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View Full Version : Beg's Gains/Pt of Dim. Returns


Dave Maerk
08-03-2008, 10:25 AM
Just thinking the other day about this sig line from Steven Low:

One of the universal truths is this (...) It takes a small amount of work for good initial gains, but a huge amount of work to get that last little bit.

This is what they call "beginner's gains" in bodybuilding (maybe other places too). I made excellent beginner's gains on SS; after a year or so, I had added over 100lbs to all my compound lifts, putting me between the intermediate/advanced sections of Rippetoe's strength charts (http://www.crossfit.com/cf-journal/WLSTANDARDS.pdf) for my BW.

As for stamina, I'm now learning the same lesson; beginner's gains come rapidly. Soon, I'm sure, they'll taper off, but for now my times are dropping like crazy. Endurance I'm not sure about, and that's why I recently posted (http://www.cathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2809) about it.

The principle seems to be that you can relatively quickly get to the beginner's gains peak, after which you get less and less for your effort.

Now intermediate may not sound like much, but actually it's respectable. Rippetoe says (in the previously linked document) The intermediate level...represents a high level of performance at a recreational level. For me, it is far stronger than I have ever needed to be, far stronger than anyone at my gym, or any of my friends. So I'm thinking that, really, intermediate, "a high level of performance at a recreational level," is all you need if your goal is the common goal of simply "being in shape," or what we call GPP.

In terms of the "3 pathways," or the "10 skills" listed in What is Crossfit (http://www.crossfit.com/cf-download/Foundations.pdf), I estimate it takes around a year to reach the beginner's gains peak. The questions that I'd like to put up for discussion are:

1. What's the least amount of effort you need to get there for each pathway/skill? (Thinking in terms of efficiency, not laziness.)

2. What's the least you need to do to maintain it once you get there? (Since fitness, after all, is only one aspect of life, and time saved could be devoted to friends, loved ones, artistic/personal fulfillment, etc.)

Steven Low
08-03-2008, 02:08 PM
1. For pathways something like metcon/tabata/HIIT/etc. which hits them all you can pretty much work those (like most of CF.. and make pretty good gains). Think of this in terms of say running 800m or the mile to get your time down; metcon/HIIT/etc. will get you down under 6 probably but you need to run more longer work to build the base to get sub 5.

However, constant high intensity is liable to lead to burnout so people need to be more wary of their bodies. In lieu of integrating strength into CF workouts, we see people generally have better times the stronger they are or if they come in with a good strength base. So basically this is one of the more popular reasons for doing MEBB or something like Gant's hybrid program.

For a set "effort" it depends on the background of the individual (sports/athletics), body fat/obesity, diet, sleep, etc. all the thing that factor into performance. Too hard to make a set timeline like you can with SS linear strength progress unfortuanately.

Skills are different and it depends on what you're aiming for at least in terms of sports as well. Something like strength and endurance are pretty universal.. but things like accuracy and others are much more dependent on practice. I don't think there's a set answer for something like this.


2. Maintaining is another story. Probably 1-2 times a week is good to conserve conditioning, strength and related CNS changes. 1 may be too little though so I'd say 2 at the least.

Dave Maerk
08-05-2008, 04:57 PM
2. Maintaining is another story. Probably 1-2 times a week is good to conserve conditioning, strength and related CNS changes. 1 may be too little though so I'd say 2 at the least.

I was thinking along the lines of one day for each pathway; a day of heavy lifting, a day of metcon/Tabata whatever, and a day when you run/hike for distance.

I'm surprised this thread got so little action. It strikes me as a fundamental, almost philosophical question.