måndag 16 januari 2012

The Critique of Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance: A brief response to Steve Magness

Criticizing Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance based on what their respective founders, Greg Glassman and Brian MacKenzie, have claimed is like shooting fish in a barrel. They are both extremely (over)confident, and what they say can't always be verified.

Steve Magness recent blogpost does just that, finding flaws with CF and CFE based on some of the lofty claims, and, as it seems, some personal issues with one crossfitter.

Although CF has quite a few sect-like features (the ten-commandments-like list of skills, its corporate, top-to-bottom organization, and energetic group of followers), in a CF box, it is about an eclectic set of exercises, independent from CrossFit Corp, and a large number of success stories. The inspiration comes from olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, strong-man competitions, rowing, triathlon... Indeed, the devotion to the program comes from somewhere.

To state the obvious, CF exercises are not new, and no one has claimed so. Tabata running on treadmill, in one CFE rendition is simply intense hill intervals, and the general approach to sports-specific training resembles the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training, a method that emphasizes three quality running sessions per week, and cross training for three more days. Enamait Ross keeps showing fascinating video clips from pretty unusual training traditions, such as this one on Greco-Roman wrestling in the Soviet Union, traditions with a lot of similarities to CF.

Although Brian MacKenzie doesn't it make it clear, CFE would not be the preferred training method for elite triathletes. But anecdotal evidence (the video presents CFE as a time saver for athletes who appreciate family life) suggest that it may work for some age groupers even for an IronMan. The winner of the CrossFit games in 2011, Annie Mist þórisdóttir, finished the quite hilly and demanding 55k Laugavegur Ultramarathon in seven hours without the typical ultramarathon training. But herein lies the issue, there are no major studies on the effect of CF and CFE, it's all anecdotal.

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