ASEP Lecture

By Greg Glassman

In Audio, ExPhysiology, Videos

April 30, 2009

Video Article

Coach Glassman presented CrossFit to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP). In preparation for that event, Lon Kilgore, PhD wrote:

On April 3rd, 2009 CrossFit will be introduced to the academic exercise physiology community at the American Society of Exercise Physiologists national conference to be held on the campus of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The intellectual foundations and practical applications of CrossFit will be presented to an audience of exercise physiologists from around the world. Coach Greg Glassman, CAPT Brian Chontosh, USMC, and Mark Rippetoe will each present talks. A one hour round table question and answer forum with the speakers will follow.

This is an important event as it may be the first time an academic group has thought outside the box and invited successful exercise practitioners to contribute to forwarding the understanding of exercise science. CrossFit is sharing the spotlight with traditional scientific and theoretical presentations, and a talk by Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis. Dr. Mullis’s presentation is entitled “What if everything you knew about science was wrong?” and will be as challenging to conventional thinking as the CrossFit session.

This three part video is Coach Glassman’s presentation.

Part 1 - 21min 34sec
Part 2 - 19min 57sec
Part 3 - 16min 23sec

Free Download

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:


60 Comments on “ASEP Lecture”


Karl Eagleman wrote …

Wow. This is big time. ...and about time!


wrote …

F-ing awesome! Way to go Coach!


wrote …

I'm curious to what ASEP's response was to Glassman's presentation.

Also, any chance that the footage of Rip and Chontosh will be presented?


wrote …

And by presented I meant posted.


wrote …

Fantastic! Thanks!


wrote …

Outstanding!!! Good Job Coach!!!


wrote …

Sticks to the original message and brand ideals...clearly demonstrates data and explains methodologies...embraces the open source, free-market principles so often shown on the mainsite...It's the reason behind the kool-aid.

Sounds good overall, and is the reason why I will continue to embrace the XFIT methods and principles.


wrote …

I love coach's attitude and easy confidence with his material. Industry is the vehicle but a community of like minded individuals working towards a vision is what coach has spearheaded. With amazing results. Thanks to Coach G. and his crew for bringing something good into the world and making it available to most.


wrote …

The concise and precise picture he paints is a vision of applied fitness changing the world. That's not some lofty goal, it's the natural trajectory of where CrossFit is taking society, despite it's current modest acceptance. What an inspiring summary and explanation of CrossFit!

I'm not sure what ASEP's response will be, and the audience, at least there, seemed much too small considering the potency of the topic. But results don't lie and the foundations Glassman has laid out will be common knowledge soon. A major shift is on the horizon. The broken approach to training widely embraced now will be laughable in a few years. Not only that, but the separation of 'fitness' solely for sport/pleasure/image instead of the fabric of those, plus every other metric of life enjoyment, will follow right behind.

I'm proud to be a part of CrossFit, first, because of the results I've seen realized in myself, second, because of how I know those same results will be realized in others. Way to go Coach!


wrote …

I don't know about anyone else but I could listen to Coach talk for hours on end. This and the talk at the National War College was pretty much worth the $25 dollar subscription.


Patrick Mcelhone wrote …

Is there anyway to get this as an audio file? Thanks.


wrote …

I think the next place Coach Glassman should give this talk is at the TED conference. I think he would have a good chance at winning the wish and bringing CrossFit to even more people. It feels like CrossFit is reaching the tipping point and its just going to take over from here.


wrote …

That is absolutely amazing Coach. Its about time "they" learn what true fitness is. Somebody has to do it and who else better other than you Coach.
Great Job and Congrats on behalf of all CFers from Singapore.


Ned Ferguson wrote …

I was pleasantly surprised to hear mention of Theodore Dalrymple, since his field is primarily psychology. I am a huge fan. Good to know that Coach is a Dalrymple reader.


wrote …

This was an extremely important presentation of CrossFit and it's relative success to the exercise community. Coach Glassman articulates an extremely important contribution to the ASEP and humbly recommends to them the importance of improving as a whole, "Human Performance" and nothing else. This is why I love promoting and training CrossFit as a way of life. Thanks Coach's Glassman, Rippetoe, Burgener an Chontosh for their contribution and visions.


replied to comment from Patrick Mcelhone

The audio-only files are now available.


replied to comment from Patrick Mcelhone

You can download the .wmv, then download and run AOA Audio Extractor, which will extract a .wav file of the audio portion of the .wmv.


Aaron Shaffer wrote …

I agree, I want coach to present at TED.


wrote …

my 2nd clip shows up as just a portion of clip 1, anyone have same missing footage?


wrote …

CrossFit = Critical thinking applied to fitness. What a concept!

I have to agree with Andrew and Aaron above. The TED Conference ( would be a wonderful vehicle to continue to get this message out.

There is a spot on the TED site to recommend speakers ( Just look for the 'suggest a speaker' link on the right hand side after going to the 'contact' page. I just submitted mine.


wrote …

Brilliant work! And like Joe M. I could listed to him talk for hours too!


wrote …

Good speech. Not to knock it, but the idea of this being on TED talks is a little extreme, but good speech nonetheless.


Russell Benedetto wrote …

I am never disappointed when I listen to coach and the wealth of information he presents. I look forward to seeing and hearing what ASEP's response was. Although it is not personally coach i thank you every day for CF changing my life


wrote …

Daniel Mick wrote …
"The concise and precise picture he paints is a vision of applied fitness changing the world. That's not some lofty goal, it's the natural trajectory of where CrossFit is taking society..."

I see that same vision of applied fitness changing the world in matters of health and health care. We need to get people away from the current culture of using drugs to treat symptoms and educate them that health is a correlate of fitness. As I see it, there is a whole lot more going on here - saving lives one client at a time. Not only will fitness improve the current biomarkers used to evaluate "health" (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc...) but we will be keeping people out of nursing homes, maintaining their quality of lives, etc... This is so huge.... This really is going to change the world in a very huge way.

Thank you Coach Glassman.


wrote …

William, fwiw, I agree with you. I used to just think of this as the best approach to fitness. After reading "Good Calories Bad Calories" - clarified over 10 years of dabbling in how to understand food/nutrition/health - I am convinced that CrossFitting can do more for the health of people than any other discipline. It won't reach all people, and isn't exclusive to other disciplines, but I have not yet seen another discipline that can do so much for so many people. There are certain and relatively rare conditions for which medical doctors are required - but the majority of what ails westerners now would be cured by CF and the CF Rx for eating. Proud to be involved. Paul


wrote …

Paul, I'd be curious to see an actual list of what exact diseases and conditions you think Crossfit/zone/paleo would be capable of curbing off.




wrote …

It's already understood that light amounts of daily exercise and healthy eating habits decrease the rate of diabetes, this is nothing idiosyncratic of Crossfit or Zone/Paleo food choices.


wrote …

Your example represents a minimum effective dose.

Crossfit is the dose with the greatest effect.


wrote …


Such statements are absolutely outlandish. Please provide actual, documented, peer-reviewed studies that give validation to what you just stated. I do not disagree that both Crossfit and a diet based upon the principles of Paleo will help your general health, but to claim that they are the "dose with greatest effect" is nothing short of exaggeration. There is a real trend lately with people taking the implications of Crossfit way out of hand.


wrote …


Point taken. I was on my way out and went for brevity. My first point stands. Much of what is recommended with regard to exercise by the medical community results in fitness levels far below a typical human's capacity. I would go so far to say the the medical community is doing a huge disservice to the public by selling their dumb-downed fitness as being sufficient. At best they are minimal recommendations for improving your chances of avoiding certain diseases, but they are decidedly not a prescription for maximizing function.

The second sentence DOES read as an exaggerated claim and requires elaboration.

What I took away from this and other lectures by Mr. Glassman on this subject is that he SEEKS the dose/program that MAXIMIZES predefined, desirable effects. He has made a well thought out hypothesis regarding fitness as it relates to health and strongly SUSPECTS that it will hold under the scrutiny you speak of. I heard from him a desire to test it and have others test it.

If you accept that increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains is a good definition of fitness, then it is reasonable to SUSPECT that fitness (by this definition) develped to the greatest extent possible, for the rest of one's life, can produce a greater effect on one's health than can a blunted, minimal, or narrowly focused fitness. Until the day this is verified through peer-reviewed studies validating this idea with absolute certainty and consensus, would you chose:

a) cultivating your physical capacities to approach your genetic potential over a broad range to cope with the ravages of time and the vagaries of life, or

b) chose a small fraction of those capacities?

I don't think it would be outlandish to choose a) or encourage people to aspire to a).


replied to comment from Adam Campbell

It is not outlandish at all. In fact, the overwhelming success of CrossFit is based on it. Our definition of fitness is increased work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains. No one is achieving higher levels of sustained work than we are across various domains.

We don't require peer-reviewed studies to establish this. Consensus is irrelevant to real science in that truth is true whether or anyone else recognizes it. Instead, we need a scale, a stopwatch, and eighth-grade physics. Force x distance / time. More work in less time both requires and develops increased levels of fitness.

At the CrossFit Games, we crown the World's Fittest. We have been challenged on that title and offered substantial amounts of cash to anyone who can beat our champions. No one has been able to do it, and in fact, no one has been willing to try (outside the sanctioned events of this year's Games).

Adam, your comments are antagonistic, yet devoid of evidence. We have many articles and videos in this library that establish these arguments and facts. If you need guidance in finding them, I'll be more than happy to help you. I now ask you to engage in intelligent debate or refrain from further posting.


wrote …

No worries, I presumed that you thought your original comment was enough to stand on its own, which is why I said it was outlandish. While it is true that the model of fitness that is pushed via mainstream outlets is not the most optimal for producing what Crossfit defines as maximum fitness, it is capable of substantially reducing the risks of most self-inflicted diseases prevalent in Western Soceity. Even more so, the concept of maximum CF fitness being related to maximum health has yet to be proven. There is no clear trend across the various elite specialized athletes as to which group has the lowest incidence of disease due to their specific sport, that is to say if we could normalize their lifestyle choices. A group of elite endurance runners may very well experience less health decay than a group of elite crossfitters, and vice versa. Why I said that needs to be proven through controlled experiment is that the molecular and viral basis for many diseases may not recognize the same arbitrary ten domains of fitness that Crossfit has come to define. Again, this is not to say that those ten domains don’t lead to more well-rounded athletes, cause I believe they do, but that their equal cultivation may not be optimally efficient in warding off disease. The presence of increased oxidative stress, the mitochondriopathies, the bodies ability to deal with aggregated denatured macronutrients, etc., all of these and many others are prevalent ailments that researchers still have numerous questions about regarding origin and prevention. To claim that “work capacity across broad time and modal domains” will have an inverse relationship with such conditions is pure conjecture. Science is a strange beast, and the last 20-30 years of biomedical research has proven anything to be possible in regards to hypothesis, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s conjecture. This is why, with regards to your last point, that I wouldn’t necessarily always go with option a. If someone were concerned with purely increasing their chance of sustained healthy living, I wouldn’t find it irrational if they decided to put into strictly running/powerlifting/sport the same effort you or I put into Crossfit. Of course, I would probably suggest Crossfit to them seeing as it is much easier to become passionate about and stick with for many people than other options.
Thanks for your response,


wrote …


Antagonistic? Requesting clarification of a statement is hardly such. Additionally, your jab about being devoid of evidence is nonsense. I made no claims that required any evidence seeing as both my posts were questions seeking clarification from other people’s statements.

Nowhere in my post did I say anything regarding the ability of Crossfit to increase work capacity. I presented no objection to that claim, nor do I disagree with it. I was concerned about those claiming that Crossfit would directly correlate to greatly decreased occurrence of disease in comparison to other rigorous exercise programs. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t find your reply relevant in the slightest to the questions I asked.



wrote …

Just curious, are there plans for making the other two presentations available in the near future as well?


wrote …


replied to comment from Adam Campbell

Your response to Kevin is exactly what I had in mind. Thank you. Your previous responses had little substance.

We do intend to release the other presentations (I haven't seen the footage yet, so no promises on when).

Your question about the relevance of increased work capacity to long term health is one of the most important questions we're working on. In fact, it very well may be the top long term priority of the CrossFit Journal. Personally, I'm convinced, but that and a couple bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

The new concept of volume under the curve as perhaps the most useful definition of health to date (much better than, say, the absence of disease) was the start. We now have a metric that can be tested. How to really understand it, how to test it, how to establish reliable means of measuring and predicting improved health are all immensely complex questions.

Almost every time I give the fitness lecture at a seminar, a doctor from the audience approaches me and asks how they can get involved in this broader process. The need is there. The interest is there. The challenge is enormous.

But, just as we are about 10 years into changing our field's definition of fitness, these things take a long time. Changing our culture's definition of health is immensely more complex, but the potential benefit is substantially larger. Most everyone wants health, while only a percentage acknowledge the desire for fitness.

By all means, if you have any ideas about how to structure experiments to measure and predict the impact of increased work capacity on health, I'd be excited to hear them.


Patrick Mcelhone wrote …


Thank you for putting this on an audio file.


wrote …


I already clarified this once, but I’ll do it again. Your claims of my previous comments being devoid of substance are a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that I am not immediately jumping to an affirmation of your hypothesis. When someone makes an assertion that medical doctors will only be needed for rare conditions, that is without substance. When someone states that Crossfit is the “maximum dose” pertaining to health when that has yet to be tested, that is a comment without substance. When you claimed that consensus is irrelevant to true science, a claim that would make you lose all respectability in academia immediately, that is something devoid of substance. Extraordinary claims require evidence to match.

You say that personally you are convinced that increased work capacity will manifest itself with distinct physical changes in human health. Good, if you expect to make any headway in proving this to be true, by all means be passionately confident in what you are chasing. I am not faulting you for that.

Here is my issue with the hypothesis that you have presented. Old measures of fitness, such as VO2 max for example, were tangible and empirical markers. While I agree that increased work capacity is a superb and quite innovative definition of fitness, it does not exist in the same physical realm that the old markers used to. Before you get agitated, let me clarify. Increased work capacity is a very real thing, I am not denying that. If your body is capable of producing more power in an identical task a week later, than we can conclude that your power output has gone up. Herein lies the issue, how do you quantify that? Give a single athlete two different workouts, find someone with a real background in biomechanical physics who can produce a fairly accurate system of measurement, and start the clock. My concern is that the athletes power output, that is production via Newton meters per second, will vary drastically on the two different workouts. Same athlete, same balance in these ten domains of fitness, but the workouts would prove to give two different values. An excellent Fran time and an excellent Grace time may not represent the same values of power. What I’m curious to know is how you plan to normalize this? I believe, and this is conjecture, that the issue arises because, unlike VO2 max, there is not a singular set molecular process that underlies work capacity. That is the difficulty in introducing non-tangible variables in search of finding tangible results. It is analogous to the difficulties that arise when looking for neurological markers that attest to an increase in intelligence.

You say that an increased number of physicians have presented an interest in your movement. Hell, anyone with a strong backing in clinical medicine and the pathology of disease will be useful to you, and the more physicians the better. What I would suggest, and you can take it or leave it, is that you start seeking the opinions of those working in biomedical research, specifically in biogerontology if one of your main concerns is healthy aging. If you’re serious about ever initializing a pilot study that seeks to probe work capacities effects on disease biomarkers, you’ll need to narrow down an actual list of diseases who’s manifestations can be halted through fitness. Such information will require the minds of those who study disease at the microscopic/molecular level. How you would design such experiments is beyond me, this is not my field of research. It’s a daunting task, but so was the Human Genome Project. If you’ve got that passion to unravel it, then you should be fine.

Just a side note, when speaking about integration via graphing methods, its area under a curve (2-variable) or volume under a surface (3-variabe). In light of your quip about 8th-grade physics, I figured I might as well point that out for you. As always, if you disagree or care to clarify with anything I said, please mention it. My skepticism is only matched by my curiosity in the same questions that you are hoping to answer, so there is no reason for you to interpret it as an attack.



wrote …

An interesting start would perhaps be to look at medical records among different athletic communities. Get as many athletes as are willing to release their medical records for scientific study from several different communities (olympic lifters, triathletes, Tour de France racers, CrossFitters, Highland Games competitors), and get general samples from the population (identifying by self-analysis their athletic history). Identify several markers of significance, whatever can be uniquely validated- high blood pressure, cardiovascular events, cancer, flues and colds. Although the information would be practically useless in terms of 'proving' anything (population is self-selecting, medical records may be incomplete, etc.), it could incite enough interest to look along those lines if it turns out to generate a statistically significant correlation between athletic activity and health.

Here's what interests me: take two samples - one of people who were athletic in high school and have since not exercised, and one of people who were sedate in highschool and have since taken up a 'significant' exercise program (I'd suggest attempting to filter out the 20-minute-weekly walkers). Do these samples outdo each other historically in health parameters at their 'active stages?' (Did group 1 experience greater health in high school than group 2 and vice versa)?


wrote …


I think you may have been confused. I already stated that I do not doubt there is a trend in decreased manifestation of those diseases. In fact, those conditions are a majority of the hall-mark illnesses that arise from poor nutrition, this is not anything that is up for debate. My point was about two issues. First, the claim that Zone/Paleo plans have a “substantially” higher ability to lower the nutrition diseases than other proposed healthy eating plans. From a cursory overlook of the studies, they all mainly imply that there is a trend of decreased incidence. This is not evidence that leads into the gravity of the claims made here. Many studies have been done on different diets that show a decreased trend in these same conditions. You can not logically make the jump that Zone/Paleo are the OPTIMAL plans. The truth is, many of these diet studies are based off of pilot grants, and unless something significant is found, they do not go on to the rigorous testing that produces consensus in the scientific community.
Secondly, I stated a need for studies showing that Zone/Paleo diet were capable of reducing the incidence of all, or a significant majority, of diseases. That claim was made by someone else, not me, and it requires significant backing. In my response to Kevin I mentioned some conditions that are prevalent, but have no real strong association with diet. For example, find me an article that deals with Zone/Paleo decreasing the accumulation of Beta-Amyloid plaque in the aging body. The Zone diet claims an increased production of certain Eicosanoids in the body. I’d be interested in seeing a study where actual plasma analysis showed convincing evidence of such claims in Zone dieters.

For the record, you may want to look somewhere else than a website called if your going to seek an unbiased spread of diet studies. The reason why should be obvious.



wrote …

I appreciate the correction on the terminology. It wasn't just a quip about 8th grade physics. It's that with just the most basic of physical science, we can establish differences in levels of fitness.

Your question about standards misses a very simple opportunity: repeat the same workouts and compare the output to previous performances. Comparing output across different athletes and different workouts is sketchy at best, but who knows, we may be able to determine benchmark outputs (say half a horsepower sustained over two minutes - I'm making this up) that have some statistical significance. But for now, I'm just thinking about the long term health implications of dramatically improving one athlete's work capacity across broad time, modal and age domains (relative to their previous condition).

There seem to be a few arguments being presented here. I don't have much more to contribute to mine other than to restate what I'm trying to accomplish over the long term.

I believe that there is a health benefit to fitness. Anecdotally, I have seen too many examples of it not to. I don't pretend that that means anything to anyone else. I don't really care for academia per se. Jeff Glassman said in his lecture ( that they were able to innovate at a substantially higher rate than academics because they didn't have the same political requirements. I want results whether or not any particular population likes it.

I believe that our definition of fitness (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains) can be reasonably assessed (though not yet precisely measured as the physics of moving body parts is immensely complex). Improvements in this assessment are necessary and inevitable. Adding in the age domain seems to provide a measurable metric to health. They are correlated at least (it's simply impossible to sustain high levels of work capacity if you are sick).

I don't believe that work capacity alone will cure any particular disease (though I wouldn't be surprised). Instead, my sense is that there is a condition of health in which disease is less likely. Identifying and defining this condition is of immense value.

I haven't mentioned diet here. Beyond the need to eliminate hyperinsulinemia, I am not convinced that there is a substantial difference among diets when there is a relatively high level of fitness. I have no anecdotal evidence to support it, and I have a ton of anecdotal evidence against it. But I have no stake in that game.

I know for myself that I can improve anyone's fitness (perhaps barring the extremes) using the tools of CrossFit. I know that others can develop the same ability. So I spend my days promoting this fitness. Can I demonstrate this? Sure. Can I prove this? Probably not in any scientific way. I don't know if health will be the same or not.

You recommend studying sub-cellular biology. You may be right. But I hope not. I don't care about biology per se. I care about quality of life, which requires at least a minimal level of health. All of my initial attempts to define and demonstrate improved health will be on a macro level, because that is the level on which we experience health. Perhaps there will be a need to identify changes in molecules to prove improvements in health. But so far we haven't needed it to demonstrate improvements in fitness, so I'm optimistic.

My interest is not in micro-level specifics, but a broad, general inclusive fitness and health that lend themselves well to life's demands. I want to see if it's possible to establish and demonstrate the capacity to do life in a way that is measurable and predictable, and thus scientific.


wrote …

dear adam,

as i think your style of discussion is a bit patronizing, let me have a remark on your discussion of integration and volume as a mathematician.

"Just a side note, when speaking about integration via graphing methods, its area under a curve (2-variable) or volume under a surface (3-variabe). In light of your quip about 8th-grade physics, I figured I might as well point that out for you."

the area (2-dimensional) under the curve is integrating a function of 1 variable like P(t), that is power with respect to time.
the volume (3-dimensional) under a surface is the integral of a function of 2-variables, like P(t,a), power with respect to time and age!
generally any kind of measurable "volume" in any dimension is called content, so i would not really say that tony was that wrong ;-))!!!

that said i really like controversial discussions!

in my personal opinion i am on tonys side concerning the macro effects and not looking at the microscopic phenomenons. there may be no answer to these questions at that level at all. it s like talking about lung cancer (really understanding that phenomenon is hard work and docs and specialists in the field are far away from it). a really complex phenomenon on micro basis, BUT macro viewing it, most of it is caused by smoking.


Max Shippee wrote …

Sweet lecture and amazing stuff here in the comments!

Just wanted to say I just finished my online recommendation for Glassman to be a TED speaker. Interestingly enough, their theme for this year's talks is "What the world need now..."

I'll leave the discussions with those of you with a bit more smarts than me!


wrote …


Haha thanks for indulging a conversation on general calculus. To be honest though, you’ve misinterpreted the definition between "variables" and the "relationships of variables". A function such as P(t) or F(x) is a function that reads F(x) = ax + b, but F(x) or more commonly “y”, is also a variable. Because the equation is solved for y though, it has the familiar term of the “dependent variable”. So functions like P(t) are in fact 2-variable functions; any term that does not hold a constant value in an equation is by definition a variable. Likewise, a function defined as P(t,a) is a function of three variables. That is to say, power, time, and age are all shifting based on the flux of the others. In easier way to think of it would be to view the common notation for the equations of circles and spheres, where the constant term is usually solved for. So, like I said earlier, it’s a function of 3 variables. With regards to all measurable content being called “volume”, that is just wrong. While I could see why the mistake would be made, there is no quicker way to irritate a physicist or career mathematician than to mistranslate the very real units of volume with those of area.


Thank you for the depth of your response, it is much appreciated. Quick note, I find it wise that you are choosing not to pursue the micro-level on this issue. The task would be enormous and you would hardly have the resources, which is what I was alluding to earlier. That’s not meant to be an insult though; such a task would take the resources of a large academic or private research institution to make much headway. As a consequence of that though, anyone who claims that CrossFit WILL end 90% diseases/make the blind see/ etc. etc. is just blowing smoke. To say you think there may be a correlation is entirely different from asserting that something will happen. I don’t think you’ve done that at all, but I’ve seen it said numerous times by members of the community.

I was curious about one point you made. You mentioned using the same workout for the same athlete which is reasonable enough. What I’m wondering is this: Say you have an athlete who you run through workout A and B. I know you said you would just pick one workout, but allow this scenario for a minute. If the same athlete comes back 5 months later and performs workout A with substantial improvement but performs workout B with a slight amount of improvement, giving two different values for increased power, which data point do you choose? I’ve been wrestling with this for a bit now and am interested to know how you would resolve it.



wrote …

hey adam,

i'll write you a mail about our calculus discussion here (not everyone is into that stuff). some things you pointed out are right, others are not ;-)!

to adam, toni and everyone else

where is the problem in having different gains/losses in your power output? you just average over all different outputs you got, if you could increase your general work capacity, that's a gain in fitness and maybe health. don't you think?



wrote …

For the Zone/Paleo discussion, I think if you consider the hypothesis of the relation of improved fitness to (possibly equaling) improved health. And that the majority of the CF community anecdotally believes Zone/Paleo is key to optimal performance, then you can clearly see why Zone/Paleo has been elevated to be a key to OPTIMAL health.

Not saying it's right or wrong, but I think it's clear why the community at large would claim, "Zone/Paleo plans have a “substantially” higher ability to lower the nutrition diseases than other proposed healthy eating plans".

So it's inherent in this hypothesis that any comparative dietary studies are inconsequential. Because your health isn't based on diet, but your overall fitness level of which diet is (possibly) but one property.

Tons of variables here, but this could lead to some pretty fun thoughts, if you eat double cheeseburgers and ice cream everyday and come in 10th at the CF Games and I eat Zone/Paleo and come in 45th at the CF Games would you be healthier than me?


replied to comment from Aushion Chatman

To your question about cheeseburgers and finishing place, I'd say there was little doubt "I" would be fitter than "you" today. What is completely undeterminable by your scenario is the longevity or sustainability of that fitness. Regardless of what you or I predict would happen, having the metric as a tool to evaluate is the first step, and absolutely essential for us having a meaningful conversation over time.

To your question about the differences in capacity gains, therein lies both the beauty and challenge of the system. The beauty is that the metric requires broad time and modal domains. It punishes specialization in any realm. Making gains in one set of movements but not others is inferior to making gains in all domains.

This also gives us tools as trainers. Life demands unknown and unknowable challenges. Our goal is to be prepared for that. How? Well, fortunately, there are only two broad categories of movement: controlling/moving our own bodies and controlling/moving external objects. Beyond that, every domain is required. And, it is our experience and contention that fixing glaring weaknesses brings more benefit to general preparedness than improving strengths.

The challenge is manifold. First, establishing the legitimacy of any single workout as demonstrative of a broad, general and inclusive fitness is spurious at best. The more workouts you use, the better the metric. But how many is enough?

Furthermore, the typical scientific approach would be to standardize the metric workouts for data collection purposes. But inevitably, folks would start training for those workouts more than others. And, we trend toward specialization all over again.

Once we established a reasonable metric, tracking it over time has numerous challenges, diet not the least. So few humans are consistent in their diets, and so determining which causes what would be an enormous conundrum. And, if you could find a population that was consistent in their diet, how relevant would that be for the general population.

Going further, there is an enormous mental component to these workouts. To what degree does attitude and the mental component have on health? In my worldview, it's enormous. But is it even possible to quantify? Could we isolate it? Should we even try?

I think the long term answer is going to be that sustaining increased levels of work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout your life will require a good diet and a strong mental constitution. It may be enough, with no incremental benefit to breaking out diet and attitude. In other words, having a bad diet or bad attitude will show up in a reduced work capacity sooner or later.

Just some of the macro considerations inherent in our task to scientifically establish the relationship among diet, lifestyle, fitness and health. More to come!


wrote …

Tony that's good we've seen "What is Fitness?", the more intriguing question (and subsequent CFJ article) is "What is Health?"

Are there 10 domains of physical health? Is it simply not being sick?


wrote …

This is an interesting discussion and another great lecture from Coach. There is one detail that needs rewording. It has been a long time since health has been considered 'not sick'. Crossfit HQ seems to like real evidence, backed up info, etc. This isn't major but has been on my mind as it seems to come up enough.

Tony Budding wrote "The new concept of volume under the curve as perhaps the most useful definition of health to date (much better than, say, the absence of disease) was the start."

The WHO has defined health, since 1948, as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

I definitely agree that Crossfit leads to better health, but the benefits incorporate the first part of the WHO definition. Having no illnesses, but not being able to go up staircases with groceries, etc (as Coach describes in the lecture), means you are unhealthy. That is an 'infirmity'. Furthermore, there will not be mentally well as they lose (or have lost) independence and the ability to lead a normal life. As a medical student, I do not think Crossfit has redefined health. Crossfit is giving people around the world an amazingly successful route to better health. Much thanks for that.


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For the record, you misquoted me in #39. Maximum dose is not equivalent to maximum effect. My initial comment and its subsequent clarification assumed we were discussing health, as later defined by Tony and others. The most recent being Matt #50 quoting the W.H.O. definition.

In regard to paleo-diet, consider this: what is the gold standard diet? If a particular approach shows improvement it begs the question: as compared to what? The average American diet? The food pyramid?

Cordain's premise is foods that the species evolved to thrive on(or the closest modern versions) is a rational starting point for a sound diet. The first step in this approach is simple. Ask yourself what type of foods were NOT available THEN that are readily available and consumed in relatively great quantities NOW and eliminate them.

The burden of proof is on the newcomers to the plate: wheat, dairy, large quantities of sugar, and man-made versions of food. Do they diminish or disrupt the physiological milieu to the extent that they move the body towards disease over time?

Cordain is, in fact, part of the academic community. He has plenty of work published in peer-reviewed journals. The work that identifies what paleolithic man ate is solid. The research on what aboriginals ate prior to the introduction of modern foodstuffs mentioned above is solid. The detrimental health effects on these populations after the introduction of modern foodstuffs is strongly documented as well, and not just by Cordain.

So, to me, the question is not to what extent the paleo-diet improves health, but to what degree does introducing non-paleolithic food to the human diet either support or compromise human health?

On integration: When you say something like "Likewise, a function defined as P(t,a) is a function of three variables" [and P is one of those variables] you are asserting that the function is, in part, defined by itself. How does that work? P(t,a,P)?


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

The WHO definition you wrote is as useless as simply the absence of disease in that it is completely unmeasurable. It may be longer and more descriptive, but as it stands, it offers nothing usable.

In contrast, work capacity across broad time and modal domains sustained throughout life is observable and measurable. It functions in both relative and absolute terms. And, it can serve as a metric to evaluate any diet, fitness, lifestyle, or pharmaceutical change.

Now, I'm not suggesting in any way that we have answers to optimizing fitness or health, because the metric has just been created. I do think we're doing as good a job as anyone on the planet, but that is just an opinion at this point.


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If Coach is going to suggest that one's fitness over time is one's health, it would help to define it. I'll throw in one possibility that (I hope) isn't as intangible as the WHO definition (take it with a grain of salt). "Health is the sum total of one's place in markers which predict one's life expectancy and likelihood of both pathological/chronic and sudden illness."

If we could measure insulin resistance, triglycerides, blood pressure, resting heart rate, bone density, chronic pain, happiness, deep sleep, and any other marker that is commonly predictive of chronic/pathological illnesses (cardiac failure, cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, etc.) for a whole population, we could establish normative values for every possible cohort (most of these already have accepted norms, but I suspect some may need to be readjusted). We could establish, then, a dual metric for one's overall health- one could essentially have two scores based on their markers: a "raw score" of simply data, which could be compared over time (and should be- it would be easy to track), and a "percentile score" with one's position relative to their cohort in these markers.

I know it's sloppy for a few reasons. If disease is not included, one could be dying of the flu and be considered healthy. Some markers we see as predictive of later problems are correlates and not causes. The health profession's definition of 'normative' may be off. Whole cohorts or even nations could, as an average, develop worse markers for various reasons, and we could accept a lower standard that what is possible or even desirable. Finally, any subjective measurement is going to be squishy.

Still, it could be useful both now and for the future. Acute-illness-as-health is useless because it's predicated on the moment, but if it turns out that those in the top 10th percentile in their cohort experienced significantly less acute illnesses, we have possible validation (or lack thereof, as the case may be) of Coach's contention that health is fitness over time. If the markers are correlates, they are likely to improve with the causes and not skew the data too badly, and if they are simply wrong, with enough data, we could add or remove markers or re-weight them to more accurately predict life expectancy and likelihoods of chronic and acute illness. This may seem artificial, but compared over time and across national boundaries (we're talking N=hundreds of thousands), it could definitely be meaningful. There are set standards for what make healthy markers now and those may be accurate or not, but if we look at "normative" instead of "healthy" for each individual marker, this would be easy to correct. If we keep the raw scores, once we find markers that are universally useful for prediction, we could compare nations or even previous timeframes to see how our norms across all these markers are changing.

I recognize this would be an incredibly work-intensive project and would require a huge N participants, but it seems to me like a more systematic way of doing what doctors do now with individual markers- just expanding it.


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Scratch that. Thinking about it, it works as an interesting hypothetical model, but it's totally unfeasible.


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Kevin you wrote,

On integration: When you say something like "Likewise, a function defined as P(t,a) is a function of three variables" [and P is one of those variables] you are asserting that the function is, in part, defined by itself. How does that work? P(t,a,P)?

Not at all, in fact it's rather simple. People get caught up in the notation used for formulae often. We define Power=Work/time, this equation is drilled into every Joe Schmoe who visits this website. There are no constants, giving a baseline initial value of 0. I'm going to ignore units in this explanation, simply for the ease of not cluttering up the equation. If I told you that someone produced 2000 units of power in 10 seconds, you could easily manipulate the equation to show you how much work they did. Likewise, if I told you someone did 2000 units of power and their total work was 5000 units, you could now easily figure out what the time was. The reason you can do this is because the variable are all dependent on each other. Where you and I think Sebastian are getting caught up is the physical represenation of the formula. That is irrelvant, a mathematical equation has certain distinct properties based on its form. This is basic algebra, something you can have verified in any high school student's textbook.

As to the comment about maximum dose and maximum effect, this is irrelevent wordplay. The conversation was about diets that had the most EFFECT in changing human health.

Cordains premise may sound convincing to a layperson, but it's riddled with unproven assumptions. Mainly that the human digestive system evolved to such a high level of specificity that it was only able to digest available foods in such a short amount of time. There are no genes or faulty metabolic pathways listed, just a general "we can't digest it". Such statements are useless. I had most of my questions answered, and I'm not interested in convincing anyone about what good or bad science is. As long as the NIH stays afloat, I'm happy. What I did find astounding was how absurd this new standard of health is if you plan on entirely throwing away the old one. Saying that health defined as the absence of disease is a bad definition due to the lack of measurability is silly. With your definition, Igor who gets colds every weekend, has multiple viral infections, and has lost half his teeth but has a 2:00 minute grace and came in 3rd at the Crossfit Games is healther than Steve who has a completely clean bill of health but only jogs and swims. Lack of measurability does not make something useless. Many definitions with regards to human capability exist in realms without units.

Again, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. There is a heavy party line here and I respect that.



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Tony, while the WHO definition is not measurable, I agree with Adam, in saying that it is not bad. Just vague, not useless. Perhaps a different metric is needed that is more functional, but the CF version ("work capacity across broad time and modal domains sustained throughout life is observable and measurable.") has many gaping holes.

From the wording of your response, it seems that you acknowledge this. Off the top of my head, I can think of many examples. The most opposite to your definition of health would relate to sudden death in seemlingly healthy(as judged by the CF definition) people (especially young, athletes). There are numerous stories of amateur and professional athletes dying for 'no reason'. Often, it is attributed to a cardiac abnormality, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HOCM or HCM). It happens to anyone, which could include crossfitters as I don't think crossfitting plus zone/paleo will prevent this(am I wrong?). I believe diet and exercise can prevent many things, such as numerous types of cancer, but skin cancer is from sun exposure, cervical cancer is mostly caused by HPV, and anyone could get asbestosis or the much more devastating mesothelioma from working unprotected with asbestos. These examples could go on for ages.

What is the Crossfit view on this? Do you think your definition of health applies? Are multiple definitions of health necessary? It's hard to measure psychological things, like happiness or depression, yet they play a real role in a person's health and their impression of their own health. I've chosen a career to make people healthy, so I'm by no means ignoring your definition. It just can't be used on its own. Crossfit is an important part of my life, but also an amazing way of making people healthy. I'm just trying to stimulate thought/discussion.


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hey adam,

i am sorry to correct u dude, but what you said about dependent and independent variables is right (i know i didn't mention that in my earlier post, but i didn't like to go into details and i am certainly not confused aboout it). so in an equation like


In traditional calculus, a function is defined as a relation between two terms called variables because their values vary. Call the terms, for example, x and y. If every value of x is associated with exactly one value of y, then y is said to be a function of x. It is customary to use x for what is called the "independent variable," and y for what is called the "dependent variable" because its value depends on the value of x.

that said y(x) or f(x) is a function of one variable x!!!!! per definition!!!!
you confuse definition of functions with solvability of quations,
yes you can perfectly solve an equation for x like
as you mentioned in your post. then you get x as a function of y, written
no worries with that. the same thing you can do for the P(w,t) thing. These functions are one on one so you got no problems at all.
If you look on that as an equation you have three things that vary, but you can always choose one like power that changes only with respect to the other two (in this case) independent variables. that's the point of defining a function.

You give me value for x and i tell you how big y is.

So to give you a counterexample
look at f(x)= sin(x)+x^3
can you make that explicit for x!??? NO you can't!! not with basic algebra and not even with sophisticated methods.
So you don't have inverse functions (that's how mathematicians call it) for all of your functions like in the case of x(y)=(y-b)/a.

As we are (in this forum) only concerned with P(w,t)=W/t and we can solve this equation for every variable in it you are right in saying that W(P,t)=Pxt,
but again the "workfunction" depends only on P AND t!!!!!

Please don't confuse people here!!!! P(W,t)=W/t is a function just of work and time, it's irrelevant that you can solve this equation for W (then you get work as a function of power and time, depending in two variables again).
P(W,t) just means that you get a value for power for every value of W work and t time you plug in.

It's horribly wrong to say a function like P(w,t) is a function of three variables. i talked with lot of other colleagues about that stuff and they all say it's just nonsense and i am really interested where you got this definition of functions from???????? (and please don't refer to implicit definitions here, like circles and spheres, that's largely irrelevant to our discussion!!!)
please post a book, link, whatever here, where this is written!!!!

regards sebastian


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It would seem that we only disagree on what the common convention is for such a function. I'm assuming that you just exist in a different academic setting than I do, because the common reference I've constantly come across is to make note of the dependent variable as being a variable in the equation. What I find really odd is that you keep referring to this as calculus, when it is not, it's just algebra. I would find that distinction much more obfuscating to the average reader than how to name a variable. Are you a mathematician by trade? If so, I could understand why we might have some differences in what we refer to things as, seeing as every field has there own little quirks in what they like to call stuff. I admit it's largely possible that your convention is more commonplace, I've heard it before but not in awhile. Haha for clarity though, in the future I will refer to a two-axis and three-axis system instead of saying two-variable or three-variable. Haha I would assume there can't be ANY confusion with those terms!



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These comments are for the ASEP Lecture.

Please don't use comment boards as a chat room.

And come on guys we're all Crossfitters, show some respect for the good of the family.

Sincerely Phillip


Colm O Reilly wrote …

Coach mentioned the All Blacks are doing CrossFit. Is there anything official on this?

I ask becuase Ireland are ranked 4th in the World at Rugby Union, but our junior teams get destroyed by the Southern Hemisphere. If we could get these kids squatting and drinking milk they'd be big enough to take the hits, then get them CrossFitting and they'd be able to keep going.

If anyone can help me on this,please mail info at crossfit dot ie


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