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Old 12-11-2009, 09:27 AM   #11
Steven Low
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Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
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.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:27 PM   #12
Brandon Oto
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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...)

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.
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:06 AM   #13
Chris Salvato
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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

Change Log

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.
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