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Old 12-11-2006, 06:15 AM   #1
James Evans
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Default Mike Boyle - On the money or off the podium?

I read with interest, and a slightly raised left eyebrow, the recent discussion on the CrossFit board regarding Mike Boyle's apparent aversion to high rep Olympic lifts.

Here's the flavour:

One common criticism leveled at CrossFit is that we engage in the "dangerous" activity of "high rep Olympic weightlifting."

Very recently Mike Boyle of "Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning " offered this objection when asked about CrossFit at a SOCOM sponsored "Special Op's Medical Conference."

And all were invited to post their opinions to comments.

Now I've read a lot of what Boyle has to say and I think it is very easy to misunderstand him, if you only digest the soundbites.

I think the point is that Boyle primarily trains athletes. He has formulated his theories over a number of years. He does what he does because he thinks that it is inherently safe.

One of the things I notice about those who post to comments and those who post to the message board is the contrast in their depth of knowledge. Many people do CrossFit and it really works for them. And they post to comments to pay tribute to this fact. Good. But there is a world outside.

Sometimes people just get it wrong. One poster says Boyle has a problem with front squats. No, he has a problem with back squats. But that post will stick in many reader's minds.

Furthermore, I'm not a soldier, I'm not a cop. I've got different goals. Elements of CrossFit work for me. Others don't. Elements of Functional Training are just pointless to me. I don't have the time or the inclination.

I don't want to start another Boyle-CrossFit slagging match, I'm just interested in a discussion about his theories and methods, many of which I believe are inherently sound.

Just to express my own position:
  • If something works for you, do it
  • If something doesn't, drop it
  • If something injures you, either you're doing it wrong (therefore learn to do it properly) or it's not for you, either currently or at any stage in your training
  • Just because someone else doesn't agree with what you are doing does not mean that they have no valid opinions. You can still learn from them.

All very simplistic I know but the theories are the simple bits, it's the training that works you over.
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Old 12-11-2006, 07:23 AM   #2
Mike ODonnell
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without going into a rant...as I like some of Boyle's stuff for athletes, it's just the simple fact not there is no such thing as one perfect program for everyone. People who are overweight need fat loss....people who are weak need strength training...athletes need movement specific training...etc. The best program for anyone is just the one you do with consistency and progression whatever that may be. People will get results on any good program as long as they stick with it. It's been said that a person will get better results if he follows an average program to a 95% consistency and intensity, vs the person who follows the best program in the whole world with only 50% consistency and intensity.

There are really no new ideas in the fitness world....just different ways of putting them all together in a program. After all....it's just training, life is such a bigger picture.
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:21 AM   #3
Steve Shafley
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Boyle has been training people for a long, long time, and he makes a good living from it. In addition to that, he has trained numerous collegiate and professional athletes. And he's done it quietly, mostly under the radar. Other S&C professionals knew his name and respected his work. It's only late 2005-2006 that the S&C internet community really started to talk about him, and when he started to put together his own forum and start to publicize himself with his book and the articles easily available now.

I read that thread, and I wasn't really going to comment on it, but I will say a few things, and try to stay on a positive note, both James and Mike have made very good points.

1. You can't compare apples to oranges, despite arguments to the contrary.
2. Hockey players are going to stomp Crossfitters at hockey. Crossfitters are going to stomp hockey players at Crossfit. A Crossfitting hockey player? Well, the sport specific skills are what's going to matter.
3. Special Forces people are going to get the job done whether they run, lift weights, do crossfit, follow Stew Smith's routines, or whatever. No matter what they do, it's covered.
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:37 AM   #4
Yael Grauer
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Originally Posted by Steve Shafley View Post
3. Special Forces people are going to get the job done whether they run, lift weights, do crossfit, follow Stew Smith's routines, or whatever. No matter what they do, it's covered.
A little off topic but just curious - what's with Stew Smith thinking ruck runs are dangerous?
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:41 PM   #5
R. Alan Hester
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This is an interesting thread, which I first saw over at Crossfit. I was at the Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) conference in question. I am a former SF medic, but I still stay in contact with other guys in the Spec. Ops community. I sat in on the Human Performance lecture, which is where Mike Boyle's comment was made. He was part of a larger panel comprised of fitness gurus, one of whom was Mark Twight (Gym Jones). Although I was in and out of the lectures--it lasted roughly 90 mins--I did not find it to be anti-Crossfit in anyway. I think, from talking with a few operators, the questioning of high rep Oly lifts come from the ground up; i.e., they had concerns with its efficacy and safety, and he just addressed it. If the lecture was unclassified, which I assume it would be, I may be able to get my hands on a copy.

It is funny Steve mentioned Stew Smith, because I used his program to prepare for SF Selection, and then turned into a LSD-slut while in SF , and only started Xfit after I left the military, then shifted toward and currently use Coach Rut’s methods. Had I known what I know now (God, I have tuned into my dad), I would have adopted the Xfit or Xfit-like methodology while serving, because I suffered many injuries.

In the end, I think it does come down to personal preference. I am just glad the conversation is occurring. The Human Performance lecture is a manifestation of upper echelons recognizing that you cannot mass produce spec. ops. guys, so you had better maintain them with the same funds and vigor as you do weapon systems. Granted, the conversation will include those that do not want to budge from their chosen method, but as long as educated, even-tempered individuals continue to seek optimal performance it will continue to grow.

Just my thoughts.

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Old 12-11-2006, 07:58 PM   #6
Pierre Auge
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My point of view is this, with proper precautions lifting is inherently safe. To the unitiated and those with poor judgement (I may be included in this) any activity including lifting is dangerous. The eversion of risk is what limits us from progressing. The application of risk with good judgement is what produces results.

Hockey is a terrible example of this because as the injury ratios go up in the sport S&C coaches are getting further and further away from efficacious training. And because of this the injury ratios climb... It's a vicious circle.

Mike Boyle is a good coach the only disagreement I have with his position is not that I think he is wrong, its that I think his eversion to exercises that are risky also limit the possible progression of his athletes. He is one of the better S&C coaches in hockey unfortunately in my opinion that isn't good enough!!!

As far as SF guys getting the job done, I agree they may do just that. But will they continue to be able to get the job done as long as they are capable or will they shutdown before their time. I can't speak on the issues in the U.S. but the fact is in this country we didn't fix what we didn't know was broken...

Just because we don't know it's broken doesn't mean it isn't. Sometimes you have to step back and think, we are sending these guys in to risky scenarios, under real life conditions. So why would we train by removing all possibilites of risk? That makes no sense to me... We are setting people up for failure in my opinion.

Athletes in contact sports particularly are no different than SF personel. They are required to enter particularly riscky scenerios yet we train to avoid risk, which causes us to systematically fail when risk crops up when its least expected. We are fooling ourselves if we think avoiding something that may, perhaps, possibly, maybe cause an injury and believing that we will be ready to handle physical stress.

A good coach shouldn't stand on competent athletes a good coach should produce competent athletes. If an athlete can't perform an exercise safely its the coaches problem. If the athlete trains themself and can't perform safely then its their own. Hockey is the worst sport on the planet when it comes to S&C coaches knowing the needs of their players. Mainly because none of them have played the damn sport and don't understand the risks! Soldiering is the same!

I at least think the Glassman's understand this. I've never been intimidated by a broomstick, and if an individual is too cocky to move beyond this before they are ready and a coach too incompetent to allow it than its their own damn fault, their own damn loss and my athletes will be better off then theirs!
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:28 AM   #7
Steve Shafley
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Someone pointed this thread out to me:


Brian Vandewettering

I had a failure on a snatch when doing the last WOD due to poor focus/fatigue. The bar came down on my knee and could have really done some damage if it were a heavy load. Can someone explain the proper bail out for the OHS and Snatch? A video link might be helpful. For now, I'm going to concentrate on proper form.

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