Recently in CrossFit Category

The Hard Routine

| No Comments

In Andy McNab's bestseller Bravo Two Zero, a book about a famous British SAS mission in Iraq, the commandos use the term "hard routine" to describe their mindset, focus, and seriousness when at work. When they step into an actual mission, crossing the line of departure, they say that they go on the "hard routine." From that moment on, the rules are strict, the focus is singular, and all available resources are brought to bear with an intensity that is necessary for success. When they're on the hard routine, there is no room for selfishness, indulgence, compromise, or distraction.

This principle is required in special operations missions, where toughness, determination, and discipline are required for success and, often, survival. But there is a lesson here that applies to all of us, even in less dire circumstances. This lesson involves a principle, or a group of principles, that are as relevant to the workaday stiff as to the tactical operator--to ordinary people who fall anywhere along the spectrum of full engagement in life. The principles of the hard routine are broadly applicable, and, for the type of person who is willing to engage them, can be a powerful catalytic agent for change of all sorts. But what, precisely, is it? The hard routine is primarily an exercise in mental toughness.

As such, it is vital to grasp the component of psychology that permeates the hard routine. In any rigorous endeavor, the bedrock for success lies in the mindset of the individual. I am reminded of the story popular in the business world about burning boats. Alexander the Great, when he sailed into Asia, disembarked his infantry and then set his entire navy ablaze in the harbor. The only way home meant a march across land and through the enemy: victory or death. Total commitment. A potent psychological shift occurs when the possibility of giving up disintegrates into ashes. The hard routine grants the willing participant entry into a hard sanctum located in a lucid place of the mind, free of the "soft" psychological distractions and habits that can hinder sustained changes in action. In short, it boils down to denial of self-indulgence.

The principles of setting up a hard routine are simple. Following them is too, but it takes total commitment.

Balancing Act

| No Comments

Define "running yourself into the ground." For everyone, the answer's a bit different, but I can say that my definition has changed significantly over the past ten years!

When I started as a trainer, I was an adventure racer with a seemingly limitless supply of energy. I could work all day, train all night, and then do it again the next day, seemingly no worse for the wear. After three or four years of this, however, my energy definitely became a limited resource. I started scheduling clients in the mornings, training myself in the afternoon, and sleeping at night. As I got busier, this got more and more difficult and, ultimately, my desire to own and operate my own personal training business (and actually make a living) overcame my need to beat other people on race courses. This is when I started training people full time. Great! So now I had all hours of the day to work. Exactly how did this make my life better? For the next two to three years, I worked Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (or later), building my business, staying in shape, and building my knowledge base through courses at UCLA and the CHEK Institute and correspondence courses or certifications through NASM, NSCA, and ACSM.

In my "spare" weekend time, I helped create an adventure camp for women called "Girl Teams," the purpose of which was to teach women the basic outdoor adventure skills of rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and orienteering. Busy, busy, busy! Though my work was "fun," it required a lot of time--and the money, even though I was charging $85 to $100 per hour for a client, was slim to none when averaged out over my actual work hours each day.

Much has been said and written about good coaching. This primer is therefore intended not as new information but rather as a collection of some elementary wisdom from that body of knowledge in a nutshell, to serve as a reminder and an opportunity for personal reflection on how we think about coaching and behave as coaches and trainers.

This document was originally designed as primer on behavior patterns for coaches of adolescents, where the import of the coach's role as custodian of the athlete's whole person is particularly significant, but it applies just as well to coaches and trainers of all levels of athletes and teams.

Athletes will give, and grow, beyond imagination under the influence of someone who dares to be a Good Coach.

Technique Part 1

| No Comments

In his earlier video article "Better Movements" (Oct 2007 CrossFit Journal) Coach Glassman explained that high power functional movements such as the jerk and the kipping pull-up are better exercises--in several critical ways--than their simpler relatives, the press and the strict pull-up. In "Productive Application of Force" (Jan 2008) he explained why our definition of strength is not equivalent to just muscular contractile force. What really matters is the ability to apply that muscular force to do real physical work, which cannot be independent of the skills and mechanics of functional movement.

In this month's video, Glassman elaborates further on the relationship between technique and functional movement, power, and fitness. Technique, he explains--like its cousins mechanics, form, and style--is not at odds with intensity but is in fact essential to maximizing power and thus fitness. Proper technique is the mechanism by which potential human energy and strength are translated into real work capacity.

Part 2, next month, will be Q & A, mostly A.

Corporate Wellness

| No Comments

As leaders in fitness it is our duty to supply individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to change their lives. There is no better place to influence a large group of people than inside modern-day corporate America.

Many of these hard-working individuals are unhealthy, unhappy, overworked, and have high stress levels. All of these increase a person's likelihood of falling victim to illness as well as negatively affecting the corporation's productivity, morale, and medical costs. Employees' most common excuses for not exercising are that they can't find the time or the money to go to the gym. A corporate "wellness" program defies this mentality by bringing the workout to them, making it a common part of the corporate culture, and increasing employees' overall fitness and wellness.

A healthy lifestyle in a corporate setting will always lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and a much more energetic environment. The program, by design, is intended to ameliorate the corporation's, and the employee's, bottom line. It may seem as though starting a corporate wellness program would be a large undertaking, but it is very simple.

At CrossFit Central, we took the structure of our boot camp, which is founded on and utilizes CrossFit, and applied it to the corporate world. Working with large groups of diverse people within our boot camps had given us a glimpse into the future of what we could accomplish with corporate wellness programs. CrossFit

Central's boot camp structure was a result of two years of hitting the pavement. I began by applying Coach Glassman's advice to start with one person and have him invite his friends who, in turn, invited their friends. I planted the seed and watched it grow.

Evidence-Based Fitness

| No Comments

Video Article!

In this excerpt from one of his talks at a recent CrossFit certification seminar, founder Greg Glassman discusses the methods and rationale of CrossFit. Fundamentally, what we are about, he explains, is evidence-based fitness. Here he breaks that claim down into its constituent parts and explains the logical, scientific basis of the CrossFit system for advancing human performance. To evaluate any such system, there are three key elements that must be assessed:

1) Safety: the program's record for injury avoidance-- and prevention.

2) Efficacy: its results, or the adaptations it produces.

3) Efficiency: how long it takes to achieve those adaptations.

For a fitness program to have meaning, those three elements must be supported by measurable, observable, repeatable data. Moreover, its methods, outputs, and criticisms must be transparent, or available for anyone to see and evaluate. These are the fundamental bases of scientific inquiry and of rational argument and evaluation, and (despite the unempirical, profit-driven nature of so much of the silliness that pervades the fitness industry), they are necessarily the requirements of any fitness program that claims to make you fitter.

A great American and patriot once said, "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

As I entered CrossFit San Diego to attend a CrossFit Basic Barbell Certification seminar, I knew what I knew, I knew some things I didn't know, but I really had no idea what I didn't know I didn't know. So much so, it was startling.

The Basic Barbell Certification is a rather new arrow in the ever-growing quiver of CrossFit knowledge imparted in seminar format. Enter Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore from stage right. I could go on and on about Coach Rip and his ability to teach the lifts and work a crowd, but you probably know that. I could go on and on about how Professor Kilgore is a walking almanac of strength training facts and figures, but unless you just walked out of a forest, you probably already know that as well. Both have a list of credentials I cannot begin to cover (perhaps the most immediately relevant, though, being their authorship of Basically Barbells the books Starting Strength and Practical Programming for Strength Training).

On Being a Trainer


Video Article!
Coach Glassman addresses a group of trainers-in-training on what it means to be a good trainer and why it matters. How successful you are--how good you are--he argues, is entirely up to you. While competency in the mechanics is the sine qua non of training, one of the differences between good and great trainers is passion. Passion for movement, for people, for spreading knowledge. It is not about marketing or a great business plan, or having the perfect space, or any of the other accoutrements. It's about loving what you do, caring enough to do it right, and, ultimately, sharing your knowledge as broadly as possible.

"Leverage your efforts," he says. "Talk to anyone who will listen to you about what it is that you do. But only if you love it--if you can get up and say Man, I want to show you something really cool. It's the squat. It's unbelievable. It's the simplest, most overlooked thing in the world. If you feel and believe that and can express that with passion, people are going to follow you anywhere. And they'll throw money at your feet."

Firefighting is a field of spontaneous physical demands. Success is predicated on meeting these demands quickly and competently, and human life often swings in the balance.

Firefighters must be prepared to deal with any number of eventualities--lugging equipment, carrying another person, knocking down a wall, scaling a building, crawling, dragging, rappelling, running, or any combination of these, usually while bearing some sort of load. Tasks are presented in a random sequence, and firefighters must be able to deal with them as they come.

CrossFit mimics and trains for the spontaneous nature of working in the field. Like firefighting, CrossFit relies on a finite set of skills ordered in an infinite number of combinations. A firefighter may respond to a chemical fire one day and a structure fire or wildland blaze the next, one in a school zone one day and in a rural area with poor access to water the next. While the firefighter's skill set is finite, the contexts in which those skills are brought to bear are anything but.

The CrossFit community has long recognized the connection between the demands of the firefighter's job and the stimulus and adaptations provided by our brand of fitness. CrossFit is now employed by firefighters across the country and around the world.

Understanding CrossFit


The aims, prescription, methodology, implementation, and adaptations of CrossFit are collectively and individually unique, defining of CrossFit, and instrumental in our program’s successes in diverse applications.


From the beginning, the aim of CrossFit has been to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. We sought to build a program that would best prepare trainees for any physical contingency—prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. Looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing. The second issue (“What is Fitness?”) of the CrossFit Journal details this perspective.


The CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns; they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they are compound movements—i.e., they are multi-joint. They are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly.

When structural steel was created, it ushered in an era of design innovation that transformed skylines around the world. Likewise, the raw material of CrossFit is not only revamping the way we build programs and train athletes, it is also changing the landscape of the fitness business.

Traditional marketing is heavily dependent on advertising and promotions. The glossy ads and catchy slogans promise much and deliver little. They’re all sizzle and no steak. They are effective at their intended aim: separating consumers from their money. The conventional commercial gym model is based on renting the same space to as many people as possible, based on the knowledge that many who rent won't actually ever come in and take up any space. The focus of the system is selling memberships, not delivering service—essentially, exploiting clients' weaknesses.

The big-box gym industry targets the 24- to 30-year-old crowd, positioning the gym as a place to meet people—a bar without alcohol, if you like. Big-box gyms make a good deal of money by being a great place to meet people, not necessarily a great place to train, and they tend to be designed and constructed accordingly, frustrating those who are serious about fitness and spurring them to join running clubs, recreation centers, pools and the like. Their hope is to get enough space and be left alone to work out.

Evidence-Based Fitness Discussion

| 5 Comments runs on a three-on/one-off rotation: perform the posted Workout of the Day (WOD) for three days; debate and discuss on the fourth ("Rest Day"). The topic of discussion for Rest Day on December 10, 2006 was a charge leveled by Mike Boyle ("Body By Boyle") at a Special Operations Medical Association Conference that CrossFit's use of "high-rep Olympic weightlifting" renders it "dangerous."

The ensuing discussion among Greg Glassman ("Coach"), "René," 'BOA," and Michael Boyle, excerpted below, goes to the heart of the debate over safety, efficacy, and efficiency in fitness programming and the need for an objective basis for evaluating competing fitness claims.

At the recent CrossFit certification seminar in Boston, someone asked a question that really got me thinking. I paraphrase:

I think I understand the theory behind most of the workouts—that is, strength training, metabolic conditioning, form or technique practice—but what about "Linda"? [Linda is 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 reps each of deadlift at 1.5 x bodyweight, bench-press at 1 x bodyweight, clean at .75 x bodyweight, for time.] Is that a strength workout, but with a metabolic conditioning benefit? What is the real goal?

In his response, Coach Glassman said something about how Linda seemed like a good workout when it was created, but it has become the most hated workout of the day (WOD). Apparently, one of every three complaints about workouts is reserved just for Linda, an impressive number since it is one of thousands of WODs created since CrossFit went online in 2001. According to Coach, anything that gets that kind of reaction has to be effective, thus worthy of repeat. I began to think about that question from a different perspective, and how I had been thinking of a different answer based on my experience as a CrossFitter and a soldier.

Last year the Royal Canadian Infantry School, CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada, tested the validity of the CrossFit concept against the extant Canadian Army fitness program (AFM).

U.S. and Coalition Forces personnel can contact Coach Greg Glassman ( for more information about the trial or CrossFit implementation, or to contact the Canadian Infantry School CrossFit Cell.

We want to thank the officers of the Canadian Infantry School and Instructors from PSP (Personnel Support Programs) for their incredible professionalism, warm hospitality, and commitment to state-of-the-art military physical training.

The summary and tables that follow were excerpted from the final report of the trial.

In March 2005 the Canadian Infantry School was authorized to conduct a physical fitness trial that would test the validity of the CrossFit concept using the AFM as the baseline model.

CrossFit develops the same aspects of fitness as the AFM - aerobic conditioning, muscular strength/ endurance, flexibility, and power.

Professional Training

| No Comments

I am a fitness trainer. My practice is more than just a job; it is my passion. My clients are my top priority and their successes are my life's work--I am a professional. On the surface, my job is to shepherd my athletes (I view all my clients as athletes regardless of their age or ability) toward physical prowess, but I recognize a purpose to my efforts and an impact on my athletes that transcends the physical. I view training as a physical metaphor for habits and attitudes that foster success in all arenas. I stress that point to all who train with me and I know I've been successful only after they bring back concrete examples.

The lessons learned through physical training are unavoidable. The character traits required and developed through physical training are universally applicable to all endeavors. Perseverance, industry, sacrifice, self-control, integrity, honesty, and commitment are best and easiest learned in the gym. Even clients who have found spectacular success in business, sport, war, or love find their most important values buttressed, refined, and nourished in rigorous training.

Being a professional, I believe that my competency is solely determined by my efficacy. My methods must be second to none. Accordingly, fitness trends and fashions are distractions, not attractions. To the extent that my methods are often unconventional, unaccepted, or unique, they reflect the margins by which I dominate my industry, and I take those margins to the bank. A trainer who lusts for popular approval is chasing mediocrity or worse.

The standards expressed in "Professional Training" in this issue--unyielding commitment to client and efficacy--have guided everything that Lauren and I have done. More than just the backbone of CrossFit's strength and successes, it has been, we believe, the primary reason for our success.

Using this template we built a practice that kept us both busy from roughly 5:00 to 10:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday. That schedule produced a low-six- figure income, which is really amazing given that we got to work together, with our friends, having a positive impact on people's lives, and keep afternoons free for family, recreation, and study.

Training with the attention and commitment that we bring to our practice, though fun and immensely rewarding, is also draining, and five appointments per day is about all we could handle without an unacceptable drop in energy, focus, and consequently, professional standards.

Eventually, the demand for our training exceeded the time we were professionally able or willing to allot. In an effort to accommodate more athletes, we began to hold group classes.

| No Comments

On November 15th, 1999, astronomers sent a powerful radio transmission toward a star cluster 25,000 light-years away in hopes of someday communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence. If lucky, a response could come back in 50,000 years.

On February 10th, 2001, Lauren and I first published our simple, distinctive workouts on the Internet in hopes of someday communicating with intelligent life in the fitness world. The experiment has proven to be a stunning success, with a comparatively rapid return, and it gave birth to a community that is revolutionizing fitness and training.

This month we want to share our thoughts on the growth and development of CrossFit and share our dreams and commitments as stewards and servants of the CrossFit community.

Tabata My Job

| 1 Comment

Although I'm lucky enough to work out primarily with kindred spirits at CrossFit NYC, a few times a week I head around the corner from my apartment to a "commercial" gym. When I do—gasping my way through the WOD—I'm inevitably met with uncomprehending stares, as though an alien had suddenly descended from the sky and plopped itself down in front of the pull-up bar.

But if my ways seem strange to my gymmates, theirs are equally bewildering to me: hours-long sessions spent wandering the floor, punctuated by short sets of preacher curls or goes at the hip-adductor machine. How, I wonder, can people work, day in and day out, so inefficiently? The answer, I recently realized, is practice.

And not just at the gym. Studies show that the average American worker spends ten hours a day at the office, yet, after chatting with colleagues, surfing the web, and strolling to the water cooler, accomplishes just one and a half hours of actual work. In other words, 85 percent of the time most people spend at the office goes completely down the drain.

Like most CrossFit converts, I was initially drawn in by the brutal efficiency of the approach: such little time, such great results.

Notes From the "Outside Girl"
How the strength-in-numbers phenomenon can leave you crying for more.
- Linsay Yaw ...
At 9am on November 12th, I parked my car in front of the Colorado State Patrol Training Academy in Golden, Colorado, looked at Carolyn Parker riding shotgun and wondered what we were about to embark upon. As we ducked between towers of turbo diesel trucks and undercover cop cars on our way inside I whispered, "Good thing I paid all my speeding tickets, girl, because they’d probably make us CrossFit for payoff." As soon as our feet hit the waxed linoleum floor of the Academy—nice work, boys—and I looked up and saw a sea of 6-plus foot herculean stouts whose mere raw poundage could likely break both Carolyn and me in half, my heart rate quadrupled and my ego dived. "Oh man, I’m going to get throttled this weekend, these dudes are burly," I thought to myself. Despite my shrinking physical prowess, I kept my cool and continued weaving my way through the bulksters and introduced myself to CrossFit founders, Greg and Lauren...

"Universal scaleability" is the language we've routinely used in describing CrossFit to suggest that your grandma could and should be working out with us. In this issue we are not only sticking by that claim but examining it in some detail. We look this month at common obstacles to CrossFit participation and some possible solutions. Chief among the barriers we most frequently hear expressed are a lack of familiarity or ability with the exercises, lack of equipment or space, and inability to complete the workout as prescribed in the workout of the day (WOD). We describe these as problems with the movements, equipment, and intensity.

Before looking at these barriers and their solutions let's further set the stage for our discussion with three ancillary points, the first of which is important to all new CrossFitters and the second and third important for veterans, many of whom we know have been frustrated by trying to introduce CrossFit to their friends, colleagues, or family.

First, over the past three years thousands of people have acquainted themselves with the CrossFit website, gotten the hang of our core theme of "functionality, intensity, and variance", learned our basic exercises, acquired most of our equipment, and made amazing physical gains. Included among these self-starters are many who were initially challenged to participation by varying combinations of advanced age, being self-taught, poverty, inexperience, disability, and fear. to their own devices and common sense - proving our stand on scaleability.

What is CrossFit?

| No Comments

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, if not randomized, functional movements executed at high intensity. Let’s give life to this description and see how this program, honed from years of clinical experience, goes about forging elite fitness.

Man’s world, nature, is full of movement. Our standing, sitting, throwing, lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, running, and of course, punching are all quite natural. They got us where we are. They are part of our design. These natural, primal, movements influence the exercises included in CrossFit’s workouts.

A major and natural division occurs in movement types between those requiring control of the body alone and those that require the control of an external object as well.

How Fit Are You

| 1 Comment

We’ve long desired to offer a fitness competition consistent with our fitness model (See CrossFit Journal October 2002, "What is Fitness?") and have found the task fraught with difficulties.

Early we realized that the logistics of running an on-site fitness competition like STREND are both complicated and ultimately limit the number of participants. The fitness test, or competition, that we offer this month is conducted at a facility and time of the athlete’s choosing.

Our initial hope was to design a competition that would not only reflect CrossFit's broad fitness concept but would also accommodate men and women, large and small athletes, the young and seniors, and individuals of all fitness levels. Additionally, we wanted a competition that would motivate and reward fitness improvements among our fittest. Specifically, we set out to motivate an improvement in the absolute strength, relative strength, and gymnastics foundations of all CrossFit participants. Unfortunately this last consideration rendered the design troublesome for many who are other than already very fit and male. So, what we ended up with was a competition where the ability even to complete the test suggests a fairly advanced level of fitness.

Looking at the ten general physical adaptations to exercise (cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, stamina, power, speed, flexibility, agility, accuracy, coordination, and balance) we saw that advanced calisthenic and weightlifting movements present an excellent opportunity to advance neurological skills like agility, accuracy, coordination, and balance.

CFJ: What's wrong with fitness training today?

Coach Glassman: The popular media, commercial gyms, and general public hold great interest in endurance performance. Triathletes and winners of the Tour de France are held as paradigms of fitness. Well, triathletes and their long-distance ilk are specialists in the word of fitness, and the forces of combat and nature do not favor the performance model they embrace. The sport of competitive cycling is full of amazing people doing amazing things, but they cannot do what we do. They are not prepared for the challenges that our athletes are.

The bodybuilding model of isolation movements combined with insignificant metabolic conditioning similarly needs to be replaced with a strength and conditioning model that contains more complex functional movements with a potent systemic stimulus. Sound familiar? Senior citizens and U.S. Marine Combatant Divers both will most benefit from a program built entirely from functional movement.

"What is Fitness?" explores the aims and objectives of our program. Most of you have a clear understanding of how we implement our program through familiarity with the Workout of the Day (WOD) from our website. What is likely less clear is the rationale behind the WOD or more specifically what motivates the specifics of CrossFit's programming. It is our aim in this issue to offer a model or template for our workout programming in the hope of elaborating on the CrossFit concept and potentially stimulating productive thought on the subject of exercise prescription generally and workout construction specifically.

So what we want to do is bridge the gap between an understanding of our philosophy of fitness and the workouts themselves, that is, how we get from theory to practice.

At first glance the template seems to be offering a routine or regimen. This may seem at odds with our contention that workouts need considerable variance or unpredictability, if not randomness, to best mimic the often unforeseeable challenges that combat, sport, and survival demand and reward. We’ve often said, "What your regimen needs is to not become routine."

Rowing ergometer times are dominated by heavier athletes. Check out the Concept II rankings for lightweight and heavyweights at every distance. Ergometer rowing is a heavyweight’s game!

The reasons for this are a complex blend of physics and physiology, and the influences differ from one type of ergometer to another and from shorter to longer distances. In fact, the science of rowing and ergometers gives ample opportunity to brush up on a lot of basic physiology, physics, and mathematics.

Tim Granger of Cambridge University has developed an algorithm that allows us to compare rowing scores at different weights. There are some inherent limitations, and Tim explains these on his site, but overall this is an excellent method to handicap rowing scores so that we can compare achievements.
For instance, using this algorithm we find that a 220-pound (100-kg) male with a 7-minute 2,000 meters equates to a 165-pound (75-kg) male rowing a 7:30 2,000 meters.


Powered by Movable Type 4.2-en

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the CrossFit category.

Competition is the previous category.

CrossFit Games is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.