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Old 12-28-2014, 08:16 AM   #11
Brendan McNamar
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

Total thread drift here but.....

Ben Bergeron has a spread sheet for evaluating athletes who want to compete seriously. He generally ranks them as Ninjas or Beast. Ninjas are great at body weight/skill/met-cons, beast are very strong. How an athlete's personal strength and weakness add up determines what programming to follow.

No matter how good your engine and skills if you are not strong enough you have no shot.

No matter how strong you are if you have an insufficient engine or skills you have no shot.

I will add a third category. Because you need all three (strength, skills and engine) you need to fall in a certain physical range. You can not be too:heavy, light, tall, short or old.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:53 PM   #12
Shawn M Wilson
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Brendan McNamar View Post
Total thread drift here but.....

Ben Bergeron has a spread sheet for evaluating athletes who want to compete seriously. He generally ranks them as Ninjas or Beast. Ninjas are great at body weight/skill/met-cons, beast are very strong. How an athlete's personal strength and weakness add up determines what programming to follow.

No matter how good your engine and skills if you are not strong enough you have no shot.

No matter how strong you are if you have an insufficient engine or skills you have no shot.

I will add a third category. Because you need all three (strength, skills and engine) you need to fall in a certain physical range. You can not be too:heavy, light, tall, short or old.
I don't consider it a thread drift it is good stuff and great for helping guide coaches and athletes on knowing the path for improving in the areas they need.
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:19 AM   #13
Russell Greene
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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I'm not saying they "ignore" crossfit stuff but having coached with a games competitor and worked out with her and other regional athletes once the ts k was built and the mindset to push through pain was there it came down to improving strength and technique.

Did she do "crossfit" workouts? Sure but they were short ones with a long one maybe every 2 weeks to just hold on to what they have. She lives at the gym so can do the volume and work required. The big change came when she realized she needed more strength instead of an engine that won't quit.

That took a change in programming.

I am not saying an engine isn't important (if anything the games shows us the power of the engine) but so often a person is lacking strength and technique/skills.

Building strength and ones engine is very difficult to achieve at the same time without burnout and risk of injury. Can it be done? Sure. Is it difficult for the masses? Yes.

I got a coach I know who for two years can place high in the rankings for anything cardio wise... But when it comes to weights he gets crushed. The 1 heavy day a week downy cut it and the constant metcons and WoDs prevents him from getting bigger and stronger. Toss in the fact I think he could stand to eat 500+ more calories a day but who am I to judge.

I can't talk about the elite guys and gals and what they do now. They are where they are and are trying to maintain and add the little they can year round.

For a person starting off it is a totally different amount of volume and work and chipping at the base to get where they want.

My good buddy who is in the masters has complained for 3 years that at every competition he gets killed by guys stronger than him. Again I preached the need for more str, less metcons. Finally this last year he dropped from his box and follows a str based program with less WoDs and more str. He has put on size and strength and did better at his last competition because now he has an engine and strength.

the last competition I judged a guy 2 month into crossfit killed it. He had little skills, a good tank (collegiate athlete) and amazing strength. When he pulled 455 for 5 after doing 425 and 445 x5 all in under 8 minutes you know he has strength. He made every weight event look easy compared to guys who struggled with the bar.

Again I'm talking about average/intermediate people. Let's be honest for a guy if you don't have a basic level of strength getting to regionals won't happen. Yes it is easier for the smaller guys who can kill the body weight wods and do wall balls, DU and muscle ups for days but when the weight gets heavy they fall so far behind.

I am not saying do away with conditioning completely, simply lower the length and amount and focus on more strength and skills as an intermediate lifter.
Earlier I asked you for evidence since every published video, article, or book on elite CrossFit Games finishers I've seen disagrees with your thesis.

You've come back with one CrossFit Games athlete. While I'm sure she's an impressive athlete, that example is not going to mean much when compared with the athletes I cited who finished at or near the top for many years.

There are indeed some athletes who are particularly weak at heavy barbell lifts, and they should spend time focusing on that weakness. That does not mean, however, that every athlete falls in that boat. Some athletes need to work on their running, others on their gymnastics, and still others on their flexibility. Etc.

Looking at the top male CrossFit Games numbers, the absolute strength needed currently seems to be around a 450-500 squat and 525-550 deadlift. These are solid numbers, to be sure, but also far from world class powerlifting numbers. It's less than half the world record squat, for example.

On the other hand, elite CrossFit Games athletes can generally do 45 consecutive pull-ups plus 45 consecutive thrusters in nearly 2 minutes, row a 6:25-6:45 2000m and then keep rowing for another 19000+ meters, and do 30 burpee ring muscle-ups in 4-5 minutes. It may seem obvious to state this, but they are better at classic CrossFit benchmark workouts and movements than any other athletes in the world. That's not easy to obtain, and it doesn't just come from strength, else we'd see elite powerlifters dominating the CrossFit Games.

Furthermore, with few exceptions, the athletes reached elite times in classic CrossFit benchmark workouts far before they were anywhere near competitive in barbell lifting. For example, Rich Froning had a 2:30 Fran well before he snatched 205 or squatted 375: http://games2010.crossfit.com/blog/2...roning-jr,287/ (w/f safe)

Jason Khalipa had a 2:23 Fran before he snatched 200 pounds or squatted 375: http://games2009.crossfit.com/compet...1-in-2008.html (w/f safe)

For CrossFit Games athletes, elite CrossFit benchmark times tend to precede competitive barbell lifts, not vice versa. It's therefore a logical fallacy to conclude that competitive barbell max lifts cause elite performance in most CrossFit workouts. It may be correct, however, that developing high levels of general work capacity can facilitate the long term development of weightlifting performance. That does seem to be what we're observing.

Last edited by Russell Greene : 12-29-2014 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:14 PM   #14
Casey Dietz
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Earlier I asked you for evidence since every published video, article, or book on elite CrossFit Games finishers I've seen disagrees with your thesis.

You've come back with one CrossFit Games athlete. While I'm sure she's an impressive athlete, that example is not going to mean much when compared with the athletes I cited who finished at or near the top for many years.

There are indeed some athletes who are particularly weak at heavy barbell lifts, and they should spend time focusing on that weakness. That does not mean, however, that every athlete falls in that boat. Some athletes need to work on their running, others on their gymnastics, and still others on their flexibility. Etc.

Looking at the top male CrossFit Games numbers, the absolute strength needed currently seems to be around a 450-500 squat and 525-550 deadlift. These are solid numbers, to be sure, but also far from world class powerlifting numbers. It's less than half the world record squat, for example.

On the other hand, elite CrossFit Games athletes can generally do 45 consecutive pull-ups plus 45 consecutive thrusters in nearly 2 minutes, row a 6:25-6:45 2000m and then keep rowing for another 19000+ meters, and do 30 burpee ring muscle-ups in 4-5 minutes. It may seem obvious to state this, but they are better at classic CrossFit benchmark workouts and movements than any other athletes in the world. That's not easy to obtain, and it doesn't just come from strength, else we'd see elite powerlifters dominating the CrossFit Games.

Furthermore, with few exceptions, the athletes reached elite times in classic CrossFit benchmark workouts far before they were anywhere near competitive in barbell lifting. For example, Rich Froning had a 2:30 Fran well before he snatched 205 or squatted 375: http://games2010.crossfit.com/blog/2...roning-jr,287/ (w/f safe)

Jason Khalipa had a 2:23 Fran before he snatched 200 pounds or squatted 375: http://games2009.crossfit.com/compet...1-in-2008.html (w/f safe)

For CrossFit Games athletes, elite CrossFit benchmark times tend to precede competitive barbell lifts, not vice versa. It's therefore a logical fallacy to conclude that competitive barbell max lifts cause elite performance in most CrossFit workouts. It may be correct, however, that developing high levels of general work capacity can facilitate the long term development of weightlifting performance. That does seem to be what we're observing.
Fine I'll bite, Russell. Using CrossFit's concept of repeatablility and comparing 2007's hopper workout results with 2013's repeat at the Games (almost a 4 minute improvement), what numbers had changed most in competing athletes? Squat and snatch maxes or Fran times?
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:41 PM   #15
Russell Greene
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Casey Dietz View Post
Fine I'll bite, Russell. Using CrossFit's concept of repeatablility and comparing 2007's hopper workout results with 2013's repeat at the Games (almost a 4 minute improvement), what numbers had changed most in competing athletes? Squat and snatch maxes or Fran times?
Once you have a low 2 minute, unbroken Fran, there's not much room to improve in speed on that particular workout. There are other ways to progress than speed, however. The CrossFit Invitational this year, however, showed that the athletes in 2014 can now do 45 consecutive pull-ups and 45 consecutive thrusters as fast or faster than 2007's athletes could do Fran itself.

And in 2013, as you noted, the women went 6+ minutes faster and men went 4+ minutes faster on 2007's row + pull-ups and jerks.

So yes, in the past 7 years the athletes have gotten better at basic CrossFit benchmarks while also getting much stronger at max lifts. My point, however, is that most top athletes of the CrossFit Games reached elite CrossFit benchmark times before reaching anywhere near competitive weightlifting numbers. The sole exception this year is Mat Fraser, and even he is hitting higher lifting numbers after training CrossFit than he did as a national-level weightlifter.

But Jason Khalipa, Rich Froning, Camille, Annie T., Julie Foucher etc. were doing basic CrossFit couplets and triplets unbroken and fast before they reached competitive lifting numbers. To use a final example, in 2010 Annie Thorisdottir had a sub-3 Fran and sub-8 Helen, over 400 on Fight Gone Bad, and 15:25 on the Filthy Fifty. At that point she snatched 11 pounds below bodyweight: http://scores2010.crossfit.com/scori...039/index.html ( w/f safe)

The idea that CrossFit Games athletes mostly developed competitive weightlifting maxes, then became fast at classic CrossFit benchmarks, is baseless. And so, if you want to compete in the sport of fitness, you need to work very hard at classic CrossFit couplets and triplets. There's no shortcut to fitness.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:03 PM   #16
Mike Doehla
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Russell Greene View Post
Once you have a low 2 minute, unbroken Fran, there's not much room to improve in speed on that particular workout. There are other ways to progress than speed, however. The CrossFit Invitational this year, however, showed that the athletes in 2014 can now do 45 consecutive pull-ups and 45 consecutive thrusters as fast or faster than 2007's athletes could do Fran itself.

And in 2013, as you noted, the women went 6+ minutes faster and men went 4+ minutes faster on 2007's row + pull-ups and jerks.

So yes, in the past 7 years the athletes have gotten better at basic CrossFit benchmarks while also getting much stronger at max lifts. My point, however, is that most top athletes of the CrossFit Games reached elite CrossFit benchmark times before reaching anywhere near competitive weightlifting numbers. The sole exception this year is Mat Fraser, and even he is hitting higher lifting numbers after training CrossFit than he did as a national-level weightlifter.

But Jason Khalipa, Rich Froning, Camille, Annie T., Julie Foucher etc. were doing basic CrossFit couplets and triplets unbroken and fast before they reached competitive lifting numbers. To use a final example, in 2010 Annie Thorisdottir had a sub-3 Fran and sub-8 Helen, over 400 on Fight Gone Bad, and 15:25 on the Filthy Fifty. At that point she snatched 11 pounds below bodyweight: http://scores2010.crossfit.com/scori...039/index.html ( w/f safe)

The idea that CrossFit Games athletes mostly developed competitive weightlifting maxes, then became fast at classic CrossFit benchmarks, is baseless. And so, if you want to compete in the sport of fitness, you need to work very hard at classic CrossFit couplets and triplets. There's no shortcut to fitness.
Russ, don't you think it's easier for someone that is strong to get better at conditioning rather than someone who is good at conditioning to get strong?

ie a weight lifter moving to CF or a Runner moving to CF.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:12 PM   #17
Shawn M Wilson
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Russell Greene View Post
For CrossFit Games athletes, elite CrossFit benchmark times tend to precede competitive barbell lifts, not vice versa. It's therefore a logical fallacy to conclude that competitive barbell max lifts cause elite performance in most CrossFit workouts. It may be correct, however, that developing high levels of general work capacity can facilitate the long term development of weightlifting performance. That does seem to be what we're observing.
As Casey said and this quote here I think we have noticed since 2009 & 2010 a huge improvement in strength which allows for them to develop higher levels of general work capacity.

4-5 years ago I think we saw a higher capacity and skills trumping the stronger guys but with the last 1-2 years we have seen the need for strength playing a huge role up with skills. All 3 (strength/skills/engine) are needed to succeed in regionals/games.

I can't speak for Elite athletes across the world and my experience is limited to my first hand experience and the training I have done with others, but when people see a large increase in strength and skills their crossfit "times" get better.

Nick Block (http://games.crossfit.com/athlete/8325 wfs) who used to train at our box and now has his own affiliate and made it to regional last year could throw down Grace at a little over 1 minute (1:03 was his best I ever saw at our box). He had the Strength but lacked the body weight & skill stuff. He continued getting stronger and worked on his skills (his muscle ups were AWFUL, so Outlaw owner helped him which helped his open placement big time). His cardio/tank improved but his ability to throw around 'low' weights (135/155/185/etc) like nothing lets him go longer on a WOD/event than a guy with a much lower strength threshold.

I think in 2009 Ricks ability/engine/strength was good enough to beat people then. Could his 2009 performance beat the 2014 competitors? What changed? Huge strength increases? Better Skills? Improved engine?

I think many would agree that Rich has always had an amazing engine. By adding the increased strength he improved his already amazing engine even more.

But I don't want to speak about the elite guys or gals. They are in a world of their own and require specific and specialized training based upon their strength and weaknesses.

From what I have seen with the "average" crossfit guy who comes into the box and wants to improve and have a better chance at regionals we quickly find that they are often lacking the high levels of general work capacity & skills needed to advance.

When a guy/girl cant do DU unbroken for 60+ they are at a huge disadvantage. When they cannot do T2B & Pullups unbroken they fall big time in the standings. Skills play a huge role here (as do other factors size/weight/str/conditioning) but fixing ones skill can quickly help someone improve in a shorter time.

I have seen men with a 4 minute grace constantly practice it over and over for 3-6 months and only gain 30 seconds off their time. I have seen a few guys bust their rear in the strength department and do 'less' long WODs and take a minute off their time.

The biggest difference was seeing their clean and jerk go up by about 60-90lbs. Their best clean/jerk was about 185/200 and they got to 245/265. They learned the technique (skill) and spent time building their DL & clean in workouts. Suddenly that 135lb bar seemed lighter. This allowed them to hold on longer and push through it. The other guys were still capped at a 225 C&J. Sure they had better muscle conditioning but they reached a cap it seemed for their strength levels.

I would never tell a person (and sorry if it sounded like I did) to not do any type of "Wod" workout while doing strength training. I would simply drop it 3-6 (with occasional 9 and even less 15) minute workouts. Eating right & lifting heavy/fast/explosive and working on the skills.

After 8 months of solid strength gains with a good basis of minor conditioning they could spend 3 months of solid metcon WODS. 3 Min HEAVY stuff, 6 Mins Medium to Light, 9-15 min Aerobic & 20+ min OMEM stuff. toss in some occasional heavy lifting 1x a week and keep working those skills...

We had a box in town that only did Metcons. 5 days a week of metcons with usually 2 20 min+ ones a week. Their members would go to competitions and get slaughtered at any event that had a bar above the usual 135lbs. Many of their members left and joined a box or two that had strength days incorporated in their program and less longer metcons. They all saw amazing improvements in 3 months or less. Having talked with many of them personally through competitions and just community WODs and what not they all were amazed at how a little strength work could have such an impact and cutting down on the longer metcon stuff.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:17 PM   #18
Russell Greene
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Mike Doehla View Post
Russ, don't you think it's easier for someone that is strong to get better at conditioning rather than someone who is good at conditioning to get strong?

ie a weight lifter moving to CF or a Runner moving to CF.
Let's look at recent CrossFit Games results. Sam Briggs has an elite endurance background and won the CrossFit Games in 2013. Dan Bailey has a college track and cross country background and is a perennial top-10 finisher. Alessandra Pichelli competed in college rowing. On the other hand, Mat Fraser and Lindsey Valenzuela both have done well at the CrossFit Games with weightlifting backgrounds. There are many former baseball and football players.

I've long tried to find a pattern in the athletic backgrounds of top CrossFit Games athletes, and the only consistent thing I've really noticed is that no one's done well with a former powerlifting background. So, perhaps developing competitive levels of maximal strength is a handicap for fitness.

In specialist terms, is it easier to deadlift 1000 pounds or run a sub-4 mile? I don't think either is easier or quicker. It takes many years of specific training, and probably a particular genetic profile, to reach both. If it takes less time to become an elite swimmer, triathlete, runner, etc. than an elite weightlifter or powerlifter, I'd like to see the evidence for that.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:36 PM   #19
Russell Greene
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

Shawn,

You said,

"But I don't want to speak about the elite guys or gals."

If you aren't basing your analysis of what it takes to become very fit on the training histories of the fittest, then what are you basing it on?

The only way to have an intelligent discussion about training for elite fitness, is to look at how the fittest have trained. We're not going to get anywhere sticking to philosophy and conjecture.

You're right that heavy lifts are one important part of training for overall fitness. And I agree that athletes who avoid heavy lifting will not progress as quickly. I see no evidence, however, that heavy lifts are the single key element of training for fitness, and plenty of evidence suggesting otherwise. I also see no evidence that focusing exclusively on shorter workouts is effective for achieving elite fitness. It's certainly not what Jason Khalipa, Rich Froning, etc. are doing. In one of the Rich Froning documentaries I linked to above, he did a 4500m row just to recover, and did a 30 minute interval training workout on the bike.

Looking beyond CrossFit, top international weightlifters develop a base of work capacity before specializing in the snatch and clean and jerk. One of the best weightlifters in the world, Ilya Ilyin, for example does lots of rowing, swimming, and running to develop his work capacity: http://www.allthingsgym.com/dmitry-k...ws-ilya-ilyin/ (w/f safe).

Chinese lifters run and do high rep lifting and bodyweight movements. In other words, they develop the base of the pyramid before focusing on lifting and sport.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:41 PM   #20
Mike Doehla
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Re: The Strength Base Linear Progression

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Originally Posted by Russell Greene View Post
Let's look at recent CrossFit Games results. Sam Briggs has an elite endurance background and won the CrossFit Games in 2013. Dan Bailey has a college track and cross country background and is a perennial top-10 finisher. Alessandra Pichelli competed in college rowing. On the other hand, Mat Fraser and Lindsey Valenzuela both have done well at the CrossFit Games with weightlifting backgrounds. There are many former baseball and football players.

I've long tried to find a pattern in the athletic backgrounds of top CrossFit Games athletes, and the only consistent thing I've really noticed is that no one's done well with a former powerlifting background. So, perhaps developing competitive levels of maximal strength is a handicap for fitness.

But I'm not sure why I'm debating. I care very little about cf the sport and more about cf the program that can get people strong and looking good naked.
In specialist terms, is it easier to deadlift 1000 pounds or run a sub-4 mile? I don't think either is easier or quicker. It takes many years of specific training, and probably a particular genetic profile, to reach both. If it takes less time to become an elite swimmer, triathlete, runner, etc. than an elite weightlifter or powerlifter, I'd like to see the evidence for that.
I'm not worried about what their sports were. I'm talking more about the numbers were. These people were strong before CF.

Take a weekend warrior runner and an average strong gym bro. That gym bro will more than likely crush the runners Grace time.
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