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Old 07-07-2007, 11:23 PM   #1
Brandon Enos
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: California
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Default Structured vs Random

Just wondering which one everyone chooses and why? Structured routines where you know what you will be doing a month or more from now, or more of a random crossfit style?

I found that so far the best thing for me is a semi-random schedule. I sit down on Sat or Sun, my rest days and figure out my workouts for Mon - Fri using a hard day, easy day, hard day... template. I also try to leave enough room to make subs if things have to change due to school, weather, etc.

I love this style because it keeps things random enough to A.) keep me from getting bored and B.) doesnt let my body adapt to any one thing. It also prevents me from throwing a day out since I know what it is I have to do that day.
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Old 07-08-2007, 08:49 AM   #2
Steven Low
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You'll make more progress (strength and mass-wise) on a structured routine a la programs like Starting Strength tweak a bit to your conditioning level + massive amounts of food.

Random is EXCELLENT for GPP.

Most people want a decent combination of both.
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Old 07-08-2007, 09:24 AM   #3
Robb Wolf
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Steven pretty much hammered that. Some consistency and structure is important for strength development, potentially detrimental for some elements of conditioning, especially if maintaining strength/power is important.

This is an important distinction folks need to make between S&C and their chosen sport. We certainly want efficiency at our sportive endeavors.

You might like Rutman's ME-Black Box template.
"Survival will be neither to the strongest of the species, nor to the most intelligent, but to those most adaptable to change."
C. Darwin

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Old 07-08-2007, 11:54 AM   #4
Scott Kustes
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Semi-random for me. I have been doing a reverse ME-Black Box so to speak. Instead of WOD-ME-WOD-Off, I have been doing ME-WOD-ME-Off. The strength portion is fairly structured. Heavy squats once or twice every week. Heavy deads once a week. Heavy overhead press once or twice per week. Bench press once a week. The WOD portion is random, generally whatever Metcon is up on the CF mainpage (or most recent if the WOD is a strength day), unless I just have some odd hankering for one of the Girls. Call me a masochist, but occasionally I just have to get my punishment from Fran. Warmups and between sets included lots of pullups and gymnastics skills.

This setup finally moved me beyond the 300lb plateau I was at with squats, moved my deadlift from 405 to 445, and moved my overhead press up nicely as well, without sacrificing much in the way of conditioning. Strength needs to be structured as Steven said....lift heavy, lift often seems to work best for strength development.

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Old 07-08-2007, 04:00 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Yes, high frequency heavy lifting with good fatigue management is the *BEST* way to gain strength and mass. It's pretty absurd how fast you gain strength if you can manage fatigue well.
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Old 07-08-2007, 11:50 PM   #6
Russell Greene
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Caveat: this is a long and rambling post, and if you just want to get big and strong and don't care about Crossfit, it won't mean or matter much to you:

I understand you guys in theory, but I just got my ass handed to me by two guys whose main training program is the WOD, which is as far as I can tell pretty random, with a bit added work, often extra metcon.

I guess an important question is what priority do you put on strength versus GPP.

I also think that people who already have good form on heavy lifts need much less direct heavy work than people who still haven't developed that form yet.

Doing lots of heavy lifting comes at the expense of GPP training, so if GPP is a priority, a structured lifting program may not always be a good idea.

When you think about the athletes that come into crossfit and do the best, it is the gymnasts and weightlifters, obviously. I am going to argue that this is not due to energy system training, but rather due to neurologically training. Top aerobic athletes, contrary to popular belief, are almost always very highly proficient in the glycolytic pathways which Crossfit loves, in their chosen disciplines. Top distance runners tend to be blazing fast in the 400 and 800, for example, not compared to specialists, but certainly compared to everyone else. Lance Armstrong can hold a 400 watts power output for 20 minutes. For comparison, according to the Performance menu output calculator, a 175 lb. man doing Fran in 2:20 is operating at 372.5 watts.

However, almost certainly Lance would fail miserably at Fran, and would continue doing so even with extended exposure to Crossfit, whereas a middleweight weightlifter who comes into Crossfit with substantially less power output capacity outside of the phosphate-dominant domain, will, with 6 months' of gradual exposure to Crossfit's intensity, will be able to put up a pretty good, though perhaps not great time. So it is not glycolytic ability really that is determining who has the most potential coming into Crossfit. It is exposure to the movements. Power, and strength, output is very highly movement specific. So the weightlifter is already very comfortable with squatting and pulling, he just has to improve his metabolic conditioning. The enduro athlete has to learn how to squat, which he most likely doesn't know how to do, and learn how to pullup, which he probably can't do very well either. Then he will have to develop enough proficiency in those movements to make 95 lbs. a very light squat and press and his bodyweight very easy to do a pullup with. This will probably take a while.

Technical proficiency + intensity + diet = crossfit success. Most people who do crossfit work hard; not everybody, especially those who are just training themselves, has achieve technical proficiency. The top athletes, (Annie, Nicole, Brendan, AFT, OPT), etc., usually have awesome technique. The advantage for gymnasts and weightlifters is that they generally already have this technical advantage coming in.

Secondly, extraordinarily high levels of strength or lean body mass are not required for Crossfit excellence. Many, perhaps most, of the top guys have Crossfit totals in the 900-1000 lb. range, which is strong, but not out of the world for anybody willing to dedicate himself to lifting heavy weights. As for muscle mass, Chris Spealer is a dominant Crossfit athlete at 132 lbs., and OPT is 165.

So the main point of heavy lifting for crossfit is that it enourages learning technical proficiency in the exercises, given the higher loading meaning higher quantity of neurological recruitment, the lack of time component, and long rest periods. However, very high levels of lean mass development or strength development are not necessary for elite Crossfit performance, and too high levels of strength or muscle certainly can be detrimental. A 900 lb. squat can be as much of a liability as a 4 minute mile is to Crossfit success (credits to Greg Glassman for the quote.)

According to my conversations with Brendan Gilliam, who was there, the original Santa Cruz Crossfit style used to be a warmup, then 20-30 minutes of technique work on gymnastics or weightlifting overseen by Coach Glassman, then a 5-15 minute killer workout. So, 7 years ago or whatever it was, Coach Glassman put his workouts on the web, and though he clearly encouraged plenty of practice on the basics of gymnastics and weightlifting, what people mostly focused on was the the 5-15 minute scorcher. The people following the workouts online generally haven't had a qualified coach helping them with form, and they often don't know have much technical knowledge themselves, and they usually don't commit to the same amount of time practicing the movements that the Santa Cruz people do.

So the internet people usually don't make the same results as the Santa Cruz people, except for the people who come in with gymnastics or weightlifting backgrounds. People conclude, reasonably, that vast exposure to strength training is the difference between who succeeds at Crossfit and who doesn't. But many people have come into Crossfit with little exposure to strength training, and within a few years, without focusing on strength training, reached very high levels of fitness. They are the ones who took the time to learn how to squat, clean, handstand, kip, etc., and usually are the ones who had someone qualified teach them how to do it. It is technical proficiency that is key here, and not the muscle mass or absolute strength levels that one comes in with.

Phew, that was a long post. Hope it makes sense to somebody.
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Old 07-08-2007, 11:54 PM   #7
Russell Greene
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Just to clarify, that was meant to underline why a structured strength routine may not be necessary, and may in some cases be detrimental, to developing Crossfit ability, and why many, if not most of the best Crossfit athletes just follow the WOD.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:23 AM   #8
Jonas Lind
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Steven - By fatigue management, I guess you mean not working to failure?
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:44 AM   #9
Steve Shafley
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So, Russ, you've found that the best Crossfitters ususally "Crossfit" as proven in a competition?


I like the whole premise behind the Crossfit Games. The real competition will really do a lot to sharpen the saw, so to speak, and sort out who's willing to put up or shut up.

I suppose they are sitting on the CFG results for a CFJ, eh?
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:01 AM   #10
Allen Yeh
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They posted the results last week.
"And for crying out loud. Don't go into the pain cave. I can't stress this enough. Your Totem Animal won't be in there to help you. You'll be on your own. The Pain Cave is for cowards.
Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."
-Kelly Starrett
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