Judgment as a Virtue

By Russell Berger

In Rest Day/Theory

January 08, 2010

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Russell Berger says it’s important to assess experts with skepticism and reason. The success of CrossFit depends on it.

CrossFit is an open-source fitness program, meaning the internal workings of our program are exposed for everyone to see, experiment with and change as desired. This gives our methodology a unique advantage: when someone discovers a better method for improving fitness, we can adopt it into the CrossFit program.

Just what qualifies as a “better method,” however, is open to debate.

While many historically common fitness questions have been sufficiently answered by CrossFit—yes, below-parallel squats are safe—today’s most common questions come from within our community as experts and coaches suggest the next evolutionary steps for CrossFit.

Does CrossFit need more strength workouts and fewer long run—or vice versa? Does the Zone Diet really work better than the Paleo Diet, or is there really no need for measuring of any kind? Is a lack of affiliate regulation damaging the community, or are the efficient workings of the open market sufficient to eliminate bad apples?

These are just a few examples of simple questions that have turned into serious debates, with many folks claiming to be authorities and experts. So how does the average CrossFitter know what, and whom, to believe?

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110 Comments on “Judgment as a Virtue”


wrote …

Really enjoyed that, Russell. Reasoned argument, with or without passion, wins the day. Holding positions that can be objectively evaluated, theories and hypotheses that can be measured and tested. While Crossfit is neither unique nor lonely in its position as a repository of such evaluation and discussion, my experience mirrors Russell's in that Crossfit is continually open for discussion along these lines.

Thanks, Russell, and thanks to Coach, Tony, and Daniel for including it here in the CFJ for all to read.



Blue Benadum wrote …

"What is Crossfit as a sport?" and "What is Crossfit as training?" may be the two most interesting or important questions. As a training tool Crossfit stands as one of the most effective ways to achieve overall or supplemental fitness. But as a competition and sport, it is up to the creators to define how to measure athletes against each other.

A marathoner must run far and fast. A sprinter must run short and fast. Though speed is the common goal, they must each specialize their training for their sport. It is therefor impossible to say which is the better athlete. Though Crossfit wants to be the ultimate measure of strength, speed, agility and endurance, the question is- "is it possible to build an athlete who can do it all at an elite level?". Can a man qualify for the olympics in the marathon and gymnastics? Swimming and olympic lifting? How close to the Gods can we come?

Can I simultaneously bring my marathon PR from the 2:40s to the 2:20s and get my Fran time under 3 minutes?

My question is "will there be a day when you have to specialize your training to compete in the sport of Crossfit or is it truly a sport that can boast itself as being all about being ready for anything at anytime?" For instance, the curve ball at the 09 Games when the competitors had to drive a steel steak into the ground. That really made it for me, thats the type of stuff that keeps me coming back.

I am interested to see what the captains of Crossfit decide the best measure is, for the "forging elite fitness" competition. It has, and is becoming, a tremendous sport.

Take it up a notch, as always...


wrote …

"CrossFit is an open-source fitness program, meaning the internal workings of our program are exposed for everyone to see, experiment with and change as desired. This gives our methodology
a unique advantage: when someone discovers a better method for improving fitness, we can adopt it into the CrossFit program."

Seriously? is this sarcasm?


wrote …

I have loved crossfit since a Vancouver firefighter introduced me to it a little over a year ago, although I have actually met very few crossfitters as I have mostly been isolated in Mexico and Northern Australia where I have been working the past two years. I will be taking a level 1 cert in New Zealand in April (the first I could get to), because I really believe this is a great thing with power to enhance and improve lives.

I enjoyed the article and agree with its general statements (how could anyine not?), although it is obviously a rebuttal of very specific criticisms and dramas that have been played out over the last however long among folks closely involved with crossfit, (this is clear even to an outsider who has been lurking in crossfit-related forums in a thirsty quest for more knowledge about this amazing methodology). As such, I feel the article is sorely lacking without addressing the questions mentioned at the onset more openly.

It seems to me this is the first time some of these concerns are addressed from HQ, but the fact that it is done sort-of-covertly smacks of.... something. I don't mean to rock the boat, and I have no bone to pick in any camp. I just want to voice my opinion in favor of open, honest debate.


wrote …

Good article. I'm glad to see this topic addressed. And on a completely unrelated note, Seeing the picture of Greg A. cracked me up because it looked exactly like what Chuck Liddell was doing in the video that was on the main site yesterday. But seriously, unfortunately, there will always be critics who don't understand logic and evidence, and only understand negativity and emotional criticism. What can I say, that is life. Regardless of what they say, more and more people are getting more fit every day. Keep the articles coming Russell. Thanks.


wrote …


Thanks for the "Judgment as a Virture". In your article you take the scientific method, something normally reserved for lecture halls and research projects, and present it in a vastly more available and broadly applicable context. I really enjoyed it. Of all the things that I love about Crossfit, the science behind the scenes which drives its evolution is what I love the most. I was trained as an engineer, and am truly a geek of geeks in my heart.
I would like to add further weight to your commentary by raising a point regarding the topic of measurable and immeasurable. Truth be told, there are very, very few things which are immeasurable. More often than not, when something is described as immeasurable, it is in fact just incredibly difficult to measure. When you combine this difficulty, with the relevancy factor which you discussed, usually the most reasonable course forward is to set aside the “immeasurable” topic to pursue more relevant and easily measured concepts in the pursuit of greater insight. Upon occasion one could argue though that this is a flawed path forward. I would urge the Crossfit scientists out there who are generating and/ or collecting data everyday to not forsake the ideas that have begun to tickle the edges of their intellect, simply because they are unable to initially identify a means of taking measurements associated with those thoughts. The scientific method is as much about developing a hypothesis, and developing the experiment which can test that hypothesis, as it is about executing that experiment and its outcome. What has often time begun as reflection upon the less than readily apparent, has in turn evolved into a life’s work, and upon occasion led to some of the most monumental achievements of mankind. I am certain that many of these great men during their day were often described as obsessed with the irrelevant, engaged in the impossible, and focused upon something which everyone already knew to be false. I would hate to think that the next great evolutionary discovery in the realm of fitness was never brought to light simply because all of its facets were not immediately and readily apparent, or that it appeared to be immeasurable.

Thanks again,


Dale Saran wrote …

And the award for most rhetorical, non-sequitur questions in a row goes to...


wrote …


I cannot remember ever hearing a single Crossfit trainer ever suggest that anyone optimize performance with a Cheeseburger-Zone diet. A theoretical question with little practical applicability was posed to Barry Sears by Tony Budding in one video. He has consistently recommended food quality similar to that recommended by Loren Cordain, Mark Sisson, Michael Eades, and Robb Wolf. Some of these nutrition experts differ on specific foods (ex. Cordain and Wolf's belief that lectins are inflammatory) but the point is there is still a commitment to food quality in Zone and Paleo camps. This quality v. quantity debate is a ghost that Robb Wolf loyalists keep coming back to for some reason. What you guy's don't seem to realize is that there is no one on the other side of the debate. No one is arguing that quantity *alone* exceeds food quality in creating better athletes.

That being said, a focus on just food quality cannot be used to *optimize* performance. A stress on the word optimize. Optimization of fitness or performance is not just the achievement of optimum fitness but a scientific process by which one gets there. The value of the Zone is not in its ratios (which Barry Sears says need to be varied from person to person and dialed in) or specific food recommendations, but in the fact that it encourages measurement. You cannot optimize anything without measuring.

If someone told Crossfitters that they could achieve optimum fitness by doing high quality exercises such as rowing, deadlifting, o lifts, gymnastics, to name a few in any combinations they desire without paying attention to weight, repitition, rest, or time, everyone would immediately see the falsehood. If an incredible athlete said "well I just really push myself on the quality lifts and met cons until I feel 'full' so to speak," and suggested that we should do the same, we would think he or she was crazy.

Optimization by definition requires observability and measurement. You can eat whatever you want, but if you don't measure it, and write it down, and vary it and see how your performance changes, you aren't optimizing.

So, in answer to your question, the Zone diet because of its commitment to measurement is superior to an *unmeasured* Paelo diet in optimizing performance.


wrote …


"So, in answer to your question, the Zone diet because of its commitment to measurement is superior to an *unmeasured* Paelo diet in optimizing performance."

What do you categorize as "measured" paleo? I'll look back in a few minutes for real numbers, but I distinctly remember most the Crossfit Radio podcast interviews involving several top finishers from the 2008 and 2009 CF Games saying that they rarely (if ever) measure food and they're more closely following a paleo type diet.

Granted, I'm not saying this proves anymore more than several top finishers did very well on their non-Zone diets. For all we know, a zoned/measured diet MIGHT have led to better results...but I'd like to believe that these athletes, given the knowledge most of them possess about their diets/bodies, would be in the best position to let us know what optimally fuels their performance.


"Optimization by definition requires observability and measurement. You can eat whatever you want, but if you don't measure it, and write it down, and vary it and see how your performance changes, you aren't optimizing."

Actually, the definition of optimization includes nothing about observability and measurement...at least according to Webster's Dictionary and the Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Simply put, optimization is the "procedure or procedures used to make a system or design as effective or functional as possible, especially the mathematical techniques involved." Now...measuring, recording, and evaluating data in a written/recorded format will more than likely produce better optimization (provided your methods and reasoning are valid and sound), but simply improving the quality of food (via paleo methods) and such ARE in fact methods of optimization.

Just because the procedures are different, doesn't make unmeasured paleo non-optimizing...it just means its possibly not as optimized as another procedure could be. Seeing as how we have no un-biased comparison of both systems in a controlled environment, we can only ASSUME that the more controlled methods of measuring SHOULD produce more optimized results...but we can't PROVE it with the data supplied thus far.


wrote …

Mr. Berger may be a fine person, but he's a PR hack at best. I think a Journalism 101 class would be better for him than another CF cert.

As for the Zone, the cheeseburger thing has been overplayed by the Paleo people, but mocking the Zone is pretty easy when you look at the products they hype. Here are the ingredients to a ZonePerfect "All-Natural Nutrition" Bar:

Caramel (Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Glycerine, Milk Protein Concentrate, Cream, Natural Flavor, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Disodium Phosphate), Soy Protein Nuggets (Isolated Soy Protein, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Milk Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Dry Milk Solids, Cocoa Powder, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural Flavor), Corn Syrup, Gum Arabic, Guar Gum, Sodium Caseinate, Glycerine, Peanuts. Less Than 2% Of The Following: Soy Protein Isolate, Water, High Oleic Safflower or High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Salt.

Oh yeah, all-natural indeed. What joke.


replied to comment from Jesse James


First let me thank you for an intelligent and well reasoned response to my post. For the most part I agree with you. Where we disagree I think is largely in definition of terms, but we will find out.

What I mean by unmeasured Paleo is exactly that. It hasn't been weighed, measured, or recorded.

The credit I give to the Zone is strictly limited to the measurement aspect. I otherwise have no allegiance to it. I realize that many of the top Crossfit Games athletes achieved their level of success with an unmeasured Paleo diet. I think an unmeasured Paleo diet is an excellent diet in general. But I disagree that top athletes know their bodies so well that without keeping careful records of what they eat, they can actually know what is truly affecting their performance. Human physiology and performance is too complex. Plus placebo effect further convolutes the situation. With measurement of diet, records of specific workouts, and a journal of sleep, mood, feelings during and after workouts, and notes on recovery, athletes could *potentially* notice trends that they might never have noticed otherwise.

Also, Websters and Heritage are not really the best sources for a definition of a term used in a scientific context. But "procedure or procedures used to make a system or design as effective or functional as possible, especially the mathematical techniques involved" is actually I think supportive of my point. A procedure is a written account of exactly what you did, and mathematical techniques in the case of diet, would be weighing and measuring. I'm currently working as a student pursuing an MD/PhD and if I were told to write a procedure to optimize an experiment and it didn't involve careful measurement and record taking, my boss would not be happy. "Quality" is a nebulous term that has no precision in definition. It is also inseparable from quantity. An apple is considered part of a high quality Paleo diet, but only in moderation. What is moderation?

The point is that these extremely elite Crossfitters who don't measure can't really tell us their procedure. They can say "I eat high quality Paleo." But without actual record and measurement, no one else can independently repeat their methods, a key aspect of a good procedure. This doesn't detract from their performance, but it does limit Crossfit's ability to fulfill it's mission of advancing the technology of human performance. Not that it is the competitors job to advance Crossfit's mission. But it does make a lot of sense for HQ to unremittingly push measuring.

I'm not even suggesting that people think ahead of time how much they will eat of each thing, as the Zone suggests. They could eat the exact things they are eating anyway, and measure it. In that sense it is not an assumption that measuring would lead to better optimization. Optimization comes from varying your method (i.e. the amounts of different kinds of food) from a known baseline, and seeing if performance changes. If you don't know the baseline because you didn't measure it then you can't know for sure which is better or why.

With that definition of optimization, which I think is the same on that most scientists of engineers would agree with, it can certainly be said that without measurement you are extremely limited in your ability to optimize. I think that is a small revision on my previous point.


wrote …

the most important question: who is the girl? JEEEEEEEZZZZZUSSSSSS~!!


wrote …

Regarding the Zone v Paleo debate,

Nice quoting of the ingredients on the zone bar - that one always makes me laugh!

At my level one cert, I was pretty shocked to be told (with absolute certainty by my level one trainers) that Zone weighed and measured WITH ANY TYPE OF FOOD was superior to unmeasured Paleo. Essentially, cheeseburgers in zone proportions beat out real natural food?

This whole article gives me the willies. I agree that rational comments regarding improving crossfit programming have been met with extreme reactions by HQ in the past while.

Lastly, define crossfit and then define a program which is different to crossfit. HQ seems to claim that crossfit is every type of training that is varied at a high intensity... ever heard of strongman? wrestling training? weighted circuits and interval running that have been used in sports training forever?

My assertion is that CrossFit as defined by HQ is undefinable and therefore cannot be measured.

Just some late night thoughts.



wrote …

Hi Cam,

Three points.

1. I attended a recent level one cert - late September 09 at CFX in Sydney, run by Pat Sherwood and Matt Swift along with Steve Willis and Jolie Gentry. Recent, but before the Robb Wolf blow up at the Black Box Summit so no party line or Pravda type big brother accusations are relevant.

At the cert, the nutrition segment talked about paleo and zone in a very fair way. My wife is a nutritionist and is a firm believer in paleo. I am close to her and was expecting the teaching to go heavy towards the zone and actually...ready for a big debate. But it didn't.

The guidance was actually that either would be an improvement but that the two combined are best. If anything, they preached measured food quality, as the way forward.

2. I have read your stuff before and your paragraph starting "Lastly..." is not worthy of an intelligent and knowledgeable person. Do you really think that Strongman or wrestling or weighted circuits & intervals are as constantly varied as Crossfit?

Indisputably, they are more varied in form, function and intensity than chest and biceps plus spin class/road running but do you honestly think that their programs can be compared?

3. What is undefinable about constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements?

From a layman's perspective, the only one I could argue with is whether the variation is constant enough, if I believed Fran or 7x1 DL comes up too often

best regards


wrote …

"CrossFit is an open-source fitness program, meaning the internal workings of our program are exposed for everyone to see, experiment with and change as desired."

Hi Russell,

Could we then please see exactly how the main page WODs are created, and not just a theoretical template?



Russell Berger wrote …

If your conclusion from reading this article was that I'm arguing for a side in this ludicrous "Zone v.s. Paleo" debate, then you missed the point.

If anything, the purpose of this article was to give CrossFitters a better understanding of how to interpret, asses, and judge claims made about our program on the basis of observable, repeatable measurement, and simple reasoning. The fact that some of you find this idea so unpalatable may be the best sign of all that you needed to read it.


wrote …

A few thoughts...

1. There's a sizable percentage of CrossFitters who need to put on their intellectual big-boy pants. At its best, CF isn't about handing you the perfect program on a silver platter. It's about clarifying what we're trying to accomplish and then experimenting with how to get there. We've got some basic assumptions and a handful of principles, but ultimately it's a messy, ambiguous, frustratingly slow process. The main site WOD is but "one expression of Crossfit" to quote Dave Castro.

Others can guide and challenge you, but in the end, it's up to YOU, as an individual, to decide what works and what doesn't. Hopefully you're trying to get a diversity of information and using some systematic reasoning to make your decisions.

2. Veejay, CF is as open-source as you make it. If you choose to accept the mainsite WOD as the be-all, end-all, then it's your issue. But, in reality, no one's stopping anyone from tweaking and testing and thinking about how to do it better. If you want to see open-source in action, check out OPT's website or Greg Everett's Catalyst Athletics. Let Greg and HQ worry about the politics. For the rest of us, it's fair game.

3. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly people dismiss HQ's intellectual integrity.

4. Madrid, we need to put this Wolf/Everett BS to rest and move on. None of us know the whole story. That much is clear if you go to Robb's blog and read his account versus what Russell Berger wrote (props to Robb for demonstrating real intellectual integrity). 99% of what people are talking about in regard to this is irresponsible speculation. Grow up.


replied to comment from Justin Smith

There is nothing hidden. Two commonly used phrases dictate main site programming:

CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements executed at (relatively) high intensity.

The magic is in the movements, the art is in the programming, and the science is in the explanation.

The main site workouts are one expression of the founders interpretation of these principles. There is not (nor there should be) a more exact formulation.


wrote …


So how the mainsite WOD is derived is not "observable, measurable, and repeatable?"

I'm not sure that Crossfit HQ understands what an "open source model" is.

The definition of CrossFit then could pretty much be applied to many modalities of training as was pointed out by an earlier poster.


replied to comment from Joe England

Hey Joe,

If you measure your food, that's not Zone. The Zone is a very specific diet recommendation. If you get great results measuring your food, awesome. But that has nothing to do with the Zone unless you also follow the Zone ratios.

And you didn't ever hear a trainer say they want you to eat Cheeseburger-Zone? The official nutrition expert of CrossFit is selling candy bars and sugar bread. And he tells us it's healthy.


wrote …

"someone discovers a better method for improving fitness, we can adopt it into the CrossFit program"

We shall see.

I wonder about the 9 Foundational Movements in this regard. No subject matter experts in Olympic-style weightlifting were consulted in developing this progression, none have since adopted it, and the Journal videos show basic flaws in execution that the cert trainers have evidently given up on addressing. What I have seen first hand is that trainees who have been taught this progression have no idea how to rack the bar. This affects the clean as well as the press/jerk series. The more they use this progression as taught at the certs, the worse the problem gets. The Crossfitters I have seen who get past this problem have stopped practicing the SDHP, cut back on using the med ball clean, and stopped using an unweighted PVC pipe to teach beginners the clean and jerk.

There are better, more efficient progressions to teaching the Olympic-style lifts. A more efficient progression was once part of the Crossfit cert curriculum, but it has been replaced in the L1 and L2 certs by a progression that was developed by people who are not subject matter experts in coaching the Olympic lifts. I don't see any evidence that it is an improvement or even on par with other methods.

Lincoln Brigham


replied to comment from Russell Berger


My take away from your article was exactly as you described....that we will make better decisions about our nutrition and our training, if we rely on a prescribed method for evaluating the information that is presented. That method is the scientific method....develop a hypothesis, develop an experiment to test that hypothesis, evaluate the findings of that experiment, revise hypothesis....and repeat as needed.

Those that look at HQ as a source of doctrine to be followed are missing the point. The information that HQ presents should serve as a starting point of each individual's pursuit of what works for them. Not an ending point to be argued against when it is found to be imperfect.

Right or wrong have no place in the scientific community...there is only that which supports the hypothesis, and that which refutes the hypothesis.


replied to comment from Veejay Leswal

Have you read this article, or did you just read the abstract? The essence of the article is to establish viable means for engaging in a productive discussion. Your comments as presented are useless. If you wish to address any of the topics you mention, please have some degree of evidence to establish your points.

For example, what do you think we mean by "open source" and what do you understand it as? You provide no explanation or evidence to defend your statement.

What exactly do you mean by measurable, observable, and repeatable (MOR)? CrossFit programming is varied. Are you suggesting we should program by a means that the main site WODs are highly predictable (is that what you imply by "repeatable")? That would be a violation of the "variation" principle.

But, if you mean that only Coach and Lauren were capable of producing CrossFit programming, you couldn't be more wrong. Using those two statements, combined with basic information found at the L1 certs, many affiliates are producing outstanding programming.

But really, your application of MOR is misplaced. MOR is more appropriately placed not at programming, but at the results of that programming (ie fitness). CrossFit's prescription (constantly varied functional movement at (relatively) high intensity) was unlike anything the fitness industry had ever seen. It was associated with the first measurable definition of fitness ever created. The efficacy of our programming is evaluated by the achievement (or lack thereof) of increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

So, the real questions should be:
1. Does CrossFit's prescription allow for effective programming?
2. Does the prudent application of CrossFit's programming achieve its stated aim of increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains?
3. Are the definitions provided adequate for real world application?

If you want to establish a contrary fitness protocol as superior, you must either present evidence that its programming produces better results according to our definition of fitness, or present an alternative definition of fitness with evidence that your system provides superior results. So far, no one has done either in a convincing manner.

Let's look at Lincoln Brigham's comment (#23). He actually doesn't address the assertion made, which is that when someone discovers a better method for improving fitness, we can adopt it. His key points are that no other weightlifting program has adopted our 9 foundational movements, this progression doesn't teach how to rack the bar, and there are better, more efficient progressions to teaching the Oly lifts.

Can you see how none of these claims are directly relevant? Not once has he addressed the relationship between weightlifting and fitness (I believe there is one, but he didn't address it). The relevance of others use of a particular method is not made. No connection between racking the bar and fitness is made, and no alternative methods are presented.

I have known Lincoln for many years, been to his box, trained with him, and eaten meals with him. I consider him a friend. And none of that matters when evaluating his argument.

Michael Cooper (#24) did a fantastic job summarizing the article and our approach. Those of you saying CrossFit HQ operates with a heavy hand are greatly mistaken. We don't dictate anything (except perhaps who we hire and decide to pay directly for their services). Workouts are presented with encouragements to modify them as needed or as appropriate. We present a variety of approaches that we believe have merit. As Michael said, these are a starting point, not the ending point.

The art of improving human performance is immensely complex, and resists formulaic approaches. Ultimately, your fitness is your responsibility. We're here to help, but we can't do it for you. What exactly would we need to do or provide to be truly "open source" or to help you better?


wrote …


So where do I go to see how a mainsite WOD is created? If you say pay CrossFit HQ $1000 to attend a L1 cert, than that is not "open source".


replied to comment from Veejay Leswal

Haha. Wow Veejay, let me see. How about by reviewing the articles and videos in the CrossFit Journal on programming? It might require that you read, listen, and consider to actually comprehend (please try it before rushing further conclusions). You could also peruse the hundreds of free videos on the main site for clues.

And remember, open source uses the term free as in speech, not beer.

Here are a few links to help you.



wrote …

Thanks Tony,

I will download those videos and review them again, and see if it fulfills the requirements of showing me how to program a CrossFit workout. "Open source" means that everything in order to build the system is available, usually in one single place in the form of source code, a template, or a manual. However, I can see if going through all these seperate pieces of information one can figure out completely how to implement CrossFit than yes that would be open source - albeit a poorly demonstrated form of it.

btw - I tend to keep things civil, so your comment about beer would not fall into that category.

Have a good afternoon.


replied to comment from Veejay Leswal

Do you actually read the journal or watch the videos? Why don't you check out the 6 part video series called "CrossFit Programming"? They can put the food out on the table, but you have to feed yourself.


replied to comment from Jarrett Smith

Haha. Guess I was late on that one.


wrote …

Thanks Jarrett,

I am currently downloading all those videos and look forward to watching them. I appreciate your point. My issue is around the use of the term "open source". I obviously have a different viewpoint on what constitutes "open source". I'm not certain CrossFit fits the normally accepted model of "open source". This is not a slight on CrossFit or its programming but on its use of the term "open source". If however after watching the video series and I can then successfully implement my own programming of CrossFit I will gladly change my mind on whether Crossfit fits the model of "open source".


Louis Hayes wrote …

The knit-picking of this article is identical to that of the same being done of CF. There is a *complete* lack of appreciation for the Big Picture.

The overall strength of CF has been its theory and philosophy. Instead of cherishing the excellent theory, bashers latch onto building blocks and minutia. The nuts and bolts of CF will continue to be debated. At least I hope so. When the arguments stop, we should be at the pinnacle of efficiency and efficacy.

Instead, SMEs (and often ignoramuses too) get into rigid, heated, emotional conflicts over details. These participants engage into debates risking ego and money. Some of the details are so trivial, I get embarrassed for both sides continuing to exert any effort into it.

The theory is in the mission, and the mission is fully-integrated fitness. There are many ways to fulfill that mission. The CF community should continue to embrace the different paths, techniques, and methodologies. It shouldn't matter whether they are mainpage programming, affiliate page, self-programming, or some bias program. The same goes for nutrition.

Please stop the insanity.

Lastly, Russell has written one of the most diplomatic essays on this "big picture versus small details" issue. It's the most professional way anyone has ever said, "STFU." Thanks Russell for calling out the naysayers as unprofessional. The charge you have given them with needing to bring MOR data to the table is not too much to ask. Claims should stop there. (But they won't.)

I've swallowed the theory, and enjoy the professional diplomatic debate from time to time. Thanks again.


wrote …

Tony, I would have just sent Veejay to the original CFJ article written by Coach, somewhere in the first 25 issues, and CFJ #1, "What is Fitness". My understanding of the "normally accepted" definition of "open source" is a system, product, or process in which the basic architecture is openly shared (basic CF programming template/Linux) among individuals who understand and can converse using common terms and concepts (CF definition of fitness, energy pathways, "constantly varied..."/software programming).

Pretty simple. Pretty basic (no pun intended). Pretty straight forward. In order for me to utilize Linux I would first need to learn the language, structure, and mechanics involved.



wrote …

I don't know how open source you can get. For the last three years I've watched the videos on the main site, some many times, I've followed the discussions. I've bought four kettlebells, Olympic bar, bumpers, medicine ball, bench, squat rack, C2 rower, rings, made parallettes, pull-up bars, purchased many books, subscribed to the Journal. Other than the Journal (and attending the CF games in 2008)nothing went to the main site or HQ. I clicked the links on the main site, placed my orders and sent my money to them. I don't think HQ got a penny from that. I went to a local affiliate for awhile for basic skill training, some killer wods, made some friends. I don't think HQ got a penny of that though I found the affiliate through the main site. I understood from day one from the articles and discussions the open experimental nature of Crossfit, Coach Glassman's creation. The amount of free information and references is astonishing. Overwhelming actually. You take what you want, leave the rest. All CF asks is you post your results. Give feedback about what works, what doesn't, what your results are. I wish the mainsite were not free, but a subscription. The pointed criticism's from great athletes and coaches would still be there but hopefully the gratuitous insults would be gone. At least they wouldn't be "free" shots.


wrote …


Thank you, that is good starting point on the discussion of "open source". If I refer to the template that CrossFit has provided, which I have read and am know way an expert on anything fitness related I therefore ask this question as an "ignoramus" - does the current programming that mainsite is doing follow that template? if not what template are they following? I ask this from the position of not understanding the programming and hope to once I'm done reading all the "open source" material that is available.


wrote …

You guys - the system works! Whatever way it's put together. Let it rest.


wrote …


As stated several times above, the Main Site programming is but one variant of Crossfit, albeit one derived from the original source by the founders. The analog would be a version of Linux derived by the original creator of the OS, one that he also provided to the universe for free.

The Main Site programming is a derivation, a product that has been brought out utilizing the architecture of the freely available source material. Main site programming follows the Crossfit mandate of "constantly varied functional exercise performed at (moderately) high intensity." As such, it is Crossfit, as are the programs available at Affiliate gyms that do not use Main Page programming, or more properly the Main Page product.

How many companies have created a product using the source material in Linux? In order to use these products, these derivations of the original source material, this second order/downstream programming must you have open access to the thought process and developmental processes that eventually ended in the product you are using? Are the developers who utilized this open-source material obligated to provide you such access, to expend the time resources to you and every other user who might ask how they have used the source material to develop a product that they have provided to you at no cost?

The fact that the programmers of the Main Page workout have not deigned to explain their process to you, me, or anyone else is irrelevant because the Main Page is a derivation or product and not the "open source material" itself. Tony has directed you to one location of the "open source material" and I have suggested two other places to look; Tony has been much more gracious than I in that I have made almost no effort to assist your search.

You will shortly have the key to programming your very own Crossfit program should you choose. We anxiously await this creation and the MRO results that ensue.



wrote …

Just trying to cut the tension...who is this woman on the picture? Because honestly, I eat well, I do tons of WODs, I lift heavy...all I want to know is...who is the lady?!?!?!


wrote …

Great article!

:) In an attempt to stay on theme, here is another resource that people could potentially find useful...

Becoming a Critic Of Your Thinking

They also have several other articles freely available...

The Critical Thinking Community - Library/Articles


wrote …

Great article.
I have just finished reading 'fight club'. This debate kind of reminds me of the tail end of the book, when the guys in fight club keep telling the guy who created Fight Club what it is, what to do, etc etc. Its HIS club, for crying out loud!!
We all come here of our own volition. If we don't like it, we can leave. In my little experiment of 3 - 4 months, Crossfit works. Do your own test. Make your own assessment. Are you fitter/stronger/healthier/happier than you were?
Love it or leave it.
HQ, thanks for stimulating my mind as much as my body. Keep up the good work.


wrote …

The source for linux may be free, but the the reasoning behind the creation would still have to be dragged out of the creator. The framework is given, and you are free to use your imagination/skills/hardware/bumpers to improve upon, modify or simply use and enjoy what was freely made available to you.

"So where do I go to see how a mainsite WOD is created? "

Do Linux users believe that Linux is NOT open-source because Linus Torvalds doesn't allow curious parties to invade the workspace where the Kernel was created? There is a large and willing community (including the creator) that helps out with questions such as these...sound familiar?

However, it seems that Godwin's Law has been invoked in this article, so Berger has already lost the argument that never began....


Dale Saran wrote …

My critique of the article was going to be that it was just a restatement of the obvious. It's nothing more than advancing the scientific method and basic rhetoric as the ground rules for reasonable debate... and then I look at the comments (#42 Tom) and I realize that maybe it's not so obvious. Wow.

I really think that rhetoric, which used to be a staple in schools way back in the day (along with Latin, which I didn't have to take, fortunately), should be as required as basic civics. These guttural, emotional criticisms that are focused on attacking individuals rather than any particular data sound like a high school class. Maybe law school irrevocably instilled the idea in me that debate, about anything, should be focused on the issues, and include the idea of falsification of your own conclusions beforehand - i.e. what would it take to convince me that I am wrong? What are my own assumptions and which ones, if falsified or changed to the opposite, would force me to conclude differently what I now believe.

Evidently, for some here, the idea of even engaging in that kind of civil discourse or internal process is so anathema that instead we must simply yell loudly at "the other guy". CF is evil!! Coach is the antichrist!! Seriously. I'm in shock.


wrote …

Veejay, I'm normally a very positive person and I try to build people up. But your an idiot! Do you follow the mainsite wod's or do you just have no friends and nothing to do so you come here to argue the reasoning behind the programming. At our box we try to follow the mainsite wod's but are always having to scale and adjust according to equipment, skill level, etc. Either way, the shit works. And 99% of our clients don't need to know the reasoning behind our programming, they just know that it is unlike anything they have ever done and it gets them stronger, more flexible, more accurate, faster, more poerful etc. The fact that HQ continues to let your comments remain here must mean that they are "open" to at least letting dumb people speak their minds


wrote …

With regards to how a WOD is developed, the video of Coach Glassman telling how he created the Fran workout was very instructive. I suppose he developed the other standard Crossfit workouts by experimentation as well but without any comment from him, that remains speculative.

What counts from my perspective is that his system of constantly varied, functionally movements executed at high intensity works a lot better at producing a more fit me than the time I spent on the treadmill.


Craig Hysell wrote …

Personally, here's what I've measured. I'm 34m, 6', 170#. Since I started participating in the CrossFit Main Site WODs (which are up there for free, every day) 6 months ago, reviewing the free "exercises and demo's" and paid $25 for a one-year subscription to the CF Journal (which I used to spend in 3 minutes on a round of cocktails) I have kept a detailed journal, have never worked out in a CF box or with a CF trainer until this weekend, don't eat Paleo or Zone, and have measured this:

I have lost 10 pounds
My 5k time has dropped 5 minutes to 24:35. I had never run a 5k before starting CF.
I went from being unable to perform more than 15 air squats without stopping to ripping off 50.
I could not back squat 135# to the rx'd CF depth, now I can hit 255#.
My deadlift jumped from 385# to 425#.
I went from 13 deadhang pullups to 31. I still can't kip for shit.
I could not do a rx'd Fran. My best Fran time so far is 6:48.

I could go on, but my observation is simply this: a free main site WOD, free "exercises and demos" and $25 has changed my life. And I've worked out for 20 years playing rugby, lacrosse, surfing and practicing MMA.

From me, personally, thanks. And the breadth of my gratitude is immeasurable. I'm at the CF Level I Cert now in Charlotte. I'm sore, I'm psyched and I'm furthering my knowledge. You had me at Diane...


wrote …

Tony's comment "free as in speech, not beer" is a reference from Eric Raymond's work, not an insult. I think, I understand your contention about open source but I think it's a moot point. The formula is: dilligent application of WOD = improved fitness. This is open source. The WOD is posted for all to see; the results are for you to discover for yourself or view in others who are willing to share. The claim HQ is making to the open source name is a little superfluous just because all public training programs are open source. Closed source training happens in scenarios where individuals seek advantage and follow a secret program to improve their performance usually to win a contest. They emerge from their closed source (secret) program and perform and people wonder, "what's his secret". No program of fitness is closed source to the athlete who is performing it.

I have wondered, and maybe this is the gist of your contention, how do coach and lauren produce the WOD so as to evenly develop the athletes over the long term. How to they try to balance extension with flexion, power with endurance, wear on shoulders with wear on knees etc. etc. What compass do they use so that much like people walking in a desert without a compass or celestial cues may end up walking in circles, we don't end up with muscles improperly balanced, joints over worn or other errors of unbalanced training that could happen if careful attention wasn't paid to it over the long term. I have read some of the programming stuff and learned how to think about a couplet or chipper etc. I have not seen how a long term program is monitored for balance. Perhaps that has been addressed. If it has then I don't have a clue what your reasonable contention could be. To use a Linux analogy, you are asking not "what is linux (CrossFit) and can I alter it for my own purposes," you are asking "how did you think up linux (CrossFit) and show me how you did." Can you see the difference? It is very fundamental.


The woman is Sarah Compton. She's a 2nd year law school student @ UC Davis and I am honored to have her as a friend and a member at my box, CrossFit Davis.

She's smart, funny, affable, helpful -- the type of person that just makes wherever she is a better place.

When it comes to CF -- she's driven and inspirational. Great performer.


wrote …

As Mr. Berger states the first step in evaluating a claim is the definition of terms. As such, I would caution people against using the terms “science” or “scientific”. Stating that data is “measurable, observable, repeatable” alone does not it qualify it as science. Science is the assessment of objective data that has been collected under a validated protocol and has been subjected to statistical rigor. This is the manner in which research is performed whether it is an observational study or a randomized-controlled trial. Observations that do not meet these criteria are simply observations, not science.


wrote …

Hallelujah Thatcher,

Thank you, you have touched and understood the cornerstone of my question.

I'm sorry if in some way I have offended everyone here, but you have been able to see the crux of the question I have been asking.

and for that thank you.

I now hope someone will be able to answer that question with out resorting to name calling, insults and presupposing an opinion that I have not offered here.


wrote …

the workouts are awesome, as is the template (i'm referring to the cfj article about GWM, etc.). let's agree on that! are they "open source"? i don't know, and i don't care to nitpick over the definition. they are FREE TO USE, which is the coolest and most important thing to me and anyone else who has tried them.


serious question here for tony/dale/whomever:

once that template is out there, and affiliates and even non-affiliates start using it to design workouts that are originally theirs, how would crossfit hq relate to those workouts? and to (particularly the non-affiliate) gyms that use them? would it claim that they are the product of crossfit and therefore protected by its name? or would it agree that they are only "generically" crossfit, such that hq could not sue those gyms for using "crossfit" workouts?

i know there is a section of the FAQ on promoting yourself as a crossfit affiliate when you haven't affiliated. but if the template is open source and anyone can adapt it as they see fit for themselves and their clients, then at what point does hq lose its ability to deny someone the right to call their training crossfit? especially if they don't claim to be a crossfit affiliate, only a gym that trains people according to the (open source) crossfit template?

i believe the argument has been made that "brazilian jiu-jutsu" and "pilates" have become generic terms, and that crossfit will eventually go that way as well. isn't it reasonable to assume that there will eventually be a system in which you are either "glassman crossfit," with bona fides from hq, or simply "joe schmoe crossfit," where your gym does fran and annie and filthy fifty, but coach never comes around and there is no level 1 cert...?

if the template is merely one expression of the concept, and the concept is adaptable, how can you defend the crossfit name without coming up with a strict definition of what a crossfit workout is and isn't? and if you can't do that, then how can you stop someone from claiming they do crossfit?


wrote …

Thatcher, very elegant summation. Thank you for that.

Veejay, exactly which of the questions that Thatcher has proposed are you seeking to have answered? Have we not collectively answered the first (how do I use the open source material?) by pointing out the location of the "open source material" and by saying that the answer is now yours and yours alone? Haven't we collectively noted that the originators of "open source material" are under no obligation to share the "how did you think it up and can you tell me how you did it?" question?

You, and by extension anyone asking about the "open source" nature of Crossfit have been exceedingly well answered in this thread. Indeed, Thatcher has offered an answer that is so clear and concise that it is nearly poetry. What, exactly, are you STILL asking?



wrote …

I appreciate your response Tony.

Re: "The main site workouts are one expression of the founders interpretation of these principles. There is not (nor there should be) a more exact formulation."

Why should there not be a more exact formulation?



replied to comment from Justin Smith

For the very simple reason that human performance is more complex than that. An enormous factor that is extremely difficult to quantify, to name but one example, is the mental game and attitude. How can you predict when an athlete (or in this case the community) needs shaking up, or has been shook up so much that a simpler workout is needed?

I could easily list a few dozen factors that a good coach is incorporating into his or her programming. Plus, there are often conflicting priorities, and the how can you value their development with a formula?

A theoretical counter-argument example would be the formulas that Louie Simmons uses for powerlifting. I believe that these work in his domain. But, can we use them for all ten physiological adaptations across broad time and modal domains? I don't think so. Too many factors. In fact, even Louie builds in random elements in his use of supporting exercises.

Does this make sense?


replied to comment from Sam Ser

There's a very simple answer to the main part of your question. The CrossFit name is trademarked, and its use is licensed through our affiliate program. Ethically and legally, if you are using CrossFit training in a commercial manner, you should license the use of the name, CrossFit.

As for the quality of application of the CrossFit principles, we're always going to see a wide variety. Just as there are great Linux programmers and crappy Linux programmers, so there are with CrossFit training. Is that a flaw in the program? Of course not.

There are many reasons why someone wouldn't follow the main site WODs. The first and most obvious is equipment differences. Also, if you have access to a pool, it would be great to incorporate swimming into your workouts. If you have a great hill like in Aromas, of course you'll use it. There was a great biking road right near the original CrossFit Santa Cruz gym. Coach used to set DBs at the top of a steep hill a few miles in. The workout was ride up to the DBs, do 50 thrusters, ride back. For time. Is that a true CrossFit workout? Of course. Will it ever be on the main site? Of course not.


wrote …

Great article.
I am a great believer in CrossFit methodology.
I am also a great believer in having an open mind when it comes to using other methods of training and incorporating them into CrossFit training.
The most difficult thing for me is to keep my emotions and ego out of the equation, especially when I believe so passionately in the training methods and the people delivering them.
Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective.


wrote …

Thanks Tony,



wrote …

A couple of quick replies to Tony:

"Not once has he addressed the relationship between weightlifting and fitness (I believe there is one, but he didn't address it)."
It was not stated, but assumed. This is Crossfit, after all. I could have composed a much lengthier post, but this media favors brevity over verbosity. So please forgive any errors of omission or detail.

"The relevance of others use of a particular method is not made."
I would think that the relevance of the methods used by SMEs would be obvious, but maybe I'm missing something.

"No connection between racking the bar and fitness is made"
Performing a movement poorly is not in the best interests of fitness. This is addressed the Coach's discourse on virtuosity, in my opinion. Again, this is assumed as part of Crossfit beliefs.

"and no alternative methods are presented."
Not so. The orginal statement was "A more efficient progression was once part of the Crossfit cert curriculum".

"He actually doesn't address the assertion made, which is that when someone discovers a better method for improving fitness, we can adopt it."
As above, Crossfit was shown a better method for instructing beginners but subsequently chose use a new, home-grown method for the Level 1 & Level 2 certs. The results of that new method have been substantively less than previous methods and other methods, in my observation.

Lincoln Brigham


wrote …

some of you need to seriously slowly put your hands in your lap and step away from the keyboard.

i didnt even read the article, just started reading the comments (which is what i normally do first these days). Give me a break, seems like crossfit is gettign to the point where all anyone wants to do is argue and pick apart anything anyone has to say or argue any theory anyone has.

pretty disgusting actually.

some of you need to get a grip



replied to comment from Joe England

JOe, that was well put.

I'd like to take it a step further. The LV I certs I've attended advocate paleo, zone and zone paleo as options for an athlete to choose based on the athlete's personality and preferences. The idea that Robb's not doing the cert because he took offense to the Zoneburger story is so far off the point it's not worth discussion any longer.

This article is awesome and I hope it serves to point out the difference between expert opinion and science - the two are related because sometimes expert opinion results in a tested hypothesis that yeild MOR data. Otherwise, expert opinion is as likely to be flawed as not.

Who Coach and Lauren choose to hire or partner with is an entirely different issue. Whether you choose to spend money in a Dr. Sears cert is an entirely different issue also. Confusing a discussion about how to think about what we know or don't know, with CFHQ's choices about how to run their business displays a staggering amount of ignorance. Friggin' get over it.


replied to comment from Lincoln Brigham

Lincoln, So your opinion is that you and a bunch of genius friends know more than CFHQ about how to teach the olympic lifts, and you post that on an article that is attempting to address the basic issue of how we know what we know? (or perhaps, how to think about and use opinion versus the scientific method in trying to identify superior training methods)

I don't think you have any idea what the topic of the article is, and have not demonstrated that you have the intelligence to understand how important that topic is.

As for your opinions about the quality of the cert training, I'd like to point out that before CF, no one was teaching these movements to any large numbers of people. How good does a thing have to be to be better than nothing? If you have the perfect method for teaching oly lifts to groups, and sit in your garage typing emails about it but do nothing else, what good are you? Get out there and sell the world on your technique, get it on film, and document and display the results. The world needs your help so we can learn a better way than the "crappy CFHQ" technique which is so lacking in input from the SMEs you hold in such high esteem.

If by chance the point of your seemingly pointless post was to say "CFHQ should never stop trying to evaluate and improve the quality of their training", that's a great point, one they have long been on to. Perhaps they'll discover how brilliant you are and come to get your help.


replied to comment from Christopher Abraham

Thank you Christopher, for that further articulation of the topic. Concise, well read and very important.

Thinking about how we know what we know, how to process now information, how to make sense of competing claims in a field that is, to say the least, characterized by immature science, is important.

Much of what we want to know has not yet been subjected to scientific rigor. thus, the cacophany of opinions.

I think of the definitions of CF, their definitions of fitness, and their establishment of an arena in which to allow competition. What would disprove their conjecture/hypothesis?

One - if athletes began to dominate the Games based on non-randomized programming, or if they trained primarily non-functional movements, or if their training was primarily one specilized modality (eg every training day was a fartlek run).

Another example might be if a competition was held by an entity which desired to make their employees 'fit.' Let's assume the entity chose the CF definition of fitness. They allow CF to train a sample of employees for some period, but upon examination of the results, a combination of yoga, pilates and Nautilus training produced more 'fit' athletes.

A third - someone uses randomized, functional movements but with an emphasis on 'strict form', thus significantly reduced intensity, but the athletes became more 'fit' - and/or, showed less fitness but dramatically better injury data (IOW, better met the host entity's desired cost/benefit curve for performance over injury rates).

Is if fair to say these three cases would show the CF Rx to be inferior? If so, how long do think it would take CF to improve its Rx.

Russell - thanks for writing this. I wanted to write it, and I'm glad it's out there.


replied to comment from Paul Eich

Paul, I'd appreciate it it you didn't use use hyperbole and then quote it as if I said it. Thank you.

I'd like to direct you to this video, done before you found Crossfit.
This was after about 30-45 minutes of instruction. This trainee had no previous instruction on front squats, deadlifts, or squat cleans. This was his first visit to a Crossfit-equipped gym. While he still has problems in his setup and the extension during the second pull, he is racking the bar correctly, he's not pulling early with his arms, he's doing a true squat clean, and he's using weight. This is more progress than I typically see from the current crop of Level I graduates I have encountered. His results are fairly typical with the people I have worked with.

If you ever have the chance to get out to one of my workshops I'd be happy to show the techniques I use with beginners. They more closely resemble the techniques used at the Crossfit Oly lifting cert or Tony Budding's video "Chastity Works the Clean" (except I won't ever use PVC to instruct the clean) than the current Level 1 & 2 certs. Then you can decide for yourself which methods are more efficient.

Lincoln Brigham


replied to comment from Tony Budding

firstly, to be clear, i am not using the crossfit name at all. and i'm not encouraging anyone to misrepresent themselves, or to misrepresent crossfit, either.
but this is in large part a discussion about precision. and what you are saying is that the definition is not precise -- in fact, can not be precise -- so i ask, again, whether you really ca protect more than the copyrighted name of CrossFit. just as xerox and kleenex are copyrighted names, and no one can sell their products as xerox and kleenex yet people are free to speak generically of xeroxing documents and sneezing into a kleenex, it seems to me that it would be very difficult for hq to prevent someone from saying they do "crossfit-based" or "crossfit-style" (intentionally non-capital letters there) workouts.
if there is a more precise formula than "constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity," with the goal of "increased capacity across broad time and modal domains," then it has not been put forth.
and if there isn't a more precise formula than that, how can hq claim protection for its admittedly vague concept?
i don't think you've addressed that point.
that's all.


wrote …

to explain my point further:

louie simmons uses a very specific prescription (microcycles, percentages of 1RM, specific exercises, dynamic effort days and max effort days, etc.) because he has found them to be most conducive to increasing limit strength for specific events. yes, he improvises some, too, but his program is quite recognizable.
crossfit, on the other hand, says its goal is to prepare people for "the unknown and the unknowable." to do this, its programming is "constantly varied," and people are also encouraged to add random tasks to their training. meaning, their formula itself is somewhat "unknown and unknowable" as well.

so, while measurement and precision are highly valued, it is impossible to say that any day's WOD is the best prescription for increasing a given person's fitness to the utmost, or even that the program in its entirety is ideal at increasing one's fitness to the utmost.

the experiment with the canadian armed forces was fantastic -- but how do we know that different WODs than those chosen for that experiment wouldn't be better for that particular setting? or even that a different program entirely wouldn't be better? there's no empirical evidence, is there?

we don't know exactly whether the mainpage WOD is "best," or CFSB is best, of CF football, or performance menu, or something else altogether. people choose what they think is best for them, don't they? (it's a lot like choosing a martial arts school, isn't it?)

so, on that point: while one can't claim to be a CFFB affiliate if they're not, couldn't "joe's gym" legally advertise the fact that they do CFFB WODs? couldn't joe's gym legally advertise that they do the mainpage WODs? or the PM WODs? or that they have all new clients do the starting strength program?

it can't be that what is protected by the trademark of the crossfit name is the mainpage WOD, as that is made available for free. in any case, affiliation entails no obligation to even follow the mainpage programming.

so, what exactly is the product or service being protected by the trademark?

...obviously, for us, that's not an important issue. what matters is that WODs work, that IWCABTMD is a great definition of and goal for fitness, and that experimentation helps lead to that. but the question is still interesting, no?


wrote …

Sam, I believe you are confusing the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) with protection of a Brand Name (BN). "Kleenex" became synonymous with "tissue", and the company owning the Kleenex brand lost trademark status for the word "Kleenex" because they did not adequately protect the BN. As far as I know that company did not patent either the use of or the production of thin paper to be used to blow one's nose. Had they done so they would have had the additional task of proving original thought, and having done that could have chosen to litigate against theft of their IP.

Crossfit is both a fitness program which embodies certain elements of IP (constantly varied functional movements performed at (moderately) high intensity), IWCABTMD, etc.) that have NOT been patented (as far as I know), and a BRAND. What is trademarked is the BN. Crossfit, Inc. owns the rights to ALL usage of the term "crossfit" as it relates to fitness, exercise, health, etc. One may not use the term "crossfit" or attempt to benefit from the value of the BN "Crossfit" without the permission of the owners of that term. One may certainly teach and train clients using a program that involves cvfmp@(M)hi in the pursuit of IWCABTMD, but one may not refer to that program as "crossfit" or "crossfit-like" without permission.

As far as I know neither the Glassmans nor Crossfit, Inc. have made any efforts to prevent the usage of what they consider Crossfit IP (named WOD's, Main Page workouts, cvfmp@(m)hi, etc.) by non-CF affiliated trainers; they have, on occasion, made significant efforts to thwart attempts by others to claim the Crossfit IP as belonging to others, or as having been discovered or developed by others. They have defended the PROVENANCE of the Crossfit IP only.

What is protected is the name, brand "Crossfit" and its use, in much the same way that I have trademarked and protected "Skyvision" and various logos and tag lines in the business areas of health, healthcare, medicine, and retail. We, too, have unique IP in our business as it relates to eyecare (mostly business processes that are unique to medicine) that we have neither patented nor made any effort to protect. Rest assured that we will go the the mat with anyone who uses the term "Skyvision" or "Skyvision-like" in any commercial sense in any of the areas in which we own the trademark.



replied to comment from Darrell White

thanks, bingo, that was a really clear explanation.

it seems to me that what crossfit will end up protecting (if it ever becomes necessary to do so) is "who we are" rather than "what we do". i'm not sure that even that will be fully protectable, either (like pilates), but i could be wrong.

again, that's not of much concern to athletes, but it's still interesting.


Excepting nominative use.


wrote …

Way above my pay grade, Ron! LOL



wrote …

I think the proof of Crossfit is in the results. The discussion presented in this article is in terms of specifics that create the best athlete (more lifting, diet, etc). To me the most important thing is not if I can press 225 lbs. over my head at 34 years old (now) but that I can still press 155 at age 60. I look at these "experts" in their specific field and it seems every one is not nearly capable of athletic competition (or even dong a WOD correctly)? They are broken down by years of creating above average skills in a small specific area and neglecting other training. Yet, on the other hand 60+ year old cross-fitters are still going strong over all broad time and modal domains. I know Crossfit hasn't been around that long but chances are they were doing similar training for most of their life.

Seems to me this whole discussion is bogus... if you want to be a power lifter and specialize in that then don't do Crossfit. If you prescribe fully to to Crossfit methods then don't complain about your max press... focus on your other weaknesses until you have none. It's all very simple in my head :)


wrote …

Lincoln, hyperbole, yes, quoting, no, it was paraphrase. Perhaps a bit of mockery and for that I apologize.

This is not mockery – I’ve no doubt I could learn from your teaching technique. I know I will feel quite satisfied when I can coach a client as well as you coached the gent in the video. I’m nearly 100% self taught in oly lifts. I’ve reserved a spot to attend Coach B’s cert and stand ready to learn quite a lot.

Having re-read your post looking for the relevance I may have missed, I find that you chose to critique a CFHQ training progression choice which is in no way subject to your judgment and not related to the topic of the article. I can see no point to the critique except self aggrandizement. You appeal to a theoretical authority ("SMEs"), implying that complying with SMEs in general is related to fitness or better training, when many of that crowd of SMEs would simply say ‘do not oly lift in high reps.’ It seems that you assume that the nine foundational movements of the certs are intended to serve as a progression to the olympic lifts, but at the cert they do not state that is the purpose. In that sense, yours is a straw man argument. Perhaps CFHQ agrees with you that using unweighted PVC is not a great way to teach the oly lifts and since that is the only pragmatic way to teach 60+ folks at mobile sites, they choose not to. Then again, Coach B, a known SME, uses PVC - so perhaps yours is nothing more than one opinion of many for which you've proposed no objective means of evaluation (one tape of very competently instructed lifter does not meet any criteria for objective evaluation of your critique. Could you do it for a group of ten, could you teach others to do it for a group of ten, and, sorry for the repeat, is it really the goal of the Lv I cert to teach folks oly lifts?).
Most significantly, your entire bit is addressed to a quote about fitness. While I assume like you do that oly lifts are a wonderful means to improve elements of fitness such as strength, speed, power, agility, accuracy and stamina – there’s no quantified data I know which shows them to be markedly superior to every other modality. You have not – I doubt it can be done – quantified the marginal difference in fitness gained between those who do oly lifting to your standards of excellence and those who simply do it “CF Lv I average.” Nor how to judge who is meeting which standard. There’s plenty of subjective data supporting oly lifting’s virtues, and it’s not a point I would argue, but your post does not address the fundamental message of the quote you straw manned. If your teaching method (trading in SDHPs/MBCs for a purportedly superior means to teach oly lifts to groups of Lv Cert Candidates) produces more fitness, how do you measure it, and how would others measure it were they to duplicate what you do? IOW – if you cannot quantify the superior results your athletes achieve and invite others to duplicate the accomplishment there’s no basis to suggest that CFHQ should change what they are doing. Seems to me like these are the low hanging fruit necessary for a constructive critical review and subsequent recommendations for improvement or further investigation.

As to SDHP and MBC, they are perhaps valued by others for their own virtues in creating fitness and I doubt you could produce more than an opinion that their approach is inferior to yours. A few more SDHPs or a few less MBCs, if you’re doing CVFMHI you’ll get fitter, faster, is I think the point and I don’t see how we’ll create a lot of extra value for anyone by squabbling over the relative merits of this functional movement or that one. If all the Games winners eschew MBCs, then we’d have to give that some damned careful consideration.

As best I can tell, your post is a poster boy for what Russell’s article points out as what not to do. I can’t help but wonder what you were trying to accomplish and why you felt you should post. If you really want to improve the cert, it is difficult for me to believe you think this is an effective approach. I will not be unhappy if you prove me wrong. Paul


replied to comment from Paul Eich

Thank you for your thoughts.

Some facts:
1. Burgener does not use PVC pipes to teach the clean. Only the snatch. The snatch is not taught anymore at the L1 and L2 certs, I believe.

2. Seven of the Nine Foundational Movements are straight from standard O-lifting curricula.

3. A quote from an L1/L2 trainer:
"These [nine movements] are progressions. They move, we're going to build off of each one. They build from pretty simple to complex and powerful movements. Each of the mechanics we learn is going to progress from the simple into the more complex movement... If we can build solid mechanics in these foundational movements here today, we can easily teach you other movements... That's what we build the rest of everything off of."

4. The barbell SDHP is not the most efficient way to move a heavy barbell from the floor to shoulder height. Perhaps the SDHP might be efficient for objects of a different shape, such as stone loading, but not the barbell. The narrower stance clean is more efficient.

From items 2 & 3 I conclude that yes, the Foundational movements are a progression to learn the Olympic-style lifts.

I measure efficacy by the time it takes a client to get to a certain level of competence. Time is quantifiable. Time is money --- $1,000 a weekend. It takes longer with the progression used in the Level I & 2 certs. It takes longer to teach the clean when taught with an unweighted PVC pipe than it does with a $5 hunk of rebar inside that same PVC pipe. It takes longer to learn functional movement from an inefficient movement like the barbell SDHP than it does to learn from a more natural movement.

I've actually sat and watched the Journal videos and marked the wasted time. Watch the vids and cut to the part where they start using some weight. That is where the trainee starts to get it. I've watched the Level I certs where the trainees have the PVC pipe buried in their jawbone, no corrections being made, and I count that time as wasted time.

Watch Tony's video "Chastity Works the Clean". Watch her struggle to rack the PVC pipe onto the shoulders. Watch him spend time trying to correct this. Watch her fail anyways. Unnecessary, because the instant she has a little weight in her hands it's a non-issue. She can already rack the barbell correctly. That happens at 6:40.

Watch the Boz and Todd experience where Boz teaches a West Point cadet. Big strong kid with a PVC pipe? Barbell sitting on the ground unused. The kid has no chance of a racking the PVC pipe correctly; few can. But he can rack a barbell. We see that at 9:40. He was struggling unnecessarily. 9:40 wasted.

These certs are $1,000 a person and the clock is ticking the whole weekend. I think it's very quantifiable. By the end of the weekend the majority of the trainees should know where the bar goes on the shoulders. And yes I see quantifiable fitness differences -- I'm seeing Level I graduates lift far less weight in the squat clean, the push press and the jerk than graduates of other certs and workshops that teach the same lifts. And not just my workshops.

A perceived paucity of quantifiable data should have no bearing on deciding whether or not that data is important. "Oh, that data is not easy to get so it must not be important?" That doesn't fly. Watch an L1 cert and count the number of barbells that never touch the shoulders. Come to a weightlifting comp and compare results of the beginning weightlifters to L1 Crossfitters with equivalent O-lift training. Watch a Fight Gone Bad event and count how many Sumo Deadlift High Pulls are done with the very techniques that O-lifting coaches tear their hair out to avoid.

What I'm trying to do is protect myself from legions of trainers being churned out in the name of Crossfit who'll say they've been taught the O-lifts but do clean and jerks like your average freshman high-school football player. Or like a sumo deadlift high pull.

Lincoln Brigham


replied to comment from Lincoln Brigham

Since this article is actually about evaluating the quality of claims and arguments, we can use your latest post to show, as Paul said, that you are doing exactly what the article talks about as low quality argumentation.

Once again, you have yet to establish the relationship between the improvements you suggest in teaching the Oly lifts and fitness, the original claim you made. Fitness as we define it is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. We see great gains in both the fitness of those who practice CrossFit as taught in the L1 certs and in those trainers' ability to improve the fitness of their clients. In fact, this is why we continue to sell out seminar after seminar.

You have not been to a L1 seminar in over 2 years, and you say that we waste people's time and money by using PVC. I disagree with this. It may be true that it is very difficult to rack PVC properly. Yet we continue to train with it. Why? Because, the barbell can mask improper movement in a way that the PVC can't. We have found that forcing the athlete to develop proper movement with no load fixes bad habits that would otherwise limit their full potential. PVC is not the end goal. It is a tool for training that we have used with great results.

You say that you can teach the clean in less time. Maybe, maybe not. That has not been established, and certainly not with groups. But, even if it were true, you have not addressed several key components. In fact, your argument seems to change with each post. Is it that we're wasting people's money by ineffective teaching of the clean at the L1s? Or is that you need to protect yourself from these trainers?

Let's look at this last point of yours. You are protecting yourself? From what? Your email is coach@crossfitsedona.com. I just went to your website, and it doesn't appear that you have much going on. Your site is no longer linked from the affiliate blog. Is CrossFit Sedona still in business as your email suggests? So, again, you have made an extremely weak argument. You attack a very successful seminar (both in terms of results and business) under the pretense of protecting yourself. But you don't establish what it is that needs protecting, nor how these legions of trainers might harm you.

But let's assume your last paragraph was simply a lazy, emotional rant. Your previous paragraph points out lots of technical flaws performed by participants of the L1 seminars. Are these technical flaws inhibiting their fitness? You don't say. You imply that better technique results in better fitness, but that isn't established. You pointed to Coach Glassman's article on virtuosity, but what about all the talks about technique vs intensity that he gives?

You see, the quest for fitness is quite complex. Every time you do a single exercise, you are not doing every other exercise. If you force perfection of technique upon all athletes, what does that do to their intensity? Technique certainly shouldn't be disregarded, but pointing out flaws in technique at maximum intensity is not such a problem as you describe. In fact, it might be necessary for optimizing fitness.

Plus, since the stated goal is a broad capacity, we need to leverage our training for maximum adaptation. The clean, snatch, and jerk are fantastic drills, but hardly the end all of fitness. If that were the case, Casey Burgener would be fitter than Mikko Salo. He is not.

The unladen air squat is the most important movement in CrossFit. The PVC front squat is very much like the air squat except it's harder and exposes weaknesses that may have been hidden without the PVC racked on the shoulders. This is even more true with the PVC Overhead squat. These movements do in fact stack on each other and support each other. Benefiting one benefits the others, and they all contribute directly to improved fitness.

The purpose of the L1 certs is to give participants a direct experience with the most important movements, theories and practices of CrossFit. It does a fantastic job of this in just two days. These movements, theories and practices prudently applied have improved the fitness levels of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. You are claiming better methods without evidence of better results in terms of fitness. This is a very weak claim indeed.

Again, the purpose of my comment is to evaluate the strength of Lincoln's argument in the spirit of the article, not to defend specific practices. It is quite likely that the methods used at the L1 seminars will evolve over time. But the impetus for that change will require better argumentation and stronger evidence.


wrote …

1. I disagree with the idea that using the Zone is measurable, and paleo is unmeasurable. Paleo is measurable by the absence of certain ingredients. So to take an egregious example, the Zone diet (for a hypothetical 20-block eater) would allow 180 grams/day of carbs from bread, donuts, spaghetti and liquor, while a 100% paleo diet would allow none of that. It's measurable, but it's binary. Are you eating X, or not eating X?

2. Lincoln says: "The snatch is not taught anymore at the L1 and L2 certs, I believe."

Is this true?

3. Finally: "Furthermore, we openly invite discussion and debate."

Can someone let the discussion board moderators know about that, please? If this discussion had been posted on the board, it would have been locked by now.


wrote …

I attended the L1 cert at Ft. Meade in November, 2009. The PVC snatch was taught.


wrote …

Just some "facts" as I know them:

I've been to a bunch of L1 Certs in the past year and watched the snatch being taught.

I've been to Coach B's Oly Cert and he taught us to clean with PVC pipe, then moved us onto bars. Another fact -- I've been to another Oly Seminar in the community (twice) and they used unweighted PVC pipe too, then moved us to bars.

CrossFit Sedona is "inactive" in the Affiliate Program, at Lincoln's request, for some time now. He's welcome to come back anytime though!



As Barry Sears himself has said, strictly following the Zone diet means following it with quality foods. A measurement that only tells you whether or not you consumed "quality" foods is still a measurement,but it's lacking in precision. For one, the term "quality" is fairly subjective, and the data from a binary measurement is about as helpful as describing the details of a car accident with "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down". This approach is obviously better than what the average person does with their food, but it's not ideal if you want to accurately track your diet and adjust it with precision.

As for the moderation of message boards, why is this forum not sufficient for you to openly discuss and debate CrossFit-related subjects?


wrote …

Jason and Lis -- Thanks for the answer on the snatch being taught in certs.

Russell -- Fair enough point on measurement. I guess I took some to be saying that adherence to a paleo diet can't be measured, and we are in agreement that it can be.

This forum isn't a substitute for the message board because it's limited to topics that the editors have decided to publish an article about.

I do find it striking that discussions here (including the one we're having right now) can touch on highly controversial subjects within the community, while remaining civil and productive. Apparently individual obnoxious posts are sometimes deleted, which I think is in keeping with the idea of individual accountability that most of us believe in.

By comparison, message board threads that veer into the same subjects get shut down entirely.


I think that Lincoln Brigham's post (as well as many others) shows that these discussions are in no way limited to the topic of the article they are attached to. I also think the Journal does an excellent job of addressing the important controversies that arise, to the extent that they probably give a better forum for us to have these discussions than the message boards.


wrote …

Well, yeah, anyone can ask or talk about anything in an article comments thread, but it won't have a title that would clue anyone in to read it for the question or information the person offers, and it won't be searchable.

My point is that the article threads set an example of how to handle and moderate controversial discussions, which the moderators of the discussion board would do well to follow.

BTW, a random tech question here: When I posted my previous comment it was #76. 7-8 hours later, it's #77. Huh?


replied to comment from Tony Budding


Thanks for your response earlier.

However, I think you really haven't answered the question of what exactly is protected by the CrossFit name.

Surely you don't mean that no one can advertise the fact that their gym is doing Fran the next day? (The WODs, as already stated, are "open source," given away for free and not claimed to be the unique product of a specific, proprietary formula.) Surely you don't mean that no one can advertise the fact that they use constantly varied functional movements at (relatively) high intensity? Surely you don't mean that no one can advertise the fact that they work toward increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains? Surely you don't mean that only CorssFit affiliates can mix gymnastics, Olympic lifting, calisthenics and various endurance elements together for their training?

Do you mean that no one can advertise the fact that they train according to the model developed by and propagated by CrossFit, without saying (untruthfully) that they are a CrossFit affiliate? If so, I don't see how.

I understand that no one can just have a McDonald's sign made up and put it up outside their door, have McDonald's menus made up and hang them above their counter, and tell customers that they are a McDonald's franchise. But surely, Joe's Fast Food Shack can put up its own sign (with different colors and logo design) and its own menus (with different colors and names for food items), and tell customers that they serve up burgers, fries and shakes "the way McDonald's showed the industry how to do it."

Isn't the issue an attempt to mislead? And isn't what you (HQ) are saying that the way to mislead consumers regarding CrossFit is to make them think you are an affiliate, if you're not? That is, the issue isn't misleading someone into thinking that you're doing CrossFit TRAINING -- you encourage everyone to do it, even if they're by themselves, and even to charge people for this training as preparation for affiliating, and to do this even if the training and the coaching are not absolutely perfect (because "the cream will rise to the top") -- rather it is misleading consumers into thinking that you're a CrossFit AFFILIATE.

Ultimately, that is the product that CrossFit sells, right? Affiliation? So, as long as no one misleads others into thinking that they are an affiliate, there can be no infringement merely by referencing the CrossFit name and training methods... right?

I'm not talking about having t-shirts made up that have "Joe's Gym" in small letters over "We do CrossFit!" in huge letters. I'm talking about having a spot on Joe's web site, in the "About" section, for instance, that says the stuff I wrote above about CVFMHI and IWCABTMD and credits CrossFit (with links to the mainpage), along with whomever else influenced Joe, for its role in the training model at Joe's Gym.

* Just so you know, by the way, this is NOT one of those "You're not REALLY open source!" or "I don't like the way you teach the snatch!" comments! That doesn't interest me, frankly. But I do find this issue interesting, especially as it cuts across the contentious issue of what CrossFit is and isn't, and since there is a push to be exact in defining terms.

Thanks in advance for your response!


replied to comment from Sam Ser

I'm not a lawyer and don't want to be. You might be asking about things that are subtler than I can speak about. I do care about this topic broadly, though.

Ethically, if you learned what you're doing from CrossFit, you should give us credit. Before CrossFit, no one was building workouts the way we do. For example, if you're combining gymnastics and weightlifting in the same timed workout, the chances are pretty good that you learned it from us (directly or indirectly).

No one defined fitness in a measurable way before CrossFit. If you're talking about increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains, or if you're discussing the average power generated across an entire workout, you most likely learned that from us.

IP (intellectual property) law in the most broad terms is about giving credit where credit is due. I'm proud of our affiliate program and business structure overall. We have an inclusive community (within reason, of course) and at the same time, take defense of our IP seriously. Most instances of crossing the boundaries are innocent, and resolve easily with a gentle reminder from our legal team. When the defiance is intentional, we bring in our top guns.

Our approach to business is quite transparent. We give away a lot of free content and the rest of our products and services are fairly priced. CrossFit licenses its name via a structured affiliate program. There is a revenue stream associated with that. We also have training seminars that have a revenue stream. This Journal has a revenue stream. Our store sells t-shirts and other merchandise. And the Games have a revenue stream. (And for those of you who don't run businesses, there are many expenses associated with each of these revenue streams - revenue is not profit.)

If you're asking about where the boundaries are of what we can enforce and what we can't, I'll direct you to our lawyers. Broadly, though, use common sense, and just don't steal. There are a lot of great trainers making a good living or better using CrossFit methodologies legally and happily within the bounds of this great community.



I hesitate to answer given our somewhat contentious message board exchange, but I harbor no ill will (though I thought you impugned the integrity of Coach and everyone else with some of your comments.) But that's in the past and we all have said (and written) things in retrospect that we might have said differently or were ill-considered.

As to your question about what the exact outlines are of CF's trademark and IP, seriously, you're asking for a law school education on an internet message board. Darrell has said it about as well as it can be up above (while forgetting "fair use" as Ron pointed out.) You are asking about the gray area between fair use and trademark violation. The best I can tell you is to read the Lanham Act (15 USC §1051 et seq). Closely. Repeatedly. Then some case law - a lot of case law - about where the ground lies between a trademark violation and fair use. I'm not being facetious here - people have spent entire careers studying and publishing on trademark alone - but one point to be kept in mind is that trademark law is not about "rights" per se - of ownership. Trademark laws have their origins in consumer protection. Trademark owners have two obligations: 1- defending the mark and 2- ensuring the consistency of quality of the goods or services being offered to the consuming public.

From these propositions above flow a whole ton of legal consequences and responsibilities. And there's the issue of which class a mark is in (there are other "CrossFits" for those curious enough to look it up, they just don't have anything to do with fitness.)

So, there's a starter for you. If you really want to talk about it at length, then call me. Send me an email and I'll give you my number.



wrote …

Nice one Dale. Way to take a dig at Sam for simply asking a question and having the temerity to defend it. If you didn't harbour ill will towards him you would not have brought up the forum comments where Sam essentially owned you. You could simply have started your comment from paragraph two and skipped the statement in paragraph one.


replied to comment from Dale Saran

Thanks for the reference. I'll look up the Lanham Act.

This is a curiosity issue, not a building a case issue.


replied to comment from Tony Budding


I hate to break it to you, but CrossFit is not the first fitness program to structure workouts the way it does. Long before CrossFit was around people combined gymnastics with resistance exercises, running and resistance exercises, or any other combination in the same workout. They called it supersetting, circuit training, strength and endurance runs, quarterdecking, or combat conditioning etc.

How exactly do you measure fitness because increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains doesn't cut it? Isn't increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains the same goal of all fitness programs? The only difference is the wording. Other programs describe IWCABTMD in terms of getting stronger, faster, leaner, or gaining more endurance etc. Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains is not a new or exclusive concept. It is just worded differently than older ones.

My point is CrossFit is taking credit for something they have no right to take credit for. CrossFit is not the first program to utilize cross-training in its methods or measure its results in IWCABTD. I think CrossFit would be better off setting the standards of the CrossFit community and name than arguing that it was the first to program. Seriously, which would you rather be the best or the first because CrossFit is not the first?


replied to comment from Patrick Lewis

Patrick - you raise an interesting point. I think I know how I would answer it. Interested to see if HQ does and how.


Dale Saran wrote …

Veejay - I know tone and intonation and other non-verbal cues are lost on the internet, but my post was entirely sincere. Hell, I even offered the guy to send me an email and I'd give him my phone number. I'm not sure how much more civil I could be.

However, some people get entirely emotional over the internet (you might want to re-read your post again) and since the only exchange Sam and I had ended with a bit of an angry burst by Sam (and a closing of the thread for lack of civility by the mods) - I just thought I would offer a gentle re-introduction.

It wasn't a jab, it was more of a peace offering. But do with it what you will. It appears you've been here for what, a few months? I've managed to stay part of this community for over four years, largely because I do my best to respect other people, even in disagreement. At times, I've lost my cool. On a few occasions, I've publicly apologized if I thought I was wrong. I make my living arguing with people, sometimes where the stakes include life-imprisonment, so I don't really take this stuff too personally.

You might want to take that under advisement.


Dale Saran wrote …

Patrick - I'm not speaking for HQ here, nor am I challenging you. Sincerely: what other programs were there "before" that were like CrossFit? You've made a (generic) claim (that I've heard before) and, although I'm hardly "old" - at 40 - I've spent my entire life playing sports and working out and I just don't ever recall seeing anything like this. I've done fartlek runs in the Marine Corps (somewhat similar, but it was really more about cardio/endurance improvement), I've done "circuit training" on Nautilus equipment (I remember that was a big fad in the 80's - even my dad did it at his "health club"). Supersetting, as I remember it, had nothing to do with IWCABTAMD - that was a bodybuilding/Weider thing that could exported to gyms in the 80's. Heck, I can remember having a cement filled set of weights when I was in high school and I remember the football players (myself included) doing some heavy lifts.

But I can't remember anyone putting together a program like CF, defining what they meant by "fitness", providing a scientific charter and rubric under which to evaluate claims of improvement, etc. You seem to be saying "people said a lot of generic crap back in the day about 'being fit' and all you've done is 'dress it up'." Which is distinctly not the case (IMO). Fitness fads have always made claims about making you "fitter" without ever defining what that meant - although it usually involved a picture of a guy with big arms and a six-pack.

What makes CF different is that claims can be evaluated against defined terms. Data is necessary and needs to be "measurable, observable, repeatable". This is a significant advancement, to my mind, and I don't ever recall anything similar in my 30+ years of playing sports and working out.

Now, that's not to say that good coaches in particular sports didn't use what they learned to make better athletes in a particular sport - they did. But they decidedly didn't care about finding an intellectual framework for what they did. They just coached, called it whatever they wanted, and damn few of them did anything beyond what was useful for their particular sport.

Off-season programs and GPP are relatively recent "innovations". Even into the 70's, some professional athletes had second jobs in the off-season (NHL, NFL that I'm aware of.)

So, I'm curious as to what you're referring. But that all aside, I think you make a decent point - it's not about being first, but being best - but I don't think Coach has ever said he invented the pullup, the pushup, the clean or the snatch. In fact, he once posted a link to an old Navy manual for pilots that had all of these different physical requirements (many of them gymnastic for developing kinesthetic awareness for pilots). Certainly, though, how he's blended this training and the intellectual rigor he's put into it, is, in my opinion, the first program like this anywhere, particularly in the field of GPP. I'd welcome some cites or links to other stuff that as similar from back in the day.


replied to comment from Dale Saran


Before this gets into a debate over whose dick is bigger, I am going to end it. I have my views on things and others have theirs so, let's leave it at that. I know when I am arguing against an emotional viewpoint, and it is a no-win situation. CrossFit has done well to establish a community based on fitness, but it ends there. I think community standards should be the focus of CrossFit instead of the petty squabbling over who did what first, what squat style is better, Paleo vs. Zone diet debate, or who deserves credit for programming.


replied to comment from Patrick Lewis

The funny thing is that there is never a need to debate whose dick is bigger. All you need to do is get out a ruler. You have your view of things. Great. But you brought yourself to this discussion. You made several claims (along with a few insults), but no specific evidence to back up your claim.

You say CrossFit wasn't first, but don't give any examples of folks doing exactly what we're doing before. You accuse Dale of being emotional, but you are the emotional one. Dale said he looked for evidence to back up your claim and didn't find it. It's now up to you to provide some real facts to support your points.

Instead, you backed down saying you can't win against emotion. The funny thing is that you could "win" this argument quite easily with a single concrete example of someone doing workouts combining weightlifting and gymnastics in short, timed schemes designed to maximize intensity (work/time or average power). No emotion needed.


replied to comment from Patrick Lewis

Indeed, my first impression of Dale's last post is how DISpassionate it was. As it refers to Russel's article it simply seemed that Dale is asking for something concrete to evaluate, a way to substantiate your contention, Patrick. You have made assertions or claims without anything, anything other than your statement, to support them. Dale, IMO, is asking for something to evaluate that might change his mind. Borrowing from the Rest Day article he seems, in this case, to be demonstrating "Charity", the assumption that you COULD be right.

It's really a rather interesting conversation, if for no other reason than it allows us to evaluate RUSSELL'S thesis about discussion and by extension the Rest Day article's rules. It's rather unfortunate that you have chosen to "take your ball and go home" rather than see if you can continue to discuss this issue within the confines established by Russell.



wrote …


I'm sorry I misinterpreted your intention. It seems Sam himself took it the way you intended therefore I am indeed in the wrong on that one.


wrote …


"... The funny thing is that you could "win" this argument quite easily with a single concrete example of someone doing workouts combining weightlifting and gymnastics in short, timed schemes designed to maximize intensity (work/time or average power)."

How about circuit training, interval training, and cross training, both around long before CrossFit?



replied to comment from Justin Smith

If you think any of those are CrossFit, you haven't been paying very close attention. Yes, circuit training, interval training, and cross training were all around long before CrossFit. But none of them combined workouts in the same manner (constantly varied functional movements at high intensity) with the same goal (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains).

The growth and history of CrossFit is fully documented via the website archives. You can see how our understandings have been refined and how the capacities of our best athletes have developed immensely. Look at how the arguments were crafted in the early days. The theoretical underpinnings of CrossFit (described above) were radical departures even just 7-8 years ago.

Curves is circuit training, not CrossFit.


Tobias Neal wrote …


It seems the more that CrossFit expands into what is CrossFit and that definition expands to well everything...it is so broad that it is all and nothing that it loses its IP. CrossFit is not new and incorporates well many principles that existed in the 70's and as Pilates recently found out as well as Spinning is that very soon CrossFit may lose its protection.

I apologize if I don't have the references available but just bring up Pilates case in Google.

CrossFit has grown but it is not new, it was not invented or created and simply a collection of many different "modalities", I would post some if they would see the light of day on the forum.


Tobias Neal wrote …

Tony you can pretend a duck is not a duck and change the semantics but its still a duck.


wrote …

Thanks Tony. That is why I asked the question. I can also find lots of pictures of old time gyms that have weights, rings, ladders, running tracks, all in the same gym, and also books, one example is John Jesse's Wrestling Conditional Physical Encyclopedia (http://www.superstrengthbooks.com/john_jesse.html), but perhaps they combined their workouts differently or timed them differently to make them distinct from CrossFit.

Additionally, would


count as a definition of fitness that came before CrossFit's?

"Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety, meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength levels to stimulate a growth mechanism within minimum time."

Any comments are appreciated, and thanks for your time,



replied to comment from Justin Smith

It is a definition of exercise, but it is not one of fitness that lends itself to measurement and comparison. Work capacity across broad time and modal domains is very different in that we can measure and compare.

With all due respect (which isn't much in your case), you have proven that you don't understand CrossFit. And this, I suspect, is the cause of your repeated inability to find success with your training.

Identifying principles that dramatically improve a community's ability to achieve results is not just finding a different name for a duck. The world is getting fitter. The top CrossFit athletes are the fittest the world has ever seen. We can and do measure that every day. What is the cause of this?

The cause is that we have identified a measurable goal with an effective prescription for achieving it. This combination is of immense value. In fact, is the primary way progress is made in any field. I'm sorry for you that you find so little value in it.


wrote …

OK thanks Tony,



Tobias Neal wrote …

Tony thank you for your insulting comment. So I pose an observation and you attack my character, typical my friend. I have found great success in my program and I am curious were you get your information. You have never trained in my gym nor trained with me, let me state that one more time for you bud, never. Your are filled with sycophant hot air and well that blinds folks when the only path they see is their path. No where did I bring up my program and my athletes have been with me, some over 2 years because well...hmmm...they see results. Crossfitters are fit as long as your definition falls within the CrossFit modalitys. My athletes have become stronger, faster, etc, and I stoppped using the mainpage hmmm 6 months after my cert two years ago. It is easy to insult Tony but not provide anything of substance.

My point still stands Pilates, Spinning, CrossFitting, etc. So the programming of CrossFit is the "spirit" of CrossFit. The definition is broad and spans across many modal domains which really is everything and nothing.

Insult away my friend you have nothing else to offer. Can't say I have recieved anything positive in the way of feedback from you, just insults from the very beginning, correct me if I am wrong....nice.


Tobias Neal wrote …

And just to add...folks I love the community, love CrossFit and feel pride that I was a part of that community. I just don't like some individuals, the rude, the insulting, etc, but as for the program and the friends I have made they know who I "truly" am and Tony my friend you know nothing. I am done commenting on here as I see that you cannot suffer questions or unfavorable observations here either. Night...


wrote …

really unfortunate the direction this is going...

tony: you say that crossfit did not invent the exercises, but that it did invent the combinations of exercises. (you also admit that these combinations are not protectable.) then you say that this KIND of combining of exercises had not been done before, even though there are examples of SIMILAR protocols predating crossfit.

so what is actually new about crossfit? you say that it is that coach came up with a precise definition of what fitness is and a formula for how to achieve it. i agree that these were very important and very helpful. in practice, though, what does it mean? if crossfit football is crossfit, and crossfit endurance is crossfit, and swimming and biking and boxing and even competitive table tennis (hey, it's a modal domain!) are also crossfit -- in short, if EVERYTHING is crossfit, then how good is that definition?

this is a strong argument that hasn't been answered very well to this point, in my opinion. (it's also really what i was getting at above.) it doesn't have to be a dig at you and hq, either. it just seems like you're trying to claim that crossfit includes everything that ever was, and yet is somehow new. surely you can see how people would chafe at that claim -- while still getting a lot out of doing the WODs -- right?


replied to comment from Sam Ser

just want to say that, although my comment (#100) is sandwiched between some pretty angry ones, my intention was NOT to be accusatory.

it's more like, "it sounds like you're saying X, but that can't be. am i misunderstanding you? if so, please explain."


replied to comment from Tony Budding


I know you are the media guy, so your job is to stand on your soapbox and shout that CrossFit is the best thing in fitness. This is not an insult just a statement of fact. My intention was not to insult the strength of your program, but a statement that you should focus on the community of CrossFit. How did I insult anybody by saying that CrossFit wasn't the first? Was it because I named you specifically and said, "Hate to break it to you." I am not the one making the claims of first and only. If you would have said best, well the jury is still out on that one, there wouldn't be an argument. I would be a discussion as to why it is the best.

True, CrossFit has done well to keep records and chart their progress and make that information available to all through their website or affiliate websites, but where is it outside of those domains? Where is the evidence that CrossFit is the first? Don't tell me to look at CrossFit.com or any other CrossFit affiliated website.

Where did I say anything about doing things exactly the same way CrossFit does them? I think my exact words were "structure workouts the way it does." How does that translate to exactly?

My evidence is anecdotal at best, but we did similar workouts during bootcamp and martial arts training when I was a Marine. We did drills that were comparable to fight gone bad during MA training differences being exercises and duration. Quarterdecking was whatever you needed to work on done at high intensity. The circuit course included weights, pull-ups, and dips. The strength and endurance runs involved running from station to station doing the prescribed exercises until you finished the course. This was back in 2001. Even bootcamp aerobics classes bear a resemblance to some CrossFit WODs.

Are you saying that some trainer has to give CrossFit credit for combining squats and pull-ups in a superset and telling his client to do the superset 5 times as fast as he can with no rest between exercises and sets? What about the trainer that tells his client to do heavy max strength effort short time duration one workout and lighter weights at a longer time duration the next? How about the trainer that tells his client to stay in constant motion for a prescribed set of exercises and not stop moving for 20 minutes? How about the trainer that prefers the rings for pull-ups and dips because the dip bar is too static? All these examples bear a striking similarity to CrossFit. Is it the stopwatch or the combination that makes a workout CrossFit?

Did I ever say that increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains was not a valid definition of fitness? No, I said that it is not a new concept and validated that point by giving other albeit vague terms that mean the same thing.

Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains is the same as me saying that someone is getting fit or improving their shape, or whatever other terms you want to use. If someone goes to the gym and exercises they are improving their work capacity just by getting stronger. If someone loses 20lbs of fat they are improving their work capacity because their bodies are able to work with less strain. A tool is a tool whether it is a Kobalt or a Snap-On it is still a tool. The only difference is the name.

Did I ever question the effectiveness of a CrossFit workout or the CrossFit program? I don't think I did. I just said it wasn't the first.

Did I ever question the effectiveness of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity? No, I didn't because that works. I just said other forms of crosstraining use variety and compound movements in their programs. By the way intensity is subjective to the person.

The only thing I ever said is CrossFit is not the first to prescribe training that combined strength and cardio, or gymnastics and weights in the same workout. If you want to find this information expand your searches to include terms like active recovery, supersets, circuit training, etc., and read the definition of each method. Don't read an example, but read the DEFINITION and you will see that they are same exact thing as what CrossFit teaches. I would suggest using google or some other search engine because searching through the CrossFit site will get you filtered results. Also, break out the thesaurus too, so you can look for similar words. REMEMBER EXAMPLES DESCRIBE AND ARE NOT DEFINITIONS.

I am sorry you took my earlier responses as me questioning the strength of your program. Your incorrect judgement proves my earlier statement that I was fighting an emotional argument. I am not trying to detract from CrossFit in any way or somehow claim that CrossFit is worthless. CrossFit has done a lot to improve the fitness community by giving people a means and reason to communicate and share their experiences.

Please, Tony tell me what CrossFit is and how it is different and better from other workout programs. I need to know because there is finally a CrossFit box in my town and want to know why I should go there over some other gym. I want to get these questions over with before I go waste that person's time.


wrote …

Disregard posts 101 and 102 and answer number 104 I accidently submitted the unrevised ones. Guess that is what you get when you don't make a habit of post comments.


replied to comment from Patrick Lewis

"Please, Tony tell me what CrossFit is and how it is different and better from other workout programs. I need to know because there is finally a CrossFit box in my town and want to know why I should go there over some other gym. I want to get these questions over with before I go waste that person's time."

tony can't necessarily tell you what makes THAT box better than another gym, although i'm sure he'd tell you what makes crossfit better than other programs, or no program at all.

you, however, can make that decision by simply walking in the door. if you don't immediately see what makes that box a more worthwhile investment of your time and money over "some other gym," just walk back out and keep looking.


replied to comment from Sam Ser

Thanks, but what I meant by that is CrossFit prides itself on being the best program and coaches. Well, attitudes come from the top, and I want to know what the top's attitudes are before I make a decision. I want to know before I ever walk through the door that they are going to pass the best attitude down to the lowest level. I don't care if the box is filled with assholes as long as they offer the best training, and I am not seeing that from HQ anymore. I see HQ being more concerned with image than function.


replied to comment from Patrick Lewis

Patrick and Sam,
I'm happy to have this discussion. It's getting a bit heated, and there are several principles of the Codes of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion being violated here (http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/resources/a-code-of-conduct-for-effective-rational-discussion/#toc-flecks-addendum), but let's try to rein it in and proceed with the highest standards of discussion possible.

The fitness industry has been around for a long time. People have been getting stronger, faster, and fitter using gymnastics, calisthenics, weightlifting, metabolic monostructural exercises, and various combinations thereof. If you think that's what CrossFit is, then you are correct, there is nothing new.

But that is not really what CrossFit is. The primary unique contribution CrossFit made has been this definition of fitness (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). I get that you don't understand the enormous benefit and implications of this definition. In your eyes, there is nothing new because that's what everyone always meant about when they say fitness.

That may be true today, at least within our community, but that didn't exist before CrossFit. People were not talking about measuring work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Some people were measuring work and power in limited domains specific to their sport, but that is different.

Why is this so significant? Because it is the benchmark around which everyone seeking elite fitness can operate and evaluate their progress. The debate about who is fittest has been around forever. Is the Tour de France winner fitter than the Welterweight Boxing Champion of the World? Before CrossFit's concise and measurable definition, there was no way to reconcile or test either claim.

Furthermore, demonstrating increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains in the gym really does translate into better real world fitness. This has made a world of difference for soldiers and first responders around the world, to name just two populations.

The second major contribution was the prescription for achieving the highest levels of fitness (constantly varied functional movements at high intensity). Again, we have seen people doing functional movements at high intensity for a very long time, but the identification of functional movements (as we define them - see other articles in the Journal for more information) as the primary vehicle by which fitness is achieved has enormous implications. The entire community can now avoid an entire category of movement (non-functional movements), making their fitness efforts that much more efficient and effective.

Combining functional movements specifically to maximize intensity (average power) was never established before CrossFit. People experimented with it in small areas, but this change in the breadth of scope of the experiment is unique and very substantial.

Again, you can look back and see that these movements going on forever, and some of you are saying that means CrossFit isn't unique. But there is a huge difference between focused effort with a measurable goal and various types of experimentation. That difference has been improved fitness for the average fitness enthusiast, and the highest levels of elite fitness in history.

Now, we claim that the winners of the CrossFit Games are the fittest man and woman on the planet. There are many who dispute this claim, but as of yet, no one has directly challenged any of our winners. We would be more than willing to set up the competition (and, in fact, this year's Games are one example).

Furthermore, these CrossFit Games are the first of its kind. Just as MMA originally provided a forum for who would win, the boxer or the wrestler (or any martial artist for that matter), the CrossFit Games provide the first forum for any athlete of any background to compete in the sport of fitness. Of course, there is room for someone to say that our Games are actually not the best test of fitness, but then there would be an onus on them to provide a better one. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

The bottom line is that the refinements CrossFit has made in three areas: a concise and measurable definition of fitness, the prescription on how to achieve it, and a forum for how to evaluate it have made an enormous difference in the industry.

This is an open standard that anyone can debate or compete in. That's not at all about image. In fact, I'm not sure how much more substantive we can get. I have made broad claims with specific opportunities for evidence that would either support or contradict the claims. If you respond, please address the claims and evidence specifically, and support your claims with your own evidence. This kind of debate is precisely the original intent of the CrossFit Journal.


replied to comment from Tony Budding

Thank You


wrote …

well put Tony.

I can only imagine that you smile enigmatically & refuse to answer, when you walk through the door at home and your special someone asks you "What did you do at work today?"!


wrote …

Is CrossFit open source?
After following the advice I received a few weeks ago in regards to this question I did do the research I was sent, I also combed the entire CrossFit Journal site for any article regarding open source and programming, I even got an out of date article provided to me by HQ. I also explored external sources of information on open source and how it can be defined in different fields. I can quite easily now say yes CrossFit is open source.
I know you are all saying yes tell me something I didn't know you . But the journey needed to be taken. I had issue with CrossFit saying they were open source yet charged a fee to use the term CrossFit if you wanted to open your own box or have a website with the name in it - neither of which were avenues I was trying to personally pursue. Mistake #1.
I also had an expectation that there would be a manual/template/guide of CrossFit main site programming. Mistake#2.

The first mistake was confusing trademark with open source. CrossFit is open source because the tools to develop a WOD are freely available, and you are free to take them and program them all you want. You can open a box and utilise that template and see if it works for you and your clients. What you can't do is name your business using the CrossFit name or advertise that you are following a CrossFit template. CrossFit is the trademark, and something can be open source and still enforce a trademark around its name. After 15 years in IT I had no idea the name Linux was actually trademarked (I'm not a systems admin) and they actually seem to follow a licensing scheme similar to CrossFit.

The second mistake was confusing CrossFit main site with being the head branch from which all other variants come from. CrossFit main site is not THE CrossFit but rather a variant on it. And in the same vein that I can take the template and create my own version of it so does CrossFit main site. So when I asked how Mr. Glassman creates the WODs, that question was inherently okay, but the expectation of a detailed answer was not. We all have the tools to create our own secret batch of CrossFit programming and it is our choice if we wish to share it. CrossFit main site shares it by posting the workout.

This has cleared this up for me, and thank you to all who provided material to help me research this and arrive at my own conclusion.


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

I have an immeasurable opinion and I am completely okay with that: Veejay and Partick and especially Tobias might be clinically retarded. Seriously, it's comical. I know it goes completely against the point of the article, but whatever. And who knows, they might be cured by now.

I remember reading this article but definitely didn't look through all the comments until now oddly enough. But my point in posting, although probably pointless six years later, is to thank Tony Budding for taking the time to reply to those trolls. I'm sure it took up a lot of time that could have been put towards another job, but I got to see a perfect example of Russell's article in real life. A visual cue if you will. That will, no doubt, prove helpful for me when I come across a similar situation in the future.

Thank you again and sorry for the extreme tardiness.

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