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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 08-14-2011, 02:11 PM   #1
Bryan Arciero
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Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

Recognizing that I'm not the first person out there that is required to do fitness testing on a regular basis (every 6 months), I'm wondering if there are those out there for whom the tests are, quite frankly, not "in line" with their general view on fitness.

For the tests I'm required to do, there is no strength testing. Basically it's a 1.5 mile run (< 9m15s), a VO2 Max test (or a "multistage-shuttle run test" aka the Beep Test; Level 12.5 minimum), and a 40m sprint (< 5.6s). Hell, these dont even really simulate what we need to do during our events, but are rather simply what I call "cop outs" in order to standardize testing across the world (everyone has access to a running track or at least a 20m lane and a stereo).

I really enjoy CrossFit more than any other type of training (it's the combination of variation/pushing yourself and others that really keeps me going) and it certainly delivers results; my previous programs used a lot of Olympic Lifting and speed work, so the transition to Crossfit has been pretty seamless and no doubt there's a correlation between Olympic Lifting and developing explosive speed / SAQ, but I'm trying to have it both ways: train for the test, and increase my overall fitness.

The end goal is developing capacity so that in the last minute of the game, when everyone is balls-to-the-wall tired, I'm still able to make accurate decisions due to being alert and fit and not sucking wind through my colon trying to dry-heave down a field.

I'm just wondering if others out there face the same issues and how they tailor their program(s) accordingly?
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Old 08-14-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
David Meverden
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

What is your sport?

Lots of people around here have fitness tests that don't mesh much with their idea of fitness. Lots of military guys have to demonstrate ability to run distance at a steady pace and get penalized for being big and strong. That's life.

Some people just ignore the tests, work to be damn fit, and pass the tests with no problem anyway. Others will have their primary programming, which pursues fitness as they see it, and then some added on components to work towards the test. Repetition method pushups is the easiest example. Adding in sub maximal pushup sets throughout the day in order to ace the "max pushups in 2 minutes" tests. This can be done without interfering with other training. Other people add in a day or two of running in order to do particularly well. One day of 400 or 800 m interval runs, and then maybe a second day as you get close to the test where you work on proper pacing for whatever distance you have to go.

If you work hard for overall general preparedness it usually doesn't take much additional specialization work to kick the *** of most of those tests.
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Old 08-14-2011, 04:31 PM   #3
Kent Newland
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

I pretty much blow the PT test off for the Army. I could care less, so long as I pass it, generally. The pushups and the situps are probably the most ridiculous thing in the world as far as testing goes, and there's no requirement for pullups. I do CrossFit, and I work some extra stuff in there, like sprinting and powerlifting, and I pretty much say to hell with the test. I once took a diagnostic PT test the morning after doing Murphy, and passed everything just above the bare minimum, except for two mile run, which I think I did in 16:30 or something ridiculous like that. One of the platoon sergeants asked me why I'd worked out the day prior when I knew there was a PT test coming up, and I told him that if I could put those numbers up the morning after a tough workout, imagine what I could do when I was fresh. He had no response.

I never work extra on pushups, or situps. All the upper body work that is found in CrossFit helps me come within 1 rep of maxing out my pushups, and T2B and GHD situps help me come within 5 or 6 reps of maxing out my situps. I simply have to do more interval training to get my run faster, which I'm working on.

Good luck.

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Old 08-14-2011, 04:42 PM   #4
Bryan Arciero
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

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Originally Posted by David Meverden View Post
What is your sport?
Rugby, but of the refereeing variety. Yes, referees in certain sports actually run. Some even have to sprint! Golf, Baseball, and Cricket are not in this category. Rugby, however, is (though I think the Aussie rules guys have it the worst from a fitness perspective).

Our other tests are really all "image" based (7 skin folds, BMI, the latter of which is simply a basic indicator and doesnt really have any actual weight) but frankly I've never focused on these; these are simply outcome driven and are based on the combination of training / nutrition.

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Originally Posted by David Meverden View Post
Other people add in a day or two of running in order to do particularly well. One day of 400 or 800 m interval runs, and then maybe a second day as you get close to the test where you work on proper pacing for whatever distance you have to go.

If you work hard for overall general preparedness it usually doesn't take much additional specialization work to kick the *** of most of those tests.
That's a fair point. I've always just gone into the 2400m run pacing 1m30s 400m for the first 3 laps, dropping off in 4 and 5, then going balls out on 6 to hit around 9 min, though never really practiced in advance (note that running consistently for 9 straight minutes is against the grain of what actually happens in this sport).

The beep test is probably simply a matter of getting used to the transition around between turns (inefficiency can reduce an athlete to shreds if they work too hard too early).
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:27 PM   #5
Chris Mason
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

Are you saying that doing CrossFit won't make you able to pass your tests?
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:45 PM   #6
Bryan Arciero
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

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Are you saying that doing CrossFit won't make you able to pass your tests?
Far from it; my goal of being one of the few people to move to Houston and get fitter is still successful.

I was interested in how folks approach "testing season" while still doing regular WoDs; whether the WoDs were test-driven, or whether they simply incorporated some of the testing into portions of their WoDs, or whether they carried on with business as usual and knew that the WoDs would be sufficient for any testing as the WoDs were more demanding/rigourous.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:56 PM   #7
Chris Mason
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

That is what I am asking you. In other words, are you concerned that regular CF workouts will not make you able to pass the test? If not, then why deviate?
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:36 PM   #8
Amber Napoleon
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

I choose to rest the day before a PT test because if you get over a 90% on the Air Force test, you don't have to do it again for a year instead of six months and in some units you actually get a day pass. Granted, you'd have to be extremely out of shape to not pass by the female standards (and I am, honestly), but I like to do as well as I can to keep that monkey off my back for a year.

Other than the convenience of doing "well" by AF standards, I don't put much stock in a 1.5 mile run, one minute each of pushups and situps, and a waist measurement. I feel like the AF just wants a bunch of skinny people in every AFSC other than the ones where true fitness is part of the job (i.e. TACP, PJ, CCT, etc). I don't want to be "fit" by Air Force standards. I want to become fit to make my life easier.
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:59 PM   #9
Bryan Arciero
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

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Originally Posted by Chris Mason View Post
If not, then why deviate?
Maybe there's a better question: do folks tailor their WoDs to improve scores on the test? Knowing that a fitness test will contain X, are WoDs adjusted to focus and maximize scores on X, or do folks simply carry on with business as usual.

The two opposite ends of the spectrum would be: focus 100% effort on the test or focus nothing on the test and concentrate on your regular fitness training, knowing that the latter is sufficient to pass the test.

I'm wondering if folks who are training for other sports/events and doing Crossfit are changing up their training to achieve better results on the test.

In the 6 years of doing these tests I've never failed, so I'm not worried; this discussion was to find out how folks approach competition season (or physical testing season). If I was smart I'd gear it such that I was testing right before the main competition(s) when I was trying to periodize training to peak at these events...
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:09 PM   #10
Adam Yudman
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Re: Train for the Test or for the "Real World"?

why not do a mock test, if you pass, then continue and don't change...if you don't pass, well, then go from there
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