Video Article

In this two part lecture, Coach Greg Glassman unifies fitness and health. This lecture is the first time we’ve published a revolutionary new component (a three-dimensional model) that has the potential to both redefine and unite the health and fitness fields forever.

Health can now be concisely and precisely defined as increased work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains. Work capacity is the ability to perform real physical work as measured by force x distance / time (which is average power). Fitness is this ability in as many domains as possible.

Science is about measurement and prediction. Without measurable, observable, repeatable data concerning the fundamental physical units of kinematics (mass, distance, and time or MKS) there is no science of human performance. This is true of the planets, automobiles, and exercise.

Physical output can be measured in terms of foot-pounds/min. We move our own bodies and we move external objects. We can measure how heavy those bodies and objects are, how far they travel, and in what time period. Your ability to move large loads, long distances, quickly, in the broadest variety of domains is fitness. And the ability to sustain that fitness throughout your life is a defining measure of health.

CrossFit’s prescription for achieving this fitness is constantly varied high intensity functional movements. We can accurately predict improvements in work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains through this prescription. We have tens of thousands of examples at this point.

The new component introduced in this lecture is age. Fitness can be graphed in two-dimensions with duration of effort on the x-axis and power on the y-axis. At each duration, we average your power capacity across a variety of modal domains (skills and drills). This creates a power curve, the area under which is your work capacity across broad time and modal domains (aka fitness).

We can now add a third dimension to this graph, the z-axis, which is age. By reassessing your two-dimensional fitness at various times throughout your life, we graph the form of a solid. The power curve takes on the shape of a plateau or blanket. This three-dimensional graph is a defining measure of health. Health, therefore, is nothing other than sustained fitness.

In Part 1, Coach covers the first three operational models of fitness originally published in the seminal What is Fitness article, and how they become united by the work capacity graph. 20min 0sec.

In Part 2, Coach explains the fourth model, the sickness, wellness, fitness continuum, and how that becomes subordinate to the metric of maximizing the volume of work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout your life. 17min 51sec.

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73 Comments on “CrossFit’s New Three-Dimensional Definition of Fitness and Health - 2”


wrote …

Interesting idea to add the age component to our definition of fitness. I like it. It asks the question, "For how long can one be a firebreather?"


wrote …

Oh my god.

That's mindblowing!


wrote …

Holy paradigm shift batman!

Coach, this is good stuff. In 3 years, can I join the team of Crossfit MDs? Although, I might need to see someone in the meantime about my CF addiction.


wrote …

Okay, so the solid is health/longevity... Would it stand to reason CrossFit engages mental improvement? Meaning, CrossFit programming can assist with staving off senility, dementia and Alzheimers? That seems the next logical step, as in quality of life that Coach touched on. I was intimidated at first watching it, but I'm glad I was able to watch the whole thing and follow it.

On another point, what about having a slide show of this presentation?


wrote …

In the words of the great Keanu Reeves as Neo...



Matt Charney wrote …

Absolute Genius!


wrote …

I have heard it said that great art either awes or inspires...
I am both awed and inspired. Thank you.


wrote …

Another step will be to lower the baseline of CrossFit application to include those with diminished or impeded neurological capacity (similar to what Jason was referring to above). In the case of my brain-injured daughter (substitute any number of labels you want for brain-injury ie: cerebral palsy, autistic, retarded, downs, add, adhd, si, etc...) I know, because I'm her dad, that it is the intensity component that is responsible for the amazing improvement she has made doing crossfit. Key to that is the ability to perform much of the wods (program) with very little equipment at home with me and her mom and her brother and her sister.


wrote …

I am going in the health profession. i have read countless books, articles, journals of people stumbling around what the definitions of health and fitness are; they stumble, and stutter, and give me no lead as to what the correlation between health and fitness is (even at the high cost of tuition). This lecture is easily the BEST description of Health and Fitness I have ever heard. Its measurable, concise, and most importantly its the epiphany the health profession has needed for an f***ing century. Coach Glassman, I thank you for your contribution to the world. We will all live higher quality of lives because of it.


wrote …

Compelling lecture. I've been crossfitting for about a year and have been amazed by the results. As probably a lot of new crossfitters do, I have been proselyting crossfit to my friends and family. Some times it's difficult to describe to others why crossfit is so good. This vid puts some words to the why.

Can I ask a question with out getting beat up? I was sharing the war college vid with some one I am trying to interest in crossfit. They asked me why coach is, ahh, a bit heavy. You know, "if he is the head of the movement, is he drinking the coolaid?" As for me, I was converted by trying one of the work outs and watching a couple of vids of Greg Amundson and Nasty Girls. I didn't know who Greg Glassman was until months after I was initiated.

Anyway, thanks Coach, for bringing us these concepts and program. I've never been stronger or fitter. (Though I have been leaner. I just started weighing and measuring.) My only complaint is that I didn't learn about crossfit sooner :)


wrote …

Coach should get on the Zone and do the WODS yes.
But not for our or for CrossFits sake.


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

Pure genius. The beauty is in its simplicity.
What a wonderful mind. Thanks Coach.


replied to comment from Kaleb Mullin

Kaleb and Kim, you two are the bravest CFers I have had the pleasure of reading comments from in the CJ Journal page. Don't be surprised if you get lambasted as a "hater" for asking an obvious question that a non-CFer brought to light and that's the bottom line: CrossFit refuses to respectfully undergo any level of scrutiny from those who haven't drank the Kool-Aid without dismissing questions with a wave of the hand and "Go back to your Globogym, you loser!" Hey, the CF writers and their minions can make fun of Denise Austin, Richard Simmons, Billy Blanks, and other fitness stars who, like it or not, have longevity in the industry and their appearance is a testimony to their claims...and that's all I'm going to say because we all have our struggles, to include the author of this message. Aging sucks and we're all doing our best, I guess.

Having ranted all of that out of my system, now let's get down to the brass tacks of this situation. If CrossFit spends more money and has more scientists and doctors and elite athletes devoted to improving fitness than any other whatever in the exercise industry, then where is the "manual?" Why can't the CF HQ team compile all of the facts and researched in the journals into a comprehensive MANUAL or even a legitimate BOOK that can be referenced by CF trainers and the world in general, sold in bookstores? If the principles are ground-breaking and can change the world, why does CF give the general public less than 20 pages of free material about CF and keep everything else behind lock and key? Why, when asked about nutrition information, does CF point people in the direction of a long-past best-selling diet book?

After watching Coach's speech at the National War College where he told military leaders, and perhaps rightly so, that military physical fitness principles are faulty, I tried to mentally place myself in the audience as a senior leader to gauge my response, you know, to estimate the selling potential of CF for the military. Okay, let's say that I'm a general officer and after the speech I'm interested in CF. I approach him and ask "where can I find out more information?" If the answer is "go to the website and download two free newsletters and that'll get you started," I'd be suspicious. If I asked about how can CF help my Soldiers/Airmen/Sailors/Marines eat better and the answer was "Buy this particular book," one word would come to my mind: Huckster.


wrote …

Three dimensional..........! How about that for an epiphany! That is just beautiful, in the way all good science is. Just brings You absolute clarity, in an instant. Just blew my mind. I had goosebumps all over from watching that!
Thank You very much.


wrote …

For those who comment about Coach Glassman's appearance, I suggest you recall that "science" doesn't depend on the messenger, only the message. The data matter, not who said it. Not anything about him - he could be an uneducated boor or an idiot savant or the next Einstein or anything else. If the data are valid, if the work is replicable, if it offers predictions which are subsequently validated - nothing about the messenger matters.

Worrying about the messenger displays a lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of science vs. myth.


replied to comment from J T BOSS

What are you talking about? Any book we would publish and sell in bookstores would sell for about $25, and there's no way we could publish nearly the amount of information that's in the Journal right now. Lock and key? You've already spent the $25, and have access to the entire library all the time. Plus, there are hundreds of free videos, thousands of workouts and photos, hundreds of thousands of comments explaining and discussing the breadth and depth of the CrossFit system.

I don't understand how a book would an improvement on this in any way?

Are you looking for a simpler approach? Is using constantly varied high intensity functional movements while eating a balanced diet in order to achieve increased work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains (health) not structured enough for you? Are the above resources not easy enough for you to access? I don't get it, and I certainly don't believe that human performance and health are reducible to a simpler system.


replied to comment from Jason Neal

Christopher and Jason,

There is a good deal of research on movement physiology and the effects on the brain. Essentially, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all loaded with position sensors called "mechanoreceptors". Some are stimulated by position, others by movement, and still others my changes in movement. These position sensors go from the tissues of the body through nerves to the spinal cord and brain. It has been shown in numerous ways that stimulation of mechanoreceptors stimulate and balance areas of the brain that control congnition. Movement stimulates the normal brain function.

Christopher, I believe you are correct with the intensity having a correlation in her improvements. Higher power output stimulates more muscle tissue, more mechanoreceptors, and has a more profound effect on hormone normalization.

Let us not forget the community aspect of fitness. We are a social creature and as such require interaction and support from those around us. Do not downplay the effect of your daughter spending much quality time with you and your family. It is truly powerful to see friendships develop and grow, family ties grow, and personalities change within the community.


wrote …


If the crowd was like me, the information they had just consumed had completely stunned and overwhelmed them. What questions could one have? He just explained how we can avoid (in most cases) sickness and vulnerability. Talk about a "Eureka!" moment. Coach, you are a genius. You should put this on a DVD and sell it. You should do infomercials. You should get this out there to anyone who cares about their health and vitality. I am going to make my parents sit and watch every minute of this. Thank you. Twenty five dollars for the Journal was the best money I've EVER spent. My affiliate gym dues are the second best money I've ever spent. CrossFit has become a lifestyle for me. I will be doing this until the day I die.


replied to comment from J T BOSS

The WOD's are free. Glassman has spent years putting this thing together. Do you blame him for wanting to make a bit of a profit off years of work? By the way, I'd put any number of CrossFitters up against Billy Blanks (or any other prominent "fitness guru" who isn't CrossFit) and turn the hopper. I'd bet a paycheck on the CrossFitter every time. Why? Because I've seen the results. I was an athletic trainer at a globo gym who became a cop and now realizes how much better shape I am than when I was doing bicep curls and calf raises. I may be under the influence of the Kool Aid, but I know the gains in health and fitness I have achieved using CrossFit and the Zone. Nothing else has come even close. I don't think anything has been dismissed. It isn't under lock and key. All one has to do is spend $25 for the whole Journal archive. Best $25 I've EVER spent on ANYTHING.


wrote …

Tony, while everything you wrote is correct, if someone stumbled to the site and said, 'I have a life, how would I go about reducing the "hundreds of free videos, thousands of workouts and photos, hundreds of thousands of comments explaining and discussing the breadth and depth of the CrossFit system" to a fundamnetal understanding in less than eight hours of reading?' who would answer their query and what would they say?

I think they'd get 100+ potential answers. There's so much information who would know where to begin if they were an executive, for example, trying to make a choice for their organization?

JT's point about the $25 lock and key was, to say the least, kind of silly. But his over-riding message may have a grain of validity in that it's easy to miss the core for all the details, opinions and 'helpful hints' available on the main site, not to mention the various affiliates.

I don't think CF can or should try to 'get control of it all', but my own very humble thought is that CF should never stop trying to organize and present the central themes and tenets in as concise a format as possible and make it easy to recognize, for beginners or 'longtimers.' Seems to me that is part and parcel of 'continuous improvement'.

Then again, there are those with a greater than average need to find a way to 'boil it all down.' You may never be able to satisfy those JT-like souls desperate for more simplicity. Paul


A manual seems like a good idea, but....

Glassman and the Crossfit methodology are evolving. This vid is the perfect example. Also, during the war college lecture series, he stated that he/Crossfit would adopt a new practice if it meant better human performance. So, I agree with Tony, the journal is the manual.


replied to comment from Kim Dahlroth

Kim, I get you and agree. I lost my mentor at a young 56 from coronary artery disease. We all knew it was coming and we got many more years with him than we feared we might. Life's fragile enough for this to be a concern.

As for Blanks, Austin and the other 'fitness' gurus, they are a pretty good example of the inversion of CrossFit. The guru demonstrates an appearance that implies health, but their fitness is unknown. Their method's quality is therefore judged on $$ value of product sold. To my knowledge, they have no quantifiable measure of fitness in their practitioners (what is the effect and how would it be measured?), no measure of their method's efficiency (how long to get the effect they have not described? What is the time/rate of adaptation?), and no data on injury rates experienced in the process.

You could look at Coach Glassman and wonder what his appearance implies about his fitness, but that is irrelevant to the efficacy of CrossFit, since objective testing has delivered quantifiable results. In fact, I have wondered if Coach has provided an appearance that ensures the issue never becomes a referendum on him or his ability, but rather focuses on the heart of the matter - what outcomes do the practitioners achieve?

In other words, what Annalee/#15 above said.

JT, what CF says about food is right out there - '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.' If referring someone to a book with a tested methodology (eg the Zone method) for achieving that end seems like hucksterism, when you can get all the info for free off the Zone website or for less than $5 from a used book outlet, then I suggest you clarify the significance of your understanding of huckerism. Paul


wrote …

I go back and forth between "all America should be on CrossFit" to "CrossFit is not for everyone" and I think much of it stems from not having a "elevator speech" where I can pitch the key elements in plain language in 30 seconds.

I'm not an affiliate owner and I'm not even a trainer. I don't even have immediate designs on becoming a trainer though I just attended a Level 1 Cert last weekend. I think about why I spent $1000 on the Cert and it boils down to me wanting to spread the word and feeling comfortable saying to any random person on the street, "Let me tell you about the squat" and then having the knowledge to hit all the key elements as I get that poor sucker squatting. I desperately wanted to come out for the Cert on my way to creating an elevator speech that could grasp the attention of the average person, without using words like "domain," "modal," "segmented" and "capacity" which even cause my eyes to glaze over. And I think it's just as important never to have a "holier than thou" tone even when talking about behind-the-back wrist curls!

As I'm sure it has for many of you, stumbling across CrossFit has been a life changing experience for me. Maybe someday my neurotic desire to teach the squat to random strangers on the street will translate into me eventually going down the path of an trainer as a profession. Right now, I think it's the resistance I get when I try to sell the CrossFit philosophy to even my closest family and friends that has me go from thinking "all America should be on CrossFit" to "CrossFit is not for everyone." I really think that a lot of it boils down to having a better sales pitch. It's a common theme as I talk to other members at the gym when I ask them how they explain CrossFit to the uninitiated and it's definately a common source of frustration.


wrote …

Joe ... yep. Paul


wrote …

tony, PS, I think I get it that the new version of 'what is fitness?,' the refined version as part of cont improvement, is these new presentations and the ones from the War College ... right? Paul


wrote …

The ten General Physical Skills which CrossFit elevates don't directly address the psychological and motivational impact of successful CrossFitting. This ties in with is the question of is CrossFit for everyone or is it just for the elite. Coach Glassman in his recently released two part interview in the journal stated the satisfaction that he gets from hearing about how women especially have improved the general quality of their lives in their decisions they have made and followed through with as a direct result of CrossFit training. While few of the general population are readily willing to put up with the recurrent physical demands of CrossFit, one of the important dimensions both needed and improved through our methods is that requisite motivation to do so. The Power assessment of humvees for example cited in both the war college and this presentation while valid doesn't tap into any desire on the part of vehicles to generate their power, a desire which I believe successful CrossFitters are increasing for themselves with their continued training. I contend that the increase in work capacity of CrossFit is much more than mechanical fitness, but includes the willingness, which CrossFit itself can also dramatically increase, to work through the pain/discomfort/inconvenience of doing CrossFit. In the more recent level 1 Certs, a goal of 'intensity' has been replaced with 'relative intensity', a salient discernment. If we want to get more folks under the big tent that is CrossFit, intelligent scaling is called for, so that this aspect of increased work capacity, 'drive', can be optimally developed, too. Most of us are not in CF boxes filled with only 'fire breathers'.

Additionally, Jim Baker of CrossFit Santa Cruz Central and the Martins of Brand X in Ramona have helped to extend CrossFit up and down the age continuum, the health/3rd dimension of fitness. I have no doubt that their trainees will be able to live healthier, longer lives while willing to push themselves further than they would have been able to without having gotten such expert coaching. CrossFitters are hardier psychologically as well as physically, which the Glassmans through their promulgation of CrossFit have driven and are now describing.


wrote …

Although it may seem like a great idea to be able to condense the depth and bredth of the CrossFit idea, there is only so far you can compress the information before you completly lose the point.

If the Eat lean meat, little startch no sugar etc... nutrition point &
The Crossift seeks to improve 10 components of fitness by working contantly varied functional movements across etc... Exercise point

If these are not simple enough, logical enough, and entertaining enough for someody to want to find out more, then there is probably little else you are going to be able to say to somebody to get them interested.

You are not going to convince a brick to do CrossFit no matter how much information you throw at it.

Actually bricks have been known to respond to pretty pictures and pop up books ;-)so maybe CrossFit Journal pop up book with additional talking Coach Doll might work

CrossFit is there for FREE! for those willing to find out for themselves whether its worth doing and there are Globo Gyms, and millions of other programs for everybody else.

A manual is a great idea except for the fact by the time it was printed, published and sent into book stores it would probably already need to be revised and updated, because of the constantly evolving nature of the program.

Luckily we have this brilliant constantly updating Online Journal to keep us up to date with where the CrossFit movement has evolved to next.


replied to comment from Apollo Swabbie

Apollo, I'd hope that our stumbler onto the site would see the "What is" and "Start here" links, and then proceed on to the two free CFJs, and the FAQs. From that basic reference point they could check out some comments and/or the message board to catch some of that supportive, constructive tone that makes CF a true community.

...about the Volume Under the Curve, let me get this straight: The area under the curve is a measure of one's fitness over a given span of time, say a month or a year. Because it appears as a graph (and because area would be one number value) it looks like a snapshot, but in reality it is a plot of several efforts that took some span of time to collect. Hence, it is not a snapshot of your fitness level but a measure of your fitness level last month or last year.

If I'm not mistaken (please let me know if I am), you could plot last month's/year's efforts from a CFer, a heavy lifter, and a runner on the same graph and compare their respective areas under the curve and you would necessarily be comparing their general fitness levels at the same time. If so, I think we can all expect that the steep lifter's curve and the low-and-long runner's curve would yield relatively smaller areas than the crossfitter's pretty-steep, pretty-long curve. I like this concept on the surface, but it needs to be tested - and every effort made to find and characterize its flaws - before it can become a solid theory (science, remember?).

Volume under the 3D solid is a measure of one's "health through the ages." In other words, Coach is saying that your fitness level month-to-month, year-to-year, etc, defines your health. I think I like that too (though I'll need to mull it over a while). We'll want to figure out how the metrics that go into the volume calculation lend themselves to humans (i.e. do we use all 21 efforts from last month or can 5 or 10 workouts give us enough data points?, do we use a month, quarter, or year?, etc.). Same for the lifter and runner, "pick your top 5 or 10 power-output workouts last month and we'll plot them."

Exciting stuff, thanks Coach Glassman!


replied to comment from J T BOSS

Darn it, J.T., are you back again? What's going on? I really don't get it.

In one place you want the facts in the journals in a "comprehensive MANUAL or even a legitimate BOOK." And in another place you say that if a book were suggested, "one word would come to mind---"Huckster". That's harsh. It's also amazing--the contradiction, that is.

I'm waiting for you to respond to Paul's request for your definition of huckster.


Carmen Buchmann wrote …

"Health is wealth"


wrote …

Well, J.T. I understand the point you have made and I agree with you about the need for references in scientific publications. However, when Coach began to finally apply his fitness approach to the training of a few men and women in Santa Cruz, no one had ever before used his methods. In fact, he was kicked out of a bunch of "Fitness Centers" BECAUSE of his methods.

Let me take you to a different specialty. There was nothing new in Cardiology for the CURE of certain arrhythmias until 1985 when Huang used radiofrequency power for intracardiac structures. Dr. Huang cited references for the same work in animals. But in 1985 he himself became a "reference" for all of the work that followed until finally the procedure was found to be safe in the human heart for certain other arrhythmias (1987); then THAT person became a reference.

In the small beginnings of Coach Glassman's writings. references were not called for--not needed--indeed, not available. No fitness trainer, exercise specialist, Ph.D or otherwise was doing what he was doing. Sure, he could have cluttered his writings with references for the things he was refusing to teach. Since his first publication in Sept 2002, Coach Glassman became a reference.

Someday when all the data is in there will hopefully be a book that we can all be proud of.

Huang SK, et al: Closed-chest catheter desiccation of atrioventricular junction using radiofrequency energy---a new method of catheter ablation. [abstract] Circulation 1985, 72:III-389.

Franklin JO, et al: Radiofrequewncy ablation in the right atrium [abstract] Circulation 1987;76:IV-279.


wrote …

An excellent condensation of previous models in the first half, and an intriguing thought in the second.

Kaleb, I'm sure you're not the only person who wonders why Coach doesn't CF and Zone out himself (I also notice, against predictions, that nobody has really argued against that comment). I do too. Still, like many people on the site, it doesn't bother me. I don't care if a robot prints it out for me, if the program works, it works.

JT: So much information is freely available and well-presented in the "Start Here" document that I didn't have much of a challenge starting even without an affiliate (although going to an affiliate did wonders for me). Those who generally have issues, through timidity or unfamiliarity with the concepts, have the FAQ and the forums. Also, there's well more than 20 pages free- go through the Journal without logging in and find how many articles are available for download to anybody. I randomly opened October 2007 and found 3.


Jeff Barnett wrote …

Amazing way of further expounding on the Crossfit model and linking it to overall health. As an engineer, I am very impressed and comfortable with the plot of fitness (power output over broad time and modal domains). However, when pitching Crossfit to my peers I also focus on the "sickness to fitness" distribution. After I had the "a ha" moment of "it's all the same!" I wanted all my peers to have that moment as well. Elite athletes don't get colds all the time. They don't break bones. They don't damage ligaments and tendons in normal activities. They don't have to take 10 medications to control the symptoms of an underlying problem: lack of fitness. Un-fit people live in sickness, and fit people do not. As Coach pointed out, no value judgment, just fact.

Michael: in my perception, the graph of fitness assumes that you can measure the work capacity of a human across all the time and modal domains at one given point in time. The assumption is that you can have someone perform a 10k run, Fran, and 5 reps of max effort back squat, plus a lot of other metrics, all on February 22nd 2009, and his/her time should be as if each metric was performed alone. Obviously, this isn't possible, so you have to use previous metrics. As you suggested, perhaps the metrics were taken over a month or a year. Furthermore, if I ran the 10k first and constantly improved my fitness over the year, my final 10k time would be better, but you can't realistically re-measure everything.

All scientific methods rely on assumptions, even if the assumptions are very subtle (eg assumption: gravity is constant over the surface of the earth). I believe you are correct that the graph of power output over broad time and modal domains must rely on an assumption, but much like assuming gravity to be a constant, it's an easy assumption to stomach.


wrote …

In case you all missed it, Kirez Reynolds posted a question on the main site comments to which Coach Glassman responded. As they are germane to this discussion, I have pasted them here:

I have two nagging questions. First, this definition evaluates as (objectively, quantifiably) inferior versus superior, the health of two different subjects who may differ only in one variable - strength. If all other variables are the same, but one person is stronger, he must be counted as healthier. He performs more work. (I understand the second order measures that result from 'only strength'... greater work immediately means greater cardiac stress, etc.) Fine... but wait.

See where this is going: imagine two groups of crossfitters. The first group is all firebreathers. They've been training in crossfit for years. Some were champions in other sports, prior to crossfit. You could even limit this group to the top 10 performers at the 2008 CF Games... the top 10 FEMALES.

The second group is also impressive. But not top 10. If we're measuring work capacity, they may not even be top 300 among the MALES. Numerically, they all have greater work capacity than those top 10 females. Medical science is going to have a problem with describing this second group as necessarily 'healthier' than the first group. If we ignore sex-difference pathologies/lethalities like prostate and breast cancer, childbearing illnesses and traumas, and even homicide, war casualties and workplace fatalities, the males will have lifelong greater health. And it's not clear that this larger quantifiable work capacity is experienced in terms of quality of life, reproductive capacity, survivability of offspring -- those last two are measures which are far more consonant with an objective measure of the successful engineering and performance of an organism from the engineer's mission: natural and sexual selection. Our physiology DOES have an overarching objective, and it is quantity of multi-generational offspring. Genghis Khan, from an objective measure of biological success, was the most successful human ever.

My second nagging question may be easier to answer. How do we measure the work done in more complicated movements like running, swimming, gymnastics? Right now I see this as a monkey wrench thrown into our quantification. It's not the only one: how do you measure isometric strength (truly isometric, not just "so small you don't see the force plate moving"). The evaluation of these work capacities is elusive.

* * * *

Historically, medical science has been seeing symptoms fundamental to many pathologies, and describing health in terms of the causal - or merely correlative - factors. Or absence thereof.

Scientists from this background are going to have a major stumbling block in trying to embrace a definition of fitness that is NOT strictly internal to the body. Coach's definition describes the body in relation to QUANTITIES of mass external to the body -- for perhaps most of our purposes, this is fine. But problems like males vs. females is not going to go away; and given this strictly work-quantified approach, it's a problem.

* * *
I'm sorry if it seems I'm nitpicking, but I think the criticism falls in the meaningful scope. And I'm a fanatical follower of crossfit, since the first day I found CrossFit and read "What is fitness?"

I DO regard Coach's definitions as revolutionary and ingenious... whether we're talking variation-functional-intensity, or mechanics-consistency-intensity, or safety-efficacy-efficiency, or selection of exercises by potential power, etc.
Comment #70 - Posted by: Kirez at February 22, 2009 8:10 AM

Kirez #70,

The setup in your “question” contains, I think, a few flaws. Increased strength is not the boon to work capacity across broad time and modal domains that you’re attributing. Powerlifters, and we’ve seen some very, very, strong lifters, have demonstrated very limited work capacity across broad time and modal domains. In fact, strength is one of the components of fitness that must be limited or compromised, if you will, to optimize or maximize fitness. This is true as we initially defined fitness operationally, as we test it in WODS, and in our current quantifiable model for fitness under review.

Establishing significant work capacity across broad time and modal domains provides for substantial breadth and depth in all our recognized physiological adaptive realms: cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy agility, and balance. I do not see substituting the “ten general physical skills”, above, as creator Jim Cawley labeled them, with work capacity across broad time and modal domains as anything less than an important and needed shift to a quantifiable model that elegantly unifies all ten. I think that this is an important and often overlooked point.

But I see a bigger point of confusion. Our claim is that the 2-D model with duration of effort being the abscissa and power output the ordinate is a quantifiable, defining, model of “fitness” in distinction to the 3-D model, with the z-axis, or applicate, being age, where we produce a quantifiable, defining, model of “health”. Your lead-in example has conflated the 2-D model of “fitness” for “health”. By way of analogy I suggest that you’ve confused the weather for climate. Weather is the snapshot and climate is the 10,000-year view. Fitness is a snapshot of work capacity and health is the 100-year view. Etc.

The difference you premise in males vs. females may or may not be real, may or may not be a problem with our model, but interestingly, the assumption that you make, that women in aggregate, women collectively, will have a reduced work capacity than men measured in sum over the duration of their lives needs to be tested (I suspect that you are wrong given the little I know about what actuarial data show to be differences between the sexes), and the ease with which the assumption is offered absent evidence is exactly why, I would maintain, that the measure we’re asking for is needed. I think, Sir, that the concern you offer as evidence of a limitation in our model can only be factually assessed by the very same model in question, and that the need for meaningful validation may be at the very heart of the importance and utility of the proposed model. Do women as a cohort offer more or less volume under the work-capacity/lifespan curve? I know of only one way to test that. Our commitment is not to showing that CrossFitters, or women, or Republicans are fitter than others but to engage in “meaningful” (used in the scientific and strict linguistic sense of the word) discussion on the topic of human performance. Advancing a technology of human performance, my stated aim, requires no less.

I’d also NOT recommend removing from the graph and discussion the epidemiological realities that you aptly refer to as “sex-difference pathologies/lethalities like prostate and breast cancer, childbearing illnesses and traumas, and even homicide, war casualties and workplace fatalities”. Your observation that “the males will have lifelong greater health” if we do so may be tantamount to saying that if men didn’t get so sick and die young they’d be healthier. An observation I’m loath to make, though I may agree. Let’s measure first and then and only then decide what to ignore or throw out and offer justification for the elimination of data fields. Kirez, I think again that you’re saying, correctly, to use our definitions, that men are often, even typically, fitter, to which I’m responding, yeah but they may not be as healthy by our definition of health arrived at by adding the third axis of age.

The work done in more complex movements needs to be left from calculation for the simple reason that we cannot include in a graph what we cannot measure. But, there may be a better way forward and that would be to use relative, or ordinal, ranking rather than cardinal, or absolute, metrics in assessing output and determine a relative work capacity across broad time and modal domains. This obviates the need for calculating anything and requires that we only measure time, eliminates the nettlesome issue of a guy expressing more power but taking longer to finish a task, and may just provide a more “real world” criteria for performance success where the ultimate criteria seems instinctively to be “getting the job, any job, done”. This is one of those issues we quietly address, debate, and ponder behind the scenes at CF, but interestingly, it is how we do things clinically and daily at every affiliate and on these WOD/comment pages daily. I’d also be willing to advance the argument, mathematically and logically, that we’ve still got a work capacity based, quantifiable measure of fitness, but that the units become, again, ordinal and not cardinal, that is, “finished first, finished second, finished third”, vs. what might look like respectively “22,000 ft-lbs/min, 23,000 ft-lbs/min, and 15,000 ft-lbs/min” when calculated. Ranking by time alone only may alter the ranking that would be established by absolute metric (notice how my example does this) and perhaps that’s OK. Where we’ve compared the two approaches the most significant difference we’ve found is that the scoring is easier to do using relative vs. absolute metrics. It is more fun too.

On the issue of “symptoms” and medical tradition that you present, I guess my worry is that treating symptoms is not always the same as treating disease. To use Jeff Glassman’s language, treating symptoms may be like trying to stop a runaway train by taking a hammer to the speedometer. As an example, I, for one, am not impressed with chemotherapeutic intervention for neither the treatment nor prevention of atherosclerotic disease, for much the same reason that working to improve V02 max is a very inefficient and ineffective approach to making elite athletes. I think when we do so we are confusing effect with cause. How much of modern disease has its origins, its etiology, in bad diet and lack of intense exercise rather than low V02 max and elevated cholesterol? What are the physician’s tools for correcting poor health - surgery and drugs - and what are the limitations of these tools? I don’t for a second doubt their occasional, even absolute, necessity, but I suspect that eating right and engaging in high intensity exercise is at least as efficient and effective at safeguarding and improving “health”, as we’ve defined it, and as it’s commonly perceived, than are pharmaceutical and surgical intervention. Regardless we’d still need a working, scientific definition of health, a measurable definition of health, before making the determination. If we measure and define health with the work-capacity/lifespan curve it seems that all of the important factors, pathology, exercise, diet, accident, and medical treatment can be accounted for and evaluated scientifically, quantitatively. From data so collected we should be able to make some meaningful assessments as to how various lifestyles, treatments, and calamities affect the quality of our lives and not before.

That physicians may or may not resist any or all of this was never really a concern of mine at any point in the formulation. Interestingly, though, we’ve found bringing the MD’s to the CrossFit table dramatically easier than getting trainers and exercise physiologists to even listen and respond to our concerns and models. Medical doctors aren’t the problem. I’ll get them and the physicists, engineers, and chemists on board quickly.

I greatly appreciate the time you put to serious thought on this and see it as nothing more than supporting this great community. You have my gratitude and my respect.
Comment #176 - Posted by: Coach at February 22, 2009 1:07 PM


wrote …

Thanks for the paste-in Tony, "MB" also has an post after that in comment #237. I hope that the metrics we eventually use for determining one's "fitness curve" retain as much precision as reasonably practicable. Plugging in a few body measurements (weight, height, arm length, leg length, etc.) and sometimes applying a constant (where needed to normalize the data, i.e. get a power value out of a run time and some body measurements) may prove beneficial to the model for acceptance by both the scientific community and Coach's 2nd place finisher, above.

If the fitness-curve hypothesis holds true, then the 2nd pace finisher who did more work should be recognized as fitter when the curve is drawn (in the mean time, they'll just be the first-place loser of that WOD). That dichotomy might be fun too.


wrote …

I am relatively new to CrossFit (about 6 months). When I started reading I recall a pretty good discussion about age adjusting the competition (age brackets). I also recall reading Paul’s article which seemed to say in effect “Just compete, don’t worry about the age/disability adjustments.” (Sorry about that abstraction, it was a good article and I agree that I want to compete against someone as wimpy and with the same problems (bad knees, separated a/c joint, climber’s elbow) and complaining nature as myself.)

However, since we agree that age is a component of assessing overall health across a time spectrum. This seems to indicate that age brackets at a competition do make sense. Am I missing something? Again I haven’t really paid a ton of attention to the Games aspect and age brackets may already be there, but it seems to me that finishing first in an age group of randomly assigned work measurements would indicate the highest level of fitness. It would also seem to say that a 42 YOM should not be competing against a 22 YOM correct?

Switching gears a bit, the “well no kidding” moment to me was when I realized that you could plot the fitness area under the curve and compare it year over year and provide a quantitative value of fitness increase or decrease. What I mean is if you take the area under the curve at a particular age and call that a number say F(t) (---not good because we are already using F for force but hang with me—)and once someone has been training for some period of time they should achieve a relatively constant F(t)…(biologically limited as well as some other factors)…They are now in what we could define as a constant fit state for them. Additionally, once in a “fit state” you could compare F(t) year over year (or some other time period) and assuming that training intensity was remaining somewhat constant a substantial drop in capacity could/would indicate some other pathology. Whereas an increase in F(t) would indicate the addition (or change) of some variable that increases overall fitness (diet, lifestyle, rest, medication, etc). Seems obvious, but this really appeals to my engineering training.

Coach, thanks for this.



replied to comment from Michael Sawley

Michael, "start here" apparently isn't working for the folks I've sent there, and as I think it over I wonder if it's generational - they just don't have the affinity to sitting in front of a machine reading, and/or don't have the habit of printing/reading 'free crap off of the net.' Not sure. Vexing either way, and stimulating for the formulation of a refined approach on my part. Paul


wrote …

If 5% BF represents "fitness", what explains the apparent excess of 5% BF of the men's and women's winners of the 2008 CF games? Both of whom have stated they don't strictly weigh and measure food?


replied to comment from Richard Thompson

Ric T, your summary wasn't bad! If I were re-writing that article today, I would point out that any attempts to make CF Games more 'fair' would only be justified if it made the sport better. CF HQ determines and executes 'making the sport better.'

My point was that "fairness" (in the sense that many were arguing for at the time that I wrote the piece) would not make the sport better, since that sort of 'fairness' is anti-thetical to sport.

I suggest that in para 2 of your post above, you are mixing a discussion on health with a discussion on sport, and it's not clear why you think they go together, or if they do. My own sense is that they do not, but more importantly, I don't know of any data to even begin a real evaluation. Do NFL players live longer and/or better than NBA players or marthoners or golfers or race car drivers or pianists or chess players or illegal drug users or legal drug users or those with long arms but no athletic ability? (Based on anecdotal info, I'd rather be a 90 year old pianist than NFL player, but perhaps only if I did CF on the side, and managed to squeeze in a bunch zone meals in between concerts.)

I would think part of the point of the 3D model is to develop a basis, a framework, for data gathering so that points could be evaluated such as 'what is the trade off between Steroid X aided performance today compared to life time area under the curve?' Or, perhaps another example of question which could be addressed by this model is a refinement of this: "Does having large volume under the curve for a population of 25-55 year olds provide a larger or smaller volume curve at age 90 than for a population which has a relatively smaller volume under the curve when 25-55?"

Which is not to say that actually doing any of the work implied by the questions above is easy, but with a model, it is possible. Paul


replied to comment from Apollo Swabbie

HQ routinely receives the question:
"Hi! I understand your site offers a free workout...where might I find this..."

Some people cannot be helped and I'm disinclined to slide things to the lowest common denominator.


wrote …

It's not surprising that there are seemingly two camps emerging on this topic. One is the "wow" camp, the other the "BS" camp. The reason this is not surprising is First Order reasoning has finally come to Fitness and Health. Some people recognize it for the genius that it is, some are either clueless or in the camp of CF haters and are just in the discussion to stir the pot.

JT, you are obviously in this latter camp. I've always found people like you interesting...I've often considered trolling Vegan message boards, shooting Paleo-bombs into their community just to stir things up, but I find helping people and actually furthering discussion somehow more fulfilling. What have you ever contributed of note to the world? What will your legacy be when you are gone? INTERNET TROLL. Awesome.

Coach's contribution is significant in that it brings a TESTABLE quantifiable definition of fitness to the table. Loren Cordain offered a similar view of nutrition and medicine...neither concept is in ANY textbook. Yet. Both men have been lambasted for revolutionizing their fields. Interesting way to reward innovation!

This model is significant in that it describes complex systems in a way that basic physics may be applied to it. Folks familiar with the work of Stephan Wolfram (creator of Mathematica and the concept of Cellular automatia) or cutting edge computer programming (which attempts to use a definition of Fitness to describe the integrity of programming) will notice these are universal concepts.

I was hashing around on this topic trying to apply the Tripple Point concept to food:

What Coach has put forward is a notion that describes complex systems, but in a way that mirrors simpler systems. This is the realm of fractals, chaos maths and a host of other geek topics important ONLY in that they lend themselves to predictive value.

This stuff is cool to me, I'm a geek and tend not to get out much...but it is important to me in my clinical practice because I can tell my clients something to the effect "If we keep your training, food and lifestyle moving along good lines, you will age very well, live a long time, and have a lot of fun doing it". That's pretty cool.


replied to comment from Michael Sawley

Here is the post you mentioned. I agree it is interesting.

#175 Coach,

Unsurprisingly, I like your 3D definition of health. On the issue of measuring complex movements, I think you may be able to avoid the ordinal and continue the use of cardinal measurements if you just make a slight change in your units. Instead of restricting your cardinal units to specific things like ft-lbs/min you can make the rather simple switch to the correspondingly more complex unit of something like freestyle-yards/min. A weightlifting would be thruster-lbs/min. These units of measure inherently embrace your definition of strength as the productive application of force.

This, of course, will not allow comparison of work capacities in two different complex domains, but that's not all bad. For example if you compare a guy with a 5 minute Grace (~5670 ft-lbs/min) to a guy who does 30 muscle-ups in 3 minutes (~5400 ft-lbs/min) you'll conclude (probably erroneously) that the first guy is fitter. The problem is that Grace yields a significantly higher power output than the muscle-ups due to the larger muscle-groups involved. Comparisons between individuals will only be valid if the same modes are used. Inclusion of more modes will reduce, but not eliminate this problem.

So the use of complex units provides a reminder about the expected difference in power output across modalities. I presume you have considered this before since you've been thinking about it much longer than I have, but since you didn't mention it in your post, I thought I'd bring it up. This is not to say that there is no use for both the ordinal and mode-agnostic cardinal methods of measurement. How have you handled the need to average across modes thus far?
Comment #237 - Posted by: MB at February 22, 2009 2:41 PM


wrote …


I agree I was mixing the health and sport issue, and they are not the same. I repent. I totally agree that head to head competition for who is the best at the sport there should not be an age bracket. Fair is a level playing field; fair is not give me an advantage cause I am an old guy, or whatever.

However, since CrossFit is the sport of fitness (I am sure I will be corrected if I jacked that up) then why would you not also have an age bracket? Instead of the NFL the model is more inclusive like the Ironman or similar…You have the elites who are no kidding trying to see who is the fittest (fair head to head competition) and you have the age groups who are also competing for who is the fittest in the age group brackets. I believe that competition breeds intensity. It also gives us another group of folks to hold up as models and try to beat. Instead of just saying hey this guy is CrossFitting at 51 we could say…He is CrossFitting at 51 AND his Fran time is 3:15 so bring it.

For the geeks among us it might also generate some pretty cool information after a couple of years as to what the curve looks like age adjusted.



wrote …

Thanks Coach,

Your presentations have impacted me profoundly.Someday I hope to share my story
with you as a sign of my gratitude.

A special thanks to the CF community, those I train with, and those I've argued with on this discussion board. You've challenged me and I believe that I have responded by improving on the person that I am by becoming somebody that I want to be.

My foot sustained injury nearly 2 months ago and I have only returned to CF in the last 2 days. It has been a trying time and I realize now that CF is extraordinary and a defining characteristic of my life.

A special thanks to the role models and Fire breathers, the regular contributers to the community. Your efforts are appreciated.


wrote …

15:38 - "This is about vitality"

Finally, a four word phrase that fully explains why I get up at 0445 to chase down agony.

Thank you, Coach.


wrote …

Have you seen a correlation between initiation of crossfit training and ability to overcome serious heath problems? In the large population that is currently engaged in crossfit I would imagine that some folks have been confronted with serious heath issues, either pre-existing or possibly emerging after Crossfit (e.g. arthritis, heart disease, cancer)-

If one assumes that the conclusions reached regarding long-term heath benefits that Coach delineates in the lecture are true (as I believe they are), then I wonder if a sick person could withstand or benefit from the initiation of crossfit programming, even if it needed to be scaled for the serious heath issues...

I wonder if Crossfit might be "prescribed" to someone who has poor fitness and who is confronted with serious heath issues...

Clearly someone undergoing chemotherapy for cancer may not bang out a sub-3 minute Fran (or could they?), but if the analysis is true, then an application of this program should provide some benefit, no?

I am an older crossfitter (44) and at the age where I wonder these things, since I'm trying to introduce it to some of my older family and friends...



replied to comment from Aaron McGee

Here's my take on this. I think it's a stretch to assume that a GPP (General Physical Preparedness) program like CrossFit could solve acute or serious health problems. Instead, we can simply apply the same principles of fitness to any population.

The degree to which these folks are capable of moving about is the degree to which they can practice executing a variety of functional movements at relatively high intensity. For them, relatively high intensity may be quite limited. For example, standing up and sitting down 5 times may be all they can handle. That's still a squat and will still deliver the same broad benefits of a healthy person squatting. I have little doubt that their overall capacity would improve from these efforts, scaled of course to the nature of the output.

But what are their other options? This is where the model gives us a metric to evaluate. 5 sit to stands vs 10 3lb DB seated arm curls?? 5 pick up your keys off the ground then drop them vs ankle weight leg extensions??

Our job is not to judge their capacity, but rather to work with them from wherever they are and do the most possible. I won't pretend to make claims to the effect on their medical condition, but I would wager a bet that this scaled CrossFit would have a more beneficial impact than any other form of exercise.

Does that make sense?


wrote …

Thank you Coach- Now that is a real stimulus package!!! Increasing work capacity with no goverment intervention. Genius!! Crossfit: "Increasing Life Span Daily"


wrote …

I think the 3D model is brilliant. I have always thought selling longevity to be a great business model. Your product might suck, but people won't know till it's too late. Unsurprisingly, I can't think of an industry that attracts more quacks and scam artists. For CrossFit to introduce a measurable model that ties health, fitness and longevity into a single, measurable quantity is a huge step forward. I can only imagine a patient asking a doctor how a certain drug might affect his vitality! Would someone take pills to cure Restless Leg Syndrome if it might reduce the area under the surface defined by power, duration and age? I hope not.
I remember seeing a news report about a guy who was striving to extend his lifespan as far as possible. He cut his caloric intake to less than 1500 per day. He mostly ate salads and no meat at all. He was very thin, constantly cold and lost his sexual drive. Did it work? We don't know, because he's not dead yet (again, the reason it's a great business model for scammers). But under the 3D model, his results would be quantifiably pathetic. A long, shallow volume would yield a low score in the CrossFit 3D model.
It would be interesting, mostly just as a thought experiment, to apply the 3D model to mental and emotional health as well. For emotional health, you might be able to use happiness, adversity and age as the axes. For mental health, perhaps problem solving abilities, duration and age. If you were to add all three volumes, you would get a person's total quality of life.

Regarding comment #175, I don't think it's too important to be able to compare two different workouts based on the average power output. Over time, if two people do a wide variety of workouts, their combined average from the many workouts will give a single metric of who is the fittest. But we might be able to judge the quality of a workout based on the average power output of the workouts. I'm sure the typical CrossFit workout will have a higher output than the typical Jazzercise workout. In striving for constant variance, though, you will have to allow some workouts to elicit a lower power output than others. The 30 muscle-up workout would be a good example because of the complexity of the movement, strength requirement and limited muscle recruitment. But that doesn't mean 30 muscle-ups is inferior to Jazzercise. It fits into the overall concept of functionality, intensity and variance.


replied to comment from Tony Budding

Thanks for the reply Tony, your response does make sense...I would expect as time passes and more people see the efficiency of this program, a wider audience will adapt this to a whole spectrum of individuals, both sick and/or elderly...

Appreciate your time


I'm in agreement, Rob! I'm a 56 year old geek whose son, in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, told me what they were doing with Crossfit. So I read the 'Start Here' and the FAQ and HAD to scale the workouts. I've been facinated with the improved health, both physically & mentally, for me in the last six months. I can't understand someone asking for a manual ... its like life for dummies, just not the right delivery mechanism. The site and the journal work.... and its not just the 'site' ... the affiliate sites are part of the information palete delivering great encouragement for diet, stretching, technique.


replied to comment from Robert Wolf

Rob, yes, I hear you. Was thinking more of the folks I have recommended to the site, and they came back confused. Wondering about better ways to get them hooked, but I have not found it as yet.


wrote …

Great stuff Coach. The natural next step is to move it from theory to working model by developing the baseline inputs so that we can graph and compare our health and physical fitness maps.

Robb, thanks for the pointer to Stephen Wolfram, that's cool stuff. I don't see two camps though. Pretty much everyone in a single "wow" camp and one lone complainer who Tony responded very well to.


wrote …

Okay, this is pretty heady stuff, hard to get my head around, but I think it's percolating. I'm listening to Tony's interview right now (thanks for the speedy follow-up on CFR, btw). Now my question to Tony: would you recommend someone go to the Science Cert. in order to grasp this stuff more?

My final thoughts: it does make sense how CrossFit ultimately helps build mental health. This is a reasonable inference (plus, the response to my past post helped back that up). Could there be more journal entries shortly? I am looking forward to learning more. I still would love to see a slide show on this, though.


wrote …

This is, by far, the most useful, prescient, important lecture I have ever seen Greg deliver. You are watching here the future direction that fitness will take as it rises above the self-serving pablum produced by the current crop of exercise "professionals" who happen to be the caretakers of the status quo. He shared the concept of this 3-dimensional model with Dr. Kilgore, Dr. Bradford, and myself at the Science of Exercise certification's dry run 3 1/2 weeks ago, and when we heard his thoughts regarding this brilliant, simple synthesis of what are currently regarded as disparate topics, the logic and power of the thing was inescapable and undeniable. This is an extremely important concept, one that has the potential to change the entire paradigm of the quality of human existence. CrossFit is poised to revamp not only the fitness industry but the basic understanding of fitness and its integration into the health sciences as a whole. I hope everybody appreciates the importance of the position we are in here. I do.

Mark Rippetoe


Daniel Kallen wrote …

When Coach talked about this “3-D model” at Filfest, it simply blew me away. I certainly don't have my mind around all this yet, but I've been thinking about its impact in two broad areas.

First, I’ve been considering what it means for us, as CrossFit, as affiliate owners, and as trainers to move so far past addressing “fitness” in the narrow and commonly accepted sense, and onto addressing what nowadays constitutes “wellness” and health. It seems to me that the approach to health and fitness that Coach’s model represents is antagonistic to the AMA, the FDA, public education, the pharmaceutical industry, Betty Crocker, and whole lot of other groups and organizations that are wholly invested in the status quo.

I keep thinking about the challenges that Chiropractic and Acupuncture have faced in trying to gain acceptance and credibility (I have friends and family in both professions). The simple lesson is that challenges to the status quo are vigorously opposed, and change comes slowly and painfully. I take these examples almost as a call to arms. For what lies ahead, it seems to me that each of us needs to be informed, articulate, clearheaded and sure about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Second, as an affiliate owner, I've been thinking about the consequences of this new model. This idea came to me yesterday evening, when I was talking with a trainer in the doorway of my garage gym. Looking up and down my quiet and typical suburban street, I said, "Think about all the people in all these houses – all the large and small families, all the different individuals. Given what Coach has shown us and with this model in mind, is there anyone – anyone at all – who should not be in our box?”

The answer of course is “No.” While CrossFit has never really been for a limited demographic, this new model is a demonstration that virtually every person can and should be pursuing fitness to the greatest degree they are capable. As this model develops and gains notice, I'd think we can, on the one hand, expect more people to seek us out and our businesses to grow. On the other hand, I suppose we should also expect two challenges to this growth. First will be other organizations and entities that attempt to also capitalize on this. Second will be the organizations and entities that seek to discredit both the model and CrossFit. We will need to be aware, alert, and nimble as business owners to recognize these opportunities and challenges when they come and to react prudently.

Mark Rippetoe recognized some time ago that modern humans need exercise to be normal. That idea transformed my thinking about exercise and fitness. Now Coach Glassman's new model has done it again. As I mentioned to Coach after his talk on this subject at Filfest, this line of thinking puts us on a path to move from addressing the common notion of fitness towards addressing Quality of Life. And this new model approaches Quality of Life in simpler, more practical and more efficacious ways than the businesses and other organizations I mentioned earlier. It seems obvious to me that this is profound.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mark Rippetoe that “the logic and power” of this model is “inescapable and undeniable,” and that this concept has “the potential to change the entire paradigm of the quality of human existence.”

I can't thank you enough for this latest contribution and for all your hard work, Coach. I feel privileged to be a part of this organization.

Dan Kallen, CrossFit Thousand Oaks


wrote …


Thanks for sharing this thought provoking model with us. I have a bunch of questions but will try to limit myself to a few.

With respect to the fitness model. Is it safe to say that the two most important contributors to fitness are regular performance of a crossfit type WOD and appropriate nutrition? Are there other independent variables that make significant impact, i.e. rest, competition, technique? (obviously not VO2 max or lactate threshold) How do elite crossfitters differ in fitness from average crossfitters? (able to generate more horsepower in all 3 energy burning regimes or significantly better at glycolitic?)

With respect to the health model. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this topic. For instance, how does this model compare to other definitions of health? How can you validate your model? What are the independent variables which enable one to maximize work capacity over time (i.e.own a dog?, don’t have teenagers?, do the wod at least 150 times a year?)

Thank you for sharing your system and your perspectives



wrote …

This is the extra magazine of ammo I will carry around with me to lay down a base of fire with when explaining the importance of CF to those who will listen.

Thanks Coach.


wrote …

It is amazing to me to see all the responses. Some I would never have thought to contribute, some I would not ever even if I thought to and mostly just love that so much is being discussed about what Coach has to say.
I am fairly new to CrossFit, about 3 months now. I have lost 23 pounds, I can now run a 10 minute mile (after not being able to complete 400 meters without walking), my blood pressure is down, I sleep better than I have in years and all this while I am losing everything I have worked for over the past 6 years. It balances the negative stress with the positive stress. The endorphins, adrenaline and 100 other things that I don't understand happen when I do my workout.I feel better than I ever have, I have come to "eat for performance" instead of boredom or compensation and I can now complete the posted WODS almost every time as prescribed:) and I have to say it is the science behind it that turns me on the most. It rings true and fills in alot of gaps that have been out there for a long time. I spent 17 years of my life in the fitness industry and this is going to make a huge impact on Fitness as we know will re-define alot of areas that we don't even see yet and it is still early in its journey.

I am not a "follow the leader" kind of guy, but I know truth when it hits me square in the face. I don't have the academic background of some of the people I read that post but it is simple in laymans terms. "The truth I see is CrossFit makes a difference for ANYONE that has the desire to educate themself about it, then DO IT!" If they don't, they may just be the one's that don't. It seems some people make it about themself when they can't explain what CrossFit is...maybe the people they are talking to are the people that will never get it. It is up to them, but to say there needs to be more manuals or the like, in my opinion simply isn't true and there is plenty of evidence to back that up, and you have a right to your opinion too, but bring a solution to the table, not just complaints. The journal for 25 bucks a year for anyone is so underpriced compared to the value or to buying a book on fitness at a bookstore for 20, 30 or 40 bucks. The articles are easy to understand for the most part and if someone isn't interested in learning a new way to improve the quality of their life, then they are still looking for the quick fix that traditional fitness has offered all of us over the years. Show me what new device or diet or widget that will take the fat off my arse with as little effort as possible and I am interested...if it takes work...not interested.
Is CrossFit for everyone, decidedly not, especially if they can't find the WOD on the site or need every answer to every question they have to ask...they will always be getting ready to get ready...CrossFit probably isn't for them. I was taught along time ago that there are people who watch things happen, some wonder what happened and those that MAKE things happen...Coach you are making something happen and I am committed to help spread the word in my world.

For some people out there they need to just step up or step off and continue doing the WODS and loving what CrossFit does for their life...I choose that.

Coach Glassman, I appreciate your contribution to this movement and will always be grateful for what you do. You have made a huge difference in my life by your sharing what you have created with me. Thank you. Tony Budding I respect your commitment and your passion and knowledge that you bring to the community...keep it coming.


wrote …

I hardly see a free website with an enourmous amount of information and the option of spending an additional $25.00 a year subscription for the journal, which has, again, an enourmous amount of additional information, as veiled secrecy. The human body is capable of phenominal power, complex movements, actions, repair, growth, adaptation, etc. Why should training be any different? Anybody thinking that one book and eight hours of reading/ learning/ research will suffice for a lifetime doesn't get it. It shouldn't be simplified or over-simplified. It should be attempted. If they are truly seeking to be fit, they'll feel it, they'll know it.



wrote …

I have a few questions/ideas that have been bouncing around in my head as I've been thinking about this new model.

- The area under the curve for the fitness model (2-D) can be represented by one number, right?

- If this is true, than it might be easier for some people to visualize the health model with a second 2-D graph. One with the fitness number for the y axis and age or time for the x axis.

- Some one brought up the question of men possibly being more fit in this model (as a cohort) due to generally higher peak strength and power. I don't know if this is true because I haven't seen any of the numbers for the firebreathers, both male and female (this would be really interesting, and maybe I just don't know where to look for this info). I wonder if a disparity in fitness as described in this model would show up between 'big' or high mass athletes and smaller or low mass athletes (like most gymnasts). If there are large differences based on gender and/or size, I wonder how the numbers would come out if the fitness number (or the area under the curve) were divided by the athletes weight, giving us a power per pound measure. It would at least be interesting as an efficiency measure.

- If health is described by the cubic volume under the fitness sheet over time, can health be measured before the athlete dies? If not, how useful is it?

- I was thinking about a potential secondary measure possible from a two graph representation of this model (second bullet). The primary measure, or area under the curve, would still be possible, and I think easier to see. I was thinking that the slope of the curve or line described by two data points (fitness one year ago, and fitness today) might say something about the direction of health. For example, if you were to plot my fitness when I first started crossfit and then plot it again a year later, you would see an arrow pointing up (health increasing). This arrow would be pretty positive, or steep. If I were a firebreather and plotted two fitness points a year apart, I would expect see an arrow pointing very slightly up or down (probably depending on if I were approaching or had passed my prime). It seems like the ability to maintain the shallowest angle of decent, once peak fitness is achieved, would be the goal of those seeking the most health.

I don't have a huge science background, so some of this is probably flawed. If so, let me know.


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Thank you Coach Glassman.

Coach Rippetoe expressed my feelings about the 3D model better than I ever could, but that won't stop me from trying. The importance of the 3D Model just can't be overstated.

For the vast majority of us, Crossfit is more about forging elite health than it is about forging elite fitness. Most of us aren't elite athletes and many of us are far beyond our prime. I think everyone just "knows" that there is a direct link between fitness and health, but now we have a graphical, scientific representation of that relationship.

I'm convinced that this goes beyond Crossfit. Our society is facing a healthcare crisis and fitness is the cure. Studies have shown that at least 30% of heart disease and cancer could be eliminated completely with a prescription of exercise and better diet. These studies were done using the old ideas of fitness. There is little doubt (at least in my mind) that the crossfit prescription would have an even larger impact on disease, longevity and quality of life.

I'm a 46 year old novice crossfitter and I'm far from being fit when compared to others in this community. Before I saw the 3D presentation I "felt" like my crossfit workouts were making me healthier. In 20 minutes Coach Glassman has turned this "feeling" into belief. Now it's a little easier to get out of bed at 5am and face the WOD, because I know it's not only about being fit today or even this year. It's about being fit and health for the length of my life.


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Logical and intuitive. The best ideas often take complex concepts and boil them down to something that just makes sense.

I'm envisioning a type of Crossfit Fitness tracking software or website that allows people to log on and track their 3-D fitness curve over time.

People could input their current stats (weight, height, etc.) and their time for the workout. The website would be configured in such a way that it could calculate the work output for that day's WOD based on their personal stats. Of course, the calculations would only be approximate, but it would be accurate enough for most purposes. It would be very cool to see the curve over time.

Also, does this mean that the person who has the largest total curve, from birth until death, holds the title of fittest person ever?


wrote …

Very well done Coach. I haven't had time to read all the comments yet, but I think the "Age" third axis also provides a groundbreaking ability to measure an athlete's rate of progression. e.g. is the athlete improving at an accelerating or decelerating rate? Or is his health constant? Further, if we assume the CrossFitter's lifestyle is a constant (never misses a wod, same sleep, same diet) then would the rate of change on the third axis give us an actual scientific measurement of the affects of aging?

Tony, thanks for putting all your hard work into the Journal and not some paltry paperback manual. I think much of CrossFit's success comes from the open source model--you show me the data, I'll check out your program. The wealth of information I find on here blows my mind every day.



wrote …

Great piece Coach - as per usual.

One question I have, and it is a little off topic but I hope you can help. It regards my future studies and the direction I should head within my college/university endeavours. I am currently about to enrol in Uni for the Mid year intake to Exercise Science, now listing to what it is you were saying about Exercise science and that it is and I quote "not really a study of science, nor exercise" - and I believe you when you say this because since I have been crossfitting I have a lot of friends doing "mainstream educational Degree's i.e - "exercise science", and yet I know my educational stand point in regards to applicable knowledge, Human performance and athletic conditioning super seeds then tenfold (Meaning that in a completely non arrogant way), via a quantifiable measure as you would say, being the results the athletes I manage get over the results gained from the athletes some of them manage.
So back to my main point and reason for submitting this comment - Im your opinion, or of anyones from HQ for that matter - What Deg/studying endeavour would pay off best to me regarding my passion to "TRUE" sports science, Bio mechanics and athletic performance? apposed to me going through with my "exercise science" Deg, and having a contradictory and almost false belief conveyed to me, through no fault of the lecturers of course, but meerly because of the misconcieved beliefs out there that are seemily just out dated studies.

Would a "Human movement" or "bio mechanics" Deg be more relevant to the studies of human performance you think? (giving I interperate the theory and studies into the right context).

My email address is - if someone would be so kind to get back to me with any opinions or information regarding my situation it would be greaty appreciated. If im going to spend 4 more years of my life studying and it costing me however much money, i would like to know im studying the right think =)

Kind regards.



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Great stuff, Coach. Been CrossFitting for approaching 5 years.

Proof that people that exercise regularly and eat well live longer, more productive lives. CrossFit shapes the word "productive" to include "more functionally productive".

Well done. We look at anyone that walks into our box as one that can benefit from CrossFit. Often the Zeitgeist of CrossFit leans heavily on the Ubermensh depiction of the idealized CrossFit Athlete--sometimes as affiliate owners, we need to place this ideal in proper context, and bring CrossFit to where the client is at the time: perhaps obese, initial entry into fitness, returning after injury, etc. "Scalability" isn't front and center.

Your 3 dimensional model is yet one more tool for us to describe CrossFit in a cogent way, and we thank you for this.

We've also learned so much from the Martin's and Brand X's approach to CrossFit through their Kid's Programming.--which is highly useful in also communicating CrossFit to the clients mentioned above.

Sincere thanks,

Erik and Lauri Preston


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Coach's approach from the origins of CrossFit seems to me to embody an Aristotelean approach - empiric observations, meaningful discriminations, and ruthless logic. Develop a hypothesis, proffer the serious alternatives, assess the alternatives, see what survives, move forward.

As Mark Rippetoe points out, this work has the potential to change the nature of the ongoing dialog about what constitutes fitness and what should be subsidized in the pursuit of "health". Whether that happens is subject to a number of external forces.

Having ghosted the forums for almost 4 years, I tend to agree with those folks who point out that CF is, frankly, not readily accessible to those folks who have not already drunk the Kool-Aid. Found Coach's theories compelling and I drank the Kool-Aid at CFNA for a couple months and found they worked in practice. But I think many of us err in generalizing that "because it worked for me, it'll work for everyone." On that note, a couple of thoughts:

1. I believe it would be enormously useful if some of the already developed content was resequenced and reworked into a "CrossFit 101" combination of theory and personal experience - probably including some video content (interviews, workouts, Coach, clinics). Seems to me a "15 minute Intro" would be useful to everyone in the community.

2. Scaling (in it's many forms) has come late to the community (at least as readily available on the forums) and mainly from affiliates whose business depends on a community not centrally composed of warrior elites. To make CF more popular, it's got to become less intimidating to folks who don't work out at all. Watching Greg Amundsen do a sub 3 Fran doesn't do a whole lot for folks who can't appreciate just how hard that is. While I admire Olympic gymnasts, their performances at the Olympics do not motivate me to go learn how to do an inverted Iron Cross - it just seems out of the realm of the achievable. The WOD on the site isn't going to get the job done in terms of motivating the other 90+% of the populace not currently doing CF.

3. CF is not for everyone. There's a huge load of literature in several fields that tries to separate folks into various groups; some pyschological (Myers-Briggs, Jung, Moore/Gillette); some physiological (endo/meso/ecto), and many others. It seems to me that folks doing CF and surfing the forums are those who, in various categorizations, are in touch with their inner warrior. As Gordon Dickson would have it - the Dorsai. CF is never going to appeal to everyone any more than everyone likes golf or bowling or sailboat races (aka watching paint dry). But that doesn't mean it can't be made more accessible to more people.

4. Whether ordinals or absolutes, until the measures of merit can be translated into terms meaningful to the individual participant, they may be of scientific interest but useless in terms of promoting/selling CF. Study of the psychology of human motivation/behavior (and/or leadership depending on your background) clearly shows there is no "one size fits all solution." Some folks will kill themselves to beat the person next to them on a WOD, others only care about their own PR and beating it, others are just happy to be in the facility interacting with the other folks there. One of the genius parts of CF is that it avoids singular definitions of who is "King of the Hill." Bravo!

5. It strikes me that Coach's 3d dimension does a wonderful job of showing, from a fitness/health perspective that whoever lives longest while having fun with their toys wins. This gets to the issue of "winners" who would trade 5 years off their life span to win _______ (sports achievement). Or being a 40 year old with 2 SuperBowl rings but unable to walk up a flight of stair without using a cane or the railing.

6. Somehow it seems to me that there needs to be a "joy" axis in measuring health, but it's probably not measurable in a "meaningful" way, so probably can't be added to the model. Pity, as with the current state, a lifelong celibate 90 years old with a 3 minute Fran for their entire life (but no children) would have to considered the healthiest person on the planet. Gets back to how you define "health" - which is part of the issue underlying the ongoing discussion/exploration.

This has been one of the 2 or 3 best threads I've had the pleasure to read in something like 5 years on just about any subject. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful contributions and again to Coach for pushing the noodle up the hill once again.


wrote …

Viewing performance over decades instead of months has changed my perspective on short and long term goals. Any measurable improvement, however small, is the goal. My outlook is now in decades. And based on this measure, persistence with reliable, small gains is much more important than aggressive gains that disappear in 3-5 years when one loses interest, burns out, or lets other aspects, such as diet, get in the way.

Avoidance of injury is extremely important. And I am not talking about the normal stuff any athlete experiences when they train seriously. Instead, I am talking about the serious stuff that can permanently limit one's ability to perform work. Serious shoulder, back, and knee injuries come to mind. I hurt my shoulder a year ago and am now just getting to where I can do a pushup again.

Rip, Garddawg, and others have made these observations for years:
1. Use the small plates. One pound a week for two years will increase your squat 100 lbs. Better than burning out or giving up when failing because of big jumps in weight.
2. Don't be pig-headed. Take a PR, if only by 2 seconds or 1 lb, and be happy. Live to train the next day, and the next.

Measurable work capacity, maintained longitudinally. Wow. Great idea.


wrote …


I believe I am so much better equipped now to describe and inspire action in those that will listen to me about health and fitness. As a personal trainer these are tools I can easily explain and stick in front of someone until they cannot refuse the logic. As coach says you can literally measure thousands of things from a health/medical point of view in demonstrating the need to address them as a whole.

I am also doing my Cert I very soon and everything I require after it to empower myself and my clients with the best possible understanding of fitness & health going forward. Viewing these videos and reading the comments from top to bottom today has only fueled my desire.


wrote …

This is a gem. People can have big, impressive "intellectual" debates on the topic all day long, but guess what is happening in the real world while the useless internet war rages on?............people are getting fitter and enjoying longer, more productive lives through CrossFit's prescription. The proof is happening right before our eyes.


wrote …

amazing video! thanks coach


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I have found that the sound cuts out on this at 5:55mins in....... Can't seem to get it to work past there.


wrote …

Just a quick thought while watching this, couldnt hydration be something that would not work well on the sickness, wellness, fitness continuum? dehydrated-properly hydrated-hypernatremia?

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