My friend Brian DeGennaro wrote a great blog post on his problems with the current CrossFit programming. I wanted to respond because he brought up some great points.
Back when I started doing Crossfit things were a little more experimental. There were workouts that said “practice walking on your hands for 30 minutes.” However, my perception of the program was that it was always trying to be something that created a broad fitness base for the athlete. In the last year or so, the model has been changed slightly to reflect the new mantra, “increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.” Increased loads, longer distances and more reps are what constitute most of the WODs now.
While military and law enforcement embrace Crossfit, it is not specifically designed for them. While it has its roots in gymnastics, it not a program for gymnasts. The program functions largely to give people a foundation of physical fitness from which they can draw on to complete tasks in their daily lives. Whether you are busy mom, a busy soccer player or a busy soldier, having an increased work capacity allows you to function better at the day-to-day tasks you need to do.
As the population of people doing Crossfit grows so does the problem of keeping everyone happy. Since Mark Rippetoe joined the family, their has been an increased focus on strength. The prescribed loads for the WODs has creeped up and so has the frequency of Maximum Effort days. There are people who are unhappy with the increased loads that are being posted.
As we have brought on board Brian Mackenzie and the endurance community there has been a steady increase in longer runs and rows. This too has made people upset. As the “broadness” of time and modal domains expands there will be less and less specificity. Thus critiquing the fact that 15k runs do not do a beat cop any good is valid but goes right to the heart of the problem. This program is not designed to be just for one kind of athlete.
There is a large community of lifters that are psyched every time a heavy lifting day is prescribed. Similarly there is a large community of people that are overjoyed by the prospect of a long run. Seldom is everybody made happy in this community. That’s the beauty of this broad program. It will hit everybody’s weak point at some time.
That is not to say that we should follow the programming blindly and just do as Coach Glassman says. Questioning the appropriateness of the WOD for your given situation is valid. If you are a cop or a soldier or a powerlifter then 15k runs probably do not benefit you that much. I see no reason that every WOD has to be done as prescribed by everyone. Scaling and modifying the WODs is absolutely a must. I think that having some discretion over your destiny is a good thing.
Let’s keep in mind that in any given week a CrossFitter following the WODs as prescribed has probably done more Work (Force x Distance) than most recreational and some professional athletes out there. That’s impressive. That is why we can still call this program “Elite Fitness.”
If you are somebody that is just looking to be in the best shape of your life, following the WODs is the right thing to do (with the appropriate scaling of course). If you are looking to specialize then a little picking and choosing is a wise choice. Ultimately I do not think there is a problem with the programming; I think there is a larger community of people that are unhappy when workouts get further away from what they like to or feel they need to do.
What do you think? Please post your thoughts on the Crossfit programming in the comments.
Check out Brian’s article “A Closer Look at POSE Running” in this month’s Performance Menu.