20 min) it’ll be distance – captured as reps or rounds. If distance (reps) is fixed and time is irrelevant (because you’re not going to deadlift more in a 20 minute rep than a 1 second rep 😉 then it’s load that will be recorded.

    ‘A community formed around time-based workloads’ captures a typical expression of the thing, but it isn’t the thing.

    Look – maybe quality control is becoming an issue because it requires some thought and sustained curiosity to get to the heart of. If people are going to the Level 1 certs and thinking that’s where it stops that’s gotta be a factor.

    I’m off to race the train again.

    Just fucking lifting is good.
    Lifting and thinking and talking is better though.

  7. Nick Hanson

    So I am not sure that I have a whole lot to add to what has already been a great post. I am a crossfitter (yes Chip I said it). I think we can go in a million different ways as to how to define Crossfit. The problem that I see in this is that this protocol (designed by Glassman) has given birth to an affiliation process whereby all of the coaches have different ideas about how they implement Crossfit.

    I am really lucky, I know nothing about bad coaches in Crossfit. My head coach has a PHD in Physical Therapy and was a former US National Kayaker. On top of that he trained a girl who won gold in the eights (rowing) for the olympics (BTW she was crossfitting).

    Here is my point as it relates to quality control. There are definitely a bunch of affiliates that know nothing about how to really coach someone. My guess is that those people will eventually be phased out. However, is this any different than the trainer I had at my local gym who was having me do curls on a bosu ball or calf raises? My guess is there are significantly more of those idiots than of crossfit coaches. On top of that, the hands on experience that those people get in a Cert is probably better training than a lot of other coaches have ever gotten. Do they need to continue to learn? Yes, and I would also say that Crossfit coaches would be much more open to improvement and development. Hence the addition of certifications by Rippetoe and Burgener.

  8. Ian

    The whole “quality control” argument is flawed.

    People have problems articulating what it is about the quality control that is actually at issue. Is it:

    1. The fact that it’s “easy” to get certified? Then everyone has quality control problem because it’s easy to get certified, regardless of certifying body. I’d argue that two days with a professional strength coach giving you hands-on experience in a seminar setting is probably a better qualification than reading a textbook and taking a test.

    2. That the people who run Crossfit gyms only need to have a Level-1 cert? Again, how many gyms do you know that exist where personal trainers have zero certifications? Experience? This isn’t a problem inherent with Crossfit.

    3. That some Crossfit certified people lack knowledge of anatomical structure? Ok, again. That happens everywhere- it’s not an inherent problem with Crossfit, but with the fitness industry as a whole. But there’s also plenty of incredibly skilled and knowledgeable Crossfit coaches.

    So this is the bottom line. Quality control issues abound everywhere in the fitness world. Crossfit is not immune to this. Regardless of certification, if your coach/trainer has a poor knowledge of anatomy, no experience, or simply isn’t good at his/her job, then you’re in danger. This isn’t a problem inherent solely in Crossfit. To make such a big issue out of it implies that it is.

  9. Pete C

    When I read articles like this I can’t help but wonder where the angst for CrossFit comes from?

    I’ve been following the CF site on and off for a few years now, mixing in whatever felt fun at the time. I’m not training to be an elite athlete, or for any sport specifically. I train to stay strong and healthy, but mostly because it’s fun!

    To me that’s one of CrossFit’s biggest strengths and attractions. It’s fun and exposes you to movements and methodologies that you might not have otherwise known about. The site aggregates a lot of high quality knowledge into one place, cuts out any marketing crap and makes it easily accessible to everyone.

    There is no strict path to follow. People are encouraged to move away from the main site programming to work on their weaknesses and learn new skills, whatever that involves – Starting Strength, three months of O-lifting… doing handstands for a few minutes a day.

    I don’t think CrossFit is necessarily THE path to elite fitness, but it’s sure good at turning ‘normal’ (average) people like me into well rounded, semi-decent athletes.

    PS. I agree that CF do a good job to promote the understanding of the hows and whys behind everything – it’s another thing that I enjoy about it.

    – A happy ‘C+ all round’ student

  10. Kurt

    Interesting discussion on a topic I probably talk about too much already. Defining CF isn’t that difficult personally, as it comes down to “the best method I have found in 15 years of exercising to develop a level of fitness that allows me to do what I want, when I want for as long as I want better than anything else I have seen or heard of.” Since I have a cat’s curiosity about new things and similar lack of common sense, this means that I better be prepared for a day of rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, swimming, running, stair climbing, parkour, carrying heavy stuff etc., even if I haven’t properly trained for it.

    I am not arguing that this is a correct or accurate description of what CF is to the rest of the world, but it seems like a decent interpretation of what you actually DO with GPP. Being good at the WoDs is fun and the competition and community make CF the best part of any day I don’t see my better half, but the WoDs are an indictor of fitness, not a goal in an of themselves.

    For me, it is the freedom that comes with all of the 10 pieces of fitness (even flexibility, which is part of the recommended warm up and cool down in CF) that let my body be able to cash the checks that my overconfident mind writes.

    This is not to say that CF will lead me to win races or be the strongest guy in the room. It just means that if I walk outside on a bright sunny day, I have a wealth of options as to what I can do with that day. That, and a healthy life, is what I want from fitness and from my gym. The community is just a bonus.

  11. chip

    Power = force divided by time. Maximum power (even high sub-max) cannot be repeated. Now increasing power can help increase workload, but high power output and high workload levels are two different things.

  12. Brent

    The tangents about Crossfit quality control and Crossfit “hate” is blurring what we’re after. What is Crossfit? It certainly isn’t the sum of it’s parts: Olympic lifting + Powerlifting + gymnastics + running + …, just as contemporary Jeet Kune Do isn’t the sum of its. While a Jeet Kune Do school might teach parts of Wing Chun, Kali, Muay Thai, etc… Does that mean the person who studies at that school is a practitioner of all those arts? If I study at a Wing Chun school full-time I’m going to say “No.”As a practitioner of JKD for several years I would disagree. I know a little bit of all of them. When people ask me about the martial art I study I say “JKD”. They’re followup answer is “What is that?” and my response is “it’s a little bit of Wing Chun, Kali, Muay Thai, etc…” If you take those arts away what is JKD? It’s just an idea/philosophy. If you take away Olympic lifting, gymnastics, etc… what is Crossfit? “CF is a community centered around a time-based workload protocol”

  13. D.

    Power is not = force / time.

    Power = work done / time
    Work done = force x distance

    This is the definition of power. It cannot be argued. Now, given the (most oft bandied about) description of CrossFit’s goal – “Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains” – it can be said that Chip is right to say that “high power output and high workload levels are two different things” (high power is instead high workload *per unit time*). However, it is also evident that CrossFit is NOT about increasing workload; it is about increasing workload per unit time, i.e. power – “Increased work… across time domains.” What Steve C described was simply CrossFit increasing power by holding variables in the equation still – “F x D” in the case of WODs like Fran; time in the case of “Do X for 20mins”; and time again – because the interval is so short as to be considered negligible, given the ends – for ME lifts.

    So, it would seem, CF is a community that focusses on increasing power (in its strict definition; not in the sense many use it in fitness, as the equivalent of “explosive force”) in as many ways as possible in order to increase fitness as Greg Glassman defined it in “What Is Fitness?”

    Another thing, though, which seems important to me but nobody has yet mentioned, is CF’s reliance on empirical observation and measurement. CrossFit exercises and workouts were selected on their measurable ability to produce improvements in trainees; thus, when people ask, “So when an affiliate tries (something new), is that CrossFit?” one can reply “No, unless what they are doing can be empirically proven to be more efficient and efficacious at improving fitness than other protocols.”

    So, perhaps a general definition of CF could be:

    “A grass-roots community that focusses on increasing power in as many ways as possible in order to increase fitness (per their definition); experimenting with as many protocols as possible in order to achieve that fitness; but not universally accepting those methods and utilising them until they are proven to be efficient and efficacious.”

  14. chip

    My definition was in terms of explosive lifting, which, by the way, would more accurately read P = F x V (which happens to be distance divided by time) so I should’ve been more explicit (I get one-track minded when hanging out with Oly lifters all day). Although I like your definition, what would the guidelines be of ‘proven to be efficient and efficacious?’ Sure, the WOD times improving. It would be interesting to see how that would be implemented universally.

  15. Jeff

    Scattered Responses

    The cultishness.
    “Each response was identical… They were simply regurgitated (or sometimes verbatim) ideas of the protocol discussed on the main CF homepage (this type of multi-person, single-voice response also leads to the outside world’s judgment of CF as ‘cult-like,’ as Poliquin mentioned). ”
    CF can be cultish, but this isn’t the best example.
    Reciting the standard is merely an attempt to put into words something that is hard to define. Isn’t that the point of this whole discussion? They may be cultish for other reasons, but don’t brand them for what we’re all doing right now.

    Quality control.
    Not entirely sure what the argument is here.

    CrossFit is growing. And that means that not every affiliate is going to be the greatest gym in the world. That’s reality. Find me the example where you can have your cake and eat it too and then we can explore further from there.

    No matter if your instruction sucks or you yourself are bad at deadlifts, it doesn’t mean you stop altogether. It means you keep on keeping on, until you get better.
    My point is that we’re talking about ongoing learning and development. More often than not, it’s self-correcting.

    It isn’t powerlifting…
    No disagreement here. But from my experience, I don’t know any CFers who claim to be powerlifters unless they actually used to follow actual powerlifting protocols before practicing CF. I don’t know any CFers who have claimed to be powerlifters if their experience with powerlifts is limited to what comes up in a WOD. I don’t know of any CFers who claim to be Olypmic weightlifters except for the ones who actually enter in competitions.

    Progressions.
    Sometimes people hit plateaus when they follow traditional approaches to progression. Then they experience breakthroughs when they change to a more holistic, seemingly randomized approach like CF. Sometimes people doing CF see their gains diminish and they switch back to traditional progression and get greater benefits that way. Both ways have shown effectiveness.

    C+/Specialization
    IMO, it would be more accurate to say that CFers strive for simultaneous improvement across the board. It’s been said that since CFers generally don’t focus on one particular aspect and thus don’t specialize, they therefore strive for mediocrity. I don’t understand how those people come to that conclusion.

    Let’s stop trying to define this.
    Okay. If you ask 10 different CFers what ‘it’ is, you’ll get 10 different responses (except when they’re reciting the tag line above). That doesn’t mean they’re all wrong. Some might be kind of wrong. Some of the responders will be culty. And some you’ll see you have more in common with than not.

  16. Andy

    Many of these arguments seem to be comparing apples and oranges. As pointed out ad nauseam, CF is not the road to elite performance in a specific discipline, whether that be Olympic lifting or distance running. If held to that standard, or the standard of a single specialized gym and it’s celebrity trainers, CF isn’t going to measure up.

    But that’s not what I was looking for, nor is it what I suspect the growing wave of CF participants is looking for. I’m a firefighter with an exercise past that looked dismally like an hour of low intensity cardio followed by an hour of misguided resistance training, day in, day out for the last 20 yrs. CF drastically changed my fitness approach, with measurable results to show for it over the last 12 months.

    Could an exclusive gym with one-on-one training have accomplished the same, if not greater results? Probably, but that is not logistically or financially possible for me. What was possible (and enjoyable, exciting and a bit addicting to boot)? At my own pace, I could read, watch and learn countless new exercises, skills and conditioning practices for FREE on the CF main site and affiliate pages. I could take those and employ 99% of them at my station gym and the local YMCA. I grew leaner, stronger and faster in all my pursuits, from work to kayaking to mountain biking, not just named CF workouts.

    As I see similar results in an increasing number of my coworkers, family and friends, I’ve come to evaluate CF on a scale of providing the greatest benefit for the greatest # of participants. At least anecdotally, it appears to strike a very effective balance. Consider a cardiac surgical residency vs. basic CPR training: the surgical training will provide vastly more detailed training and allow the student to perform amazing feats. However, the CPR class is cheap, easily disseminated and can potentially save countless lives. The cardiac surgeon doesn’t knock CPR cardholders for having less training and they hopefully don’t go around trying to perform quadruple bypasses. Apples and oranges.

    I don’t understand those, especially in the fitness industry, who try to define, dissect, and argue CF into the ground. Are CFers trying to persuade you to ditch your fitness ideology and convert? Are CFer’s ending up in the ER more than participants in any other strenuous physical activity. Does CF’s free distribution of information and workouts steal away your potential clients? If the answer is no, than why not congratulate all those who have reached new levels of fitness using CF and continue down whatever fitness path you’ve chosen.

  17. chip

    Keep in mind, folks, the original point of my post wasn’t a dissertation against CF, just a call for an understanding to what it is, which was asked for in the form of a definition. The Original original point was to give an idea of the perception from the outside world, including exercise physiologists with big egos and lazy fitness journalists. If anything, it is easier to defend something once you can agree on what the heck you’re defending.

  18. Steve C

    There’s no point in being reasonable now chip. I think regular readers of your blog know by now that you’re a straight-up hater.

  19. chip

    Then they’ve read incorrectly. Discerning yes, hating no. I greatly dislike group-think sans consideration of the cause. I’m not fond of bandwagons. And a little free thought goes a great long way in my book. With that in mind, I appreciate the art of forum. Dialog is healthy, even if about a subject I reserve giving complete support for.

    Or maybe I’m just a hater. (and who are these ‘regular readers of my blog?’ With the exception of Zac, who I beg regularly to read it, I thought people just hopped on here on occasion to tease me).

  20. Hmm…somehow our retarded, CrossFit selves in Chico have managed to win a few Olifting meets, PL’ing meets and TSC’s. And place resonably at the CrossFit Games. Our friends Jodi and Anthony Bainbridge are Canadian PL’ing champs AND turn top 2-5% on most CF WOD’s. EXACTLY HOW is this “fringe” exposure to ME work?

    We do extensive joint mobility work.
    We ARE an OLifting gym.

    The notion of “strength before strength endurance” is so obvious as to be trite at this point. If someone is programming in such a way that they do not have this concept at heart, they are foolish, ill-informed, a rookie or all the above. That considered, GPP seems reasonably important to WSBB, Jason Bagwell and a few other notable coaches. Rip, myself and many other folks have made the point that the CF WOD is an intermediate program…you need to build a strength foundation to thrive in THAT environment. This is no different than prepping a bunch of girls for a vollyball team…my girls just happen to be soccer-moms.

    Everyone wants to demonize the CF.com WOD for some kind of shortcoming but it simply IS. It’s an interpretation of what defines crossfit (more on that later).

    Chip, I’d expect better of you than to slide down the “high rep Olifts are a problem” schtick. High rep complexes have been used in and around everything from Olifting to track and field to martial arts for a long time. It’s a tool that can be time indexed and loaded for effect…that’s it. Perfect example of this here:
    http://www.istvanjavorek.com/

    Now to a definition:
    CrossFit is a strength & conditioning program built on constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

    There are well formalized definitions of those terms that I’m not going to go into, but whole thing wraps around to this concept of fitness that has some interesting, although vague descriptions of fitness: ten general skills, sickness-wellness-fitness continuum etc. Fitness boils down to a graphing of work capacity across various time and modal domains. I have some thoughts about this related to evolutionary biology but I’m still hashing that around…suffice it to say this is a fairly nice definition of life itself. If you have “lots” of work capacity you are “quite” alive. When work capacity goes to zero…well, your dead.

    Many people like and get this definition. Many do not. Some people swear the earth is 8,000 years old. What’s a girl to do?

    NOW…that IS the definition…if it works for you then we can move forward and start having conversations. If you think it’s bullshit, then offer something better…I’d frankly love an improvement. If you simply “disagree with it” yet can offer nothing in it’s place I feel like I’m talking to a creationist NewEarther. Not much point to waste anyones time in this case, you know?

    Are there better and worse trainers in CF? Are there people who are more or less open minded and interested in growing?Is this a program/movement that is evolving on a daily basis? Yes to all the above, what I’m curious about is WHY is CrossFit being held to a standard no other program is held to?

    Because CrossFit claims to: “Forge Elite Fitness” Well, yea…and we offer a nice definition of fitness…that you can either buy or not buy! It’s all available for free…which I think is part of what buggars people but that is a whole other thing.

    “You can’t use CrossFit for sport development!”

    REally? I can’t time index efforts in the gym, think about the demands of a sport…do a bit of planning and development?

    Chip, do you want some kind of authoritarian directive in what CF is? Is it not enough given the definition and how it evolves in the various gyms?

    I’m tired, my head hurts.

  21. chip

    “Hmm…somehow our retarded, CrossFit selves in Chico have managed to win a few Olifting meets, PL’ing meets and TSC’s. And place resonably at the CrossFit Games. Our friends Jodi and Anthony Bainbridge are Canadian PL’ing champs AND turn top 2-5% on most CF WOD’s. EXACTLY HOW is this “fringe” exposure to ME work?”

    One of my original questions inquired about one CF gym speaking for an entire community. Would those facts about your gym make ME training CrossFit? Or would CF be a tool for your varied training methods? I’m also not saying either is wrong, this is all simple curiosity as to who thinks how. Is a Crossfitter a powerlifter because YOUR CrossFitters are powerlifters?

    “Chip, I’d expect better of you than to slide down the “high rep Olifts are a problem” schtick.”

    Never expect better of me, but C’MON! That isn’t what I wrote at all. I’m presenting points (plural, folks) of view (the WHOLE POINT of this blog), and it is a quick assumption that I’m suddenly doing all the bad mouthing.

    In fact, keep this in mind, please, everyone. Remember why I started this? As an outsider (i.e. someone not officially affiliated with CF), there just might be a chance that I can see both sides (since, apparently this is sort of a black and white thing). While CF hears nothing but attacks, I’m trying to present something akin to dialog.

    Interestingly enough, I have compiled a bunch of quotes in this post that might not see eye-to-eye with each other, yet are mostly from CFers, including the concept of generalization vs. sport development and Oly Lifting sport versus Oly lifting CF.

    This reminds me of a bible argument I once had, which began by me interrupting two very religious people (my first mistake) who were debating bible concepts. I suggested that the bible seemed sort of ambiguous, since folks had to be having such a heated argument about something they both believed in. They turned on me with a fire in their eyes, grabbed a few friends and a decided as a group to spend the next 20 minutes arguing with me (yelling at me, actually) about how the bible wasn’t ambiguous.

  22. Veronica

    Maybe calling oneself a “crossfitter” is the simplest way of saying you are a member of the community of Crossfit. Why argue semantics anyway? Just train, damnit! Afterall, there’s not much difference between Crossfitters and Bodytribers if you really think about it.

  23. Zac

    “Afterall, there’s not much difference between Crossfitters and Bodytribers if you really think about it.”

    Bodytribe has way better music…

  24. Steve C

    Chip, for what it’s worth I was trying to invoke some humour calling you a hater up there. I kinda hoped that it would be obvious that the reverse is true.

  25. chip

    “Maybe calling oneself a “crossfitter” is the simplest way of saying you are a member of the community of Crossfit. Why argue semantics anyway? Just train, damnit! Afterall, there’s not much difference between Crossfitters and Bodytribers if you really think about it. ”

    According to Robb’s definition, you’re right… BT and CF aren’t very different, except for our unfortunate low ceilings. Our music being better is debatable too, not everyone likes Bhangra… or Slayer for that matter.

    Steve, truth be told, there is a very dark underbelly to all things Bodytribe. Ultimately world domination is my goal, but I’ve taken the slower path of pretending to be friendly and ‘tribal’ to get there. One day you will all be my slaves, but until then, let’s keep the dialog open.

  26. Chip-
    So…you are searching for some kind of Unified Field Theory of CrossFit? Hmmm…I certainly have my leanings: a focus on foundational strength, a layering of complexity of movement and a ramping up of work capacity. IF the shit turns out to be fun that’s certainly a bonus! People tend to come back when its fun. I’ve heard.

    You wrote this:
    “One of my original questions inquired about one CF gym speaking for an entire community. Would those facts about your gym make ME training CrossFit? Or would CF be a tool for your varied training methods? I’m also not saying either is wrong, this is all simple curiosity as to who thinks how. Is a Crossfitter a powerlifter because YOUR CrossFitters are powerlifters?”

    Chip, I have a few folks who train Tri’s (why in God’s name i have no idea) and are going to Worlds next September. One guy, 56 years old has a…I think 405 DL at a BW of 150 lbs. For his age group I think he could win a local/regional meet pretty easily. Is he a PL’r? He is certainly a triathlete…why does ANY of that matter and why is any of it in any way define our gym or any of the gyms? All we try to do is help people reach their goals, have fun and be healthy. I have some very specific biases in this whole thing which I have full disclosure with my clients about. Less endurance activity to run, bike, swim faster. counter intuitive but it works! Teh nutrition we recommend makes folks strong and healthy…we check bio-markers and everyone likes’em. So I DO attack this stuff with a personal bias, but it is from the perspective that our clients will feel better, perform better and be healthier…all of which is pretty quantifiable so not a situation of “just believe me” but rather a situation of “give it a shot, we should see the following happen”.

    I really do have a point here.

    So, that is some personal bias I bring to the table, but outside of that I think the whole phenomena comes back to the coaches and trainers in a given gym and how they approach this art/science of fitness. In this context I draw heavily from Matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym and I try to help our clients “find their bliss”. We try to help them be happy, healthy, kick-some-ass. From this grows a pretty amazing community.

    I guess what you are asking (correct me if I’m wrong) is “What is the one thread that unites all CF’rs?” Whether these folks get the need for ME work or not…whether they approach this as a means of helping their clients meet individual goals or they simply foist an agenda upon the clients…is this what you are searching for? If it is I’d be hard pressed to come out with something concrete other than a shared experience. Folks have varying degrees of aptitude with how they implement this stuff. I’d certainly argue that the NorCal approach is “better” because it allows for better athletic development but if someone thinks 30-40 min WOD’s are the schiznitz…well, I’ll say I disagree but that’s about as invested in the whole thing I’m going to get.

    We were approached by a Globo gym in town for help setting up a CrossFit module in their location. We helped them with the facility design, recommended gear and we are helping them to train their trainers. Why? Because I don’t want them to suck, and it would be nice to have some folks in town to “play” with. We have some collaborative fund raisers planned…it’s all still new and preliminary but we are excited. The owner of the Globo gym told us on our first meeting “There is no way we can replicate the community you guys have, but we’d like to cultivate something similar at our place…”

    So, are crossfitters now globo-gymers? This seems like some kind of “Set Theory” from linear Algebra. To what end, I have no idea.

    BTW-Slayer fucking rocks…anyone who says otherwise is suspect IMO.

  27. chip

    Super groovy. (Slayer does rock!).

    Now this is what needs to be shown to Poliquin, because what he, and many outsiders, see is WOD’s, puking clowns and articles written by half-ass journalists. If CF, or even individual CF gyms, breeds successful athletes, then it is not his place to rip it apart, but to maybe figure out why. Could he actually be behind the pack on this? Possibly, and his dogma won’t let him understand that.

  28. Zac

    “Our music being better is debatable too.”

    No, it is an empirical truth. I declare it to be so. Just go watch a video from Crossfit HQ (anything with Greg Amundson) and tell me the music doesn’t suck. Though I must say, there may be a bit too much bhangra for my tastes, but I’m willing to accept it for the frequent appearance of Alec Empire & Atari Teenage Riot (though you really need to get a copy of Empires “the Destroyer”).

  29. Brent

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the music. Empirical truth as it may be.

  30. Zac

    Uh, Robb, were those the “moments of brilliance?” ‘Cause if so, you just proved my point.

    Crossfit = good GPP, bad music.

  31. Zac-
    This could degenerate to fisticuff’s! The second one in particular is a pretty impressive matching of the ebb & flow of the music to the natural changes in the WOD.

    As always…it’s an open mic…show us something better!

  32. I am bummed that I didn’t workout with when I was in sac. Two quick questions, have read “what is fitness?” and “understanding CrossFit”? I am pretty sure these are free downloads. These two docs can answer the majority, if not all, of your questions. If you have specific questions after reading those two docs, let’s talk.

  33. chip

    As you might surmise from all the comments on these few blogs of mine, both mine and others, I’m not sure those two downloads quite convey the entire message.

  34. Chip, I am confused by your answer. Did you read those documents? Dialog happens when specific questions are answered. I am sure those two documents, in addition to the the posted WODs, convey the entire message if you take the time to read them carefully and ask specific questions about what is written in them and what was specifically left out.

    In response to your statement: “CF doesn’t do Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting… In fact that was how the lifts evolved, to simply get a buttload of weight over your head ONCE.” Please review the WODs for the month of November, specifically, 11/22, 11/18, 11/09, 11/01. During this month there are 4 workouts that call for singles, which by your definition could be considered Olympic Lifting. In addition, there is another workout on 11/15, 5 x 5 back squats, that I am sure most Weightlifters or Powerlifters have probably done. That means that there are 5 WODs out of 21 for the month so far, almost 25% of the posted WODs, that are by your definition, clearly in the “max force generation realm.” This very clearly matches up with training in the phosphagen pathway specified in CrossFit’s Third Fitness Standard explained in “What is Fitness.”

    To specifically answer your (rhetorical) question: “Why can’t anyone in the community simply admit that CF is a community centered around a time-based workload protocol?” No one will admit it because that is not what it is. CrossFit is not about the “how” i.e. the protocol, it is about the “what” i.e. CrossFit’s three fitness standards. True, Coach Glassman states “We’ve come to see increased work capacity as the holy grail of performance improvement…” but if you look at the posted WODs, it is obvious that the time-based workload WODs are benchmarks used to gather evidence rather than the protocol itself.

    Again, if you have specific questions, like how CrossFit attempts to address the 10 skills listed in Crossfit’s First Fitness Standard, please contact either myself, Robb or one of the affiliate owners posting to your blog. I am sure that anyone of us would be willing to answer your questions. In addition, I am pretty sure we are all willing to learn from your experience and would love to hear, specifically, how you think CrossFit can be improved. For instance, regarding flexibility, your understanding of how CrossFit defines and addresses flexibility and how that definition and implementation details of the definition can be improved to more effectively address CrossFit’s goals (i.e. fitness standards). Yes, the process takes more time and effort than posting unsubstantiated opinions but true dialog is well worth the effort.

  35. Dan M

    Body Tribe, another gym inspired by CrossFit but will not admit it.

  36. chip

    There are bigger inspirations in my life, but I’ve stolen from many. Too bad I’ve been around longer than almost 100% of the CF affiliates.

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