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Discussion on the New Definition of Health by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal

In ExPhysiology, Rest Day/Theory, Videos

August 11, 2009

Video Article

The real value of CrossFit’s new definition of health is that it gives us a meaningful way to assess and measure fitness, heath, and even quality of life throughout the years. Fitness, in the most broad terms, is the ability to perform the tasks of life. The tasks of life are always some form of moving your own body and moving external loads. These tasks can be measured using the fundamental units of force, time, and distance.

More precisely, having elevated levels of work capacity across broad time and modal domains is fitness. At any and every stage of life, being sick limits your work capacity. In contrast, having this broad work capacity requires you to be healthy.

How does this relate to the traditional markers of health, such as blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol? Well, they are correlates, just as VO2 Max is a correlate to fitness. Would you give up mobility and work capacity in order to lower your blood pressure? Of course not! You want to lower your blood pressure in order to maintain your mobility and physical freedom.

Is CrossFit’s definition of health designed to support the results of CrossFit’s workouts? No. The definition of health is an independent marker that allows us to measure the efficacy of all fitness and wellness programs, not just CrossFit. We don’t have the data yet (no one does), but finally we have the metric that is both relevant and meaningful.

In this video from CrossFit By Overload, Tony Budding discusses these and other related topics with Coach Greg Glassman. The footage was recorded on Saturday, August 8th, 2009 in Tustin, CA.

11min 1 sec

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22 Comments on “Discussion on the New Definition of Health”


wrote …

Coach is looking strong these days, and Tony is a very active listener....
I love it


wrote …

I never tire of listening to Coach. And while it's interesting to ponder ur-questions like longevity, I crossfit because I love the daily challenge it presents, I love how I feel when the workout is over and maybe I've improved a benchmark...or not but tomorrow is another day and another workout,and yes, I love the magnificant folks I've met crossfitting. So, if and when my time comes the leave this ol' rock and someone says to me, you know, all those crazy workouts you did shaved x days or years off, it's not a problem ,I'd do the same thing all over again. Thanks to all, and Coach too!


wrote …

What happened? Coach Glassman looks fitter than ever. Maybe it's the stylish hair?


wrote …

4 years into CrossFit (this month is my 4th CF anniversary-discovered CF at age 53) and I've experienced measured improvement. Physical and mental gains. Example-experienced what is termed as 'major surgery' by having a total knee replacement last October. Due to my CF experience, I was confident and had/have the faith that CF would get me back to 100%.
My first 'Cindy' in August 2005 was 10 rounds. My best(prior to TKR) was 28 rounds (not bad for 56yo). 2 weeks ago (post TKR and still suffering from arthrofibrosis following the TKR) I am back up to a 22 round Cindy.
CrossFit has given me the faith that I will continue to experience an excellent quality of life and quick recovery from another 'major surgery' with another TKR this fall.
Thanks Coach and Lauren!


wrote …

Hey, where can I get that t-shirt Coach is wearing?


wrote …

Another argument I've seen is that working out only in the shorter time domains and max effort lifts will reduce the oxidative damage to the body, and act as a longeivity bias. This workout strategy would be complemented with a low(er)-carb diet, maybe entering ketosis at points. None of this is proven. Here's a link to crazy long thread spanning two years:


Max Shippee wrote …

Great interview Tony, and clear, scientific answers Coach.

What a great follow-up to the Zone lecture. Watching Dr Sears talk to us in his 60's after all of his male family died in their 50's, is testament that he is onto something. I think coach is too.

It's great when you've been searching for something (like health) & someone comes along and defines it so simply and clearly. Not that it makes it any easier to attain, but at least we're working with something.

Consider me on the books for the next 8 decades as one of your measurements :)


wrote …

I liked Glassman's comment at the end that most people who go to the gym everyday are doing so largely for psychological reasons anyway. Very interesting for him to acknowledge that the psychological benefits of exercise are so powerful.


wrote …

Coach, where did you get that shirt?


wrote …

I started CrossFit at 45 and more than three years later I am still getting stronger. I go to the gym for psychological reasons as Coach suggested and CrossFit gives the psychological push to keep going and get better.

Before Crossfit I was going to the gym and my performance stayed relatively the same. Occasionally I would focus on a sport specific training program, complete the event and settle back into the mundane workouts I was doing before with little or no improvement. In fact I regressed in my overall fitness.

For three years I did CrossFit alone in a "Globo" gym, doing the mainsite WODs and learning the workouts from the website videos and articles. I made significant improvements, felt better and was more consistant in my training. The last three months I have been training at a CrossFit Box where they helped refine (correct my bad habits) my technique and I improved. My desire to learn more took me to completing a Level 1 Cert last weekend. The more I learn to more motivated I become and the better I want to perform.

Quality of life over quantity? I chose both and believe CrossFit will give it to me.


wrote …

Hah hah... Forget the talk, third request for where to find the shirt :-D


Awesome! This has fired me up for getting a chance to see Coach at the Combatives Camp this weekend.

Plus viewing it after reading the GJ article and the 100+ comments,it was a refreshing to clear away the antagonism that was in the air. Not too many people say, "I made this, how can we improve it, and now show me if I am wrong!" Integrity, plain and simple.

Anyway thx CFJ and put me down for an Xtra Large please:D


Tom Seryak wrote …

i want the shirt!!


I could not agree with you any more!


Patrick Flannelly wrote …

This is a very interesting question. It has been a long time since I read his book, but in "In Fitness and In Health," endurance athlete trainer Dr. Phil Maffetone discouraged weight lifting due to the increased production of free radicals. Don't quote me, but the point was that the chemical stressors created from the increased oxidative stress would have negative long term health consequences, such as increased rates of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.

As a police officer this question always intrigued me. At the time, the average life span of a police officer was 57, which was 17 years below the national average for males. These figures have changed a little since then, but they did not, and still don't for that matter, make me feel real positive about my careers choices long term impact on my golden years!

The decision on how to train became complicated. Following the Maffetone prescription I could run forever (and live longer) but my strengh would suffer as a result. So if a bad guy ran from me, I could decide just to run behind him until he was too tired to fight, then snatch him up. All good, and sometimes fun! However, the alternative was not as much fun. If the bad guy decides NOT to run, well, I guess either I could run from him until he got tired, and then turn around and snatch him up, or just man up and go toe to toe. But without strength training, my odds of winning (immediate survival) would be negative effected!

Call if the officer survival paradox! Die young, or die really young... take your pick.

Enter CrossFit!

I too choose to be a guinea pig for the Glassman theory on longevity. So far I get the best of both worlds. If I can avoid low flying airplanes and hungry bears long enough, the answer will eventually come. In the meantime, my ears are open.



wrote …

After a few moments of thought I do believe Coach is onto something. Yes, exercise has its psychological benefit and is participated in regularly for that. So now CrossFit has entered the realm of health behavior. Human behavior can be described as a reciprocal relationship between the person, the behavior and the environment. If health is an aspect of that behavior it is no different and can be evaluated on those three points.

What I think Coach is humbly missing is the third factor that, as mentioned prior, in my opinion makes CrossFit so successful. Environment. Human behavior can be described as a reciprocal relationship between the person, the behavior and the environment. If one of the three is lacking, success will not be garnered to its potential. The environment presented by the main site, affiliates and individual CrossFiters is what is, again in my opinion, leading this fitness revolution. We also know that health behavior can often be a snowball of change. As I improve my fitness I then seek to improve my diet. I improve my diet I then seek to improve other aspects of my "self".

CrossFit, from a perspective of human behavior, successfully addresses each of the points of triadic reciprocity - Person, Behavior, Environment.

If indeed the road to health is paved with fitness, CrossFit is the superhighway.


wrote …

Crossfit is cool because it makes our genes express themselves better, which means it helps us express ourselves better.


Patrick, I believe along with the exercise is the benefit of a paleo diet to more effectively remove the free radicals than a high starch-sugar diet. As Dr. Sears recently shared. There is an incredible synergy of the 100-word lifestyle for all of us, from kids to seniors.


replied to comment from Skip Chase

You, sir, are a total stud!


wrote …

For those asking, the shirt Coach is wearing is now available in the CrossFit Store.


wrote …

This is by far the most revolutionary theory to ever enter the fitness/health community. Adding the age axis unifies everything humans can hope for which is a long life doing the things they love right until they die. I too would never want to live to 150 with 70 years in a nursing home. I also, as coach mentions, would not want Greg Amundson's capacity and die at 60. This model gives us the best framework to evaluate everything we do to see if it will give us optimal health. Now everytime I consider trying something I ask myself will it increase my work capacity across broad time and modal domains AND will it increase the age axis. If I answer no to either of those things, then I won't do it. I would never take steroids because it will increase my work capacity, but it will not increase the age axis, it will shorten it. Just like I will not start doing Tai Chi and yoga because it can increase the age axis, but will not increase my work capacity. This model unifies everything in health, fitness, longevity, quality of life, performance, etc. I honestly believe the CrossFit prescription is the key to living the longest, best, most badass life possible.


You're a machine!
I always get a lot out of your posts!
CF has been a huge help to me also, I started at age 55 and have 4 years in also.
Keep up the great work, Skip!

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