Training

I used to be an athlete.  Even with my constant and varied knee problems, I was a player. Then all of a sudden, I wasn't. For several years, I was habving diffuculty maintaining and then regaining that form. I was trying all kinds of things, including diet and exercise programs, getting more rest, everything. Then I found out I had a thyroid condition

That changed things a great deal. After getting that taken care of with medication and having my metabolism stabilize, I’ve started on my journey to become an athlete again.

While I was in my Seven Season Stupor as I now call it (see Thyroid condition link above) I began to get into watching Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. It was through reading up on BJ Penn that I found the CrossFit website and started playing around with their workouts and reading everything I could get my hands on.

Now that I'm healthy (thyroid is under control pretty much and knees feel OK) I've been trying to get in the best shape of my life. So far, the stuff below is working for me. If you find something you think is better, let me know. I'm always interested in learning other methods of furthering my fitness.

This stuff can be very personal. I am not a licensed traininer nor do I do and scientific research on fitness. So this is not a prescription for what you should do, but a listing of what has or is working for me (when I'm disciplined enough to follow it!). If at some point it stops working for me, then I'll change the page. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email.

I reference a great deal of material on other sites and from other sources. My goal is to get information from wherever I can and peice together a program that makes sense to me. My fitness is my responsibility, so while i may take advice or feedback from many individuals, I choose what program I follow to reaize my goal of become the fittest individual I can be.

The question is, what is fitness?

I've never seen fitness defined in a better way than the way CfossFit does. Once I read it, I realized I alrady knew it all, but had never had it presented to me in such a way that it was a complete description of all the components requireed to be truly fit.

What Is Fitness and Who Is Fit?
Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen "the fittest man on earth." Let’s just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the IronMan Triathlon is the fittest of the fit, then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination?

Perhaps the definition of fitness doesn’t include strength, speed, power, and coordination though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines "fitness" and being "fit" as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a definition.

Crossfit's Fitness
For CrossFit the specter of championing a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud and farce. The vacuum of guiding authority has therefore necessitated that CrossFit’s directors provide their own definition of fitness. That's what this issue of CrossFit Journal is about, our "fitness."

Our pondering, studying, debating about, and finally defining fitness have played a formative role in CrossFit’s successes. The keys to understanding the methods and achievements of CrossFit are perfectly imbedded in our view of fitness and basic exercise science.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view of fitness is a contrarian view. The general public both in opinion and in media holds endurance athletes as exemplars of fitness. We do not. Our incredulity on learning of Outside’s awarding a triathlete title of “fittest man on earth” becomes apparent in light of CrossFit’s standards for assessing and defining fitness.

CrossFit makes use of three different standards or models for evaluating and guiding fitness. Collectively, these three standards define the CrossFit view of fitness. The first is based on the ten general physical skills widely recognized by exercise physiologists. The second standard, or model, is based on the erformance
of athletic tasks, while the third is based on the energy systems that drive all human action.

Each model is critical to the CrossFit concept and each has distinct utility in
evaluating an athlete’s overall fitness or a strength and conditioning regimen’s
efficacy. Before explaining in detail how each of these three perspectives
works, it warrants mention that we are not attempting to demonstrate our
program’s legitimacy through scientific principles. We are but sharing the
methods of a program whose legitimacy has been established through the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops, and others whose lives or livelihoods depend on fitness.

Crossfit’s First Fitness Standard
There are ten recognized general physical skills. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.  You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these ten skills.

General Physical Skills
If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

(Ed. -Thanks to Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax, www.medicineballs.com\)

Importantly, improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training refers to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body. By contrast improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice. Practice refers to activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system. Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Crossfit’s Second Fitness Standard
The essence of this model is the view that fitness is about performing well at any and every task imaginable. Picture a hopper loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform fetes randomly drawn from the hopper. This model suggests that your fitness can be measured by your capacity to perform well at these tasks in relation to other individuals.

The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even unfamiliar tasks, tasks combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice this encourages the athlete to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, periodization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.

Crossfit’s Third Fitness Standard
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway. The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about ten seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.

Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit. 

Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.

3 metabolic pathways

Common Ground
The motivation for the three standards is simply to ensure the broadest and most general fitness possible. Our first model evaluates our efforts against a full range of general physical adaptations, in the second the focus is on breadth and depth of performance, with the third the measure is time, power and consequently energy systems. It should be fairly clear that the fitness that CrossFit advocates and develops is deliberately broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.

sickness wellness fitness

Sickness, Wellness, and Fitness
There is another aspect to the CrossFit brand of fitness that is of great interest and immense value to us. We have observed that nearly every measurable value of health can be placed on a continuum that ranges from sickness to wellness to fitness. See table above. Though tougher to measure, we would even add mental health to this observation. Depression is clearly mitigated by proper diet and exercise, i.e., genuine fitness.

For example, a blood pressure of 160/95 is pathological, 120/70 is normal or healthy, and 105/55 is consistent with an athlete’s blood pressure; a body fat of 40% is pathological, 20% is normal or healthy, and 10% is fit. We observe a similar ordering for bone density, triglycerides, muscle mass, flexibility, HDL or “good cholesterol”, resting heart rate, and dozens of other common measures of health. Many authorities (e.g. Mel Siff, the NSCA) make a clear distinction between health and fitness. Frequently they cite studies that suggest that the fit may not be health protected. A close look at the supporting evidence invariably reveals the studied group is endurance athletes and, we suspect, endurance athletes on a dangerous fad diet (high carb, low fat, low protein).

Done right, fitness provides a great margin of protection against the ravages of time and disease. Where you find otherwise examine the fitness protocol, especially diet. Fitness is and should be “super-wellness.” Sickness, wellness, and fitness are measures of the same entity. A fitness regimen that doesn’t support health is not CrossFit.

(As a note of interest, Mel Siff PhD, whom we often respect and admire, holds his atherosclerotic disease and subsequent heart attack as anecdotal evidence of the contention that fitness and health are not necessarily linked because of his regular training and “good diet”. When we researched his dietary recommendations we discovered that he advocates a diet ideally structured for causing heart disease – low fat/high carb. Siff has fallen victim to junk science!)

The above excerpt is just the first part of the article. The second part discusses the implementation of the CrossFit program including Metabolic Conditioning, or "Cardio", Interval Training, Gymnastics, Weighlifting, Throwing, nutrition, Sport and the integration of those into a Theorietical Heirarchy of Develoment. To read more get the fee trial issue Crossfits "What is Fitness" trial issue.

 

So How do you get Fit?

Again, Crossfit has given an answer that makes complete sense to me and is also succinct and to the point.

World Class Fitness in 100 Words

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

~Greg Glassman

 

 

 

 

GPP vs SPP

I train for 2 things, life and sport. For GPP, or general physical preparedness, I am pretty much using CrossFit. For SPP, or sport-specific physical preparedness, I train in 2 - 6 month blocks, focusing on particular skills needed to excell in those specific sports.

These are the primary exercises I use to traini for the main sports I take part in that are physically demanding. This fluctuates depending on my Upcoming Trips but in general I've found that if I mix these elements into my training regimen, my fitness is pretty good.

General Physical Preparedness

Mountaineering

Rock Climbing

Kayaking

Mountain biking

 

Why Crossfit?

The way I train is based on my lifestyle obvioulsy. I work a 40+ hour corporate job in NYC, which limits sometimes how much working out I can do in a week. It is for this reason that I have moved to a "Crossfit" style of excercise.

 

 

World Class Fitness in 100 Words

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

Crossfits "What is Fitness" trial issue

Training Strategy for Mountaineering

In my opinion the best way to train for climbing big mountains is to replicate the conditions you’ll encounter on the mountain. The goal is to develop the strength and stamina to go up and down steep slopes with a heavy pack. To do this, you need to build up your legs, lungs and back.  The most efficient way to do this is to hike and/or run up and down steep slopes or stairs.  

Make sure you include the down part.  Your body uses different muscles to go down as opposed to moving up, and there is no mountain in the world where after you go up, you don’t have to go down.  In fact, the down is probably more important because by that time, you are tired and less stable.  In addition, most accidents happen on the descents so practice at descending is only prudent.

Carrying a backpack is one of the most important parts of your training. The best training for mountaineering is up and downhill hiking. Go on extended hikes with a weighted backpack 2 - 3 times per week.  Start out with a light pack and slowly increase the weight as you get stronger.  Your goal should be to train with a weight equal to or slightly more than the weight you expect to be carrying on the climb.

The intensity of the workout should mirror (or exceed) the level of effort you anticipate climbing on the most gruelling day. In other words, you should be really pushing yourself.  Training for climbing should be uncomfortable.  

Training methodology: Your training should include both long slow hauls, as well as shorter duration speed work to increase strength.  Long workouts you should try exercising for an hour or more per session, and keep your heart rate and respirations at a reasonably high level, without over doing it.  In order to train for the lengthy days in the mountains, you've got to get out and do lengthy training climbs; nothing else will prepare you as adequately.  Shorter high intensity workouts should be truly intense where you meet or come close to failure. These should simulate that last 1000’ summit push.  You should also use interval training to advance your cardiovascular fitness.  Using Tabata intervals is a useful way to do interval training for any type of excercise.

The hills you train on should imitate the mountains you plan climbing.  Generally, slopes over 25 degrees build leg strength much more than flat terrain. Stairs also work for training, particularly multiple storied buildings or large stadium steps.  In a gym, the stair stepper machines are good as well when coupled with a heavy pack. Treadmills cranked up to the full 15 degrees will be better than running on relatively flat terrain.

Your training should include cardiovascular training (run, bike, hoops, skiing, snowboarding) endurance training (hike, stairs) and strength (weights).  Mixing in other forms of exercise like running, cycling or hoops not only keeps it from getting boring, but also ensures you don’t get overtraining or stress injuries from doing the same thing over and over.  The key is no matter what you are doing keep your heart rate and respiration levels high.  The rule on the mountain is if you can’t carry on a conversation without panting, you’re going too fast.  When training, if you can carry on a conversation, you’re not going nearly hard enough!  A good strengthening program for the legs, especially quadriceps and knees, can really pay off on the mountain. Muscle groups primarily used in mountaineering are the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles.

Fitness and Acclimatization: The fitter you are, the more effectively you can acclimate (i.e., adjust) to altitude. That is simply because fit climbers expend less energy for a certain task (i.e., a day of hard climbing), leaving their bodies ready for the task of acclimatization.  Being physically prepared for your climb is the single most important thing you can do to increase your chances of standing on the summit. It's also more enjoyable.   At sea level, the restrictive factor in delivering oxygen to the muscles is the heart's ability to pump blood, not the capability of the lungs to take in oxygen. It is at altitude, where oxygen is effectively less available, that lung capabilities come into question.

Proper physical conditioning will allow you to perform better by climbing longer, stronger and faster, be more comfortable on steeper and awkward terrain, carry heavier loads, recover quicker at rest, and enjoy the entire adventure more completely.  

Mountain Specific Training: Training goals will fluctuate depending on the mountain. For example, during a Mount McKinley 20+ day expedition, you must:

  1. Be able to carry a 50 – 60 pound pack for up to eight hours a day for several consecutive days.
  2. Be able to recover from a difficult day of climbing within an eight- to twelve-hour period.
  3. Be able to perform as an asset on a summit day of fourteen hours (on slopes up to 40 degrees).
  4. It is wise to take a look at your current fitness level before getting started on a new fitness program. A comprehensive assessment (done under advice of a trainer at your local gym) can certainly be an important tool toward your fitness goals.

Finally, do it now: Don’t wait to start training.  The more time you have, the better off you are.  Typically, you need at least six months minimum to implement a successful program. Start your program well in advance of your climb, and gradually ramp up the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness levels increase.


Well done is better than well said.    -Benjamin Franklin

Home | Trips | Calendar | Gear | Weekend Warrior | About | What's New | Email