A Violent Agreement: Part 1

By Greg Glassman, Louie Simmons and Dr. Nicholas Romanov

In Powerlifting, Running, Videos

March 22, 2010

Video Article

CrossFit is about bringing the best aspects of fitness together to create elite athletic performance, and this clip filmed at the recent CrossFit Certification Trainers Summit is an impressive representation of that mission.

Flanked by legendary powerlifting coach Louie Simmons and Pose Method inventor Dr. Nicholas Romanov, CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman facilitates a discussion on running by three giants of the fitness world.

“We’re on the cusp of a violent agreement here ... . This is a very important moment in everyone’s understanding of running and of strength training and of strength training to make people run faster,” Coach asserts.

10min 04sec

Additional reading: Understanding CrossFit by Greg Glassman, published April 1, 2007.

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37 Comments on “A Violent Agreement: Part 1”


wrote …

Fantastic discussion, but let's get these guys some chairs and a table in an office with no echo, instead of the gym with a whiteboard behind them.


wrote …

Interesting stuff! I could listen to this all day. Can't wait to see more.


wrote …

Great, great, great stuff! It is wonderful to me to see Louie's opinions on strength training relative to running getting out into the public's minds. I also know that Louie enjoyed his conversations with the Russian gentleman. Great minds getting together in a way that only Crossfit seems open minded enough to do.



wrote …

I have been debating switching to pose method. Currently, I am in the Evolution Running Camp. Both involve forward lean, footstriking under the center of mass, and landing on the forefoot/midfoot. Where the two methods split has to do with propulsion (or so I think). Pose method is a controlled fall, but it comes at the expense of continuous contraction of the hamstring muscles to pull the foot up so you can continue the fall. The Evolution running method involves landing underneath the center of mass cooperating with gravity and extending the hip and glute for propulsion (they say the hip and glute are bigger muscle groups so they A) have more power than the hamstring alone B) less likely to fatigue. The recovery of the foot has to do with driving the knee forward and the foot snapping up to the butt due to momentum(which I haven't achieved yet, and to be honest with you, might be against the laws of physics since driving the knee forward would actually extend the leg lever, not bring the heal to the butt).

So I ask, does anyone know definitively(fact based) what propels elite marathoners? I have looked at countless clips of analysis of runners, and it seems that the heal definitely comes up to the butt during recovery, but there is also major extension out the back as well.

Is it the extension from the hip and glute, or is it the pull of the hamstring and the controlled fall. I have been scouring the internet looking for answers, and it would be great to hear if anyone has some answers.



wrote …

It sounds like Louie's take on eccentric training diverges strongly from the gymnastic progression Coach Glassman is describing. Louie advocates for fast eccentrics (even overspeed) using bands, chains, etc. Coach Glassman talked about progressing from fast eccentric to slow eccentric to isomentric to concentric.

Since handstand push-ups and overhead presses remain on my "still suck at" list, I am curious about different strategies for developing them. Right now I'm mostly extrapolating from Louie's bench press development strategies. Mmm.


wrote …

I agree with Nicolas. I could listen to these guys all day. The 3 Wise Men of the 21st century.


wrote …

I almost never post anything about the videos, but this was GREAT. I love listening to Louie talk about breaking down a problem and showing how training with a different approach can achieve positive results. It was great to hear not so much opposing as different viewpoints of the same thing. Everyone had respect and saw the validity in each other's statements. Great Great Great discusssion.
I'm sure I'll listen to this a few more times. Thanks HQ for posting this one.


wrote …

After watching this clip, two major points stood out to me: 1) The laws of physics would dictate that the greatest amount of forces are exerted on the runner upon the landing of each stride due to forward velocity and gravity. 2) Mr. Simmons touched on the effects of gravity on a sprinter when saying that the squat was not the most efficient method of making them faster, due to the length of time it takes to execute a heavy squat. He also touched on the effects of gravity when suggesting that box jumps were a key exercise in improving a sprinters’ speed.
So, my theory is that the increase in running speed due to box jumps is due to the landing rather than the execution of the movement. This is similar to sprinting, where the greatest force exerted is on the landing of each stride due to gravity and velocity compounding on each other.
Dr. Romanov said that the amount of force it takes to move a 200 lb man forward a single step is not hugely impressive; however , once his stride lands, he absorbs more than 600 lbs of force. Then he has to redirect the energy forward, changing the direction of the force. Thus, every stride becomes a huge effort because of gravity and velocity and the constant change in direction of that force. So, for box jumps, the athlete actually gains velocity as he descends onto a platform much like running. Except with a box jump, the amount of force generated from the initial movement is greater, thus the velocity is far greater.
When running or sprinting, you are moving at a sustained stride. This is not the maximal achievable velocity in the overall scheme. But a box jump IS the maximal achievable velocity in a single movement. Therefore, the landing on the platform exerts far greater forces on the athlete than merely running. It is my theory that it is this part of the movement – the landing – that makes the athlete faster.
If you were to accept this theory as true, then some of the best exercises to train sprinters would be broad jumps, box jumps, and squat jumps, especially when used in combination with light weight or resistance bands.


wrote …

i really enjoyed this descussion, yes please give them some chairs they looked very uncomfortable. the jump hieght is a measure of atleticim in many sports this includes combat sports, urban running, running, football, volleyball, tennis,basketball and many others. so for the overall athlite we would need to work more on verticle jumping workout such as box jumps, burpee pull-ups, jumping burpees(forward), and any other workout that requires a huge amount of force being released in a short time period.


replied to comment from Nick Scott

What role does the height of the box have in the velocity of the landing? The higher the box the lower the velocity right? (less space to fall) And even if the box were lower we usually jump to just make the height of the box so we can save energy for the next 30 or so reps (of course really only pertains to a metcon session). Surely speed could only be develpoed if the eccenctric landing was immedietly followed by a second concentric movement....or not??? What about single leg box jumps?


This was fantastic and as others have said, I too will probably watch this one a few more times to get the gist a little more ingrained. As for the standing/sitting issue, personally from an academic viewpoint, I'd have loved to see this like a conference paper session where Romanov presents for say 15 minutes, then Simmons for 15 minutes, then Coach for 15 minutes, followed by open discussion. I think in that format the presenters could use such media as a powerpoint, whiteboard or physical demonstration to make their point more clear.

As for the box jump height question: one way of tackling the height of jump to velocity of landing issue might be to vary the height of the box while jumping OVER the box. I think, but I'm far from an expert in this area, it seems reasonable that jumping over a box with an increasing height would generate corresponding increases in vertical velocity and jumping over the box might solve the issue associated with decreased land velocity/impact with higher box heights because you'd essentially be maintaining the same impact distance as vertical leap distance. Again, no expert here, but it seems rather intuitive that jumping to a, for example, 30 inch box will require greater vertical force than landing on that 30 inch box. However, jumping over a 30 inch box to land 30 inch downward should (based on constant gravitational factors) create similar velocity/impact factors. It might even be a cool idea to try landing lower than the jump if the benefits to running from landing velocity/impact are really that important. For example, (& I don't know that I would try this b/c of danger) one might jump over a 30 inch box placed at the edge of a staircase. That would entail the athlete landing lower then 30 inch vertical leap. Of course staircases and this exercise probably increase the rate of injury so much that it'd be avoided, but you could conceptualize such a contraption based on a platform.

Back to my first point, a conference style, I;m not yet affiliated so I've never been to Fil Fest, but it would be so cool to see a CrossFit "science" conference. Or to have CrossFit-ers infiltrate another sports science conference, NASM, or something like that. I remember a while back a vid from Coach at that conference. In psychology sessions can be organized around a topic or field and it would be so cool (IMHO) to have a CF session at one of these conferences.

Just my 2¢. OK, off to the gym to do yesterday's WOD!


wrote …

Yesterday, as a matter of fact, we were doing tire drags around a baseball infield followed by a pair of 60 yard sprints in each cycle.

The tire drags are analogous to Louie's sled drags, teaching you to lean like a champ, of course, but also with each step to drive your leg 'down' in a sense, which in reality is downward and backward. (We loop our rope over one shoulder and across our chests.)

Then in the sprint, you catch a bit of lean and your legs start running like pistons, with your shins going straight up and down, albeit on a slant. You can grasp very easily how that pushing, driving strength of Louie's applies to forward motion, and you're POSE-ing like mad, forming that 'number 4' with your legs that Dr. Romanov describes as well as landing - whole foot on the ground - but with your weight on your forefoot.


replied to comment from Nick Scott

Nick - take your thinking and also consider Jeff Martin's advice to box jump 'from the top.' That is - get on the box, and start the jump from box top. The athlete would be dropping-bouncing-recovering balance as needed when on the box; and if stopping, always stop on the box, thus starting nearly all 'jumps' from a rebound.


wrote …

Along with the box jumps, I would estimate
that jumping rope would have good carryover
to improving running speed.


replied to comment from Tyson Weems


Give Louie's methods a try. They are based on his own studies with many elite level athletes that show the speed of the eccentric almost always matches the speed of the concentric the idea being a faster concentric equates to the ability to lift heavier loads.


replied to comment from Daniel Healy

Box jumps are MUCH safer than plyometrics and that is why Louie prefers them. The reason a box jump aids running is it trains the involved musculature to overcome the force of gravity in an explosive manner (involves a very fast rate of force development). It has virtually nothing to do with the landing (unlike a plyometric movement which has a lot to do with the landing).


replied to comment from Thomas Nunan

That's awesome! Remember to not run with the sled. Running with the sled can actually interfere with your running mechanics.


wrote …

Sprinters in the Soviet Union weren't allowed to run a step in training until they could jump off the top of a ladder barefoot and land comfortably (not sure of the height of the ladder, but it wasn't a step stool.) I believe it had something to do with preparing the neural receptors in the feet and legs to deal with the tremendous force of sprinting, and enabled them to fire more efficiently and effectively. The landing effect of high box jumps could be similar.


wrote …

Steven, you are essentially correct, yes jumping over the box would be ideal for the purposes of my theroy. I also use methods such as jumping on and then explosively off the box again (in the forward manner). Also setting up staggered boxes where jumping onto the highest boxes and then over the lower ones seems to be a pretty effective combo as well.


wrote …

Nick, Steven, and Paul all came dangerously close to identifying plyometric exercises that are commonly used for strength and power developement, and I am assuming from your comments you are unfamiliar with these. They have been used extensively for quite some time by NSCA trained coaches.

Depth Jumps, Split Jumps, Bounding, Single leg broad jump repeats (also known as single leg bounding), Jumping hurdles are all good applications of this concept. A good exercise is depth jumps with successive height increases. IE: step off a 24" box and jump on to another 24", step off the 24" and jump on to a 30" box, repeat landing on a 36" box, repeat landing on a 42" box. Minimize ground reaction time. Use the same template with hurdles: Start with an 18", then progressively increase height, minimize ground contact time between jumps. Most of this is pretty potent stuff, so use it cautiously. Many major college S&C programs have demonstrations on their websites if needed.

You might be able to include KB swings is this discussion as there is a dramatic deceleraion and velocity change at the bottom. Pavel T. teaches an assisted swing, where a partner "throws" the KB down from the apex of the Russian swing to maximize the velocity change at the bottom. It is interesting and worth a try.

Ax Grind: These concepts are well known in NSCA circles. Even though the NSCA has taken issue with CrossFit, that doesn't mean they don't have useful info or experience that CrossFitters can benefit from. We should examine their methods and evaluate their validity as we do with anyone else's method. End Scene, thanks.


replied to comment from Brian Ross

Brian, sure, the NSCA has some good ideas, but a whole bunch of bad ones to go along with them. I find it amusing that they would feel the need to criticize CF when one of the things CF does is seek out and borrow from the best.


wrote …

is the former Soviet Union known for producing good sprinters? or the fastest runners at any other competitive distances?

honest question, none come to mind for me. I thought the pure running sports were largely dominated by american, caribbean, and british sprinters, while the longer distances were more diverse but heavily populated with african nations (kenya, ethiopa etc.)

"applied" running (high jump, long jump, vaults etc.) maybe different.


wrote …

I am actually very familiar with those training methods. I was trying to state my point based off of what was soley in the video discussion. Trying to keep it as simple as possible. However my expierence with non-crossfit trainers is this. Regardless of certification, or affiliation, only about 1 out of 100 has any clue what they are doing at all. I am a trainer, and have worked at major globo gyms, and even MMA camps. I can tell you from my POV most (98% or so) are clueless as how to apply anything they may have learned.
I cannot however say the same of Crossfit coaches, I have found them to be among the most knowledgeable, practical, and well versed trainers i have ever met in a single group.


wrote …

Keep these coming!


replied to comment from Fern Webb


I'm not sure. Just something I read recently that seemed relevant.


wrote …

I can't wait for part 2!
Pearls of wisdom from Simmons "Perfect form through weaknesses in muscle groups". Strength training is tailored to the runner according to what specifically that runner needs to be more efficient and stable. S&C has been using plyo, jump, bounding training for ever, but the addition of the olympic lifting and the power lifting over the past 5 or so years has changed the face of the sprinter and the programing for us coaches.
Again i can't wait for part 2!


replied to comment from Nick Scott

Nick, I am tracking on keeping to the video topic . I have limited globo-gym experience and am a product of the NSCA but, I agree with both you and Chris about coaching quality. Our coaches were some of the top-tier NCAA coaches and still many basic S&C concepts were missed. CF attracts a certain personality that other programs don't.

No offense intended on the earlier post, tone came off a little strong.


Thanks, this has been helpful. I am a virgin coach, but trying to absorb as much as I can. I do not train elite athletes, just regular people trying to get fit. I do see the obvious transfer and I appreciate that. But asking my 45 yr old ex alcoholic, recovering crack addict to pull a sled and work on sprinting for speed is less important to me right now than simply getting her moving.

I really do appreciate these comments. As I stated in my post: I don't know about these programs. I did plenty of plyometrics when I played competitive Ice Hockey and it certainly helped (I think) my skating speed, stride and most importantly what I noticed was stride efficiency. Being new, all this is so fascinating to me.

On the topic of coaches, generally, I have observed two things at the GLOBO I workout at: 1) CF trainers do seem to have "real world" applicability. That is, they use information in a way that helps people do more work, better, faster, stronger, etc. 2) relative to the Personal Trainers at the GLOBO I attend are morons. One tries to teach people to use kettlebells but from my quick observation I don't think he knows how to use them. One of the trainers, I've noticed, has actually started emulating the stuff I do. He tries to play it down and mix it up, but does so in a terrible fashion. I saw him the other day trying to run two people through Fran after watching my wife (pregnant wife) and I do it. It was a f-ing mess! But there seems to be about a 3-6 day lag in what I do (and I've gained a "workout buddy" to train) and when he runs his clients through a bastardized version of CF main site. Just man up dude and follow HQ - it's free moron! My wife hates this guy. He tries to sell her personal training sessions about every other day. She's like, "really? 1) I'm pregnant; 2) I think I;m fitter than you; and 3) did you notice that my husband is CrossFit? He loves that... !


wrote …

Nothing is more disappointing than a incompetent "professional", and nothing more dangerous than "professional incompetence".


Daniel Schmieding wrote …

For those asking to "get these guys some chairs:" I'm fairly certain Part 2 has already been filmed!

Fantastic discussion, and refreshing to see these expert coaches exchanging ideas in "real life." There has been much argument among those disappointed in CrossFit's expansion regarding a disconnect between HQ and it's Subject Matter Experts.

I can count the number of times I saw Coach, Rip, Burg, Roger, Tucker, etc together on one hand, so seeing this video concretes these new relationships for many.

Can't wait for Part 2!


wrote …

Question. What would be the optimal use of plyos/box jumps (within a crossfit context and sprint workout context)? as a supplement before training aka warmup drills or as a complete workout in itself. What volume would you recommend?

Basically just interested from a sprint/speed stand point of where to incorporate this information? (currently do POSE drills for my agility warm-up).

Thanks, sorry if the question is too broad. any information would be appreciated.


replied to comment from Brian Hassler


Check out "Speed Training for the Non-Track Athlete" by Scott Kustes in the Performance Menu, issue 58. He essentially lays out a "speed bias" for CF.

WRT Nick's theory, it seems like the appropriate drill wouldn't be jumping over boxes, but to step off/jump off of really high things. This plyometric exercise for eccentric strength is called a drop jump. Here's a great article by Kelly Baggett, author of the Vertical Jump Bible:



wrote …

I loved it. The one thing that I heard that got me thinking is what Simmons said about lowering weight and that is doesn't help. Is he speaking about 'negatives'? Is so, then I would like understand that more fully. I have always believed that 'negatives' help. Can someone help me understand this.


replied to comment from Shawn Vicknair

Hey Shawn. Yes, Louie is talking about "negatives" (aka, Eccentrics). By this he is referring to lowering weight slowly. Eccentrics break down muscle fibers and cause muscle soreness (delaying recovery). Not a good thing if you need to train often or stay in a weight division for a sport.

If you are looking to pack on muscles, slow eccentric work will do that. If you train this way often (slowly lowering the weight) you will also become slower...and heavier. The opposite of "Slow Eccentrics" is "Overspeed Eccentrics" (in the video Louie talks about using bands). Google, "overspeed eccentrics" or check out Louie's articles or better yet, buy his awesome book, "The Westside Barbell Book of Methods."


replied to comment from Shawn Vicknair

The negative, or eccentric portion of a lift should only be emphasized for bodybuilding purposes. In other words, you should not do slow negatives if your goal is athletic performance. The reason lies somewhere in the Golgi tendon, stretch reflex, and kinetic energy realm. What Louie's studies with his elite athletes have shown is that the speed of the eccentric nearly always is matched during the concentric phase, thus the faster the negative the faster the load is lifted resulting in greater power generation and the actualization or potential for greater demonstrable strength.


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

pure awesomeness, can't get enough of it!



wrote …

Thanks for the articles Benjamin. Just read the depth jump and drop jump articles. great read.

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