CFJ English Level1 Training Guide

CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide

CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide

CFJ_English_Level1_TrainingGuide

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LEVEL 1 TRAINING GUIDE
The CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide is a collection of CrossFit Journal articles
written since 2002 primarily by CrossFit, Inc. Founder Coach Greg Glassman on
the foundational movements and methodology of CrossFit, Inc.
This guide is designed to be used in conjunction with the Level 1 Course to develop
the participants knowledge and trainer skills and as an essential resource for
anyone who is interested in improving their own health and tness.
Some edits to the original articles have been made for the Training Guide to ow
as a stand-alone reference, to provide context for readers, and to stay current with
the course format. All original works are preserved in the CrossFit Journal.
© 2002 - 2017 CrossFit, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner
without permission. All images are copyrighted by the artists and reproduced with
the kind permission of the artists and/or their representatives.
Every eort has been made to contact copyright holders and to ensure that all the
information presented is correct. Some of the facts in this volume may be subject
to debate or dispute. If proper copyright acknowledgment has not been made, or
for clarications and corrections, please contact the publishers and we will correct
the information in future reprintings, if any.
No seminar other than the CrossFit Level 1 Certicate Course, as run by CrossFit,
grants you the title CrossFit Trainer. Ocial events can only be veried by using
CrossFit.com for registration or by emailing seminars@crosst.com with your inquiry.
Ocial qualications for any individual can be veried in CrossFit’s Trainer Directory.
Only CrossFit, Inc. oers the CrossFit Level 1 Certicate Course, and the course
has no prerequisites. Only successful completion of this course allows a trainer to
apply for aliation with CrossFit. If an aliate or other tness organization claims
otherwise, it should be reported to iptheft.crosst.com.
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFit
Copyright 2017 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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Methodology
Understanding CrossFit ............................2
Foundations ..........................................5
What Is Fitness? (Part 1) ............................17
What Is Fitness? (Part 2) ............................32
Technique ...........................................40
Nutrition: Avoiding Disease and Optimizing
Performance ........................................45
Fitness, Luck and Health ............................50
Zone Meal Plans ....................................53
Typical CrossFit Block Prescriptions and
Adjustments ........................................65
Supplementation ...................................68
A Theoretical Template for CrossFit’s
Programming .......................................71
Scaling CrossFit .....................................77
The Girls” for Grandmas ..........................83
Running a CrossFit Class ...........................87
Lesson Plan: Fran ..............................88
Lesson Plan: Back Squat ......................92
Lesson Plan: 20-Minute AMRAP ..............96
Movements
Anatomy and Physiology for Jocks ............100
Squat Clinic ........................................104
The Overhead Squat ..............................111
Shoulder Press, Push Press, Push Jerk ..........118
The Deadlift .......................................123
Medicine-Ball Cleans ............................. 127
The Glute-Ham Developer (GHD) .............. 131
Movement Guide
Nine Foundational Movements Summary ....170
The Air Squat .................................171
The Front Squat .............................. 176
The Overhead Squat .........................178
The Shoulder Press ..........................180
The Push Press ................................184
The Push Jerk .................................188
The Deadlift ...................................194
The Sumo Deadlift High Pull ...............201
The Medicine-Ball Clean ....................208
Four Additional Movements Summary ........ 218
The Pull-up .................................... 219
The Thruster ..................................227
The Muscle-up ................................232
The Snatch ....................................240
Trainer Guidance
Where Do I Go From Here? ......................142
Responsible Training .............................. 151
Fundamentals, Virtuosity and Mastery:
An Open Letter to CrossFit Trainers ............158
Professional Training .............................160
Scaling Professional Training ...................162
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certicate License
Agreement in Plain English .....................166
Frequently Asked Questions ....................167
CrossFit Credentials ..............................169
Table of Contents
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Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitTABLE OF CONTENTS
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Understanding CrossFit
Originally published in April 2007.
The aims, prescription, methodology, implementation, and adaptations of CrossFit
are collectively and individually unique, dening of CrossFit, and instrumental in
our program’s successes in diverse applications.
Aims
From the beginning, the aim of CrossFit has been to forge a broad, general, and
inclusive tness. We sought to build a program that would best prepare trainees
for any physical contingency–prepare them not only for the unknown but for
the unknowable. Looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked
what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves
to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports
demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is
not specializing.
Prescription
CrossFit is: “constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement.” This is our
prescription. Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns;
they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they are
compound movements–i.e., they are multi-joint. They are natural, eective, and
ecient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional
movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long
distances, and to do so quickly. Collectively, these three attributes (load, distance,
and speed) uniquely qualify functional movements for the production of high
power. Intensity is dened exactly as power, and intensity is the independent
variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return of favorable
adaptation to exercise. Recognizing that the breadth and depth of a program’s
stimulus will determine the breadth and depth of the adaptation it elicits, our
prescription of functionality and intensity is constantly varied. We believe that
Methodology Understanding CrossFit
Understanding CrossFit
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preparation for random physical challenges–i.e., unknown and unknowable
events–is at odds with xed, predictable, and routine regimens.
Methodology
The methodology that drives CrossFit is entirely empirical. We believe that
meaningful statements about safety, ecacy, and eciency, the three most
important and interdependent facets to evaluate any tness program, can
be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable data. We call this
approach “evidence-based tness.” CrossFits methodology depends on full
disclosure of methods, results, and criticisms, and we have employed the internet
to support these values. Our charter is open source, making co-developers out of
participating coaches, athletes, and trainers through a spontaneous and collab-
orative online community. CrossFit is empirically driven, clinically tested, and
community developed.
Implementation
In implementation, CrossFit is, quite simply, a sport—the Sport of Fitness. We have
learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or
game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means. The late Col.
Je Cooper observed that “the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of
death.” It is our observation that men will die for points. Using whiteboards as
scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely
dening the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprec-
edented output but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout;
this data has important value well beyond motivation.
Adaptations
Our commitment to evidence-based tness, publicly posting performance data,
co-developing our program in collaboration with other coaches, and our open-
source charter in general have well positioned us to garner important lessons from
our program–to learn precisely and accurately, that is, about the adaptations elicited
by CrossFit programming. What we have discovered is that CrossFit increases work
capacity across broad time and modal domains (see “What Is Fitness? (Part 2)
article). This is a discovery of great import and has come to motivate our program-
ming and refocus our eorts. This far-reaching increase in work capacity supports
our initially stated aims of building a broad, general, and inclusive tness program.
It also explains the wide variety of sport demands met by CrossFit, as evidenced
by our deep penetration among diverse sports and endeavors. We have come to
see increased work capacity as the Holy Grail of performance improvement and
all other common metrics like VO2 max, lactate threshold, body composition, and
even strength and exibility as being correlates–derivatives, even. We would not
trade improvements in any other tness metric for a decrease in work capacity.
“We’ve taken high-
intensity, constantly
varied functional
workouts and distilled
load, range of motion,
exercise, power,
work, line of action,
exibility, speed,
and all pertinent
metabolics to a
single value–usually
time. This is the Sport
of Fitness. We’re
best at it.”
COACH GLASSMAN
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Conclusions
The modest start of publicly posting our daily workouts on the internet beginning
in 2001 has evolved into a community where human performance is measured
and publicly recorded against multiple, diverse, and xed workloads. CrossFit is an
open-source engine where inputs from any quarter can be publicly given to demon-
strate tness and tness programming, and where coaches, trainers, and athletes
can collectively advance the art and science of optimizing human performance.
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitMETHODOLOGY
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Foundations
Originally published in April 2002.
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. We have designed our
program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not
a specialized tness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical
competence in each of 10 tness domains. They are cardiovascular/respiratory
endurance, stamina, strength, exibility, power, speed, coordination, agility,
balance, and accuracy.
CrossFit was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical
tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and
randomized physical challenges. This tness is demanded of military and police
personnel, reghters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical
prowess. CrossFit has proven eective in these arenas.
Foundations
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Aside from the breadth or totality of tness CrossFit seeks, our program is
distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximizing neuroendocrine response,
developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant
training and practice with functional movements, and the development of
successful diet strategies.
Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long
distances, guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main
metabolic pathways.
We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements,
garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically
while maximizing strength-to-weight ratio and exibility. We also place a heavy
emphasis on Olympic weightlifting, having seen this sports unique ability to
develop an athlete’s explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery
of critical motor recruitment patterns. And nally we encourage and assist our
athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their tness.
An Eective Approach
In gyms and health clubs throughout the world the typical workout consists of
isolation movements and extended aerobic sessions. The tness community from
trainers to the magazines has the exercising public believing that lateral raises,
curls, leg extensions, sit-ups and the like combined with 20- to 40-minute stints on
the stationary bike or treadmill are going to lead to some kind of great tness. Well,
at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high-in-
tensity cardiovascular sessions. We have replaced the lateral raise with the push
press, the curl with the pull-up, and the leg extension with the squat. For every
long-distance eort our athletes will do ve or six at short distance. Why? Because
functional movements and high intensity are radically more eective at eliciting
nearly any desired tness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid,
irrefutable scientic fact, and yet the marginally eective old ways persist and are
nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training
programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports.
CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general
public and athlete.
Is This for Me?
Absolutely! Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s dier by degree not kind.
Increased power, speed, strength, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, exibil-
ity, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy are each important to the
world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very
same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete
will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we cannot load your
grandmother with the same squatting weight that we would assign an Olympic
skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining
functional independence and improving tness. Squatting is just one example of
a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but
the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough
coaching and incremental load assignment, CrossFit has been able to teach
everyone who can care for himself or herself to perform safely and with maximum
ecacy the same movements typically utilized by profes-
sional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Who Has Beneted From CrossFit?
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in
CrossFit. Prizeghters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players,
triathletes and others competing at the highest levels are
using CrossFit to advance their core strength and condi-
tioning, but that is not all. CrossFit has tested its methods
on the sedentary, overweight, pathological, and elderly and
found that these special populations met the same success
as our stable of athletes. We call this “bracketing.” If our
program works for Olympic skiers and overweight, sedentary
homemakers then it will work for you.
Your Current Regimen
If your current routine looks somewhat like what we have
described as typical of the tness magazines and gyms, do
not despair. Any exercise is better than none, and you have
not wasted your time. In fact, the aerobic exercise that you
have been doing is an essential foundation to tness, and
the isolation movements have given you some degree of
strength. You are in good company; we have found that some
of the world’s best athletes were sorely lacking in their core
strength and conditioning. It is hard to believe, but many elite
athletes have achieved international success and are still far
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitMETHODOLOGY
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Copyright 2017 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved
programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports.
CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general
public and athlete.
Is This for Me?
Absolutely! Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s dier by degree not kind.
Increased power, speed, strength, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, exibil-
ity, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy are each important to the
world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very
same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete
will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we cannot load your
grandmother with the same squatting weight that we would assign an Olympic
skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining
functional independence and improving tness. Squatting is just one example of
a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but
the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough
coaching and incremental load assignment, CrossFit has been able to teach
everyone who can care for himself or herself to perform safely and with maximum
ecacy the same movements typically utilized by profes-
sional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Who Has Beneted From CrossFit?
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in
CrossFit. Prizeghters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players,
triathletes and others competing at the highest levels are
using CrossFit to advance their core strength and condi-
tioning, but that is not all. CrossFit has tested its methods
on the sedentary, overweight, pathological, and elderly and
found that these special populations met the same success
as our stable of athletes. We call this “bracketing.” If our
program works for Olympic skiers and overweight, sedentary
homemakers then it will work for you.
Your Current Regimen
If your current routine looks somewhat like what we have
described as typical of the tness magazines and gyms, do
not despair. Any exercise is better than none, and you have
not wasted your time. In fact, the aerobic exercise that you
have been doing is an essential foundation to tness, and
the isolation movements have given you some degree of
strength. You are in good company; we have found that some
of the world’s best athletes were sorely lacking in their core
strength and conditioning. It is hard to believe, but many elite
athletes have achieved international success and are still far
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitMETHODOLOGY
Foundations, continued
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Copyright 2017 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved
from their potential because they have not had the benet of state-of-the-art
coaching methods.
Just What Is a “Core Strength and Conditioning” Program?
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program in two distinct senses. First,
we are a core strength and conditioning program in the sense that the tness
we develop is foundational to all other athletic
needs. This is the same sense in which the
university courses required of a particular major
are called the “core curriculum.” This is the stu
that everyone needs. Second, we are a “core”
strength and conditioning program in the literal
sense meaning the center of something. Much
of our work focuses on the major functional axis
of the human body, the extension and exion
of the hips and torso or trunk. The primacy of
core strength and conditioning in this sense
is supported by the simple observation that
powerful hip extension alone is necessary and
nearly sucient for elite athletic performance.
That is, our experience has been that no one
without the capacity for powerful hip extension
enjoys great athletic prowess and nearly
everyone we have met with that capacity was a
great athlete. Running, jumping, punching, and
throwing all originate at the core. At CrossFit we
endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which
is, by the way, how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to
the extremities.
Can I Enjoy Optimal Health Without Being an Athlete?
No! Athletes experience a protection from the ravages of aging and disease
that non-athletes never nd. For instance, 80-year-old athletes are stronger
than non-athletes in their prime at 25 years old. If you think that strength is not
important, consider that strength loss is what puts people in nursing homes.
Athletes have greater bone density, stronger immune systems, less coronary heart
disease, reduced cancer risk, fewer strokes, and less depression than non-athletes.
What Is an Athlete?
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, an athlete is “a person who is trained or
skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.”
The CrossFit denition of an athlete is a bit tighter. The CrossFit denition
of an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in strength, power, balance
and agility, exibility, and endurance.” CrossFit holds “tness,” “health,” and
“Signicantly improve
your 400-meter run,
2,000-meter row,
squat, dead, bench,
pull-up, and dip.
Now you are a more
formidable being.
COACH GLASSMAN
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athleticism” as strongly overlapping constructs. For most purposes, they can be
seen as equivalents.
What if I Do not Want to Be an Athlete; I Just Want to Be Healthy?
You are in luck. We hear this often, but the truth is that tness, wellness, and
pathology (sickness) are measures of the same entity: your health. There are a
multitude of measurable parameters that can be ordered from sick (pathologi-
cal) to well (normal) to t (better than normal). These include but are not limited
to blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, body fat, muscle mass, exibility, and
strength. It seems as though all of the body functions that can go awry have states
that are pathological, normal, and exceptional and that elite athletes typically show
these parameters in the exceptional range. CrossFits view is that tness and health
are the same thing (see “What Is Fitness? (Part 1)” article). It is also interesting to
notice that the health professional maintains your health with drugs and surgery,
each with potentially undesirable side eects, whereas the CrossFit trainer typically
achieves a superior result always with “side benet” versus side eect.
Examples of CrossFit Exercises
Biking, running, swimming, and rowing in an endless variety of drills. The clean and
jerk, snatch, squat, deadlift, push press, bench press, and power clean. Jumping,
medicine-ball throws and catches, pull-ups, dips, push-ups, handstands, presses
to handstands, pirouettes, kips, cartwheels, muscle-ups, sit-ups, scales, and holds.
We make regular use of bikes, the track, rowing shells and ergometers, Olympic
weight sets, rings, parallel bars, free exercise mats, horizontal bars, plyometrics
boxes, medicine balls, and jump ropes.
There is not a strength and conditioning program anywhere that works with a
greater diversity of tools, modalities, and drills.
What if I Do not Have Time for All of This?
It is a common sentiment to feel that because of the obligations of career and
family that you do not have the time to become as t as you might like. Here is
the good news: World-class age group strength and conditioning is obtainable
through an hour a day six days per week of training. It turns out that the intensity
of training that optimizes physical conditioning is not sustainable past 45 minutes
to an hour. Athletes who train for hours a day are developing skill or training for
sports that include adaptations inconsistent with elite strength and conditioning.
Past one hour, more is not better!
“Fringe Athletes”
There is a near universal misconception that long-distance athletes are tter
than their short-distance counterparts. The triathlete, cyclist, and marathoner are
often regarded as among the ttest athletes on Earth. Nothing could be further
from the truth. The endurance athlete has trained long past any cardiovascular
health benet and has lost ground in strength, speed, and power; typically does
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“Traditionally,
calisthenic movements
are high-rep
movements, but
there are numerous
body-weight exercises
that only rarely can be
performed for more
than a rep or two. Find
them. Explore them!”
COACH GLASSMAN
nothing for coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy; and possesses little more
than average exibility. This is hardly the stu of elite athleticism. The CrossFit
athlete, remember, has trained and practiced for optimal physical competence
in all 10 physical skills (cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, exibility,
strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy). The excessive
aerobic volume of the endurance athletes’ training costs them in speed, power,
and strength to the point that their athletic competency has been compromised.
No triathlete is in ideal shape to wrestle, box, pole-vault, sprint, play any ball sport,
ght res, or do police work. Each of these requires a tness level far beyond the
needs of the endurance athlete. None of this suggests that being a marathoner,
triathlete or other endurance athlete is a bad thing; just do not believe that training
as a long-distance athlete gives you the tness that is prerequisite to many sports.
CrossFit considers the sumo wrestler, triathlete, marathoner, and powerlifter
to be “fringe athletes” in that their tness demands are so specialized as to be
inconsistent with the adaptations that give maximum competency at all physical
challenges. Elite strength and conditioning is a compromise between each of the
10 physical adaptations. Endurance athletes do not balance that compromise.
Aerobics and Anaerobics
There are three main energy systems that fuel all human activity. Almost all
changes that occur in the body due to exercise are related to the demands placed
on these energy systems. Furthermore, the ecacy of any given tness regimen
may largely be tied to its ability to elicit an adequate stimulus for change within
these three energy systems.
Energy is derived aerobically when oxygen is utilized to metabolize substrates
derived from food and liberates energy. An activity is termed aerobic when the
majority of energy needed is derived aerobically. These activities are usually
greater than 90 seconds in duration and involve low to moderate power output
or intensity. Examples of aerobic activity include running on the treadmill for 20
minutes, swimming a mile, and watching TV.
Energy is derived anaerobically when energy is liberated from substrates in the
absence of oxygen. Activities are considered anaerobic when the majority of the
energy needed is derived anaerobically. In fact, properly structured, anaerobic
activity can be used to develop a very high level of aerobic tness without the
muscle wasting consistent with high-volume aerobic exercise! These activities are
of less than two minutes in duration and involve moderate to high-power output
or intensity. There are two such anaerobic systems, the phosphagen (or phospho-
creatine) system and the lactic acid (or glycolytic) system. Examples of anaerobic
activity include running a 100-meter sprint, squatting, and doing pull-ups.
Anaerobic and aerobic training support performance variables like strength,
power, speed, and endurance. We also support the contention that total
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conditioning and optimal health necessitate training each of the physiological
systems in a systematic fashion (see “What Is Fitness? (Part 1) article).
It warrants mention that in any activity all three energy systems are utilized
though one may dominate. The interplay of these systems can be complex, yet
a simple examination of the characteristics of aerobic versus anaerobic training
can prove useful.
CrossFits approach is to judiciously balance anaerobic and aerobic exercise in a
manner that is consistent with the athlete’s goals. Our exercise prescriptions adhere
to proper specicity, progression, variation, and recovery to optimize adaptations.
The Olympic Lifts, a.k.a., Weightlifting
There are two Olympic lifts, the clean and jerk
and the snatch. Mastery of these lifts develops
the squat, deadlift, power clean, and split jerk
while integrating them into a single movement of
unequaled value in all of strength and condition-
ing. The Olympic lifters are without a doubt the
world’s strongest athletes.
These lifts train athletes to eectively activate
more muscle bers more rapidly than through
any other modality of training. The explosiveness
that results from this training is of vital necessity
to every sport.
Practicing the Olympic lifts teaches one to apply
force to muscle groups in proper sequence; i.e.,
from the center of the body to its extremities (core to extremity). Learning this vital
technical lesson benets all athletes who need to impart force to another person
or object, as is commonly required in nearly all sports.
In addition to learning to impart explosive forces, the clean and jerk and snatch
condition the body to receive such forces from another moving body both safely
and eectively.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the Olympic lifts’ unique capacity to
develop strength, muscle, power, speed, coordination, vertical leap, muscular
endurance, bone strength, and the physical capacity to withstand stress. It is
also worth mentioning that the Olympic lifts are the only lifts shown to increase
maximum oxygen uptake, the most important marker for cardiovascular tness.
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Sadly, the Olympic lifts are seldom seen in the commercial tness community
because of their inherently complex and technical nature. CrossFit makes them
available to anyone with the patience and persistence to learn.
Gymnastics
The extraordinary value of gymnastics as a training modality lies in its reliance
on the bodys own weight as the sole source of resistance. This places a unique
premium on the improvement of strength-to-weight ratio. Unlike other strength
training modalities, gymnastics and calisthenics allow for increases in strength
only while increasing strength-to-weight ratio!
Gymnastics develops pull-ups, squats, lunges, jumping, push-ups, and numerous
presses to handstand, scales, and holds. These skills are unrivaled in their benet
to the physique, as evident in any competitive gymnast.
As important as the capacity of this modality is for strength development, it is
without a doubt the ultimate approach to improving coordination, balance, agility,
accuracy, and exibility. Through the use of numerous presses, handstands, scales,
and other oor work, the gymnasts training greatly enhances kinesthetic sense.
The variety of movements available for inclusion in this modality probably
exceeds the number of exercises known to all non-gymnastic sport! The rich
variety here contributes substantially to CrossFits ability to inspire great athletic
condence and prowess.
For a combination of strength, exibility, well-developed physique, coordi-
nation, balance, accuracy, and agility, the gymnast has no equal in the sports
world. The inclusion of this training modality is absurdly absent from nearly all
training programs.
Routines
There is no ideal routine! In fact, the chief value of any routine lies in abandoning
it for another. The CrossFit ideal is to train for any contingency. The obvious
implication is that this is possible only if there is a tremendously varied quality
to the breadth of stimulus. It is in this sense that CrossFit is a core strength and
conditioning program. Anything else is sport-specic training, not core strength
and conditioning.
Any routine, no matter how complete, contains within its omissions the parameters
for which there will be no adaptation. The breadth of adaptation will exactly match
the breadth of the stimulus. For this reason, CrossFit embraces short-, middle-,
and long-distance metabolic conditioning, and low, moderate, and heavy load
assignment. We encourage creative and continuously varied compositions that
tax physiological functions against every realistically conceivable combination of
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stressors. This is the stu of surviving ghts and res. Developing a tness that is
varied yet complete denes the very art of strength and conditioning coaching.
This is not a comforting message in an age when scientic certainty and specializa-
tion confer authority and expertise. Yet, the reality of performance enhancement
cares not one wit for trend or authority. CrossFit’s success in elevating the perfor-
mance of world-class athletes lies clearly in demanding of our athletes total and
complete physical competence. No routine takes us there.
Neuroendocrine Adaptation
“Neuroendocrine adaptation” is a change in the body that aects you either
neurologically or hormonally. Most important adaptations to exercise are in part
or completely a result of a hormonal or neurological shift. Research has shown
which exercise protocols maximize neuroendocrine responses. Earlier we faulted
isolation movements as being ineectual. Now we can tell you that one of the
critical elements missing from these movements is that they invoke essentially no
neuroendocrine response.
Among the hormonal responses vital to athletic development are substantial
increases in testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, and human growth hormone.
Exercising with protocols known to elevate these hormones eerily mimics the
hormonal changes sought in exogenous
hormonal therapy (steroid use) with none of
the deleterious eect. Exercise regimens
that induce a high neuroendocrine response
produce champions! Increased muscle mass
and bone density are just two of many
adaptive responses to exercises capable of
producing a signicant neuroen-
docrine response.
It is impossible to overstate the importance
of the neuroendocrine response to exercise
protocols. Heavy load weight training, short
rest between sets, high heart rates, high-in-
tensity training, and short rest intervals,
though not entirely distinct components,
are all associated with a high neuroen-
docrine response.
Power
Power is dened as the “time rate of doing
work.” It has often been said that in sport
speed is king. At CrossFit “power” is the
undisputed king of performance. Power is,
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“The CrossFit concept
can be viewed as
‘functional atomism
in that we strive
to reduce human
performance to a
limited number of
movements that are
simple, irreducible,
indivisible functions.
Teaching an athlete
to run, jump, throw,
punch, squat, lunge,
push, pull, and climb
powerfully, with
mechanical eciency
and soundness
across a broad range
of time-intensity
protocols with rapid
recovery establishes
a foundation that will
give unprecedented
advantage in
learning new sports,
mastering existent
skills, and surviving
unforeseeable
challenges.”
COACH GLASSMAN
in simplest terms, “hard and
fast.” Jumping, punching,
throwing, and sprinting are all
measures of power. Increasing
your ability to produce power
is necessary and nearly
sucient to elite athleticism.
Additionally, power is the
denition of intensity, which in
turn has been linked to nearly
every positive aspect of tness.
Increases in strength, perfor-
mance, muscle mass, and bone
density all arise in proportion
to the intensity of exercise.
And again, intensity is dened
as power. Power development
is an ever-present aspect of
the CrossFit.com Workout
of the Day (WOD).
Cross Training
Cross training is typically dened as participating in multiple sports. At CrossFit,
we take a much broader view of the term. We view cross training as exceeding
the normal parameters of the regular demands of your sport or training. CrossFit
recognizes functional, metabolic, and modal cross training. That is, we regularly
train past the normal motions, metabolic pathways, and modes or sports common
to the athlete’s sport or exercise regimen. We are unique and again distinctive to
the extent that we adhere to and program within this context.
If you remember CrossFit’s objective of providing a broad-based tness that
provides maximal competency in all adaptive capacities, then cross training, or
training outside of the athlete’s normal or regular demands, is a given. Long ago,
we noticed that athletes are weakest at the margins of their exposure for almost
every measurable parameter. For instance, if you only cycle between 5 and 7 miles
at each training eort you will test weak at less than 5 and greater than 7 miles.
This is true for range of motion, load, rest, intensity, power, etc. CrossFit workouts
are engineered to expand the margins of exposure as broad as function and
capacity will allow.
Functional Movements
There are movements that mimic motor recruitment patterns that are found in
everyday life. Others are somewhat unique to the gym. Squatting is standing from
a seated position; deadlifting is picking any object o the ground. They are both
functional movements. Leg extension and leg curl both have no equivalent in nature
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and are in turn non-functional movements. The bulk of isolation movements are
non-functional movements. By contrast the compound or multi-joint movements
are functional. Natural movement typically involves the movement of multiple
joints for every activity.
Functional movements are mechanically sound and therefore safe, and they also
elicit a high neuroendocrine response.
CrossFit has managed a stable of elite athletes and dramatically enhanced their
performance exclusively with functional movements. The superiority of training
with functional movements is clearly apparent with any athlete within weeks of
their incorporation.
The soundness and ecacy of functional movements are so profound that
exercising without them is by comparison a colossal waste of time.
Diet
The CrossFit dietary prescription is as follows:
Protein should be lean and varied and account for about 30 percent of
your total caloric load.
Carbohydrates should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for
about 40 percent of your total caloric load.
Fat should be from whole food sources and account for about 30 percent
of your total caloric load.
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Total calories should be based on protein needs, which should be set at between
0.7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (depending on your
activity level). The 0.7 gure is for moderate daily workout loads, and the 1.0 gure
is for the hardcore athlete.
What Should I Eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables (especially greens), meats,
nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. That is about as simple as we
can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the
grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food
is perishable. The stu with long shelf life is all suspect. If you follow these simple
guidelines, you will benet from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
The Caveman or Paleolithic Model for Nutrition
Modern diets are ill suited for our genetic composition. Evolution has not kept pace
with advances in agriculture and food processing, resulting in a plague of health
problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis,
obesity, and psychological dysfunction have all been scientically linked to a diet
too high in rened or processed carbohydrate. The caveman model is perfectly
consistent with CrossFit’s prescription.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in
nutritionally caused health problems. High-glycemic carbohydrates are those that
raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas,
and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking,
grinding, and rening. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their glycemic
index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
What Is the Problem With High-Glycemic Carbohydrates?
The problem with high-glycemic carbohydrates is that in excess they give an
inordinate insulin response. Insulin is an essential hormone for life, yet acute,
chronic elevation of insulin leads to hyperinsulinism, which has been positively
linked to obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mood dysfunction,
and a Pandora’s box of disease and disability. Research “hyperinsulinism.” CrossFits
prescription is a low-glycemic diet (and relatively lower in total carbohydrate
quantity) and consequently severely blunts the insulin response, yet still provides
ample nutrition for rigorous activity.
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What Is Fitness? (Part 1)
Originally published in October 2002. This article explains the supporting models and
concepts for dening tness, which was formally codied years after this publication.
What Is Fitness? (Part 2), which follows, contains the denitions of tness and health.
What Is Fitness and Who Is Fit?
In 1997, Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen “the ttest man on Earth.” Let us
just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the Ironman Triathlon is the
ttest of the t, then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman, who also
possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison
that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination?
Perhaps the denition of tness does not include strength, speed, power, and coordi-
nation, though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary denes
“tness” and being “t” as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there.
Searching the internet for a workable, reasonable denition of tness yields disappoint-
ingly little. Worse yet, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the
most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in its highly authoritative “Essentials
of Strength Training and Conditioning,” does not even
attempt a denition.
CrossFit’s Fitness
For CrossFit, the specter of championing a tness program
without clearly dening what it is that the program delivers
combines elements of fraud and farce. The vacuum of
guiding authority has therefore necessitated that CrossFit
provides its own denition of tness. That is what this
article is about: our “tness.”
Our pondering, studying, debating about, and nally
dening tness have played a formative role in CrossFits
successes. The keys to understanding the methods and
achievements of CrossFit are perfectly embedded in our
view of tness and basic exercise science.
It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view
of tness is a contrarian view. The general public both
in opinion and in media holds endurance athletes as
exemplars of tness. We do not. Our incredulity on learning
of Outside’s awarding a triathlete the title of “ttest man on
Earth” becomes apparent in light of CrossFit’s models for
assessing and dening tness.
What Is Fitness? (Part 1)
What is Fitness? (Part 1)
Runhead Source: Running Header Text Variable:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and
seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no
sugar. Keep intake to levels that will
support exercise but not body fat.
Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift,
clean, squat, presses, C&J (clean and
jerk), and snatch. Similarly, master the
basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips,
rope climbs, push-ups, sit-ups, presses
to handstands, pirouettes, ips, splits,
and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc.
hard and fast.
Five or six days per week mix these
elements in as many combinations and
patterns as creativity will allow. Routine
is the enemy. Keep workouts short and
intense.
Regularly learn and play new sports.
Figure 1. World-Class Fitness in 100 Words.
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If your goal is optimum physical competence,
then all the general physical skills must be
considered:
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance—The
ability of body systems to gather, process,
and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina—The ability of body systems to
process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength—The ability of a muscular unit,
or combination of muscular units, to apply
force.
4. Flexibility—The ability to maximize the
range of motion at a given joint.
5. PowerThe ability of a muscular unit, or
combination of muscular units, to apply
maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed—The ability to minimize the time
cycle of a repeated movement.
7. CoordinationThe ability to combine
several distinct movement patterns into a
singular distinct movement.
8. Agility—The ability to minimize transition
time from one movement pattern to
another.
9. BalanceThe ability to control the
placement of the bodys center of gravity in
relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy—The ability to control movement
in a given direction or at a given intensity.
(Thanks to Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans
of Dynamax)
Figure 2. Ten General Physical Skills.
CrossFit makes use of four dierent models for
evaluating and guiding tness. Collectively,
these four models provide the basis for CrossFit’s
denition of tness. The rst is based on the 10
general physical skills widely recognized by exercise
physiologists; the second model is based on the
performance of athletic tasks; the third is based on
the energy systems that drive all human action; the
fourth uses health markers as a measure of tness.
Each model is critical to CrossFit and each has
distinct utility in evaluating an athlete’s overall
tness or a strength and conditioning regimen’s
ecacy. Before explaining in detail how each of
these four models works, it warrants mention
that we are not attempting to demonstrate our
program’s legitimacy through scientic principles.
We are but sharing the methods of a program
whose legitimacy has been established through
the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops, and others
whose lives or livelihoods depend on tness.
CrossFit’s First Fitness Model: The 10 General
Physical Skills
There are 10 recognized general physical skills. They
are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina,
strength, exibility, power, speed, coordination,
agility, balance, and accuracy. (See Figure 2. Ten
General Physical Skills for denitions.) You are as
t as you are competent in each of these 10 skills.
A regimen develops tness to the extent that it
improves each of these 10 skills.
Importantly, improvements in endurance, stamina,
strength, and exibility come about through
training. Training refers to activity that improves
performance through a measurable organic
change in the body. By contrast improvements in
coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come
about through practice. Practice refers to activity
that improves performance through changes in the
nervous system. Power and speed are adaptations
of both training and practice.
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Table 1. Summary of the Three Metabolic Pathways
Phosphagen Glycolytic Oxidative
Time Domain Short, ~10 seconds Medium, ~120
seconds
Long, >120 seconds
Anaerobic vs.
Aerobic
Anaerobic Anaerobic Aerobic
Relative Power
Output
Maximum-intensity
eorts (~100 percent)
Medium-high-
intensity eorts
(70 percent)
Low-intensity eorts
(40 percent)
Other Names Phosphocreatine Lactate Aerobic
Location Cytosol of muscle
cells
(i.e., sarcoplasm)
Cytosol of all cells Mitochondria of cells
Muscle Fiber
Type (General)
Type IIb Type IIa Type I
Substrate Phosphocreatine
molecules in muscles
Glucose from
bloodstream, muscle
(glycogen), or glycerol
(derived from fat)
Pyruvate (from
glycolysis), or acetate
(derived from fat
or protein)
ATP
Mechanism
Phosphate
molecule from
phosphocreatine
joins ADP to form ATP
Glucose oxidized to
pyruvate produces
2 ATP
Pyruvate oxidized to
produce 34 ATP (fat,
protein yield less)
Example
Activities
100-meter dash
1-repetition-
maximum deadlift
400-meter sprint
Elite-level Fran
Anything >120
seconds of
sustained eort
“Our emphasis on
skill development is
integral to our charter
of optimizing work
capacity.
COACH GLASSMAN
CrossFit’s Second Fitness Model: The Hopper
The essence of this model is the view that tness is about performing well at any and
every task imaginable. Picture a hopper loaded with an innite number of physical
challenges, where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform
feats randomly drawn from the hopper. This model suggests that your tness can be
measured by your capacity to perform well at these tasks in relation to other individuals.
The implication here is that tness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even
unfamiliar tasks and tasks combined in innitely varying combinations. In practice this
encourages the athlete to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises,
order of exercises, routines, periodization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely
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unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad
and constantly varied.
CrossFit’s Third Fitness Model: The Metabolic Pathways
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These
metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen (or phosphocreatine) pathway, the
glycolytic (or lactate) pathway, and the oxidative (or aerobic) pathway (Table 1, Figure 3).
The rst, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less
than about 10 seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-pow-
ered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative,
dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.
Total tness, the tness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and
training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the eects of these three
pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio”
that we do at CrossFit.
Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of
excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults
in tness training. More on that later.
CrossFit’s Fourth Fitness Model: Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum
There is another aspect to CrossFit’s tness that is of great interest and immense value
to us. We have observed that nearly every measurable value of health can be placed on
a continuum that ranges from sickness to wellness to tness (Figure 4). Though tougher
to measure, we would even add mental health to this observation. Depression is clearly
mitigated by proper diet and exercise.
Percent of total energy
Time (seconds)
Phosphagen Glycolytic Oxidative
Figure 3. The Metabolic Pathways’ Contribution of Total Energy Versus Time.
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For example, a blood pressure of 160/95 is pathological, 120/70 is normal or healthy,
and 105/55 is consistent with an athlete’s blood pressure; a body fat of 40 percent is
pathological, 20 percent is normal or healthy, and 10 percent is t. We observe a similar
ordering for bone density, triglycerides, muscle mass, exibility, high-density lipoprotein
(HDL) or “good cholesterol,” resting heart rate, and dozens of other common measures
of health (Table 2). Many authorities (e.g., Mel Si, the NSCA) make a clear distinction
between health and tness. Frequently they cite studies that suggest that the t may
not be health protected. A close look at the supporting evidence invariably reveals the
studied group is endurance athletes and, we suspect, endurance athletes on a dangerous
fad diet (high carbohydrate, low fat, low protein).
Done right, tness provides a great margin of protection against the ravages of time and
disease. Where you nd otherwise, examine the tness protocol, especially diet. Fitness is
and should be “super-wellness.” Sickness, wellness, and tness are measures of the same
entity. A tness regimen that does not support health is not CrossFit.
Common Ground
The motivation for the four models is simply to ensure the broadest and most general
tness possible. Our rst model evaluates our eorts against a full range of general
physical adaptations; in the second the focus is on breadth and depth of performance;
with the third the measure is time, power and consequently energy systems; and the
fourth is on health markers. It should be fairly clear that the tness that CrossFit advocates
and develops is deliberately broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializ-
ing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of tness and, on average,
punish the specialist.
Implementation
Our tness, being “CrossFit,” comes through molding men and women who are equal
parts gymnast, Olympic weightlifter, and multi-modal sprinter or “sprintathlete.” Develop
the capacity of a novice 800-meter track athlete, gymnast, and weightlifter, and you will
be tter than any world-class runner, gymnast, or weightlifter. Let us look at how CrossFit
Wellness”
“Fitness“Sickness”
Based on measurements of:
- Blood Pressure
- Body Fat
- Bone Density
- Triglycerides
- HDL Cholesterol
- Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c)
- Muscle Mass
- Etc.
Figure 4. The Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum.
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Table 2. Representative Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Values
for Selected Parameters
Parameter Sickness Wellness Fitness
Body Fat (percent) >25 (male)
>32 (female)
~18 (male)
~20 (female)
~6 (male)
~12 (female)
Blood Pressure (mm/Hg) >14 0/9 0 120/80 105/60
Resting Heart Rate (bpm) >10 0 70 50
Triglycerides (mg/dL) >200 <150 <100
Low-density Lipoprotein (mg/dL) >16 0 120 <100
High-density Lipoprotein (mg/dL) <40 40-59 >60
C-Reactive Protein
(high-sensitivity test, mg/L)
>3 1-3 <1
incorporates metabolic conditioning (“cardio”), gymnastics, and weightlifting to forge
the world’s ttest men and women.
Metabolic Conditioning, Or “Cardio”
Biking, running, swimming, rowing, speed skating, and cross-country skiing are collec-
tively known as “metabolic conditioning.” In the common vernacular they are referred
to as “cardio.” CrossFits third tness model, the one that deals with metabolic pathways,
contains the seeds of the CrossFit “cardio” prescription. To understand the CrossFit
approach to “cardio” we need rst to briey cover the nature and interaction of
the three major pathways.
Of the three metabolic pathways the rst two, the phosphagen and the glycolytic, are
anaerobic” and the third, the oxidative, is “aerobic.” We need not belabor the biochem-
ical signicance of aerobic and anaerobic systems; suce it to say that understanding
the nature and interaction of anaerobic exercise and aerobic exercise is vital to under-
standing conditioning. Just remember that eorts at moderate to high power and
lasting less than several minutes are predominantly anaerobic and eorts at low power
and lasting in excess of several minutes are predominantly aerobic. As an example, the
sprints at 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters are largely anaerobic and events like 1,500
meters, the mile, 2,000 meters, and 3,000 meters are largely aerobic.
Aerobic training benets cardiovascular function and decreases body fat–all good.
Aerobic conditioning allows us to engage in low-power extended eorts eciently
(cardio/respiratory endurance and stamina). This is critical to many sports. Athletes
engaged in sports or training where a preponderance of the training load is spent
in aerobic eorts witness decreases in muscle mass, strength, speed, and power.
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“Blur the distinction
between strength
training and metabolic
conditioning for the
simple reason that
nature’s challenges are
typically blind to the
distinction.”
COACH GLASSMAN
It is not uncommon to nd marathoners with a vertical leap of only several inches!
Furthermore, aerobic activity has a pronounced tendency to decrease anaerobic
capacity. This does not bode well for most athletes or those interested in elite tness.
Anaerobic activity also benets cardiovascular function and decreases body fat! In
fact, anaerobic exercise is superior to aerobic exercise for fat loss! Anaerobic activity
is, however, unique in its capacity to dramatically improve power, speed, strength,
and muscle mass. Anaerobic conditioning allows us to exert tremendous forces over
brief time intervals. One aspect of anaerobic conditioning that bears great consider-
ation is that anaerobic conditioning will not adversely aect aerobic capacity. In fact,
properly structured, anaerobic activity can be used to develop a very high level of
aerobic tness without the muscle wasting consistent with high volumes of aerobic
exercise! The method by which we use anaerobic eorts to develop aerobic condi-
tioning is “interval training.
Basketball, football, gymnastics, boxing, track events under one mile, soccer, swimming
events under 400 meters, volleyball, wrestling, and weightlifting are all sports that
require the vast majority of training time to be spent in anaerobic activity. Long-
distance and ultra- endurance running, cross-country skiing, and 1,500+ meter
swimming are all sports that require aerobic training at levels that produce results
unacceptable to other athletes or the individual concerned with total conditioning
and optimal health.
We strongly recommend that you attend a track meet of nationally or internationally
competitive athletes. Pay close attention to the physiques of the athletes competing
at 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters and the milers. The dierence you are sure to notice
is a direct result of training at those distances.
Interval Training
The key to developing the cardiovascular system without an unacceptable loss of
strength, speed, and power is interval training. Interval training mixes bouts of work
and rest in timed intervals. Table 3 gives guidelines for interval training. We can control
the dominant metabolic pathway conditioned by varying the duration of the work and
rest interval and number of interval repetitions. Note that the phosphagen pathway
is the dominant pathway in intervals of 10–30 seconds of work followed by rest of
30–90 seconds (work:recovery 1:3) repeated 25–30 times. The glycolytic pathway is the
dominant pathway in intervals of 30120 seconds of work followed by rest of 60240
seconds (work:recovery 1:2) repeated 1020 times. And nally, the oxidative pathway
is the dominant pathway in intervals of 120–300 seconds of work followed by rest
of 120–300 seconds (work:recovery 1:1) repeated 3–5 times. The bulk of metabolic
training should be interval training.
Interval training need not be so structured or formal. One example would be to sprint
between one set of telephone poles and jog between the next set, alternating in this
manner for the duration of a run.
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One example of an interval that CrossFit makes
regular use of is the Tabata interval, which is 20
seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest
repeated eight times. Dr. Izumi Tabata published
research that demonstrated that this interval
protocol produced remarkable increases in both
anaerobic and aerobic capacity.
It is highly desirable to regularly experiment with
interval patterns of varying combinations of rest,
work, and repetitions.
Some of the best resources on interval training
come from Dr. Stephen Seiler. His articles on
interval training and the time course of training
adaptations contain the seeds of CrossFit’s heavy
reliance on interval training. The article on the
time course of training adaptations explains that
there are three waves of adaptation to endurance
training. The rst wave is increased maximal
oxygen consumption. The second is increased lactate threshold. The third is increased
eciency. In the CrossFit concept, we are interested in maximizing rst-wave adapta-
tions and procuring the second systemically through multiple modalities, including
weight training, and avoiding completely third-wave adaptations. Second- and
third-wave adaptations are highly specic to the activity in which they are developed
and can be detrimental with too much focus to the broad tness that we advocate
and develop. A clear understanding of this material has prompted us to advocate
regular high-intensity training in as many training modalities as possible through
largely anaerobic eorts and intervals while deliberately and specically avoiding the
eciency that accompanies mastery of a single modality. It is at rst ironic that our
interpretation of Dr. Seilers work was not his intention, but when our quest of optimal
physical competence is viewed in light of Dr. Seilers more specic aim of maximizing
endurance performance, our interpretation is powerful.
Dr. Seiler’s work, incidentally, makes clear the fallacy of assuming that endurance work
is of greater benet to the cardiovascular system than higher intensity interval work.
This is very important: with interval training we get all of the cardiovascular benet of
endurance work without the attendant loss of strength, speed, and power.
Gymnastics
Our use of the term “gymnastics” not only includes the traditional competitive sport
that we have seen on TV but all activities like climbing, yoga, calisthenics, and dance,
where the aim is body control. It is within this realm of activities that we can develop
extraordinary strength (especially upper body and trunk), exibility, coordination,
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Table 3. Representative Guidelines for Interval Training
Primary Energy
System
Phosphagen Glycolytic Oxidative
Duration of work
(in seconds)
1030 30120 120300
Duration of recovery
(in seconds)
30–90 60–240 120 300
Work:recovery ratio 1:3 1:2 1:1
Total interval
repetitions
25–30 10–20 3–5
balance, agility, and accuracy. In fact, the traditional gymnast has no peer in terms of
development of these skills.
CrossFit uses short parallel bars, mats, still rings, pull-up and dip bars, and a climbing
rope to implement our gymnastics training.
The starting place for gymnastic competency lies with the well-known calisthenic
movements: pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and rope climbs. These movements need to
form the core of your upper-body strength work. Set goals for achieving benchmarks
like 20, 25, and 30 pull-ups; 50, 75, and 100 push-ups; 20, 30, 40, and 50 dips; 1, 2, 3, 4,
and 5 consecutive trips up the rope without any use of the feet or legs.
At 15 pull-ups and dips each, it is time to start working regularly on a “muscle-up.”
The muscle-up is moving from a hanging position below the rings to a supported
position, arms extended, above the rings. It is a combination movement containing
both a pull-up and a dip. Far from a contrivance, the muscle-up is hugely functional.
With a muscle-up, you will be able to surmount any object on which you can get a
nger hold–if you can touch it, you can get up on it. The value here for survival, police,
reghter, and military use is impossible to overstate. Pull-ups and dips are the key to
developing the muscle-up.
While developing your upper-body strength with the pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and
rope climbs, a large measure of balance and accuracy can be developed through
mastering the handstand. Start with a headstand against the wall if you need to. Once
reasonably comfortable with the inverted position of the headstand, you can practice
kicking up to the handstand again against a wall. Later take the handstand to the
short parallel bars or parallettes without the benet of the wall. After you can hold
a handstand for several minutes without benet of the wall or a spotter it is time to
develop a pirouette. A pirouette is lifting one arm and turning on the supporting arm
90 degrees to regain the handstand, then repeating this with alternate arms until you
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“Much of the rudiments
of gymnastics come
only with great eort
and frustration—that
is acceptable.
COACH GLASSMAN
have turned 180 degrees. This skill needs to be practiced until it can be done with little
chance of falling from the handstand. Work in intervals of 90 degrees as benchmarks
of your growth–90, 180, 270, 360, 450, 540, 630, and nally 720 degrees.
Walking on the hands is another fantastic tool for developing both the handstand
and balance and accuracy. A football eld or sidewalk is an excellent place to
practice and measure your progress. You want to be able to walk 100 yards in the
handstand without falling.
Competency in the handstand
readies the athlete for
handstand presses. There is
a family of presses that range
from relatively easy ones that
any beginning gymnast can
perform to ones so dicult
that only the best gymnasts
competing at national levels
can perform. Their hierarchy
of diculty is bent arm/
bent body (hip)/bent leg;
straight arm/bent body/bent
leg; straight arm/bent body/
straight leg; and bent arm/straight body/straight leg; and nally the monster:
straight arm/straight body/straight leg. It is not unusual to take 10 years to get
these ve presses!
The trunk exion work in gymnastics is beyond anything you will see anywhere
else. Even the beginning gymnastics trunk movements cripple bodybuilders,
weightlifters, and martial artists. The basic sit-up and “L” hold are the staples.
The L-hold is nothing more than holding your trunk straight while supported by
locked arms with hands on a bench, the oor or parallel bars; the hips are kept
at 90 degrees with legs straight out in front of you. You want to work towards a
three-minute hold in benchmark increments of 30 seconds–30, 60, 90, 120, 150,
and 180 seconds. When you can hold an “L” for three minutes, all your old ab work
will be silly easy.
We recommend Bob Anderson’s “Stretching.” This is a simple, no nonsense approach
to exibility. The science of stretching is weakly developed, and many athletes, like
gymnasts who demonstrate great exibility, receive no formal instruction. Just do it.
Generally, you want to stretch in a warm-up to establish safe, eective range of motion
for the ensuing activity and stretch during cool down to improve exibility.
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“If strength at
high heart rates is
fundamental to your
sport then you’d
best perform your
resistance training at
high heart rate.
COACH GLASSMAN
There is a lot of material to work with here. We highly recommend an adult
gymnastics program if there is one in your area. Our friends at Drills and Skills have
enough material to keep you busy for years. This is among our favorite tness sites.
Every workout should contain regular gymnastic/calisthenic movements that you
have mastered and other elements under development. Much of the rudiments
of gymnastics come only with great eort and frustration–that is acceptable. The
return is unprecedented and the most frustrating elements are most benecial—
long before you have developed even a modicum of competency.
Weightlifting
Weightlifting” as opposed to “weight lifting” or “weight training,” refers to the
Olympic sport, which includes the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch.” Weightlifting,
as it is often referred to, develops strength (especially in the hips), speed, and
power like no other training modality. It is little known that successful weightlifting
requires substantial exibility. Olympic weightlifters are as exible as any athletes.
The benets of weightlifting do not end with strength, speed, power, and exibil-
ity. The clean and jerk and the snatch both develop coordination, agility, accuracy,
and balance and to no small degree. Both of these lifts are as nuanced and chal-
lenging as any movement in all of sport. Moderate competency in the Olympic
lifts confers added prowess to any sport.
The Olympic lifts are based on the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk. These movements
are the starting point for any serious weight-training program. In fact they should
serve as the core of your resistance training throughout your life.
Why the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk? Because
these movements elicit a profound neuroendo-
crine response. That is, they alter you hormonally
and neurologically. The changes that occur through
these movements are essential to athletic devel-
opment. Most of the development that occurs as a
result of exercise is systemic and a direct result of
hormonal and neurological changes.
Curls, lateral raises, leg extensions, leg curls, yes,
and other bodybuilding movements have no place
in a serious strength and conditioning program
primarily because they have a blunted neuroen-
docrine response. A distinctive feature of these
relatively worthless movements is that they have
no functional analog in everyday life and they work
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“There is no single
sport or activity that
trains for perfect
tness. True tness
requires a compromise
in adaptation broader
than the demands of
most every sport.”
COACH GLASSMAN
only one joint at a time. Compare this to the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk, which
are functional and multi-joint movements.
Start your weightlifting career with the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk, then
introduce the clean and jerk and snatch. Much of the best weight-training material
on the internet is found on powerlifting sites. Powerlifting is the sport of three
lifts: the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Powerlifting is a superb start to a lifting
program followed later by the more dynamic clean and the jerk and nally the
clean and jerk and the snatch.
The movements that we are recommending are very demanding and very athletic.
As a result they have kept athletes interested and intrigued where the typical
fare oered in most gyms (bodybuilding movements) typically bores athletes to
distraction. Weightlifting is sport; weight training is not.
Throwing
Our program includes not only weightlifting and powerlifting but also throwing
work with medicine balls. The medicine-ball work we favor provides both physical
training and general movement practice. We are huge fans of the Dynamax medicine
ball and associated throwing exercises. The medicine-ball drills add another potent
stimulus for strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
There is a medicine-ball game known as Hoover-Ball. It is played with an 8-foot
volleyball net and scored like tennis. This game burns three times more calories
than tennis and is great fun. The history and rules of Hoover-Ball are available
from the internet.
Nutrition
Nutrition plays a critical role in your tness. Proper nutrition can amplify or diminish
the eect of your training eorts. Eective nutrition is moderate in protein, carbohy-
drate, and fat. Forget about the fad high-carbohydrate, low-fat, and low-protein diet.
Balanced macronutrient and healthy nutrition looks more like 40 percent carbohydrate,
30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet still oers the greatest
precision, ecacy, and health benet of any clearly dened protocol. The Zone Diet
does an adequate job of jointly managing issues of blood glucose control, proper
macronutrient proportion, and caloric restriction whether your concern is athletic
performance, disease prevention and longevity, or body composition. We recommend
that everyone read Dr. Sears’ book “Enter the Zone” (see also “Zone Meal Plans” article).
Sport
Sport plays a wonderful role in tness. Sport is the application of tness in a fantastic
atmosphere of competition and mastery. Training eorts typically include relatively
predictable repetitive movements and provide limited opportunity for the essential
combination of our 10 general physical skills. It is, after all, the combined expression,
or application, of the 10 general skills that is our motivation for their development in
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SPORT
WEIGHTLIFTING
& THROWING
GYMNASTICS
METABOLIC CONDITIONING
NUTRITION
Figure 5. The Theoretical Hierarchy of the
Development of an Athlete.
the rst place. Sports and games like soccer, martial arts, baseball, and basketball, in
contrast to our training workouts, have more varied and less predictable movements.
But, where sports develop and require all 10 general skills simultaneously, they do
so slowly compared to our strength and conditioning regimen. Sport is better, in
our view, at expression and testing of skills than it is at developing these same skills.
Both expression and development are crucial to our tness. Sport, in many respects,
more closely mimics the demands of nature than does our training. We encourage
and expect our athletes to engage in regular sports eorts in addition to all of their
strength and conditioning work.
A Theoretical Hierarchy of Development
A theoretical hierarchy exists for the development of an athlete (Figure 5). It starts
with nutrition and moves to metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and
nally sport. This hierarchy largely reects foundational dependence, skill, and to some
degree, time ordering of development. The logical ow is from molecular founda-
tions to cardiovascular suciency, body control, external object control, and ultimately
mastery and application. This model has greatest utility in analyzing athletes’ short-
comings or diculties.
We do not deliberately order these components but nature will. If you have a deciency
at any level of “the pyramid” the components above will suer.
Integration
Every regimen, every routine contains within its structure a blueprint for its deciency.
If you only work your weight training at low reps you will not develop the localized
muscular endurance that you might have otherwise. If you work high
reps exclusively you will not build the same strength or power that you
would have at low reps. There are advantages and disadvantages to
working out slowly or quickly, with high weights or low weights,
completing “cardio” before or after, etc.
For the tness that we are pursuing, every parameter
within your control needs to be modulated to broaden
the stimulus as much as possible. Your body will only
respond to an unaccustomed stressor; routine is the
enemy of progress and broad adaptation. Do not
subscribe to high reps, or low reps, or long rests,
or short rests but strive for variance.
So then, what are we to do? Work on
becoming a better weightlifter, stron-
ger-better gymnast, and faster rower,
runner, swimmer, cyclist is the answer.
There are an innite number of
workouts that will deliver the goods.
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“The needs of an
Olympic athlete and
our grandparents
dier by degree
not kind.”
COACH GLASSMAN
Generally, we have found that three days on and one day o allows for a maximum
sustainability at maximum intensities. One of our favorite workout patterns is to warm
up and then perform 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps of a fundamental lift at a moderately
comfortable pace followed by a 10-minute circuit of gymnastics elements at a blistering
pace and nally nish with 2 to 10 minutes of high-intensity metabolic condition-
ing. There is nothing sacred in this pattern. The magic is in the movements not the
routine. Be creative.
Another favorite is to blend elements of gymnastics and weightlifting in couplets that
combine to make a dramatic metabolic challenge. An example would be to perform
5 reps of a moderately heavy back squat followed immediately by a set of max-reps
pull-ups repeated 3–5 times.
On other occasions we will take ve or six elements balanced between weightlifting,
metabolic conditioning, and gymnastics and combine them in a single circuit that we
blow through three times without a break.
We can create routines like this forever. In fact, our CrossFit.com archives contain
thousands of daily workouts consciously mixed and varied in this manner. Perusing
them will give you an idea of how we mix and modulate our key elements.
We have not mentioned here our penchant for jumping, kettlebells, odd-object lifting,
and obstacle-course work. The recurring theme of functionality and variety clearly
suggest the need and validity for their inclusion though.
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Finally, strive to blur distinctions between “cardio” and strength training. Nature has
no regard for this distinction or any other, including our 10 physical adaptations. We
will use weights and plyometrics training to elicit a metabolic response and sprinting
to improve strength.
Scalability and Applicability
The question regularly arises as to the applicability of a regimen like CrossFit’s to older
and deconditioned or untrained populations. The needs of an Olympic athlete and
our grandparents dier by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance,
the other for functional competence. Competence and dominance manifest through
identical physiological mechanisms.
We have used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage
ghters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we do not
change programs.
We get requests from athletes from every sport looking for a strength and conditioning
program for their sport. Firemen, soccer players, triathletes, boxers, and surfers all want
programs that conform to the specicity of their needs. While we admit that there are
surely needs specic to any sport, the bulk of sport-specic training has been ridicu-
lously ineective. The need for specicity is nearly completely met by regular practice
and training within the sport, not in the strength and conditioning environment. Our
terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bikers and housewives have found their best tness
from the same regimen.
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What Is Fitness? (Part 2)
Adapted from Coach Glassman’s Feb 21, 2009, L1 lecture.
This concept started with me having what I call “a belief in tness.”
I was (and still am) of the view that there is a physical capacity that would lend
itself generally well to any and all contingencies—to the likely, to the unlikely, to
the known, to the unknown. This physical capacity is dierent than the tness
required for sport. One of the things that demarcates sport is how much we know
about the event’s physiological demands. Instead, we are chasing headlong this
concept of tness—as a broad, general and inclusive adaptive capacity—a tness
that would prepare you for the unknown and the unknowable.
And we went to the literature to look for such a denition and could not nd
anything. The information we did nd seemed esoteric, irrelevant, or awed—
logically and/or scientically. For example, to date the American College of Sports
Medicine (ACSM) cannot give a scientic denition of tness. They give a denition,
but it contains nothing that can be measured. If it is not measurable, it is not a
valid denition.
What Is Fitness? (Part 2)
What Is Fitness? (Part 2),
What Is Fitness? (Part 2)
Runhead Source: Running Header Text Variable:
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“Valid criticisms of a
tness program need
to speak to measurable,
observable, repeatable
data. If an alternative
to CrossFit is worthy
of our consideration it
ought to be presented
in terms of distance,
time, load, velocity,
work and power
related to movements,
skills, and drills. Give
me performance
data. CrossFit can
be scientically and
logically evaluated
only on these terms.
COACH GLASSMAN
The First Three Models
And so we started playing with a denition and came out with three operational
models. They were clumsy, but they had utility: They guided us and kept us on this
path towards this tness.
The rst model originated from Jim Cawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax medicine
balls. They produced a list of physiological adaptations that represented the gamut
of potential physiological adaptations in an exercise program. You can improve
cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, exibility, power, speed, coordina-
tion, accuracy, agility and balance by exercising. They gave reasonable denitions to
each of these 10 so that they seemed fairly distinct. Keep in mind, however, nature
has no obligation to recognize these distinctions. They are completely manmade.
This model is an abstraction to help us understand tness better.
What we did with this was we said that a person was as t as he or she was
developed in breadth and depth in those 10 capacities. And to the extent that he
or she was decient in one capacity relative to any cohort, he or she was less t.
This is a balance: a compromise of physiological adaptation.
The second model is a statistical model based on training modality. A hopper, like
those used to determine a lottery winner, is loaded with as many skills and drills from
as many dierent sports and strength and conditioning regimens imaginable. It
could be agility drills from track; one-rep-max bench press from football; Fran, Helen
and Diane from CrossFit; Pilates, and yoga. Do not exclude anything: the more, the
better. Then, line up everyone willing to participate, turn the handle, pull a task out
at random, and put them to the test. Here is the contention: he or she who performs
best at these randomly assigned physical tasks is the ttest.
It may very well be that the ttest man on Earth is in the 75th percentile for each event
picked. In fact, being best at many things would tell me immediately that you are not
as t as you could be.
For instance, if you have a 4-minute mile time, thousands of people are much tter
than you. Part of the adaptation to get a 4-minute mile is that it coincides with the
max bench press of about half body weight and a vertical leap of 3 to 4 inches.
That is part and parcel of the adaptation. It is not a character aw. There is no value
judgment. Rather, you are not advancing your tness. Instead, you are advancing a
very narrow bandwidth of a specialized capacity.
Everyone probably knows what it is he or she does not want to see come out of the
hopper. What I have learned about tness, about sport training, about preparing
yourself for the unknown and the unknowable is this: There is more traction, more
advantage, more opportunity in pursuing headlong that event or skill that you
do not want to see come out of the hopper than putting more time into the ones
where you already excel. That thing you do not want to see come out of the hopper
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is a chink in your armor. It is a glaring deciency in your general physical prepared-
ness (GPP). And xing it will give advantage where it does not always make sense
maybe mechanically or metabolically.
We have countless examples of this from amateur and professional sports. At
the heart of this is that we have learned some things about GPP that the world
never knew before. There is more opportunity of advancing athletic performance
via advancing GPP than there is in more sport-specic strength and conditioning
training. For example, I am not sure why more pull-ups make for better skiers, but
they do. We have some theories why that occurs, but we do not actually need to
know the mechanism. We are focused on advancing performance.
So the second model is a statistical model using skills and drills. I am looking for a
balance of capacity across training modalities.
The third model uses the three metabolic pathways. These are the three engines
that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the currency of eort of all energy
output. Power is plotted on the Y-axis and duration of eort (time) on the X-axis.
The rst pathway (phosphagen or phosphocreatine) is high powered and short
duration. It can account for about 100 percent of max human output and taps
out at about 10 seconds. The second pathway (lactate or glycolytic) is moderate
powered, moderate duration. It accounts for approximately 70 percent of max
power output, peaks at about 60 seconds and terminates at 120 seconds. The
third pathway (oxidative or aerobic) is low powered, long duration. It accounts
for approximately 40 percent of max power output and does not fade in any
reasonable time for which I have the patience to measure. The phosphagen and
the glycolytic pathways are anaerobic; oxidative is aerobic. All three engines work
all the time to some extent. The degree to which each is active is dependent on the
activity. One idles, while the other two rev; two will rev, one will idle, etc.
Our thought is this: He or she is as t as he or she is balanced in capacity in all
three of these engines. A human being is a vehicle with three engines. Suppose we
discover there is a fourth engine; we want capacity there, too. We develop capacity
in all engines through our prescription: constantly varied functional movement
executed at high intensity. We are looking for a balance in the bioenergetics (the
engines that fuel all human activity).
Denition of Fitness (2002-2008)
Although clumsy, these three models served as a litmus test for the tness we were
after. And we moved forward. We launched CrossFit.com and posted the Workout
of the Day (WOD): constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement.
We were collecting the data from doing WODs and started asking: “What does it
really mean to do Fran? What does it really mean to do Helen? What does it mean
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Table 1. Example Work and Power Calculations Between
Benchmark Attempts
Workout Fran
21-15-9
Thrusters, 95 lb.
Pull-ups
Athlete 6 ft. tall
200 lb.
Work Per Rep Force x Distance
=
Work (approx.)
Pull-up 200 lb. 24 in. x 1 ft.
12 in. 400 ft.-lb.
Thruster
(athlete) 200 lb. 26 in. x 1 ft.
12 in. 433 ft.-lb.
Thruster
(barbell) 95 lb. 47 in. x 1 ft.
12 in. 372 ft.-lb.
TOTAL 1,205 ft.-lb.
Per Fran Reps x Work = Total (approx.)
45 1,205 ft.-lb. 54,225 ft.-lb.
Power Date Finished Time Power Output (approx.)
April 2015 4 min. 30 sec. 54,225 ft.-lb. / 4.5 min. = 12,050 ft.-lb. / min.
May 2016 2 min. 45 sec. 54,225 ft.-lb. / 2.75 min. = 19,718 ft.-lb. / min.
Change in
Power
April 2015 May 2016 Change (approx.)
Power 12,050 ft.-lb. / min. vs. 19,718 ft.-lb. / min. 60% increase in power
Time 4.5 min. vs. 2.75 min. 60% decrease in time
Conclusion Time approximates our change in power output.
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to say that your time went from 7 minutes to 6 minutes to 5 minutes to 4 minutes?
Some interesting things came of this.
The workout Fran is 21-15-9 thrusters (95 lb.) and pull-ups. Complete the workout
by doing 21 thrusters (front squat 95 lb., then drive it overhead), then 21 pull-ups
(get your chin over a bar from a hang anyhow). Then go back to the thrusters
for 15 repetitions, 15 pull-ups, 9 of each, stop the clock, and we get a total time
for the eort.
Power is force times distance (work) divided by time. The work required to do Fran
is constant (force times distance). It does not change unless your height changes
(distance), the distance we travel (the movements range of motion) changes, the
load changes (95 lb.), or your weight changes. This means that every time you do
Fran or a specic benchmark workout, the work is constant.
So, you do Fran for the rst time and have a Time 1 for it (T1). If you do it a year later,
the same work was completed but you have a separate time (T2). In comparing
the two eorts, we nd that the work quantity cancels and the dierence in time
is the dierence in power produced (Table 1).
There will be measurement error in this calculation. I can measure the force/weight
with a scale, the distance traveled with a tape measure, and time with a watch.
There is not a lot of error therein, but there are some concerns as we are calculating
the bodys displacement by using the center of mass, for example. However, as long
as the work is constant, the same error occurs with every eort. And in comparison
from one eort to the next, the errors cancel each other out (zero order error). This
ratio of time (T2/T1) describes my progress to the accuracy and precision of the
watch, which is the best of my three tools (stopwatch, tape measure, scale).
By tracking the dierence in time between workout attempts, we are looking at
changes in power. We did not have to study this much longer to come to this
understanding that your collection of workout data points represented your work
capacity across broad time and modal domains. This is your tness.
With power on the Y-axis and duration of eort on the X-axis, the power output
of any eort can be plotted. Take a handful of eorts that take approximately 10
seconds to do, measure their power output individually, and then get an average of
these eorts. Repeat this exercise at 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 60 minutes,
etc. Plot these data points. With adequate scientic accuracy and precision, I have
graphed mathematically an individual’s work capacity across broad time and
modal domains (Figure 1).
A Fourth Model and the Denition of Health (2008)
Along the way in using these three models, we had also observed that there was
a continuum of measures from sickness to wellness to tness. If it was a measure I
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could quantify, something of interest to a physician or exercise physiologist, we nd
it would sit well ordered on this pattern.
Take body fat, for example. If you are 40 percent body fat, that is considered
morbidly obese. The numbers vary by community, but 15 percent is often
considered well or normal. Five percent is typically what you would see in an elite
athlete. Bone density follows a similar pattern. There is a level of bone density that
is pathological; it is osteoporosis or osteopenia in early stages. There is a value that
is normal. We nd gymnasts with three to ve times normal bone density. I can do
this with a resting heart rate, exibility (any of the 10 general physical skills), and
even some subjective things to which we cannot put numbers through analytical
methods (e.g., mood). I do not know of a metric that runs counter to this pattern.
This observation led us to believe that tness and health were varying dierent
measures of the same reality.
This also means that if you are t, you rst have to become well to become patho-
logically sick. It tells me that tness is a hedge against sickness, with wellness as an
intermediate value.
If there is anything in your lifestyle, training regimen or recreational pursuits that
has one of these metrics moving in a wrong direction, I want you to entertain the
possibility you are doing something profoundly wrong. What we nd is when you
do CrossFit (constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements), eat meat and
Figure 1. A Graphical Representation of Ones Fitness (Work Capacity)
at a Certain Time in His or Her Life.
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vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, and get plenty of
sleep every night, we do not have this divergent side eect. It does not work such
that everything is improving except one value. We knew this observation could
be another test in assessing one’s tness regimen.
Recall that we represent tness as the area under the curve on a graph with power
on the Y-axis and duration of eort on the X-axis. By adding a third dimension, age,
on the Z-axis and extending the tness across, it produces a three-dimensional
solid (Figure 2). That is health. And with this measure, I have the same relationship
to things that seemingly matter: high-density lipoproteins (HDL), triglycerides,
heart rate, anything that the doctor would tell you is important.
I am of the opinion that health would be maximally held by maximizing your area
under the curve and holding that work capacity for as long as you can. In other
words: Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar;
do constantly varied high-intensity exercise; learn and play new sports throughout
your life. This will buy you more health than will trying to x your cholesterol or
bone density with a pharmaceutical intervention. That it is a failed approach.
Figure 2. A Graphical Representation of One’s Health
(Fitness Throughout His or Her Life).
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I want you to understand how these denitions of tness and health are dierent
than those found in exercise-science literature. First, understand that our de-
nitions of these quantities are measurable. One of the problems with exercise
science is that it would very rarely meet the rigors of any real science (chemistry,
physics, engineering).
Secondly, it is also almost never about exercise. For example, maximal oxygen
consumption (VO2 max) and lactate threshold are correlates, maybe components,
but absolutely subordinate to what happens to work capacity. Who would take an
increase in VO2 max for a decrease in work capacity across broad time and modal
domains? What that would look like is breathing more air than you ever had before
on a treadmill test in a lab but losing the road race. Similarly, someone’s lactate
threshold could increase, but he or she still gets choked out in the ght because
of lack of work capacity.
I could make a list of hundreds of these metrics, and no one has ever produced
a great athlete by advancing them one at a time. It does not happen. I can move
them best by doing constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements; doing
things that look like Fran, Diane, Helen; turning tness into sport by working with
xed workloads and trying to minimize the time by making every workout a
competitive eort among the cohort. And when I do that, what we nd is that
these metrics do spectacular things.
Suppose a man at 90 years old is living independently, running up and down the
steps and playing with his grandchildren. We would not be concerned if his choles-
terol numbers were “high.” There is a problem looking only at longevity. Imagine
a curve that stretches to 90 or even 105 years but has very low work capacity for
its duration. That is not what CrossFit is about: It is about vitality and capacity.
What can you do?
It is imperative for making meaningful assertions about training that tness and
health are measurable. The area (or volume) under the curve gives me a scientically
accurate, precise and valid measure of an athlete’s tness (or health). And we are the
rst to have ever done that. When we showed this to physicists, chemists, engineers,
they agreed there is no other way to assess the capacity of something, be it a rocket,
motorcycle, truck or human. Tell me how much it weighs, how far it moves and how
long it takes. Everything else is entirely irrelevant.
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“Learn the mechanics
of fundamental
movements, establish
a consistent pattern of
practicing these same
movements, and, only
then, ratchet up the
intensity of workouts
incorporating
these movements.
‘Mechanics,’ then
‘Consistency,’ and
then ‘Intensity– this
is the key to eective
implementation of
CrossFit programming.
COACH GLASSMAN
Technique
Adapted from Coach Glassman’s Dec. 1, 2007, L1 lecture in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In no small part, what is behind this program is the quantication of tness. This means
we put a number on tness: work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
You can assess one’s tness by determining the area under his or her work-capacity
curve. This would be similar to a group of athletes competing in 25 to 30 workouts.
Include a range of activities—like three pulls on the Concept2 rower for average watts
to a 10-mile run—and a multitude of workouts in between. Compile their overall
placing across these events, and everyone then has a reasonable metric of his or her
total capacity.
This quantication of tness is a part of a broader concept that is at the heart of this
movement: We call it evidence-based tness. This means measurable, observable,
repeatable data is used in analyzing and assessing a tness program. There are three
meaningful components to analysis of a tness program: safety, ecacy, and eciency.
The ecacy of a program means, “What is the return?” Maybe a tness program
advertises that it will make you a better soccer player. There needs to be evidence
of this supported by measurable, observable, repeatable data. For CrossFit, we want
to increase your work capacity across broad time and modal domains. This is the
ecacy of this program. What are the tangible results? What is the adaptation that
the program induces?
Eciency is the time rate of that adaptation. Maybe the tness program advertises that
it can deliver 50 pull-ups. There is a big dierence whether it takes six months versus
nine years to achieve that.
Safety is how many people end up at the nish line. Suppose I have a tness program.
I start with 10 individuals: Two of them become the ttest human beings on Earth and
the other eight die. While I would rather be one of the two ttest than the eight dead,
and I do not know if I want to play, I am not going to attach a normative value to it. The
real tragedy comes in not knowing the safety numbers.
These three vectors of safety, ecacy and eciency point in the same direction, such
that they are not entirely at odds with each other. I can greatly increase the safety
of a program by turning the ecacy and eciency down to zero. I can increase the
eciency by turning up the intensity and then possibly compromising safety. Or I
could damage the ecacy by losing people. Safety, ecacy and eciency are the
three meaningful aspects of a program. They give me all I need to assess it.
This quantication of tness, by choosing work capacity as our standard for the ecacy
of the program, necessitates the qualication of movement. Our quantication of
tness introduces qualication of movement.
Technique
Technique
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For the qualication of movement there are four common terms: mechanics, technique,
form and style. I will not delve into them with too much detail: The distinction is not
that important. I use both technique and form somewhat interchangeably, although
there is a slightly nuanced distinction.
When I talk about angular velocity, momentum, leverage, origin or insertion of muscles,
torque, force, power, relative angles, we are taking about mechanics. When I speak to
the physics of movement, and especially the statics and less so the dynamics, I am
looking at the mechanics.
Technique is the method to success for completion of a movement. For example, if you
want to do a full twisting dismount on the rings, the technique would be: pull, let go, look,
arm up, turn, shoulder drop, etc. Technique includes head posture and body posture. And
there are eective and less eective techniques. Technique includes the mechanics, but
it is in the macro sense of “how do you complete the movement without the physics?
Form is the normative value: This is good or this is bad—“you should” or “you shouldn’t”
applied to mechanics and technique.
Style is essentially the signature to a movement; that is, that aspect of the movement
that is fairly unique to you. The best of the weightlifting coaches can look at the bar
path during a lift and tell you which lifter it is. There are aspects to all of our movements
that dene us like your thumbprint. It is the signature. To be truly just the signature,
style elements have no bearing on form, technique or mechanics. Style does not
enter into the normative assessment, is not important to technique, and does not
alter substantially the physics.
These four terms are all qualications to movement. I want to speak generally to
technique and form to include all of this, but what we are talking about here is the
non-quantication of output; that is, how you move.
By taking power or work capacity as our primary value for assessing technique—and
this reliance on functional movement—we end up in kind of an interesting position.
We end up where power is the successful completion of functional movement.
This is not about merely energy exerted. On a graph, you could put work completed on
the X-axis and energy expended on the Y-axis. Someone could potentially expend a lot
of energy and do very little work by being inecient. Ideally, what that individual would
do would see little energy expended for the maximum amount of work. Technique is
what maximizes the work completed for the energy expended (Figure 1). For any given
capacity, say metabolically, for energy expenditure, the guy who knows the technique
is going to be able to do the most amount of work.
Suppose I take two people at random and they are both trying the same task. One is
familiar with how to deadlift, and one is not. One knows how to clean, one does not.
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One knows how to drive overhead, one does not. Suppose they are loading a truck
with sandbags. The one familiar with lifting large objects and transporting them is
going to do a lot more work.
You can have the argument as to who is stronger. For example, you can use an elec-
tromyogram and see with what force the biceps shortens. If you are dening strength
as contractile potential, you may end up with the guy with enormous contractile
potential—but not knowing the technique of the clean, the jerk, the deadlift, he
cannot do as much work.
We, however, do not take contractile potential as the gold standard for strength.
Strength is the productive application of force. If you cannot complete work, if you
cannot express strength as power, if strength cannot be expressed as productive result,
it does not count. Having enormous biceps and quadriceps is useless if you cannot
run, jump, lift, throw, press.
This is related to safety, ecacy and eciency because technique (quality of movement)
is the heart of maximizing each of these.
He or she who knows how to do these movements when confronted with them will
get a better result in terms of safety. Two individuals attempt to lift a heavy object;
one knows how to pop a hip and get under it (clean), and the other guy starts to pull
with a rounded back. I can tell you what is likely to happen to he or she who does not
know how to lift. If you want to stay safe, you better have good technique, good form.
Ecacy, for any given contractile potential, for any given limit to your total metabolic
capacity, he or she who knows the technique will be able to get more work done and
will develop faster. If after six months of teaching you how to clean it still does not look
like I would like it to, you will not get twice body weight overhead more quickly than
Figure 1. Technique Maximizes the Work Accomplished for the Energy Expended.
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someone who looks like a natural. You want an eective program, you are going to
have to move with quality, you want to get the result quickly—technique is going to
be pivotal to your success.
Technique is an intimate part of safety, ecacy, and eciency.
We can see how this manifests in CrossFit workouts by way of a comparison. I want to
look at typing, shooting, playing the violin, NASCAR driving and CrossFit. What these
domains have in common is that a marked prociency is associated with speed. Being
able to shoot accurately and quickly is better than quickly or accurately.
You may try to get a job as a typist because you do not make any mistakes. However,
for this perfection, you type at a rate of 20 words a minute and only use two ngers.
You will never get hired. Playing the violin fast and error-free is critical for a virtuoso.
However, someone who gets through “Flight of the Bumblebee” in 12 minutes is
not there yet. A NASCAR driver wants to both drive fast and not wreck. In CrossFit, a
perfectly exquisite Fran is worthless if it takes 32 minutes.
Any yet, it is presented to CrossFit coaches as, “Should I use good form or should I do
it quickly?” I do not like my choices. One is impossible without the other.
Technique and speed are not at odds with one another, where “speed” is related to all
the quantication of the movement: power, force, distance, time. They are seemingly
at odds. It is a misapprehension. It is an illusion.
Can you learn to drive fast without wrecking? Can you learn to type fast without making
errors? Can you shoot quickly without missing? Eventually, but not in the learning. One
is impossible without the other.
You will not learn to type fast without typing where you make a ton of errors and then
work to reduce the errors at that speed. Then you go faster, and then again pull the
errors back in, then go faster and pull the errors back in. You drive faster and faster and
then you spin out in the ineld or you hit the wall.
If you are a race driver and you have never spun out, gone out in the ineld or never been
in a wreck, you are not very good. If you are a typist and you have never made a mistake,
you are very slow. In CrossFit, if your technique is perfect, your intensity is always low.
Here is the part that is hard to understand: You will not maximize the intensity or the
speed without mistakes. But it is not the mistakes that make you faster. It is not reaching
for the letter P with your pinky and hitting the O. It is not hitting the wrong note that
made you play faster. It is not missing the target by two feet that made you a better
shooter. It is not running into the wall that made you a faster driver. But you will not
get there without it. The errors are an unavoidable consequence of development.
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This iterative process of letting this scope of errors broaden then reducing them
without reducing the speed is called “threshold training.”
In a CrossFit workout, if you are moving well, I will tell you to pick up the speed. Suppose
at the higher speed the movement still looks good: I will encourage you to go faster.
And if it still looks good I will encourage you to go even faster. Now the movement
starts falling apart.
I do not want you to slow down yet. First, at that speed I want you to x your
technique. What you need to do is continuously and constantly advance the margins
at which form falters.
It may be that initially at 10,000 foot-pounds per minute my technique is perfect, but it
falls apart at 12,000 foot-pounds per minute. Work at that 10,000 to 12,000 foot-pounds
per minute mark to x the form, and soon enough you will have great technique at
12,000 foot-pounds per minute. The next step is to achieve that technique at 14,000
foot-pounds per minute.
At rst, the technique at 14,000 foot-pounds per minute will suer. Then you must
narrow it in. That is the process. It is ineluctable. It is unavoidable. There is nothing I
can do about it. That is not my rule.
We are the technique people. We drill technique incessantly, but simultaneously I want
you to go faster. You will learn to work at higher intensity with good technique only
by ratcheting up the intensity to a point where good technique is impossible. This
dichotomy means that it is impossible at the limits of your capacity to obey every little
detail and nuance of technique. Some of the rened motor-recruitment patterns are
not going to always look perfect.
I do not know of a domain where speed matters and technique is not at the heart of
it. In every athletic endeavor where we can quantify the output, there is incredible
technique at the highest levels of performance.
Suppose someone set the new world record for the shot put, but his technique was
poor. This means one of two things: one, either with good technique it would have
gone farther, or two, we were wrong in understanding what is good technique.
Technique is everything. It is at the heart of our quantication. You will not express
power in signicant measure without technique. You might expend a lot of energy, but
you will not see the productive application of force. You will not be able to complete
functional tasks eciently or eectively. You will not be safe in trying.
There is a perceived paradox here that really is not a paradox when you understand
the factors at play.
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Nutrition: Avoiding Disease and
Optimizing Performance
Adapted from Coach Glassman’s Sept. 9, 2007, L1 lecture in Quantico, Virginia, and Oct.
14, 2007, L1 lecture in Flagsta, Arizona.
The CrossFit message is contrarian. It is against the grain of what occurs at most
commercial gyms. They have machines; we detest them. They use isolation
movements; we use compound movements. They use low intensity; we use high
intensity. Everything about this message is for many people antithetical to all they
thought they knew. With nutrition, the theme continues: What most everyone
thinks is wrong.
In July of 1989 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Norman Kaplan wrote an
absolutely breathtaking bit of research. It is an analysis that has gone completely
unchallenged. He was able to demonstrate by an operative mechanism, through
correlation, and more importantly causally, that hyperinsulinism is at the root of the
deadly quartet” (i.e., upper-body obesity, glucose intolerance, hypertriglyceridemia
and hypertension). Hyperinsulinism—too much insulin—was the cause.
If you are healthy, insulin is the normal and essential response to the ingestion of
carbohydrate. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and you cannot live
Nutrition: Avoiding Disease and Optimizing Performance
Nutrition: Avoiding Disease and Optimizing Performance
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without it. You can either produce insulin through the pancreas, you can inject it,
or you can die. Insulin is responsible for storage of energy in cells. (Glucagon is the
counter-regulatory hormone to insulin: It releases the energy out of the cells.) And
one of the things that insulin puts into cells is fat.
You can see that the way to get your insulin level too high (hyperinsulinism) is to eat
too much carbohydrate. How much carbohydrate is that? In the qualitative sense,
your insulin level is “too high” if it is driving up your blood pressure, making you
fat or reducing your ability to suppress blood sugar after eating carbohydrate. If
you are glucose intolerant, hypertensive or your triglycerides are too high, you are
getting too much insulin and thus too much carbohydrate. These are risk factors
for heart disease, and the process by which we induce atherosclerotic disease—
arteries paved over with plaque. This leads to thrombosis, occlusion, myocardial
infarct and debilitation and death. But when physicians are polled “what is it that
you do not want to get?” cancer and heart disease do not rate nearly so high as does
Type 2 diabetes.
And I can tell you how to get it. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a receptor downgrade
phenomenon on the liver, muscle, and fat cells. They have a receptor site where
insulin attaches. It is similar to a key tting in a lock—specic shapes on each allow
them to bind together. When insulin binds to the receptor, the cell can now receive
all good things, including amino acids (proteins) and fat.
If you expose yourself to too much insulin, the cells and receptors become “blind” to
it. The key does not work as well in the lock; i.e., receptor downgrade phenomenon.
The mechanism is not really much dierent mechanically than staring at the sun. At
rst, your eyes see light, but if you do it for a few minutes, you will never see any light
again. You just burned out the receptors. That is what happens in Type 2 diabetes.
What was revolutionary about Kaplan’s work is that it disproved an accepted model.
Traditionally, what was observed over tens of years was that individuals often rst
gained weight (obesity), then their cholesterol went up (hypercholesterolemia), then
their blood pressure went up (hypertensive), and then they become diabetic. There
was an assumption—and it is a classical logical fallacy—that the ordering suggested
causality. That because this happened rst, then this—it was the root cause of all the
other conditions. This model is now understood to be fatally awed (i.e., a post hoc,
ergo propter hoc fallacy). Order of events does not necessitate causality.
Kaplan was able to demonstrate with powerful evidence that hyperinsulinism was
the cause of all these conditions, the cause of atherosclerotic disease and cardiac
death. All of this is collectively known as coronary heart disease (CHD).
There has been a very powerful shift and re-understanding that what is causing
heart disease is not dietary-fat intake but excessive consumption of carbohydrate.
Things like the French paradox show that there is no paradox. The paradigm was
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awed. The French eat many times the fat that Americans do and yet have a much
smaller frequency of heart disease. They also consume just a little bit under 5 percent
of the rened sugar we do. We are eating about 150 lb. of sugar per man, woman,
and child annually.
It is amazing what eorts we will exert to consume sugar. Your interest in carbohy-
drates, and it is profound, is really no dierent than your interest in beer or opiates.
Sugar tickles the brain and it feels good. And the excuses and things people will do
to get to that high are unbelievable.
Now I tell you how to avoid all of that.
Eat a diet of meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.
Do that and you are exempt.
Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar—and no
coronary heart disease.
It has nothing to do with genetics. The genetic part is an intolerance to excess
amounts of carbohydrate. It is no dierent than having a genetic predisposition
to alcoholism. Having the gene for alcoholism does not mean it will necessarily be
expressed. You would have to drink alcohol. If you do not drink alcohol, you probably
will not suer from alcoholism, at least not in the clinical manifestation of it.
It is no dierent with atherosclerotic disease. I do not care what your grandfather
died of, your mother died of, your uncle died of, your brother died of. For example,
Dr. Barry Sears, all his uncles and father died at 49 years old from atherosclerotic-in-
duced thrombosis, myocardial infarct, heart attack. All of them. He is not going to.
He is not eating the carbohydrates they ate.
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. To get
to the same endpoint, these are eective nutritional strategies for avoiding heart
disease, death and misery:
1) If you could not have harvested it out of your garden or farm and eaten it
an hour later, it is not food.
2) Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, and do not go
down the aisles.
3) If it has a food label on it, it is not food. You do not see that on the chicken.
It is not on the tomatoes. But it is on the chips and cookies.
4) If it is not perishable, if it says “Best if used before 2019,” it is not food.
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In 1995, we were delivering almost the same lecture with just less clinical experience.
And people were like: “You are kidding me?” and “Fat makes you fat, right?”
It is not true.
Optimizing Performance
The next layer to diet is about optimizing performance. Through a diet of meat
and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, you will not be
so lucky as to optimize your output. To get a sub-three-minute Fran, you need to
weigh and measure your meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit and starch,
and you need to eliminate sugar.
I wish it were not true. I wish the path of tness was riding bicycles and drinking
beer. I wished that is how we did it. It does not work. What you have to do is eat
meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar, and then
get a scale and measuring cup. You need accuracy and precision to your consump-
tion or you will never get in a jet stream of elite performance.
If you want to have top-fuel-type performance, you need top fuel. I wish it were
otherwise. What do I base this on? No one has ever demonstrated to me anything
but inferior capacity on a diet where they did not weigh and measure.
I am not telling you that you have to weigh and measure your food. But I am telling
you that you are not going to get anywhere in terms of optimizing your perfor-
mance on a bad diet. And we have seen enough incidences now. I have worked
with tens of thousands of people: No one has ever done it.
You need to weigh and measure your food. Not forever, but at least to start. It is
also good to go back to weighing and measuring once in a while. What happens
is that the portion requirements diminish for all the foods you do not like. “Yes, I
only need one spear of asparagus. Ice cream? I think it was a pound.” You will bias
in the wrong direction.
I can take any cohort, get one of them to weigh and measure food, and he or she
will pull away. There are very few things you can do short of doing more pull-ups
that can get you more pull-ups other than eating the way we recommend it.
There is a one-to-one correspondence between elite CrossFit performance and
the accuracy and precision of their consumption.
And what you are going to nd is performance improvement after performance
improvement, but at some point you will want to stop the athlete from leaning
out further. It is possible you will get too lean to perform well. You may nd a
plateau in your output, and then you need to ratchet it up. (I do the same thing
for hard gainers; I increase their intake as I do not need them to lean out.) The rst
step: When you get as lean as you want to be and before there is a diminution in
performance, double the fat. If you do not feel a whole lot better, maybe try three
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times the fat. And if that does not feel a whole lot better, and instead you just get
thicker, then go back to two times the fat. But I would let performance tell me what
to do. In making modications, I want to see any kind of change in physiognomy. I
have more room to play with when someone has extra padding; I have to be more
careful with someone who is already ripped.
The formula for calculating what is relevant and pertinent to your prescription is
lean body mass and activity level. Done. There is not an inherent dierence for
men versus women, for young versus old. I want to know how active you are and
I want to know what your lean body mass is. And everything else is not germane,
not pertinent, not relevant. It is extraneous information.
In the vagaries and contingencies of everyday living, such as schedules and
appetite, there are uctuations in intake that will occur without weighing and
measuring. Following these normal uctuations puts you on a coarser path versus
the ne path required for optimized performance. And that is why you will not get
there by luck. It is also possible an average CrossFit athlete becomes extraordinary
this way. Commitment and focus are going to overcome genetic limitations. If you
commit to the eort, you stand a much better chance. We have had this fantastic
experience of playing with this. In any cohort, one pulls away when he or she is
weighing and measuring food in this 40-30-30 milieu of macronutrient intake.
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Fitness, Luck and Health
Adapted from Coach Glassman’s Feb. 27, 2016, L1 lecture in San Jose, California; March 27, 2016,
L1 lecture in Aromas, California; and April 24, 2016, L1 lecture in Oakland, California.
In 2002, we observed that almost any health parameter sits well ordered on a
continuum of values that ranged from sick to well to t. High-density lipoproteins
(HDL cholesterol), for instance: At less than 35 mg/dL you have a problem, 50 mg/
dL is nice, and 75 mg/dL is a whole lot better. Blood pressure: 195/115 mm/Hg you
have a problem, 120/70 mm/Hg is healthy, and 105/50 mm/Hg looks more like an
athlete. Triglycerides, bone density, muscle mass, body fat, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c,
aka glycated hemoglobin)—all can be plotted relative to these three values.
The signicance is that these are the predictors, the cause, and the manifestation
of chronic disease. Chronic diseases include obesity, coronary heart disease, Type 2
diabetes, stroke, cancer (to include breast, colon and lung, but my theory is this will
include all the positron-emission-tomography-positive cancers eventually, which are
95 percent of all cancers), Alzheimer’s, peripheral artery disease, advanced biological
aging, drug addiction, among others.
It is very likely that if you have any chronic disease, you have deranged markers. If you
have Alzheimer’s, you would see your HDL suppressed, your blood pressure up, your
triglycerides up, your body fat up, your muscle mass down, your bone density down,
your HbA1c high, etc. The same is true with diabetes. The same is true with most cancers.
Medicine has no eective treatment for chronic disease: It is symptomatic only. The
doctor gives you a drug to bring your cholesterol down, a dierent drug to raise your
bone density. You might need bariatric surgery if you have morbid obesity. If you have
paved-over coronary arteries, they can do bypass surgery. If you become glucose
intolerant, the doctor can put you on insulin. But all of these are not xes. They are
masking the problem. If you have persistent malignant hypertension, you should take
an antihypertensive if you cannot get your blood pressure down otherwise. But how
would you get it down otherwise?
CrossFit, Inc. holds a uniquely elegant solution to the greatest problem facing the
world today. It is not global warming or climate change. It is not the worst two
choices imaginable for president. It is chronic disease. The CrossFit stimulus—which
is constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and
vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar—can give you a
pass on chronic disease. It is elegant in the mathematical sense of being marked by
simplicity and ecacy. It is so simple.
Seventy percent of deaths in the United States (U.S.) are attributable to chronic disease.
Of the 2.6 million people who died in the U.S. in 2014, 1.8 million died from chronic
disease. This pattern of increasing deaths due to chronic diseases also holds in countries
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that are ravaged by infectious disease. The numbers are rising, and when we nally add
the positron-emission-tomography-positive cancers in, the number might be 80-85
percent in the U.S. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the U.S.
could have up to a hundred million diabetics in 2050. That will aect everyone. You will
not go into the emergency room for something as simple as a broken arm: You will be
seeing heart attacks on every corner. Medicine has no solution; you do. CrossFit, with
meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, will help
you avoid all of this.
The other 30 percent are dying from accidents that come in four “-ic” variants: kinetic,
genetic, toxic, and microbic. Kinetic: physical trauma, car crash, hit on a bike. Toxic:
environmental toxins, such as lead poisoning. Genetic: genetic disorders like cystic
brosis, you are born with it. Microbic: virus, bacteria, prions. This is where treatment
can be symptomatic. This is where the miracles of medicine are. If you have got a
genetic disorder that is making you sick, you need a doctor. If you have been poisoned,
you need a doctor. If you caught a nasty virus or a esh-eating bacteria, you need a
doctor. You do not need to go to the gym, and you do not need burpees. Doctors are
like lifeguards; CrossFit trainers are like swim coaches. When you are drowning, you
do not need a swim coach. You needed one, and you did not get one. What you need
is a lifeguard. We will teach people how to swim, and when they do not pay attention,
and they go under, the doctors take care of it.
Accidents are largely stu you can do nothing about, but there is one exception.
Be t. Kinetic: We hear stories from war of CrossFit athletes who survive things that
people have not survived previously. Toxicity: Someone who is tter is more likely to
survive the same poisoning than someone who is not. Genetic: There are genes you
have inherited that will or will not express because of your behavior through diet and
exercise. Microbic: Who is most vulnerable to viral pneumonia? The frail, the feeble.
So tness oers a protection here.
But assume there is no protection from tness because what you need in terms of
preventing accidents largely is luck. Luck—there is no “good luck” versus “bad luck”—
looks like not having these things happen to you. Seventy percent of what kills people
can be addressed by what CrossFit trainers do, and the other 30 percent of deaths occur
based on luck, so get t and do not think about luck. If you stand around worried about
germs, worried about the tire that is going to come through the windshield, worried
about breathing toxic air, and worried about your genes, you are wasting your time.
It will not make you happy. It will not make you better. It will not make you safer. You
are not going to live any longer.
This sums to my “kinetic theory of health.” The singular focus on kinematics—
increasing work capacity, increasing your tness—is how to avoid chronic disease.
Just get a better Fran time, better deadlift, better Diane time, and do all the things that
would support a better Fran time—like eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds,
some fruit, little starch and no sugar; getting plenty of sleep; and maybe taking some
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sh oil. After that, we are out of stu that matters. With that singular focus on work
capacity, we can avoid chronic disease and there is nothing really to worry about. You
have the lifestyle answer. Make it to the gym, eat like we tell you, and enjoy yourself.
We have hacked health. Here is the magic formula for you:
Fitness + Luck (bad) = Health.
It is the part you can do something about plus the part you can do nothing about that
sums to your outcome. So make the most out of tness and you will not be part of the
seven out of 10 who die unnecessarily due to lifestyle. In the end, chronic disease is a
deciency syndrome. It is sedentation with malnutrition.
The cost of chronic disease is such that U.S. medical expenditure is now about $4 trillion
a year. In 2008, Price Waterhouse Cooper estimated that roughly half of all U.S. medical
expenditure was wasted on unnecessary procedures, administrative ineciencies,
treatment of preventable conditions and so on. Add in fraud and abuse and we are
wasting well more than a trillion dollars. We also know 86 percent of overall health-care
spending goes to treating the chronically diseased ineectively. Of the remaining 14
percent, half goes to the stu that medicine can actually do something about. That
means seven percent of health-care spending is not wasted. The amount spent on
chronic disease is a waste.
What CrossFit trainers are providing is non-medical health care. When doctors treat
those aected by accidents (the 30 percent), that is medical health care. If you are
confused about the two, it is easy to distinguish by methods and tools. If someone is
cut open, given radiation, prescribed pills, injected with syringes, it is medicine. It is
treatment by a doctor.
On our side, it looks like CrossFit. We have rings, dumbbells, pull-up bars, our own
bodies—and the prescription is universal. It is not to treat disease. It does not matter
where you fall on this continuum: You get put on the same program. If the prescrip-
tion is universal, it cannot be medicine. If it is something everyone needs—like air
or oxygen—that is not medicine. Without vitamin C, you can get scurvy. Should
physicians control orange and lemon groves, onion and kale production because they
have vitamin C that you cannot live without? We do not want them doing that to food.
We cannot let them do that to exercise, and there is a powerful movement with a lot
of funding afoot to do exactly that. Millions of dollars are being spent to bring exercise
into the purview of the medical arena so that it falls under the Aordable Care Act.
We have 13,000 gyms with 2 to 4 million people safe from chronic disease right now.
This community is doing a lot of good things on a lot of fronts. Yet our gyms are thriving
not because of our impact on chronic disease. They are thriving because the end users,
the customers, are extremely happy with the transformation. And it is part physical,
part emotional, part health markers, part relationships. That is the miracle of CrossFit:
People are getting something that they did not even know they wanted or needed.
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Zone Meal Plans
Originally published in May 2004.
Our recommendation to “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit,
little starch, and no sugar” is adequate to the task of preventing the scourges of
diet-induced disease, but a more accurate and precise prescription is necessary to
optimize physical performance.
Finely tuned, a good diet will increase energy, sense of well-being, and acumen,
while simultaneously ensing fat and packing on muscle. When properly
composed, the right diet can nudge every important quantiable marker for health
in the right direction.
Diet is critical to optimizing human function, and our clinical experience leads us
to believe that Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet closely models optimal nutrition.
CrossFits best performers are Zone eaters. When our second-tier athletes commit
to strict adherence to the Zone parameters, they generally become top-tier
performers quickly. It seems that the Zone Diet accelerates and amplies the
eects of the CrossFit regimen.
Unfortunately, the full benet of the Zone Diet is largely limited to those who have
at least at rst weighed and measured their food.
Zone Meal Plans
Zone Meal Plans
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For a decade, we experimented with sizing and portioning strategies that avoid
scales, and measuring cups and spoons, only to conclude that natural variances in
caloric intake and macronutrient composition without measurement are greater
than the resolution required to turn good performance to great. Life would be
much easier for us were this not so!
The 1-Block Equivalents for Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates (Figure 1, Table 3) and
Sample Zone Meals and Snacks (Table 4) have been our most expedient approach
for eliciting athletes’ best performances and optimal health.
Even discounting any theoretical or technical content, this portal to sound nutrition
still requires some basic arithmetic and weighing and measuring portions for
the rst weeks.
Too many athletes, after supposedly reading Sears’ book “Enter the Zone,” still ask,
“So what do I eat for dinner?” They get meal plans and block charts. We can make
the Zone more complicated or simpler, but not more eective.
We encourage everyone to weigh and measure portions for a couple weeks
because it is supremely worth the eort, not because it is fun. If you choose to
guesstimate” portions, you will have the result of CrossFit’s top performers only
if and when you are lucky.
Within a couple of weeks of weighing and measuring, you will have developed
an uncanny ability to estimate the mass of common food portions, but, more
importantly, you will have formed a keen visual sense of your nutritional needs.
This is a profound awareness.
In the Zone scheme, all of humanity calculates to either 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-block meals
at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with either 1- or 2-block snacks between lunch and
dinner and again between dinner and bedtime. We have simplied the process
for determining which of the four meal sizes and two snack sizes best suits your
needs (Table 1). We assume that you are doing CrossFit; i.e., active.
Being a “4-blocker,” for instance, means that you eat three meals each day, where
each meal is composed of 4 blocks of protein, 4 blocks of carbohydrate, and 4
blocks of fat. Whether you are a “smallish” medium-sized guy or a “largish” medi-
um-sized guy would determine whether you will need snacks of 1 or 2 blocks
twice a day (Table 2).
The “meal plans” we give stand as examples of 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-block meals, and the
“block chart” gives quantities of common foods equivalent to 1 block of protein,
carbohydrate, or fat.
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Once you determine that you need, say, 4-block meals, it is simple to use the block
chart and select four times something from the protein list, four times something
from the carbohydrate list, and four times something from the fat list every meal.
One-block snacks are chosen from the block chart at face value for a single snack
of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, whereas 2-block snacks are, naturally, composed
of twice something from the carbohydrate list combined with twice something
from the protein list and twice something from the fat list.
Every meal, every snack, must contain equivalent blocks of protein, carbo-
hydrate, and fat.
If the protein source is specically labeled “non-fat,” then double the usual fat
blocks for that meal. Read “Enter the Zone” to learn why.
For those eating according to Zone parameters, body fat comes o fast. When
our men fall below 10 percent body fat and start approaching 5 percent, we kick
up the fat intake. The majority of our best athletes end up at X blocks of protein,
X blocks of carbohydrate, and 4X or 5X blocks of fat. Learn to modulate fat intake
to produce a level of leanness that optimizes performance.
The Zone Diet neither prohibits nor requires any particular food. It can accommo-
date paleo or vegan, organic or kosher, fast food or ne dining, while delivering
the benets of high-performance nutrition.
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Table 1. Block Prescription Based on
Sex and Body Type
Body Type
Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
Snack
Total Blocks
Small female 2222210
Medium female 3313111
Large female 3323213
Athletic, well-muscled
female 4414114
Small male 4424216
Medium male 5515117
Large male 5525219
Extra-large male 4444420
Hard gainer 5535321
Large hard gainer 5545423
Athletic, well-muscled male 5555525
Table 2. Sample 1-Day Block
Requirements for Small (16-Block) Male
Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Dinner
Snack
Protein 44242
Carbohydrate 44242
Fat 44242
A block is a unit of measure used
to simplify the process of making
balanced meals.
7 g of protein = 1 block of protein
9 g of carbohydrate = 1 block of
carbohydrate
3 g of fat = 1 block of fat
Because most protein sources
contain fat (e.g., meat), individuals
should only add 1.5 g for each fat
block when constructing meals. The
block chart on the following pages
outlines an amount of each item to
achieve 1.5 g of fat.
When a meal is composed of equal
blocks of protein, carbohydrate,
and fat, 40 percent of its calories are
from carbohydrate, 30 percent from
protein and 30 percent from fat.
The following pages contain common
foods in their macronutrient category
(protein, carbohydrate, or fat), along
with a conversion of measurements
to a block.
This “block chart” of 1-block
equivalents is a convenient tool
for making balanced meals. Simply
choose 1 item from the protein list, 1
item from the carbohydrate list, and
1 item from the fat list to compose
a 1-block meal. Or choose 2 items
from each column to compose a
2-block meal, and so on.
Here is a sample 4-block meal:
4 oz. chicken breast
1 artichoke
1 cup of steamed vegetables with
24 crushed peanuts
1 sliced apple
This meals contains 28 g of protein,
36 g of carbohydrate, and 12 g of fat.
It is simpler, though, to think of it as
a 4-block meal.
Figure 1. Block Composition.
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PROTEINS
Food Eyeball
Exact
Cooked
(g)
Exact
Uncooked
(g)
beef 1 oz. 26 34
beef, ground, 80% lean 1.5 oz. 27 41
calamari 1.5 oz. 39 45
Canadian bacon 1 oz. 25 35
catsh 1.5 oz. 38 46
cheese, cheddar 1 oz. 29
cheese, cottage 0.25 c. 63
cheese, feta 1.5 oz. 49
cheese, ricotta 2 oz. 62
chicken, breast 1 oz. 23 33
clams 1.5 oz. 27 48
crabmeat 1.5 oz. 39 39
duck 1.5 oz. 30 38
egg substitute, liquid 0.25 c. 70
egg, white 2 large 64 64
egg, whole 1 large 52 56
ounder/sole 1.5 oz. 46 56
ham 1 oz. 37 34
lamb, loin 1 oz. 24 34
lamb, ground 1.5 oz. 28 42
lobster 1.5 oz. 37 42
pork, loin chop 1 oz. 27 33
pork, ground 1.5 oz. 27 41
pork, bacon 1 oz. 20 56
salmon 1.5 oz. 28 34
sardines 1 oz. 28
scallops 1.5 oz. 34 58
shrimp 1.5 oz. 29 51
soy burgers 0.5 patty 45
soy cheese 1 oz. 56
soy sausage, links 2 links 37
swordsh 1.5 oz. 30 36
tofu, rm 2 oz. 86
tofu, soft 3 oz. 107
tuna steak 1.5 oz. 24 29
tuna, canned in water 1 oz. 36
turkey, breast 1 oz. 23 30
turkey, ground 1.5 oz. 26 36
turkey, deli meat 1.5 oz. 32
FATS
Food Eyeball
Exact
Cooked
(g)
NUTS & SEEDS
almonds ~ 3 3
almond butter 0.3 tsp. 3
cashews ~ 3 3
macadamia nuts ~ 1 2
peanut butter 0.5 tsp. 3
peanuts ~ 6 3
sunower seeds 0.25 tsp. 3
walnuts 1 tsp. 2
OTHER
almond milk,
unsweetened 0.5 c. 0.5 c.
avocado 1 tbsp. 10
butter 0.3 tsp. 2
coconut milk 0.5 tbsp. 7
coconut oil 0.3 tsp. 2
cream cheese 1 tsp. 5
cream, heavy 0.3 tsp. 4
cream, light 0.5 tsp. 8
half and half 1 tbsp. 13
lard 0.3 tsp. 2
mayo, light 1 tsp. 5
mayonnaise 0.3 tsp. 2
olive oil 0.3 tsp. 2
olives ~ 5 14
sour cream 1 tsp. 8
tahini 0.3 tsp. 3
tartar sauce 0.5 tsp. 9
Table 3. 1-Block Equivalents For Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate
Notes:
1) The amount for each item that is required
to obtain 7 g of protein, 9 g of carbohydrate,
or 1.5 g of fat.
2) Exact data rounded to nearest whole gram.
3) Exact data from USDA Food Composition
Databases unless not available therein.
4) Fiber in carbohydrate sources is subtracted
to determine a block.
5) * indicates virtually unlimited amounts
(over 5 c. for a block).
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Notes:
1) The amount for each item that is required
to obtain 7 g of protein, 9 g of carbohydrate,
or 1.5 g of fat.
2) Exact data rounded to nearest whole gram.
3) Exact data from USDA Food Composition
Databases unless not available therein.
4) Fiber in carbohydrate sources is subtracted to
determine a block.
5) * indicates virtually unlimited amounts
(over 5 c. for a block).
VEGETABLES
Food Eyeball
Exact
Cooked
(g)
Exact
Uncooked
(g)
acorn squash 0.4 c. 89 100
artichoke 1 small 270 177
arugula * 439
asparagus 12 spears 425 500
bean sprouts 3 c. 265 217
beet green 1.25 c. 351 1450
beets 0.5 c. 112 135
black beans 0.25 c. 60 19
bok choy 3 c. 1,155 761
broccoli 1.25 c. 232 223
Brussels sprouts 0.75 c. 200 174
butternut squash 0.3 c. 123 93
cabbage 1.3 c. 250 272
carrots 0.5 c. 173 132
cauliower 1.25 c. 500 304
celery 2 c. 375 657
chickpeas 0.25 c. 45 18
collard greens 1.25 c. 545 635
corn 0.25 c. 48 54
cucumber 1 (9 in.) 285
dill pickles 3 (3 in.) 639
eggplant 1.5 c. 144 313
fava beans 0.3 c. 63 27
green beans 1 c. 193 211
kale 1.25 c. 247 175
kidney beans 0.25 c. 55 26
leeks 1 c. 137 73
lentils 0.25 c. 74 17
lettuce, iceberg 1 head 508
lettuce, romaine 6 c. 760
lima beans 0.25 c. 65 21
mushrooms 3 c. 291 399
Napa cabbage 5 c. 405 300
okra 0.75 c. 448 212
onion 0.5 c. 103 118
parsnips 0.3 (9 in.) 67 68
peas 0.3 c. 250 180
peppers, red 1.25 c. 165 230
pinto beans 0.25 c. 52 19
potato, white 0.3 c. 48 68
radicchio 5 c. 250
VEGETABLES
Food Eyeball
Exact
Cooked
(g)
Exact
Uncooked
(g)
radishes 2 c. 493 500
salsa 0.5 c. 190
sauerkraut 1 c. 650
snow peas 0.75 c. 211 182
spaghetti squash 1 c. 178 167
spinach 1.3 c. 667 628
summer squash, all 3 c. 309 400
sweet potato 0.3 (5 in.) 52 53
Swiss chard 1.25 c. 443 423
tomato 1 c. 273 335
tomato sauce 0.5 c. 235
turnip 0.75 c. 295 195
watercress * 1,140
zucchini 3 c. 536 428
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Notes:
1) The amount for each item that is required
to obtain 7 g of protein, 9 g of carbohydrate,
or 1.5 g of fat.
2) Exact data rounded to nearest whole gram.
3) Exact data from USDA Food Composition
Databases unless not available therein.
4) Fiber in carbohydrate sources is subtracted to
determine a block.
5) * indicates virtually unlimited amounts
(over 5 c. for a block).
FRUITS
Food Eyeball Exact
Uncooked (g)
apple 0.5 79
applesauce,
unsweetened 0.4 c. 89
apricots 3 small 99
banana 0.3 (9 in.) 45
blackberries 0.5 c. 210
blueberries 0.5 c. 75
cantaloupe 0.25 125
cherries 765
cranberries, raw 0.25 c. 117
dates 113
gs 0.75 55
grapefruit 0.5 140
grapes 0.5 c. 53
guava 0.5 c. 100
honeydew 0.5 110
kiwi 175
kumquat 396
mango 0.3 c. 67
nectarine 0.5 102
orange 0.5 99
papaya 0.6 c. 99
peach 1 112
pear 0.5 75
pineapple 0.5 c. 77
plum 1 89
raisins 1 tbsp. 12
raspberries 0.6 c. 167
strawberries 1 c. 160
tangerine 178
watermelon 0.5 c. 125
PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES
Food Eyeball Exact
Cooked (g)
bagel 0.25 17
biscuit 0.25 19
bread 0.5 slice 20
bread crumbs 0.5 oz. 20
cereal 0.5 oz. 14
chocolate bar 0.5 oz. 15
cornbread 1-in. square 14
cornstarch 4 tsp. 10
croissant 0.25 21
crouton 0.5 oz. 13
doughnut 0.25 20
English mun 0.25 21
our 1.5 tsp. 12
french fries 537
graham crackers 1.5 12
granola 0.5 oz. 20
grits 0.3 c. 63
ice cream 0.25 c. 39
melba toast 0.5 oz. 13
oatmeal 0.3 c. 90
pancake 0.5 (4 in.) 32
pasta, cooked 0.25 c. 38
pita bread 0.25 17
popcorn 2 c. 19
potato chips 0.5 c. 18
pretzels 0.5 oz. 12
refried beans 0.25 c. 90
rice 3 tbsp. 32
rice cake 112
roll (dinner) 0.5 18
roll (hamburger,
hot dog) 0.25 18
saltine crackers 4 13
taco shell 1 16
tortilla (corn) 1 (6 in.) 23
tortilla (our) 0.5 (6 in.) 20
tortilla chips 0.5 oz. 15
wae 0.5 27
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Breakfast
Breakfast Quesadilla
1 corn tortilla
0.25 c. black beans
1 egg (scrambled or fried)
1 oz. cheese
2 tbsp. avocado
Breakfast Sandwich
0.5 pita bread
1 egg (scrambled or fried)
1 oz. cheese
Served with 2 macadamia nuts
Fruit Salad
0.5 c. cottage cheese mixed with
0.25 cantaloupe, cubed
0.5 c. strawberries
0.25 c. grapes
Sprinkled with 6 chopped almonds
Smoothie
Blend together:
1 c. milk
1 tbsp. protein powder
1 c. frozen strawberries
6 cashews
Oatmeal
0.3 c. cooked oatmeal (slightly
watery)
0.5 c. grapes
0.25 c. cottage cheese
2 tsp. walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp. protein powder
Spice with vanilla extract and
cinnamon
Easy Breakfast
0.5 cantaloupe, cubed
0.5 c. cottage cheese
6 almonds
Steak and Eggs
1 oz. steak, grilled
1 fried egg
1 slice toast with
0.6 tsp. butter
Lunch
Tuna Sandwich
2 oz. canned tuna
2 tsp. light mayo
1 slice bread
Tacos
1 corn tortilla
3 oz. seasoned ground meat
0.5 c. tomato, cubed
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
Lettuce (as garnish), chopped
10 olives, chopped
Deli Sandwich
1 slice bread
3 oz. sliced deli meat
2 tbsp. avocado
Quesadilla
1 corn tortilla
2 oz. cheese
2 tbsp. guacamole
Jalapeños and salsa as garnish
Serve with .5 orange
Grilled Chicken Salad
2 oz. chicken, grilled
2 c. lettuce
0.25 c. tomato, chopped
0.25 cucumber, chopped
0.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
0.25 c. black beans
2 tbsp. avocado
Easy Lunch
3 oz. deli meat
1 apple
2 macadamia nuts
Dinner
Fresh Fish
3 oz. fresh sh, grilled
1.3 c. zucchini (cooked), with
herbs
Serve with large salad with 1 tbsp.
salad dressing of choice
Beef Stew
Sauté:
0.6 tsp. olive oil
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
~4 oz. beef (raw), cubed
Add:
1.5 c. mushrooms (raw), chopped
0.25 c. tomato sauce
Seasoned with garlic,
Worcestershire sauce, salt and
pepper
Chili (serves 3)
Sauté:
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
in garlic, cumin, chili powder, and
crushed red peppers
Add:
9 oz. ground beef, browned
1 c. tomato sauce
0.5 c. black beans
0.25 c. kidney beans
30 olives, chopped
Add fresh cilantro to taste
Turkey and Greens
2 oz. turkey breast, roasted
1.25 c. kale, chopped and
steamed
Sauté garlic and crushed red
peppers in .66 tsp. olive oil, add
the steamed kale and mix.
Serve with 1 peach, sliced
Easy Chicken Dinner
2 oz. chicken breast, baked
1 orange
2 macadamia nuts
Table 4. Sample Zone Meals and Snacks
2-Block Menus
2BLOCK MENUS
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Breakfast
Breakfast Quesadilla
1 corn tortilla
0.25 c. black beans
0.3 c. onions (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
2 eggs (scrambled or fried)
1 oz. cheese
3 tbsp. avocado
Breakfast Sandwich
0.5 pita bread
1 egg (scrambled or fried)
1 oz. cheese
1 oz. sliced ham
Serve with .5 apple and 3 macada-
mia nuts
Fruit Salad
0.75 c. cottage cheese
0.25 cantaloupe, cubed
1 c. strawberries
0.5 c. grapes
Sprinkle with 9 chopped almonds
Smoothie
Blend together:
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. protein powder
1 c. frozen strawberries
0.5 c. frozen blueberries
9 cashews
Oatmeal
0.6 c. cooked oatmeal (slightly
watery)
0.5 c. grapes
0.5 c. cottage cheese
3 tsp. walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp. protein powder
Spice with vanilla extract and
cinnamon
Easy Breakfast
0.75 cantaloupe, cubed
0.75 c. cottage cheese
9 almonds
Steak and Eggs
2 oz. steak, grilled
1 fried egg
1 slice toast w/ 1 tsp. butter
0.25 cantaloupe, cubed
Lunch
Tuna Sandwich
3 oz. canned tuna
3 tsp. light mayo
1 slice bread
Serve with .5 apple
Tacos
2 corn tortillas
3 oz. seasoned ground meat
1 oz. grated cheese
0.5 c. tomato, cubed
0.6 c. onion (raw), chopped
Lettuce (as garnish), chopped
15 olives, chopped
Deli Sandwich
1 slice bread
3 oz. sliced deli meat
1 oz. cheese
3 tbsp. avocado
Serve with .5 apple
Quesadilla
1 corn tortilla
3 oz. cheese
3 tbsp. guacamole
Jalapeños and salsa as garnish
Serve with 1 orange
Grilled Chicken Salad
3 oz. chicken, grilled
2 c. lettuce
0.25 c. tomato, chopped
0.25 cucumber, chopped
0.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
0.25 c. black beans
0.25 c. kidney beans
3 tbsp. avocado
Easy Lunch
3 oz. deli meat
1 oz. sliced cheese
1.5 apples
3 macadamia nuts
Dinner
Fresh Fish
4.5 oz. fresh sh, grilled
1.3 c. zucchini (cooked), with
herbs
Serve with large salad with 1.5
tbsp. salad dressing of choice
1 c. strawberries
Beef Stew
Sauté:
1 tsp. olive oil
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
~6 oz. beef (raw), cubed
Add:
1.5 c. zucchini (raw), chopped
1.5 c. mushrooms (raw), chopped
0.5 c. tomato sauce
Season with garlic, Worcestershire
sauce, salt and pepper
Chili (serves 3)
Sauté:
0.6 c. onion (raw), chopped
1.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
in garlic, cumin, chili powder, and
crushed red peppers
Add:
13.5 oz. ground beef, browned
1 c. tomato sauce
0.75 c. black beans
0.5 c. kidney beans
45 olives, chopped
Add fresh cilantro to taste
Turkey and Greens
3 oz. turkey breast, roasted
2.5 c. kale, chopped and steamed
Sauté garlic and crushed red
peppers in 1 tsp. olive oil, add the
steamed kale and mix.
Serve with 1 peach, sliced
Easy Dinner
3 oz. chicken breast, baked
1.5 oranges
3 macadamia nuts
3-Block Menus
3BLOCK MENUS
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Breakfast
Breakfast Quesadilla
1 corn tortilla
0.5 c. black beans
0.3 c. onions (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
2 eggs (scrambled or fried)
2 oz. cheese
4 tbsp. avocado
Breakfast Sandwich
0.5 pita bread
2 eggs (scrambled or fried)
1 oz. cheese
1 oz. sliced ham
Serve with 1 apple and 4 macada-
mia nuts
Fruit Salad
1 c. cottage cheese
0.5 cantaloupe, cubed
1 c. strawberries
0.5 c. grapes
Sprinkled with 12 chopped
almonds
Smoothie
Blend together:
2 c. milk
2 tbsp. protein powder
1 c. frozen strawberries
0.5 c. frozen blueberries
12 cashews
Oatmeal
1 c. cooked oatmeal (slightly
watery)
0.5 c. grapes
0.75 c. cottage cheese
4 tsp. walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp. protein powder
Spice with vanilla extract and
cinnamon
Easy Breakfast
1 cantaloupe, cubed
1 c. cottage cheese
12 almonds
Steak and Eggs
3 oz. steak, grilled
1 fried egg
1 slice bread with 1.3 tsp. butter
0.5 cantaloupe, cubed
Lunch
Tuna Sandwich
4 oz. canned tuna
4 tsp. light mayo
1 slice bread
Serve with 1 apple
Tacos
2 corn tortillas
4.5 oz. seasoned ground meat
1 oz. cheese, grated
0.5 c. tomato, cubed
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
Lettuce (as garnish), chopped
20 olives, chopped
Serve with .5 apple
Deli Sandwich
2 slices of bread
4.5 oz. sliced deli meat
1 oz. cheese
4 tbsp. avocado
Quesadilla
2 corn tortillas
4 oz. cheese
4 tbsp. guacamole
Jalapeños and salsa as garnish
Serve with 1 orange
Grilled Chicken Salad
4 oz. chicken, grilled
2 c. lettuce
0.25 c. tomato, chopped
0.25 cucumber, chopped
0.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
0.5 c. black beans
0.25 c. kidney beans
4 tbsp. avocado
Easy Lunch
4.5 oz. deli meat
1 oz. cheese
1 apple
1 grapefruit
4 macadamia nuts
Dinner
Fresh Fish
6 oz. fresh sh, grilled
1.3 c. zucchini (cooked), with
herbs
Serve with large salad with 2 tbsp.
salad dressing of choice
2 c. strawberries
Beef Stew
Sauté:
1.3 tsp. olive oil
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
~8 oz. (beef (raw), cubed
Add:
1.5 c. zucchini (raw), chopped
1.5 c. mushrooms (raw), chopped
1 c. tomato sauce
Season with garlic, Worcestershire
sauce, salt and pepper
Serve with 1 c. strawberries
Chili (serves 3)
Sauté:
0.6 c. onion (raw), chopped
1.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
in garlic, cumin, chili powder, and
crushed red peppers
Add:
18 oz. ground beef, browned
2 c. tomato sauce
0.75 c. black beans
0.75 c. kidney beans
60 olives, chopped
Add fresh cilantro to taste
Turkey and Greens
4 oz. turkey breast, roasted
2.5 c. kale, chopped and steamed
Sauté garlic and crushed red
peppers in 1.3 tsp. olive oil, add
kale and mix.
Serve with 2 peaches, sliced
Easy Dinner
4 oz. chicken breast, baked
2 oranges
4 macadamia nuts
4-Block Menus
4BLOCK MENUS
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Breakfast
Breakfast Quesadilla
2 corn tortillas
0.5 c. black beans
0.3 c. onions (raw), chopped
0.63 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
3 eggs (scrambled or fried)
2 oz. cheese
5 tbsp. avocado
Breakfast Sandwich
0.5 pita bread
2 eggs (scrambled or fried)
2 oz. cheese
1 oz. ham, sliced
Serve with 1.5 apples and
5 macadamia nuts
Fruit Salad
1.25 c. cottage cheese
0.5 cantaloupe, cubed
1 c. strawberries
1 c. grapes
Sprinkle with 15 chopped almonds
Smoothie
Blend together:
2 c. milk
3 tbsp. protein powder
2 c. frozen strawberries
0.5 c. frozen blueberries
15 cashews
Oatmeal
1 c. cooked oatmeal (slightly
watery)
1 c. grapes
1 c. cottage cheese
5 tsp. walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp. protein powder
Spice with vanilla extract and
cinnamon
Easy Breakfast
1.25 cantaloupe, cubed
1.25 c. cottage cheese
~ 15 almonds
Steak and Eggs
3 oz. steak, grilled
2 fried eggs
1 slice bread with 1.6 tsp. butter
0.75 cantaloupe, cubed
Lunch
Tuna Sandwich
5 oz. canned tuna
5 tsp. light mayo
1 slice bread
Serve with 1.5 apples
Tacos
2 corn tortillas
6 oz. seasoned ground meat
1 oz. cheese, grated
0.5 c. tomato, cubed
0.3 c. onion (raw), chopped
Lettuce (as garnish), chopped
25 olives, chopped
Serve with 1 apple
Deli Sandwich
2 slices bread
4.5 oz. deli meat
2 oz. cheese
5 tbsp. avocado
0.5 apple
Quesadilla
2 corn tortillas
5 oz. cheese
5 tbsp. guacamole
Jalapeños and salsa as garnish
Serve with 1.5 oranges
Grilled Chicken Salad
5 oz. chicken, grilled
2 c. lettuce
0.25 c. tomato, chopped
0.25 cucumber, chopped
0.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
0.5 c. black beans
0.5 c. kidney beans
5 tbsp. avocado
Easy Lunch
4.5 oz. deli meat
2 oz. cheese
1.5 apples
1 grapefruit
5 macadamia nuts
Dinner
Fresh Fish
7.5 oz. fresh sh, grilled
1.3 c. zucchini (cooked), with
herbs
Serve with large salad with 0.25
c. black beans and 2.5 tbsp.
salad dressing of choice
2 c. strawberries
Beef Stew
Sauté:
1.6 tsp. olive oil
0.6 c. onion (raw), chopped
1.25 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
~10 oz. beef (raw), cubed
Add:
1.5 c. zucchini (raw), chopped
1.5 c. mushrooms (raw), chopped
1 c. tomato sauce
Season with garlic, Worcestershire
sauce, salt and pepper
Serve with 2 c. strawberries
Chili (serves 3)
Sauté:
0.6 c. onion (raw), chopped
2.5 c. green pepper (raw),
chopped
in garlic, cumin, chili powder, and
crushed red peppers
Add:
22.5 oz. ground beef, browned
2 c. tomato sauce
1 c. black beans
1 c. kidney beans
75 olives, chopped
Add fresh cilantro to taste
Turkey and Greens
5 oz. turkey breast, roasted
2.5 c. kale, chopped and steamed
Sauté garlic and crushed red
peppers in 1.6 tsp. olive oil, add
steamed kale and mix.
Serve with 3 peaches, sliced
Easy Dinner
5 oz. chicken breast, baked
2.5 oranges
5 macadamia nuts
5-Block Menus
5BLOCK MENUS
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1 hard-boiled egg
0.5 orange
6 peanuts
0.5 c. plain yogurt
Sprinkled with 3 cashews,
chopped
1 oz. cheese
0.5 apple
1 macadamia nut
1 oz. canned chicken or tuna
1 peach
0.5 tsp. peanut butter
1.5 oz. deli-style ham or
turkey
1 carrot
5 olives
1 oz. mozzarella string
cheese
0.5 c. grapes
1 tbsp. avocado
1 oz. jack cheese
1 tbsp. guacamole
1 c. tomato
1 c. strawberries
0.25 c. cottage cheese
1 macadamia nut
1 poached egg
0.5 slice bread
0.5 tsp. peanut butter
0.25 c. cottage cheese
0.5 carrot
3 celery stalks
5 olives
3 oz. soft tofu
0.5 apple
0.5 tsp. peanut butter
1 oz. tuna
1 large tossed salad
1 tsp. salad dressing of
choice
1 hard boiled egg
1 large spinach salad
1 tsp. salad dressing of
choice
1 oz. grilled turkey breast
0.5 c. blueberries
3 cashews
Blend:
1 c. water
1 tbsp. protein powder
0.5 c. grapes
0.3 tsp. coconut oil
Blend:
1 c. water
0.5 oz. spirulina
1 c. frozen strawberries
3 cashews
1 oz. cheddar cheese melted
over
0.5 apple
Sprinkled with 1 tsp. walnuts,
chopped
0.25 c. cottage cheese
0.5 c. pineapple
6 peanuts
1 oz. sardines
0.5 nectarine
5 olives
1.5 oz. feta cheese
1 c. diced tomato
5 olives
1.5 oz. salmon
12 asparagus spears
0.3 tsp. olive oil
1.5 oz. shrimp
2 c. broccoli (raw)
6 peanuts
1 oz. Canadian bacon
1 plum
1 macadamia nut
1.5 oz. deli-style turkey
1 tangerine
1 tbsp. avocado
0.25 c. cottage cheese
1 c. sliced tomato
0.3 tsp. olive oil
1.5 oz. scallops
1 sliced cucumber
0.5 tsp. tartar sauce
1 oz. lamb
0.25 c. chick peas
0.3 tsp. tahini
1-Block Snacks
1BLOCK SNACKS
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Typical CrossFit Block Prescriptions
and Adjustments
To best understand the Zone Diet, CrossFit athletes should read Dr. Barry Sears’
book “Enter the Zone.” This article gives more information regarding block
prescriptions and fat adjustments for CrossFit athletes.
The chart based on sex and body type in the article “Zone Meal Plans” is perfect
for those who want to start the Zone Diet. If the athlete chooses the wrong block
size and does not obtain the desired results, the plan can be modied after a few
weeks. Errors in block selection might slow progress, but initial errors are oset by
the huge value in starting a practice of weighing and measuring intake.
Sears details a more precise method to calculate one’s block prescription in “Enter
the Zone.” It is:
Zone block prescription = lean body mass (lb.) x activity level (g/lb.
of lean body mass) / 7 (g protein/block)
The activity level ranges on a scale of 0-1. For those who work out several days a
week and do not have a labor-intensive job, the activity level should be 0.7 (most
CrossFit athletes). By dividing 0.7 by 7 g in the equation, this simplies to a Zone
block prescription that is 10 percent of his or her lean mass.
The activity factor should increase if the athlete does CrossFit two or more times a
day, trains for another sport in addition to CrossFit, or holds a strenuous daily job
(e.g., construction, farming, etc., and potentially coaching, if on one’s feet all day).
Although CrossFit workouts are relatively intense, they are not long in duration.
An individual does not need to increase the activity level value based on intensity
alone; activity volume determines activity factor.
Sample Calculation of the Zone Block Prescription
Suppose an athlete is 185 lb. (84 kg) with 16 percent body fat. He does CrossFit ve
days per week and works in a typical oce environment. A sample calculation of
his Zone block prescription follows.
First, lean body mass is calculated (calipers are a convenient, easy-to-use, and
reasonably accurate method):
lean body mass = 185 lb.–(0.16 x 185 lb.) = 185 lb.–29.6 lb. = 155.4 lb.
Because the activity factor is 0.7, the simplied formula is used:
block prescription = 155.4 lb. x 0.10 = 15.54 or ~15 blocks
This means that the example athlete above would eat 15 blocks per day (Table 1).
Typical CrossFit Block Prescriptions and Adjustments
Typical CrossFit Block Prescriptions and Adjustments
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Table 1. Macronutrient and Calorie Composition
for 15 Blocks a Day
Protein 15 blocks x 7 g = 105 g (420 calories)
Carbohydrate 15 blocks x 9 g = 135 g (540 calories)
Fat 15 blocks x 3 g = 45 g (405 calories)
Total Calories = 1,365
Note the total calories presented here are underestimated due to hidden calories.
Most foods are classied by a single macronutrient, despite the presence of some
other macronutrients (e.g., nuts are classied as a fat but have some protein and
carbohydrate calories). These less predominant macronutrients for each source
are not included in the total calorie calculations.
This athlete could also choose to round up to 16 blocks, particularly if he or she is
more likely to have compliance issues. The Zone prescription is a calorie-restric-
tive diet and can be especially dicult for new adopters. When one’s calculation
has a decimal value, rounding up to the next whole block might result in slower
progress but produce better long-term compliance. Once the athlete has become
accustomed to the diet, then the total blocks can be rounded down to 15, partic-
ularly if desired body composition has not been achieved.
Increasing Fat Intake
The caloric restriction leans out the athlete while providing enough protein and
carbohydrate for typical CrossFit activity levels. However, the athlete can become
too lean. The athlete is considered “too lean” when performance decreases in
combination with continued weight loss. “Too lean” should not be based on body
weight or appearance alone. When a loss of mass coincides with a drop in perfor-
mance, the athlete needs to add calories to the diet. This can be accomplished by
doubling the fat intake (Table 2).
Table 2. Macronutrient and Calorie Composition
for 15 Blocks a Day and Two Times Fat
Protein 15 blocks x 7 g = 105 g (420 calories)
Carbohydrate 15 blocks x 9 g = 135 g (540 calories)
Fat 30 blocks x 3 g = 90 g (810 calories)
Total Calories = 1,770
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At twice the fat, the macronutrient ratio based on calories has changed from 30
percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat to 23 percent protein,
31 percent carbohydrate, 46 percent fat. Fat can continue to be multiplied if the
athlete experiences further mass loss and performance decline. Some CrossFit
athletes have a diet including ve times the fat (Table 3).
Table 3. Macronutrient and Calorie Composition
for 15 Blocks a Day and Five Times Fat
Protein 15 blocks x 7 g = 105 g (420 calories)
Carbohydrate 15 blocks x 9 g = 135 g (540 calories)
Fat 75 blocks x 3 g = 225 g (2,025 calories)
Total Calories = 2,985
At ve times the fat, the macronutrient ratio based on calories has changed to 14
percent protein, 18 percent carbohydrate, 68 percent fat.
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Supplementation
Whole, unprocessed foods are the best source of both macronutrients and micro-
nutrients in terms of composition, variety, and density, such that supplementation
is generally not recommended. We contend that eating a diet composed of known
quantities and of high-quality whole foods is the most important aspect of nutrition
for improved performance and health. Not only are supplements generally poorer
nutrient sources, but they are also an unnecessary focus for someone not following
our basic diet plan of weighed and measured meat and vegetables, etc.
However, we nd one supplement benecial enough to make a blanket recom-
mendation: sh oil. Fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of
polyunsaturated fat.
Physiological fats are known as triglycerides in biological terms; they are composed
of a glycerol backbone with three fatty acids attached (Figure 1). The attached
fatty acids are mixtures of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.
Although one fatty acid is prominent in each food, all three are represented to some
degree. Figure 2 provides a summary of the types of fat and example food sources.
The two types of polyunsaturated fats found most frequently in foods are omega-3
and omega-6 fats. Classifying a fatty acid as omega-3 versus omega-6 is dependent
on chemical structure. Polyunsaturated fats are sources of the two essential fatty
acids, meaning they must be obtained from the diet. They are alpha-linolenic
acid (ALA) (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (LA) (an omega-6). Omega-3 fats are
known as “anti-inammatory” fats, and omega-6 fats are known as “pro-inam-
matory” fats based on their physiological functions. Both are needed in relatively
equal quantities.
Supplementation
Supplementation
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Figure 1. Fat in Food is in the Form of a Triglyceride.
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Figure 2. Summary of Fatty Acids and Example Food Sources.
Current diets tend to have too many omega-6 fats, pushing the balance toward
pro-inammatory physiological processes. The current omega-6:omega-3 ratio
is approximately 20:1 and higher, where primitive populations likely had a ratio
closer to 2:1. Sources of omega-6 fats in the diet are vegetable oils, nuts, conven-
tionally raised (grain-fed/feed-lot) meat and eggs, and farm-raised sh. Eliminating
processed food from our diet should reduce exposure to omega-6 fats from
vegetable oils. However, most meat and eggs are conventionally raised, which
results in greater omega-6 content than if they were wild or grass fed. Nuts and
seeds also have more omega-6 fats than omega-3. Therefore, it is possible that
even though one eats the foods on our list, his or her diet could still be pro-inam-
matory relative to the ancestral past.
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Fish-oil supplementation improves the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids
and reduces the inammatory responses in the body. Fish oil provides two types of
omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),
the form of omega-3 fats preferred by the brain and body. The body can convert
ALA to EPA and DHA, but the conversion process is inecient. Some practitioners
have recommended a combined daily intake on the order of 3 grams of EPA and
DHA for an otherwise healthy individual, although the exact amount is dictated
by one’s total omega-6 intake. Each brand of sh oil has a dierent concentration
of EPA and DHA per serving as indicated on the label. Individuals might have to
take multiple servings to get 3 grams of EPA and DHA, as brands might include
omega-3s that are neither EPA nor DHA (e.g., ALA). Flax seed or oil is not an appro-
priate supplement for omega-3s. Flax is a good source of ALA, but because of the
poor conversion to EPA and DHA, it is not recommended. If the individual is vegan,
DHA can be obtained with algae oil.
Research has indicated positive health benets by supplementing with sh oil.
Omega-3 fats help increase the uidity of cell membranes, and research has
indicated supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular function,
nervous-system function, immune health, memory, and mood issues. Omega 3s
also function as an anti-coagulant, so military personnel should consider removing
sh oil supplements from their diet a couple of weeks prior to deployment. It might
also be appropriate for those with an upcoming surgery to stop taking sh oil two
weeks from that date. These individuals should talk with their doctor regarding
these circumstances.
It is possible to avoid omega-3 supplementation depending on food intake,
although the individual needs to be fastidious with his or her diet. This could be
accomplished by avoidance of all vegetable oils (which are used at most every
restaurant), and nuts and seeds. Meat would have to be grass-fed and eggs pasture-
raised, and wild-caught sh should be consumed a few times a week. Because this
is not practical for many people, supplementation is eective.
Besides the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s in the diet, the total amount of poly-
unsaturated fat is an important consideration. It is not ideal to take in high doses
of either omega-6 (vegetable oils, nuts) or omega-3 fats (based on the stability of
polyunsaturated fats relative to other fats, Figure 2). Fish oil supplementation does
not negate the eects of a bad diet (e.g., eating fast food or excessive amounts of
nuts and nut butters). The total recommended polyunsaturated fat intake in a diet
is not well established; an equal representation of the three fats appears prudent.
Individuals should work with a primary care doctor to determine if supplementa-
tion is appropriate, particularly in cases with specic medical conditions.
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“The magic is in the
movement, the art is
in the programming,
the science is in the
explanation, and
the fun is in the
community.”
COACH GLASSMAN
A Theoretical Template for CrossFits
Programming
Originally published in February 2003.
What Is Fitness? (Part 1)” explores the aims and objectives of our program. Most
of you have a clear understanding of how we implement our program through
familiarity with the Workout of the Day (WOD) from our website. What is likely
less clear is the rationale behind the WOD or more specically what motivates the
specics of CrossFits programming. It is our aim in this article to oer a model or
template for our workout programming in the hope of elaborating on the CrossFit
concept and potentially stimulating productive thought on the subject of exercise
prescription (generally) and workout construction (specically). What we want to
do is bridge the gap between an understanding of our philosophy of tness and
the workouts themselves; that is, how we get from theory to practice. CrossFit.com
has never used this template for its programming, but it provides new trainers
a way to eectively apply variance within the tenets of CrossFit’s methodology.
At rst glance, the template seems to be oering a routine or regimen. This might
seem at odds with our contention that workouts need considerable variance or
unpredictability to best mimic the often unforeseeable challenges that combat,
sport, and survival demand and reward. We have often said, “What your regimen
needs is to not become routine.” But the model we oer allows for wide variance
of mode, exercise, metabolic pathway, rest, intensity, sets, and reps. In fact, it is
mathematically likely that each three-day cycle is a singularly unique stimulus
never to be repeated in a lifetime of CrossFit workouts.
The template is engineered to allow for a wide and constantly varied stimulus,
randomized within some parameters, but still true to the aims and purposes of
CrossFit. Our template contains sucient structure to formalize or dene our
programming objectives while not setting in stone parameters that must be left
to variance if the workouts are going to meet our needs. That is our mission–to
ideally blend structure and exibility.
It is not our intention to suggest that your workouts should, or that our workouts
do, t neatly and cleanly within the template, for that is absolutely not the case. But,
the template does oer sucient structure to aid comprehension, reect the bulk
of our programming concerns, and not hamstring the need for radically varying
stimulus. So as not to seem redundant, what we are saying here is that the purpose
of the template is as much descriptive as prescriptive.
Template Macro View
In the broadest view we see a three-days-on, one-day-o pattern. We have found
that this allows for a relatively higher volume of high-intensity work than the
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Table 1. Template Macro View
3-days-on, 1-day-o
Day 12345678910 11 12
Modality
MG
W
M
G
W
OFF GW
M
G
W
M
OFF WM
G
W
M
G
OFF
5-days-on, 2-days-o
Day 1234567
Modalities
M = monostructural
metabolic
conditioning
G = gymnastics
W = weightlifting
Week 1
MG
W
M
G
W
M
G
WOFF OFF
Week 2
GW
M
G
W
M
G
W
MOFF OFF
Week 3
WM
G
W
M
G
W
M
GOFF OFF
many others that we have experimented with. With this format the athlete can
work at or near the highest intensities possible for three straight days, but by the
fourth day both neuromuscular function and anatomy are hammered to the point
where continued work becomes noticeably less eective and impossible without
reducing intensity.
The chief drawback to the three-days-on, one-day-o regimen is that it does not
sync with the ve-days-on, two-days-o pattern that seems to govern most of
the world’s work habits. The regimen is at odds with the seven-day week. Many of
our clients are running programs within professional settings, where the ve-day
workweek with weekends o is de rigueur. Others have found that the scheduling
needs of family, work, and school require scheduling workouts on specic days of
the week every week. For these people we have devised a ve-days-on, two-days-
o regimen that has worked very well.
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The workout of the day was originally a ve-on, two-o pattern and it worked
perfectly. But the three-on, one-o pattern was devised to increase both the
intensity of and recovery from the workouts, and the feedback we have received
and our observations suggest that it was successful in this regard.
If life is easier with the ve-on, two-o pattern, do not hesitate to employ it. The
dierence in potential between the two might not warrant restructuring your
entire life to accommodate the more eective pattern. There are other factors
that will ultimately overshadow any disadvantages inherent in the potentially less
eective regimen, such as convenience, attitude, exercise selection, and pacing.
For the remainder of this article the three-day cycle is the one in discussion, but
most of the analysis and discussion applies perfectly to the ve-day cycle.
Elements By Modality
Looking at the Template Macro View (Table 1) it can readily be seen that the
template is based on the rotation of three distinct modalities: monostructural
metabolic conditioning (M), gymnastics (G), and weightlifting (W). The monostruc-
tural metabolic conditioning activities are commonly referred to as “cardio,” the
purpose of which is primarily to improve cardiorespiratory capacity and stamina.
They are repetitive, cyclical movements that could be sustained for long periods
of time. The gymnastics modality comprises body-weight exercises/elements or
calisthenics, and its primary purpose is to improve body control by improving
neurological components such as coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy, and
to improve functional upper-body capacity and trunk strength. The weightlifting
modality comprises the most important weight-training basics, Olympic lifts and
Table 2. Exercises by Modality
Gymnastics Metabolic Conditioning Weightlifting
Air Squat
Pull-up
Push-up
Dip
Handstand Push-up
Rope Climb
Muscle-up
Press to Handstand
Back Extension
Sit-up
Jump
Lunge
Run
Bike
Row
Jump Rope
Deadlift
Cleans
Press
Snatch
Clean and Jerk
Medicine-Ball Drills
Kettlebell Swing
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A strength and
conditioning regimen
devoid of gymnastics
practice and skills is
decient.
COACH GLASSMAN
powerlifting, where the aim is primarily to increase strength, power, and hip/leg
capacity. This category includes any exercise with the addition of an external load.
Table 2 gives the common exercises used by our program, separated by modality,
in eshing out the routines.
For metabolic conditioning the exercises are run, bike, row, and jump rope. The
gymnastics modality includes air squats, pull-ups, push-ups, dips, handstand
push-ups, rope climbs, muscle-ups, presses to handstands, back/hip extensions,
sit-ups, and jumps (vertical, box, broad, etc.). The weightlifting modality includes
deadlifts, cleans, presses, snatches, clean and jerks, medicine-ball drills and throws,
and kettlebell swings.
The elements, or exercises, chosen for each modality were selected for their
functionality, neuroendocrine response, and overall capacity to dramatically and
broadly impact the human body.
Workout Structure
The workout structure varies by the inclusion of one, two, or three modalities for
each day (Table 3). Days 1, 5, and 9 are each single-modality workouts whereas days
2, 6, and 10 include two modalities each (couplets), and nally, days 3, 7, and 11
use three modalities each (triplets). In every case each modality is represented by a
single exercise or element; i.e., each M, W, and G represents a single exercise from
metabolic conditioning, weightlifting, and gymnastics modalities respectively.
When the workout includes a single exercise (days 1, 5, and 9) the focus is on a
single exercise or eort. When the element is the single “M” (day 1) the workout
is a single eort and is typically a long, slow, distance eort. When the modality
Table 3. Workout Structure
Days Single-Element Days
(1, 5, 9)
Two-Element Days
(2, 6, 10)
Three-Element Days
(3, 7, 11)
Priority Element priority Task priority Time priority
Structure (Set
Structure)
M: Single eort
G: Single skill
W: Single lift
Couplet repeated 3-5
times for time
Triplet repeated for 20
minutes for rotations
Intensity M: Long, slow distance
G: High skill
W: Heavy
Two moderately to
intensely challenging
elements
Three lightly to
moderately challenging
elements
Work Recovery
Character
Recovery not a limiting
factor
Work/rest interval
management critical
Work/rest interval
marginal factor
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“No successful strength
and conditioning
program has
anywhere ever been
derived from scientic
principles. Those
claiming ecacy or
legitimacy on the basis
of theories they’ve
either invented or
corralled to explain
their programming
are guilty of fraud.
Programming derives
from clinical practice
and can only be
justied or legitimized
by the results of that
practice.
COACH GLASSMAN
is a single “G” (day 5) the workout is practice of a single skill, and typically this skill
is suciently complex to require great practice but might not be yet suitable for
inclusion in a timed workout because performance is not yet adequate for ecient
inclusion. When the modality is the single “W” (day 9) the workout is a single lift
and typically performed at high weight and low repetition. It is worth repeating
that the focus on days 1, 5, and 9 is single eorts of “cardio” at long distance;
improving high-skill, more complex gymnastics movements; and single/low-rep
heavy weightlifting basics, respectively. This is not the day to work sprints, pull-ups,
or high-repetition clean and jerks —the other days would be more appropriate.
On the single-element days (1, 5, and 9), recovery is not a limiting factor. For the “G
and “W” days, rest is long and deliberate and the focus is kept clearly on improve-
ment of the element and not on total metabolic eect.
For the two-element days (2, 6, and 10), the structure is typically a couplet of
exercises performed alternately until repeated for a total of 3-5 rounds performed
for time. We say these days are “task priority” because the task is set and the time
varies. The workout is most often scored by the time required to complete the
prescribed rounds. The two elements themselves are designed to be moderate to
high intensity and work-rest interval management is critical. These elements are
made intense by pace, load, reps or some combination. Ideally, the rst round is
hard but possible, whereas the second and subsequent rounds will require pacing,
rest, and breaking the task up into manageable eorts.
For the three-element days (3, 7, and 11), the structure is typically a triplet of
exercises, this time repeated for a specied number of minutes and scored by
number of rotations or repetitions completed. We say these workouts are “time
priority” because the athlete is kept moving for a specied time and the goal
is to complete as many cycles as possible. The elements are chosen in order to
provide a challenge that manifests only through repeated cycles. Ideally the
elements chosen are not signicant outside of the blistering pace required to
maximize rotations completed within the time allotted (typically 20 minutes). This
is in stark contrast to the two-element days, where the elements are of a much
higher intensity. This workout is tough, extremely tough, but managing work-rest
intervals is a marginal factor.
Each of the three distinct days has a distinct character. Generally speaking, as the
number of elements increases from one to two to three, the workout’s eect is due
less to the individual element selected and more to the eect of repeated eorts.
Table 4 depicts workout examples following this template.
Application
The template in discussion does not generate the CrossFit.com Workout of the
Day (WOD), but the qualities of one-, two-, and three-element workouts expressed
there motivated the template’s design. Our experience in the gym and the
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feedback from our athletes following the WOD have demonstrated that the mix
of one-, two-, and three-element workouts is crushing in impact and unrivaled in
bodily response. The information garnered through your feedback on the WOD has
given CrossFit an advantage in estimating and evaluating the eect of workouts
that might have taken decades or been impossible without the internet.
Typically our most eective workouts, like art, are remarkable in composition,
symmetry, balance, theme, and character. There is a “choreography” of exertion
that draws from a working knowledge of physiological response, a well-developed
sense of the limits of human performance, the use of eective elements, experi-
mentation, and even luck. Our hope is that this model will aid in learning this art.
The template encourages new skill development, generates unique stressors,
crosses modes, incorporates quality movements, and hits all three metabolic
pathways. It does this within a framework of sets and reps and a cast of exercises that
CrossFit has repeatedly tested and proven eective. We contend that this template
does a reasonable job of formally expressing many CrossFit objectives and values.
Table 4. Workout Examples Using the Template
Day Modality Elements
1MRun 10 km
2G W(5 handstand push-ups/225 x 5 deadlifts + 20 lb./round) x 5
for time
3M G WRun 400 m/10 pull-ups/thruster 50% of body weight (BW) x
15 for 20 min. for rotations
4OFF
5GPractice handstands for 45 minutes
6W M(Bench press 75% BW x 10/Row 500 m) x 5 for time
7G W MLunges 100 ft./push press 50% BW x 15/row 500 m for 20
min. for rotations
8OFF
9WDeadlift 5-3-3-2-2-2-1-1-1
10 M G(Run 200 m/box jump 30 in. x 10) x 5 for time
11 W M GClean 50% BW x 20/bike 1 mile/15 push-ups for 20 min. for
rotations
12 OFF
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Scaling CrossFit
CrossFit workouts, and especially those on CrossFit.com, are designed to challenge
even the most advanced athlete. Many athletes need to “scale” (i.e., modify) the
workouts for the safest implementation of the program. Finding a CrossFit aliate is
one way to receive proper coaching and guidance through this process. In absence
of an experienced trainer, this article presents some basic concepts for scaling
workouts particularly for beginners. Scaling for other populations (e.g., advanced
or injured athletes) is discussed in greater detail at the Level 2 Certicate Course,
as well as in the Online Scaling Course.
Athletes will need to scale workouts for variable lengths of time. One’s athletic
background, as well as his or her current health and tness capacity, dictates how
long scaling is necessary. The methodology presented here can be used inde-
nitely, but a month is the minimum period for which signicant scaling should be
applied. This introductory period serves two purposes: 1) it develops competency
of movements used in CrossFit; and 2) it appropriately exposes the athlete to
gradual increases in intensity and volume.
Mechanics and Consistency First
CrossFits charter for creating the most optimal balance of safety, ecacy, and
eciency is: mechanics, consistency, then—and only then—intensity. The
initial exposure to CrossFit is when movement mechanics should be prioritized
over intensity. And for some, just practicing the movements will be intense. It
is imperative that the movements can be performed correctly and consistently
before load and speed are added. While intensity is an important part of the
CrossFit program, it is added after movement prociency is established. Ignoring
this order increases the risk for injury and potentially blunts long-term progress,
especially if poor mechanics are combined with load.
Scaling Eectively: Preserve the Stimulus
When scaling workouts, the main principle to follow is “preserve the stimulus.”
The stimulus of the workout refers to the eects of the specic combination of
movements, time domain, and load. Aspects of this combination can be adjusted
for each individual so that the workout produces relatively similar eects on each
athlete—regardless of physical abilities.
The breadth of workouts and varying levels of CrossFit beginners make it
impossible to provide a single rule for scaling workouts. Similarly, deviations from
the guidelines presented herein can be eective choices at times (especially for
more advanced athletes). For best results, the individual should use his or her own
judgment—or the advice of a qualied trainer—to determine what is appropriate.
Athletes and trainers should not be afraid to alter the workout after it has begun.
At the appearance of unsafe form, the athlete or coach should end the workout
or reduce the load to that which allows proper mechanics.
Scaling CrossFit
Scaling CrossFit
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Intensity and Volume
Two factors need to be scaled for every beginner: 1) intensity; and 2) volume. A
prudent method for beginners is reducing intensity and/or volume by half for at
least two weeks. Depending on how the athlete progresses, volume and intensity
can be gradually increased in the following weeks, months, and years.
Intensity refers to the amount of power an athlete generates. Intensity may be
modied in three ways: 1) load; 2) speed; and/or 3) volume.
Load is the variable to scale rst; scaling the load is an easy way to preserve the
stimulus relative to an athlete’s capacity. Load is also the most common variable
modied after the beginner period. Especially for a conditioning workout, the
athlete should use a load that ensures he or she is able to complete the rst set
or round without compromising form or reaching muscular failure. Determining
appropriate loads for newer athletes requires some estimation, and scaling will
not always be perfect. Often, loads for newer athletes will be less than 50 percent
of the prescribed load, especially if an athlete is new to lifting weights. Coaches
should err on the side of scaling too much rather than not enough, particularly
for newer athletes.
Speed tends to be more self-modulated due to the athlete’s tness level, although
a coach can modulate speed based on the mechanics demonstrated. A coach
might have to slow an athlete down to achieve the correct mechanics. Similarly,
coaches might have to encourage an athlete who is moving well to move faster,
though this is less common when working with beginners (see Technique” article).
Volume is the total amount of work accomplished by the athlete. Depending
on the workout, volume can be lowered by reducing: 1) time; 2) reps/rounds;
and/or 3) distance.
Newer CrossFit athletes might attempt to struggle through a workout where
the volume of repetitions (or load, above) is beyond their current capacity. For
example, an advanced CrossFit athlete might complete Fran in 2 minutes. That
same workout might take a newer athlete 15 minutes or more if completed as
prescribed. While it is not imperative for beginners to nish in the same time as
advanced athletes – times should be relatively similar. Fran should be completed
within several minutes.
While lowering the volume can increase intensity (i.e., produce more power),
volume reductions are also important for beginners because muscles, ligaments,
and tendons need to become gradually accustomed to the volume in CrossFit.
Reducing volume also reduces excessive soreness, as well as the risk for rhabdo-
myolysis and injury.
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Movements
When a movement cannot be performed at all, it can be substituted. CrossFit
suggests modifying this variable last because avoiding a movement prevents
an individual from developing prociency in it. An athlete or trainer should rst
try reducing the load before substituting the movement. If the workout calls for
snatches at 95 lb., for example, it is generally preferable that the athlete performs
the snatches with a PVC pipe instead of substituting 95-lb. overhead squats.
Complete movement substitutions should be considered when a physical
limitation or injury is present, or when the load cannot be reduced. When selecting
a substitute movement, trainers should try to preserve the original movement’s
function and range of motion as best they can. When determining movement
substitutions consider:
1) Whether the movement is primarily driven by the lower
body or upper body.
2) The movement function (e.g., push versus pull).
3) The range of motion used by the movement (specically of the hips,
knees, and ankles).
4) The plane of movement.
Particularly in the case of injury, a complete movement replacement might be
necessary. Consideration of these variables can help trainers select a movement
substitution or replacement that is as similar as possible to the prescribed movement.
A Sample Week of Scaling
This section outlines ve typical CrossFit workouts. For each Workout of the Day
(WOD), scaled workouts are presented with modications to volume, load, and
movements. Some of the rationale for the options is also described. These scaled
workouts should be considered but three examples of the many options available.
They do not take the place of scaled workouts created by an experienced trainer
who is relying on intuition and detailed knowledge of a specic athlete.
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WORKOUT 1
CINDY SCALED VERSION A SCALED VERSION B SCALED VERSION C
As many rounds as
possible (AMRAP)
in 20 minutes of:
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 air squats
10-minute AMRAP of:
5 ring rows
10 push-ups from
knees
15 air squats to a
target
10-minute AMRAP of:
5 jumping pull-ups
10 push-ups against
a wall
15 air squats
10 rounds for time of:
3 pull-ups with
bands
6 push-ups
from toes
9 air squats
Scaling Considerations
Volume is reduced by halving the time or setting an upper limit of rounds.
The rep range can also be reduced so the individual keeps moving through most of the
workout instead of reaching muscular failure too quickly.
Pull-ups and push-ups often exceed the upper-body strength of beginning athletes, and
these movements can be scaled in various ways to reduce the load.
Air squats should be maintained unless there is an injury, although a target is useful for
those developing full range of motion.
WORKOUT 2
SCALED VERSION A SCALED VERSION B SCALED VERSION C
50-40-30-20-10
reps for time of:
Wall-ball shots,
20-lb. ball
Box jumps, 24-in.
box
25-20-15-10-5
reps for time of:
Wall-ball shots,
20-lb. ball
Box jumps, 24-in.
box
50-40-30-20-10
reps for time of:
Wall-ball shots,
14-lb. ball
25-20-15-10-5
reps for time of:
Box jumps, 24-in.
box
5 rounds for time of:
15 Wall-ball shots,
10-lb. ball
15 Plate jumps,
45-lb. plate
Scaling Considerations
The total volume of this workout is relatively high for each movement (150 reps).
Controlling the reps is the easiest way to reduce the volume.
It is also possible to reduce volume on one movement only. For example, if the athlete
is attempting box jumps at a certain height for the rst time this can be reduced while
keeping the wall-ball shots at the prescribed volume.
The box height can be signicantly reduced to help preserve the jump. Step-ups could be
used to preserve the range of motion when capacity does allow for jumps (e.g., injury).
Also consider changing the height to which the wall ball is thrown, particularly when the
athlete is new to the movement and/or trying a new weight.
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WORKOUT 3
DEADLIFT SCALED VERSION A SCALED VERSION B SCALED VERSION C
5-5-5-5-5 Everyone works up to heavy set of 5 repetitions with sound mechanics.
The set should be taxing, but form should not be lost.
Scaling Considerations
When the heavy day has a low repetition count per set (<5 reps), trainers might
choose to increase the repetitions for beginners who are working at a lower weight to
practice mechanics. For example, a 1-repetition-maximum snatch day may be changed
to 3 repetitions.
In rare cases, the range of motion may be shortened until the mechanics are correct.
This might require the barbell to be pulled from pins (or o bumpers), for example.
Typically, however, beginners should work on improving mechanics through the full
range of motion.
WORKOUT 4
SCALED VERSION A SCALED VERSION B SCALED VERSION C
21-18-15-12-9-6-3
reps of:
Sumo deadlift high
pulls (SDHP) (75 lb.)
Push jerks (75 lb.)
15-12-9-6-3 reps of:
SDHP (45 lb.)
Push jerks (45 lb.)
15-12-9-6-3 reps of:
SDHP
(1-pood/36-lb.
kettlebell)
Push presses (45
lb.)
5 rounds for time of:
10 SDHP (45 lb.)
10 Push jerks (45
lb.)
Scaling Considerations
The total volume is moderately high (84 reps) and is eectively halved by removing the rst two
rounds of 21 and 18 reps.
The load can be reduced for both movements. As they are more complicated movements
for beginners, this is a perfect opportunity to keep the movements as is but lower the load
to rene the mechanics.
In rare cases, a push press should be substituted when the mechanics of the push jerk are
not procient for signicant load or volume.
Substituting a kettlebell for a barbell in the SDHP is a way to reduce the complexity of the
movement. It allows the athletes to work on the core-to-extremity movement pattern
without having to navigate a bar around the knees.
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Conclusion
Athletes and their trainers should focus on movement prociency before adding
speed and load. Workouts should be scaled signicantly for at least a month,
particularly with regard to intensity and volume. The period of scaling workouts—
especially load—might continue for months and years as the athlete develops the
requisite capacities. With appropriate scaling, an athlete will make signicant tness
gains by working at his or her relative level of physical and psychological tolerance.
Most athletes need to modify CrossFit.com workouts to dose themselves appro-
priately. As mentioned in “Where Do I Go From Here? we challenge all athletes
and trainers to follow CrossFit.com for their daily workouts for at least six months.
Following this recommendation will provide rst-hand experience at scaling
workouts. While this article is tailored for the beginner athlete, intermediate
and advanced scaling options are available every day on the @crossttraining
Instagram account. The @crosstwod account provides additional information
on workout strategy.
WORKOUT 5
SCALED VERSION A SCALED VERSION B SCALED VERSION C
12-9-6 reps of:
Cleans (185 lb.)
Muscle-ups
12-9-6 reps of:
Cleans (75 lb.)
Banded strict
pull-ups
Banded strict dips
12-9-6 reps of:
Medicine-ball
cleans (20 lb.)
Ring rows
Bench dips
3 rounds for time of:
8 cleans (95 lb.)
8 banded
muscle-up
transitions
Scaling Considerations
The total volume of this workout is low without any modications.
The load is signicantly heavy and will need to be reduced for beginners. A medicine ball
is particularly useful for the newer athlete.
The muscle-up will need to be scaled, and this is best accomplished with upper-body
pulling and pushing movements, or even a banded version of the full movement itself.
Changing the rep scheme can be useful when the modication signicantly challenges
the individual’s strength stamina. Doing so will allow the individual to achieve almost the
same volume while he or she develops new skills and/or is exposed to heavier elements.
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The Girls” for Grandmas
Originally published in October 2004.
As a demonstration of the program’s universal applicability, this article gives
scaled variations of benchmark workouts Angie, Barbara, Chelsea, Diane,
Elizabeth, and Fran.
These six workouts are as good as any to demonstrate our concept of scalability.
Here we oer versions of those workouts that have been “tuned down” in intensity
and had exercises substituted to accommodate any audience, particularly the
elderly, beginner, or deconditioned athlete.
With scaling, the intent is to preserve the stimulus: adhere to as many of the
original workout factors as possible relative to the individual’s physical and
psychological tolerances.
The Girls” for Grandmas
The Girls” for Grandmas
Runhead Source: Running Header Text Variable:
ANGIE
ORIGINAL SCALED
For time:
100 pull-ups
100 push-ups
100 sit-ups
100 squats
For time:
25 ring rows
25 push-ups o the knees
25 sit-ups
25 squats
Ring Rows
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Push-ups o the Knees
Sit-ups
Squats
BARBARA
ORIGINAL SCALED
5 rounds for time of:
20 pull-ups
30 push-ups
40 sit-ups
50 squats
3 minutes of rest between rounds
3 rounds for time of:
20 ring rows
30 push-ups o the knees
40 sit-ups
50 squats
3 minutes of rest between rounds
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CHELSEA
ORIGINAL SCALED
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 squats
Each minute on the minute for 30
minutes
5 ring rows
10 push-ups o the knees
15 squats
Each minute on the minute for 20
minutes
DIANE
ORIGINAL SCALED
21-15-9 repetitions (reps) for time of:
deadlift 225 lb.
handstand push-ups
21-15-9 reps for time of:
deadlift 50 lb.
dumbbell shoulder press 10 lb.
FRAN
ORIGINAL SCALED
21-15-9 reps for time of:
thruster 95 lb.
pull-ups
21-15-9 reps for time of:
thruster 25 lb.
ring rows
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
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Clean
ELIZABETH
ORIGINAL SCALED
21-15-9 reps for time of:
clean 135 lb.
ring dips
21-15-9 reps for time of:
clean 25 lb.
bench dips
Bench Dips
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Running a CrossFit Class
At most aliates, group classes outnumber private or semi-private sessions.
This is a short primer on how to eectively plan and run a group class. While the
concepts presented here are relevant to private training, the logistical demands
of running a group class are signicantly increased such that additional pressure
is placed on planning.
More information on designing and running eective classes is provided in the
Level 2 Certicate Course. Programming well-designed workouts and providing
scaling options are only part of running an eective class. At the very least, a
warm-up, workout, and cool-down plan should be drafted before the class to
outline the duration of each section and its specic elements. Additional consid-
erations for each section are outlined below.
Does the warm-up
Increase the bodys core temperature?
Prepare the athletes to handle the intensity of the workout?
Allow the coach to correct movement mechanics needed in the workout?
Allow the coach to assess capacity for scaling modications?
Oer skill development and renement (potentially including elements
not in the workout, time permitting)?
Does the workout
Include a description of range-of-motion standards?
Include scaling options that are appropriate for all athletes in the class?
Allow athletes to reach their relative level of high intensity?
Challenge the athlete’s current level of tness?
Include corrections of movement mechanics under high intensity?
Does the cool-down
Allow the heart and respiratory rate to slow and the athlete to
regain mental acuity?
Allow the athlete to record workout performance to track progress?
Prepare the gym for the following class?
Take advantage of remaining time for recovery practices, additional skill
renement, and/or education?
The following three sample Lesson Plans and Workout of the Day (WOD) Scales
serve as examples for how to plan a class session.
Running a CrossFit Class
Running a CrossFit Class
Runhead Source: Running Header Text Variable:
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitMETHODOLOGY
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LESSON PLAN: FRAN
WORKOUT
Fran
21-15-9 reps of:
95-lb. thrusters
Pull-ups
Score: total time
INTENDED STIMULUS
This workout is classic benchmark that allows coaches and athletes to assess
progress. Fran, a couplet of gymnastics and weightlifting movements, is a
relatively fast workout elite athletes nish in less than 2 minutes.
The complementary movement patterns—lower-body push and upper-body
pull—allow for relatively continuous movement. The greatest challenge is
managing an extremely high heart rate.
BREAKDOWN
This workout is more a challenge of one’s cardiovascular response than
strength. Athletes should not need to break these movements up more than
three times in the set of 21, two times in the set of 15, and once in the set of 9.
The suggested female Rxd weight is 65 lb. for the thruster.
The scaling options include: reduced load on the thruster, and/or reduced
volume or load on the pull-ups. If an athlete’s last Fran was scaled and
completed under 5 minutes, diculty should be increased.
Coaches should demonstrate each movement including movement
standards.
Coaches should explain the score is total time for workout completion.
Coaches should ask if any athletes are injured.
Athletes should attempt to complete the workout in less than 10 minutes.
The approximate estimates of each component are: 30-90 seconds for
each set of 21, 20-60 seconds for each set of 15, and 15-45 seconds for
each set of 9.
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Coaches: All parts of the class are coach led. Demonstrate each new piece
before athletes perform it. Cue athletes to achieve better positions throughout
each section.
:00-:03
WHITEBOARD (3 MINUTES)
Explain the workout, intended stimulus and breakdown (above).
:03-:13
GENERAL WARM-UP (10 MINUTES)
Explain at the board and have athletes complete the work at their own
pace with a 10-minute limit. It should be steady but not rushed.
Cue throughout.
800-m run.
Two rounds, 15 reps of each movement, of (rst round/second round):
Squat therapy/PVC front squats.
• Ring rows/strict pull-ups (banded, if necessary).
Push-ups/PVC shoulder presses.
• AbMat sit-ups/hollow-body rocks.
Hip extensions/Supermans.
:13-:23
PULL-UP SPECIFIC WARM-UP (10 MINUTES)
If an athlete can perform 8-10 consecutive pull-ups in the warm-up, it is
likely the athlete can complete the prescribed reps in the workout.
Bar hang (30 seconds).
Look for: grip strength.
10 kipping swings.
• Look for: tight body position.
10 kipping swings focusing on a big kip.
• Look for: vertical displacement of the hips.
10 pull-ups (banded if necessary).
Teach: gymnastics versus buttery kip.
• Allow 5 minutes for athletes to practice and rene mechanics.
• Encourage small sets of rened movement and ensure athletes
do not unduly fatigue themselves.
:23-:36
THRUSTER SPECIFIC WARM-UP (13 MINUTES)
Assess movement to determine proper workout loading.
60-second barbell rack-wrist stretch.
• Allow them to come o/on tension as needed.
6 front squats with a pause at bottom.
Look for: hips pushing back to initiate.
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6 shoulder presses with a pause overheard.
• Look for: neutral spine.
6 thrusters on the coach’s cadence with a reset at the rack position.
• Look for: timing of the press.
6 thrusters on their own cadence.
• Encourage them to move fast.
Instruct athletes to add weight to reach their workout load.
• On their own cadence, they perform 3 sets of 3 reps per set.
• After each set, they perform 3 pull-ups.
Scale loads as appropriate
:36-:39
BREAK & LOGISTICS (3 MINUTES)
Bathroom break.
Remind athletes that additional scaling might occur during
the workout.
Review scaling options with each athlete.
Safety check: Ensure adequate room around barbells (including for
bounces after bars are dropped) and pull-up spaces (e.g., boxes to the
side of a working athlete).
Rebrief workout, ow and safety considerations.
:39-:50
WORKOUT: START AT :39 (11 MINUTES)
Cue athletes to achieve better positions while maintaining technique.
Further scale the workout as needed.
Thruster: Look for athletes who shift weight forward to the toes and
press too soon (fatiguing the arms).
Pull-up: Look for full range of motion at bottom and the top.
:50-:60
COOL-DOWN (10 MINUTES)
Clean up equipment.
Shoulder stretch (1 minute each side).
Forearm “smash” (e.g., lacrosse ball) (1 minute each arm).
Collect scores, celebrate new personal records, and exchange
high ves!
Level 1 Training Guide | CrossFitMETHODOLOGY
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WOD SCALE: FRAN
WORKOUT
Fran
21-15-9 reps of:
95-lb. thrusters
Pull-ups
Score: total time
SCALING THIS WOD
This workout is classic benchmark
that allows athletes and coaches
to assess progress. Fran, a couplet
of gymnastics and weightlifting
movements, is a relatively fast
workout elite nish in less than
2 minutes.
The suggested female Rxd weight is
65 lb. for the thruster. Either element
may be modied in load. Athletes
should aim to complete the workout
under 10 minutes. Coaches are
encouraged to use their judgment
to nd challenging but manageable
substitutions for their athletes.
BEGINNER
21-15-9 reps of:
65-lb./45-lb. thrusters
Ring rows
The reps remain unchanged
and should be acceptable
for most beginners with the
reduced loads.
The thruster weight is lowered.
Ring rows lower the upper-body
demand while still developing
basic pulling strength. Adjusting
the athlete’s foot position to keep
the body more vertical reduces
the upper-body demand; choose
a position that allows him or her
to complete each set with no
more than 2 breaks.
INTERMEDIATE
21-15-9 reps of:
95-lb./65-lb. thrusters
15-12-9
Pull-ups
Many intermediate athletes can
do this workout as prescribed.
In cases where kipping pull-
ups are a newly acquired skill,
consider reducing the reps. If
8-10 consecutive pull-ups are not
yet feasible, it is recommended
coaches lower the volume.
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LESSON PLAN: BACK SQUAT
WORKOUT
Back squat
5-5-5-5-5
Score: maximum load for a set of 5 reps
INTENDED STIMULUS
This workout is a single-modality weightlifting heavy day. Today, the sets are
ascending (i.e., add weight after every set). At 5 reps per set, the workout has a
slight bias toward strength-stamina versus top-end strength.
The goal is to lift the maximum load possible for a set of 5 reps while
maintaining sound technique. Adequate rest (i.e., 3-5 minutes) must be taken
between these sets to maximize loading.
BREAKDOWN
The goal is to develop strength, although at 5 reps per set the loads will not
be close to 1-repetition maximums.
Athletes are expected to add load after a successful 5-rep set.
New personal records should be attempted in the third or fourth set.
Scaling options are modulated by load.
Coaches should ask if any athletes are injured.
Coaches should demonstrate the movement, including movement
standards.
Coaches should explain the score is the maximum load for a set of 5 reps.
The load is reduced when 5 reps are not achieved or form degrades
signicantly.
Suggested rest periods: 3-5 minutes between working sets.
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Coaches: All parts of the class are coach led. Demonstrate each new piece
before athletes perform it. Cue athletes to achieve better positions throughout
each section.
:00-:03
WHITEBOARD (3 MINUTES)
Explain the workout, intended stimulus and breakdown (above).
:03-:08
GENERAL WARM-UP (5 MINUTES)
Assess for hip, knee and ankle range of motion. Athletes might need
assistance selecting an appropriate PVC pipe height.
OVER-UNDER
Partner 1 holds a PVC pipe parallel to the ground at approximately
hip height.
Partner 2 lifts one leg at a time over the PVC, then squats and moves
underneath it to return to the other side.
Partner 2 completes 5 reps with each leg, and then the partners
switch roles.
Each person completes two turns in each role.
WALKING LUNGE STRETCH
Athletes step out with one leg into a lunge while the hands, with
interlaced ngers, reach up and to the opposite side of the front leg.
Have the athletes stand and repeat with the opposite leg until they
have completed 5 steps with each leg.
:08:23
BACK SQUAT SPECIFIC WARMUP 15 MINUTES
Assess movement to determine proper workout loading.
Have athletes partner or group together on racks set to
appropriate heights.
One athlete at a time is cued through this sequence:
• Place the barbell on the back.
Brace the abdominals.
• Step two steps back from the rack.
• Squat to full depth.
• Pause at the bottom.
Stand up aggressively.
• Exhale at the top.
Have each athlete repeat that sequence 4 more times on his
or her own.
Rotate new athletes in. Continue in this manner, cueing the rst rep
and allowing 4 independent reps, until everyone has completed a set.
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• Look for: hips initiating back and down, lumbar curve maintained
and weight on the heels.
Instruct athletes to warm up to their rst working set (about 80
percent of current max).
• They perform 3-4 sets of 5 reps per set, increasing the load
after each.
• They do not need to pause at the bottom.
Inform athletes they must be spotted on 1 rep in one warm-up set.
• Teach and demonstrate spotting techniques before athletes
practice them.
:23-:26
BREAK & LOGISTICS (3 MINUTES)
Bathroom break.
Remind athletes that coaches will be cueing during lifts.
Continue to review scaling options with each athlete.
Safety check: Ensure adequate room around racks for bailing, and
ensure athletes understand how to spot.
Re-brief workout, ow and safety considerations.
:26-:53
WORKOUT: START WORKOUT AT :26 (27 MINUTES)
Cue athletes to better positions while maintaining technique. Reduce load
when needed.
Ensure athletes load and unload barbells safely.
Ensure plates are clearly o the platform and will not create a hazard if
a barbell is dropped.
Make suggestions for loading based on technique displayed.
:53-:60
COOL-DOWN (7 MINUTES)
Clean up equipment.
Hip-exor stretch (1 minute each leg).
Collect scores, celebrate new personal records, and exchange
high ves!
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WOD SCALE: BACK SQUAT
WORKOUT
Back squat
5-5-5-5-5
Score: maximum load for a
set of 5 reps
SCALING THIS WOD
This workout is a single-modality
weightlifting heavy day. For today’s
heavy day, the sets are ascending
(i.e., add weight after every set).
Regardless of experience, all athletes
should nd a heavy set of 5 relative
to their capacity. For this workout,
it is acceptable for beginner or
intermediate athletes to complete
more than 5 working sets if they
have not yet previously established
a 5-rep maximum, but coaches
need to ensure the overall volume
remains appropriate.
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LESSON PLAN: 20MINUTE AMRAP
WORKOUT
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
Run 400 m
15 L pull-ups
205-lb. clean and jerk, 5 reps
Score: completed rounds and reps
INTENDED STIMULUS
This workout is a triplet of monostructural, gymnastics and weightlifting
movements. Coaches should expect athletes to complete 4 or more rounds.
This workout taxes athletes metabolically and technically: The 400-m run
elevates the heart rate, increasing the diculty of the other two elements. L
pull-ups require greater midline and pulling strength than strict pull-ups. The
clean and jerk loading is intended to be moderate so the reps can be performed
touch-and-go or as relatively quick singles.
BREAKDOWN
Given the added stress from the run, the loading and reps of the L pull-
ups and clean and jerk should be well within the athlete’s capacity when
considered independently.
The suggested female Rxd weight is 135 lb. for the clean and jerk.
The scaling options include reduced volume on the run, reduced volume and
load on the L pull-ups, and reduced load on the clean and jerk.
Coaches should demonstrate each movement, including movement
standards.
Coaches should explain the workout is scored by completed
rounds and reps.
Coaches should ask if any athletes are injured.
Athletes should aim to complete at least 4 rounds. Approximate maximum
estimates of time spent on each component: 2 minutes for the run, 2 minutes
for the L pull-ups and 1 minute for the clean and jerks.
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Coaches: All parts of the class are coach led. Demonstrate each new piece
before athletes perform it. Cue athletes to achieve better positions throughout
each section.
:00-:03
WHITEBOARD (3 MINUTES)
Explain the workout, intended stimulus and breakdown (above).
:03-:09
GENERAL WARM-UP (6 MINUTES)
If athletes are laboring on the run, struggling to perform the straight-leg
raises or pull-ups, or not maintaining positioning in the deadlifts, scales are
needed for the workout.
100-m run + 6 kip swings + 6 deadlifts (empty barbell).
100-m run + 6 straight-leg raises to an L + 6 deadlifts (empty barbell).
100-m run + 6 strict pull-ups + 6 deadlifts (empty barbell).
:09-:23
SPECIFIC CLEAN AND JERK WARM-UP (14 MINUTES)
Assess movement to determine proper workout loading.
CLEAN
6 deadlift-shrugs with empty barbell.
• Look for: straight arms.
6 deadlift-high pulls with empty barbell.
• Look for: bar staying close to the body.
6 power cleans with empty barbell.
• Look for: proper re</