the spaz of fitness has arrived

Jo Smash!

In Training, WOD on April 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

As with most trends, CrossFit has more than its share of naysayers. I’ve read so many inane, misinformed articles denouncing CrossFit for any number of imagined defects. However, there’s one major criticism that’s stayed with me. A friend and a powerlifting coach here at Penn State told me: “The best CrossFitters are not CrossFitters. You do not get better at CrossFit by doing CrossFit.” On the one hand, that’s a little bit flawed because plenty of people experience phenomenal success (athletic, general-health-wise, WOD-times, body composition, etc) by following mainsite programming or standard box programming. But the thing is, most people who excel at CrossFit come to CrossFit with established athletic backgrounds. At our box, our coaches are former powerlifters, track athletes, baseball players, gymnasts, etc. Many of the elite athletes in the Games came with gymnastics backgrounds. Rich Froning apparently strength trains 8 months out of the year and WODs for the remaining 4. So, by the rule of majority, shouldn’t he be considered a powerlifter first?

I ran across a post on the CrossFit forum website:

Typical CrossFit met-cons and dietary recommendations will inhibit the body’s ability to get bigger and stronger. So much so many of us, myself included, have gone to strength focused programs because we can’t make gains if we do too many met-cons. We have to run the strength programs until we get our desired results then come back to traditional CrossFit.

And this man is a trainer at a CrossFit facility.

The forums contain a wealth of questions about what outside strength program to use in order to improve at CrossFit. The most popular ones include: Starting Strength, Wendler 5-3-1, Greyskull Linear Progression, CrossFit Football, and the 70’s big S&C program that I’m using. Greyskull’s website is overrun by CrossFit refugees who claim to have “seen the light” and returned to conventional strength training after a bout of CrossFit left them weak and exhausted.

But I see no need for this extremism. As much as I’ve enjoyed and taken advantage of the discursive online fitness community, I’ve never understood why so many individuals are so dogmatic and quick to judge. An inexperienced forum participant is often disparaged for his lack of knowledge, and I’ve seen novice athletes torn apart for ill-informed training practices. But if they’re already seeking advice, clearly they understand that they have more to learn.

At any rate, I’ve given the topic some thought and… CrossFit doesn’t market itself as a strength program. It’s a “strength and conditioning program” and often we forget about the conditioning part and how it impacts strength training. It’s very upfront about its lack of specialization, so naturally, those looking to hone their weaknesses might need to defer to other programs to build better foundations. So… after all that, you might ask me– why CrossFit? Why a sport that recruits (or steals) athletes from other sports, that createsunspecialized athletes that couldn’t outlift a powerlifter or outrun a sprinter? Because I’m not looking to specialize. I don’t want to be a competitive powerlifter or a professional sprinter (as if that would happen). I enjoy that CrossFit offers a fun solution to individuals looking to improve their health and stay fit, and it builds a supportive community of people who share those goals. I want to continue participating in this community, and I’d like the opportunity to someday help individuals improve their well-being through CrossFit (I think it’s the teacherly impulse in me… spread the knowledge!). But, in order to be in a position where I’m confident and comfortable instructing, I need to be comfortable performing the wide range of tasks that CrossFit demands. And, without a strong athletic background, I need to first build that foundation before I can go onto experience CrossFit as the practice and enjoyment of physical fitness.

That said, I wanted to share today’s WOD with you (it was my conditioning day) because it was just a load of fun. I’m told that this week’s programming was designed with recommendations by Jeff Martone, with whom the Cyborg is in regular contact. I believe they have Skype dates.*

5 Rds for time:

12 wallball sit-ups

12 wall balls

12 burpee smashballs

12 kettlebell snatches

with EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute 2 med ball cleans)

I enjoyed this WOD because it was so skill-based. I like that we’re introducing more technical movements into our workouts– and intelligently so, with carefully supervised, lightweight introductory WODs. And there are few CrossFit movements more cathartic than a burpee smashball. So if, hypothetically, a short, uncoordinated, little Asian CrossFitter not at all resembling Jo happened to hypothetically suck at wall balls, she could vent her frustration on hurling 10 lbs of rubber smashball to the floor.

*Jeff Martone is the generally acknowledged Kettlebell expert of the CrossFit world. As long as CrossFit icons are doing Skype dates, could I get one with Josh Bridges?

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