December 10, 2006

Sunday 061210

Rest Day


Enlarge image

Training Staff, CrossFit Certification Seminar, 9-10 December, CrossFit San Diego.

One common criticism leveled at CrossFit is that we engage in the "dangerous" activity of "high rep Olympic weightlifting."

Very recently Mike Boyle of "Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning " offered this objection when asked about CrossFit at a SOMA sponsored "Special Op's Medical Conference."

Post thoughts to comments.

Posted by lauren at December 10, 2006 6:09 PM

Thank God for a day of rest!

Comment #1 - Posted by: ATM at December 9, 2006 6:39 PM

Why, specifically, is high rep oly lifting dangerous? I suppose you could argue that, as one becomes fatigued after multiple reps, form might deteriorate to the point that risk of injury is higher. However, this same argument could be applied to any high rep weight lifting, olympic, power, or otherwise. It could also be applied to high rep, jumping off the couch to go grab a snack during commercial breaks.

I have no scientific basis supporting this statement, but I think that it is highly likely that by training olympic lifts at all, you are training all of the major muscle groups to work harmoniously, thus minimizing the risk of injury in all of the activities of life.

Anecdotally, I feel that I am an example of this theory. I've been doing CrossFit WOD's, including high rep olympic lifts, for over one year. I am practically self-trained, with the help of the CrossFit web-site, in these movements (at least up until my cert in October), and have yet to sustain a significant injury. I'm 47 years old with no significant power or olympic weight-lifting background.

Life's dangerous. I'll continue to prepare for it by doing the WOD as near rx'd as I'm able.

Comment #2 - Posted by: ScottH at December 9, 2006 7:19 PM

Where is the article? The link takes me to this guy's website.

Comment #3 - Posted by: Robert Taylor at December 9, 2006 7:28 PM

Theres that blonde dude from yesterdays pic and video! he makes snatches look easy.

Comment #4 - Posted by: jesus at December 9, 2006 7:34 PM

I can't seem to find the article either. Am I missing something?

Comment #5 - Posted by: Reno at December 9, 2006 7:51 PM

I would take Mike Boyle's criticism with a grain of salt. I watched one of his videos and he suggested that an athlete should discontinue training a skill (i.e shooting a basketball, hitting a baseball) when fatigue causes a drop consistency. Well this may very well be, but that is one of the most important training periods when you can accomplish your goals under stress be it physical or mental. So I am not buying his arguement.

Comment #6 - Posted by: juan epstein at December 9, 2006 7:54 PM

looks like we need to register with his website to get the "free gift" link to the interview. I already get enough spam, maybe someone could post the link to the comments...

Comment #7 - Posted by: Dharma at December 9, 2006 7:56 PM

I am not very good at this but is my thinking on the question at hand.

1. I have never seen a sport where performance via a "lack" of intensity, or trained focus has been the order of the day. For an event as intense as Olympic Lifting, how could it be even remotely possible to achieve the movements of such poundage in bursts of action without, high, hard, intense reps ? To achieve performance we have to push ourselves.

2. Is he saying that we are not capable of learning, teaching and handling the needed personal standards to push ourselves without understanding or willing to take the risks that go with achievement? Are we too weak minded to learn and go hard, even when we train without "a" Coaches'
watchful eye ?

3. Last, I may be wrong but were I to question folks like Coach G, Coach Rip, Coach B, Lynn, Eva, Mr. Everett,etc...if it,or was it possible for you to achieve your current goals without, high, intense training., would the answer be yes ?

Comment #8 - Posted by: tj at December 9, 2006 8:17 PM

I am with ScottH #2. I am 41 and have had aches and pains my entire excercise career...until I started Crossfit! Elbow tendonitis, disappeared...shoulder pain, disappeared. So let's take Mike's comments for what they are. Based on what I saw on his web site, he has a big ego and is a's about the money! Crossfit represents a threat to his business. Think about it, if all athletes (young and old) began taking part in Crossfit training, where would he be? It's a defensive comment...unfounded and shallow, but defensive nonetheless...cheers!

Comment #9 - Posted by: spk at December 9, 2006 8:21 PM

There is neither an article nor an interview. He made these comments under the assumption that they'd not see the light of day. The comments were reported to us from attendees of the conference. We'll post minutes from the conference IF they were taken.

The link was posted solely to acquaint you with "bodybyboyle".

Comment #10 - Posted by: Coach at December 9, 2006 8:24 PM

Piggybacking on #6 Juan's comment, Boyle's training system definitely is NOT for those of us who have to fight for our dinner because we don't have the luxury of "discontinuing" the fight when fatigue becomes a factor. High rep O lifting is one of the things CrossFit has asked me to do over the past 14 months when I've followed this program exclusively, and I remain uninjured and in better physically prepared to come home safe every night. I'll continue adhering to the WOD, high rep O lifts and all, and consequently continue on the road to a greater degree of fitness than I've ever enjoyed in my 33 years.

Comment #11 - Posted by: Denver Sheepdog at December 9, 2006 8:30 PM

Well, as an Olympic Weightlifter I have this to say.

O-lifts are a hard skill to learn and more emphasis should be put on the form then on weight or reps. You will see ALL good olympic lifters start with a stick or warm-up. This is how they are taught from the get go. So, I do not advocate high rep olympic lifts for anyone short of advance level.

Next, I have done the workouts where it is 30 clean and jerks (135lbs) and have done it at a fairly decent time of 2:22. I have to admit, the jerk turned into a press for me towards the end. The clean and press is one of the most functional movements a person can engage in. I don't see a problem with higher rep clean and press/jerk but, I do see an issue with high rep snatch. If you are going for time with the snatch, the form WILL go down. Snatch is more technique driven then the clean and jerk and therefor can cause a greater risk of injury. Usually due to bouncing off the hips or too wide of a grip.

Now, after all this back and forth the real answer is...depends on who the person is. You need a person who is experienced in lifting to execute the form correctly as well as maintain that form over time. So, my advice would be to stick to the singles until you HAVE it, then try the high reps. Although I feel high reps negate the true benefits of olympic lifting as it requires you to drop the weight on the bar.

Comment #12 - Posted by: Erik B. at December 9, 2006 8:31 PM

With all due respect, how, then can I reply to words I can't read? Although considering, it's hard to be impressed with any site entitled "Body by..."

Comment #13 - Posted by: Robert Taylor at December 9, 2006 8:32 PM

WOD as prescribed;

roughly 23 hours

pretty tough, i think this "rest day" tops linda in degree of difficulty

Comment #14 - Posted by: rob at December 9, 2006 8:33 PM

I missed this:

"tj said:

1. I have never seen a sport where performance via a "lack" of intensity, or trained focus has been the order of the day. For an event as intense as Olympic Lifting, how could it be even remotely possible to achieve the movements of such poundage in bursts of action without, high, hard, intense reps ? To achieve performance we have to push ourselves."

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you but, are you suggesting that only with high reps can one achieve great gains or heavier poundage in o-lifting? If you are suggesting that. I have to say you are flat out wrong.

Comment #15 - Posted by: Erik B. at December 9, 2006 8:35 PM

Well, I don't know who Mike Boyle is, but I do know who Coach is, Coach's program works. I think I'll stick with Coach.

Comment #16 - Posted by: sailorcrew at December 9, 2006 8:45 PM

Looking for some help guys . . .

My cardio is awful and was looking for suggestions on what I can do along with crossfit to improve my cardio quicker. I am looking at getting back into jiu-jitsu after the new year and dont want to be in this horrible shape when I start.

Is it ok to run on the off days? Run after WOD's? I just do want to overtrain any suggestions would help.

Thanks in advance.

Comment #17 - Posted by: pjminni at December 9, 2006 8:46 PM

Erik B.,

We use Oly Lifts for several reasons and none of them are to BECOME an Olympic Lifter. The main reason though is to create massive metabolic/anarobic stress to the body as a whole. High rep Oly Lifts do this very well and so they are good.

Other times we don't drop weight on the bar but do the Oly Lifts for maximum weight -- so we then get the benefits of doing them that way.

But the statement that high rep Oly lifts are dangerous is absurd; especially when done with light weights. As there is no proof for this statement in any body of literature on the subject that I know of.

Comment #18 - Posted by: MCC at December 9, 2006 8:51 PM


Tabata Intervals of whatever. Look them up.

Or something like 6 all out 100 m sprints with 60 second rest between them...

Comment #19 - Posted by: MCC at December 9, 2006 8:53 PM

I would respond by saying that the loads are always very submaximal when we do high reps, and that Oly lifts are such a proven conditioning tool that whatever risk this entails is far outweighed by the benefits. Then I would point out that Crossfit is wildly popular with Team guys, Special Forces operators, cops and firemen, who don't have the time to waste on B.S. because "Elite Fitness" is just a tool for them not the whole package. And their endorsement is more valuable to me than any sports team, although Strength and Conditioning coach for the Bruins sounds like a pretty cool job.

Comment #20 - Posted by: Robert Taylor at December 9, 2006 8:56 PM

Just to remind you that in Kettlebell-Girevoy lifting competition one arm snatch is done with 32kg-70lb for 10 min.And the jerk with two 70lb kettlebells for the same time. Ivan Denisov records are 175 jerks and 220 snatches.

Comment #21 - Posted by: Miki at December 9, 2006 8:58 PM

I'm not particularly sure that high-rep oly lifts are dangerous.

However, I do wonder why high reps of the full versions of the oly lifts are employed in place of repetition high pulls, or at least power versions.

After all, the weights used in a circuit are going to be heavy enough that you could do high pulls or power versions, and you would generate more power, faster, doing this.

A full lift has a higher 'cardio' impact than a power version per rep, true, because you're moving the bar a greater distance, but it seems that this benefit is far outweighed by how much faster you can crank out the power reps or pull reps.

The unique benefits of oly lifts (mandatory expression peak power and speed) don't seem to apply to rep work.

Also, form decay on high-rep full lifts means you either have to go down to a weight that would be easier to power for reps than to do as a full lift for reps, or accept form decay and not get the benefits of the lifts. It's a quandry.

All this by way of asking a question (Why not just do high pulls, power versions, whatever, rather than doing full lifts?) rather than lighting the fuse to the Internet flame war detonator.

Comment #22 - Posted by: Ross Hunt at December 9, 2006 8:59 PM


Is it ok to do this after WOD or on off days? How may days a week can I add this to my training?

Is this more beneficial for improving cardio than say running for 20-30 minutes?


Comment #23 - Posted by: pjminni at December 9, 2006 8:59 PM

What comes to mind for me is that a whole lot of manual labor that goes on to the point of extreme fatigue if not exhaustion is well-approximated by high rep oly lifts. Back in my navy days in 1977, I remember one exhausting ordnance handling work party where - fire brigade style - we where passing 65 lb shells to each other for hours on end. One time, I passed the shell to my mate. His grip failed and the shell slipped from his grasp. Luckily, He caught it cradlewise between his arms having instinctively dropped into a real deep squat position. This after mind-numbing fatigue.

Comment #24 - Posted by: Mark Brinton at December 9, 2006 9:04 PM

#23 pjminni

It all depends on your personal level of fitness. I prefer my "cardio" in the morning, and my WOD in the afternoon (I have that luxury), though you certainly can do them back to back. I would just do the extra cardio after your WOD, as I think it's a good idea to go into your WOD fresh and full of enthusiasm, rather than beat from 400m sprint intervals or whatever. Running will make you good at running, cycling will make you good at cycling, etc., but from what I understand if you want top notch heart health and body composition, while maintaining your physique, high intensity intervals/tabata intervals are the way to go - as #19 has already mentioned.

Comment #25 - Posted by: eric at December 9, 2006 9:07 PM

Results are all that count. Crossfit gets results. Some of us don't have the luxury of "not fatiguing" ourselves while fully turned out crawling down a burning hallway pulling charged hoselines. Results are what counts...

Comment #26 - Posted by: FireSmac at December 9, 2006 9:17 PM

Having read several articles by Mike Boyle, it is clear his number one priority is to not have the atheltes he trains get injured during training. “High rep Oly lifting” is shorthand for saying “doing Oly lifts with bad form while fatigued” because form tends to break down when fatigue catches up or accumulates during high rep sets. You can see examples of this from breakdown in the various Grace, Nasty Girls, Elizabeth videos that have been posted at CrossFit. (Which is not to take anything away from the athletes in those videos, don’t get me wrong.) During the hard work of “for time”, form can be compromised. One can make the assumption that injury is more likely with bad form than with good, which is reasonable to some degree for the Oly lifts. (A question is: to what degree?)

What is the goal of doing Oly lifts for high reps? Do the weaknesses that are attempting to be addressed with the high reps necessarily need to be addressed using Oly lifts? Could a “safer” movement be used instead (which presumes that one has accepted that Oly lifts are “less safe” than some other lifts; I presume Boyle has decided this to be true)? Or could the components be trained separately (strength-endurance vs. metcon, perhaps)?

If so, and if your goal is to avoid higher chances of injury, and if you believe that Oly lifts with bad form are more likely to cause injury (perhaps because it’s so easy to have bad form on the lifts), then, yes, you likely would think that high rep Oly lifts are better to be avoided.

Use Oly lifts to train explosiveness, flexibility, and strength, and use something else to drive the trainee hard during high rep weight sets, where proper form is less necessary for a safe lift or where proper form is easier to maintain while fatigued or under hard metcon duress.

Is it true that ANY exercise performed for high reps will lead to form break down? Maybe, but the idea would be that the Oly lifts, which are quite complex, are more likely to break down before “easier” lifts would.

As an example of his point of view, he no longer has his trainees do back squats. He has replaced them with front squats because you can get some of the same benefits without the extra loading of the back and without the higher chance of loading the back in a compromised position. (In the front squat, you lose the weight forward if your back gets too far forward or bends, whereas in the back squat the weight keeps bending you even more. So the front squat is “safer”.) He also has recommended replacing the conventional deadlift with single leg versions, which gives a similar hit to each leg while the back only sees half the weight. (You can read an article of his stating this on t-nation.)

I would imagine he knows that there are compromises with training this way but believes that the fewer injuries or possibilities for injuries is worth it.

So if Coach prescribes high rep Oly lifts, he clearly believes that some/several/all of these assumptions are pure bunkum. Either that, or the benefits to be gained far outweigh the chances of injury. I know the CrossFit dictum is that “form comes first”, but it is clear that in the pursuit of intensity, form does break down and is “allowed” to. For example, the athletes in those videos are not told to stop during the workouts by the CrossFit trainers. How much is too much? Is it that the athletes know themselves enough when to stop or when the weight is too much and can cause injury?

For punters such as myself doing this by myself at home, I have to approach these things with caution and try to figure it out without the benefit of experience or as much knowledge as I would like.

Comment #27 - Posted by: Rene' at December 9, 2006 9:18 PM

#23 eric

Can anyone give me suggestions on what what type of intervals to do? 6 all out 100 m sprints with 60 second rest between them was one I recieved. Anyone have more?

How about the tabata's? 8 rounds? squats or mix it up?

Thanks again . . . Hopefully I can find some info on the message board.

Comment #28 - Posted by: pjminni at December 9, 2006 9:27 PM

As always, Crossfit provides a great avenue for those looking for a great workout program and are easily bored by simple beach body work outs. If you are not intersted or do not like it, find another program.

I think it is very fair to say that those that haven't done movements and exercises in this program are fairly warned to start with lower weight. Plus, it is a matter of common sense when it comes to exercising. Without proper form you will hurt yourself and you will not be able to lift as much as those using correct form.

Coach and staff, as always, thanks for the program!

Comment #29 - Posted by: Josh at December 9, 2006 9:38 PM

pjminni, wen i wanted to improve my running, i did tabata sprints, which is 8 rounds of a 20 second sprint and a 10 second rest. after doing them two times a week for one month, my 800m time went down from a 3:02 to a 2:54, and my 2.75 mile run went down from about 20 minutes to 18.5 minutes, and this is without losing muscle mass

Comment #30 - Posted by: Vincent at December 9, 2006 9:43 PM

Eric, thanks for the response. As I said I am not good at this.

I will try to define it better after I get some sleep. The only thing I would correct is OR instead of a comma (without, high, intense training.)

Your post was good.
thanks for sharing.

Comment #31 - Posted by: tj at December 9, 2006 9:43 PM

Would someone please explain the concept of power to Mr. Boyle. All of the High rep OLY lifting here is with relatively light weights, Grace included, scaled if necesary and actually recomended. I guess it would be safe to say CrossFitters are much more skilled than Boylers.

Comment #32 - Posted by: dan Colson at December 9, 2006 9:44 PM

Rene #27 - I agree.

If there is one thing that is consistent in all of Boyle's lectures/articles/books, it is that he bases all he says/writes on experience and what he has found to be successful or unsuccessful in a practical setting. I have applied many of the things he teaches with the athletes I train and my experience has been that he is dead-on most of the time.

It is difficult to say whether I agree or disagree with this statement given that it is not put into context. However, one thing Boyle always places high on his list of priorities is the safety of his athletes. After all, what good does a strong and conditioned athlete do if they are injured and unable to perform?

My guess would be that his criticism of high rep Oly lifting stems from the highly technical nature of these lifts and the very real potential that under fatigue, form will deteriorate to the point where the risk vs. reward pendulum begins to swing in the risk direction. And while I certainly appreciate the fact that technical skills do need to be trained while in a state of fatigue, I think Boyle would argue that there are other safer choices that can accomplish the same results (same reward with less risk).

Personally, I love high rep Olympic lifting for the mental and physical demands it requires. However, I have witnessed athletes attempt to push through fatigue with high rep olympic lifts with little regard for keeping proper techniue. This, I would argue, is potentially dangerous and not the best choice for accomplishing the end goal.

Comment #33 - Posted by: dmarsh at December 9, 2006 9:59 PM

#6 Juan and #11 Denver Sheepdog:

Training engrams should always be done fresh. You cannot learn or improve a motion while fatiqued. This is well understood and coincides with what #12, Erik B. was saying.

Now, none of the above is anti-xfit or anti-hi rep oly lifting. But as Erik pointed out after you are fatiqued you are only utilizing engrams you already have and the performance of those starts to deteriorate. I did a lot of my snatches today knowing full well that quite a few turned into 65# frontal lat raises - lucky for me I have the strength to do that.

Note that we never see anything like the below in a WOD:
run 400m
50 squats
1 snatch at max weight
repeat three times for time

Climbers train the same way. Endurance routines on the wall or boulders are done one routes that are easy for the climber. They are not learning any engrams. When the climber is fresher they learn new engrams by trying boulder problems above their ability level or attempting to red points of hard routes.

Any skill is only learned when rested. After that you aren't learning, you are performing.

I posit that we do the same thing here.

Without knowing exactly what he said I think Boyle is simply missing the point and methodology of xfit. Most people do. Maybe I'm one of them.

The CFWU is where I practice technique. The WODs are generally competitive events. You are not learning the motion in the WOD. Also, I usually take time out in between attempts during heavy lift days. During the time out I practice the lift with a light weight to enforce the engram so I can focus on effort during the next attempt. Of course, I am very conscious of the utility of technique as a little over a year ago I totally blew out my back and couldn't move for 3 days. I've been kicked hard in the nuts and the back injury was still the most painful thing to happen to me - full on black-out pain.

I'll figure out if I actually understand this xfit thing one day. Maybe next year I'll do a seminar. But only if I can do at least 5 consecutive ring muscle-ups. Those still elude me. Maybe I'll practice those tomorrow.

Comment #34 - Posted by: kevin gp at December 9, 2006 10:09 PM

By the way, so that my comment won't be taken out of context:
My back blowout happened during a heavy deadlift day , on my last rep, while putting the weight down. I am firmly aware that the injury happened, not due to fatique, but rather a lapse in my concentration and control of the weight. Putting a weight down is the most dangerous part of a DL - especially for guys with legs that are long in comparison to their torso. We have to lean out more, therefore loading our lower back more.

Comment #35 - Posted by: kevin gp at December 9, 2006 10:14 PM

Sorry for the multiple posts...
but I also agree with #27 Renee and #33 dmarsh.

Comment #36 - Posted by: kevin gp at December 9, 2006 10:17 PM

Ofcourse it's dangerous. You might actually be in danger of getting fit. And you might be in danger of having to learn to be efficient instead of accepting the same flaws in your form that you can get away with when only performing a few reps.

Comment #37 - Posted by: John S at December 9, 2006 10:40 PM

Any decent trainer of professional athletes will tell you not to teach movement patterns while fatigued....

Comment #38 - Posted by: Brendon Clarke at December 9, 2006 10:45 PM

The biggest difference between training for sport and combat is that in sport you have the opportunity to sit on the sidelines and rest. Combat does not give you that opportunity.

Training high rep oly lifts gives me the opportunity to perform a complicated movement while physically and mentally fatigued. Yes, my form suffers compared to a nice single, but I also know deep down inside that if I execute the movement with good form, the lift is actually easier (shorter line of movement when the bar stays closer to your body, good triple extension, etc).

The ability to continue to perform while fatigued will keep me alive if I am ever "behind enemy lines" fighting alone, for my life. I am not playing a game for a paycheck.

I am smart (most of the time) when I train because I can't do my job if I am injured; but at the same time I can punish myself in the gym, go to work sore and feel myself getting stronger still after almost two years on the program.

Taking the time to warm up properly, cool down, and stretch keeps me injury free. When I cut corners on the warm-up and cool down, I am taking greater risk that I will be injured. Life is that way sometimes.

The beautiful about CrossFit is we can scale the program to such a wide range of athletic abilities, not many other programs can offer the same training for a grandmother, spec. ops soldier, firefighter, and cage fighter. I would like to see Mr Boyle try and teach my 65 year old mother in law how to perform a clean. He probably wouldn't because of the "risk of injury". I will because I can do it safely with a 4 lb dynamax ball, and she will benefit from the ability to take something from the floor and put it overhead safely. Because she trained for it, and she may be tired one day when she is putting gorceries away...

Thank you Coach for all you have done for us.

Semper Fi,


Comment #39 - Posted by: gordo at December 9, 2006 11:35 PM

An apology - The other day I made a some not very flattering comments about "you americans" that seemed to hurt some people in this forum. I feel bad about that, and I want to apologize for it. Have to admit I was not in mental or emotional balance that day, see, my dear father in law just died. He was such an inspiration to me, in so many ways, and I didn´t understand why God had to take him away. So this anger and bitterness arised within me, and the people of america was unfortunate to be the target of my bitter anger in that situation.
...I´m sorry folks!

Comment #40 - Posted by: TT at December 10, 2006 1:38 AM

If safety is your sole or even your primary concern, your athletes’ fitness potential will be soundly blunted. Where fitness is your sole concern, safety must be given reasonable priority. Safety, efficacy, and efficiency are clearly, mathematically, interdependent. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

Olympic lifts "Highly technical"? Rubbish. Only compared to the rest of weight training. There are thousands of gymnastics movements fantastically more technical than the clean and jerk and the snatch. In any case, CrossFit, with high rep weightlifting, has been shown in clinical and institutional settings to be dramatically safer than the traditional run, sit-up, pull-up, jumping jack, push-up, lather, rinse, repeat, PT. This is not due to the "highly technical" nature of jumping jacks and running.

Not practicing complex movements fatigued? More rubbish. Only by practicing them fatigued will we advance the point where fatigue adversely affects form. Learning to race cars at high speed increases the likelihood of crashing. It is not the crashing that improves the driver's skill, however, but transiently increasing the likelihood of crashing is an essential part of decreasing the likelihood of crashing at any given speed.

Not all form faults are dangerous. Most clearly are not. Most increase the metabolic costs of an exercise or workout, i.e. reduce efficiency, and are not only acceptable but beneficial to conditioning. But what is certain is that only by working to exhaustion, where form faults are ineluctable, will we push the margins of power output where form falters. We push to the point of exhaustion and form breakdown to 1) increase/improve the safety of high output max efforts, and 2) maximize work capacity. How simple is that?

Show me a program where form is controlled to the point of never failing and I'll show you an athlete who a) will fall apart at output levels where CrossFitters are untaxed and moving with grace, and b) cannot match the work capacity of CrossFitters.

The ideal state for learning new activities is certainly when the athlete is fresh. This should not be confused with advancing the horizon line where form is maintainable under duress.

Mr. Boyle was able to quantify his concerns for the dangers of high rep weightlifting - anything approaching twelve reps. As reported to me, this wasn't load qualified, but rep qualified.

If taking your one 1RM for the C&J and attempting 20 reps is an example of dangerous high rep weightlifting then it's dangerous like trying to jump up and touch the sun, and I haven't met anyone stupid enough to try or even think it possible. Calling 100 clean and jerks with a twenty pound medicine ball for time dangerous makes even less sense, and this effort qualifies by Mr. Boyle's statement. It is also consistent with CrossFit programming. (Hmmm?)

At the SOMA Conference Mr. Twight (Yes, Mark) appeared with his arm in a sling due to a recent surgical repair of a climbing injury. To great derision and laughter, his condition was attributed to high rep weightlifting. That cheap shot holds the crux of Mr. Boyle's logic and reveals what really motivated his and other presenters’ gripes about CrossFit - we're eating their lunch in the marketplace of ideas.

Sadly this has nothing to do with safety, efficacy, and efficiency and everything to do with falling in a very distant second place, or more likely even further, in the quest for improving human performance. Mr. Boyle's problem with CrossFit is that his program got left behind. Think tipped over rice bowls, not dangerous lifts.

Where CrossFit has been analyzed, injuries have been recorded, the analysis has had to bear the investigators' names, and the results made public, CrossFit has been shown to be safer than traditional PT.

The assemblage of presenters at the SOMA conference is like a conference on retailing where Penny's, Sears, and K-Mart are presenting on WalMart. You bet they think it's dangerous.

We'll hear every bit of noise imaginable from Mr. Boyle, but here's what you'll not ever see: Him posting his athletes’ work capacity across broad time and modal domains like we do here three days out of four. That would truly be dangerous.

Comment #41 - Posted by: Coach at December 10, 2006 1:54 AM

I will be one of those to attest to the value of high rep complex lifts. 5 years ago I suffered a sports injury (soccer goalkeeper) that resulted in currently having an unstable right shoulder (even post surgery). Anyone out there who goes through ordeal of rock climbing with an unstable shoulder knows how much awareness it requires about your body. Your technique must be flawless in order to not injure yourself. Well here I am now after 6 months of crossfit and the corresponding lifts... I had to take things slowly and steadily for longer than I liked in order to learn the forms correctly. But now my shoulder feels stronger than it did before it was ever injured(most of all, the rest of my body is now conditioned to support my shoulder and I can now feel long before anything is a problem). The efforts required in our high-rep overhead lifts and cleans has conditioned my shoulders to a point where my last surgery consult advised against another surgery stating:

"...if you can do all this nonsense you described [discussing examples of WOD's] what is it exactly are you hoping we can do?..."

Regardless of what some bonehead says about these lifts... on his program (or any other staying away from non complex lifts) I'm sure I would be on surgery number 5 by now. But of course I'm biased.

Comment #42 - Posted by: Ben -Alaska at December 10, 2006 2:36 AM

Who cares what Mike Boyle thinks... which is just heresay at this point. Is it because he's a part of the mainstream fitness culture and we need their approval? Coach G., you just keep focusing your energies on R&D & the product, rather than squander it on the fruit-less pursuit of identifying adversaries.
Sure, it may be dangerous and you may sustain an injury, so what. The program's efficacy,as well as broad appeal,lies within it's modality-rich uncoventional approach to training energy pathways. Scaleing an Olympic lift to make it a metabolic conditioning excercise, in my world anyway, trumps any risk of injury because of it's huge pay-off.

Comment #43 - Posted by: tommyg at December 10, 2006 2:37 AM

I find it hard to believe SOCOM isn't a Crossfit fan. The operators love it. Go to Rockwell on any given day, you'll see that. I'm sure it's the same at Bragg, Ft Campbell, Stennis and MacDill as well. I had this conversation earlier today, I wish I had known about this when I was a boat guy.

Comment #44 - Posted by: Robert Taylor at December 10, 2006 2:48 AM

I think Mr Boyle is mainly concerned with checks and balances. Why teach the full lifts to athletes anyways, your teaching time could be much better spent with Squats/deads/clean pulls. Everyone can have an opinion, and sometimes those opinions/experances dont mix with Crossfit. Don't make Mr Bolye a "crossfit" hater, he is just saying he would do it differntally as would Poliquin.


Comment #45 - Posted by: WILL at December 10, 2006 3:42 AM

Would you be able to direct me to your analysis of crossfit? I would like to see the methodology of the research and replicate it at my facility.

Comment #46 - Posted by: FederalStud at December 10, 2006 4:32 AM

I have met Mike at a conference and have seen him speak. He is a very enthusiastic, intelligent and funny guy. He knows his stuff. He has his system and it seems to work for him. He also runs a business, so from a business perspective Crossfit is competition. All of his opinions and statements are just that, opinions and statements. It is easy for him because he has a riduculous amount of talent that he trains to use as testimonials or a mouthpiece. That is his "empirical evidence". However, the Crossfit Methodology has grandmothers and solidiers, everyday people as it empirical evidence. Who is more suitable for the general public? The guy/guys who train mostly/exclusively athletes with an unbelievable central nervous system and motor unit recruitment pattern in a sport specific pattern, or the program that teaches you movement patterns, improves your GPP, and makes you well rounded in all three energy systems?

Comment #47 - Posted by: Colin C at December 10, 2006 4:33 AM

That was such a great reply, Coach, it made me smile.

Comment #48 - Posted by: gaucoin at December 10, 2006 5:22 AM

Taken from thr "Facilities" page on Mr. Boyle's site:

"In 2007 the Winchester Facility will be completely remodeled and include
New cable machines

New dumbbells and Olympic lifting plates

Brand-new turf

New Olympic lifting platforms


Apparently his programming is not devoid of Olympic Weightlifting, or he wouldn't be adding new equipment for it. He might even like Crossfit if it wasn't, as Colin said, competition.

Comment #49 - Posted by: ACL at December 10, 2006 5:26 AM

Of course, high rep olypmic lifts are dangerous... to your gym membership ! Yesterday as I was doing my 36 snatches, I was thinking - when will I get kicked out of here ? Anyway...

When form breaks down under fatigue, you are forcing your body to recruit more stabilizing muscles. You are pushing your boundaries in flexibility or isometric contractions in a controlled and stress free environment. When real life, war or the olympic finals requires that extra bit of effort, you would want to have already prepared your body and mind to push out extra levels of athletic performance without injurying yourself. What other ways are there to achieve this goal, if not by incorporating such training elements, push your boundaries and learn how to maintain focus and good form under stress?

Just my 2p

Comment #50 - Posted by: Tamas at December 10, 2006 5:30 AM

If fitness is about being able to handle anything and everything that's thrown at you, strength-wise, power-wise, agility-wise, etc., then you should prepare for the times when you have to maintain concentration and excellent form on a demanding exercise well into fatigue.

Comment #51 - Posted by: StephenT at December 10, 2006 5:32 AM

having not seen the comments. . .
distance running, golf, church-league softball, and long sessions at a typewriter/computer (carpal tunnel) are all statistically proven to be dangerous. distance running in particular is a virtual guarantee of eventual injury (i've been sidelined at least twice a year for the 15 years i did lsd training). the real difference is that crossfit requires exertion.

Comment #52 - Posted by: mfbunch at December 10, 2006 5:33 AM

to get an idea of how risky crossfit really is, how many of you have actually been injured during a wod (not counting muscle soreness)? my answer is not once in 18 months (as opposed to 3 injuries during the 18 months before starting crossfit doing long runs, calisthenics, and footmarching)

Comment #53 - Posted by: mfbunch at December 10, 2006 5:38 AM

Mike Boyle also has a problem with front squats. He seems largely intelligent, but some of his objections are baseless and make me feel like puking.

High rep olympic movements lead to explosiveness and power production. God knows no sports call for that.



Comment #54 - Posted by: Jon Gilson at December 10, 2006 5:40 AM

I think a lot of this is philosophical differences, sports medicine aside. At CF we are training to live, and to live at a high capacity. Mr. Boyle and others are training ice hockey blueliners to be ice hockey blueliners. I would imagine they are pretty good at that. However I would wager that if you took that same athlete and a CF athlete, had them attempt other, unfamiliar sports, the CF athlete would prove superior in every match.

At least that is my understanding of the CF training philosopy, that we should train to do everything well, not just one specific activitiy.

Comment #55 - Posted by: PistolPete at December 10, 2006 5:55 AM

I checked out Mr. Boyle's website and looked at who he trains an tried to find someone that was like me that i could comapre my physical situation to and I found no such person. Why is beneficial for me to learn the Snatch or to work on my clean until I get it right? I'm not going out to fight a war or put out fires or chase bad guys through alley's. Why I do need to learn the lifts is because each one uses more muscles than a small select group of muscles in traditional workouts. I need to be able to do what ever it is that I ask my body to do and not get fatigued. So if I have to pick up a 35 lb box and move it 50 feet and then manuever it up attic stairs, I use all the moves that I learn in the WOD's but I don't get to failure at the critical point, because I have the stamina and strength and balance to hold that box over my head balanced on a ladder while I try and put it through the attic opening. Times that by 12 and that's where the high reps pay off.

I like the fact that I can rely on myself to accomplish what is that needs to be done around my house or other peoples houses. I find myself using parts of the olympic lifts every day. The biggest difference that I have noticed though is by doing the high reps I have increased my stamina ten fold. I know I could go even further and that is my goal, to never stop. I am amazed every time I do something that I know because of CrossFit has made it easier to do, and then I think, "I could be even better at this."

CrossFit is amazing and I beleive unique in a fitness program in it's ability to teach you that there is no end to what you can do. Just because someone gets a stunning time on a WOD does not mean that they are done and have reached the pinnacle. Why not challenge yourself?


Comment #56 - Posted by: jknl at December 10, 2006 6:05 AM

High rep o-lifting dangerous? I'd like to know if Mr. Boyle can back that statement up. Name names of those that have been injured, cite studies done comparing high rep o-lifting to any form of exercise and list injury rates. Or is this simply a theory of his?
I personally have trained thousands of athletes with high rep and or short rest interval o-lifts and do not recall a single injury.
While 30 rep clean & jerk or snatch for time may be a crossfit origional high rep o-lifting has been around for decades. Many many strength coaches have succesfully and safely used oly lift complexes consiting of combinations of pulls, power versions, full lifts, squats, and jerks. Many times a single set consiting of a total number of reps hitting double digets. I've also seen oly-lifts and or complexes used with short rest intervals like 30 seconds to simulate the demands of a drive in a football game. O-lifts have been used in circuits as well...check Bill Starr's artcile in Milo about in-season strength & conditioning. Dan John has or had an artice on his site touting high rep o-lifts for fat loss.
some of the brightest minds (Starr, Burgener, Reeve, John, Glassman) have safely & effectively employed this training. Shoot as a kid in Ohio I remember tossing bails of hay from the field into the back of the truck, then from the truck into the loft in the barn (sounds&looks like a clean & jerk to me: ground to overhead) It was super hard work but dangerous? I think not.
I beleive that Glassman is so upset about Boyle's statement because boyle was brought in as an expert. His expert erroneuos opinion will be taken as fact (when in fact it is not a fact merley an opinion) and make it more difficult for the higher ups in the military to embrace contantly varied, funtional training done at high intensity. Thus hurting our soldiers physical preparedness for combat.

Comment #57 - Posted by: josh everett at December 10, 2006 6:08 AM

Correction- Actually moving the boxes up the stairs into the attic was times 17, not 12.

#55 PistolPete said it well- We are training to live.


Comment #58 - Posted by: jknl at December 10, 2006 6:13 AM


They openly ridiculed Mark Twight?

Comment #59 - Posted by: matt at December 10, 2006 6:14 AM

Thanks for the laugh coach.
Of course it's dangerous, so is all that high intensity stuff you have us doing. We should be working out with machines three days a week: no dropped weights, no back strain, 3 sets of 10.

For cardio we should stay in out target heart ranges (60-70% for fat loss, 70-80% for cardio) and should do cardio for 30-60 minutes at a moderate pace. That high intensity stuff could give you a heart attack!

How do i know this? the guy at the YMCA told me as i signed up for my membership.

Since starting crossfit at 46yrs old and doing it most days i'm stronger and fitter than ever in my life. i really struggle with olympic lifts due to inflexibility, but they just exploit my weakness; i'm always scaled back below 'girly-man' but after 30 years as an athlete crossfit is the best system i've found so far.

Mr. Boyle finds himself behind the eight-ball, something he knows nothing about is threatening his livelyhood. Instead of criticizing coach he should sign up for the next seminar.

thanks coach,

Comment #60 - Posted by: water-ratt at December 10, 2006 6:36 AM

Interesting discussion. I'm not that experienced in the Oly lifts to actually contribute, but I will say that being able to execute "technically difficult" (I agree, not that technical, as Coach pointed out) movements under severe pressure - of all types, has developed me as an athlete. (Sorry for the long sentence, and sorry that I called myself an athlete...)

Today I did

Snatch practice up to 35kg
Power Cleans up to 60kg
40kg x5 x3 OHS

BW 66kg

Comment #61 - Posted by: mrjling at December 10, 2006 6:49 AM

Anything is dangerous in life including walking down a flight of stairs...but should we need to criticize and mock those with other opinions, or do we take a higher road and stay the course you believe to be true? I'm a little saddened that we are now going the way of publicly pointing fingers at other people in the industry only to mock their opinions and efforts, I thought we were a little above that.

Comment #62 - Posted by: Mike OD at December 10, 2006 7:10 AM

"Not practicing complex movements fatigued? More rubbish. Only by practicing them fatigued will we advance the point where fatigue adversely affects form. Learning to race cars at high speed increases the likelihood of crashing. It is not the crashing that improves the driver's skill, however, but transiently increasing the likelihood of crashing is an essential part of decreasing the likelihood of crashing at any given speed. "

Coach you are brilliant. I think I'll do Grace today.

Comment #63 - Posted by: laurar at December 10, 2006 7:10 AM

I don’t troll the net looking for jealous competitor’s denunciations of CrossFit.

CrossFit has penetrated every service branch’s SF community and has active and thriving programs in each. Within the SF community there are hundreds of Operators and support personnel working tirelessly, and many have for years, to further explore, test, and officially implement CrossFit with headshed support/blessings. Before the SOMA attendees even had a chance to get home, the emails started arriving from these soldiers asking me in essence, “WTF happened at the SOMA conference?” They came from as far away as Iraq and within the Canadian Forces. I was asked on Thursday, by contractors at NSW, if I’d be willing to come to Virginia and discuss this with Mr. Boyle.

If I can give public testimony here and give others the opportunity to reference my response with a link, I’ll quickly, even if regretfully, take advantage of that efficiency.

As for competition, there’s a better way to compete with CrossFit than throwing absurd claims at Mil conferences and that is to produce data, hell even make the claim, that your athletes have been trained to higher work capacity than ours.

We are, as crazy as it sounds, trying to ground the criteria for assessing the business of improving human performance to the quantification of human performance, and we’re having trouble finding takers. We offer ample, even perfect, opportunity here three days out of four for anyone to demonstrate their athlete’s superior work capacity. Hello?

I’ve done no analysis of CrossFit. It wouldn’t be worth much in any case. What I do is advance human performance and share, quite publicly our methods and results. We won’t grade our own papers.

You may, however, find what you are looking for at: Canadian Infantry School, Canadian Combat Training Center, Colorado State Patrol, Orange County Fire Authority, PSP in Ottawa, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program & MACE, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Academy, and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies to name just a few places where we’ve been turned inside out.

I thank you all for your support of CrossFit and evidence based fitness.

Comment #64 - Posted by: Coach at December 10, 2006 7:17 AM

Being in the Teams, it has been interesting to see the various reactions to CF. I have been a loyal participant for 2 years this month and like I wrote to Coach not long after I started; my search for the ultimate training program/philosophy is over, and that still remains. CF is not for everyone, and maybe I should care more but my leadership style has always prevented me from being a zealot. I prefer to live the philosophy and let those interested come to their own conclusion. As a military leader I will always ensure the right training equipment is available to my men and this equipment will always lean toward the functional. I will inject my own physical training ideas when asked and they will always resemble CF's philosophy.
CF is rough, I currently have a shoulder in need of surgery and my attempts to self-teach oly lifts with too much weight probably did not help. However, the injury I have is extremely predominant in the Teams and hardly any of the sufferers are CF'rs so I would not make a direct link between my injury and CF.
I was at the CF cert after which a BUD/s instructor had to go to the hospital for mild rhabdo.
CF is no joke, but it WORKS on so many levels, and that is why I am sold.

Even with my injury, I have used CF to get into better shape than I have ever been in. I completed a deployment with the injury with not one problem, actually my shoulder feels more stable now and I am delaying surgery. I just completed our O'course for the first time in well over a year and it felt EASIER than when I went to BUD/s, I was able to keep up with or pass many of the young studs. I am 38 yo and getting tired of my CO calling me 'men's fitness'.
In summary: CF is GENIUS. But, take it VERY slow and don't be stupid. (I have a theory that it is the somewhat fit guys that you have to watch out for, because they have enough fitness to horse around the weights (and they have egos to tend to so they push it), but their tendons are not up to it).
Interestingly enough, I am heading to SOCOM so I am sure the CF saga will continue to prove interesting.
Thanks again Coach and all for your fantastic creation and continued effort.

Comment #65 - Posted by: M at December 10, 2006 7:32 AM

Nothing like hearsay and incomplete information as the foundations for criticizing a possibly reasonable opinion!

Comment #66 - Posted by: AndrewN at December 10, 2006 7:44 AM

I slowly got myself into CrossFit a couple of months ago and am now completely on-board. I'll can't see myself going back to PTing the way I used to. I am 42 yo m and feel as good as I've felt in years. I continue to learn by reading the Journal and the posts in the daily WOD but I have already determined that when I arrive at my next unit as the CO next month Crossfit will be the PT philosophy we follow. It just makes sense. s/f, JP

Comment #67 - Posted by: JP at December 10, 2006 7:52 AM

I'll admit that after taking up CF at 44 years old I experienced some injury problems. Most of these problems involved the shoulders and rotator cuffs. However, I don't think that these problems were caused by CF, but rather revealed by the requirements of the CF regime. I'll credit the majority of these pre-existing conditions with bench presses and throwing basesballs without adequate warmups.

I have since worked on strengthing my rotator cuffs and increasing the flexibility in my shoulders. I've also realized, that at 46 yo, I need to warmup a little more than I used to and recognize my limits for what they are.

Oly lifts were new to me when I came to CF. I suffered many a sore muscle trying to do the prescribed WOD with the weights called for, however, I never once injured myself. With most of the "O" lifts my technique actually improves as I become fatigued and am no longer able to muscle the weight around.

So, what has CF done for me? My endurance has increased to a level I never thought was possible. I've been able to exceed my body weight in all of the Oly lifts (although I've yet to try a 165# snatch) and double my body weight in the DL. New physical limitations are revealed to me every day forcing me to address them. I am motivated to workout and look forward to each WOD with a passion I never before thought was possible. I've achieved a confidence level that eluded me for most of my adult life and best of all, I get really strange looks in the gym.

Coach, in my humble opinion, Mike Boyle isn't worthy of polishing your rings.

Comment #68 - Posted by: Jim D. at December 10, 2006 8:20 AM

Anyone who knows Olympic lifting knows Boyle's criticism is not only wrong but absurd. The old timers who lived, breathed, and developed the sport such as Bob Hoffman and colleagues endorsed the high rep workouts before Coach was even born. More recently, Carl Miller, former US Oly and World Coach and great athlete in his own right, has been publicizing high speed, high rep Olympic movement workouts since the 1980's, and he also advocates scalability and seems to specialize in developing routines for real old people ( like 80 yo's) in his business and practice. Miller also predates Coach by a long shot.
I disagree with this presumption by Crossfitters that fatigue degrades form. By definition, form means most efficient lift. Who in their right mind is going to make the work harder as they get near failure. The exact opposite should be happening, as you fatigue you should be paying more attention to efficiency, forcing you to adopt better form. It is precisely the fatigue effect that has improved my form.
Coach Glassman has gone way beyond anyone else by incorporating far more than just Olympic lifting into his methods, and there is no question he has found the magic bullet to defeating specific adaption, there won't be any such thing as a plateau in Crossfit. But I am concerned about this obsession with obtaining a good time in the WOD at any cost. When I saw AFT's video of that 225 DL + HSPU I knew that was dangerous. You could see what had to be a good 4" flexure at center bar when he wildly yanked up on it in what was really stiff legged DL position. This is going to catch up with his connective tissues in the lower back, he was sending a heck of a shock wave tension into his ligaments.

Comment #69 - Posted by: RobertP at December 10, 2006 8:20 AM

"I was asked on Thursday, by contractors at NSW, if I’d be willing to come to Virginia and discuss this with Mr. Boyle."

I hope that does happen Coach and I would be very interested in the transcript of that conversation (as I know it would be very educational for me). It's is only in the best interest of the fitness industry in general that more coaches come together to publicly debate workout philosophies, only then can we all learn from each other and increase the level at which we generate results. Who knows, make Boyle's next book may include high rep Oly lifts for his students. Advancing Performance is an organic beast in itself, always learning...always progressing...ever changing.

Comment #70 - Posted by: Mike OD at December 10, 2006 8:26 AM

I can't speak to this question except from my own experience: I injured my knee during a set of high rep cross fit prescribed split jerks and have been suffering since.

I hadn't had any formal training in O-lifts (hard to get, I looked for it), but I had taken the form seriously as seriously as I could, reading everything on the Crossfit website about it; watching the Crossfit videos; reading the Xfit journal; and looking at O-lifting sites on the web. I did my best, but got injured. I suspect I am not alone. I won't give up, when I heal I will still be looking for O-lift instruction, but my view is that there is indeed some risk in self-taught O-lifting.

Comment #71 - Posted by: Paulo at December 10, 2006 8:28 AM

Since there is no reference on what Boyle said, I will also say that perhaps his opinion comes from training only athletes. People that if hurt during training and are out 6-8 weeks, pretty much puts him out of business as a sports coach. He may be thinking that 20 reps of a weight that is 85% of 1Rmax is dangerous as opposed to a CF workout that uses more like a weight at 50-60% 1Rmax. He may be thinking of how a failed DL at heavy weight may force the person forward and cause a lower back injury. He may be thinking it is better to be safe than sorry. I don't know....but without a full transcript of what is said and his reasonings for saying it, I find it hard for anyone to criticize his comments.

That's like me being quoted as saying that eating chicken makes you fat.....with out hearing the complete intention of me saying chicken that is deep fried with a bucket of mashed potatoes and large soda 5x a day.

This rift in the fitness industry is going to do more harm than good. And as a person who's only intention is improving the health, fitness and performance for disturbs me to see good coaching philosophies come head to head when the goals are the same. Maybe I am just a dreamer.

Comment #72 - Posted by: Mike OD at December 10, 2006 8:37 AM

Talking about sending shockwaves, that reminds me of an old Strength & Health game called catch the barbell. I used to play this with my younger brother, throwing and catching the 100 lb bar to each other separated by about 15-20'. The first one to drop the catch loses, and the excitement of the game detracts from all the fatigue.

Comment #73 - Posted by: RobertP at December 10, 2006 8:37 AM

People need to chill out. Boyle has done some really good work and has been peers of and endorsed by Paul Chek and Charles Poliquin (SP?). Just because he disagrees doesn't mean hes wrong. After all, isn't it easy to see that high rep oly lifts have a higher potential for injury, but get you in the best shape possible?? Doesn't it make sense that when you are on the cutting edge... you are only one step away from falling over?

Comment #74 - Posted by: Brendon Clarke at December 10, 2006 8:52 AM

"I disagree with this presumption by Crossfitters that fatigue degrades form. By definition, form means most efficient lift"

Have you watched any of the videos on this site?

There have been MANY examples of very poor form during the pursuit of a good WOD time. E.g. the nasty girls video and the 225 DL + HSPU that RobertP refers to above.

I think a very legitimate criticism of using the full, conventional olympic lifts for high reps is that they are not necessary for developing the desired metabolic improvements when there are similar lifts that do provide 95% of the benefits while reducing potential problems.

As Ross Hunt points out, why not use high pulls? The form issues in nasty girls are mostly seen in the catch. Would the metabolic demand be reduced by eliminating the catch?

Again, I think it is silly to criticize someone based on hearsay, when there are probably substantial and reasonable caveats to the supposed statement. And the vituperation directed at Boyle based on said hearsay reflects very poorly on those commenters.

Comment #75 - Posted by: AndrewN at December 10, 2006 8:53 AM

Any outsider watching Nicole's last hang clean in the Nasty Girls video is going to think that the workout is dangerous. What I saw was an elite athlete, under a tremendous amount of physical, mental and emotional stress performing a movement pattern that required a tremendous amount of strength, balance, explosiveness, and concentration. CrossFit prepared her for this. I believe, let's say a football player defending a goal line stance in double overtime, not in the same condition as Nicole would have given up, got injured or both. I watch this video in awe and show it to all of my students so that they "get it".

Comment #76 - Posted by: Jaime at December 10, 2006 9:01 AM

Do people get hurt doing high rep Olympic lifts? IF the answer is no, then he is wrong. There is no need to engage in a long theoretical argument. We have enough data to answer the question.

Comment #77 - Posted by: charlie at December 10, 2006 9:17 AM

Mike Boyle, Charles Poliquin, JC Santana, Paul Chek, Louie Simmons, Charles Staley, John Berardi...all educators/coaches/colleagues i have worked with personally or learned from previous to CrossFit...all have things to teach as it comes from a different mouth/background/biases.....each has their own view which can be respected as they are entitled...who is better?...who cares, as long as they produce without injury, create passion around learning how to train and enable us as individuals to prepare ourselves better physically for or life.
everyone has their method/style/way about coaching....and EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING can be dangerous if not taught correctly INCLUDING high rep o-lifting..... and assuming that most who post here for the wod's are doing it on their own (and i can gaurantee some are NOT doing it as smoothly as Rob Miller yesterday as when time is a factor speed kills form "MOST" times) i can say that sometimes it might be dangerous if proper instruction is not there....i'd suggest everyone take a good view into every coaches systems/teachings/books/views and the like and use it as i have to help others and myself and not get caught up in what or who is better....
when it comes to downplaying one system over another, they're all business men...if someone asked a salesman which product was better, you'd think he's say his product due to bias or what he only knows...that does not mean it is better...if Mike Boyle was to say that crossfit and its ideas were fine/superior....he's lost clients/respect/yada yada....if he says its dangerous, then there's reason to comment at this post
i'm happy to see conditioning related debates, i have more passion about that than other topics
shout out to AFT Brett Marshall in the front row from everyone here in Calgary...makin' us proud "dad"

Comment #78 - Posted by: OPT at December 10, 2006 9:39 AM

High rep o-lifts help my form. I have found that during the course of a high-rep o-lift effort my form improves as I tire. I think my body finds the right form by itself becuase correct form is efficient. Efficiency can be easier to find when it is a nessecity.

Comment #79 - Posted by: Robert at December 10, 2006 9:42 AM

Robert P # 69
what is your Diane time?
i have to know this before i comment...

Comment #80 - Posted by: OPT at December 10, 2006 9:43 AM

Paulo #71

You were probably injured because you used too much weight right off the bat, or increased the load too quickly.

I have worked with many clients that claimed to have knee problems from squats. Problem was, they were not doing full range of motion squats. They were loading, sometimes upwards of 300lbs, and going down to about 45 degrees - huge load on the knees.

I scaled them back to no weight, and once the back could be maintained, the knees were lined up properly, and sufficient flexibility, then I would start adding weight.

Another story...I stopped a lifter from doing squats who complained of low back problems. He was doing really heavy squats with a rounded back, and only going down about 45 degrees. I worked on his form, etc. and suggested deadlifts to start strengthening the back - starting with very light weight.

Two months later and he has absolutely no back problems. BTW, he is a nurse and constantly lifts/moves people at work.

As for me, I have been training pretty hard to up my overhead squat and shoot for bodyweight OHSx15. I am 165lbs and just 1RM 195lbs. I'm up to 10 reps bodyweight. But, two years ago when I went through the olympic lifting cert in San Diego, I spent two days doing 45lb OHS because my flexibility, form, etc was so bad, I couldn't participate in many of the workouts. It has taken two years to get where I am, and I started very light.

Many new CrossFitters try to perform the WODs and other exercises as RXed, but they should be scaling the workouts. If you started practicing the split jerk with a wooden dowel, then 5 lbs, 10 lbs, etc., you wouldn't be having this problem.

When you start again, go really light, perfect the movement pattern, then add weight. These are the foundations of CrossFit. This is how I teach, and I know this is the CrossFit way after attending various certs. If you really want to learn, attend a cerification. It's worth it.

Comment #81 - Posted by: Jim at December 10, 2006 9:56 AM

I enjoy these types of Rest Day discussions. There are quite a few topics that can be addressed from Coach's short query. I've been ruminating on this all morning, so I will probably achieve Barry Cooperish post length :=)

With regard to the quotation about high rep O-lifting, it is probably important to frame the question before answering. Does Mr. Boyle indict ALL high rep O-lifting, or only un-coached or insufficiently coached high rep O-lifting? Is he critical of high rep O-lifting regardless of load? Does he go on to indict all high rep/high intensity exercises, or does high limit his criticism to high rep O-lifting alone? Does he limit his criticism to elite or near elite athletes (his apparant forte, per his site; by definition this includes SF Operators), or is this a blanket criticism meant to include all participants in exercise/fitness program?

I deal in the results of clinical research every minute of every day. The question of safety is that which is answered in FDA Phase I trials of medicines, techniques, and instruments in medicine. The hard fact is that neither Mr. Boyle nor CF has the hard data that would stand up under the scrutiny of a Phase I safety trial. Mr. Boyle states an opinion, the weakest sort of clinical proof ( even if we assign the label of expert to Mr. Boyle). As mentioned above there are other experts who can and have offered opinions regarding high rep O-lifting that are 180 degrees opposite to Mr. Boyle's opinion. As in any hearsay argument the winner of that particular battle is the "heaviest" expert who gets his opinion out to the broadest, most influential audience.

CF can trot out retrospective anectdotal evidence to support the contention that high rep O-lifting done properly and with common sense (see framing the question above) is NOT dangerous. This is stronger evidence than opinion, but still relatively weak scientific data. While CF has occasional notations such as #71 Paulo, the more common experience is injury with low rep/high weight O-lifting like kevin gp#34 above, or my unfortunate hip injury yesterday doing HSC and going for max. The preponderance of reported injuries associated with O-lifts, and the reportage of CF-affiliate trainers is that high rep O-lifting as an exercise modality is safe.

How do we increase the scientific power of an inquiry into this very simple, narrowly defined question? If it is an important enough question one could do a longitudinal SAFETY study of a representative group looking at injury types and rates. Lots of study designs are possible. How about a longitudinal cross-over study of young athletes training in a traditional, old-school PT program followed by CF, with all of its attendant high rep O-lifting? Oops, already done! The data exists in Canada and is there to be mined if necessary or desirable. We know the answer, though, don't we? CF-trained elite military units in Canada and the US are not losing operators to training injuries, a rather costly and counter-productive outcome. Rather, they are turning out more effective, more fit operators.

Returning to my framed version of the question the most reasonable conclusion from available data (with comments on the power of said data) is that high rep O-lifting is no more or less dangerous than high rep anything, given appropriate technical training and loads. QED.

But the question, as it often is, is expanded insofar as Mr. Boyle is felt by Coach and others to have criticized CF as a whole, not just CF's inclusion of high rep O-lifting. In its purest form that discussion comes down, I think, to the age old question ofwhich approach is superior: the GPP or the activity specific? And that must come down to target audience. Kate #56 very eloquently makes the case for the everyday bloke (blokette?), the generalist looking to enhance their everyday performance in all of their activities. Me. CF appears to be so superior in this regard that examining this aspect of the question seems to be a waste of time. We're the bread and butter of the industry and the fitness world, but we really aren't the sexiest or most glamorous audience for this discussion (sorry, Kate, although I am sure that in ALL other respects you are much, much sexier that I).

It starts to get interesting when we look at people for whom the physical is critical to their everyday, workaday world. LEO's, firefighters, military personel, and the like. Who does better on objective testing in these worlds? Tests used by authorities in these areas for certification? Is it the person who repeatedly does only the tasks that are performed in the test, the person who does a program like Mr. Boyle's with or without task-specific training, or the person who does CF with or without task-specific training? Who knows? ! All evidence on both sides appears to be anectdotal. We here on this CF site all think it's a no-brainer...CF in a landslide. The best GPP should do as well as or better than other options. I've been convinced that CF is the best GPP.

But the sexiest audience, the one that attracts the most attention, is one comprised of truly elite athletes. Olympic athletes, professional athletes, SF Operators, etc. This is why the SOCOM meeting and Mr. Boyle's comments get such play and why Coach feels the need to both comment and seek comment. CF as a philosophy and as a program competes with all other programs for the heart and soul of athletes of all types everywhere. Is CF dramatically superior to other fitness programs when combined with sport-specific technical work? Eva T (skiing) and Rob (rock climbing) think so. But Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan apparantly did OK with other fitness programs. The difference in my mind is that Mr. Boyle may be competing against CF as an entity in his comments, whereas Coach Glassman appears to be interested in the debate over the ideas, with the evolution of the debate revolving around outcomes. I know that's a lot to read into one question and two posts from Coach. But each of these men is invested in some way (feels that it is important enough to make statements in public) in having a program that is embraced by the SF community.

Which brings me, at last, to the business angle. Mr. Boyle appears to have a rather traditional, high end, high visibility consumer service business built on traditional marketing and perceived benefit by customers. It appears that he has a very successful business, and it appears that he understands the need to continually keep his business, brand, philosophy, and name in circulation. Working with high visibility individuals and groups is a classic approach, with or without disparaging perceived competitors. CF, on the other hand, is a quasi-organic, quasi-open source movement whose marketing is viral, word-of-mouth. The need for evolution to come through or be approved by Coach sets CF apart from true open-source programs (eg. Linux), and there is a defined business structure because, after all, Coach and Lauren have to eat. It is not necessary for any individual in CF to disparage another system or individual; it is only necessary for Coach and others to defend CF against gratuitous or unsupportable attacks (eg. "high rep O-lifting is dangerous, ergo CF is dangerous"), and to contiue to pursue outcomes-based develpment of the system. The IDEA of CF is sufficient thus far to promote organic growth without as much purposeful marketing. The strategy would be to attempt, always, to take the high road in these discussions.

Man, should have scaled this one! As I said in my 12/2 and 12/3 comments on the CFT, the entirety of CF has engaged me both physically and mentally. It was fun to think this through. Now, have to see what kind of work-out my hip will allow.


Comment #82 - Posted by: bingo at December 10, 2006 9:57 AM

Grace - scaled

Clean and Jerk 55# x 30


Comment #83 - Posted by: Laurar at December 10, 2006 10:06 AM

I do not know exactly what Mr. Boyle said. I do think I understand his point. The risk of injury due to bad form during an Olympic Lift is greater than that of a similar number of any calistenic exercise or a low intensity swim or run performed for a similar amount of time for most military Special Operators. Why? Olympic Lifts require good form to avoid injury if performed at a useful work out intensity. The simple movements of cals and the lower resistance of body weight are much easier to master and the only real risk of injury is due to overuse over long periods of time. Most Special Operators do not have much, if any, experience with Olympic Lifting. Most Special Operators are, as "M" points out, fit enough to muscle through exercises and are often stubborn enough to do so until they injure themselves. Is this any justification to avoid Olympic Lifts? No! Hell NO! Olypic Lifts (oh, how I hate them because I suck at them) provide a much greater training intensity in a much shorter time than the old PT model. Crossfit's use of Olympic Lifts and other exercises result in far more practical strength and power that Operators need when they are running around in body armor, climbing over and through obstacles, carrying or dragging heavy loads, etc. The problem is that Special Operators have been doing the old PT Model of calistenics followed by aerobic conditioning (usually running and/or swimming) because this basis for PT at all of their selection and qualification schools. Why the old model? For many reasons. One, because it is easy to measure performance-time or number of reps. Two, this model requires fairly limited equipment or facilities-a PT pit, pull up bars, a pool, a measured running course- all of which are readily available at the bases/posts where the schools are located. Three, it takes very little expertise to teach or supervise these activities. This leaves Instructors free to watch for the more important aspects of training such as mental toughness, team work, the ability to work under fatigue or stress. While Crossfit training method is being explored at many of these schools, the PT standards required to graduate these schools will still probably remain x numbers of such and such cals, y time for the run, and z time for the swim. The guys on the teams, however, can do what ever PT they want. Many want Crossfit because they know it works.

So, what is the solution? Crossfit already provides it-learn proper form through practicing the lifts correctly using only a stick or PVC pipe so that you can safely execute the movements when fatigued. If your form deteriorates to the point of risking injury, use a little common sense; simply adjust the load or take a break. Have a buddy spot you and let you know what you are doing right and wrong. Film yourself so you can see your form and make corrections. I also recommend sending Team Members to Crossfit Certification so they can come back and teach or hiring a Crossfit ceritied Coach in your area. The solution is not, as Mr Boyle points out, to avoid the lifts when fatigued.

Comment #84 - Posted by: sean mclane at December 10, 2006 10:09 AM

I love seeing the support CrossFitters have for CrossFit and its program. Who to better speak on the programs behalf than those that are participating in it. I am 41 and have been in terrible shape for the last ten years. With the sole means of exercise being rec. softball in the summer.

My wife Deana and I work for CrossFit HQ and started working out at CrossFit roughly six weeks ago and are doing things I would have not thought possible. Had I been working out on my own I would of quite the moment I felt anything resembling pain thinking that it was a sign of pushing too far or that I was over doing it.

Fortunately our trainer has taught us by pushing us that we will be fine and because of that we have made great strides in our physical ability. Yes there is pain, but no injuries only progression. With as little experience as we have we still managed to maintain proper form as this is what we are being taught. Making good times is important, however doing it correctly trumps time. This is what CrossFit trainers teach.

CrossFitters get it, and in time so will others.

Comment #85 - Posted by: Ken Dinel at December 10, 2006 10:27 AM

Did tuesdays wod today again playing catch up.
ran 1 mile 10:45
50 kipling pull ups
100 th/squats
50push ups
50 k pull ups
100 20lb back squats
50 push ups
100 front squats 20lbs
100 push ups
1 mile run 11:45
love the workout but can go awhile before I see "murph" again OUCH!

Comment #86 - Posted by: gale at December 10, 2006 10:38 AM

A couple of thoughts:

These comments were made at a Special Ops Medical Conference. Not knowing the charter around the conference, I'll offer that any claims of injury risk reduction fell on eager ears. The medical communities principal raison d'etre is "do no further harm."

As a physical therapist, here are common statements I get from concerned colleagues with great conviction:
1. Deep squats create pathological forces at the patellofemoral joint and create unnecessary risk for knee injuries.
2. Overhead lifts place abnormal stress on shoulder joints and low back - there are no functional benefits from training that way.
3. Deadlifts create excessive loads on the low back and can exacerbate existing subclinical disc issues.

Many well intentioned, well meaning folks believe I'm a nut case for sustaining high intensity work - their Cooper Institute perspective leads them to think I'm risking a stroke or heart attack at 49. That does not make them right. It does make them sincere and concerned, but not necessarily right.

The real issue isn't that statements like this and Boyles occur. The real mystery to me is that there aren't more statements like this.

Appreciate Sean Mclane #84 post about anecdotal pissing matches, Rene #27 post about CF's videos being fuel to Boyle's fire and the wisdom of M #65 post that "I prefer to live the philosophy and let those interested come to their own conclusion." Good discussion, good thought to post it here for open discussion & debate.

Comment #87 - Posted by: John T. at December 10, 2006 10:48 AM

Coach, Criticism is the highest form of flattery!

Comment #88 - Posted by: john wopat at December 10, 2006 11:15 AM

To me, athletic coaches and trainers are like economists, line ten of them and ask the same question and you'll get ten different answers. This goes for the diet "gurus" also. Most of these people contradict what the others are saying and are even what they may have said a few years ago. They are quick to jump on the latest fad. An example is when people started talking about the "core" or "functional training". A few years ago, no one ever heard of kettlebells, now everyone is on the kb wagon. What is the truth? For me the bottom line is: "you are what you train to be"

Comment #89 - Posted by: Daniel at December 10, 2006 12:16 PM

#53, MFbunch--I clocked myself in the nose with an oly bar once doing FGB, does that count? :-) (and yes, I finished the workout)

Comment #90 - Posted by: cjones at December 10, 2006 12:20 PM

I would like to add one other thing: CrossFit is the only training system that I have seen that has the balls to throw in high rep olympic lifts in their protocols. People like Boyle have to worry about lawsuits, CF on the other hand doesn't seem to worry about it too much.

Comment #91 - Posted by: Daniel at December 10, 2006 12:30 PM

Boyle is very cautious about using the olympic lifts. He advocates the use of two variations with the barbell: the hang power clean and a clean-grip hang power snatch. His reasoning for these choices are two-fold: these lifts are easier to teach and they are safer for the lower back and shoulders. It follows that someone who is so conservative about incorporating olympic lifting into his programming would find full ROM, high-rep olympic lifting to be problematic. Does this mean he is right? No. Does this mean he is wrong? No. There is no perfect system for training athletes. The main reason for this is there is a great variation among athletes. The population that Boyle works with has done well with the exercise choices and parameters he includes in his programs. The same can be said for those who train with the Crossfit model.

Personally I think the both Boyle and Coach have interesting ideas. I incorporate both into my training and the training of my athletes. I wise and tremendous athlete once said,

"Absorb what is useful and discard the rest."

The best athletes are great students. No source of ideas should be discarded or discredited until it is fully understood.

Comment #92 - Posted by: Splicer at December 10, 2006 12:51 PM

I can't wait until tomorrow!

Comment #93 - Posted by: cripsR6 at December 10, 2006 1:15 PM

If someone wanted to steal ideas and market them as their own then of coarse they would say the other guys ideas and methods are dangerous. I CF because it works and is directly related to what I do on a daily basis. Those who know—well,, they just know. Thanks again to Coach and T. Socha for tuning me on to CF.

Comment #94 - Posted by: falloutshelter at December 10, 2006 1:17 PM

need some more help guys . . .

It was recommended to me to do sprint intervals to improve my cardio. However I am not sure how many day a week I should do them? I do the WOD's and was just afraid I might overtrain if I did intervals like 4 times a week?

thanks in advance

Comment #95 - Posted by: pjminni at December 10, 2006 1:19 PM

I can't contribute as eloquently as most of the participants today.

I don't know what Mr. Boyle has against CrossFit. I hope the minutes become available. Maybe he's never tried it. I know that I consistently scored in the Outstanding category of the Navy's PT standards, yet I didn't feel healthy, nor was I "fit," in that I had horrible flexibility and low rep strength.

While I am not in Spec Ops, I can speak from my experience with working with Soldiers, Airmen and Marines and seeing their workouts and say that CrossFit is far superior to what we do. It is, in my mind, an unparalleled tool to build functional strength and reduce injuries. As for high-rep O-lifts, the only time I've had an injury was when I used bad form.

All I'll say is that I've experienced a surge in my strength, speed, and flexibility since starting CrossFit. It has also given me more mental toughness and determination, as a result of grueling workouts like Linda or Tabata intervals.

I have to thank you for providing this information to us.

Thank you Coach.

Comment #96 - Posted by: LucienNicholson at December 10, 2006 1:31 PM

Jim, #81, thanks, no doubt you're right! Paul

Comment #97 - Posted by: Paulo at December 10, 2006 1:37 PM

30 two handed anyhows (Grace)
1:52 @ 135lbs

It seems to me that I used to take more than 30 maximal strokes in a world cup white water slalom race that lasted longer than 2 min. You should have seen how my form used to degrade at the end of such efforts precisely because I DIDN'T have the high rep o-lifting.

Pretty sure no coach was worried about my shoulder positioning, or low back position while trying the make finals. We don't train in Vaccuum. No one at our training house would allow breakdowns in form to continue, even it was High Rep Calf Raises.
High Rep anything is unsafe with poor mechanics. Just ask the reigning US Olpmpic Kayaking Silver Medalist who has had two shoulder surgeries.

The athlete's efficiency is going to regress with fatigue. Allowing breakdowns in form to progress to injury in repeated anything is the Coach's fault.

Kelly Starrett

Comment #98 - Posted by: Kelly Starrett at December 10, 2006 1:43 PM

Managed to complete ystd's WOD, details there.


Comment #99 - Posted by: bingo at December 10, 2006 2:01 PM

Verdict: CF-Dangerously Effective. That said, How about we up the WOD tempo a bit. I only saw pukie twice this week. Besides Greg A. only took 8:37 to complete WOD 061207, what the hell kind of workout is that?!!! I know we are being serious but I can't resist. Just checking in, Thanks Coach!

Comment #100 - Posted by: T. Socha at December 10, 2006 2:16 PM

Again, gym closes early, so I did a home WOD. Without much in the way of equipment, I did one of CrossFit's pull-up centric WOD's:

With a continuously running clock, do 1 pull-up first minute, 2 pull-ups second minute, etc. until failure to complete allotted pull-ups per minute.
Reached 8 minutes completely with only the last round kipping, and only the last six. I am quite certain I beat my first time doing this likely by two minutes. I think I felt embarrassed at the time about my 6 mdnutes. Anyway, I definitely feel stronger with my pull-ups. I definitely notice it during the CrossFit warmup.

OK, hopefully getting back to the gym tomorrow.

Comment #101 - Posted by: Arana at December 10, 2006 2:31 PM

No more dangerous than sitting on your ass, eating crappy food, and drowning your sorrows with a big soda every 2 hours

Comment #102 - Posted by: the Foose at December 10, 2006 2:56 PM

"No more dangerous than sitting on your ass, eating crappy food, and drowning your sorrows with a big soda every 2 hours"

I assume this is exactly how Boyle trains his dozens of NHL clients. Indeed, it was his special 64oz of cola power hour that pushed him over the top to become the Bruins and women's Olympic hockey S&C coach.

Comment #103 - Posted by: AndrewN at December 10, 2006 3:21 PM

#95 pjminni-

Check your email.

Comment #104 - Posted by: JR at December 10, 2006 3:37 PM

#56/58 Kate, thanks. I enjoyed your argument as well.

#65 M I agree, a little knowledge, or in this case fitness, is just enough to get in trouble. I am constantly telling myself to 'stay within myself' in the gym.

I personally have found that I have very little problems with injuries if I stick to the CF program and philosophy. I love the O-lifts and have since I was introduced to them in football, I would go so far as to say doing them has radically changed my life.

Still it is important to find a healthy blend of intensity and intelligence in your training. Focusing too much on getting a 'good time' will not allow for improvement. Wyatt Earp once said in a gunfight the guy who wins is the guy who takes the extra 3/10 of a second to aim. I believe that doing a WOD 30 seconds or two minutes slower, is good if it means you take that extra 2 seconds every rep to focus on what you are doing and execute the proper form on the lift.

Comment #105 - Posted by: PistolPete at December 10, 2006 3:45 PM

Did 12/09 WOD
Still recovering from bronchitis.
First time with the snatch – used bar only.
PU mostly jumping with slow negatives.
three rounds – 7:30/8:29/7:44 total of 23:43

Comment #106 - Posted by: Doc at December 10, 2006 3:50 PM

Comment #82 - Posted by bingo

Can you point us (me) in the direction of the data you metnion in your well argued post? "How about a longitudinal cross-over study of young athletes training in a traditional, old-school PT program followed by CF, with all of its attendant high rep O-lifting? Oops, already done! The data exists in Canada and is there to be mined if necessary or desirable."

Comment #107 - Posted by: Tony at December 10, 2006 3:54 PM

#82 Bingo-
No offense taken, I am in agreeance with you about the bread and butter, non-glamorous, non-sexy part. It is much better for CF to have AFT types out there with their videos showing the world how easy it can look to do a WOD. It looks easy enough until you try it and then, what a wake up call!


If I could have one request made about the site, it would be to have spell check added to the comments section. Yeah, I know the answer, get a dictionary; well I have 4.

Comment #108 - Posted by: jknl at December 10, 2006 3:54 PM

This just in....

Tomorrow's WOD to be done on ice-skates!

Comment #109 - Posted by: Clippa at December 10, 2006 4:14 PM

Quote: The data exists in Canada and is there to be mined if necessary or desirable.

Tony: a little more detail, please, for this noob.

Comment #110 - Posted by: John T. at December 10, 2006 4:18 PM

#104 - JR

My email was incomplete the first time. If you could resend it I would appreciate it.


Comment #111 - Posted by: pjminni at December 10, 2006 4:19 PM

Debate on such topics is good. I am unfortunately too busy to post as well a thought out post as comment #82 by Bingo (even with time?).

I will say that I agree with the many comments that it would be nice to get more detail about the substance of Mr. Boyle's criticism. However, I suspect that Mr. Boyle doesn't have a lot, if any, evidence for this statement. But CF as yet doesn’t have a lot of hard evidence that it is safe. That being said, surely the onus of proof should be with the person leveling the criticism.

High rep Olympic lifting obviously has a potential for injury. But how high a potential? Any intense work-out has risks, but if one uses the word “dangerous” we can only assume Mr. Boyle is saying there is a high risk. I can’t quote any research on this I am afraid but dropping the weight and staying focused on form ahead of time allows me to reap the benefit of this powerful method of training in a safe manner. I am 50, without an extensive weight training background and hard work combined with common sense is getting results. To be honest the risks are there for me due to poor shoulder and hip flexibility….but if CrossFit had been around when I was 20 I wouldn’t be as inflexible as I am right now! I am working on this weak point in my fitness and will not attempt snatches until my hips and shoulders get to a level of flexibility that can handle them. Scaling weights, working on weaknesses, using common sense, etc………….these comments have been posted many times before on the CF website and comment board.

If you have ever attended a CF certification course you will know that they work on form, form and then do some more work on form. During the workouts that we did at the certification there was constant feedback from coaches. As has been suggested in the discussions, if you are just doing CF from the web it would be a good idea to have a friend film you doing some of these kinds of workouts or at least provide feedback for you. You do have to learn the correct form for all activities (e.g. kettlebell work can sure hurt you if done incorrectly). However, avoiding challenges is not the best solution in the long term but progressing in a sensible manner is advisable.

Comment #112 - Posted by: Tony at December 10, 2006 4:20 PM

Of the 10 elements of fitness from "What Is Fitness?" high weight, low rep O lifts hit 8 of 10--Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Balance, Accuracy, Agility, & Coordination. High rep, low weight O lifts brings in Cardio and Stamina and thus hits all 10 elements of fitness in one workout. Can't say that about very many other things.

Another very important thing that makes O lifts and high rep O lifts extraordinarily valuable is that they require and teach a core to extremity movement pattern that is a fundamental part of all efficient athletic movement. The value of this cannot be overstated.

Boyle is not only afraid of high rep O lifts, he is apparently afraid of the O lifts themselves, because his program includes only power cleans, etc. I'm learning that this is a very common practice and attitude in the strength and conditioning world, and I'm convinced it's because so many strength coaches have never learned how to teach O lifts.

Comment #113 - Posted by: Dan MacDougald at December 10, 2006 4:25 PM

Original post is being held, apologies for the repeat if it ever posts.

#82 Bingo- No offense taken and I agree with you about the non-glamorous and bread and butter aspect of your post. I think it is best for CrossFit to have the AFT and Rob Miller types post their videos for the world to look at, because we all know that to read a WOD is completely different than when you actually do the WOD. I gave up saying, "That doesn't look to bad." because every time it would kick my butt.


I would like to make one request of the site though and that be the addition of spell check in the comments section. I think much faster than I can type.

Comment #114 - Posted by: jknl at December 10, 2006 4:36 PM

Pjmini (#17, #95, and several others):

Here's a training regimen that has worked for me:

a) find the distance that you can run at very close to "all out" (maybe only 100 yards, or even less).

b) run twice that distance (i.e., 200 yards). Run it pretty fast, at least 85%, maybe 90% of "all out" (but not truly 100%). Run it 8 times, with 2 minutes rest between each effort. You should be winded by the end of each run, and by the end of the 8 rounds, you probably won't have fully recovered in the two minutes rest. Run anyway.

c) do this 3 times / week. I would do this on the same days you do the WOD (so you get a true complete rest day), but you can choose.

d) retest in step (a) every two weeks (6 workouts), and up the training distance appropriately. If you're truly de-conditionedI would expect your "all-out" run distance to double in 2 weeks, then double again in 3 more, and then (possibly) double again in 4 more weeks. (in 9 weeks, you'll be able to run hard 8x further than before)

You will not need more than this. Futher gains will come fairly slowly, and will start to compromise your other strength work. I would not bother to increase your "cardio" workouts beyond this, even cutting back to 2x / week.

Comment #115 - Posted by: davidjwood at December 10, 2006 4:38 PM

Tony #107
Coach has introduced and coached CF principles to units in the Canadien military, and has conducted certs specifically for them. These young men were presumably previously trained with traditional programs per the Canadien military, and were also under the care to the military medical corps. Injury data is almost certainly available to the medical officers. All military organizations are notable for their ability to acquire and acumulate data. No formal study (such as my proposed longitudinal cross-over study) as far as I know, but a retrospective study of data is possible if it is deemed necessary or desirable by any invested authority. It is unlikely that a "just somebody" like me would have access to that data, but I'll bet Coach would.

A military cohort is actually a pretty cool group for this type of study. Young, healthy, athletic, in need of training, with access to appropriate training and medical care, mandatory involvement, and automatic consent to have the data used by the organization. A Phase I type safety study (while probably unecessary IMO) would be pretty easy to accomplish in this setting looking at data that already exists. "Evidence-based Fitness."

Comment #116 - Posted by: bingo at December 10, 2006 4:45 PM

#115 - davidjwood

Thank you very much that was exactly what I was looking for. I was thinking about doing some thing like 30 second sprints with 90 second rest between efforts which seems similar to your suggestion.

thanks again


Comment #117 - Posted by: pjminni at December 10, 2006 5:21 PM

I am still fairly new to Cross Fit - 6 months or so. Today's discussion reveals something I love about Crossfit beyond the obvious WODs: I love the whole Crossfit community and especially Coach's willingness to think deeply about these things. I appreciate his attempt to stir our thinking about these and much more important things on the off days. I tend to trust this system above others because of Coach's obvious desire to seek the truth. As Thomas Jefferson said, "We will tolerate any error, so long as truth remains free to combat it."

For my personal notes: Weekly Sunday weigh-in:
164, 12.5, 39, 35 1/4

Comment #118 - Posted by: Rusty at December 10, 2006 5:27 PM

OPT #80,

I wish you didn't ask that because my times are pathetic by comparison to AFT:-) Best recorded time was 9:50 on 11-17-2006. I broke the workout into 7,7,7 then 5,5,5 then 3,3,3; alternating 7 DL's, 7 HSPUs, 7 DL's , 7 HSPUs, etc without break for the 21 rep round, then took a 30 second breather, then did the 15 rep round 5,5,5 same way etc. My repetitions were strict and productive, for example using pure knee extension to get the bar above the knees before I started the acceleration with hip and back synchronous extension, and the let down was a controlled reverse motion. I just don't see doing a single rep under about 2.5-3 seconds that way. My HSPUs were nose to floor, hands up on plates to get my upper arms parallel to the floor and a fairly good range of motion.
I admire AFT, he's definitely the human version of a quarter horse, but if the less gifted try to emulate his style, it will be a visit to orthopedics for sure. You're another high performance machine BTW.

Comment #119 - Posted by: RobertP at December 10, 2006 5:32 PM

34 / 187 lbs
USMC PFT as rx'd:
20 pullups - 100pts
99 crunches in 2 min - 99pts
21:00 3 mile (piss poor) - 82 pts
total: 281
Best PFT in 3 years. Thanks crossfit.

Comment #120 - Posted by: Bill at December 10, 2006 5:32 PM

I think high-rep olympic lifts are an incredible tool for building work capacity. Unfortunately, in my experience, they aren't without their dangers. I learned the olympic lifts from Jim Schmitz and used them in my training for 5 years without a problem (primarily high intensity, low volume programs). Last year, after discovering CF, I retooled some of my workouts to improve my work capacity. Shortly thereafter, I tore my labrum doing a workout that involved high rep barbell power snatches (something close to yesterday's WOD). After a year off, surgery, and extensive therapy, I'm still not %100. Again, I think the OLs are incredible for building work capacity. Just be careful and listen to your body.

Comment #121 - Posted by: SS at December 10, 2006 5:34 PM

#78 - right on the money...Everybody has something to say or add and it should be up to each of us individually to question then accept or not. Today while watching others do sumo dead lift high pulls it was very apparent that had i not been there to correct "speed was killing form" Would I say high rep pulls are dangerous, certainly not. It really is hard to comment on Mike Boyle's comment without the context it was intended. I do think though that teaching a skill should be terminated if too much fatigue has set in. Charlie Francis would listen to the sounds of his athletes feet touching the ground to help determine when too much fatigue had set in.
Finally I must say that I enjoy the CF workouts very much. (admittedly some still terrify me) I am still new to most of them and getting progressively stronger and better. I won't go so far as saying it's for everyone though.

Comment #122 - Posted by: Trevor S at December 10, 2006 5:55 PM

#121 Tearing the tendon attachments to the labrum is very bad news. How did you do that exactly, was it a bad pull, or did you lose the weight behind?
This brings up one area where I think Crossfit may be lacking and that is the practice of the assistance exercises to strengthen the performance of the full body movements. For example, a shoulder width bench press performed with "reach" similar to the active shoulder concept in the press, is a great way to build the scapular muscle strength required to lock the shoulders while doing things like the snatch. But the BP is only rarely on the WOD agenda. Same goes for high pulls.

Comment #123 - Posted by: RobertP at December 10, 2006 6:05 PM

Tony #107: here is the only place I could find information on the Canadian Military study in Gagetown. I wouldn't say that it is easy to find. Interesting thread - the first post summarizes the study, and then the conversation moves quickly into criticism of poor form with Oly lifts. It seems that Mr. Boyle is not alone in his criticism of CF.

It is also in one of the old CF journals, but I can't find it right now.

Comment #124 - Posted by: John T. at December 10, 2006 6:07 PM

9 mile trail run in South Mountain Park in Phoenix. Really felt the fatigue still lingering from last weekends rim-to-rim and back (20 hours: 49 miles and 22,000 feet of elevation gained and lost) in the Grand Canyon. Time to get back to the WODs.

Comment #125 - Posted by: Nature Boy at December 10, 2006 6:36 PM

I think people may jumping the gun. I trained under Mike Boyle and talked training with him as a student athlete at Boston U in the early 90's. I know we had some impressively trained guys. I remember a 215lb defensemen on hockey team who could bench over 375, Power Clean 315 and ran five miles in thirty two minutes. That is a pretty good package of fitness. But it was a different approach.

I think the Crossfit approach is tremendous!

But a lot of people believe you train oly's for simple explosion and over 5 reps you lose technique and intensity. Probably true.

But if your goal is to have a great Clean n Jerk then keep your reps low. If your goal is to have the gritt to pull a hose down a hallway or pull a fellow soldier out of bad spot, or to have the strenth to execute a choke 7 minutes into a bout then doing 30 C N J is pretty useful.

Maybe I am too nice a guy but the two approaches can coexist and both be successful. Come to think of it they are!

Comment #126 - Posted by: AkronPowderhorn at December 10, 2006 6:36 PM

well said #125

Comment #127 - Posted by: Trevor S at December 10, 2006 7:37 PM

Hey, Akron - I was there at the same time. Mike Boyle has always had a good reputation (particularly with hockey guys) and anyone he trained. I would go easy with the assertion that this is all about the $$ and Boyle feels threatened - I doubt Mike Boyle's livelihood is in dire straits due to CrossFit.

I am a huge CF supporter and understand Coach's concern (as someone noted above) that Boyle's thoughts become "the truth" about high rep oly lifts. I know from my friends in the SF/SpecWar community that CF is there to stay - those guys are sold. So, neither Coach nor Mike Boyle are a threat to each other.

The real question is aboout methodology. My guess is that whatever Boyle said he probably said because he believes it - that, however, doesn't make him right, nor does his stable of clients make him right. I don't know if he qualified the statement, but I agree for many of the reasons cited above that working high rep oly lifts is a great training tool. I also believe we ought not to be slaves to the clock in our workouts at the expense of doing the exercise right - but this applies to guys I saw at OCS "cheating" on pushups/pullups/situps, etc, as much as it does to CF'ers doing the Oly lifts and in that sense, Boyle's criticism is too broad (as it has been reported). Doing anything improperly at the level of fatigue opens one up to a higher potential for injury. That doesn't mean, however, that we eliminate that modality of training.

We all, trainers and athletes, need too maintain discipline and focus at the upper limits of our abilities. I'll bet both Coach and Mr. Boyle would even agree upon that point.

Comment #128 - Posted by: Dale Saran at December 10, 2006 8:07 PM

I agree with you Coach, in fact I've had this discussion with Eva on an occasion or two? We've noticed that with light weights and a good coaches eye, form can improve under fatigue.

Particularly with weightlifting.

As the body fatigues particularly the arms most individuals have no choice but to perform techincally supperior cleans and snatches in order to carry on, because frankly after 50 or 60 cleans with a 45lbs bar, you can't pull early with arms, and you can't curl the bar either.

This is usually when an the light switches on for the individual and they start to get why they are jumping and pulling themselves under the bar!!!

Fatigue one of the most efficacious means by which to teach the lifts!

Try this with a 45lbs bar:
- Snatches
- Cleans
- Jerks

Comment #129 - Posted by: Pierre Auge at December 10, 2006 8:12 PM

I'm waaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttinnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggg.

Comment #130 - Posted by: gaucoin at December 10, 2006 8:37 PM

Where's my crack??

Comment #131 - Posted by: Maximus at December 10, 2006 8:40 PM

It's 11:42pm in Chicago and no WOD yet. I can't go to sleep until I have a workout for tomorrow!

Comment #132 - Posted by: Cornish at December 10, 2006 8:50 PM

Actually, Pierre. I can lateral raise and reverse curl my way through that entire set. And I'm a fat boy.

Comment #133 - Posted by: kevin gp at December 10, 2006 9:47 PM

First let me say that I have not read Mike Boyle's comment but I feel obligated to defend him anyway since he is not the first one to be the target of this kind of criticism.

While I do have some disagreements with Mike (namely his preference of front squats to box squats) I respect that he has been in this business for many more years than I've been alive. A lot of you have been saying that his ideas are “unfounded” or “totally baseless” but the reality is that most of you have never actually done the research yourselves. Honestly, who here has read and understood Supertraining, for example, and then applied that knowledge to thousands of clients. Alywn Cosgrove, a highly respected strength coach, often says something to the effect of “the real experts in a field will tend to agree 80-90% of the time.” It seems that whenever Crossfit is criticized, it tends to insulate itself and become even more inflexible. When you find yourself in disagreement with someone like Mike, you at least owe it to yourself to reevaluate your program and then decide whether or not to change. One of the most important qualities an athlete can have is being open to new ideas and methodologies, and frankly, I don't see that frequently around here. Another criticism is that he is “competing with Crossfit for business;” this really irks me, because trainers like Mike and Alywn and Dave Tate and Louie Simmons and all the rest are frequently interacting and learning from each other. Flex, Muscle and Fitness and Men's Health compete for business, not Mike Boyle. It's all about finding what works, not subscribing to any particular idea for it's own sake.

So does CrossFit work? Absolutely. Is it a perfect program that is totally above criticism? Nope. Don't make the mistake that I'm against hard training- I'm not- I just find the arrogance and lack of objectivity here disheartening. I used to do CrossFit, in fact, and I saw great results but I moved on when I found something better (for me). So in short, what I'm saying is stay open and “adjust your conclusions with new evidence.” I'll close with a quote from Mike Boyle himself:

"You can disagree with some one's training theories and still respect and like them as a person."

Comment #134 - Posted by: Kyle at December 10, 2006 10:04 PM

Kyle, Well said, especialy the last quote.
today's training:
ladder push-ups, add 2 reps every minute. 2 on the first min. 4 on the sec, 6 on the thirth etc.
score 9 min. Gives a total of 100 reps.
Have fun, Johan

Comment #135 - Posted by: Johan Nederhof at December 10, 2006 11:16 PM

I did xfit for 2+ years fairly strictly, and was self-taught on the oly lifts. I love the simplicity of picking up a weight and putting it over your head. I love the metcon component of doing lots of reps of them. And now my back is injured and I have chronic back pain.

I used to get the back pain where at random moments, 2-3 times a year, it would "go out" and I'd get stuck in bed for a week. I haven't had that in years. What I now have is something structural that causes pain when I move in certain ways. I'm getting ready to see a PT.

No real conclusion to offer, but my experience suggests GET TRAINING if you are going to do the high rep oly lifts. And I wonder if there aren't other exercises that don't allow you to achieve a poor anatomic position that offer close to the same watts per rep of the oly lift. If you read Stuart McGill's work on the back, he echos much of Mike Boyle's opinions.

Comment #136 - Posted by: mikeY at December 11, 2006 4:16 AM

In the spirit of balanced discussion, I think an invitation to Mike Boyle to join this discussion would be appropriate.

Rest day discussions are usually interesting and the quality of the information presented on this site is always fairly high, but issues are rarely presented in a balanced fashion.

Coach, I love this site and do the WOD faithfully, but your call for evidence/data from your critics is holding them to a higher standard than you hold yourself to. While your ideas are well concieved extrapolations and postulates derived from medium to high quality data, calling them evidence based is a bit of a stretch. You've done an admirable job of designing and disseminating a unique approach to fitness training. The next step to true innovation is to facilitate and participat in a systematic examination of the efficacy of your approach and the presentation of this examination in a form that can be independently validated.

Comment #137 - Posted by: BOA at December 11, 2006 6:16 AM

The next step to true innovation is to facilitate and participate in a systematic examination of the efficacy of your approach and the presentation of this examination in a form that can be independently validated.

Sounds like the beginnings of a CrossFit special interest research group. Color me as interested - I'm in. I don't have a heavy research background, but I am certain that, within this community, some do and can direct others like me. I'm thinking of a Canadian University Sr. Lecturer soon to start a sabbatical....

Comment #138 - Posted by: John T. at December 11, 2006 6:43 AM

Timely...I went on an unofficial football recruiting visit with my son this weekend to an un-named Big 10 school (un-named because I'm 90% certain he'll go there).

Their weightroom looked like an cavernous Curves facility. Not a single squat rack or bumper plate in the place. Lots of leg press machines though. The strength coach told me very specifically that they don't do any free weight work. "Coach _______ insists that no one get hurt in here. Injuries should only occur on the field."

This is in sharp contrast to the other three Big 10 schools that we've visited, all of which incorporated lots of explosive features in their strength programs, specifically high rep power cleans, power snatch, DL, back squat, box jumps, etc. Not sure if the power versions specifically qualify as Olympic lifts, but you get the point.

Quantification of results? Records since 2001:

Team A, no free weights, 40-31, 1 shared conf championship
Team B, 50-26, 0 conf championships.
Team C, 55-19, 2 conf championships.
Team D, 62-13, 3 outright conf championships, 1 shared conf championship, 1 national championship and another coming Jan 8th.

Comment #139 - Posted by: Michael Ledney at December 11, 2006 7:05 AM

I was reading and couldn't help going off topic a bit ...

After 11 years of service in the Army, I have come to terms with the disfunctional attitude of the organization when it comes to physical fitness. Physical fitness testing has been watered down to make it easy to assess soldiers. I don't think the three-event PT test gives any real assessment of fitness level, but instead is often a measure of how well a soldier has trained him/herself to do the events.

One of the criteria for selecting events, quoted from a 1946 PT program from Ft. Benning, is "test events should depend as little as possible upon previously learned skills." The problem is that the goal of a good number of programs train soldiers to do well on the test; this is because it can be used as a measure of how well a commander/leader is running his/her unit.

So we've started a feedback loop where a specialized program that allows soldiers to do the best on the test is often preferred instead of a PT program that actually prepares soldiers to excel in their duties.

Case & point: I was doing one of the Ladies of Crossfit one morning when a military trainer was instructing military students in a bit of kinesiology. I saw him instructing them on the proper execution of the squat and the seated press. I am sure most of the people reading here would agree seated exercises with overhead loads are bad; even worse was that he insisted that the quads should never go parallel to the ground.

The bottom line is that we need the whole military, not just SOF, to adopt methods and principles of professionals like Coach.

Comment #140 - Posted by: Rob S at December 11, 2006 7:53 AM

Rob S. your comments are spot on, which unfortunately doesn't speak well of our community. Fitness can mean the difference between victory and defeat, and you would think that the Army would embrace the latest that science has to offer, but the Army has dumbed down fitness to push ups, sit ups, and the two mile run. I'm still not clear exactly what functional ability that a push up is supposed to measure? I recommended we adapt pull ups instead, based on the functional application such as grip strength for dragging a downed comrade, functional strength for climbing buildings, rocks, etc. A not so wise West Point officer immediately refuted this, because it was not possible to have pull up bars everywhere. The push up should remain the standard, because it is easy to evaluate (regardless of value). I don't see this changing anytime soon. I don't know if you have seen the proposed Army fitness test (this probably goes back four or so years) which included a number of agility tests, power, etc., and like most good things in the Army it died a quiet death. Since most of our officers come close to be pencil neck geeks, it is obvious that a functional fitness test would threaten their current status, where they can now demonstrate so called superior conditioning by jogging 2 miles in 14 minutes and knocking out 75 or so push ups. I have been fighting this for close to 30 years now, and even now we have the SOCOM medical community pushing back against change. I'm sticking with cross fit with some additive strength training. For one I think I am much more fit now (and I'm starting to get old) than I was a few years ago. I only wish I knew then what I know now.

Comment #141 - Posted by: Bill M at December 11, 2006 8:40 AM

Boyle regularly pisses off the mainstream S&F community by professing a distaste for back squats and conventional deadlifts. Where I might agree that the front squat is better for your back than a back squat, I jump off his train of thought when it comes to deadlifts. Using Coach Ripptoe's suggestions I have steadily improved my DL capacity without injury or even pain.

As for high rep O-lifts. BFD. I hate them, but do them, scaled. I can't C&J 135# for 30 reps within a half hour, let alone "for time." If we can do it without injury, and most assuredly we can, then do it. If you can't, or won't, then STFU and let others get on with it. Personal experiences aside, criticizing others for their rep/set scheme in an effort to advance your own "proven methods of building elite athletes" is bullsh&t in its purest form.

Someone above said it best, this (CF) methodology works with grandmas, stockbrokers, operators, SEAL's, and overweight junior high teachers who play attorney in their spare time (the mirror doesn't lie, folks).

I'm surprised I spent this much time on this subject, but hey, I did.

Comment #142 - Posted by: Ron Nelson at December 11, 2006 9:13 AM

Coaching is important.
Fatigue makes cowards of us all.

That said, it’s up to each individual to know his/her limits. A long, long time ago, I played football at a Big Ten university (before the Big Ten had 11 schools). We were tested on power cleans, squats and bench press. The stated goal was to join the 1000 lbs club (the total of all 3 lifts). One would think that that at a Big Ten university one would receive the very best in coaching – we did not. We were not coached, rather we were told to get the weight up in the best possible manner. Yes, I did get the keep the bar close to your body while cleaning and keep you butt on the bench while pressing, but truly, that’s about it…

Years later, fat and out of shape because of years of body building and slow slow aerobics, I stumble upon this site. One of my first workouts include power cleans - even though I had not done them in 20 + years, I slapped on a bunch of plates and pulled away. The CF website did not direct me to do so, it was and always is, my ego.

The same is true with the 3x 12 reps of 65 lbs snatch we were prescribed a few days ago. I’ve never snatched in my life. Sixty-five pounds seemed pretty light for me as I warmed up for the workout - so what did I do, kept adding plates to see how much I could handle. Was it CF that told me to do that, NO, it was me, all me. Yes it would have made more sense for me to do that WOD with just the bar or even a wooden stick, like I advised my wife…but where’s the cool factor in that, my ego convinced me!

We all need to be self accountable. Of course one needs the best form possible, but why are we newbies, that sit behind a desk all day, trying to beat times of KM? shouldn’t the goal be our own improvement. It’s nice to know how fast the WOD CAN be done, but I do not lose sleep if it takes me “x” and someone else “y”. I do not lose sleep as I do not believe all factor are equal (e.g. time of day of the WOD, barometric pressure, equipment used, needing to put in a different DVD for my son, etc…).

Most of my WODs are done in the basement, after dinner, with my 4 year old asking questions, looking for the occasional hug and cartoon network in the background. Do my “times” suffer, sure, but I don’t care as I’m competing with myself, not KM, not other 44 year old males, not former college athletes, not folks that live in the Midwest, not…you get the picture….

Maybe the issue is working out alone. Sometimes I feel I can do more, faster, but age, kids, mortgage, has taught me to train myself as I would train my kids…that is to be honest with my abilities or lack of. A coach is great, but I’ve never seen one that lifts the weights for you. Maybe the best part of coaching (or even a workout partner), is someone to say, “hey, that’s too heavy for you, put it down”. Regardless of what a coach prescribes, if you do it wrong, you could get hurt

What I can tell you is after 7 months of this stuff, I’m not hurt. I’m in better shape. I can do most of the WODs as prescribed. I stopped looking at other’s times months ago. I compare my improvement on the benchmarks and I mostly keep to myself. We’ve spent too much time squabbling about this. If you don’t like it don’t do it. It’s free for you to use or not. No one anything is better than anything else, except of course, my dad can beat up your dad.

Comment #143 - Posted by: BBH at December 11, 2006 9:59 AM

Just a heads up to those that have stated Boyle does not utilize O-lifting or the is a quote from an article he wrote earlier this year:

"I’m not ready to give up on squatting yet but, I may revisit the deadlift, a lift I abandoned years ago. I love the simplicity of the thought process. The deadlift is simply a better total body exercise with more carryover to sprinting and can be done faster, in a concentric only manner and with less equipment. How wonderfully and refreshingly simple. My problem with the deadlift probably goes back to my powerlifting background. As a former competitive powerflifter I saw far too many poorly done deadlifts. When I revisit my disdain for the deadlift I realize that the technique is my responsibility and that I can teach my athletes to deadlift well if I am willing to take the time. Probably the area in which I most strongly disagree is in the use of explosive exercises. I have always used Olympic lifts and will continue in spite of Coach Ross’s feelings. I hope he reads this article and gives the 1 Arm Dumbbell Snatch a try. I think it would fit many of the criteria he describes. I think Coach Ross, like many coaches, thinks of the snatch as a complicated lift. In reality it is far simpler, safer and easier to teach than the clean particularly if you begin by teaching the 1 Arm DB Snatch."

Comment #144 - Posted by: dmarsh at December 11, 2006 10:08 AM

Read a similar criticism on the Alive forum:

Comment #145 - Posted by: treelizard at December 11, 2006 1:00 PM

"Read a similar criticism on the Alive forum:"

The problem here is that it's not a similar criticism.

Boyle, whatever he actually said, is a proven trainer who does not rule out olympic lifting, and probably has some reasonable things to say about the safety of olympic lifting given his 20 years of training high level athletes.

The "alive" guy really is a no-nothing who believes that olympic lifts are horrible in every way and doesn't seem to know much about fitness, period.

However, most people here have been treating Boyle as if he is the Alive guy, based solely on hearsay. Maybe Boyle could be convinced to discuss his ideas in this forum if people were a bit more open minded and less reactionary.

Comment #146 - Posted by: Andrew N at December 11, 2006 1:20 PM

Sorry, Andrew. I admit I didn't research what Boyle said that closely.

Comment #147 - Posted by: treelizard at December 11, 2006 4:14 PM

I didn't read all the comments, but enough of them that it looks like all the major points have been made. I just wanted to make two comments.

One: We don't do high rep lifts that much, and although they are a subset of functional/intense/varied, they are not a NECESSARY subset. There are other good core exercises. I think they are great and love them, but if that is an objection that's preventing adoption of all the other CrossFit ideas, I would make the case that we can simply not do those, or focus only on medicine ball cleans. Get your foot in the door, and build from there. As far as that goes, teach one rep maxes, which he apparently is NOT saying are dangerous, and build from there, too. You can build on any beachhead.

I assume he's not counting thrusters and deadlifts as olympic lifts. Would high rep ammo can lifts count? Much of this, obviously, is not just formally "work", in a physics sense, but "real" work, like the example above of passing heavy shells for hours, or throwing bales of hay. That is the type of thing people actually do, so not incorporating that type of training not only won't reduce injuries, it will INCREASE them.

Two: ANY movement done wrong will or can hurt you. There are people who throw their backs out picking up their car keys. With respect to these movements, the idea is that, duh, if it's going south, take a break, or lower the weight.

I was watching an Ecochallenge a few years ago, and the participants were commenting on how much more dangerous it was than they had expected. You know what? Nobody died. Why? Because they were scared, and expressed that fear as respect. That kept them safe.

You can't make ANYTHING idiot-proof, because idiots are geniusses. But you can lower overall standards of fitness and personal responsibility.

Self-evidently, high rep lifts are not INHERENTLY dangerous. Far too many of us have done them far too many times. I'm still waiting for an injury.

Still, if this is a sales process, me, personally, I would soft pedal that part for now, if need be, and get the other dude out the door. Then consolidate.

Comment #148 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 11, 2006 6:11 PM

The most dangerous part of Crossfit is...

...driving to Crossfit!

Comment #149 - Posted by: Mike in L.A. at December 11, 2006 8:55 PM

Forgot to add: the irony that the comment on CF was made through MT shouldn't be lost on the community.

Comment #150 - Posted by: Ron Nelson at December 12, 2006 6:07 AM

BOA #137,

You’ve missed something critical. Ironically, we’ve met and continue to meet daily your stated requirement of facilitating and participating in a systematic examination of the efficacy of our approach and to present this examination in a form that can be independently validated, and the irony is compounded by the amazing fact that you’ve participated first hand and personally in this examination. You may have missed the forest for the trees. (What bedevils us and you, I believe, is that CrossFit is alone in the game.)

The call for evidenced based fitness is not a call for exercise programs based as are math, physics, and chemistry (biology to a much lesser extent) on first principles and then built upward. Why? It’s NOT possible. Not yet.

We’re not calling for “peer reviewed literature” supporting ours or any other program because the published exercise science is almost entirely irrelevant to successful exercise prescription. That may someday change. I’m hopeful.

Our methods are empirical and fully transparent; they’re posted here daily and have been for years as workouts, slide-shows, still photos, videos, and essays.

Our prescription has been repeated constantly at the risk of annoying: “constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity”.

The sought after fitness that guides, motivates, and defines our intent was answered in a free document entitled “What is Fitness?” that tens of thousands have downloaded and presumably read.

We’ve boiled that eleven page document down to a simple, measurable concept of “increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”

In application CrossFit looks like sport – “The Sport of Fitness”, revealing even the motivational methods we’ve employed.

The methods and results of our program have been duplicated around the globe and by thousands. The point is not that we have fans but that the program is knowable and capable of duplication.

And when I speak of evidence here is what I mean: When an athlete like Greg Amundson posts a Fran time of 2:48 at a body weight of 205 we can, with simple calculations, universally known and accepted by science, calculate that he has performed 54,225 ft-lbs of work in 168 seconds and that this is holding just less than 2/3 of a horsepower for almost 3 minutes.

We can mine data like this for any athlete posting times here in “comments”. We can observe that the highest work capacities posted on these pages are trained, i.e., developed from the WOD and that to date no non CrossFitter has come close to these outputs by other methods. We can also readily observe that high work capacity across only a couple of workouts correlates strongly to capacity across nearly all workouts.

But, here’s what I’m offered in looking for data to examine the efficacy of a commercial competitor making disparaging claims about our program: “We’ve coached hundreds of athletes from NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, WBA, MLL, NCAA and thousands of High School athletes” - credentials, by the way, that we hold as well, and quite likely, in larger number. Behind a link entitled “proven system” I find neither proof nor system. Comparing CrossFit to this system has been rendered impossible. In much the way that the charge of our being dangerous has been leveled so as to be meaningless yet effective. It’s marketing.

Until human performance data is made available the comparison of CrossFit to other programs is a debate not worth having and a colossal distraction to the pursuit of advancing the art and science of improving human performance.

I want to see fitness programming move away from worthless testimonials, incessant back biting, and endless marketing hype and move into the arena of offering measurable, observable, repeatable evidence of efficacy, efficiency, and safety.

Other approaches, ones that modify or entirely avoid our “functionality, intensity, and variance” charter could adopt standards for fitness that radically depart from my chosen “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains” and we could still make viable, interesting, and meaningful comparisons, but the defining standards need to be testable by CrossFitters and CrossFitting athletes and the other program’s athletes would have to be willing to be tested by the measures we value. Some of that has already happened. (That is how we allied with Coach Mike Burgener, incidentally.)

This is evidence based fitness.

Comment #151 - Posted by: Coach at December 12, 2006 8:10 AM

People have asked me to speak so I will. To address a few points
1- It amazes me how people can turn idealogy person. I don't feel I have a big ego and don't consider myself a capitalist. I paid my own way to the SOMA Conference to sit on a panel and provide an opinion. I did that and fully expected to be asked the "CrossFit" question. I gave my opinion. I don't like high rep olympic lifting and particularly dislike it for those who are not good at it. There are better ways to work hard and develop muscle endurance.
2- I sat next to Mark Twight. I had a good conversation with him and exchanged emails. I don't believe any comments were directed at Mark. Hopefully if he reads this board he can address this himself.
3- My athletes regularly use olympic lifts. We hang clean, snatch and dumbell snatch. I have written articles on teaching olympic lifts and have produced a video on the same. We rarely do more than 5 reps. I use olympic lifts for power and other methods for endurance.
4-I train kids and adults as well as professional athletes.
I have no interest in making money off the military and have no issue with the people at CrossFit. That being said, I stand by original comments.


Comment #152 - Posted by: Michael Boyle at December 12, 2006 8:50 AM

he made fun of twight, i'm sure boyle has done plenty of 60 hour continuous climbs up czech direct,

Comment #153 - Posted by: collin hipskind at December 12, 2006 10:16 AM

I am going to comment on the quote posted. But first a question on reading comprehension. What did Mr Boyle mean in this part?

"One common criticism leveled at CrossFit..."

I just don't see anything negative about this part of a statement that was taken out of context. In fact, what did he really say? All I can tell from the posted quote was that he said "dangerous" and "high rep Olympic weightlifting" maybe in the same sentence.

Too much fuss over a sarcastic statement misunderstood by lots of people at this site. Mike Boyle's stuff is not a GPP system, CrossFit is. Nuff said. Can't wait for the criticism on the Parisi Speed School by CrossFit.

Comment #154 - Posted by: mana at December 12, 2006 4:53 PM

And no, I do not fail to see that every CF person has the right to voice their opinionated support for the CF system.

I do fail to see those who train using CF who gas in their respective competitions that are not CF WODs. I only know of 2 athletes so far, one is BJ Penn. He gassed pretty darn fast. He must not have been using CF for the last 2-2.5 years. He needs to get back on the "kool-aide".

Besides the CF Warm-up found in the Q&A, what feelings are there for dynamic mobility warm ups in comparison?

Comment #155 - Posted by: mana at December 12, 2006 5:06 PM

#155--If you mean BJ Penn's last fight, he injured a rib during the fight; search the message board for a link to an interview with him where he talks about it and says he basically couldn't breathe without bad pain.

I've recently started using a dynamic mobility warmup based on "Magnificent Mobility" (overpriced but has been useful). It has been very good for me; I do about a dozen+ different hip, spine, and shoulder moves (about 10-12 minutes) then do a couple of easy rounds of the CFWU then dislocates and the Burgener warmup with a PVC pipe. You can find some videos of dynamic moves to use on the CORE Performance web site and some more (pics/descriptions) on T-Nation.

Comment #156 - Posted by: Rene' at December 12, 2006 10:41 PM

It's perhaps worth thinking a moment about the word dangerous. Is mountain climbing dangerous? Doesn't it depend in large measure on who's doing it and how careful they are? Don't most deaths result from negligence, often a result of complacency, ignorance (a result of complacency), or arrogance? Does that make mountain climbing dangerous, or does it make it an activity you need to do with your head in the game?

Personally, I don't WANT to fool with movements that don't demand at least some level of attention and respect.

Looked at pedagogically, what trainer in his or her right mind would start someone off with a Grace with 135 lb., unless they had a background in lifting? I've been training someone off and on for, I guess, a year (one or both of us are gone half the time), that is absolutely outstanding at running, swimming, pushups, pullups and situps. But we haven't done ANY weighted O-lifts yet. I'm working on his deadlift, to get the form right, and to build core muscles situps don't tax. For a long time, we've been doing back hypers and glute-ham situps to build core strength. Now we're deadlifting. I see no reason at all to rush things.

Grace, as prescribed, is an advanced workout. Ditto for Dianne and Elizabeth. But--like mountain climbing--if done by people with the proper foundation, and with proper respect, they are much safer than driving your car. When you hear about injuries, especially if it's someone who knows what they are doing, the person with the injury should usually wear a badge saying "I was an idiot". That applied for all three of my back injuries. I knew better, I was just stupid. I haven't been hurt in 3 years, definitely not since starting CrossFit. I've come close on Linda, but I stopped. Properly coached, there is no reason for anyone to hurt themselves. But, again, a feature of this is just a hint of danger, just enough to keep people awake. Listened to, that makes everything safe.

Actually, thinking about it, that comment seems to me unconciously suffused with the actuarial bias currently afflicting our nation. You know why we don't have playground apparatus? Odds are, some kid will hurt him or herself. Then, odds are, some parent will sue. Then, odds are, some insurance company will settle, then raise rates. Then the trial attorney will send his kids to a school with no playground apparatus.

There's a quote from the Kentucky Derby Museum I've long liked, that mint juleps--the official drink of the Derby--should never be made by "novices, Yankees, or statisticians." Yankees, of course, are in this view the embodiment of industrial production, with all its' dull, drab, regularity. Statisticians, to conclude the thought, will never bet on the long odds horse, and will never get the thrill of the payoff. I'll leave it at that, although I could go on.

Spec. Op guys have as their JOB to take risks,which they mitigate to the extent possible through preparation and mindfulness. It would be a beautiful thing if high rep O-lifts were the most dangerous thing they ever encountered. If we can't trust them to manage those, why would we send them out where bad guys might hurt them?

Comment #157 - Posted by: barry cooper at December 13, 2006 11:12 AM

Thanks Rene' on your response on your take and method of dynamic mobility warmups. I usually use the monster mobility pack followed by the bodyweight circuit. Works like a charm. About the BJ part, I was referring to before his rib injury (his prior matches and the minutes prior to his injury). I am not referring to his appearance though, his increase in weightclass was/is not an issue.

Comment #158 - Posted by: mana at December 13, 2006 4:35 PM

Thanks Mr Cooper for your response on what degree of danger exists in movement. Your point on foundation is right on. Your opinion about messing with certain moves is shared by many. Like I said, some CF people overreacted to Boyle's statement. You either love him or hate him.

Everything has danger to a point. Everything works to a point. Everyone steals one another's ideas and makes it their own. Maybe someone got a little carried away when defending the honor of CF, but CF stated what they believe for training and have various ways to go about it. Everyone has a training philosophy, similar or different. Business goes about no matter what.

The magic is still in the movements. Let's not forget that. Just about everyone outside of CF with performance in mind, and a handful with aesthetics, got the movements going on. They work.

Now let's work on getting CF into the next NFL combine. That would definitely put CF into the minds of americans. I think there are some QBs that need a conditioning plan like CF.

Comment #159 - Posted by: mana at December 13, 2006 5:19 PM

1st WOD to standard!

Comment #160 - Posted by: Mac at December 16, 2006 8:08 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?