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Old 09-01-2009, 01:45 PM   #1
Brandon Oto
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Default GPP testing

For some time, I've been interested in establishing a way of testing and quantifying this ephemeral, know-it-when-you-see-it notion of GPP. One of the things CrossFit did that was cool is to actually define it -- I don't like their work capacity definition, but there's not much else available. Specific fitness? No problem. General fitness? What is it?

In any case, I did some work with Joe Cavazos on developing and scoring an actual series of tests to assess GPP. It's all explained so I won't belabor it too much here, but I'm very interested in any feedback or suggestions, as this is mostly original stuff that hasn't been well-tested yet. Just some regurgitation from our melons.

Have at it: http://gpp.degreesofclarity.com/
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:58 PM   #2
Harry Munro
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Interesting stuff. I've always thought of GPP in terms of the CV system being in 'good enough' shape and not as something that could be measurable.
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Old 09-01-2009, 07:12 PM   #3
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Interesting stuff. I've always thought of GPP in terms of the CV system being in 'good enough' shape and not as something that could be measurable.
There's kind of two senses of the term that get used and that's one of them -- it's what powerlifters usually mean by GPP. This is the other one, that I guess CrossFit largely popularized, the sense of general well-rounded fitness for no specific task.

Edit: oh, and sorry for the name of the damned thing, we really couldn't think up anything more reasonable. Names are not my strong suit.
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:58 PM   #4
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I skimmed over the opener page* looking for an actual reason for the tests, and this is the closest I came to finding one.

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Our purpose is to establish a small number of standard tests, each of which is both meaningful in its own right (i.e. running speed is important) as well as indicative of one’s broad physical capabilities in a category of fitness (i.e. running speed means you’re well-conditioned), and the combination of which can produce a quantitative assessment of one’s broad, general physical fitness. Ideally, using these tests, an athlete should be able to see where his capacity ranks within various categories of physical ability, and compare that score against his scores in other categories, or against itself over time, or against other athletes’ scores for competitive purposes.
This says what the tests do and how you can use them, but it doesn't really say why you should use them. For example, why do you need to know specifically how your flexibility ranks up against your muscular endurance? (Especially considering that the rankings, while reasonable, have been designed by those who, to the extend of my knowledge, have no professional work in the kinesiology/athletics.) Are you supposed to vary your training depending on your scores to achieve some desired result? Will having a numerical score as opposed to a general idea of the relative rankings really provide some significant advantage? Is there really a point in competing against other "athletes" to see who's "better" at a battery of fitness tests? If so, is there any particular reason one ought to these particular standardized tests when there are literally infinite options available? What relative rankings are supposed to be best or most desirable? Is there even an answer to that question? If not, then why then why bother testing them?




* I won't lie, you tend to write a lot. More than most people, myself included, are willing to read fully. It's all thought-out stuff, but once again, we return to the matter of purpose/reason.

No harm meant here, as I see how my comments may be taken a bit negatively, but I really think that too many people (not just you) put too much time into contemplating exercise when that time would be better spent actually doing exercise - or, if you've already got enough exercise, working on general self-betterment though taking on intellectual, spiritual, or social endeavors in order to round out overall health and quality of life. Hell, maybe some of those three should even come before the exercise.


I think that if every fitness-oriented webforum were to shut down, six months later, very few trainees would find that they had made little to no progress during that time.
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:12 AM   #5
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I think that if every fitness-oriented webforum were to shut down, six months later, very few trainees would find that they had made little to no progress during that time.
Truer words have never been spoken. The forum thing really becomes a habit.
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Old 09-02-2009, 06:23 AM   #6
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Seems reasonable, but your numbers on the broad jump are way off. The world record is 12.05 ft. Your top ranking is 13'.

You also need to do conversions on your 100m times. Hand-times are notoriously inaccurate. As such, you should add 0.3-0.4 to the time shown on the stopwatch. Unless you get a computerized time at an actual track meet, the times will appear faster than what was actually run. Example: at a meet this season, I was hand-timed at 10.9, but the computer came back with 11.29.

Not sure what you mean by this: "Due to the mixed-domain nature of the sprint, the Speed tests are prioritized. Only the rope skip is mandatory." - Are you saying that you prioritize the ability to skip rope for "speed" over the ability to...run fast?

No quibbles with anything else, though I question the value of flexibility versus the others. If you're flexible enough to not injure yourself in athletics, you're probably flexible enough.
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Old 09-02-2009, 09:52 AM   #7
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Seems reasonable, but your numbers on the broad jump are way off. The world record is 12.05 ft. Your top ranking is 13'.
Fair enough; I think we "rounded up" to 13 for simplicity's sake. But you're right, that's a big gap. I'll nudge it down.

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You also need to do conversions on your 100m times. Hand-times are notoriously inaccurate. As such, you should add 0.3-0.4 to the time shown on the stopwatch. Unless you get a computerized time at an actual track meet, the times will appear faster than what was actually run. Example: at a meet this season, I was hand-timed at 10.9, but the computer came back with 11.29.
Sound point. But is the error introduced by hand-timing always downward?

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Not sure what you mean by this: "Due to the mixed-domain nature of the sprint, the Speed tests are prioritized. Only the rope skip is mandatory." - Are you saying that you prioritize the ability to skip rope for "speed" over the ability to...run fast?
Basically: yes. Because we're mainly using the Dynamax categories, and to them "speed" is how quickly you can repeat a motion. So as goofy as the rope skipping is, aside from technique (which is no small potato, admittedly) it should be limited mainly by how fast you can move your little tootsies. The run, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on your power (a different domain) and strength (different again), and yes, technique; so it's kind of not an ideal test. The reasons we still considered it a speed test were:

1. Other factors aside, you WON'T have a fast 100m time UNLESS you are cycling your stride rapidly. Sure, it's not the only component, and sure, there's a ceiling to it, but we can probably say reliably that the guy running 10s is moving his feet quickly (and correspondingly, his arms).

2. Running short distances fast is admittedly a more intuitive definition of "speed" than the Dynamax one, so I don't mind a small compromise

All of that said I'm not very comfortable with the Speed category as a whole, so I'm far from married to those tests.

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No quibbles with anything else, though I question the value of flexibility versus the others. If you're flexible enough to not injure yourself in athletics, you're probably flexible enough.
Yeah... but more is helpful. Why, just yesterday I blocked a shot on goal with one knee, kicked a man in the head, snatch-grip deadlifted from blocks with a neutral spine, heel-hooked my way over a wall, reenacted the entire Kama Sutra, and squirmed out of a shoulder crank. Busy day.

Okay, not really, but you see my point. And I see yours, which points to a larger one -- many people, due to personal philosophies well thought-out or otherwise, will disagree with equal weighting to each domain and prefer some degree of prioritization. For instance, if I could extract the inner squishie-wishies from a CrossFitter's brain, he'd probably consider muscular and metabolic endurance the most important of these, strength and power secondary, speed and flexibility way down the list. And so forth.

You could incorporate such weighting by calculating overall scores your own way; I'd probably just use a multiplier for each domain score. We haven't given the method or any widgets for doing it but it's pretty straightforward.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:10 AM   #8
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Patrick: strictly speaking I don't care why you use any of this. The real motivation beneath it is conceptual -- it's creating a measurable definition of GPP (or general fitness).

If this sounds familiar it should be -- it's what CrossFit did, more or less. The trouble is that I don't think their definition captures it well at all, so what else is there? If we discard that we're back to not much.

Here's the trick. It's not too hard to measure someone's strength, for instance. Or their endurance. There are lots of ways. You can bicker over which tests do it best, and that's part of what we tried to determine here. But it's straightforward.

But the gambit of GPP is that it crosses multiple TYPES of fitness, where not only do some cover different ground than others, but may be completely unrelated or indeed antagonistic. So you can still test them both -- but what do you do next? You can say you have such-and-such competence in one domain, and so-and-so in another, but what do they have to do with each other? How can a 500lb deadlift talk to a 4:00 mile?

So if there's anything original being done here, it's this: we've scored each test in such a way to standardize the results into a common, 0-10 scale. The reason each such scale is on the same grounds is that they're all set up the same way; 10 is the best that homo sapiens seems capable of ever achieving, 0 is the worst we would plausibly call non-disfunctional. (For instance, 0 for most of the running tests is a walking pace. Anyone should be able to do that who's not damaged.) It's rough, but it's common ground.

Having done that, you can now compare domains -- you can say, yes sir, I am "more fit" or "better" in strength than in endurance. Or you can combine them however you please, and say, for instance, yes sir -- I am more fit OVERALL than I was last year. Or, heaven forbid, I am more fit overall than you are.

Now, why should this be useful? Well, maybe it's not. Maybe it's navel-gazing at best and dick-stroking at worst. But many people seem fond of doing exactly the above (cf. "But what's his Fran time?"), and even the most world-weary can probably find some value in it; for instance, comparing different programs or styles of training (what you're doing now versus what you were doing in February) and deciding which did more for your fitness. Or you could make a yearly competition out of it and award money.

It's just data, is the point. Before, data to represent overall fitness not only did not exist but was somewhat impossible. Now, just like stepping on the scale, you can get concrete numbers. Do with 'em what you want, even if it be nothing, but it's the necessary starting point for a lot else.

At the end of the day it's an interesting exercise for me, and as a philosophy guy defining things is a worthwhile pastime in its own right.

(By the way, I recently ran into some information on decathlon scoring and I understand they may use some similar methods. Haven't looked into it much but they may have insight.)
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:43 AM   #9
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Sound point. But is the error introduced by hand-timing always downward?
Pretty much. Humans tend to anticipate the finish but be slow on the start. With the timer yelling "go," you'll reduce some error, but you're still not going to get accuracy and especially not to 1/100th of a second.

T&F doesn't even look at anything beyond the 1/10 spot on a hand-time. The rule for the 100m is "take hand-time, round up to the next tenth, then add .24" due to distance from the gun and the facts of how long it takes nerve impulses to travel through the human body.

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Basically: yes. Because we're mainly using the Dynamax categories, and to them "speed" is how quickly you can repeat a motion. So as goofy as the rope skipping is, aside from technique (which is no small potato, admittedly) it should be limited mainly by how fast you can move your little tootsies. The run, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on your power (a different domain) and strength (different again), and yes, technique; so it's kind of not an ideal test. The reasons we still considered it a speed test were:

1. Other factors aside, you WON'T have a fast 100m time UNLESS you are cycling your stride rapidly. Sure, it's not the only component, and sure, there's a ceiling to it, but we can probably say reliably that the guy running 10s is moving his feet quickly (and correspondingly, his arms).

2. Running short distances fast is admittedly a more intuitive definition of "speed" than the Dynamax one, so I don't mind a small compromise

All of that said I'm not very comfortable with the Speed category as a whole, so I'm far from married to those tests.
The 100m is pretty much the universally accepted standard of speed and one which few people can argue with. Until someone votes the Olympic Alternating-Foot Rope Skipping Champion as the "world's fastest man," I think Usain Bolt has it pretty well tied up.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:46 PM   #10
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Pretty much. Humans tend to anticipate the finish but be slow on the start. With the timer yelling "go," you'll reduce some error, but you're still not going to get accuracy and especially not to 1/100th of a second.

T&F doesn't even look at anything beyond the 1/10 spot on a hand-time. The rule for the 100m is "take hand-time, round up to the next tenth, then add .24" due to distance from the gun and the facts of how long it takes nerve impulses to travel through the human body.
Okay, I dig it. We'll go through and dial the curve down for that one. I'll probably still let people input with whatever degree of accuracy they think they have, but that's up to their judgment.

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The 100m is pretty much the universally accepted standard of speed and one which few people can argue with. Until someone votes the Olympic Alternating-Foot Rope Skipping Champion as the "world's fastest man," I think Usain Bolt has it pretty well tied up.
Yeah. We gave some thought to just dropping the Dynamax "speed" and making it something like this. But again, the issue is mixing domains. Given that we're already testing strength and power elsewhere, specifically what does the sprint add -- meaning, if your strength/power numbers don't quite correlate to your sprint time, what could the extra element be? It seems like it's going to be either

1. Speed, meaning your cycle time
2. Bodyweight, which SHOULD already be adjusted for, as both Power and Strength have bodyweight tests
3. Technique

I guess you could make a meaningful argument that the technique of running fast is a useful enough one that it's worth testing for. But it seems a bit specific.

If we could come up with some good tests for "agility," I don't think I'd mind combining them with a max-speed and -acceleration test like the 100m and calling it a new category like "rapidity of locomotion" ()... but we had a bitch of a time thinking of stuff for agility or the other neurological ones.
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