In Athletes, Videos

December 11, 2010

Video Article

With some of CrossFit’s top athletes in Lake Tahoe, Calif., for the Rogue Vs. Again Faster Throwdown, it was a great opportunity to throw the athletes into a room and get them talking with the cameras rolling.

Dave Castro opens this roundtable discussion with the topic of professional athletes becoming CrossFit athletes. Are we going to see more professional athletes take on CrossFit? Do they have what it takes, and could they eclipse the current stars?

The assembled CrossFitters agree that while some football players and other power athletes might be capable of moving more weight, moving their own mass at body-weight movements will exhaust them at high volume. According to Tommy Hackenbruck, that type of athlete just has “too big of an engine.”

Even if someone has the talent, there’s the issue of training and mental fortitude.

“None of these guys are going to come in and do well without any CrossFit training. That will never happen,” Castro says. “They don’t have that mindset to push like CrossFitters do.”

Pat Barber thinks it’s more likely that CrossFit-trained athletes will transition easily into other sports and dominate the playing field rather than the other way around. Austin Malleolo adds that athletes follow the money, and athletes won’t seek it out until CrossFit becomes a professional sport.

Where will the evolution of CrossFit take the sport of fitness?

9min 19sec

Additional reading: The Marlins Go CrossFit by Paul Fournier, published March 1, 2010.

Free Download


72 Comments on “Roundtable in Tahoe: Outside Domination”


wrote …

It is interesting to think about the ramifications of a crossfit kid turning into an athlete. I train at a high school with about 30-40 kids that are seeing great results, but yet there is still this perception that crossfit just produces highly "conditioned" athletes while most coaches (who know nothing about strength and conditioning but did this or that back in their day) want this mythical bulky, strong athlete.

In our case, the kids seem to gravitate to crossfit and this other type of training just doesn't pass their bullshit test. The interesting thing these kids get to see is that crossfit is an option. The 150lb 5'6" kid that is a lineman because he doesn't have the "talent" to play a skill positon and gets dominated in practice and games can come into a crossfit wod that has hspus, pull-ups (or other bodyweight movements) and can turn the tables on even the skilled kids. the competetion of Crossfit changes the dynamics of athletics.


wrote …

I'm sorry, but to say that pro athletes don't have the mindset to push like crossfitters is ridiculous. I will take American Football as an example; these guys are basically the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes in the country. They smash into each other at full speed with all of their power at least 60 plays per game. They play through injuries that we regular people would barely get out of bed with. A concussion expert said that every play is like a 35 mile an hour car wreck where you go head first through the windshield. Saying that they don't have the capacity to mentally push through is asinine.

Crossfit definitely takes a lot of mental fortitude, but these professional athletes perform at the highest levels of their sport against the highest level opponents of their sport every single game and are watched by thousands to millions of people every time they play. Every play of every game is scrutinized by the media and the paying public. You have to be mentally tough to deal with all that.

Finally, these guys are the cream of the genetic crop. Scouts have most likely been watching them since they were children because of their natural gifts. They are paid millions because nobody can do the things they do. If there were equivalent compensation for crossfit to what they do now, I'd bet they would dominate. I love crossfit, but come on man.


wrote …

I agree with George. Professional athelets have to train physacaly and mentally. Not only that, but they have to perform their best 100% of the time, and that takes huge mental fortitude. To say a propfesional athlete would have to give up being a profecialnal to be a great crossfiter is so erigant beyond all belief. I love CF as much as the next guy for all that it is in terms of getting people healthy and how great the comunity is, but the last thing the CF world needs are "profescional crossfitters" who have a god complex.
Let's call CrossFit what it is: competative fitness, not a sport.


wrote …

That said, they would definitely have to train crossfit for a little while to get acclimated to the demands. It would be amazing to see a guy like Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson in their prime doing crossfit. Can't imagine what they would be capable of


Bryce Greenstein wrote …

Maybe the decathlon coach was referring to the 'unknown' aspect of CrossFit being too challenging for other professional athletes?

Games competitors show up to California, know the competition takes place over three days, and that's about it. The number of events, type of events, movements, time duration, and equipment are all unknown. The rules and format can vary year to year.

It takes a considerable amount of mental strength to compete with so many unknowns and and potentially unique variables that just don't show it in other pro sports.


wrote …

Well, if there's a million dollar prize to the winner, the game's rules and judges for that year better be locked on tight. I can't see many people getting litigious over $5,000 or even $25,000. Heck, like was said, money wasn't in the thought process. However, purses in the $100,000 or higher range will make money a part of the thought process which can bring in lawyers if one feels they got a raw deal.

About the subject of pros coming in and dominating, well, I can see it happening. It won't be easy for them as the pros will still need to train at CrossFit. It'll be exciting to witness. Plus, we're just thinking about US pros. Don't forget there are professional athletes in other countries that will turn their hand toward CrossFit with the hopes of dominating.

However, I'm looking more forward to the type of kid that has a choice in any sport to dominate but narrows in on CrossFit. That'll be awesome to witness.


wrote …

Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady...

All naturally gifted athletes. But their mental toughness is exactly what sets these guys apart from the competition.


wrote …

George is absolutely correct... They are PRO athletes for a reason.
If they dedicated their time to training CrossFit like they did in football or basketball, who knows. But I don't think they'll have too many issues making a transition.
On the other hand, a million dollars... that's it? I don't know, but if I was
a pro player, I wouldn't leave my MULTI million dollar contract for 1 mill especially if I haven't been training in the sport. But it would be cool to one day be in the games next to a former NFL player, and beat him!


wrote …

I think that we should look at different pro sports that would make the best crossfitters. You can't question intensity, dedication and toughness with the amount of hours that these pro athletes have to put in (even though there are a few that are just naturally gifted, I believe Welbourne from crossfit football has said he knew guys that never lifted a weight but could throw anyone around on the field or had speed that couldn't be taught). If you take an athlete and TODAY have them compete I feel that a gymnast would have an advantage due to the strength/size/skill that comes with their sport and the obvious role that gymnastic movements play in the sport of crossfit, I'd also assume that wrestlers would fall into this category with just a slight less bit of skill but yet a boat load of mental fortitude. On the football field I would look at the skill positions as being the ones most capable of destroying a workout because of strength and speed but their limiting factor would be skill (not that they couldn't learn over time). Soccer plays would lack strength but respective to bodyweight and endurance they would dominate. Track athletes are way to specialized and even decathletes work predominately in the anaerobic energy system (besides the 1500 I believe).

I almost feel that a limiting factor for most of these athletes would be the endurance element, besides say the soccer player most longer metcons may leave them at a disadvantage.


wrote …

Cool video, but I've got to echo the opinion that the assertion that professional athletes lack the mental fortitude to be successful at Crossfit workouts should they choose to focus on them to be pretty ridiculous.


wrote …

I don't think the video is saying "CrossFit" is too tough for professional athletes. It's the CrossFit Games that would be too tough for a lot of these pros. There's a big f###### difference between those two. It's not about being the best at one event a week. It's about being the above average at many events over three days.

That said, I would love to see guys train at CrossFit for 6 months and give it a shot. We saw what happened with an Icelandic pole vaulter that tried that (muscle ups weakness hurt her the first year).


wrote …

Yeah I REALLY dislike the comparison to Pro Athletes. I think honestly that these Elite level Crossfitters are at times getting a little too serious about athletic training which is what Crossfit is. These guys are all super fit and I admire their accomplishments and level of fitness but come on....Crossfit is NOT a Professional Sport and I do not think it ever will be. Not enough people enjoy watching other people workout on TV. And again, who says Crossfit is the bench mark for fitness?


wrote …

I have to agree with George on this one. To say that they don't have the mindset to push like a CrossFitter is absurd. Yes, CrossFit is mentally and physically demanding, but these top level pro athletes dedicate themselves day in and day out to the pursuit of their sport and profession. I'm quite certain that an NFL player, NBA player, MMA fighter, wrestler, etc. all posses the "mental toughness" to compete in CrossFit. As the article states, athletes follow the money. So, if "CrossFit trained athletes will transition easily into other sports and dominate the playing field", then why don't they follow the money and put in the skills and drills work necessary for their sport of choice and go dominate that field? CrossFit's elite is full of people with extensive background in a vareity of sports. If they are so much mentally and physically tougher why didn't they stick around their original sport, or rejoin said sport with their newfound CrossFit tenacity and dominate for a substantially higher paycheck? I'm guessing the CrossFit training circuit and owning an affiliate doesn't pay poorly, but I'm sure it isn't more than anyone on a 53 man NFL roster makes.


Jay Ashman wrote …

Castro's comment about pro athletes is laughable. I've played 1AA football, superleague rugby, coached and trained numerous athletes and not only is this comment wrong, it is crazy to even SUGGEST this.

My advice to him is to work in the offseason with a good professional or good college team and then come back and say they don't have the mindset. I laugh at his ignorance.


wrote …

I like Matt Payne's comment on this topic--the masses won't pay to watch dudes workout. Or they won't pay nearly the same amount of money they do for football or basketball. People view CrossFit training as something that makes them better at their sports, not as a sport in itself. It's more of a means to an end rather than the end itself.


wrote …

Graham - Football and Baseball
Speal - Wrestler
Froning - Baseball
Hackenbruck - Football
Michelle Kinney - Football
Caity Matter - Basketball
Dave Lipson - Baseball
Pat Barber - Volleyball
Mikko - Soccer (I think)
Heather Bergeron - Triathlon

So...Most of these people have college to Pro level athletic backgrounds, I am really confused as to how Tommy says that he doesn't think 230lb linebackers could compete in Crossfit, when he WAS a 230lb linebacker?...He just transitioned over...Look at Neal Maddox, dude was playing flag football or something, transitioned for like 3-6 months and was a star. If someone has all the flexibility, strength and aerobic capacity, the only thing standing in their way is muscle fatigue and form, and those don't take that long to train/adapt if you have sick genetics/diet. This is already what has happened in this sport, just on a small scale, and less "elite" athletes from other sports. Darren Sproles is who first comes to mind:

5'9 181 lbs
4.4 40 yard dash
400lb Bench
818lb Safety Squat
320lb Power Clean
Benched 225 (45lbs over bodyweight) 23 times
Short, compact body, I'm guessing with a 400lb bench at 181 HSPU would be cake.


wrote …

Issue 1:
I played football through college (Division 1) and can tell you that personally my years, upon years, of training for football was completely applicable to Crossfit. I don't know how many of you have been through a college or pro level training camp, but I can assure you that they are not easy. I know there were many days during two a day practices that we ran so hard that players would literally pass out.

I'm not saying this was right, but I'm merely trying to illustrate that assuming that Crossfit athletes are the only ones who know how to "Get The Mind" to work through a workout would be incorrect.

Issue 2:
This reminds me of the arguments that surround US Weightlifting. Many blame our training techniques, and say we don't train hard enough to ever be real contenders on the World stage. However, I believe, that just like Crossfit, the problem lies in the draw of athletes. I'm certain there are some young athletes out there that would make phenomenal O-Lifters but will never even consider the sport.

There is no draw....

They'll end up in football, baseball, or basketball applying their explosive muscle fiber to a sport that will earn them scholarships, or who knows what else.

I don't know how many of you remember a running back named Marcus Dupree from the early 80's, but in high school (17yrs old) he could back squat 500lbs, bench 400lbs for 10 reps, ran a 9.5 100YD dash, and was 6'3" 235lbs.

What do you think an athlete like this would be capable of? What about Lance Armstrong? What about Adrian Peterson?

I'm not going to take anything from our current crossfit athletes.

However, Dave Castro raises a very interesting question. If one year from now they offered a One Million Dollar Purse would we still see the same athletes at the top of the podium?

Before you answer, think about the success of some recent neophytes to Crossfit.

Tommy Hackenbruck was brand new to Crossfit and made the podium in 2009. Why? I suggest it was because he is a hell of an athlete and that counts for A TON.

Rich Froning was also new to Crossfit and had he been capable of climbing a rope......may have been 1st.

One Million Dollars is the DRAW I was talking about. It's enough money for someone to "Get The Mindset" to work through a WOD.

I won't speculate....

It will be interesting this year to see what the limited sponsorship will produce, and made even more interesting if that purse continues to grow.


wrote …

This is Tommy Hackenbruck, sorry I'm logged in at a friends computer. Wanted to respond to a couple of comments and my response is purely my own opinion, based on my own experience:
I stand behind my comment that these huge, strong fast guys i.e. linebackers or larger running backs would not transition well. Yes, I was 230lb linebacker but I really struggled to gain weight and always had a small frame for the position. I was 200lb out of high school and have been 205 since a month after my football days were over. I still find myself at a disadvantage in many workouts because of my larger (for a crossfitter) stature. I can hardly believe that many of these NFL guys, although more gifted, stronger, faster, and larger than me, would transition well. I also have a very unique background that helped me transition very well with gymnastics movements, which may take other guys longer. I hope this doesn't sound arrogant as you all think. I'm not trying to state that the people in that room are the best athletes on the planet by any means, but that from my experience it takes a much different skill set to excel at crossfit that it not necessarily what many professional athletes have. There's a reason the top crossfitters fell short in their former athletic endeavors, just as there's a reason they have excelled at crossfit.

About the mental toughness thing I still agree. It's not that all pro's would struggle, but I think a lot would. Again, only from my experience, but out of the hardest workers on my team at Utah, I mean guys who flat out threw down for every workout all off-season, only one of them is playing professional football. Most of the guys who are playing on Sundays are there because they are absolute freaks, not because of superior work ethic. Yes, there are some with a great work ethic, but not all. And I think a lot would have a hard time training like they needed to without a coach there all the time. Money may change all this, but to this point to be a great crossfitter you need to push yourself day in and day out, when nobody is watching. I think any wrestler would have no problem, but many football players would definitely have a hard time pushing themselves through crossfit workouts on a regular basis.
The last element which I think may hurt some of those guys like Darren Sproles is the conditioning and endurance, and unique skill aspect. He's 10x the football I'll ever be, I could never be as fast or quick as him. But there's no guarantee he could ever have the aerobic endurance capacity that I've developed. Perhaps, he could, wouldn't suprise me, but I believe some people are naturally really fast, some can run really long distances and some are in-between. As long as there's a longer element in the games this may make it tougher for other professionals who are very explosive to work their way in. When I started crossfit I was thinking about guys I played football with and who would be really good at it, two guys came to mind. They were both defensive backs, both very hard workers, but they were two of our slower defensive backs and neither of them played on Sundays.

The last thing is skill, as demonstrated in the "Amanda" wod at the games, when the movement is squat snatch as opposed to ground to overhead a lot of things change. The guys who did well in that workout didn't have the highest numbers for a max snatch, but they were very good at squat snatches (technique). There were quite a few guys there who struggled (me being one of them) because of the skill. Just because someone can move a lot of weight it doesn't mean they will dominate crossfit workouts.
I hope this is taken the right way. There are thousands of guys out there faster, stronger, etc. who are fine athletes. I think there are a few who would transition very well, but it's not necessarily going to be the strongest, fastest guys who could do it. It will be a select group of guys who have a very unique background and skill set that allows them to compete on a high level quickly.


wrote …

I agree 100% with Tommy Hackenbruck, I think Crossfitters are without doubt the fittest and greatest athletes on the planet. To suggest that an Olympic decathlete , wrestler, gymnast or footballer could compete against mikko, spealler or Kalipa is ludicrous. I also agree that the top crossfit athletes could turn their hand to any olympic or proffessional sport and dominate it within 3-6 months. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain wrong, do you really think an olympic gymnast could do more than 20 chinups, not a chance these guys would fatigue so quick and get smashed by pukey or get rabdo. NFL'ers push through pain but it's nowhere the intensity of the pain of a hard fran , quite simply Crossfit would break 99.9% of pro athletes.


wrote …

I just listened to Castro's comments that have everyone so fired up - Castro said that one of Bryan Clay's COACHES told Josh Everett that most DECATHLETES don't have the mindset to push like CrossFitters do.

He also further qualfied that by saying that "unless Bryan Clay started CrossFitting he wouldn't just come in and clean house"

Once again he said that one of Clay's coaches said that, he wasn't expressing a personal opinion.

Frankly even if it was his opinion, why would anyone object to that ?

Of course an athlete that competes in a sport where 9 of the 10 events aren't even used in CrossFit (and last only a few seconds) isn't going to come in and just "clean house"

How is that so many people who commented think that Dave Castro (or anyone else on this video) said anything like "other athletes don't have the mindset to compete in CrossFit" ?


wrote …

Re: # 19, 2AFDS-

I love CrossFit and I'm an affiliate owner. I'd like nothing more than to see it continue to grow and our athletes dominate in other endeavors. That being said, your statements are just flat wrong.

"I also agree that the top crossfit athletes could turn their hand to any olympic or proffessional sport and dominate it within 3-6 months."

I don't think Tommy said this. If this were the case, I suggest every one of our top CrossFitters should go do professional sports for a while, dominate as you suggest and make a bunch of cash. They could always come back to CrossFit later. That would be great for CrossFit and them. Give me a break. Pro athletes spend their entire lives training to get to where they are, and still it's vanishingly rare that any of them succeed. They need luck, skill, talent AND a freakish work capacity. Ask any of our top CrossFitters if they could dominate a pro sport in 3-6 months and see what they say...

"Anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain wrong, do you really think an olympic gymnast could do more than 20 chinups, not a chance these guys would fatigue so quick and get smashed by pukey or get rabdo."

Umm, I suspect you've never seen a real gymnast, let alone an olympic gymnast. 20 pullups would be nothing for them. In fact, 20 one-arm pullups may be nothing. I believe Coach G originally came up with Fran PRECISELY to simulate the same feeling he got after a hard gymnastics routine.

"NFL'ers push through pain but it's nowhere the intensity of the pain of a hard fran , quite simply Crossfit would break 99.9% of pro athletes."

Maybe for the first WOD they ever do, I'll give you that, just b/c they wouldn't know what's coming. Then they'd pick themselves up, and if they did another one they wouldn't be broken. By the 5th or 6th WOD they'd be fine, just like the rest of us. I'll leave it to others to elaborate with their experiences, but statements like these make us and CrossFit look ludicrous to the general public.

I just realized I spent 5min responding to a possible troll. Sigh.


Flamebait much?

Top Crossfitters are amazing in the breadth of their skills and capacities, but to reach the top level in many athletic endeavors requires a level of specialization that in some cases would effectively prevent one from being a good generalist.

As an example, humans with the best possible combination of genetic and developmental circumstances to excel at events requiring prolonged aerobic endurance have a preponderance of Type I muscle fibers and proportionally fewer Type II. Even if the individual in question would change their training (and nutrition) for years to focus primarily on explosive strength, they would still be at a considerable disadvantage in events requiring explosive strength when competing against athletes with a more normal distribution of muscle fiber types.

The opposite is true as well. A top-level gymnast could certainly over time train for and complete marathon or even ultra-marathon type events, but it is extremely unlikely that they could ever be particularly competitive at them, primarly due to the overwhelming likelihood that they are genetically predisposed to an overrepresentation of Type IIb (fast-twitch, fast-fatigue) fibers.

In each case it is not simply a matter of determination and planning. Genetics does play a role. This role is perhaps less important when dealing with CrossFitters as a population precisely because of the breadth of different challenges that we are expected to deal with. CrossFit discourages specialization and encourages generalists. Speal had to get stronger and heavier to become more competitive in strength events. Graham had to get leaner and lighter to become more competitive in bodyweight and metcon events. Everybody has to spend time identifying and working on their weaknesses in order to be as complete as possible. Pro-level sports, by contrast, do not encourage this.

One more thing: To suggest that olympic gymnasts would have trouble doing more than 20 pullups shows how little you know about gymnasts. I'm not saying that they would crush Angie on their first try, but I would put my money on them doing better than the vast majority of the non-CF population, given the challenge. Rock climbers, parkour athletes and lightweight motocrossers would also be good bets to do well, but the gymnasts would get through the pullups in time.


wrote …

I have to agreet with Tommy Hackenbruck...

Some of the numbers that are put up in Crossfit are just amazing, and simply being strong or fast is not going to bring you that kind of skill and work capacity.

A powerful athlete might come in and crush Isabel their first time, but are they going to do it in 1 minute like Dave Lipson? and is that same athlete going to be able to do pyramid super Helen or whatever from the '10 games and place highly?

The skill set and balance of all 10 physical skills is so broad that a machine like Mikko didn't win last year, and a super skilled guy like Spealler either.

To win the games doesn't seem to me to take freakish athletic ability, it takes freakish dedication to improvement everyday, to the minutia that makes you 1 second faster on a kettlebell swing.


wrote …

I'll make a very general statement that I think is applicable to the argument:

Athleticism + Sport specific skills = Sport performance

If you lack the conditioning specific to the sport then you will not perform. If you lack the specific skills for the sport then you will not perform. Both are required.

CF Games competition is a specialized sport now, just as much as football, basketball, etc. Specific skill training is required to exploit the conditioning that is developed. Transitioning from one specific sport to any other would require at the least the development of that sport's specific skills.


wrote …

this is ridiculous...

YES football players are amazing FOOTBALL PLAYERS but everything they do is specific to a 4-6 second football play. they are STRONG and FAST there is no contesting that. however, as soon as a WOD includes a few 800m runs or 1000m rows, 50+ pullups, squat snatches, muscle-ups, HSPUs, double-unders, rope climbs or 150+ kettlebell swings FOR TIME! these amazing FOOTBALL PLAYERS become obsolete athletes.. there's no denying that.. the same is true for baseball pros, soccer pros and olympic athletes of all types..

NOW, that said... i believe the point they (the roundtable crew) were trying to make is that a Pro athlete (Football, Baseball, Decathlete or otherewise) would not be able to simply walk right out of the stadium and in to a BOX and dominate.

Pro athletes are definitely BADASS (within their sport) but it would take at least a year, if not longer, of serious and dedicated Crossfit training for any sport-specific "PRO" to even become competitive at the SPORT of Crossfit (especially, if you make them leave their "performance enhancing drugs" behind).



wrote …

I love crossfit, and its gotten me into the best shape ive ever been in, but seriously guys and gals, get real. Pro athletes are pros, because they are the best at what they do in the WORLD...The NFL has many of the best athletes you can find, 100m sprinters can only barely beat out some of the RBs, WRs, etc. Strengthwise, many could compete in any kind of lifting.

Really the question is not whether the pros can do crossfit, its whether crossfitters can do the pro's workouts....

Take Jerry Rice for example, think you can do his?

"Rice’s six-day-a-week workout is divided into two parts: two hours of cardiovascular work in the morning and three hours of strength training each afternoon. Early in the off-season, the a.m. segment consists of a five-mile trail run near San Carlos on a torturous course called, simply, The Hill. But since five vertical miles can hardly be considered a workout, he pauses on the steepest section to do a series of ten 40-meter uphill sprints. As the season approaches, however, Rice knows it’s time to start conserving energy – so he forgoes The Hill and instead merely does a couple of sprints: six 100-yarders, six 80s, six 60s, six 40s, six 20s, and 16 tens, with no rest between sprints and just two and a half minutes between sets. For the p.m. sessions he alternates between upper-body and lower-body days. But no matter which half of his body he’s working on, the volume is always the same: three sets of ten reps of 21 different exercises. Yes, your calculator’s right: That’s 630 repetitions a day."


wrote …

jerry rice is an exception bro.
no one really comes close to his work ethic or programming.
jerry rice does not equal "normakl" pro athlete.


replied to comment from Matt Payne

I agree with Matt Payne. This video bugged the shit out of me..I think CF is paying too much attention to some of these guys/girls. CrossFit is still on the fringe and there are a ton of super strong athletes out there that don't even know it exists. Thats why i've always hated the "fittest person on the planet" claim. I think the competitive aspect of it is kind of silly plus watching people competeing is maybe inspiring for a hot second but gets pretty boring quickly. Glad Mikko kept his mouth shut.


replied to comment from Jonnycakes Conant

This video gave me flashbacks of sitting through a freshman philosophy class.


wrote …

I think the issue with the pro athlete is that most of them because of their specialty have underlying gaps in their GPP which is what crossfit focuses on. I believe Coach Glassman has stated that they have seen athletic improvements in numerous sports from the athlete adding in a GPP conditioning program i.e. crossfit, but that is another topic.

Dave Tate though used a metaphor about an equalizer whereas most pro athletes will be dialed up in one or two specific elements of say the ten basic components of fitness while crossfitters are level across a broad spectrum. Being level will not get you a contract in the NFL but it will allow you to compete at crossfit. Once the pro athlete addressed these weaknesses they would be able to compete, but then again if they walked off the street TODAY because they heard about a million dollar prize they may have the fortitude and athleticism to compete but what they lack is the "skill" set to last three days in the crossfit arena over a wide range of events.


wrote …

There is alot going on here... perhaps a little filtering and focus will help this debate.

It appears there are a few different questions up in the air here.
1) Would elite level professional athletes, those that are the best of their given sport, be able to best top tier crossfit athletes in a crossfit games style contest without significant crossfit training? what about with significant crossfit training?
2) Will the next wave of top tier crossfit athletes be former professional athletes who crossed over and are now full time crossfitters?

1) Elite level professional athletes, those that are the best at their given sport, would not be able to best top tier crossfit athletes in a crossfit games style contest without significant crossfit training.

While many professional athletes are some combination of very fast, strong, powerful or agile, they most likely are not at the same level in all 10 aspects of fitness, or the ability to learn new skills, or as competent at utilizing all 3 "metabolic engines" as elite level crossfit athletes are. While a professional athlete may be able to perform pretty well with minimal crossfit training, even beating most crossfitters, possibly even those who may compete in regionals, they would not be able to beat the top tier crossfit athletes in a games style contest. The games test too many different elements. Sport specific athletes may do pretty good in all areas and very well at certain areas which their sport emphasizes, but that won't be enough to best the crossfit elite. Being excellent at some and above average in others won't cut it against the top tier crossfit athletes who are very good at everything. They would not be able to perform at a high level all modalities and time domains like the top tier games athletes do without significant training.

Remember crossfit in itself is a sport. While Lebron James may be a beast of an athlete, and perform better than several wide recievers in the NFL, The elite recievers will still be better at their given craft than Lebron. The same could be said about someone like Calvin Johnson, he may also be a very good basketball player, but he will not be better than the elite players in the NBA, neither one possesses the necessary specialization to be better than the elites of the other sport. The same goes for Lebron James or Calvin Johnson competing in the crossfit games. They are both elite level professional athletes at their given game, but are not familiar and adept enough in all the details of crossfit to best the crossfit elite.
Also remember that when the top tier crossfit athletes went to the UA combine 360 they as a group finished in the top 10 percent of all athletes tested. In addition at the time of the article's writing (9/10) the highest score ever recorded there was shared between a crossfitter and a div 1 football player. There are flaws and holes if this test is used as a solitary reason in other debates over which is a better athlete or so on, but it does give some insight. If nothing else it shows that while elite professional athletes are beasts and in great shape, the crossfit athletes have proven themselves to be up there too. Lets not put these professional athletes on this hallowed pedestal above the proven crossfit athletes. Afterall in the only legitimate comparison (although 1 test is not significant grounds to make any credible assumptions) available between the two groups testing overall athletic performance, the crossfit athletes performed very well. The assumption that the elite level professional athletes are of a whole different caliber of athletic performance is invalid.

To answer the second part of the question, professional athletes would not be able to best the top tier crossfit athletes at a crossfit games style contest without significant crossfit training. If they start following a crossfit training routine, then it is possible they could perform well in the crossfit games, but this would result with in essence transform them into crossfitters themselves. No one will ever be toward the top of the leaderboards at the games without significant constantly varied high intensity functional movement training dispersed about broad time and modal domains. If you engage in this training then you are a crossfitter. Simply put, only crossfitters will be winning the crossfit games. It may be possible to be an elite crossfitter while playing a professional sport, or even moreso being one of the best at that sport, but it is yet to be seen. Until a professional athlete crosses over and performs well at the crossfit games, the basic assumption that its not possible to train both sports at an elite level or that those top tier professional athletes are unwilling to do the crossfit training to will stand as the norm.

and truth be told, I don't foresee too many elite level athletes who are currently the cream of the crop legitimately competing at the crossfit games. As stated above doing so would require significant training and dedication in addition to everything they do for their current sport. It would be a significant time invest, which in theory could happen, but would be unlikely. The monetary returns are insignificant compared of an elite professional athlete's salary, so the main drive for them to compete would be pride, or enjoyment. It is possible that a Lebron James or Calvin Johnson could come across crossfit and become hooked on it like most of us have, but that seems very unlikely as they are already having success in their current training routine. Its possible that if crossfit continues to gain respect that someday elite level professional athletes may want the title "fittest in the world" or see how they stack up against "the fittest people in the world", but crossfit will have to be the accepted mainstream standard for fitness. While its improving, its not quite there yet. So basically, there is no drive or push for current professional athletes to change what they are doing, but there is significant reason for them to continue what they are doing, afterall they currently are the best at their craft- why fixing something that in their eyes is not broken?

2) The next wave of top tier crossfit athletes will be former professional athletes who have crossed over and are now full time crossfitters. (but probably not 220+, 6'3" and taller former football and basketball players)

As crossfit grows and gains popularity, credibility and respect, more people who may have at one time been professional athletes, will flock toward it. Most of the current crossfit elite played sports at atleast a collegiate level. While I cannot speak directly for anyone in from that roundtable in Tahoe, I am willing to bet if they were able to continue to the professional level after college, that most would have. And from that they may never have discovered crossfit. I have yet to hear of any athlete that was a professional athlete, or a professional bound college athlete that gave up that sport to further pursue crossfit. Money drives everything, and as many stated above, crossfit does not yet have a significant enough monetary incentive to pull potential talent from professional level sporting organizations. It already gets a great deal of talent from former collegiate athletes who for whatever reason may not have been able to continue to the next level with their collegiate sport. The next logical progression would be include former professional athletes who are capable of transitioning over and competing at a high level. There is no reason to believe that these former professionals will end up dominating crossfit, but it is likely that some will ultimately find themselves among the current crossfit elite. It is assumed that former professional athletes had some of the 10 general physical skills, most likely they were quite good at atleast some to make it to a professional level. Some of them will eventually come across and buy into the crossfit methodology and culture. From this it seems plausible that some will be willing and able to develop any weaknesses they may have and ultimately perform at a high level, even in the games. If / once a few former professional athletes do this, then more and more former professional athletes will buy in. Once this happens, the former professional athlete will become the new archetype for elite level crossfitters.

While the new archetype will most likely become professional athletes, will most of these athletes be 220+ 6'3" and taller former football and basketball players? Probably not, they will most likely be the exception rather than the rule. As Tommy stated, it is difficult size frame to maintain bodyweight movements for extended durations. If these football and basketball players can be that size and still compete with smaller athletes at bodyweight motions and longer duration events, then the archtype could eventually transition into that. There is no significant evidence that the 220+ six foot plus athletes can compete with someone more of the typical 170-180ish builds of Miko, Graham or Freoning at body weight movements, yet this sized athlete can usually at least come close to the strength standards that would be tested at a crossfit games of those larger athletes. While there may be an athlete with a larger build who performs well at the games, it will be the exception rather than the rule. The next wave of top tier crossfitters may very likely end up being former professional athletes, but not of the 220+ 6foot plus former professional basketball players.


wrote …


I like your last point. It is important to remember that there is a selection bias at work for many sports like football and basketball based simply on size. In many cases large individuals were probably pushed harder because of their "potential" based on size.

I agree that genetic freakshowness probably does play a large part in what gets a pro past the college level, but some crossfitters who never made the pros may have genetic freakshow athleticism but miss other selection criteria like height or weight necessary to be a pro football or basketball player, or maybe missed other opportunities due to growing up in the U.S. which generally emphasizes sports where bigness helps.


wrote …

I think people are putting too much emphasis on genetics in this debate. I agree that pro athletes are genetically gifted but being a genetic freak would be a huge negative when competing at the games. Remember what Coach Glassman set out to acheive when he created Crossfit, he wanted to create a sub species of people who had no weaknesses at all , ever ! Any athlete who is a genetic freak is incredible in 1 or 2 areas but terrible in all others. Do you really think Usain Bolt would have done well in the 7km hill run in the 09 Games ?? Think about it people!!

Dave Castro is right on the money with his comments , personally I'd love to see Lebron , Tiger or any other pro turn up to the 2011 Games looking for an easy paycheck.


Jesse Gray wrote …

On the subject of professional athletes and crossfit. Here's the deal, when we talk about pro football players we mention things like "genetic freak", "one in a million athlete" and the like. Basically, we are acknowledging that these people are uniquely adapted to one very specialized type of athletic pursuit. This is the exact opposite of Crossfit which is a GPP conditioning program. To be an incredible Crossfitter, you should be freakishly average. You should be just as adept at lifting heavy weight as you are at running long distance. Being too good at any one facet of fitness will in theory limit you in another. The vast majority of professional are really, really good at one thing, that's why they're pros.
As far as mental toughness is concerned, I would imagine that the majority of people who are pro athletes have the capacity for mental toughness but may not have trained it specifically. Something Crossfitters do every workout. I ould also say that if you count professional triathletes, marathoners, middle distance runners and the like that they have at least as much if not more mental toughness than almost any Crossfitter. Anyone who thinks Crossfit WODs are the hardest thing out there has never participated in an ultra distance event or run a 5K in a competitive time.


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Ok, first, CF is its own sport with its own specific training requirements. To be the best you have to train for it. So, to think that any athlete from another sport could just walk in and dominate is silly. With that said, the best of the best physically are out there playing professional sports like American football and if CF money got big enough I am sure some among them would like to try their hand. Let them train for it and WATCH OUT.


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I still have a very hard time seeing how these guys even start to consider themselves "Elite" as compared to PRO's. Maybe they don't but the hype is hard to take. The only thing they could possibly consider themselves ELITE in is Crossfit. That's cool I guess but again why compare themselves to PRO Athletes? I personally see the sport of Crossfit as really great GPP training and I thinks it's fun and I appreciate the community. Even bringing the notion of "what would happen if" speaks to some arrogance of people's capabilities. Do Navy Seals (Castro,Sherwood included) sit around and chat about what would happen if top Crossfitters when to BUD's and SEAL training? Would an Elite Crossfit participant make a great SEAL? Hell no. Fitness wise they may be ready but mental, reaction under stress etc... My point is why the heck even ask the question?


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RE #36 Matt Payne

Matt for a start Crossfit is not hype, remember what Coach Glassman was trying to achieve when he orchestrated the program. To suggest that Crossfitters are not the fittest athletes on the planet is offensive to all of us living within the Crossfit community.

Personally I think Crossfit is the only program required to meet every athletes fitness needs. Coach has done away with the need for useless and time consuming things such as periodization, specialization and individulization. He has created a website which meets the needs of everyone looking to achieve elite fitness all within a 20 odd minute workout per day. (sheer genius)

Remember one of our more popular slogans "your workout is our warmup" think about that for a minute. Coach Glassman could probably still beat most proffessional athletes in a any workout which requires the ability to move large loads long distances over broad time and moadal domains.

Why are we always wanting pro athletes to compete at the games why don't we go after them at their own sports ? I foresee a future where Crossfit athletes hold a number of world records and world titles !!


replied to comment from 2AirfieldDefenceSquadron 2AFDS

"a subspecies of people who had no weaknesses at all, ever." So, I guess I'm imagining all of the GAMES competitors who have struggled with muscle ups or handstand pushups or ring handstand pushups or double unders or even a 7K hill run.

Really. If I didn't know any better, I would think that some of you have never watched Division I or professional sports. I'm a 35 year old mother of 2 kids, and I can do muscle ups. Do you really think LeBron James or most other pro athletes couldn't learn how to do some MUs, toes-to-bar, and SDHPs in a couple of weeks?


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May I be the first to introduce you to Youtube. I think the answers to some of the ridiculous claims are on the internet.

Usain Bolt doing a 7k? Probably before breakfast. Seriously, the man runs 400m in 45seconds. I bet he can keep up half that speed (1:30 for 400m) and jog a sub20 5k.

The idea that athletes from other sports cannot compete with the intensity is so outrageous. What sports do you watch? Table tennis?

Ray Lewis, Vernon Davis, Reggie Bush, and 100's of others aren't one trick ponies that learned how to play football and do nothing else. Numerous rugby players - go check out the All Blacks training. Micheal Jordan wasn't intense? You don't think he could do bodyweight moves because of his "size"? A 56 inch vertical means he can explode his hips.

Do you think all those athletes at the Tahoe Throwdown would be there if they were busy with the pros? GSP is not likely going to trade in his title belt for a shot at the CF Games.

The argument that is being thrown around that these pro athletes would have to walk in to the CF Games and compete first day is also stupid. None of the CF Games competitors decided to start Crossfit days before that competition. They had months, if not longer, to learn the moves.

I can't believe I posted. This whole argument is stupid.


Jay Ashman wrote …

Tommy, with all due respect... you played at Utah, not in the NFL. Most college players DON'T go to the NFL so to call them elite athletes may be a stretch. Sure they are in shape and they are the best of the best as far as High School athletes that make it, but Castro specifically said professionals.

Pros are the best of the best from the top college players and they are paid big money to train, college athletes don't have the time to train like the pros because of studying (assuming most 1A athletes actually DO study).

I bet you that you take an average NFL DB, CB, WR and some 210-220# RB's and teach them these CrossFit specific movements, you would see a lot of them smash it rather easily.

For those that think that wouldn't be the case, go follow a training camp, go watch some of them train, email DeFranco and ask him how long Brian Cushing trains in the offseason, how much weight they push and move and how quickly they adapt to movement patterns.

We are talking about the best of the best in the professional ranks. These aren't your weekend athletes playing flag football, I think most of you don't know what it takes to be a professional.

I was 310# at one point, I ran a 5.0 40 yard dash flat, I had a 4.69 shuttle run, vertical of 30" and did the 225# bench press for 38 reps, this was in 1998 and I had a workout with a professional team. I was a beast, and I didn't make it. There were so many better, stronger, faster and better athletes than me that it wasn't even funny. I had workouts against guys that threw up 225 for almost 40 reps and went out and ran 4.5 40's. I saw guys run routes for 30 minutes straight without breathing heavy. These also were guys that didn't make it...

Now with that little bit of information imagine how good an NFL player is, how good a professional rugby player is and how fast, strong and powerful they are, and the skill position players are in phenomenal shape.

Don't forget that obvious fact, these people are pros.

Also, this is comparing apples to oranges here. Stop trying to compare a 10-15 minute to the physical demands of a game, which involve: running, tackling, hitting, blocking, getting your head rattled, getting hurt, playing hurt, dealing with the adrenalin rush of a big play and having to come back to do it all over again. If you guys think a simple workout can even come close to comparing to a physical war like that, you are incredibly delusional.


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Jay , I respect your opinion however I stand by Dave Castro's claims that pro athletes would find Crossfit is too intense for them. Those numbers you are throwing about sound great but can you bust out 50 chinups, how about a fast one mile run ?? That is the beauty of the Crossfit system it literally destroys pro athletes who specialize in one area. I'd love to see Michael Jordan's face when he saw the chipper at the 2009 games for instance.
You say you did a 225# bench for 38 reps , that's great but as you know we don't even do bench press in Crossfit we do pushups (not something you would enjoy doing at 310# by the way) it's more functional a word you need to get aquainted with.
Imagine Mikko if he grew up playing NFL , with his natural gifts I think even you would have to admit he would be one the all time greats in a number of positions. Or how about if Spealler took up baseball or gymnastics ? , the word dominate springs to mind.
Let's face it pro athletes are in it for the money whereas Crossfitters are in it foe the challenge and because we are passionate about being the fittest and best athletes on the planet.
If the pro's are so great I say we petition Coach Glassman into giving any pro ranked 3 in the world or better in their chosen sport automatic entry into the 2011 games. What do you guys think , would this be fair ????


wrote …

Graham was on the right track when he said he'd like to see Paul Smith do a WOD with hand stand push-ups in it.

If Smith would have held his position in the last WOD at the South Central Regionals, he would have qualified for the Games, but the last WOD was muscle ups (rings), HSPU, squat cleans and a run and Smith couldn't compete (on a WOD like that) with a guy who was 5'3" and barely 150 lbs. (the guy who wound up going to the Games in that final slot).

Candidly, the fact that Smith "destroys" people in some things (he is very impressive) but can't hold a candle to many of those same people in other things is the beauty of CrossFit. As we all know, you don't have to be the best at everything, but you have to be pretty d@mn good at everything to win the Games.

Professional athletes will try CrossFit and some will excel, but being a professional athlete in a different sport certainly isn't a "free pass" to the Games.


wrote …

I can't believe I'm jumping in again on this, but here goes. Let's get this out of the way right now- I'm as passionate about CrossFit as anyone. As an affiliate owner I invest my time and energy because I believe in CrossFit, its principles, and what it can do for people. I also have nothing but the utmost respect for the athletes in the video, and in no way to do I think their opinions are those of some of the people on this board. Now...

Let's define (one of) the questions that seems to be coming up. Is the question, "can a pro athlete dominate in CrossFit, GIVEN some time to train, learn the movements, etc?" If that is the question, the answer is unequivocally yes. To believe otherwise belies a severe misunderstanding of the athleticism of a pro athlete, a completely inflated and false understanding of what CrossFit calls for, or both.

Start with the premise that what it took the pros to BECOME pro is exactly what would be needed to excel at CrossFit (or any other physical endeavour, for that matter). A professional athlete by definition has work ethic, talent, athleticism, innate potential, drive, mental toughness, etc- EVERY QUALITY that has been named and more. They have MORE OF ALL OF THIS THAN BASICALLY EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET. That's why they're pros. You don't get to be a pro without having all of those qualities. Do all of them have superior mental toughness? No, of course not. But the AVERAGE level of mental toughness amongst all professional athletes has to be much higher than the general population. Do all of them have superior ability to generate power? No, but in GENERAL they do. You can extend this thought process to every conceivable physical or mental trait that would help them excel at their sport. Now throw on a lifetime of training and the best of the best become pro athletes. I have no doubt that had Michael Jordan played and focused on baseball his whole life he would have gone pro at that. Lebron James, while not the ideal body type, could probably have been a great pro athlete in basically any sport he chose to focus on. Certain sports select for certain body types, true, but innate talent, drive, focus and ability to a certain extent MUST BE PRESENT to have any shot at becoming a pro.

So, what would happen if you took this pool of people, who have all of the requisite qualities in spades, and had them focus on "CrossFit"? They would dominate. Period. They would get more out of every back squat then the average person would, each pull up session they do would make them that much better than the average person, etc etc. Quite honestly it would be sick to watch. There would still be those body types that would be better or less suited to CrossFit, but in general they would be so far ahead of everyone else. Put another way, a 220lb 6'3 pro football player may never be the best CrossFitter, but they'd be better than every other NON-PRO 220lb 6'3 guy out there, and better than 99.9% of the field to boot.

I'm not even a fan of most pro sports, but to pretend that they are anything other than the most gifted and best athletes on the planet is ridiculous. Let them train using CrossFit methods and instruction for a while and there would be absolutely no contest. I'll close with two examples for people who don't get it-
1) Neal Maddox- former pro athlete who recently took up CrossFit and is already a monster. Is he dominant b/c he's a former pro? No- the qualities that made it so he COULD MAKE PRO translate over so well that he kicks ass at CrossFit in very little time.
2) Pretend mastery of a particular video game is the equivalent of being an elite CrossFitter. Right now, everyone who has mastered this game is someone who has been playing the game for some time, learned its nuances, improved their hand/eye coordination enough to beat the game, etc. They are damn good because they worked at it. These are our current crop of elites. Now take a pool of people who are so good at video games they just crush the field. They just react that much quicker, think faster, move faster etc than everyone else. It's unfair but hey, they're just that good. These are the pro athletes. Introduce these people to this particular game, and is there any question that given the time to practice they wouldn't end up dominating in similar fashion?


replied to comment from Jay Ashman

This is Tommy again signed in as someone else (I really need to renew my journal subscription).

Jay, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough, and I take no offense from anyone. I find this discussion very interesting and respect everybody's opinions.

1. I do believe there are many pro's who could dominate at crossfit, but not a single one who is freakish enough that even with a year of training to blow guys out of the water. The sport has evolved into something far too specific.

2. I do not believe anyone in that room, along with nearly all elite crossfitters would have a chance at playing in the NFL.

3. With all due respect, I played at Utah. 3 of the 4 defensive linemen who played in front of me played on Sunday. Sione Pouha is a noseguard on the NY Jets, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. Alex Smith was the number 1 overall pick. I was also around when Jordan Gross was drafted 7th overall as a Left Tackle who weighed 315, jumped 33.5 inches, and ran a 4.9 40. I have seen guys with great work ethic like Jordan and Alex, but most of the best guys I played with didn't work that hard. Steve Smith who was a pro-bowler for the Carolina Panthers was a freak, fast and could jump. He could barely bench his bodyweight and I Never saw him workout. He could run, he was sport specific. My point was there are some guys out there (probably a lot of rugby players) who would be great, but there are more guys who wouldn't ever reach an elite level in a sport where you had to spend a lot of time working on a lot of different things. I'm not bragging at all, I was too small and slow to play in the NFL, all I'm saying is that I have a legitimate perspective on what kind of guys play on Sundays. Where did you play and what professional team did you workout for. Did you train with guys who were 1st day draft picks year round for 5 years?

4. Crossfit is all about programming. Many guys would blow us out of the water in a set of tasks such as: 5k run, max clean and jerk, 40 yd. dash, 1000m swim, max strict pull-ups, max vertical jump, 500m Row. However, the way the games has been trending I think that Skill is a huge part of it and very specific training is necessary to win. Graham is a perfect example, he was the one guy who didn't trip up on any one event. Everybody else had one or more events where they struggled for one reason or another.

I don't think Games competitors have any superior ability or capacity that other professional athletes lack. I simply believe that because of the specificity of the sport it would be harder than most people think.

Perhaps I'm delusional, that's fine. I'd be happy to be proven right or wrong, because either way it will be a hell of a performance by whoever proves the point.



you have to be a troll... really. Either that or you have some damn good drugs.


This is Tommy again signed in as someone else (I really need to renew my journal subscription).

Jay, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough, and I take no offense from anyone. I find this discussion very interesting and respect everybody's opinions.

1. I do believe there are many pro's who could dominate at crossfit, but not a single one who is freakish enough that even with a year of training to blow guys out of the water. The sport has evolved into something far too specific.

--- sports training is very specific as well, you will have to admit that given the athleticism of many skill position professionals they would do very well at CF after learning the movements, and a year wouldn't be needed. ---

2. I do not believe anyone in that room, along with nearly all elite crossfitters would have a chance at playing in the NFL.

--- we agree on that. ---

3. With all due respect, I played at Utah. 3 of the 4 defensive linemen who played in front of me played on Sunday. Sione Pouha is a noseguard on the NY Jets, one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. Alex Smith was the number 1 overall pick. I was also around when Jordan Gross was drafted 7th overall as a Left Tackle who weighed 315, jumped 33.5 inches, and ran a 4.9 40. I have seen guys with great work ethic like Jordan and Alex, but most of the best guys I played with didn't work that hard. Steve Smith who was a pro-bowler for the Carolina Panthers was a freak, fast and could jump. He could barely bench his bodyweight and I Never saw him workout. He could run, he was sport specific. My point was there are some guys out there (probably a lot of rugby players) who would be great, but there are more guys who wouldn't ever reach an elite level in a sport where you had to spend a lot of time working on a lot of different things. I'm not bragging at all, I was too small and slow to play in the NFL, all I'm saying is that I have a legitimate perspective on what kind of guys play on Sundays. Where did you play and what professional team did you workout for. Did you train with guys who were 1st day draft picks year round for 5 years?

--- I played at Lehigh for 2 seasons before dropping out, and I had a workout with the Browns in 1998. I only wish I played with top draft picks, we were 1AA. I see what you are saying, but the fact is that pros are different than college. In order to be a professional you do have to work hard, some guys are very gifted but they still possess an incredible athleticism and ability to learn that the average guy cannot comprehend. Being that Castro said pros, I am using that one. I know your team was solid, I follow college FB closely. When I stopped playing FB I played D1 rugby and a year of superleague against dudes that came from Europe to play. The level of athlete I saw in that league was impressive and I know a lot of them could do well at anything they choose to touch, that is where genetics come into play. ---

4. Crossfit is all about programming. Many guys would blow us out of the water in a set of tasks such as: 5k run, max clean and jerk, 40 yd. dash, 1000m swim, max strict pull-ups, max vertical jump, 500m Row. However, the way the games has been trending I think that Skill is a huge part of it and very specific training is necessary to win. Graham is a perfect example, he was the one guy who didn't trip up on any one event. Everybody else had one or more events where they struggled for one reason or another.

--- Skill is a huge part of it, but skill can be learned. Athleticism is something you either have or you don't. Its hard to teach a non-athletic person a skill, you have to work hard at it. But if you take an skilled athlete and teach him a movement, he usually picks it up rather quickly, which is why I say that a top level athlete would do well because they pick up, and excel, at new movements rather easily. ---

I don't think Games competitors have any superior ability or capacity that other professional athletes lack. I simply believe that because of the specificity of the sport it would be harder than most people think.

--- it is hard, and I am not saying that a pro would win the games, there are a lot of variables at play, programming, luck, skill... but CrossFit specific training can be taught just as running a crisp out pattern can be taught. And the edge that a professional athlete would have in athleticism over 90% of CrossFitters cannot be denied. ---

Perhaps I'm delusional, that's fine. I'd be happy to be proven right or wrong, because either way it will be a hell of a performance by whoever proves the point.


--- appreciate the reply. I do understand what you are saying but the fact is that a professional is a pro for a reason, they possess an athleticism that is rare amongst men, for Castro to imply what he did is flat out misleading and ridiculous. CrossFit is a skillset much as oly lifting, powerlifting, or any sport you can find. I played with athletes that excelled at 3 sports. I played against Kerry Collins in high school and he was all-state in 3 sports. I find it a stretch for someone to say that a pro wouldn't be able to compete. I know you are not saying they can't but they also wouldn't need a year to learn. They already have the anaerobic capacity (aerobic can be easily achieved from that), they have the power and strength (and muscular endurance can be easily learned by a strong individual), they have the athleticism (and high skill movements like muscle-ups, HSPU, etc. can be easily learned by someone with a high degree of athleticism) and they have the mindset to win because that is all they have been working for their entire athletic career. ---


wrote …

Re Leon and Jay's comments

Guys don't get all caught up thinking pro athletes are some sort of superhuman. The fact is they are not and they have big holes in their game, for example it may surprise you to learn that Michael Jordan cannot swim to save himself or that Lance Armstrong has a max bench of 180 pounds.
Why do you think Crossfit Games was invented ? Let me explain the concept slowly for you two. It is to identify the fittest men and women on planet earth and highlight weakness in overall general physical preparedness.

I think I'll invest a little more belief in the opinion of guys like Tommy Hackenbruck and Dave Castro , these are experts in the field and have the experience and scientific data to back up their opinions. Jay I'm happy to hear stories about Kerry Collins whoever she may be but personally I've never heard of her in my life. (what state is she from ?, what has she gone on to achieve ?)

Don't underestimate the power of the Crossfit Games and the fact that it will always find the weakness in anyone.


replied to comment from 2AirfieldDefenceSquadron 2AFDS

Well, I guess that's the difference here. I DO basically think any person who can make it to the pro level in a serious sport is close to superhuman. Apparently you do not.

Don't kid yourself- the games were "invented", as you put it, as a fun way for some long time CrossFitters to get some WODs in against each other, hang out, and grab a few beers. The guys who were there have attested as much. It has since grown into something larger, and as a huge CF competition it serves to identify the fittest CROSSFITTER that year (huge difference), gives us all a spectacle to watch and perhaps participate in, builds the community, makes HQ money, etc etc. It was not "invented" for the purpose you seem to think it was. Furthermore, the games do not have some mystical power to "always find the weakness in anyone". Any form of varied programming that calls for capacity across multiple domains will do that. That is CrossFit in a nutshell. WODs like that happen in affiliates, in garages and backyards around the country on a daily basis, as well as yearly at the Games.


Dane Thomas wrote …

Lance never bothered working on benching more than 180 because his chosen sport was all about developing maximal sustainable cycling power with minimal body weight. Any upper body mass that exceeded his cycling-specific needs made him heavier and thus slower uphill.

The NFL combine measures 225# bench, but when they started that standard the average player weighed considerably less than today. For a more meaningful comparison tool over time they might also consider measuring something like benches or power cleans with 1x bw or squats with 1.5x bw.

CF puts so much emphasis on power/weight ratio (both upper and lower body, over broad time and modal domains) that it balances out the advantages that size brings in the world of most pro athletes. Heavier individuals with longer lever arms can move larger weights further and faster than smaller individuals, but when the events are scaled to factor in body weight that advantage often disappears, especially with events including climbing.

A 315# guy who can bench 225# 40x is likely to have more trouble doing 30 muscle-ups for time than a 215# guy who can bench 225# 20x. Height helps when throwing sandbags over a wall but hurts with burpees and double-unders. The big person who is an amazing sprinter and jumper is likely to die on a hilly 5k run, partly because of their weight and partly because of their lack of Type I muscle fibers. Even if they are very good at recovering quickly and repeatedly from repeated maximal exertion that does not mean that they have the ability to sustain prolonged exertion.

When Åstrand (the man who basically invented the cycle ergometer and aerobic capacity testing) traveled to East Africa to test the locals he was shocked at the difference in aerobic capacity between the average Kenyan teenager and the average Northern European teenager. He noted that the running team from any average high school down there would probably be able to beat the national All-Stars in Sweden. East Africans had been jogging in rough terrain at high altitude as a normal part of daily life for thousands of generations. They have a genetically higher preponderance of Type I fibers, a generally lighter bone structure and smaller, leaner frames and a greater tolerance for lactic acid levels. They are built for their task, just as Usain Bolt is built for his and Dave Tate and Louie Simmons are built for theirs.

They are specialists, not generalists. Coach built CrossFit to apply training techniques from specialists to help generalists to get better at as many different components of fitness as possible. Making Lance Armstrong better at benching would have made him a better CrossFitter, but it would have made him slower as a cyclist. Training any NFL player to be faster riding a bike up the Alpe d´Huez would reduce their effectiveness in the NFL.


wrote …

Dane, pretty damn good post. Good read. Your point about Generalists and Coaches aim for CrossFit hit the bullseye. Great thought experiment that was posited during the roundtable, and minus the flaming and emotional responses, there's been some good dialogue around the ether.


wrote …

To compare any CrossFitter to an NFL football player is just ridiculously unfair. Crossfitters aren't anywhere CLOSE to that level of an NFL athlete, we are talking about 1% of the entire population that has that kind of ability and where-with-all to make it to the NFL. (Not to mention the tremendously gifted kids that screw it up before they get that far)

I would guess that the average Male CrossFitter is somewhere around 180-190 pounds and in some cases may be a really good CrossFit type athlete, "CrossFit Games" talented. The same size guy in the NFL (with the exception of kickers and punters), runs somewhere around a 4.4 forty yard dash, probably has close to a 40" standing vertical, squates 2x's their own bodyweight, bench their own bodyweight for days, runs 40-60 full sprints per game, plus weekly conditioning.
Now....Give me the CrossFitter that runs a 4.4 forty and has a 40" vertical? There might be 10 in the World.

I've seen a 5'8", 170 pound, 14 year old kid at a local high school do a modified "Fran" 15-12-9-6 Thruster/Pull ups + a 200 yard sprint to a water tower to finish in just over 5 minutes. It was the second time he'd ever done a Thruster in his life, and he did strict pull ups! It was ugly, but yes he got full ROM. His coach loves Crossfit and had some of his boys doing workouts AFTER their regular off-season football workouts, and this particular kid had been doing CrossFit for about a month. After he got done with that work out, he loaded up the bench with 315 and repped that for a little while.

So, let's go grab Chris Johnson off of the Tennessee Titans, train him in crossfit for a month and see how it goes......C'mon really? You think an elite guy like Chris Johnson wouldn't crush an Elite CrossFitter? Don't get it twisted! cuz if there were that talented of CrossFitters, they'd be making money playing a real mainstream sport.

Crossfitters are certainly talented, but not elite level athletes.

In the years to come I would bet that much like the MMA, Crossfit is going to see more and more talented people coming up. But no uber talented kid is going to ditch football or baseball to be a CrossFitter.

Ask yourself if you'd let your child give up a scholarship worthy sport to be a CrossFitter? NO. Will I make my child do CrossFit outside of her sport......Absolutely! There isn't a more efficient, safer conditioning program in the world than CrossFit.


wrote …

The is a ridicules conversation. No offense to this years champion but we are saying a guy a few years removed from D3 baseball is the fittest guy in the world?
Most of the elite crossfitters tried their whole lives to be pro at some other given sport but didn’t make the cut but now they are elite athletes?
George, Matt and Chris are spot on.
This article is posted to create traffic on the site. Nothing more.


replied to comment from Jay Ashman

You could be right about 2AFDS, but I don't know--I'm starting to think that he REALLY believes the things he's been posting.


wrote …

Am I the only person on here that truly believes the Crossfit Games winner is the fittest person in the world ? I honestly hope you guys are wrong because I've invested a lot of time and money into Crossfit and have always believed Coach Glassman's claim that Crossfitters are the fittest humans on the planet. I've read all your comments and I'm starting to seriously question my own beliefs and the claims made by Coach. Maybe all the periodization, individualization and specialization that exercise physiologists have been pushing on us for years actually works and we can't become the worlds greatest athletes following a generic , random program posted on a website.


wrote …

So the argument is that because of the high level of selection NFL,MLB, and NBA the players are so elite that no crossitter could ever touch them.

That assumes that all of the most elite athletes make it to a pro sport and that there is simply no genetic potential among the rest of the population for elite athletic performance. That is ridiculous.

in 2004 there were 19.2 million american men age 25-34. If only the top 1% of those are considered to have genetically elite potential for athletic performane that is 190,000.

So you are saying that among the 190,000 potential elite athletes age 25-34 in the U.S. alone, ALL are playing in the big leagues?

Now that is an unrealistic argument.


replied to comment from Jay Ashman

I can't believe I read through all these comments....BUT I think that in between Tommy and Jay Ashman we've got the answer.
Tommy makes some great points about many of the pro football/basketball players we see being absolutely genetic freaks and not having to work for it quite as hard as others which is quite valid. Though that's not to take away the value of work ethic. Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc. these type of guys possess the gift but have also taken the time to master their craft.

I think Jay is bang on with this statement:

--- sports training is very specific as well, you will have to admit that given the athleticism of many skill position professionals they would do very well at CF after learning the movements, and a year wouldn't be needed. ---

Nowhere close to a year would be needed. I've been pretty dedicated to CF for about 14-15 months now after about 2 years of fairly low activity (got up to 20lbs heavier than now) and while I was nowhere near qualifying for the Games in May (22nd at Canada Regionals), fast foward to now and my stat line is right on the brink. 2:38 fran, 2:21 diane, 2:04 grace, 15:26 filthy fifty, 275 clean, 205 snatch...etc, etc at 5'10" 165lbs.
My background is football (RB) and track (400m) and I was down just under 49 seconds for 400m but I was probably top 3 at best on my University team at any given point. Back then I think 17 min on a 5k wouldn't be a stretch versus 19 and change now. Someone mentioned Usain Bolt not being able to run a 5k....he'd walk sub 20.

The claim that pro athletes couldn't transition into CF is beyond me. Sure some may struggle, but these are the guys who likely dominated EVERYONE in EVERYTHING growing up and eventually chose their sport. Castro should check out Lebron James' or Allen Iverson's high school football highlights. Many people said they were the best high school football players they ever saw.

My point is after seeing what I've done myself in 14 months of CF coming off 2 years of all-time fitness low, taking a pro-athlete at the top of their game I'd say give them two months, maybe even one of Crossfit specific training and they will not only be in the mix, they could very well dominate the whole thing.


wrote …

Seems the world as a whole values specialists a bit more than the generalist. From medicine to carpentry to sports we are awestruck by those who are the best at what they do. This may be what holds CrossFit back as a sport with mass appeal. While the games champ will always be extremely fit (and I would agree fittest in the world by CrossFit's definition) and very good at all 10 general skills they will be NOWHERE close to the BEST in the world in any particular general skill. CrossFit may be the best GPP ever devised and the world would be a much greater place if everyone participated but Im not sold that it will make for a great sport.


The thing about your stats, Jason is that the lack of height and mass that played a part in preventing you from going farther within football works to your advantage with many of the classic CF WODs that you have referenced. You are strong enough to move the specified weight but you don't have to waste the time and energy that it would take to move it as far as a taller, longer-limbed person would need to.

Many of us have seen people who had almost everything that they needed to excel in a sport. The gymnast who grew too tall. The football or basketball player or decathlete who didn't grow tall enough. The multisport athlete who could hang with the pack on the flat and short hills and outsprint everyone in a bunch finish, but who had just too much mass to handle prolonged climbing at speed. These people might not make the top echelon in their sport, but might have every chance to excel in CrossFit BECAUSE they have a better balance of all 10 aspects of fitness.


wrote …


Dude, I love your style- you sir, are the Stephen Colbert of this thread.

Mad props, sir. Mad. Props.


wrote …

@ Jason/2AFDS

Spot on Jason, spot on...


Jay Ashman wrote …

I gotta admit, at first I was looking at 2AFDS posts and I was like "dude, no way, this can't be real" then I was impressed at the perfectness of them.

Well done, sir.


wrote …

Are we comparing apples to apples here?

We are condemning professional athletes who are good at what they do because they train and practice for their specific sport, yet rewarding CrossFitters who train specifically for their competitions? Then saying that a professional athlete who trained for CrossFit wouldn't dominate.......Weird.

Based on pure athleticism alone, does anyone on this board truly believe that Mikko or Spealler could have been Reggie Bush if they'd played football? Really?

Please stop bringing up Hall of Fame athletes in this conversation. Compare CrossFitters to AAA baseball players or practice squad football players, not the greatest athletes to have played their given sport.

To say that a Crossfit athlete is on the same level as a professional baseball player or football player, well........Ron Burgundy said it best, "That's just dumb!"


wrote …

2AFDS comments would have been hilarious had it not duped so many of you for so I'm worried...LOL



Jay Ashman wrote …

Aushion... hey man you never know. Some people REALLY do believe that CrossFitters are the supreme example of fitness and athleticism. I've spoken with several of them who really do believe that.


wrote …

OK you got me. I agree a lot of pro athletes with time to familiarize themselves with Crossfit's movements would be pretty sweet.

The only thing left is a throwdown of the ohio-ites:

Holmberg v. Lebron Fran-off.

To balance it out in Lebron's favor the second event could be:

Basketball court shuttle run
40" box jumps 23 reps
Throw chalk in the air

come HQ we want a HOLMBERG V. LEBRON fran-off!


wrote …

Crossfit is awesome as a fitness regime for 99% of the population to get in good shape. To suggest that elite level pro athletes with proper dedication and programming couldn't compete in Crossfit is incredibly ignorant.

We all agree there are some freaks that don't need to train to be incredible athletes. Throw them out, they obviously won't be elite cross fitters because we know a certain amount of dedication is needed to learn all the skills possible to show up in the crossfit games. But a pro athlete that would be willing to train for it? 1 to 2 years of training is probably the buy-in now to become an elite level cross fitter ASSUMING you are ALREADY at the top end of the athletic spectrum. Top level NBA pg's, NFL DB's, RB's WR's, decathletes etc. Once they learned to Oly lift correctly and learn the varied gymnastic skills they most certainly could be trained to compete as a top level cross fitter.

Crossfit is it's own sport now, with it's own set of skills. Learning the skills is necessary to be the best. The work capacity is most certainly out there amongst numerous pro athletes to excel in crossfit.

Up until the 2010 games it was entirely possible a non-crossfitter could have competed and won the games, based on the relative lack of skill involved in the events.

Look at the 2008 games: deadlift burpee WOD, clearly a non crossfitter could have smashed this WOD. an uphill approx 800m run, CTB fran, and a heavy grace. My guess is a number of pro athletes after being taught how to kip could have smashed these games.

2009 games. 7k run, DL ladder, uphill sprint, rowing spike drive, wall ball squat snatch. After day 1 it would not be unimaginable that an incredible pro athlete would have been in contention.

Now the 2010 games included all the tough skills that crossfit offers. This would not have allowed anyone that wasn't specifically training crossfit to compete. Nothing wrong with Crossfit upping the entry costs (inn terms of learning skill)to compete well in Crossfit. Think of all the movements in the 2010 games that certainly required long time exposure to Crossfit style training: squat snatch, muscle-ups, ring HSPU, pistols, double unders, rope climbs. A great pro athlete would no doubt struggle with these things if they had not specifically trained them prior to competing.

SO essentially what Castro etc., are doing is making the Games so skill specific that no outside athlete could possibly come in and dominate the games without seriously training Crossfit for a year. Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Crossfit is it's own sport. But again a superior pro athlete certainly could have won the 2008 games without much Crossfit training at all.

Think about some of the guys in the room that haven't even been at it that long. Mallelo and Froning are relative rookies in the Crossfit world and they did awesome. Are we to believe that no other pro athletes have the potential to learn Crossfit as they did?

I think we are seriously underestimating the ability and heart and determination that pro athletes have.


wrote …

Here's an interesting question:

With the added purse, will the Games now be moving to a more central location??

Will it now cost more (or less) to enter??

See, it strikes me that with so many folks not being able to even afford to go to the Regionals last year, let alone the Games, you're not even getting a reliable sample.

If it's all about bringing the best in the world together, with no one paying for the athletes to come, can the Games still be justified being held on the West Coast, or would it be better to bring them to the central part of North America, say, Chicago, Indianapolis, or even Oklahoma City?? All three have suitable facilities.

It strikes me that making it accessible to everyone- or else holding an East Coast and a West Coast, with the same events- is a more responsible idea.


wrote …

Did 2AirfieldDefenceSquadron 2AFDS just punk this entire thread? I was certainly thinking this guy didn't just drink the kool-aid, he took it with an I.V. drip.


replied to comment from james darden

Not only did he punk it, he then rode roughshod over everyone who contributed to it by arguing his comments in the thread, and doing a jig upon the belief of his comments, which grew perfectly more and more absurd (and more and more cultish) every post.

Which is sad really; Not that he did it (which was genius), but that its come to the point where there are enough idiots in the community who are that clueless and naive about fitness that what he said was- at least initially- plausible for someone to spew.

2AFDS walked that really hilarious line between absurd and just realistic enough for the community, and at the same time managed to mock just about everything mentioned in that video.

For that I give him/her props; It takes talent- and a fine sense of humour- to do that.


wrote …

I can't believe that no one has commented on Castro's description of the pro athlete as "big strong black guy." Wow!


hahaha, did he really???? damn... that's amazing.

I didn't hear that but hell we all expect Castro to say stupid stuff all the time. He's the Dan Quayle of exercise, really.

He would be best to go away and try not to get bent in half with a 335# squat first before talking at ALL about anything related to exercise.


wrote …

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that no one in the MLB could would come in and dominate the games. Do you think Kobe Bryant has any use for a 400 lb squat or a 300 lb bench press? Likewise, do you think Chris Johnson has any use for handstand push ups or muscle ups? There is an economic reality for most young, poor, african american men. There is no multi million dollar contract prize for them to excel in CrossFit. There is a contract for them if they make it to the NFL, NBA, or MLB. I have to agree with Castro on this one. No one from the outside pro sports community would come in and dominate the games without specific CF training. I will stand by that statement until proven wrong.

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