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Chris Salvato
12-08-2009, 09:47 PM
I normally don't do this kind of thing here but the site that I have been working on with Steven Low recently had a very major release. We have been working collaboratively with APEX Movement, a Parkour gym and facility located in downtown Denver, CO. We were working on a set of skill standards to help beginning athletes walk through the basic milestones associated with various skills from running to rowing to gymnastics to o-lifting to parkour. We are hoping that these standards really step up people's game for fitness and parkour to help bring it to the next level.

For a brief intro into the standards and the article, check out Ryan Ford's video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/DemonDrills). Ryan is one of the collaborators from the APEX Movement facility.

The full text of the article can be viewed here (http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/2009/12/skill-standards-for-building-strong-useful-adaptable-athletes/) on the Eat. Move. Improve. site or downloaded as a PDF for your convenience here (http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Skill-Standards.pdf).

Thanks again for being such an awesome community! I can't wait to hear your input regarding these standards!

Brandon Oto
12-09-2009, 04:31 AM
This seems vaguely familiar.

Chris Salvato
12-09-2009, 07:23 AM
Yup, I just realized that CF North wasn't mentioned in the intro - so i will change that tonight.

Aside from that, CF North's standards were generated for a completely different reason. We definitely appreciate the work they have done but it didn't apply to one of our main demographics - the PK community - especially because of their heavy focus on metcon abilities.

Garrett Smith
12-09-2009, 09:02 AM
I think saying you got the idea from the CFN standards would be plenty.

Brandon Oto
12-10-2009, 07:06 PM
Meaning no offense, but I'm also curious whether you might have gotten some of the ideas from the work Joe and I did -- we discussed it a while back http://www.performancemenu.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4626

Chris Salvato
12-10-2009, 11:19 PM
Actually, Brandon, I didn't even know that existed.

If I had known I would have sent the article to you pre-release. We would have definitely been able to make good use of it. After going over the standards, if you have anything that you want to add then let me know and we can talk about it.

I apologize for the redundancy Ryan and I (and as far as I know, steve also) had no idea that even existed.

Brandon Oto
12-11-2009, 04:52 AM
Steve certainly knew as he had input into it -- but no worries either way. You've been gentlemanly about it and our purposes were quite different. You basically took the step we didn't want to: assigning normative rankings to various points on the curves and labeling them as certain types of goals. We were just trying to create those curves, and also didn't have the gymnastics/parkour emphasis.

Can we assume -- based on the parkour context of all this -- that your rubric is intended specifically for the development and classification of self-locomotion? I notice that even your strength goals that require manipulating an external object are all given in the context of one's bodyweight.

Jeff Bonn
12-11-2009, 06:54 AM
I want to say I am quite happy to see what both of you (Brandon and Chris) are doing. I am of the opinion that fitness must be uniquely defined and independently measurable.

I come from a mechanical engineering background and I have to develop clearly defined (no ambiguity or redundancy) requirements that are independently measurable (both my company and the manufacturer must be able to agree the requirement is met).

Ultimately all measurements must be reducible to some derivative of length, time and mass. Force is mass*length/time^2 for instance. This may seem pedantic, but without taking a theory or approach back to it's constituents you can easily get out of science into politics. For this reason the CF concept of power (force*length/time or mass*length^2/time^3) is nice. It is difficult to clinically measure but it meets the reducibility requirement. The measurement issue is dealt with of course by holding all but one of the variables (mass and length) constant and looking at variance in the other (time). Mass however does change and it's influence is not entirely linear. So short of using a dynamometer (completely doable) power output is subject to significant variation if indirectly measured with a stopwatch.

The other side to this is the 10 general skills (or 6). I feel I'm not adequately experienced in the athletic realm to say if they are inclusive or not, but they are not all reducible or independently measurable, as Brandon's piece noted. I feel this is where the black box approach can be quite helpful. Flexibility is key to some tasks, and not so much to others. Likewise the flexibility of a specific element (the shoulder girdle versus the hamstring) has different effects on different tasks. Because this "network" of effects is not obvious (and I'm guessing not quantitatively understood by the research community) it has to get black boxed. By this I mean that you have to understand that it has an influence, and you may measure it, but you cannot say an inch or degree of increase ROM at this joint in this direction leads to a certain amount of improvement in such and such task. You may however attempt to back the connection out of the black box by looking at the task and the ROMs and see what connections appear to exist.

There is an analytical method called neural networks which varies inputs and look at outputs and by numerous such combinations (realizing that an input may affect multiple outputs and multiple inputs may affect a single output) one develops a picture of the black box' internal layout. This has value in the vein of athletic research AND in the clinical practice of it as well. One thing CF HAS done is develop a reasonable expectation of making public performance data. While most of the data collection is likely so poor (from a controlled research standpoint) that it's not comparable, some data from some sources could be used to start to fill in the holes in the black box.

I hope you'll all pardon my verbosity and pedantry, but I agree that this "ephemeral sport" is in need of scientific clarification...and I hope I can be part of it.

Garrett Smith
12-11-2009, 07:33 AM
Jeff,
It's good that you want to help. Maybe you'll get different treatment than others who have come before you from CFHQ, but I'd say that's a snowball's chance in hell.

Jeff Bonn
12-11-2009, 07:48 AM
Jeff,
It's good that you want to help. Maybe you'll get different treatment than others who have come before you from CFHQ, but I'd say that's a snowball's chance in hell.

While I have an interest in "improving human performance" I have a dramatically decreased interest in doing it with or through CFHQ. I think they have crested and will wane (or improve). Either way the business of improving GPP (or more specific endeavors) stands on it's own merits and results, not some banner.

Steven Low
12-11-2009, 09:27 AM
Steve certainly knew as he had input into it -- but no worries either way. You've been gentlemanly about it and our purposes were quite different. You basically took the step we didn't want to: assigning normative rankings to various points on the curves and labeling them as certain types of goals. We were just trying to create those curves, and also didn't have the gymnastics/parkour emphasis.

Can we assume -- based on the parkour context of all this -- that your rubric is intended specifically for the development and classification of self-locomotion? I notice that even your strength goals that require manipulating an external object are all given in the context of one's bodyweight.
I actually forgot. It was a while ago. -_-

I had limited input into what you guys were saying anyway, and I had limited input into this one as well. It's mostly their project.

Yeah, if I would've remembered I woulda referenced you to them.

Brandon Oto
12-11-2009, 08:27 PM
Really nice ideas Jeff. I don't want to take this too far from Chris's original topic, but some discussion of these things would still be relevant.

The first step -- I don't want to call it trivial or easy, because it's not, but there are at least a couple ways to do it, as a few of us have demonstrated now -- is operationalizing the measure of fitness. Part of this involves defining the thing itself, because it's not quite like "fitness" is something with a really obvious meaning we all agree on. So you decide on what you're trying to measure, exactly, then you find a way to measure it with numbers.

But the next step is the tough one. Because really, if you wanted to be useless, you could blow right past the first two bits by making them arbitrary. Let's say, I'm going to declare that "fitness" to me is how many chips you can eat in a handful, and it's measured by how many fingers you have on a hand. Look at that, we're all super fit. But that doesn't match our natural sense of the word, and would not be a useful metric, so we've accomplished nothing. Philosophers call this type of definition non-intuitive; scientists refer to studies that are internally valid ("correct") but not externally valid ("useful").

So the question becomes whether the definitions and metrics we define actually represent anything that matters to us. But we can't go too far here, because we still need to preserve the first bit (the measurability). To give an example equally ridiculous in the other direction, we might define fitness as "being in super good shape." Which is probably right. But it can't be quantified. We really want both here.

Jeff talks about trying to connect these pieces in the classical scientific way. I think this is awesome and basically badass but probably, in almost all cases, impossible. The whole neural net idea is a good example of both what's being asked and also why it's not really workable. As he also mentions, this whole concept is more or less what CFHQ regularly claims that they're doing -- receiving from The Internet and The Affiliates a vast datastream of feedback regarding the efficacy of their workouts, and turning it somehow into useful info about the program. The quality of the data is obviously in question here, but the complexity of it is far more so; how would we operationalize it in the above way? HQ has at least a theoretical answer for this, with their power=fitness theory, but I find that this fails on both fronts: in practice it's too unfeasible to actually apply, and in theory it doesn't truly fit my idea of fitness. So I have much respect (yes, really) for their attempt, but it doesn't succeed IMO.

(You mention the black box idea, which is a really killer way of getting around the whole issue of rigor and causality by skipping it completely. Rather than doing the science and trying to wade through the complexities, you can try stuff and see if you like what happens. The causality may be bullshit and the results WON'T apply to anybody but you. That's fine. A few more ideas on this here (http://degreesofclarity.com/thoughts/blackbox/)...)

In mine and Joe's system, we tried to deal with this by leaning towards the operational side. We used some standard criteria to generate numbers, and then made every effort to homogenize them. The "relevance" side was hoped to derive from our choice of tests, which were mostly things that are pretty widely recognized as indicative of certain sorts of physical skills, and also meaningful in their own right (for instance, even if it means nothing else, running fast is a good thing). But we weren't able to say much more than that.

Rubrics like Chris's -- or the CF North material, or Rip's strength tables -- are a different sort of thing. They lean toward the "external validity" side of the scale, by starting with the real world and trying to quantize it into numbers and rankings. For instance, Rip's tables are purportedly based on the actual lifting he's seen and gathered from real athletes moving through their training. Similarly, I'm sure, standards like yours are based on your looking around, at your own experience and those of athletes around you, and saying, "okay, most of the people at X level can do about 50 pushups, so we'll call that the baseline for athletes at that level." This isn't the rigorous sort of data you get when you start with the numbers, but it's more pertinent. It lets people set goals for themselves, which is probably the most important application of any of this.

All of this said, I suspect for the reasons I've given that a method like ours is best for "testing," ranking, or otherwise evaluating traits like athleticism in a rigorous way... and systems like Chris's are best for actually setting up training and recommending goals and paths to improvement. One is descriptive, one is prescriptive.

If this gets any further afield we might want to take it to a different thread, if Chris is more interested in nuts-and-bolts discussion of his stuff right now.

Chris Salvato
12-20-2009, 08:06 AM
Thanks for the input Brandon -- I definitely need to go back over your post to formulate a more appropriate response later...have just been so busy lately :P

BTW, many changes have been made to the article. If there is something I missed, then let me know. This should address all of the changes requested here as well as on the several other forums where this was discussed.

Skill Guidelines for Building Strong, Useful, Adaptable Athletes (http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/2009/12/skill-guidelines-for-building-strong-useful-adaptable-athletes/)

Change Log (http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/2009/12/skill-guidelines-for-building-strong-useful-adaptable-athletes/2/)

December 20, 2009

Fixed typographical errors.

Changed level 5 from “Elite Athlete” to “Highly Specialized Athlete” as this is more consistent with the actual values listed as well as the Parkour philosophy.

Changed the title from “Skill Standards for Building Strong, Useful, Adaptable Athletes” to “Skill Guidelines for Building Strong, Useful, Adapatable Athletes” since this is more consistent with the values as well as the philosophies of EMI, its authors and the communities in which they are involved.

Footnote on genetics has been removed as suggested by Jake Oleander on the CrossFit message boards since most things on this list are, in fact, genetically biased.

The skill “Power Clean and Jerk” has been changed to “Clean and Jerk.”
Guidelines for the Snatch have been changed to be more consistent with the Clean and Jerk. The values for the Snatch should now be roughly 80% of the Clean and Jerk’s values.

Changed “Vertical Jump” to “Standing Vertical Jump” for the sake of clarity.
Added a note that the WR that the standing vertical jump and standing box jump is unverified and highly speculative.

Proper credit has been given to CrossFit North.

Changed the level three description as suggested by Jamie J. Skibicki from the CrossFit message boards. The new description no longer calls a lack of level three skills dangerous, but rather addresses the benefits of being level three in terms of continuous training while reducing the risk of injury.