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Evidence-Based Fitness Discussion by Greg Glassman, et al. - CrossFit Journal

Evidence-Based Fitness Discussion

By Greg Glassman, et al.

In CrossFit

January 01, 2007

PDF Article

Coach Greg Glassman replies to an assertion by Mike Boyle (“Body By Boyle”) at a Special Operations Medical Association Conference that CrossFit’s use of “high-rep Olympic weightlifting” renders it “dangerous.”

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.

Mr. Boyle’s problem with CrossFit is that his program got left behind. Think tipped over rice bowls, not dangerous lifts. 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.

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. This is evidence-based fitness.

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5 Comments on “Evidence-Based Fitness Discussion”


wrote …

Well, CrossFit doesn't make things easy. And I don't just mean the workouts. I always seem to come across topics and notes that challenge the CrossFit way. I even seek them out at times. I suppose complacency is not my way. After I read Mr. Boyle's comments, my question was, "What ways are those?" I am awaiting the download of the interview available on his website. I don't know how much I'll delve into his thoughts and theories on exercise and fitness, however, it is rare when I motivate to write in comments at, so I'll take this opportunity to express, perhaps to the detriment of other's time, how CF has stuck with me over this past year and a bit more. I grew up with a desire to be a professional athlete - a dream many have shared with me. I lacked a trainer, even at a high school that prided itself on its athletes. I suppose there may have been some guided training for its football players, however, I was not a football player. I played lacrosse and soccer. I was led by drastically under-trained coaches in the area of fitness. I suppose I can consider myself ambitious. I have never been satisfied with the attention I received as a youth in my athletic career. My parents balked at my desire to get involved more seriously in soccer. I still feel strained when I think of their decisions. I'd like to think CrossFit is a haven for those who missed a coach who knew what they were talking about, even if the system was imperfect. I don't know if it is or isn't. What I do know is that at this time in my life, I still have dreams. Even false athletic ones that likely will never come true. Nevertheless, my financial restrictions forbid any expense paid for athletic endeavors. A few things come to mind that CF has given me, for free. A coach who gives a damn. People who give a damn. Growth gives me a sense of "something is right about this." And I'll be honest, I don't want to die young. My father died at 51, my grandfathers - one at 58, the other at 52, so I'm told. I like being fit, and it's not always easy to go get a workout in your favorite sport on any given day. So, even if the system is imperfect, my life, or my efforts at an improved one, have been facilitated by CF and it's handouts. Anything worth doing isn't easy. I will try, I guess, to keep challenging those things I subscribe to, with a wary hand about, searching for new things. I don't always know I'll keep doing CrossFit, just for the time being, thanks for helping me stay fit, and for giving me material to read and process and decide for myself what is best. May we all keep looking.


wrote …

I've seen vids of Boyle's ppl doing Olympic lifts. or

Not bad but far from great.

Perhaps it is his own experience in getting ppl hurt with bad lifting that has prejudiced him. Of course that is all speculative but watching those vids makes one wonder.....

I would challenge him to explain the danger of doing 150 snatches consecutively with a wooden dowel. Perhaps then he would see the absurdity in his statement about high rep oly lifting.


People like Boyle are simply afraid of the unknown and afraid that someone else's program will prove to be better than their own. CrossFit speaks for itself. No need to discuss further.


wrote …

Personally, as someone about to enter the military and hopefully someday SOCOM, I hope that the military universally adopts Crossfit. I've been injured countless times during my years as an athlete by the standard PT routines. Since I began Crossfit, I have not repeated any of those injuries. I have continually improved max efforts, and my my times improve every workout. I challenge anyone to design a better program than Crossfit using "less technical" movements.


wrote …

As for my own experience, 20 years of group fitness and 10 years of CPT, I have not seen any other superior protocol in developing upper body strength with superior levels of progressions. My techniques are better and have seen marked improvements on my strength, personally. Big fan of the "Odd Objects" Clean Video, which is a must to view for my female clients. Even a bigger fan of Annie's ROPE Video. She's "the evidence-base!"
Mr. Glassman, THANK YOU.

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