World class fitness in 100 words - an analysis

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Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports. ~Coach Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder and CEO (Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.)

Read the above again. 

This was written by Greg Glassman back when he first started Crossfit. It is absolutely genius. I will break it down in my own way. 

For diet. "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat." Paleo diet, zone diet, IIFYM, Atkins, ketogenic, whatever dietary principles you adhere to, this applies. There is no need to obsess over your food or meal timing. Just eat healthy quality food, while trying to restrict sugar and enough starch to fuel the glycolytic workouts. Don't eat to excess. Eat only enough to support performance not accumulate body fat. Don't obsess over it, don't change something unless it isn't working. 

For exercise, "Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. " First off it says practice, not perfect. Spend less time on the ones that you are good at, and more time on the ones which you are bad at. In order to practice these you need to be in a non-exhausted state. So this means not doing these in a Metcon, but actively trying to get better at these movements under the supervision of a knowledgable coach. 

"Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds." This covers the foundational gymnastics movements as well as some of the more advanced ones. Many of us have skimmed over this part. How many of us have nice looking strict chest to bar pull-ups? Or better yet, pirouettes or press to handstands. Maybe something else to work on. If you are able to perform these movements with excellence it will have lots of skill transfer for other exercises. Maybe spend a little less time trying to perfect your squat snatch and work on mastering some of the gymnastic aspects. 

"Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast." Intensity is the key for conditioning. Many Crossfitters cover the run and row, but don't forget about the bike and swim. The less efficient you are at a given exercise the greater the training stimulus. 

"Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. " Take this one with a little grain of salt. This amount of volume is for the more experienced athlete who is only doing Crossfit. If you are doing a sport or extra training outside of Crossfit you might need to cut the volume down. Mixing the movements up in new combinations will allow better training stimulus which will keep you and your body guessing. The variety also breaks up the monotony of your training. This allows each session to keep your physically and mentally stimulated, plus the opportunity to add in new movements. 

"Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports." Keeping the duration short and intense has many benefits. Our time is valuable and most people want to get the most bang for their buck. The benefits of high intensity have been shown to benefit the low intensity modality and the same time. The same cannot be said for the inverse. 

Learning to play new sports is one point that many forget. What's the point of having all this fitness if you are not out enjoying it. The more you learn the better you get at it. Learning is a skill. I try and take every opportunity to test myself. Glassman originally intended for Crossfit to allow an athlete to be able to compete in a given sport with little practice and still be able to do well. I have tested this out of many occasions and was very pleased with the results. 

I've been in the health and fitness industry for many years. I've seen many trends come and go. I admit I have fallen for some in the past. Easiest advice is follow what is tried and true and stick with it. 

Yours in health,
 Coach Everett

Crossfit Bytown