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The First CrossFit Cert - Anaerobic vs Aerobic by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal
Video Article

The first CrossFit certification seminar took place from Monday, December 2nd, 2002 through Wednesday, December 4th, 2002. There were two participants, Ted Socha and Charlie Simms, and six trainers. For three days, they were pummeled with two workouts a day, plus hours of lecture on exercise physiology, movement theory, and the bases of real fitness. They were put on their return flight with a spatula.

In this lecture from Tuesday morning, Coach Glassman talks about the differences between anaerobic and aerobic training. Those familiar with the current seminar lectures will see the origins of the What is CrossFit lecture. Note the absence of year when referencing Journal issues, and the emphasis on how “seriously web-enabled” the PDFs are.

This lecture took place at 2851 Research Park Drive, Unit B, Soquel, CA. This is the original CrossFit box. The wall holding the white board was torn down in 2003 to make the two-unit space famous in the many pictures and videos from 2004 to early 2008.

15min 46sec

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25 Comments on “The First CrossFit Cert - Anaerobic vs Aerobic”


Ian Carver wrote …

Ah, I miss Coach's lectures. Nice work! I believe strongly inthe "TJ" theory presented and have seen it firsthand. As Coach said, that one dose of CrossFit usually flips the switch in fellow LEO's and they realize the error of what they thought was "fit" as it pertains to the job at hand. I love presenting this info to my Advanced Officer Training classes in which I teach Health & Wellness. You can literally see the eyebrows rise and light bulbs go on over people's heads. Slowly, but surely, the definitions of "training" and "fitness" are being changed for the better within our department, profession, athletic arena and world at large. Thanks again, Coach and Lauren!

Ian Carver (K9-4)
Sacramento Sheriff's Dept.
Canine Enforcement Detail


wrote …

If anaerobic workouts are superior to aerobic, why does the occasional WOD call for a 5 or 10 k run? I've been wondering about this for a while, couldn't find the answer in the forums.



I loved watching this.

Robert -- I believe the general consensus is that the runs appear as active recovery WODs when Coach feels we need a break from the all out anaerobic efforts. They also feed into the "constantly varied" piece of the prescription.


Robert Ellsworth wrote …

That was an extremely clear and powerful clip. I am continually impressed with the theoretical underpinnings of Crossfit, which have the equivalent intellectual impact, for me, of a physical workout. Wow!


wrote …

WoW so nice....

"Just Take it back to the old school..."


replied to comment from Robert Laken

Robert, LSD is a legitimate type of fitness. Coach's programming reflects his prioritization on broad, inclusive fitness. One adds to one's fitness with the capilarization and efficiency in the oxidative pathway that is gained/maintained from LSD training. However, spending more than the minimum time doing oxidate energy pathway work is not an efficient use of training time, since you can maintain much of your oxidative energy pathway fitness by doing higher intensity metcon work (typicaly high intensity WODs) designed around intervals of work, rest, and varied combinations of work modalities.

Coach has written about this quite a lot, and far better than I can. Read "what is fitness", "foundations", "what is CrossFit." The programming makes more sense after digesting those. Paul


wrote …

I love listening to coach lectures.

Robert, the 5k is not the only aerobic workout we do. If you look back to the graph in foundations, all workouts have an aerobic component.

But more importantly, Crossfit gets you good at doing stuff and only then cares enough to find out what metabolic pathway is used for this stuff. A 5k run is just that, another obstacle that you might be faced with.


wrote …

Very interesting lecture. If kids exercise with a great amount of intensity will they also get the extended fat buring gains that the adults get? As an elementary PE teacher, we struggle with results from limited PE time(kids get one day per week). I have started to use Crossfit style workouts for the kids in my elementary school, but I am also attempting to support my change in curriculum to my peers. Is there current data or research on kids in this area?


wrote …

I believe the prescription calls for long runs for the development of running technique. Few things will improve your running efficiency like, well, running for long periods of time. That has always been my understanding.


wrote …

Randy, check out the section on coaching and CrossFit Kids. You can also go to Brand X to find out more.


wrote …

Kick-Ass! I lost my cookies right under that white board on my first visit to HQ.

If you ever get the chance to hang with Ted Soca, make sure to have him tell you the story about "USDA Grade "E" Meat".


Adam Kayce wrote …

Right on; great to see Coach in the early days.

That whole story about TJ really drove home the point for me that CrossFit really means fit like no other. I mean, no wonder CF has these naysayers popping up from time to time, saying it's "dangerous" or whatever... they've never seen anything like it!

It's not a higher degree of fitness, it's a whole new definition. Paradigm shift. New language. You can't approach CrossFit with the same mind as all the mindless exer-babble out there... you just can't grasp it with those outmoded ideas.

Of course, this re-emphasizes the need for people to come to it slowly, scale it to their level, etc. That has always been a part of the methodology, of course; just re-emphasizing for anyone who thinks CF is "just another exercise program."

God, I love this stuff.


wrote …

That was a great lecture and video! It's so cool to see footage from the old days.


James Fitzgerald wrote …

"you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be better than the others"
i love it!


wrote …

"...and do it again, and do it again, and do it again..."

It's not really possible for me to express how great has been the impact on my life, this Crossfit. Can you even imagine what it must have been like to be there in the beginning?


Ian Carver wrote …


A prime reason we use 5k and 10k WOD's is not only to get some work time in the oxidative state and build muscular endurance (and that's about it), but moreso to build physical familiarity with the required movements and physiological components that need to go along with a certain modality of oxidative work. In other words, the body needs to understand how to properly utilize fuel and oxygen and metabolize waste products while working in a stressful environment that the body may not be used to. The body needs to occassionally run/swim/ride/row/etc. so it builds a familiarity with the movements, muscle motor recruitment patterns and required needs of the body to function well in the certain sport.

A strong cyclist may not be a great runner although they possess a high VO2, power output and AT. Lance Armstrong running his first marathon is a prime example. A VERY fit individual in the oxidative pathway, yet the run for that time and distance kicked his ass. Why? More likely than anything else, his body was not used to the physical demands that came with the run. Lance trained by running, but to perform well at a marathon it takes a lot, probably more than even he thought. Lance did well, but everyone thought he would kill it, and he too admitted it was harder than he expected. Sure, on the bike his body knew exactly what to do to function at it's peak, but that may not always translate to another oxidative sport. Running places stress on the joints, muscles, connective tissues, organs, etc. that cycling/swimming/rowing does not do and vice versa. So, every once in a while we need to jump into a long run, take a beating, and make sure the body is well rounded enough to handle that stress if it comes it's way.

This shake up of homeostasis leads to better physical adaptation through these "shots" of stress on the body. If a person gets to specified, they won't get this increased adaptation and fitness, it will be much slower, and also they run the risk of overuse injuries and burnout. Just like you adapt to strength training you can also adapt to the mechanical and physiological requirements and stress of certain activities, so you don't come apart at the seams when it's for real. We hammer ourselves, ache a bit afterwards, recover, repair and build upon that so the next time it is less of a hellish ordeal.

There are a couple good CFJ articles covering this. October 2007 dealing with training specificity and December 2007 discussing precisely why we should run a 10k , both by Tony Leyland. I always learn something from the CFJ, especially Tony and Lon Kilgore's articles - good stuff although I have to read it 3x to understand it all! ;)

Hope this helps shed some light on your question.

Take care,

Ian Carver


wrote …

Thanks Ian and others for your feedback, much appreciated, people like you are what make Crossfit the great program that it is. btw, my last 5k run was interrupted by a black bear sharing my running trail.Good excuse for a breather. Cheers!


wrote …

Excellent...getting me in the mood for some 800s. I love the "crossfit is not here for fun, it's here to turn men to steel" line.


wrote …

more ammunition against naysayers and more intel for the newbies (basically make me better at teaching CrossFit concepts)

Thanks coach


I think this article applies to your question:


replied to comment from Robert Laken

Funny, I always try to get anaerobic on the 5k and 10 k WODs. I assume they're at "race pace" which gets me up to 95% of my max HR at some point, if not the whole time. Not so much LSD....


wrote …

So if one were to say run 5k twice a week, but in an interval/anaerobic manner (minute on/minute off for eg.) would this person get the benefits of anaerobic training/muscle gain or would the consistent long distances have the aerobic effect of "burning muscle"?? I've wanted to get into interval type training more consistently but I want to be sure that its the anaerobic training that's overriding the aerobic.


wrote …

This video is an absolute gem.


wrote …

Is Coach a Diver...I have that T-shirt.

Good video. I appreciate the feedback from everyone. It brought it full circle. Constantly Varied at the expense of burning muscle for the sake of inclusivity.


replied to comment from Robert Laken

Crossfit is about being proficient in all areas not just one. Just because he makes a notion of anaerobic having greater benefits doesn't mean you shouldn't train in aerobic activities.

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