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Defining CrossFit by Greg Glassman - CrossFit Journal

Defining CrossFit

By Greg Glassman

In Basics, CrossFit, Videos

December 27, 2010

Video Article

“It’s a quantifiable approach to a finally well-defined notion of what fitness is. That is what CrossFit is,” CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman says in defining the program he created and showing how it differs from every other exercise regimen out there.

The CrossFit definition of fitness comes from three operational models explained in the Level 1 Training Guide: balance in CrossFit’s 10 general physical skills, the hopper model of random physical challenges, and the balance of the three metabolic pathways. According to Glassman, these ideas “eventually gave way to this understanding that fitness was work capacity measured across broad time and modal domains, and that indeed is fitness and is CrossFit.”

Glassman emphasizes how different CrossFit is from other programs.

“CrossFit is the application of the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics to human movement, something else that is kind of unique for us,” Glassman says.

Moving beyond physics, CrossFit has also become a “social phenomenon” with a tightly knit community. A CrossFit gym is unlike any other gym.

At the end of the video, Glassman fields tough questions from the audience and succinctly sums up CrossFit with some familiar words: “constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement.”

8min 26sec

Additional reading: What Is Fitness? by Greg Glassman, published Oct. 1, 2002.

Free Download


81 Comments on “Defining CrossFit”


wrote …

Coach Glassman-
I love watching you speak! You said that there is "no belief in science." I disagree.

In all scientific arguments of the modern day, epistemology (the study of truth) can be written as:


The meat of the work is twofold:
1) How much empirical evidence is necessary to complete the equation? This differs greatly among people. For some religions, empirical evidence might be scant to non-existent. Science-minded folk often have higher bar for how much empirical evidence is required to justify something. The problem is that in almost all cases you NEVER have enough evidence to fully explain something. It is also very easy to fall into the trap of only finding evidence that supports what you believe.

2) Say 100+ years ago, the meaning of subjectivity and objectivity were reversed (great book by Dalston called Objectivity). Experts with subjective opinions (aka wise men) were the keepers of truth. Then came technology (photography, computers, etc) which effectively gave objectivity the podium. Stated another way, if you can measure something without human intervention, it must be closer to truth. A related point, if you have an explanation for something at a lower level of analysis (e.g. gene expression

Perhaps this logic can be illustrated as follows: You are fishing. You begin to reel in a huge fish, only to have it get away.
To understand what kind of fish it was, you perform a written survey asking people around what they have caught recently. You also do a sampling of the lake (with fishing nets) to evaluate the current species present. Then you do a sonar sampling, followed by detailed assessment of water from areas where fish breed. This provides a full accounting of past/present/future populations in the lake, allowing you to get very close to understanding the likelihood of what type of fish/size you might have had on your line. You publish this result to much fanfare and all stated results are true, scientifically justified, and rigorous. But there was one problem.

It was only a tire.

Brad Jones


Brian Thurmond wrote …

That was fucking awesome!


John Weiss wrote …

#2 I couldn't have put it better myself


wrote …

To me, the layman, I would simply say TRUTH=TRUTH.

Belief doesn't change the truth. The Earth was always round, even though many believed it was flat. Science is just explaining and defining things that were already there, like gravity. Remember, gravity always wins (whether in believe in it or not).

I don't know if anything I just said made sense, I just felt like I wanted to say something.



Jake Di Vita wrote …

That was pretty damn good.


wrote …

Fantastic video.


Cody Limbaugh wrote …

Thanks Coach! Always a pleasure.

I love your stance on "peer review". If it's obtained- fine, if not, it doesn't matter.
Being peer reviewed does not contribute to the validity of data.

I would love to see this video offered for public sharing (free or YouTube).


wrote …

I dont see anyone talking about ft/lbs for work capacity, other than in these talks. Everything is in weight or time. How am I suppose to easily find the amount of Watts or ft/lbs or whatever to graph to see my fitness improve? Are people doing this? Any feedback would be appreciated.


Daniel Schmieding wrote …

Paul, you need to do 2 things:
- Go read the first few CrossFit Journals.
- Grab a measuring stick, a scale, and a stopwatch. Measure, and calculate. We do it at our gym all the time, and it adds (for some) a fantastic dimension to the breadth and depth of this stuff.


wrote …

Simply to play devil's advocate, since Glassman enjoys it, let's ask the overwhelmed-guy-from-the-crowd's questions in a different way:

What is NOT Crossfit?

The obvious, theoretical answer is the opposite of the definition. Anything that is not functional, not varied and/or not intense. Sure, but those are arbitrarily defined.

All of sudden it seems that any workout done by a Crossfitter or at a Crossfit gym is inherently Crossfit. The CFSB, CFFB, CFE. Those are not 'constantly' varied. It's not the same thing each Monday, but it's not like Is Chris Spealler doing a Wendler-esque 5-3-1 chunk CF? (I believe he said he did that in a video...) Is Lipson squatting 450+ everyday for a year CF? (Yes, it's for charity. Kudos to him. I am not taking anything away from that, just using it as an example.) Is Matt Chan doing Westside stuff CF? Or is Matt Chan doing Crossfit AND Westside, Dave Lipson doing some CF workouts AND a boatload of squatting? When Orlando and Kurtis do strong man lifting, is it crossfit?

Should those be defined as separate features?

If I run a boot camp all year round and do one strength workout with my class a month, can I call it Crossfit? Or is it bootcamp? Or body pump? Or spinning? What about if we lift heavy in different variations every day? And go for the odd run/cindy? Or a place like Mike's Gym? He's an olympic coach - but when does he draw the line between when he's coaching oly lifting and crossfit? Is it the venue? The athletes in front of him? They both want better oly lifts. Or are their crossfitters just learning to move a yolk? What if he has me shoot 5 free throws mid round? Or kick a soccer ball?

Perhaps if there is a definition of what isn't Crossfit, there will be a better understand of what is Crossfit.


wrote …

#10... I agree completely. I think that needs to be addressed at some point. I also would like to know who/where all those scientists are and what exactly is their function for HQ. Why would a rocket scientist be hired to work for a fitness company? Are they better able to analyze/interpret data?
I'm not sure if it's just me, but it seems, because we all love crossfit, we are overlooking some facts. "Coach"/Glassman is a strong public speaker who has the ability to appeal to the masses and ridicule people who don't completely understand what they are asking, but he is still avoiding what the "overwhelmed guy in the crowd" is trying to get at. I understand the power of branding and I love crossfit and its impact on society, so wouldn't we be better suited to argue against the masses/fitness-public-at-large if we had more strict definitions and scientific evidence of what we are able to do as athletes?
So, what is NOT crossfit as Matt Solomon asked?


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

Coach - Good shit, brutha.

I personally don't need to see science, math, etc.

Others need to see science and / or math

I simply look at results, and, how fast we get the results and sustainability of the results

I train athletes - my gym is my lab.

How they perform in sports is what shows me what works / doesn't work.

It's not perfect b/c we have other variables such as stress, sports skills, nutrition, etc

The dude in the crowd had a great question, I think it's always good to dig deeper.

Looking forward to more...



Zach Even - Esh wrote …

@Matt Solomon great question(s).

I believe strongman = strongman

powerlifting = powerlifting, etc

when I think crossfit, I think about when we mix several methods together to cover the many fitness modalities under the "crossfit umbrella" and constantly vary the workouts and the other manipulated variables such as time of day of workout, before / after meal, on empty stomahc, etc - constantly varied day in / day out

Dave Castro has some cool videos on this w/regards to program design

W/regards to questions on Speal doing 5 3 1 , etc I think we're seeing more and more crossfitters and cf coaches finding what they need to work on and focusing there by going to the experts or programs that deliver results

5 3 1 is awesome for strength and muscle

coach mike b is the man for oly lifting, etc

good shiz bruddah



Alex Kourkoumelis wrote …

Crossfit is not the push/pull method. It's also not squatting. It's probably not gymnastics or running either. Crossfit is all of these. It may be limited by your creativity but that limit is practically removed by the contribution of the thousands of other crossfitters sharing ideas online. If your gym doesn't experiment with new ideas its "NOT crossfit." When we find a better way to get faster and stronger that idea will be tested and used, along with the new ideas pouring in every day.
Matt Chan and Dave Lipson aren't "crossfit" because they squat and lift heavy every day. Maybe Crossfit isn't a term that should be used to describe a person. Crossfit is the place at which they found the best ways to become faster and stronger. Maybe Lipsons training methods won't work for everybody, but at Crossfit chances are you're going to find radical improvements in your health and fitness level.


wrote …

#10 CrossFit is NOT exercise styles/methods that do not increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Lipson, Orlando, Chan are experimenting with different styles/methods in an attempt (I assume) to improve their GPP. Are their Fran, Murph and DT times getting better? Or are they just getting stronger while sacrificing capacity across other pathways? I don't know, but I sure am curious. If these observable, repeatable and measurable domains are improved, then yes, one would be hard pressed to argue that what they are doing is not CrossFit.


wrote …

Crossfit for me is a mindset with the specific goal of never having a routine, and knowing that I'll probably have my ass handed to me every time I step into a box. I'm o.k with that!

In fact, underneath my 30-degree nose and scarred face dripping with blood, sweat and tears, I take great pride in knowing that in 20-minutes I will be crawling across every finish line with knotted knees and torn hands and probably still deep in the pack. I'm o.k with that!

That's my version of what Lipson calls "Bro-time."

Out here!

All of this math and science mumbo-jumbo...we all know the "different branches of Arithmetic - Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision." Hell, "can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife - what's the answer to that?" ~Lewis Carroll


wrote …

I'll start by saying I am not a math guy or a science guy, so I can barely follow some of post here. I guess I don't see the problem in saying the definition of crossfit is a big umbrella. Is crossfit not a big umbrella filled with a bunch of good shit that gets you in really good shape. If there wasn't a lot of components to this how could it be constantly varied and if you agree with that then how could the definition be so specific that anyone would know exactly what crossfit was without doing it. Constantly varied functionally movement done at high intensity seems to be the simplest way to describe a program that encompasses so many elements that make you better at so many different things.

Thank you Coach and the cossfit staff for doing all the science stuff for us so we can just look at a website follow the prescription and get a great workout. I love the fact that people question things, but the definition who cares how you define it, it works enough said right? I think people should focus on understanding the crossfit concepts not the definition. Maybe that is what these people are asking about and I'm just missing it.

I remember the first time someone told me about crossfit. He said "its really good shit and really fucking hard". So I tried it and he was right. Maybe that should be the definition. It worked for me but like I said I'm not a math or science guy.


replied to comment from Cody Limbaugh

I second the open sharing of this video as it would be a great defining resource.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

I would say that CrossFit is simply measurable work turned into competition. I'm not talking about the games, but more of the everyday whiteboard style competition. I think does the best job of interpreting this.
I think the lap times that is used on Top Gear is a similar example. Everthing is relatively the same, just different cars with different lap times the same way that a day in a CrossFit gym (that uses measurable work and turns it into competition) pits different people against eachother (and themselves) to see which person could do the work fastest.

The same way that I view the Zone as a system of eating and not so much a diet, is the same way I view CrossFit as a system of measuring work capacity across broad time and modal domains... and not just a fitness program.


wrote …

Terrific definition. Now how about a description? "....across broad time and modal domains" just isn't sticky enough. Any help from CrossFitters?


wrote …

"CrossFit is the variety of life"



wrote …

Coach greg glassman you are a true champion and i totally agree with every word you name is Isaac and i meet you at the crossfit level 1 cert in brisbane 2 years ago and i love you coach love Isaac!!!!!


Nothing short of brilliant.
I tell my students everyday SCIENCE PROVES NOTHING!
Parsimonious, operational definitions such as Variance, functionality, and intensity are not hard concepts unless you apply them to something like fitness which has been so F**Ked up for so long.
If you don't know what those words mean, in any context, buy a dictionary. Then rethink the definition of CF - the terms are inherently operational wrt data collection, analysis and interpretation.

I also love Coach's retort on peer-review. As a practicing, published scientist and editor of several high level academic journals, I can tell you peer-review is a bit of a joke. Imagine this scenario: you write a term paper for a class. Then you ask either your best friend or your worst enemy to review the paper. What do you think the reviews will look like, well without being a dick guess what: they'll be variable. In fact, they will vary in functionality and intensity as well, funny how that works. But, that's essentially, unfortunately how scientific peer-review sometimes works. And if you top that with say, fame... forget about it - bastardization! Some of the best scientific work went unpublished for years, sometimes unpublished period, because peer-review rejected on some useless, non-scientific, unobjectifiable means: say religion, social construction, etc.


wrote …

19 Andy,

CF is not the first turn working out into competition. I would agree that it is better than that, but think of things like the NFL Combine. Max vert, max bench at 225, top 40 time, etc etc. My rugby team would do the same thing. We wouldn't run the beep test solo - we ran it to beat each other.

14, 15, 16,

Many people increase their work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Novices can achieve it through nearly anything. Martial arts and boxing clubs have done it for years. Playing a variety of sports, such as squash, rugby and snowboarding. Surfing is definitely a workout (especially if you aren't good). That is the goal of mainsite crossfit but not the goal of all crossfitters or crossfit programs so that doesn't work.

Furthermore, if I ran a gym: I could do Fran on Monday, Diane on Tuesday, Murph on Wednesday, Cindy on Thursday, and Grace on Friday. Closed for weekends. Same thing every week. Does that still count as Crossfit? It's functional, intense but not constantly varied. It's not creative, but it like many other things, would provide a subjective thing like "radical improvements in your health and fitness level".

Gravity and calculus seem slightly more defined.


hi paula,

if you´re really interested in your poweroutput, just get an account on

all my members get an account for free and they all want to know, who had the highest poweroutput, because thats the true measure of fitness, not weight and not time.

regards from munich,


wrote …

You people think too much.

CrossFit "IS" and "WORKS" because of YOU.

A graph isn't going to tell me I look and feel better.

Go move heavy shit and relax. Y'all make my damn head hurt.


wrote …

Interesting video. There is no doubt in my mind that Glassman is very intelligent, an excellent public speaker, and also thinks very well on his feet. However he does have a tendency to bewilder questioners with language that is fairly confusing, especially under pressure in such a setting. From my perspective, his responses would be much more valuable if he took the time to explain his answers more as opposed to just defending his stance with rebukes and ridicule.

The "overwhelmed" guy got no support from the others attending that seminar but he posed a question worth examining - how big is that umbrella? Glassman said there was no metric in the "constantly varied..." but I would suggest differently.

Variance is something that can usually be quantified by a number - for example the frequency of occurrence of one thing versus other things. To put it in crossfit terms, how frequently do certain exercises come up (i.e. back squats, or if you like umbrellas, then any kind of squat)?

If "constantly varied" is taken to the extreme then perhaps back squats come up once a year. However if "constantly varied" means doing 5-3-1 and back squatting every week but on a different rep scheme that is something different entirely.

By failing to define "constantly varied", the circumference of the crossfit umbrella then seems to be defined by one's own definition of what that term means, which can lead to confusion over what is crossfit and what isn't.

The examples above of what Matt Chan and co are doing are a good example. Sure they are looking to be able to increase work capacity but I would not call their regular strength training constantly varied. I would call it a structured, planned strength program with crossfit-style metcon components added on... others would simply say that they are crossfit athletes and therefore they are doing crossfit regardless of planning and following a very structured routine.

"functional movements performed at high intensity (intensity in this definition meaning high rate of work, not high % of 1RM)" defines the CONTENT of the program but in my mind "constantly varied" does a poor job of explaining the EXTENT of that content.



Bob Guere wrote …

To Coach's point, I think we're all putting hefty weight in belief and proof, and not separating science from facts. One supports the other, but are not in themselves "reliant" on each other. Science can explain, but math proves. But that's not why I called you all here....

I don't know why this other topic is still so prevalent. The breadth and depth of CrossFit starts with a toddler squatting to pick up a toy, continues with our firebreathers and game-competitors, and finishes with a Silver Athlete simply reaching overhead after years of deconditioning. Constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity is scaled to each, and is all CrossFit. Why do we have to hamstring the breadth and depth to a certain criteria? Natural core to extremity expression of power in all forms. It's ALL CrossFit.

Now, personal goals? (see posts about CFSB, CFE, 5-3-1, etc.)... that's a different story. Hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to be a competitive marathoner or power lifter, then main page CrossFit will fall short, because it does not specialize. Could I run a marathon on main page alone? Sure, and many have done it. Can I be competitive? Doubt it. This is where folks have a problem mashing it all into one big CrossFit sack. Some specialization for personal goals and efforts is just that, specializing, and a slight departure (for our own reasons) from CrossFit's varied programming. It doesn't make you less of a CrossFitter.... I say it makes you more of a CrossFitter.... (regularly learn and play new sports)....



wrote …

Damn, that kid got schooled!
Feel sorry for him... :(

Study up kid and hit that level one cert please.


wrote …

Ask Dr. Romanov about peer-review when he was identifying the physics behind human motions. From the sound of it, things didn't go unpublished but the person questioning the norm "went missing". In other words, #23 is 100% correct: 1. Science proves nothing, rather provides a certain degree of support to a guess (hypothesis) 2. Peer-review is in the same category as "politically correct" and "mother's approval".
Another concept that may come up due to these discussions is the term "Evidence-based"... evidence-based fitness. Most people "believe" that it is fitness that is based only on what "peer-reviewed" research says. However, it is better defined as the combination of research DATA and clinical experience. In other words, math and objective findings. Or, my FRAN time the things I do in the gym to improve it.
Lastly, I understand the need to define Crossfit for the "intellectuals"; but for 95% of the people out there that are just looking for results and fun... "Gold Jacket, Green Jacket, Who Gives a S#!T" - Happy Gilmore


wrote …

In my mind, the point of CrossFit is to make you more efficient at moving yourself and various weights. The process of gaining efficiency requires your body to adapt in ways that we all obviously find appealing for a variety of reasons.

If you are interested in competing in the Games, you may need more focused training to specifically address your capacity to do certain tasks (focused and specific makes it NOT CrossFit to me). This will most likely lead to the degredation of other aspects of your fitness. As Spealler points out during the Tahoe Throwdown roundtable, he is intentionally training to add additional muscle mass. He is intentionally sacrificing speed (by his own recognition he can no longer do as many rounds of Cindy) to gain strength.

If the 2011 Games ends up being "10,000 double unders for time", his sacrificing speed for strength will have placed him at a disadvantage relative to where he started (he may still win though). This is a calculated risk that he and every Games athlete has to make to some extent.

There are lots of ways to train that are not CrossFit...many of them do what they are supposed to do. The results that can be gained from these forms of training may combine with CrossFit training to address your individual goals. If your goals are to conquer the unknown (i.e. win the Games), they may not.


#30: well put brother!


Mauricio Leal wrote …

CrossFit is the intersection of the theory of fitness (WCABTAMD) AND its practice (CVFMPAHI). What makes it special IMHO is evolution -- the admission that current methods are less than perfect, and that in order to improve the practice we must remain unwedded to our belief in The System(s), and willing to adapt new elements that prove themselves in measurable, observable, and repeatable ways.

As Glassman has said, if it turns out the Games winner from next year just drank beer and watched TV everyday, that should give us pause and force us to reconsider where our current methods are lacking (not enough beer, obviously ;) ). Of course, such an occurrence would and should be met with harsh skepticism -- one data point is not enough to draw conclusions from. This is why Louie Simmons is so respected -- his stuff obviously works and has been for decades (N >> 1). The cool part is you can see these evolutions happening in real time if you follow closely, and learn to anticipate change by challenging yourself to think outside of the box in terms of creativity and intensity. What was thought impossible quickly becomes normalized when one person does it.

With respect to the question about making a twitter explanation of the CrossFit method, Glassman is again correct: CVFMPAHI is the answer. You can go on and on re-hashing it in perceptibly more palatable ways, but that remains the best answer because it is in fact THE definition of the method. Your hang up as a trainer trying to explain this to your group is that you are afraid your clients are too stupid or uninterested to appreciate that phrase and the multi-syllabic loaded words. Don't sell them or yourself short. This is fitness -- arithmetic and high school physics AT WORST -- not quantum mechanics. Challenge them and yourself to think about big ideas in SCOPE -- these are big ideas -- in digestible pieces. You may be met with obstinate resistance but that is mostly because CrossFit is different and people are resistant to change, not because it is incomprehensible. You can explain variance; functionality; you can explain intensity. If you are unable to do so in a simple way it's not because it is impossible to do so, it is because you don't really understand it yourself, in which case you need to freshen up your knowledge base. Heck, it's been explained in this video and enough other times that you can almost copy it verbatim.


wrote …

Tony or HQ,

I would love a more official response.

Most of the comments above just re-iterate the same thing or prove nothing. Moving yourself and various weights? Powerlifting does that. So does essentially everything else. Claiming that peer-reviewers are akin to organized criminals and making people disappear is as slanderous as it is stupid.

I understand the criticism towards peer review. However, someone applying their beliefs during peer review is butchering science. Similar, to Joe Schmoe blowing out his knee doing overloaded "quarter" squats and then claiming that squats must be dangerous. As Rip used to say, "It is incumbent on you to educate yourself." The fact that peer reviews are applying their opinion says more about them self than peer review. Nevertheless, peer review is not the issue here, Crossfit is.

Crossfit seems to have come up with some novel ideas. We know all about them, the timed workouts, the thruster (?I think), etc. But not all of it. Doing max reps at X weight, or max weight for 5x3 backsquat, or even Fight Gone Bad style workouts, have been done before. (For FGB, not the combo exactly, but numerous people have gone max reps for a minute then moved to the next exercise, etc.) The way that crossfit is mostly varied is also seemingly novel. But how much does it have to vary? In what way? While taking ideas from other experts is a great idea, such as Burgener or Simmons, when does it become crossfit? And not just working out? K-star seems to have made people enthusiastic about stretching and mobility, which is great, but surely just stretching doesn't make you a crossfitter. His moves are likely more effective than most people's stretches, same as Burgener is likely more effective at coaching olympic lifting than tons of people, but when is it crossfit? Even the functional component is arbitrary. If Louie Simmons tells me that doing triceps pulldowns will improve my press, I'd do it, but that doesn't make it fit the definition that seems to be applied. It makes it effective, there is a significant difference.

If a bootcamp goes heavy on fridays? Or Louie starts making his lifters run 5k on wednesdays? Is that varied enough to be crossfit? Say I do Fran, and then afterwards do pulldowns and bicep curls (to help with my press and pull ups), what should we call it? Crossfit with additional weight training? Or just crossfit? The examples are endless. Does the user matter? The goals? The mindset?

Thanks to CF, I have become much better at olympic lifting. I can clean and jerk 225 with relative ease, but, rightly or wrongly, I don't call myself an olympic lifter. Similarly, I don't call myself a power lifter despite that I deadlift, backsquat and bench press.

Crossfit can't be everything, but it seems to be anything.


wrote …

Coach, every time I hear someone at Crossfit, your Dad or you or whomever, talk about science, I am impressed. One of the great things about Crossfit is it is based on real science, not someone's screwy concept. Despite the resulting violent uproar, your dad impressed me with his ability to see through the fog and present Global Warming accurately. Too many people worship at the shrine of Science. (You can see some comments along those line here. They always seem to get very derogatory and very personal in their remarks.) But, just as academic science and scientists have given us the current state of affairs in exercise science, they have brought us close to the precipice with East Anglia, the lipid hypothesis and other nonsense branded as "science". To say the least, when it comes to science, a little circumspection is not a bad idea.

On that subject here is an article in The New Yorker you should read. Science and the scientific method seems to be befuddling scientists.


Josh Groves wrote …


I think a problem that you're having in digesting this is that you want a clear-cut, francise-friendly definition. CrossFit can not, and hopefully will never be able to be defined in such a manner.

CrossFit is more of a forum for the progressive understanding of what fitness is and who is fit and as such the "umbrella" definition is appropriate. CrossFit is not a cookie-cutter program such as Insanity or P90x. Thus, to try to define CrossFit by a similar method is to completely ignore what CrossFit is about.

If you have not done so already, read through the Level 1 Trainer Manual (it's available through the Journal, without attending a seminar). I think a lot of your questions are answered pretty well in there.

Further, is doing 5x3 Backsquat CrossFit? Absolutely. Does that mean that doing 5x3 Backsquat is only a CrossFit workout? Not at all. CrossFit can be any type of programming with the intent of increasing GPP. Lots of fitness programs increase GPP, and as such, I again think it is better to think of CrossFit as more of a forum of like minded individuals who are participating in an evidence-driven approach to finding the optimal path to fitness.


Daniel Schmieding wrote …


I am not Tony, I am not Greg, nor am I HQ. I'm just some guy who has seen this discussion had dozens of times. Take it for what you will.

You asked what CrossFit is NOT. CrossFit is NOT a system that consistantly and significantly biases one of its 10 defined components of fitness over the other 9. 5-3-1 on schedule is not CrossFit. Nor is replacing all weightlifting with gymnastics movements. Nor is CF Strength Bias, hense the latter half of the name. Matt Chan can do Westside and CrossFit in conjunction with each other the same way an athlete can play two sports. Because one helps the other does not make them part and parcel.

CrossFit didn't invent the "Thruster" the same way Basketball didn't invent running; it embraced it and utilized it within a specific framework.

Those arguing that such a framework is all-inclusive are just as confused as you.

Glassman has consistently provided multiple definitions of what qualifies as "functional," and what qualifies as "intense." A definition of CrossFit is dependent on an acceptance of those definitions; they've always been open to alternatives, but I've yet to see one make [more] logical headway.

HQ has said time and again that is just one expression of CrossFit. While this is true, many mistake that as an admission that any CrossFit affiliate's programming is also an expression of CrossFit. I am telling you it's not [good] CrossFit if it's not balanced in the 10 general physical skills previously mentioned, and engaging in functional, intense movements and a constantly varied basis. All are requirements. After all, Basketball wouldn't be basketball without a hoop, no matter how much you dribble, pass and throw at nothing.


wrote …

I think the reason why the umbrella of crossfit is so large is because crossfit incorporates numerous methodologies/systems to create and/or foster the enivroment that supports constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity. What other program incorporates powerlifting (westside methodology, rippetoe, Dave Tate), Olympic lifting (burgener, Greg Everett-formerly) gymnastics (tucker), nutrition (Zone, Paleo, vegetarianism), Strongman (bowler and orlando), Endurance and Running (Romanov and POSE and CFE), athletics (crossfit football)? That is why crossfit is a great GPP program but one of the best things about it is that it opens peoples eyes to other avenues of fitness or sports. Look at the membership in the USAW for instance.

I like the fact that the people question the methodology, that will only make them better trainers. If you get a level 1 cert and stop there you are severely missing the boat or opportunity that has been opened to you regarding human performance. I am not level 1 certified but have done crossfit for over six years and have voraciously studied everything that has been offered as an off shoot from everett's oly dvd's and books, to the 15 or 20 books on nutrition that journal recommends to the journal itself along with experimenting wioth crossfit football, CFE, .com and my own programming and I know that makes me a better trainer despite not having the paper (not that i do not want a level 1 cert, I feel i owe it to crossfit because of the fact it has opened my eyes to numerous ways to train).

The key though is that crossfit offers results, plain and simple (and i know that any novice trainee will see results from some kind of program but crossfit is stellar at producing top level results).


wrote …

What is all the confusion about?

Constantly Varied
Functional Movement
High Intensity

It is no longer Crossfit when it fails to meet these criteria.

Constantly Varied = Refers to schedule, work, duration, and modality. Dave Lipsons 365 challenge is not "Crossfit" and even Fran Fridays are not Crossfit.

Functional Movement = Is clearly defined by CFHQ in several ways including "Safe at heavy loads","Multi-Joint", "Core to extremity", "large loads long distances quickly" etc. Bicep curls and pec decks recieve most of the communities ridicule. The community would probably benefit from cleaning house, and defining what movements are "Not Crossfit".

High Intensity = Is relative. It refers to the work performed relative to ones personal work capacity.

A things Crossfitness is not its value. Crossfit is designed to improve human fitness and general physical preparedness. Improved fitness has a positive affect on athletic performance, but sport specific skills and physical adaptations are required for elite athletic performance.

Thank you CFHQ for all that you have done, and all you continue to do.


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I wanna be Coach Glassman when I grow up.


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36, defines itself as a strength and conditioning program, while it may also be the forum you speak of, that is not the basis of the program.

"CrossFit can be any type of programming with the intent of increasing GPP." No, because in certain cases that would be taking someone else's intellectual property. Furthermore, almost anything can qualify. Basketball practice, playing rugby, Zumba, Bodypump, spinning, the standard bi/back tri/chest scheme, could all be used to raise GPP. Statements like that are exactly my point, and, as the guy in the video says, too broad.

I agree with you. However, it means that a lot of what is colloquially referred to as, and considered Crossfit is not technically Crossfit.

If you learn about and join a squash ladder at your CF gym, does playing squash become CF? It requires and builds accuracy, coordination, speed, cardioresp, etc. I highly doubt anyone would claim that squash is really part of their CF training, but when and why do other methods "become" CF?


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If the majority of people in the US understood this about science, we wouldn't be so worried about global warming in a globe that hasn't warmed in over a decade...


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It bothers me when Greg does not answer the question, but rather moves into an aggressive position or a debating stance. Instead of a discourse about the merits of peer review maybe say "No, because peer review is crap." (Which it is in today's form.) The questions seem to be centered around selling or pitching Crossfit to the uninitiated, but was never addressed that way. Oh well, still a great video.


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Crossfit is a brand. People pay $2000 a year to use that brand to market their gym under the same umbrella. The definition that Crossfit chooses is so broad and inclusive virtually anything could qualify. You can invent whatever programming you desire, and still call it Crossfit (legally) and the market will decide if you succeed or fail financially.

There is no magnitude to any of the definitions:
Constantly Varied: subjective. Crossfit varies lots of movements, but far from everything it could.
Functional: subjective.
High Intensity: subjective. Is a Marathon high intensity? 7 day hike/climb/bike? 1RM squat? Is a 12 second 100m dash intense for Usain Bolt? You?

Is Crossfit truly Varied? I've seen Fran come up a few times, yet have never seen basic things like any sort of throwing (Ok wall balls, but not Shot put, javelin, baseball) or any real sport WOD (ie Basketball, Soccer, swimming, skiing, hockey...) Many things are excluded but not by definition. I presume they are excluded out of practicality. Is the Hopper suppose to be practical too? Or is everything really in there it just hasn't come out yet? I know smashing a pole into the ground with a sledgehammer was so maybe I should have more faith.

All to say, its all up for interpretation. Just like the Bible. Lets hope it doesn't create as many schisms for us as it did for Christianity *Cough* CF Endurance, CF Strength Bias, Westside Barbell, CF Football..etc.

And show some math instead of just hiding behind an aura of science, which you are quick to criticize (IE Peer Reviewed, yes, I know the faults but you are not Copernicus). I Have yet to see any experiment closely approximating a randomized control trial show any meaningful conclusions about Crossfit. "Crossfit makes you better at Crossfit!?" No way! "This training/diet worked for Crossfit Superstar so it will work for you!" How about things outsiders would be concerned about. Anything on injury rates?
Please show how elite Crossfitters have better health metrics for inflammation compared to more moderate exercise.

Also, why do you pretend Crossfit is about Newtonian physics. If a 200lb athlete runs a 20min 5K run and a 110lb athlete runs it in 19minutes59 seconds who won the race? The larger athlete did more work but the lighter athlete was faster. Not to mention not a single post of performance is in ft lbs/sec. You didnt convert it for the games to determine a winner. How does graphing my CF total average work then Fran the next day, then Eva the Next then a 5K run show me my fitness is improving. I find the weights posted and times to be more relevant. "yeah you won the fight, but I spent more energy..." smart.


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"i don't see magnitude in that definition" is not an answer to the guy's question, it *is* his question.

he's saying not only that "variance" is not defined, he's saying that it *needs* to be given a narrower definition in order to be useful. the same goes for "functional" and for "high intensity."

really, the failure to more narrowly define these terms means that any human movement, performed in any way and for any length of time, can be included under the CVFMHI umbrella -- which makes that umbrella so enormous that it ceases to be useful.

...or, that CFHQ will sometimes contradict itself. for example, by prescribing handstand walks, even though they don't fit the definition of functional movements as being "uniquely adapted to producing force."


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The fitness industry has been around for a long time. People have been getting stronger, faster, and fitter using gymnastics, calisthenics, weightlifting, metabolic monostructural exercises, and various combinations thereof. If you think that's what CrossFit is, then you are correct, there is nothing new.
But that is not really what CrossFit is. The primary unique contribution CrossFit made has been our definition of fitness (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains) and the mechanism to get there (constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity). We have defined these terms effectively and in such a way as they can be measured. This measurement has allowed the meteoric rise of fitness levels over the past decade.
There has been some debate here about what is and isn't CrossFit. First, defining the goal (fitness) is CrossFit. Not defining your terms is not CrossFit. Second, experimenting with a variety of functional movements at intensity in order to optimize fitness is CrossFit. Not trying to improve fitness by some measurable indicator would not be CrossFit.
How varied should "constantly" be? As varied as necessary to optimize fitness. How "intense" should the exercises be? As intense as possible to optimize fitness. How "functional" should they be? As functional as needed to optimize fitness.
Another key point to remember is that these terms and experiments didn't exist in the same way before CrossFit. People were not talking about measuring work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Some people were measuring work and power in limited domains specific to their sport, but that is different.
Why is this so significant? Because it is the benchmark around which everyone seeking elite fitness can operate and evaluate their progress. The debate about who is fittest has been around forever. Is the Tour de France winner fitter than the Welterweight Boxing Champion of the World? Before CrossFit's concise and measurable definition, there was no way to reconcile or test either claim.
Furthermore, demonstrating increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains in the gym really does translate into better real world fitness. This has made a world of difference for soldiers and first responders around the world, to name just two populations.
The second major contribution was the prescription for achieving the highest levels of fitness (constantly varied functional movements at high intensity). Again, we have seen people doing functional movements at high intensity for a very long time, but the identification of functional movements (as we define them - see other articles in the Journal for more information) as the primary vehicle by which fitness is achieved has enormous implications. The entire community can now avoid an entire category of movement (non-functional movements), making their fitness efforts that much more efficient and effective.
Combining functional movements specifically to maximize intensity (average power) was never established before CrossFit. People experimented with it in small areas, but this change in the breadth of scope of the experiment is unique and very substantial.
Again, you can look back and see that these movements going on forever, and some of you are saying that means CrossFit isn't unique. But there is a huge difference between focused effort with a measurable goal and various types of experimentation. That difference has been improved fitness for the average fitness enthusiast, and the highest levels of elite fitness in history.
Now, we claim that the winners of the CrossFit Games are the fittest man and woman on the planet. There are many who dispute this claim, but as of yet, no one has directly challenged any of our winners. We would be more than willing to set up the competition (and, in fact, this year's Games are one example).
Furthermore, these CrossFit Games are the first of its kind. Just as MMA originally provided a forum for who would win, the boxer or the wrestler (or any martial artist for that matter), the CrossFit Games provide the first forum for any athlete of any background to compete in the sport of fitness. Of course, there is room for someone to say that our Games are actually not the best test of fitness, but then there would be an onus on them to provide a better one. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it hasn't happened yet.
The bottom line is that the refinements CrossFit has made in three areas: a concise and measurable definition of fitness, the prescription on how to achieve it, and a forum for how to evaluate it have made an enormous difference in the industry.
This is an open standard that anyone can debate or compete in. That's not at all about image. In fact, I'm not sure how much more substantive we can get. I have made broad claims with specific opportunities for evidence that would either support or contradict the claims. If you respond, please address the claims and evidence specifically, and support your claims with your own evidence. This kind of debate is precisely the original intent of the CrossFit Journal.


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great comment by Tony Budding, thank you for the response!

The way I see it Crossfit didn't invent the fitness wheel but they sure have got it rolling in a definitive direction (CVFMHI)and a way to measure how far they have travelled (WCABTAMD) that is creating positive results for numerous individuals willing to step outside the globo-box and try something different. I've seen numerous gym-goers repeat the same program over and over with limited results or no results because they don't have something to measure it against. I believe there is a saying by Einstein that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In the same vain how many of those traditional fitness regimes would push somebody into powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman, endurance, gymnastics, etc. or in fact give somebody the initiative to venture into all different domains? Crossfit doesn't claim to have invented any of these but only to have borrowed from them to create a potent combination of GPP while simultaneously being able to measure their effects.

Crossfit is a brand and yes I could go out and train using the principal of CVFMHI and market it as Fast Freddy's Fitness Funhouse but what draws people in is the brand and that is what the affiliates pay but conversely if an affiliate just wanted the brand name to lure in clients while offering a zumba class, or jazzercise or what not crossfitters bullshit detectors would go off and that business would not likely survive.

The inherent beauty of crossfit is that it fosters a community of health conscious individuals that are driven in their pursuit of fitness through pushing their bodies to some imaginary limit and beyond.

Is Crossfit the end? for some it may be but for others it may just be the beginning of a wonderful journey of self exploration through physical and mental conditioning.


wrote …


I agree that Crossfit has designed a meaningful definition of fitness. This was new, and very clever. The main benefit of the new definition is that it is measurable. If you can't observe and measure the change, there is no change (or in this case, no improvement in fitness).

But that's not Crossfit. That's the definition of fitness that Crossfit improves everyday. Crossfit is the program (how it's accomplished).

Concerning the Great Fitness Debate, Crossfit's definition of fitness is the metric by which it is measured. The Boxer and Tour de France Winner can still compete to be The Fittest without ever doing a minute of Crossfit.

Odds are they would both lose at the Crossfit Games to Mikko or Graham, but that's the point. Mikko and Graham have a higher level of fitness, which they developed by the Crossfit program. Two separate things.

What I've been trying to say, is that if a person does Crossfit it should always be varied, functional and intense. When that athlete takes 3 months to improve a specific domain(s), eg strength, they are no longer doing the Crossfit program. They are now doing Starting Strength, Westside, CFSB or whatever else, and technically not crossfitting. Perhaps they think this will most improve their level of fitness (as CF defined it) but the method has changed. I think that separation is important, and allows for recognition of using someone else's idea/methods. If a person is going to add a 5-3-1 phase, the creator of that plan should be credited for their work. Similarly, Louie Simmons makes the Westside crew do Fran - he should credit Crossfit, or the Russians or whatever he does that is not his own...

The broad, inclusive fitness goal remains the same.


wrote …

Tony I disagree. CrossFit's greatest contribution is not the definition of fitness, but rather the level of community the program builds. I have never seen a single crossfitter concerned with actually measuring their work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Yes, they care about their level of fitness, but not to the degree that is defined by HQ. The idea of plotting a graph of their fitness or trying to estimate their ability in the 10 skills is nebulous and mostly useless for an individual person.

The true power of the program is it's ability to bring people together, build community, and motivate each other through a workout. I've been at commercial gyms where people would work out side by side with headphones in and never know each other's names over the course of a year. In a crossfit gym, people not only know each other, but they know each other's children, parents, friends, etc. The forum, mainpage, and journal are an extension of this.



I agree that a temporary reduction in the level of variability to focus on improving performance in a specific domain may be perceived as contrary to the claim that CVFMPAHI is the best way to improve GPP. That having been said, let's think about the fact that the weaknesses being addressed were likely identified through the context of CF, and the expected improvements are likely to be quantified in a similar manner.

Applied to my own situation, I've got mobility issues at the hips and shoulders that combine at each end of the movement spectrum to kill my performance on thrusters. If I want to get better at thrusters (and OHS, and snatches, and push presses, etc.) I have reason to believe that putting some extra time and effort where it is most needed. I'll still include a good balance and variety in my workout spectrum, but my ideal program under the circumstances might not be quite as varied as that of one who does not suffer from the same level of relative weakness in a specific component of fitness.

To sum it up, CF provides a context from which to measure and evaluate GPP, and the breadth of expertise within the CF community provides good options for addressing weaknesses once identified.


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#4 Well put!
Great video.


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I think you're the first person to look at this debate in a different way. I see it that way too. The ultimate goal of Crossfit is to "Forge Elite Fitness". If we follow Glassman's definition of fitness, which I think we all do, then we need to increase competency in the ten domains of fitness. Right? If I have 10 people walkng into a Crossfit who are de-trained or untrained, and I have them follow a Crossfit program, I can almost certainly guarantee you that everyone will have varying times/loads and results. Yes, Crossfit is designed to increase work capacity across broad time and modal, which it does, but in terms of the increases seen in the ten domains of fitness, that is dependent on the individual. Everyone comes to the "Fitness Table", so to speak, with different baseline levels of the ten domains. I naturally/genetically have great endurance and stamina, but relatively poor strength. My training partner, on the other hand, has incredible strength, but low endurance and stamina. This isn't much of an issue when we just want to improve our own performance. We are our own measuring stick, until we want to compete with eachother. This brings me to the argument at hand.

This current discussion started with coming up with a concise definition of what Crossfit is, which Glassman has already done. Now, it's turned into a "What is, and What isn't Crossfit?" debate. I myself struggled with as well, however, it's seem like a lot of people are missing two key points:

1. CROSSFIT IS A TOOL. It is a tool to improve fitness, to improve GPP, to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains. It is all these things. It gets you in fucking great shape. Period. So, what is the problem with doing CFFB, or CFE, or CFSB. They are all tools to improve fitness. Yes, some are more focused in certain domains, than other programs, but they still include constantly varied, functional movements performed at a high intensity. It is still the program that Glassman is describing.

2. Spealler, Chan, Khalipa, Montoya, Lipson, and the rest ARE CROSSFIT ATHLETES. Just like those 10 random people that I described earlier, each of these athletes comes to the playing field with different levels of competency in the ten domains of fitness. Unfortunately, they don't have the option of scaling a competition WOD to fit their abilities. They all have to do the SAME workout with the SAME loads/distances. Don't you think Spealler needed/wanted to improve his strength/power after he lost the 2008 CF Games to Khalipa on the Heavy Grace WOD? Fuck yeah!! The men and women competing in the CF Games are playing the same game, so if you come to the table with some weakness, aren't you going to focus on those weaknesses? Crossfit absolutely indentifies these weaknesses, and has plenty of options to address these weaknesses.



replied to comment from Tony Budding


Regarding IWCABTMD, the word "broad" inspires much debate. To clarify, could you provide some examples of time and modal domains that CrossFit considers to be outside this definition of fitness, and explain why?

Thank you.


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There is obviously a lot of passion re: our feelings about fitness! I don't swear a lot, anymore, but I liked the comment " good sh*t, & really f*^#ing hard". This comment does not include a magnitude, but does comment on the CVFMHI, "good" describes most of the features, because "CVFM" is good for us! It is curious why this video has spurred so much discussion. I enjoy listening to coach Glassman, but the discussion became a little tangential. Glassman is very accurate in his discussion of math & science. I believe the great value in CF is that it produces results. Now there is no magnitude in that comment, just that if you do CF, your body will be a "better body". I had the Ted Williams plastic covered wgts. back in the 60's, ( Glassman spoke of these ), and exercise has always been a part of my life. (sub sub elite ), I am now 57 yrs. old, and after 2 yrs. of doing CF (3-4 x/ wk ), my fitness is improving! We have all experienced benefits from CF, that is why we are "here". I am a physician, so the potential " health maintenance " feature of CF is appealing to me! Someday there may be a health insurance discount for those that do CF! Evidence based fitness! CrossFit works!
scientists make observations, they do not create anything. Has math or physics evolved? Will math & physics have a different form in the future? If the current "laws" of nature have evolved, where are the discarded "laws" that were not selected?



Daniel Kallen wrote …


Just at the moment in this thread where I'm hoping for you to jump in, you do -- Thanks. I always appreciate your ability to quickly clarify and to concisely communicate on topics like this.

As for how "broad" is IWCABTMD, wouldn't it be as broad to the extent that functional movements improve it? Learning to lift one eyebrow might be an example of IWCABTMD under a "broad" umbrella, but since it is not addressed/improved by functional movements, it'd be out. On the other side, midget tossing might also fall under a broad IWCABTMD umbrella, and - not that I endorse such things - it would actually fit.

At least, I assume it would...

- Dan



How is your logic not circular?

If you define "broad" as anything that functional movement can improve, then how do you define "functional"? If it's defined by anything that's "functional" then why not say "functional" instead of "broad"?

If something improves a time or modal domain, how can you possibly say that it's not functional?



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The models of fitness are contradictory.

Most would agree an indo board is a good way to develop balance (one of the 10 skills), but it's not functional by crossfit standards (moving large loads long distances) and doesn't increase work capacity. An L sit is a good way to develop strength and is programmed into WODs, yet there is no load being moved, making it nonfunctional according to crossfit.

If someone new to crossfit is severely deficient in some of the ten skills, they would be best served using specific programming to even out their skills to improve GPP. Except this approach would go against the hopper model of constantly varied exercises.


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Following all of the models in conjuction (improving 10 skills, hopper model, increased work capacity) will include pretty much every exercise that's ever been discoverd in any combination for any duration as long as the overall program is nonspecialized.


Thomas, you are missing the forest for the trees. Skills such as balance and accuracy are measures of fitness that are more easily expressed and measured in terms of quality of motion rather than power output. They are definitely part of GPP and need to be included in any overall assessment of a person's fitness, wellness, athleticism, capacity for activities of daily living or whatever the heck you want to call it. CF attempts to be inclusive rather than exclusive. The goal is improved GPP, and the primary measurable variable is improved work capacity over broad time and modal domains. That does not mean that that is the only significant component.

CF is about finding the best ways to become better prepared for the challenges of life as they present themselves. As an example, I played a good deal of volleyball from the early 1980's until 1998 but nothing really since then. I had the chance to play several hours on the beach this past Sunday and Monday. While my reactions need a bit of polishing I had no trouble with digging, passing, blocking or spiking despite a 12 year layoff, no trouble at all keeping up physically and no appreciable soreness afterwards. My vertical jump is only around 18 inches, but that's what it was in 1982 when I was 17. I didn't know that I would be playing this week and did not prepare for it specifically, but testing my limits on max-height box jumps 3 weeks ago (60cm box + 6 Eleiko 25kg plates), including a ton of 60cm box jumps in a WOD 2 weeks ago and making sure that every other area of my GPP is being addressed on a regular basis paved the way for a really good time. No way would I be able to enjoy V-ball at that level at my age if it weren't for CF.

I'd be happy to throw in an emphasis on Indo-board work for a few minutes a day, several days a week. Call it a "Balance Wave" if you want to apply Louie's terminology. Good prep for surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding or maybe even learning to Coleman slide a longboard (a guy has got to have goals!) I think that would fit right in with improving GPP even though it doesn't get measured in terms of work capacity.

Maybe we need to include a metric that expresses "fun capacity". ;-)


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Here is where I see the issue.

It's stated that CrossFit looks to increase work capacity by utilizing "functional movements", which is defined, by CrossFit, as multi-joint movements which are executed in a wave of contractions from core-to-extremity and are capable of moving large loads over long distances quickly (powerful movements). The we see the incorporation of gymnastics movements such as handstands, handstand walking, L-sits, levers and other such exercises. There is no dispute that these movements, within their own right, are great strength training tools and are capable of increasing general athletic competency, but they are clearly at odds with the very definition provided by CrossFit (in that they do not move large loads over long distances and quickly).

Now, with the incorporation of these strength training tools, we see a system of training which IWCABTAMD without soley using "functional movements", at least as previously defined.

Yes, we understand that these movement CAN increase functionality and even work capacity, that is not the issue. The issue lies within the provided definition of what constitutes "CrossFit" or the content within.

CrossFit clearly states they only look to incorporate "multi-joint movements which are executed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity and are capable of moving large loads over long distances and quickly". But some of what we are starting to see on a more regular basis is movements which lack one thing, a relatively high power output (as they do not move large loads over long distances and quickly).

So where does this leave the current definition? Is the power output of a movement now not a necessary requirement to best IWCABTAMD? Is CrossFit negating the need for power requirements within movement selection if other beneficial attributes are met (ie. strength gains)?



wrote …

Apologies, after sifting back through the archives I found the provided definition for "functional movement".

"We use the term “functional” to describe the exercises utilizing movements most representative of natural movement. Functional movements generally use universal motor recruitment patterns, recruit in a wave of contraction from core to extremity, move the body or other object effectively and efficiently, and are multi-joint“compound” movements, which are neurologically irreducible."

This allows for the incorporation of movements which are not based on power output (ie. many gymnastics exercise).



Shane (#56): There's no need to define "functional" as a stand-alone term here. What I was referring to, and what CrossFit deals with, is the already well-defined concept of "functional movements." Let's not take the "movement" out of CrossFit...

#60 Thanks, Chris! You saved me having to dig up that definition!


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I think the guy in the video really wanted to ask was how does crossfit compare to a control group (another form of exercise) for efficiency of exercise to produce some result. Obviously cf will beat almost anything else when measured by cf standards, but how will it compare to other standards? I would guess that cf would be found superior, but we need to compare that with 2 groups of matched groups to find out. Then as glassman says, let the math decide.


Dan, that doesn't answer the question of just how broad is the IWCABTAMD mantra. Ok, so let's agree that it must be functional to be included in "broad" time and modal domains. So, given functional movement, where does it stop? Tony says that it must be as broad as possible to optimize fitness. But then again, that's circular. Does one-armed pole vaulting count as one of the modal domains? Is a 72-hour cycling race one of the broad time domains? If yes, then how does Crossfit address each of these domains? If no, then why not?

If I'm doing constantly varied, high intensity functional movement, but I follow a structured, periodized program that resembles nothing like the WODs, am I still doing CrossFit? If the answer is yes, then not doing Crossfit can be the same as doing CrossFit -- which is a contradiction of terms. And if no, then that means that Crossfit's own definition of itself does not accurately describe itself.


wrote …

"If I'm doing constantly varied, high intensity functional movement, but I follow a structured, periodized program that resembles nothing like the WODs, am I still doing CrossFit? If the answer is yes, then not doing Crossfit can be the same as doing CrossFit -- which is a contradiction of terms. And if no, then that means that Crossfit's own definition of itself does not accurately describe itself."


That's exactly the issue that I am debating as well. I like how you've summed it up. By Tony's definition, doing any kind of training (as long as it contributed towards optimizing CrossFit's definition of fitness) could be called Crossfit TRAINING. This to me is ridiculous and is basically like saying "Crossfit is everything" but at the same time "Crossfit is nothing"... except perhaps a drive to create higher work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Others in the community have suggested that having a certain amount of regularity in the training discounts it as "Crossfit", so what is the consensus?

I suggest that the term "constantly varied" is at best misleading and at worst totally unquantifiable. Perhaps we can drop it out of the definition entirely and leave it as being:

"CrossFit is a PHILOSOPHY of training towards higher work capacity across broad time and modal domains."

- it is NOT a training system (or tool as was mentioned above) as it is not even close to being clearly defined in terms of frequency, intensity, or volume (so we can get rid of the "functional movements" and "high intensity" jargon)

- individuals may proceed towards HWCABTAMD using any combination of training systems they wish - labeling their training PHILOSOPHY as Crossfit but their TRAINING method as 5-3-1 with circuits or Westside with rowing or DeFranco or Waterbury or Everett etc.

The reality is that the practice of Crossfit as a training system is a fallacy because no clear guidelines exist. There is no "prescription" as Tony mentions, and certainly no recipe that clearly defines any sort of system of training. If there is, then why do so many do it so exteremely differently? We can't accurately measure long term changes in fitness **with the purpose of deciding on future programming directions** between affiliates or populations when one does short metcons and Powerlifting and another does CFE and minimal barbell work.

If you really want a training system, then define it more stringently (don't worry there is still lots of room for "variety"). Here's an example:

1. Perform a heavy deadlift, squat, and press variation every week for 6-25 reps and at or above 75% 1RM.
- this could be 6x1, 8x3, 5x5, whatever... and could also be part of a metcon
2. Perform 2 metcons of 4-10 minutes each week
3. Perform 2 metcons of 15-20 minutes duration each week
4. Running must be part of one metcon per week, likewise for rowing

The structure of the training week, the sets and reps chosen, the movement combinations and modes utilized are all still up for grabs, so there is still "variety" within a more controlled model. It could even be restricted more by defining the metcons to a tigher time frame (i.e. 1 @ 2-4 min, 1 @ 6-8 min, 1 @ 10-14 min... etc but you get the idea).



Daniel Schmieding wrote …

Constantly varied and periodized? Those are at odds. To be clear, that's not CrossFit. Slightly varied and periodized, perhaps.


If periodization is not constantly varied, then how can a 3 on, 1 off schedule of be constantly varied? And how would the theoretical template for programming that was released in the CF Journal many moons ago be constantly varied?

Periodization is just a way of organizing training time into focused segments to achieve a certain goal. "Constantly varied" means you do something different than what you did last time -- those are Glassman's exact words from this video. You can still do something different from last time and still have it focused and organized toward a sensible goal.

As it stands, the phrase "constantly varied" lacks defining parameters. If today I back squatted 265x3 and then tomorrow I back squat 270x3 is that varied enough? Or do I need to back squat 265x3 today and then tomorrow go ride a unicycle 60 meters with a 50# weighted vest for time. How different does it have to be varied?

In the video Glassman ridicules the poor guy for suggesting that the definition suggests magnitude. It requires magnitude of the word "varied" to make sense. There are degrees of variance. Until that degree of variance is established, anything goes.


wrote …

Suffice it to say words will always be insufficient to express our feelings. Human language is always up for interpretation and never communicates the whole picture. blue is not blue to everyone, how do you describe what you experience when you look at the stars, or when you see your first born child. Even time is variable. You just artificially call it Thursday the 30th of December, 2010 at 02:00:01 and organize it in a nice neat way the human mind can grasp easily. Nature does not need to acknowledge your laws and definitions. Words mean different things to different people. "I love nature". What does that mean? Do I love tornadoes that destroy my home...NO. But you get what I mean...maybe. Crossfit IS a lot more to many people than just exercise and IWCABTAMD. You get what I mean, right?

"depends on what the definition of IS is?"

Enjoy your WODs.


wrote …

Shane - I was thinking the exact same thing about your squatting example. By a certain definition, Starting Strength is constantly varied. If you progress linearly, you're using different loads in every exercise, every day in order to correctly take advantage of stress/adaptation. The stimulus is never the same and is constantly varied daily.

Cam - I like that take that CrossFit is a philosophy and not a program. For some, it's a great philosophy by which to develop fitness and they have leeway to decide how to implement programs to chase the stated goal. But I agree the definition is too broad to call it a fitness program. There's way too much room for interpretation.


wrote …

Shane -- Thank you for saying what I didn't feel like typing out. :) Although, I would argue that all three terms, not only "varied," but "functional" and "high intensity" as well, require further definition.

Cam -- I think your comment about CrossFit as a philosophy will resonate most with the many, many people who are inspired to constantly increase their work capacity across broad time and modal domains (however they define them), yet don't follow the mainpage WODs.



While I agree with your interpretation, and believe I jumped the gun with my comment, I think it's worth pointing out that the mainsite has not always been 3 on 1 off, and does not follow the theoretical template.

Good discussion so far. To answer about the "varied" squats, I believe the intention is [constantly varied] functional movement performed at [constantly varied] high intensity, across broad [constantly varied] time and [constantly varied] modal domains. Not just one of those.


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I feel that the CF athletes that are interviewed on the Journal are much better ambassadors to Crossfit than Greg Glassman. When I watch the throwdowns, interviews, games highlights, and WOD demonstrations I find it very inspiring. I watched this video with someone who wanted to learn more about Crossfit and they were immediately turned off by Glassman's attitude and demeanor, and frankly, so was I.


replied to comment from Matthew Vaughan

Matthew, couldn't agree with you more. Every time Greg Glassman has a piece of air time on the main site or journal, the next day in my affiliate the members talk that they can't believe how arrogant and condescending he is. One would think that with all his intelligence and speaking ability, that he would be able to explain to someone what CrossFit is in a way that THEY could "wrap his (their) head around", instead he recites the CrossFit creed. I mean after all this isn't Greg's first "rodeo", one would think he could explain his own theory in more than one way. Instead he puts the burden on the participant and belittles him because he just doesn't understand what Greg is saying. On the other hand is this an attempt by the participant to call Greg out for being, I don't know too vague in his definition? I think that is where the real problem lies. Greg has purposely left the umbrella of what is CrossFit so big that anything can fit under it.

On a side note, I have been following CrossFit for many years and I have yet to see ANY data that Greg consistently refers to regarding the efficacy of CrossFit. I'm not saying it's not there, I just think it would be great to share it with everyone. No peer review needed, we can interpret the data on our own.

I really appreciate the candor that the games competitors present their training styles and approaches. Very refreshing from the dogma that CrossFit has pushed for years.


replied to comment from Robert Cook

So...CF is a big umbrella that anything can fit under yet, at the same time, is dogmatic? That's quite a paradox.


replied to comment from Cam Birtwell

I agree with you Cam.

Coach moves to the attack a little early for my liking. I don't think a lot is gained by shooting "Overwhelmed-Guy" down before he can clarify his position.

OG gets his terminology a little confused and doesn't get a chance to correct himself. He says "big", but means "broad" or "non-specific". Coach's analogy about stating that "he has a dick" and someone replying, "that sounds big" only applies if you take OG's statement too literally.

If you take a look at OG's intended statement, that the definition sounds too broad, a more useful analogy would be asking Coach to tell us how he defines an specific organ(say the heart), and Coach replying only that it is made out of cells. We all know that this is true, but it is also too broad and non-specific to be useful.

Personally, I think that the organ analogy is an exaggeration, since Coach's has effectively narrowed CrossFit's definition down more than simply being in the realm of possible physical movements. But I do see OG's point that it is a broad definition... and rightly so. The nature of CrossFit means that it can have many different expressions and necessarily needs a broad definition. OG's problem is likely that he doesn't properly understand the implications of Coach terminology and so doesn't see the limitations it places on all possible physical programs.


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Goodness, a lot of replies here...and a lot of good info being brought forward...i think i learned more from the forum than the video. As intelligent as I believe Coach is, I am just happy to see that I am not the only who questions a lot about the program (though I still try to get as many friends as possible to drink the kool-aid) and to see someone finally have the balls to ask him a question and respond to Coach's responses. I have seen someone ask a conflicting question in the past, and Coach responded the same way...almost as if he was defending himself and trying to get the crowd to laugh at the person's seemingly "ridiculous" question as opposed to simply answering the question. Much love


replied to comment from Brad Jones

You post eloquently, and have clearly given the matter a lot of thought. I am also a fan of epistemology (I highly recommend Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, by Richard Rorty, btw). I have one complaint about your point, however: Who said anything about "truth"? Science doesn't measure truth or fact. It doesn't have anything to do with those things. Glassman gets it right in another video, where is says "Science is about *predictions*". There is no concept of "truth" in science. Just accurate or inaccurate predictions (and "post-dictions" in the case of some more esoteric theories). So, while you are probably right that belief is integral to "truth", I have to agree with Glassman that it has nothing to do with science.

Now, that being said, belief does play a peripheral role in the history of science, but that has to do with biases and predispositions of the scientists, and has as often been detrimental to the pursuit as beneficial.

Cheers :)


replied to comment from Shane Skowron


You make some interesting points, but I think you are taking words from the definition and analyzing them out of context. He didn't say that the periodization would be "constantly varied", he said the movements would be. You repeated it yourself: "Different than what we did last time". Well, to quantify "last time", there have to be periods. Besides, the WOD is not the only Crossfit workout anyone is doing at a particular time. Some Crossfitters are doing up to 5 workouts some days. So, yes, even the periodization can be varied (though that is not stated, or even implied, in the definition Glassman gives).

Now, several people seem to be saying that one could do just about anything and be shooting for the goal of increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. The response is: Of course they could! Crossfit is just *better* at getting them that way, because it emphasizes functional movement (which is defined as movement that expresses greatest power directed most efficiently toward the task at hand).

Crossfit is about becoming a fit human being (not a fit wrestler, or a fit carpenter, or a fit football player, or any other narrow modality... an overall fit/elite human being). And just as being a fit carpenter implies being more-than-normally ready for the unknown and the unknowable *in the field of carpentry*, so being a fit human being has to do with being more-than-normally (above average) ready for the unknown and the unknowable in human experience.


wrote …

This issue still remains unresolved in my mind, the number of posts above that have questioned the broad all-inclusive definition still leave my explanation contradictory when classifying what is and isn't "CrossFit."

The CrossFit Journal and mainsite have provided me with more knowledge about fitness than I could have ever dreamed of during my undergraduate study in strength and conditioning. I have nothing but great things to say about the contributions that have been and are continuing to be made on a daily basis by HQ and affiliates.

That being said, I can not see how CVFMHI is an appropriate description for what constitutes "CrossFit" for reasons such as post number 27, 44, 45, 53, 57, 64, 65, all posts from Matt Solomon...etc. Also of interest would be to what degree "broad time and modal domains" are "CrossFit" (i.e. how broad, which modes - in which case the modes can not be defined as functional movements for reasons such as the previously posted non-functional movements being utilized to improve functional movement capacity)

I hope we can share some more insight and perspectives to continue this discussion.


wrote …

That was awesome coach
I have never seen a better response to someone who is questioning ANY method or theory. You covered that perfectly and proved you are a true genius. My question would have simply been 'Why are you here if you don’t believe and have faith in the definition and meaning of crossfit', and I would have lost my cool with the smart ass. You however coach kept your cool and answered with cold hard facts and inspired me as usual. I love watching you speak, please come to Adelaide Australia and do a seminar as I would love to meet you in person. Thank you for Crossfit, not only has it changed my life but the life of those around me who have also recently started.


wrote …

I can't believe I am just now seeing this. Coach is a genius in my book. His methodology has worked wonders for me and has changed my life.....even if I understand it or not!

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