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A Violent Agreement Part 2 by Greg Glassman, Louie Simmons and Dr. Nicholas Romanov - CrossFit Journal

A Violent Agreement Part 2

By Greg Glassman, Louie Simmons and Dr. Nicholas Romanov

Video Article

East meets West once again in Part 2 of this discussion moderated by Greg Glassman as Pose Method creator Dr. Nicholas Romanov and Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell discuss the finer points of training.

Romanov is a Russian, while Simmons has long been using Russian research, so the two are speaking the same language even though one is looking to produce top runners and the other is working to train powerlifters to squat over 1,000 lb.

The fascinating debate includes discussion of speed, muscle contractions, periodization and goal setting, training intensity and rep schemes, and general physical preparedess.

One conclusion is offered by Coach Glassman:

“We also don’t understand any sport so well as to be able to with tremendous specificity define what program’s going to maximize the output. We find that skills and capacities that you’d think were seemingly irrelevant to the activity make a hell of a difference.”

8min 50sec

Additional reading: Squatting Outside the Box by Russell Berger, published Apr. 11, 2009.

Free Download


40 Comments on “A Violent Agreement Part 2 ”


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wrote …

I cant understand the Doc...Can we get subtitles next time.


wrote …

A thing of beauty. Coach Glassman is as cool as a cucumber. Can't wait for part 3.


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

Subtitles? How rude would that be? He is speaking English with a foreign accent, The onus is on you to make the effort to understand, maybe you could listen a second time or you could do a bit of travelling!


Dane Thomas wrote …

Looking forward to Part 3 where Romanov teaches Coach and Louie the Pose method and Part 4 where Louie has Coach and Romanov doing box squats with chains and straps.


wrote …

Whats Louie's view on using Anavar for every sport. Oh that was answered in the movie Bigger, Faster, Stronger......I believe he stated he has been on it for years?


Damon Stewart wrote …

There's no hypocrisy with Louie and his view on PED's. He's quite open about it.


wrote …

Who needs PALEO, when you got PED's. What message are we sending to CrossFitters who want to be in the games?


replied to comment from Dane Thomas

Dane, your comment got a chuckle out of me--I was thinking the same thing.

As for people complaining about Louie and PEDs--if a CrossFitter thinks that Louie's presence in this discussion is a CF endorsement of using PEDs, that CrossFitter is an idiot. Louie is a specialist. He does whatever it takes to get crazy strong in a very specific sense of the word. Whether a person condemns that, agrees with him, or figures it's his choice and chooses to not give a damn--and I'm talking just as much about his specific pursuit of his specific definition of strength as his decision to use drugs--that person should realize that Louie's is one of many points of view which inform CF training philosophy. In other words, any CFer should know while watching this that s/he is not being told to do everything that Louie does.

Same with Dr. Romanov, for that matter.

I enjoy this series. It entertains my inner nerd. Are there any more clips?


wrote …

One thing that surprises me about these clips is the absence of discussion of Olympic lifts, given their documented contribution to things like vertical jump and sprint speed. I wonder whether Olympic lifts are seen as requiring too much time to achieve technical proficiency that is sufficient for the athlete to work them hard enough to glean benefits?


wrote …

Simma - Great comments on perspective and greater concept!!!

A few things that I took from the clip and comments:

1 - The difference between Planning/Periodization and Goal-setting. There must always be a long term vision to drive the purpose of the day; however, daily adjustments/variations are required for each athlete to continue the progression toward goal achievement... thought it was an awesome comment on the Doc's part.

2. Louie talks a lot about doing a "gillion" GHR, Hypers, etc. to work the posterior chain. I think it is important for new CFers, as well as those without "educated" training backgrounds to not take that comment and run with it (He trains top 10% that probably do it well). I see a lot of patients in my office with acute injuries from those specific exercises because they have a crappy/ineffective PC and they exposed it with a "gillion" GHR's etc. Coach's previous section on "just squat" is of crucial relevance here. Gaining good functional range with core movements is vital to training for long periods and experiencing high-level gains (minus preventable injury).

Before anyone comments - I think GHR, Hypers, etc. are great if a person can do them.


replied to comment from Simma Park

Simma, maybe you are onto something. Invite Coach B. into the mix?

I can't speak to Dr. Romonov or Mr. Simmons particular views about Oly training, but I think the majority of serious coaches and athletes (irregardless of sport) view the rewards from Oly lifts as far superior to the risks.

Personally, I don't think their developement takes too long and the requirement for technical proficiency is actually one of the benefits (coordination, balance, accuracy, agility).


Chris Cavallerano wrote …

Great discussion all around. One point that I think Coach Glassman, and others, will appreciate is that the high jump was truly revolutionized not by a track and field athlete but by a gymnast- Dick Fosbury in 1968. (HT- VG;
It is this sort of non-linear change both in terms of training and technique that unlocks remarkable human potential and performance. Dr. Nicholas Romanov and Louie Simmons certainly get it and live it! Thanks for sharing Tony B. and regards to all.


wrote …

My comments where just questions, not views.


wrote …

I dont understand how after listening to these guys through the video coach then states any athlete will benefit from more GPP. I think athletes beginning their career for sure but top athletes try to do eliminate non essetntials as performance increases. My point is for CF coaches getting an athlete into your gym its wrong to assume adding GPP will improve their performance in their chosen activitiy.


wrote …

That exactly glassman's point, gpp has been grossly over looked as a tool for increasing peformances at the highest level
Any time you improve a physical aspect of the body the chance for improvements in other areas becomes possible.
If that is not true then tell me how its has been proven time and time again in gyms thats just squatting has resulted in improvements in other lifts even including predominately upper body movements !


replied to comment from greg falasca

Lol, Anavar is only one kind of anabolic steroid. What is your point? Louie has developed world class lifters who are totally drug free (hint: I know them personally - it is a fact, not opinion). Now will you listen and learn something from him?


replied to comment from greg falasca

How does Louie teaching Crossfitters how to be strong in any way send a negative message? Are you worried that all CFers are so weak minded and naive that they many never have heard of anabolic use and being associated with Louie will somehow make them all run to obtain black market anabolics? Do you realize how ridiculous that premise is?


replied to comment from Simma Park

Well said.


replied to comment from Simma Park

Louie is not a proponent of Olympic lifts to get strong. Hence why he does not discuss them. I can explain his position (which I also share), but I don't want to offend anyone in CF or start an argument.


replied to comment from Gerard Mcauliffe

Thats funny you should say that. I lived in Brazil until I was 13, I also lived in Thailand for 2 years. My mom is full American so now I live here. I speak portuguese, spanish and english, and I too have an accent. It wouldnt bother me in the least if someone put subtitles on me. That being said I just want to know what the rest of us look like from up on your pedestal. Maybe next time keep your ignorant comments to youself, or dont jump to conclusions. Last question, Como sabor su pie? Chingado. For those of you who dont speak spanish it means "How does your foot taste."


wrote …

Well put, simply asking questions. I have done my research on Louie and He is one of my favorite coachs. CF is a wonderful open forum. Definitely watch Bigger, Stronger, Faster..


replied to comment from Chris Mason


Yeah, Louie tends to stir up controversy, but powerlifters in general tend to rile up other athletes. I think people aren't always good at putting powerlifters in context as the extreme specialists that they are. I've read a lot of what he has to say about OL. Put it in context, and it's not a dismissal of OL so much as an acknowledgment that OL is more generalized than PL. As such, OL can benefit, just like other sports where athletes are developing more generalized skills, from PL's insights and protocols for training raw strength, which no other discipline explores as deeply or thoroughly. At least, that's how I see it.

But OL is one the best ways to develop speed, which is at the center of a lot of this particular conversation. OL also seems highly relevant to discussion of vertical force, generating it concentrically as well as handling it eccentrically. I wouldn't expect an in-depth examination, given the three guys' areas of expertise, but for none of them to mention at all seemed like kind of an omission. Not that this makes the conversation any less interesting to watch.

But maybe they (or Coach Glassman and the doc at least) thought it was a given and didn't need mention. Or maybe I'm just OL obsessed these days.


Justin, i humbly apologise for not knowing everything about your childhood, now 'va ta faire futre' or 'pog mo thoin' if you prefer.


wrote …

Actually, Olympic lifting is not especially good at developing jumping or sprinting ability. It WILL help, as it will increase one's force production capacity in the involved musculature of the hips and legs, but as it is limited in load by the nature of its movements it will not optimally address the absolute strength portion of the equation which is what training with weights can do relative to athletic endeavors.

The oft referenced deal about Olympic lifters out-sprinting and jumping track athletes with some team years ago is not really a sound basis for the conclusion that Olympic lifting is superior for promoting said abilities. I think in that case it simply proved the Olympic lifters were superior athletes in general, not because of Olympic lifts per se, but moreso because of the fact they did weight training and had better heredity.

The idea that Olympic lifting makes one generally more explosive is a bit of a myth. Again, beyond the fact it will make certain muscles stronger and that increases power potential, the actual movements themselves are not going to translate to the field of play in a direct manner. You never have to clean and jerk another player... This goes back to the field of motor learning. Motor learning teaches us that improving efficiency in one movement pattern doesn't necessarily translate to another. The fastest runner in a straight line is most likely not the fastest runner in a circle. The best person in the clean and jerk is most likely not going to have the highest vertical jump and so on.

The powerlifts, such as the squat, deadlift, good morning and so on are superior for sport application because the nature of these movements allows for greater loads and more time under tension thus allowing for greater stimulation of force production capacity. This increased capacity, once realized, can then be translated to sport specific movements via the practice of said movements.

There is more to it, but this is it in a nutshell.


Hmm... I think you may have left one word untranslated...


I totally agree with you about the subtitles though. It is in no way offensive and is in fact pretty common practice on many news/reporting programs to include subtitles if the person speaking has a thick accent or there is low audio quality. For that matter, I think it would be nice if subtitles were available for all CFJ videos, I think the Deaf would appreciate that.

Mty main comment on the video would be that I really liked how both men went over the difference between having goals and plans. In my previous training experience (B.C. - before Crossfit), periodization plans had frustrated me because many times I wouldn't be able to get all the way through them and I would have to start over at lower weights. In retrospect it does seem obvious why they don't work that well.


wrote …


I'm not sure that I agree with the logic behind your conclusions. There don't seem to be many studies yet that rigorously compare PL vs. OL for VJ or which try to measure differences in improvements to various aspects of performance. The only ones I could find are

I would love it if you knew of more, supporting either point of view.

However, I personally think it's silly to rule out either. It seems to me that OL has a lot to contribute besides strength gains (which, I agree, are not as good as with PL) which could contribute much to improved performance. To say "You never have to clean and jerk another player..." seems a bit of an oversimplification to me. Most athletes don't spend a lot of time benching one another either. Yet the absolute strength developed with this lift carries over. The idea that the complex degree of neuromuscular coordination, etc. developed through OL doesn't carry over to other athletic endeavors seems weird to me. Though I definitely agree with the idea that it's not ideal to rely on OL as the primary method of developing strength, I don't agree with the idea that OL has no significant improvements to offer to general performance.

There's probably a good reason why Louie doesn't just stick with the PL lifts but also does work with bands, jumping and other plyo, etc. I'm wondering whether OL would better replace or maximize benefits of that segment of the work. I'm not at all making the case for replacing the PL lifts with OL lifts. That either-or does not exist in my mind.

But you're right--we could debate this forever, and it's not really relevant to the discussion. Your comments have given me some food for thought, though, and I enjoyed them.


wrote …

Well just to throw it in the mix, one thing we can be sure that Olympic Lifts do, and Louis' lifts don't, is demand a large capacity for accuracy and coordination.


wrote …

What Louie says is right. To be powerful you must first be strong. To be strong you must work with heavy resistance. But you can't only train slow because you will become slow. So you also train with a lower resistance and train faster.

Squats: slow lifts for developing strength
Cleans: explosive lifts for developing power
Power cleans: explosive lifts for developing fast power
Snatches: explosive lifts for developing fast fast power
Plyometrics: even faster

You don't have to do cleans and snatches for power development - there are plenty of other ways to do it.

From what I've seen if you are doing crossfit and you want to compete than it's pretty much essential that you learn the basics of clean, jerk and snatch because those lifts will be included in a workout or in competition.

If you are playing a sport which involves intermittent running, acceleration, deceleration and changes of direction then cleans and snatches are beneficial - 2nd pull = acceleration - catch = deceleration. The olympic lifts on their own won't make you strong at the slow end of the strength.....speed continuum. But they will help convert that strength into explosive power - and that's what you want for sports.

However, the best thing about cleans, jerks and snatches is that they are possibly the coolest thing to do in a gym.


replied to comment from Simma Park

Something not sounding right to you has no relevance to its accuracy or validity. I am not saying that to be mean spirited, it is simply a fact.

I too don't know of many university level studies comparing the two, and quite frankly I would most likely be highly skeptical of any that did as they said studies are usually created by those with little working knowledge of training and are often quite flawed.

What I CAN tell you is what I have gleamed from some of the best minds and bodies in strength training and loose 'studies' that Louie has done with hundreds of the strongest lifters in the world over the years. In addition, I can also relay what the field of motor learning teaches us.

As to athletic translation and complex neural patterns etc., take the best Olympic lifters in the world and stick them on a basketball court (assuming they are not already skilled at basketball). I am quite sure the average high school player would school them. How much did their complex neural patterns translate?

In fact, the whole conjugate system is based upon the fact even very slight differences in movement patterns are 'perceived' very differently by the nervous system. So, to think that a power clean will make one better (beyond the increased force production capacity potential translation) at anything other than cleans is a bit foolish.

Like I said, Olympic lifts can help, but not as well as less complex movements that allow for greater TUT and load.


wrote …

Oh, and one final point, I KNOW that Olympic lifts are part of CF. That means if you do CF you need to use them. I have ZERO issue with that. I actually think the O lifts are quite cool and respect the shit out of anyone that can do them well. Don't take what I am saying as a condemnation of their use for CFers.


replied to comment from Troy Becker

Actually, you are incorrect. For instance, the first time that CFers try box squatting they invariable are not coordinated at all relative to the movement and they look quite awkward (this is normal, not surprising at all). It takes a bit of time to truly master the movement, to develop the SKILL...


replied to comment from Chris Mason


"Something not sounding right to you has no relevance to its accuracy or validity. I am not saying that to be mean spirited, it is simply a fact."

Absolutely. I would never disagree with that. I'd simply like to point out that, if you're going on what some of the most knowledgeable minds think and on their anecdotal experience, their expert interpretations of sports science, etc.--so am I. That's why I'm presenting my thoughts as opinion and judging based on "sounding right", because I do not have much hard evidence in the form of scientific studies to back it up--these simply don't seem to exist in enough numbers to indicate any kind of scientific conclusion one way or the other. But enough people with high levels of expertise whom I respect have led me to think, based on their expert and informed interpretations of their anecdotal experience and their understanding of the sport science out there, that OL has unique or especial value for performance improvement across multiple sports/disciplines. So I'm not convinced that the experts you choose to go with on this question are necessarily right. And that's essentially what our discussion comes down to, which is why I use language like "it seems to me".

"As to athletic translation and complex neural patterns etc., take the best Olympic lifters in the world and stick them on a basketball court (assuming they are not already skilled at basketball). I am quite sure the average high school player would school them. How much did their complex neural patterns translate?"

I find your scenario here odd. How many powerlifters wouldn't get their asses kicked in a basketball game against the same high school players? Even Louie himself says in this video series that he gives the athletes the strength, and it's up to the doc to take that strength and help them harness it to the specific movements of their sport.

And I also nowhere talk about "neural patterns", but rather "neuromuscular coordination", which has both very specific aspects (related to specific movements) but is also a raw, general quality that is a part of success in any movement. Same with strength; there is strength in a particular lift, but there is also strength as a general quality. The bench press, for instance, develops strength in the bench press. But it also develops general strength in muscle groups of the upper body, and that strength is applicable to multiple movements in life and sport. Perhaps you could make the case that a program of PL + OL would contribute less to general neuromuscular coordination than a program of PL + plyometrics. But my personal judgment is that this is not at all a given. In fact, this study:

suggests that this may not the case. While I do think that the "basic" strength work in both groups should have been much more extensive and the study is therefore flawed, this is the only study of this kind that I know of.

"In fact, the whole conjugate system is based upon the fact even very slight differences in movement patterns are 'perceived' very differently by the nervous system. So, to think that a power clean will make one better (beyond the increased force production capacity potential translation) at anything other than cleans is a bit foolish."

I'm a bit confused by this. I thought the Westside conjugate method was essentially about overcoming limits to training at or near max by varying the exercises and aspects of GPP trained such that the body will allow the lifter to train at high intensities continuously, thereby allowing the lifter to avoid "off" seasons. For instance, just doing the back squat while continuously trying to increase the max lift will result in stalling and/or backward progress. Whereas switching max/near-max effort work to "adjacent" exercises such as sled pulls, different kinds of squats, squats for speed instead of max weight, glute-ham raises, GMs, DLs, etc. will result in continual gains in one's back squat max. If anything, doesn't this make the case that the body's reactions to differences in movement patterns can be harnessed to "fool" it into improving movements that are similar? Or, perhaps it's more accurate to say that we're entering apples and oranges territory when we use the principles behind the Westside conjugate method, which is designed specifically to increase strength, to discuss neuromuscular coordination or efficiency of movement or other benefits which proponents of OL lifting for general sports performance think are relevant. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding what you're referring to when you say "conjugate system".

Also, "the increased force production capacity potential translation" is kind of a big deal. To me, this sentence is kind of like saying, "So, to think that learning Latin will make one better (beyond the increased understanding of and awareness of syntax) at learning any language other than Latin is a bit foolish."

The Olympic lifts take the body through multiple movements that are similarly "adjacent" to a lot of movements in a lot of sports. And they do so in a way that trains extremely fast changes in speed and direction. OL lifts also train athletes to "cheat" movements (which, where high-level/elite performance is concerned, can make all the difference). I personally am not yet convinced by the arguments out there that OL doesn't have any unique value for improving sport performance.

In an ideal world where more people cared about this kind of thing, there would be studies measuring performance changes (say in something easily measurable, just as VJ) from training athletes with PL alone, OL alone, PL + plyometrics, OL + plyometrics, and OL + PL--and these studies would be carried out by people who had a deep understanding of sport. But until this happens, I pretty much think that we're in the realm of choosing between differing, conflicting, yet informed opinions from various experts.

I appreciate your comments--they've made me think about this in a lot of depth. I apologize to everyone else that my continuation of this is waxing so long and is somewhat off-topic to the clips.


replied to comment from Gerard Mcauliffe

Haha that was awesome..Did you google that?


wrote …

I'm with Chris on this one....unless he starts quoting internet resources too.


wrote …

Simma, you're killing me with the manifesto response... :)

Ok, first, the fact you were confused about my basketball reference and then said the same would happen with powerlifters shows that you do not understand my point. That may be my fault for poor explanation, I am not sure.

You are correct, powerlifters would suffer the same fate with a basketball player. I have never argued any differently. The nutshell of my argument is that weight training of ANY kind is only of value to athletic endeavors in that it has the ability to increase lean body mass (for those whose sports encourage it - say a lineman in football)AND OR via its ability to enhance the force production capacity of the musculature. Increased forced production capacity can then be translated to specific sport by sport specific training. So, for instance, if a baseball player strengthens the muscles which are involved in swinging a bat he or she can then take that increased strength and translate it to a harder swing via batting practice. So, they take the general increased force production capacity and translate it to a sport specific movement by practicing the EXACT skill of that movement.

Olympic lifts are inferior to powerlifts for this purpose because Olympic lifts in and of themselves are limited by their nature in both load and time under tension. They are thus limited relative to powerlifts in stimulating enhanced force production capacity of the musculature.

For example, if all one ever did is the clean a jerk the musculature of their legs and hips would never be optimally stimulated in terms of size and strength. They would only ever get as strong as is required to lift the weight they can squat clean. That is why O lifters use assistance movements like the front and back squat. They want to increase the strength of their legs and hips sufficiently that they can squat clean an even greater load then their current strength allows.

When it comes to the nervous system you are making a lot of assumptions that just don't hold true. For instance, your mention of learning Latin as being analagous to learning specific movement patterns is a very poor one. They are VERY, VERY different. The fact is that neurmuscular coordination learned in a specific activity is really only applicable to any appreciable degree to that specific activity. For instance, swinging a badminton racket and a tennis racket are very different to the body and someone good at one sport can really stink that the other (this is proven).

Yes, the conjugate system is about continuous improvement via training at a very high intensity week after week. Why does it work? It works because the overtraining that occurs from high intensity training week after week is in large part due to overtraining of the nervous system. The weekly alternation of exercises, and their unique demand on the nervous system, allows for it to remain fresh and not to get overtrained (that's the theory).


Justin, i'm Irish and i learned French in school. No offence meant, just having a bit of fun. I think it's time to put our little long distance spat to one side! At least we now can both swear in four different languages so this was very educational.

If we ever met we probably wouldn't understand each other either with the mix of Irish, Brazilian and Thai accents! If people want subtitles, then let them have subtitles.

Best of luck with your training for the future. Slan go foill.


wrote …

Ya man, agreed. Your second comment was funny though...Respect for that comeback :)


replied to comment from Chris Mason


The nutshell of my argument is that weight training of ANY kind is only of value to athletic endeavors in that it has the ability to increase lean body mass [...] AND OR via its ability to enhance the force production capacity of the musculature."

This definitely clarifies what you're saying.

I'm also much clearer re: what point of view you're coming from about the nervous system (I think I was thrown off by your use of "translation" in your previous post, which made me interpret that as a reference to coordination. "Force production capacity of the musculature" makes it much easier for me to understand what you're saying).

I don't entirely agree with your perspective on that aspect--once again, I think you're talking about very specific, "tip of the pyramid" skills (i.e., the racket swing from 2 different sports) whereas the value of OL might be in more in its development of general skills (harnessing the stretch shortening cycle, executing fast, sequential changes in vertical direction of force, etc.).

But I think I understand better the perspective you were trying to explain, and it makes a good case. I'm not sure what you meant by the "manifesto" response, but I wasn't trying to be belligerent--just understand what you were saying and explain why it didn't fully make sense to me. Thanks for taking the time to lay it out--it does reframe the issue and give me some stuff to think about and explore, which I obviously enjoy. It also definitely could be the answer to my original question, which is why there is no discussion of OL in these clips.

And guys, it's not as though I'm throwing random Internet babbling into my comments. I'm referencing studies that were published in journals in order to get feedback on them. The Internet is simply a way to access that content and share it.


wrote …

Simma, I just meant the length of your posts (with manifesto) :). I was just teasing.

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