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December 2006

ISSUE FIFTY-TWO

December 2006

Learning the Olympic Lifts - The Grip


Mike Burgener with Tony Budding
page 1

What Is Your Power IQ?


Angela Hart
page 5

The CrossFit Total


Mark Rippetoe
page 7

Fight Camp
Becca Borawski
page 11

Bike Control Basics Dropping Off Obstacles


Scott Hagnas
page 14

The Front Handspring


Roger Harrell
page 16

Learning the Olympic Lifts The Grip


Mike Burgener with Tony Budding Last month, we took a detailed look at the jumping and landing stances for the Olympic lifts. This month, well discuss proper hand placement on the bar for the snatch and the clean. First off, it must be understood that grip in both the snatch and clean is personal and based on several factors, including flexibility, strength, body size and shape, and what is generally comfortable to the athlete. While there may be a period of experimentation when an athlete tries out various grip widths for each lift, the athlete should settle on one consistent grip width for each lift and approach the bar in an identical manner every single time.

The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription


Lon Kilgore
page 19

VO2 max Not the gold standard?


Tony Leyland
page 24

Kettlebell Basics Improving Your Swing, Part 2


Jeff Martone
page 26

Grip width
There are three main methods for determining the proper grip width for the snatch. All three usually end up giving the same result, and since the visual approach is the quickest and easiest, it is the one I most use.
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The Yin and Yang of the Back


Michael Rutherford
page 29

The Grinder

CrossFit FRAGO #5, PATRICIA page

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Learning the Olympic Lifts: The Grip


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December 2006

The visual method

The PVC/scarecrow method - snatch grip

The coach instructs the athlete to grip the bar with hand spacing that puts the bar approximately 8 to 12 inches from the top of the head when held directly overhead, in the frontal plane. I have found that this method is easier, quicker, and just as accurate as the following two methods, although it requires a bit more experience on the coachs part and sensitivity to individual variation. And if youre working with multiple athletes at a time, the visual method allows for much more effective group management.

The athlete stands with her back toward the coach with her upper arms parallel to the ground and forearms perpendicular to the ground, with the hand pointing down (like a scarecrow). The coach stands behind the athlete with a length of PVC pipe (or wooden dowel) in his hands. The coach places his hands on the dowel just behind the athletes, thus creating a measure of the width of the athletes grip with his hands. The athlete then turns to face the coach and places her hands on the dowel just outside his. The width of this grip is normally satisfactory for performing the snatch.
Too Narrow Too Wide 2

December 2006

Learning the Olympic Lifts: The Grip


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The string method - snatch grip

These methods are designed to give starting points for determining the proper grip width for the snatch. Some athletes (particularly males) want to grab the bar wider because of limited shoulder flexibility. The advantages of going wider are a shorter receiving height and an easier time keeping the bar in or behind the frontal plane. The primary disadvantageand its a significant oneis the increased strain on the wrist, especially with maximal loads. Many accomplished lifters have suffered wrist injuries by working too wide too heavy. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that one of these three methods be followed for determining the grip width. Determining the grip width for the clean is simpler. Of primary importance is that the hands fall outside the shoulders when the bar is received. The speed, force, and weight of the bar being received could crush a finger caught between the bar and the shoulder. At the same time, the hands shouldnt be too wide because it strains the elbows and weakens the shoulder drive for the jerk. There are two main methods for determining the grip width for the clean:

The hip method - clean grip


The athlete stands, holding the bar with arms hanging straight. She grips the bar a thumbs length outside her hips. This width is generally acceptable for performing the clean and jerk.

The athlete stands with her back toward the coach with her right arm extended out to the side, parallel to the ground, with the hand in a fist. The coach uses a string or tape to measure from the edge of the left shoulder to the knuckle of the right fist. The coach then holds the string centered on the bar, and the athlete places her hands on the bar just outside the edges of the string. The width determined by the string is usually identical to that of the scarecrow method.

December 2006

Learning the Olympic Lifts: The Grip


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The shoulder method - clean grip


The athlete racks the bar on her shoulders, and places her hands on the bar just outside the shoulders. Typically, this produces a grip width very similar to that produced by the hip method.

Hook grip

The hook grip is performed by wrapping the thumb around the bar, then wrapping the fingers around the thumb. This is a very strong grip that prevents the bar from slipping out of the lifters hands during the snatch and clean. The hook grip is used when pulling the barbell from the ground to the receiving position in the clean and the snatch. Most lifters, however, unhook their thumbs when securing the bar in the receiving position, to allow for a quicker turnover of the barbell. In the receiving position of the clean, the grip is often loosened completely, with the weight of the barbell supported completely by the shoulders and the fingertips used just to keep the bar in place. In that case, the athlete will regrip the bar before beginning the jerk. Everyone should use the hook grip, even though most new lifters experience some discomfort with it (it usually goes away within two weeks).The grip gives the feel of strength, power, and security. In fact, I have found athletes driving down the highway practicing the hook grip on the steering wheel. In the next journal we will discuss the Burgener warm-up, what it entails, and why we use the lifts we do during the warm-up.

Mike Burgener, owner of Mikes Gym (a CrossFit affiliate and USAW Regional Training Center), is a USAW Senior International Coach, former junior World team (1996-2004) and senior World team coach (2005), and strength and conditioning coach at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, Calif.

Tony Budding is a trainer at CrossFit Santa Cruz . Somehow, his broadly varied background from financial analyst in mergers and acquisitions to gym owner to manager of a small non-profit foundation to high school English and PE teacher brought him to CrossFit, and he now runs the everexpanding affiliate program for CrossFit HQ.

December 2006

What Is Your Power IQ?


Angela Hart

Rowing, obviously, is a speed sport. The rowers who complete 2000 meters in the fastest time take home gold medals.When you train on an indoor rowing machine, speed is critical, but power output is equally important. Assessing speed and power combined gives a more complete picture of the athlete than measuring speed alone. In CrossFit workouts, we often have participants of varying sizes competing against each other for space on the white board. Obviously, having a larger mass is beneficial and enables the athlete to pull faster times, cover more meters, and burn a greater number of calories. (This is one of the reasons that on-the-water rowing competitions divide athletes into lightweight and heavyweight categories.) To make results as comparable as possibleand as meaningful as possible in terms of power output and intensity we can calculate each participants power ratio, which is the total wattage he or she generates divided by body weight (in pounds):

Athlete C
female; 56 body weight = 129 lbs. total watts for 500m = 303 time for 500m = 1:44.8 power ratio = 2.35

Athlete D
female; 58 body weight = 141 lbs. total watts for 500m = 303 time for 500m = 1:42.1 power ratio = 2.33

Athlete A
male; 63 body weight = 209 lbs. total watts for 500m = 546 time for 500m = 1:26.2 power ratio = 2.61

Athlete B
female; 56 body weight = 128 lbs. total watts for 500m = 546 time for 500m = 1:26.2 power ratio = 2.66

Athlete D rowed 500 meters in a faster time and would have racked up a few more calories, but athlete C was 2% more powerful. If this were purely a speed competition, the athlete with the fastest time would win, but the one with the higher power ratio is actually stronger and more powerfulthe kind of performance CrossFit is most concerned with developing. In addition to measuring speed, knowing who is stronger pound for pound is an important determining factor for performance success. In all my years as a coach for national championship crews, I observed that gold medals were won by crews in which every athlete was able to pull a power ratio of 1.75 or higher for 2000 meters. Nothing could prove this fact more dramatically than watching a lightweight team (with slower 2k times) substantially outperform a heavyweight team (with much faster 2k times). What does this mean? For CrossFit workouts that involve rowing, I argue that we should use power ratio as a point value instead of, or in addition to, caloriesin workouts such as Fight Gone Bad, for example. This would measure the parameter that were most interested in, and it holds all the athletes accountable to an equivalent standard. Likewise, in addition to scoring the time for 1000 meters for Jackie, it would be beneficial to determine each participants power ratio for the 1000 meter distance as an additional performance marker. (It is important to note that the total wattage will decrease as the distance or time increases.) As trainers, it is critical that we train our athletes to pull their own body mass (1.0 power ratio). For the fit and lean, this will not be difficult and will be possible even for rows of thirty
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Based on these results, both participants performed well and were able to pull all of their own body mass (which would yield a power ratio of 1.0) plus at least another 160% of their weight. Looking at the power ratios more closely reveals that, although athlete B had a slower time, she was actually 5% more powerful than athlete A.This example compares participants of different genders and dramatically different sizes. What if you were comparing participants that were more physically similar?

December 2006

What Is Your Power IQ?


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Add 10% of body weight each interval 20 seconds at 150 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 165 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 180 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 195 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 210 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 225 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 240 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 255 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest

Add 20% of body weight each interval 20 seconds at 150 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 180 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 210 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 240 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 270 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 300 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 330 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest 20 seconds at 360 watts 10 seconds rowing lightly for rest

Table 1 Tabata interval rowing workouts with increasing wattage based on body

minutes or more at aerobic-range heart rates. (It is important to note that the total wattage will decrease as the distance or time increases.) For many of our participants, especially the unfit or elderly, being able to pull ones own weight even over thirty seconds will prove to be challenging. A great workout would be to row Tabata intervals (20 seconds on / 10 seconds rest) for eight intervals, with the first 20 seconds of output at bodyweight wattage. Depending on the abilities of your participants, each 20 seconds would add 10%, 20%, or whatever percentage will create the best training response for each participant. For example, a participant weighing 150 pounds could complete one of the workouts shown in Table 1 (or add an even higher percentage of body weight at each interval). When rowing, even for the fastest time or maximum wattage, always strive for proper technique to maximize performance. Use your body mass to your advantage by learning to suspend or hang your mass between feet and handle during the drive, or work, phase of each stroke. This is achieved with a powerful, explosive, and well-connected leg drive at the start of each stroke that blends seamlessly into a powerful opening of the hip

that engages the muscles of the trunk and ends with an equally powerful arm pull toward the torso. The handle and seat must move together during the drive. Determine your power ratio over a variety of distances and times, while making it a priority to improve your power ratio along with increasing your endurance and muscular strength, honing rowing efficiency, maintaining proper technique, and improving body composition or percentage of lean (muscular) tissue to fat. Know your power ratios over various distance and time domains and continually work to increase them.

Assessing speed and power combined gives a more complete picture of the athlete than measuring speed alone.

Angela Hart is the director of the Indoor Rowing Training and Certification Institute and a Master Rowing Trainer for Concept2 Rowing. A competitive rower since 1982, she has coached at the scholastic, collegiate, and master levels. In 1999, she coached a junior national womens team, and she was a rowing sports specialist during the 1996 Olympic Games. She conducts training and certification workshops on the rowing machine and teaches group rowing classes in the Washington DC area. In addition to having completed the basic CrossFit instructor training, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer and rowing educator, an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, a US Rowing level-3 coach, and a 200-hour registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. She can be contacted at angela.irtci@verizon.net.

December 2006

Mark Rippetoe There is room on this planet for another approach to testing absolute strength. And it apparently falls on my broad, hairy shoulders to announce the development of a different way to do it. Coach Glassman discussed this with me recently, in a conversation about increasing CrossFits strength base. We have talked many times about the fact that people who come to CrossFit from a strength-training background tend to perform better in the key aspects of the program. When youre stronger, metabolic conditioning is easier and endurance stuff (i.e., 5k or 10k runs) is about the sameand workouts like Diane (three rounds, at 21-15-9 reps, of 225-pound deadlifts and handstand push-ups) are just not possible without a considerable amount of strength. In essence, it is easier for a lifter to improve his or her time on Diane than it is for a runner to develop the ability even to finish the workout without scaling it back to a very light weight. So the conversation focused on a way to work more strength into the program while maintaining the CrossFit approach to it. Powerlifting has been very successful in its approach to strength testing and training, but it is plagued with what some consider to be significant problems. I have great respect for powerlifting, having competed, coached, and announced in power meets for 20 years. Without belaboring the issue or attempting any judgment beyond these comments, I see two main problems with it. First, the use of equipment that enables otherwise impossible weights to be lifted inflates the total. Raw meets, where the only equipment allowed is a belt, address this issue. But the second problem remains: the bench press. It requires special equipment, it cannot be done with limit weights safely without spotters, and
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it is not a very functional exercise since it is performed while lying on a bench that supports the weight during the movement. The way to bring more strength to the CrossFit approach is with the CrossFit Total. The CrossFit Total is the sum of the best of three attempts at the squat, the press, and the deadlift, the three most effective lifts in existence for developing and testing functional strength. All three lifts are done while standing on the floor. They require minimal and inexpensive equipment. They are not techniquedependent to the extent of the Olympic lifts, yet they require technical proficiency beyond mere passing familiarity. They are safe when performed correctly, since they can all be performed without spottersalone in a garage if necessary. In a meet situation, the lack of spotters for two of the lifts speeds the progress of the meet and reduces personnel requirements. The lack of expensive personal equipment reduces the investment necessary for participation. But most importantly, the CrossFit Total more accurately reflects the level of functional strength available to an athlete than any other test available. This article will focus on the correct performance of the lifts and how to produce a reliable maximum single effort if you have had no experience with this. Next time, we will explore the contest potential of the CrossFit Total.

The lifts
The squat and the deadlift are very good ways to assess two different aspects of whole-body strength. The squat tests leg and

December 2006

The CrossFit Total


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hip strength through a good range of motion using a stretchreflex rebound out of the bottom and requires significant back and torso strength to support the weight. The deadlift may be the most functional exercise in existence, since there is not much more fundamental a movement than lifting an object off the ground. It starts from a dead stop and tests the ability to get the load moving without the help of a rebound. To these two lifts we need to add a similar quality test for upper body pressing strength. That test is the press. Called the shoulder press, the standing barbell press, or the overhead press, this exercise may be the oldest upper body movement using a barbell. The military press refers correctly to the super-strict version of the exercise that allows no torso movement at all, and while it may be a good preparatory exercise for the lift, it is not a practical test since it is very hard to judge. The press allows the use of some technique with hip drive, but it should not involve the knees; the push press is a dynamic movement and this should be a test of strength, not power. The press tests both pressing strength and core strength at the same time: the shoulders and arms cannot press what the core cannot support. It is done with the feet on the floor, and the whole body is within the kinetic chain of the movement. A missed rep does not involve being pinned between the bar and a bench. And it is brutal at heavy weights because much more muscle mass is actively involved in the movement. Judging the press has been a problem before. The clean and press was the first of the three lifts in weightlifting until it was eliminated from competition in 1972. It became a problem because the lifters figured out a way to incorporate a multiple torso whip along with a radical layback into the movement, making it into a type of dynamic bench press from a standing position. Apparently this posed an insurmountable problem to the federation, who thought the meet was too long with three lifts anyway. The CrossFit Totals press rules will not permit excessive layback, as well see later. And since we are not doing a clean and press, we are not redoing an older lift with previously set records and an already established strategy. We will have to develop our own. The press can be done out of the same racks that were used in the squat, thus eliminating the need for a separate apparatus for the lift. It also needs no spotters, since a miss is just walked back into the rack, or in an emergency dropped on the platform without anyone getting killed. So the whole three-lift test can be done with a bar and plates, one set of stands or a power rack, and a platform. In fact, the test can be done alone if necessary, since people who are used to squatting alone have already developed a way to handle a miss, either in the power rack or by dumping the bumper-plate-loaded bar off the back safely. This greatly simplifies individual testing as well as organized competition.

The Rules
The rules for the lifts will need to be simple and well understood by everybody, both the lifters and people in the position of judging them, so were all on the same page. The idea is that when you post a CrossFit Total, yours will be done to the same standards as everyone elses. The lifts must be easy to judge, easy to understand, and as difficult to corrupt as possible. By starting out with a clear picture of what we want and dont want from a CrossFit Total, many millions of hours of bitching, hard feelings, and confusion can be averted. It must be understood that good form in the lifts is inherent in the rules for testing them. The order for performing the three lifts will be squat, press, and then deadlift. The best single attempt for each of the three lifts are added together for the CrossFit Total. There is no time limit for each lift or for the length of the session in which they are all performed, but they must all be performed during one sessioni.e., you cannot leave the area to rest or perform other activities between the three lifts. Multiple progressions to the best attempt are not allowed; do not work up to your best squat, then change an item of equipment or clothing and work up to it again to try to better your first effort.

Squat Rules
The squat must be done from the squat stands or power rack. The bar must be placed on the back and walked out to clear the rack completely. No contact with the rack is permitted until the bar is replaced in the rack. Once the bar is lowered, the stance cannot change until the bar is to be racked. The starting position must be completely upright, with the knees and the hips fully extended and with the chest up. The hips are lowered until the top surfaces of both of the legs at the hip joint are lower than the knees, and then the bar is lifted back up. The bottom position is identified by A) the apex of the crease in the shorts formed as the hips are lowered, B) the surface of the top of the patella, C) the plane formed by a straight line between the two, and D) the dipping of the hip end of that plane below horizontal. The finish position is the same as the starting position, and the athlete must return to it before the bar is racked. When the
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December 2006

The CrossFit Total


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Squat Rules

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Press Rules
The press is also done from the racks. The bar is held in both hands in front of the neck, taken out of the rack and walked back away from the rack. No contact with the rack is permitted until the bar is replaced in the racks. Once the stance is assumed it cannot change until the lift is completed. The starting position must be upright, with the knees and hips fully extended and the chest up. The bar must be in contact with the top of the shoulders or the chest, whichever individual flexibility permits. After the starting position is correctly assumed, the bar is pressed overhead until the elbows are completely extended, with the bar in a position directly above the ears. Once this position has been attained, the bar is lowered back to the front of the shoulders and walked back into the rack and replaced. Any halt in the upward motion of the bar, identified as the part of the bar between the hands, constitutes a missed attempt, as does any change in the position of the feet against the floor during the attempt, any bending of the knees, or excessive backward lean of the torso as identified by A) the position of the most anterior aspect of the armpit, B) the most posterior aspect of the buttocks, C) the plane formed by a straight line between these two points, and D) the movement of that plane to a position behind the vertical. Any deliberate attempt to raise the bar counts as an attempt. Spotters are not permitted for this lift.

finish position is secure, the bar must be walked back into the rack and successfully replaced. Any halt in the upward motion of the whole bar, identified at its position on the back rather than at its ends, constitutes a missed attempt, as does any change in position of the feet against the floor during the squat. Any deliberate attempt to lower the bar counts as an attempt. No more than two spotters are permitted, and they are not allowed to touch the bar during the attempt, which is finished only after the bar is successfully replaced in the racks. The spotters are permitted to steady the racks, and to take the bar if the lifter loses control of it. Any touching of either the bar or the lifter by any spotter invalidates the attempt.

Deadlift Rules
The deadlift is performed with the bar on the platform or floor. The lifter assumes a position facing the bar, with the bar parallel to the lifters frontal plane. The bar is gripped with both hands, and pulled with one continuous uninterrupted movement until the lifter is standing erect with knees and hips fully extended, the chest up and shoulders back. Once this position is attained and the bar is motionless, the bar is lowered under control with both hands back to the ground. The bar may not be dropped. Any halt in the upward motion of the bar constitutes a missed attempt, as does failure to assume a fully erect position with both knees and hips extended. Any attempt to raise the bar counts as an attempt. The equipment that can be used is minimal. A belt of any type can be worn but is not required. Knee wraps or sleeves are permitted, but if they are used they must be left on for the entire duration of the session in which the lift is performede.g., they must be put on before the squat is warmed up and left in place until the last squat attempt is completed. Wrist wraps are permitted; lifting straps are not. Any type of footwear may be worn, although a formal contest would require an actual shoe of some type. The shirt should be a close-fitting stretch material, like a t-shirt or a golf shirt, tight enough that the back position can be clearly observed during the press. Close-fitting shorts will allow the bottom position in
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December 2006

The CrossFit Total


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The process
Now that we know exactly what were doing, we need to figure out the best way to do it. For people not used to doing single maximum attempts, some tips on how best to safely do them are in order. After a warm-up, the squat will be performed first. Some squatting with the empty bar should have been included in the general warm-up so that the knees, hips, back, and shoulders are not too terribly surprised. Anyone in a position to attempt a legitimate CrossFit Total should be familiar enough with their capabilities on the lifts to have a fairly good idea of just what might be possible for a one-rep max (1RM). This number is what you warm up intending to do. A meet situation will involve three attempts, and this is a good way to determine a true 1RM. The first attempt would be a weight you know you can do for a heavy set of three. The second attempt would be a weight you know without any doubt that you could do for a single, having just done the first attempt. And the third attempt is the weight you want to do, based on your performance on the previous two attempts. If you have made a mistake setting your first attempt, the next two will need to be adjusted, but you should know what you can triple, and this will always be a safe first attempt. And since you know this weight, you know what weights to use to warm up for it: youll use the lightest weight that you normally start with for your first warm-up when you train, and 90% of the first attempt for the last warm-up, with either three or four relatively even increments in between these two. For instance, warm-ups for a 405-pound first attempt on the squat would be: 135 x 5 185 x 3 225 x 2 275 x 1 325 x 1 365 x 1 If you dont have a damn good idea of what you can do for a heavy triple, you dont need to be doing a CrossFit Total yet. After the squat, rest a while (long enough to rest, not long enough to get cold) and follow the same procedure with the press. Since press numbers will be much lighter, the warm-ups will be closer together, and you might choose to use fewer intermediate warm-ups. This is fine, since the squat has provided quite a bit of systemic warmup, if not actual fatigue. After a rest and a drink following the press, the deadlift warm-up might be abbreviated even further, with a heavier first warmup and only two or three intermediate sets before the first attempt. Done correctly, the CrossFit Total is perhaps our best tool for telling us the things we need to know about a very important aspect of our training. It is my sincerest hope that it also makes a contribution to the training of athletes currently outside our community and functions as a way to introduce them to our methods, and to the good people of CrossFit.
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Here are some basic precautions that need to be followed for safety: 1) Dont be stupid. Dont total if youre injured to the extent that a total will aggravate the problem. This will cost you in at least training time, and possibly time off of work if youre ultra-stupid. 2) Dont be greedy. Learn to recognize the difference between greed and ambition, and be merely ambitious. 3) Dont be pig-headed. If your first attempt tells you that you need to lower your second, do so, without a misplaced sense of diminished self-worth. Its a test, and its designed to measure whats there, not create something thats not. Thats what training is for.

The CrossFit Total more accurately reflects the level of functional strength available to an athlete than any other test available.

Mark Rippetoe is the owner of Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita Falls. He has 28 years experience in the fitness industry and 10 years as a competitive powerlifter. He has been certified as an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist since 1985 and is a USA Weightlifting Level III Coach and Senior Coach, as well as a USA Track and Field Level I Coach. He has published articles in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, is a regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal, and is the author of the book Starting Strength: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners and the forthcoming Practical Programming for Strength Training.

Fight Camp
With Ryan Parsons and Dan Henderson
Becca Borawski

December 2006

Trainer Ryan Parsons looks on while Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen spar. Photo courtesy of Team Quest.

Becca Borawski talks with a trainer whos been working with MMA fighters and world class wrestlers for decades, about how he incorporates strength and conditioning work with skills training and how he peaks and tapers training leading up to a fight.
Ideally, when preparing for a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight, an individual would like to have eight to ten weeks of preparation, a period known as a fight camp. Frequently, however, for younger competitors fighting in smaller organizations, or even a fighter the level of current Pride Welterweight champion Dan Henderson, fights can come up with as little as three to six weeks notice. A fight camp, regardless of length, consists of three elements of training: skill, strength, and conditioning. How often do you see skilled fighters gassed halfway through a fight and left unable to execute their well-honed techniques? Or see fighters with great muscular and cardiovascular endurance but only rudimentary skills to pair with it? All three elements must be trained, but this must be done in such a way that the athlete is not overtrained by the time of the fight. CrossFit is particularly suited to athletes training for mixed martial arts, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and other combat sports. CrossFit combines strength and conditioning in full-body functional movements, can be scaled to varying intensities, and is
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efficient in nature. For a martial artist trying to incorporate skill training and sparring into his schedule, in addition to strength and conditioning, this efficiency is essential. The changes in intensity within a workout, the constantly shifting nature of the demands placed on the body, and the emphasis on power and functional movement patterns in CrossFit also parallel the types of demands made on an athlete during an MMA fight. There is no sense spending hours a week running long distances in attempt to build endurance when the intensity levels and requirements on the body have no relation to the sport. At Dan Hendersons Team Quest gym in Temecula, California, fighters train with CrossFit-style workouts and have successfully incorporated them into their MMA fight camps. Ryan Parsons, a chiropractor and peak performance coach who heads up Hendersons fight camps, states, When were in the middle of a training camp, I like to combine strength and conditioning training and cardio into one workout. It saves time and gives the athlete a more realistic feel for what they will be doing in the ring.

December 2006

Fight Camp
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At the beginning of a fight camp, workouts are longer in duration and lower in intensity. As the event approaches, the workouts get shorter while intensity continues to rise. The actual number of workouts per day and per week will vary with each athlete. Older athletes or those working around injuries may have fewer workouts scheduled to allow for more recovery time. When scheduling workouts, take into account the time of day of the actual fight. As the fight camp progresses and the fight gets closer, the athlete should be accustomed to peaking physically and mentally at the appropriate time of day. In general, Parsonss fight camps often include two workouts a day, three to five days of the week. Two of those days will include hard sparring workouts with 16-ounce gloves. Other days might include lighter sparring, using the smaller MMA style gloves. Three days a week is the typical allotment for strength and conditioning workouts. The focus of the workouts during fight camp varies. Someone with a high level of conditioning may spend more time on skill work, or vice versa. Beginner athletes will require more time on skill training than a more experienced fighter. Skill training is important because it is the repetition of movements that increases the likelihood of successful execution when under the stress of the actual fight. More experienced fighters will have the luxury of spending time on strategy. The only major difference between a fight camp for MMA, versus BJJ or any other combat sport, is the skill training element. BJJ competitors would need wrestling and jiu-jitsu skill training, whereas MMA athletes would require work on additional skills, such as using striking to set up takedowns, ground and pound techniques, and boxing and kickboxing skills in general. And, whenever fight moves are inserted into strength and conditioning workouts, they will be sport-specific skills. For example, a jiu-jitsu practitioner would not bother with kicking during conditioning drills but instead might incorporate sprawls. The time format of the classic CrossFit workout Fight Gone Bad (designed originally for MMA fighter B.J. Penn) is one that many MMA athletes incorporate into their strength and conditioning training. At Team Quest, Parsons likes to tailor the workouts to mimic the round times of the scheduled fight. If someone is competing in Pride where the first round is ten minutes, the first round of the circuit is ten minutes. If a fighter is training for a fight that has five minutes rounds, all of the rounds will be five minutes. In the Team Quest workouts, Parsons sometimes incorporates randomness and listening skills. During the course of a round, he will call out the names of specific exercises for the fighter to perform, drawing from a repertoire of exercises and tools including plyometrics, kettlebells, clubbells, sledgehammers, calisthenics, striking, grappling, and rope climbs.
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The goal is to increase the stress level and help the athlete learn to cope with that and with pain while pushing through to the end of the round. Having to listen for Parsons to call out the specific exercises and when to switch, trains the athlete to focus and listen while under stress. Says Parsons, I use every opportunity to help athletes develop their mental skills during training so when it comes to fight time, they are used to controlling and directing their mind and body together. Interacting with Parsons during the workout also helps him build rapport and trust with the fighters. It is essential that they are comfortable with his voice and his commands come fight day. Keeping the context of the fight in mind while training is what should tie all the elements of the fight camp together. Even in their GPP and strength and conditioning training, can be useful for athletes to visualize the functionality of the movements they are executing. Knowing how it is applicable to their fight will help them to focus when training and better apply themselves during the fight. For example, a burpee might be not just a burpee, but a sprawl and recovery to a standing position. A kettlebell swing might be thought of as the powerful thrust and hip drive needed to execute a takedown. Parsons cautions not to neglect any aspect of your body during the fight camp, including recovery mechanisms. Be sure to get enough rest. If schedule allows, try to get a forty-five minute nap between workouts, and attempt to keep workouts four to six hours apart. Do not fail to keep up with regular chiropractic and massage therapy, as well. Small injuries can be prevented or kept in check by regular maintenance of the body. When Dan Henderson is training for a fight, he might have chiropractic adjustments and soft-tissue work several times a week. Ceasing strength and conditioning workouts five to ten days before the fight will allow sufficient time for recovery. The overall training, including skill work, will begin to taper anywhere from three to ten days before the scheduled fight. The age and condition of each athlete determines how long the taper should be and how much recovery time is required. Failing to taper is a common mistake of novice fighters and results in their being overtrained come fight day. The final workouts leading up the fight will be very short, mimicking the length of the fight. The intensity, however, will be high. Effective programming for a fight camp will incorporate varied, functional, efficient strength and conditioning, skill training, and sparringall in contexts relating them to the fightplus sufficient recovery time. This kind of training both prepares a fighter technically and puts him in peak physical and mental condition for fight day.

December 2006

Fight Camp
...continued

Try a workout using Ryans style of randomness and verbal communication.

Pride style:

3 rounds: The first round is 10 minutes; the second two are 5 minutes. Possible exercises: Box jumps, kettlebell swings, sprawls, wall ball, burpees, rope climbs, ball slams, heavy bag work, etc. Use whatever equipment you have that provides inherent variances in intensity levels and physical demands. Athletes should have all their equipment laid out and ready. The coach lets the athletes know when to commence and conclude each round. The coach will also call out the exercise to be performed and when to switch to another exercise. The order of exercises will be random and unknown to the athletes. Intensity can be varied by the coach through exercise selection, since some exercises are inherently more intense. Use this intensity variance to mimic the rise and fall of intensity during a fight.

Dan Henderson has been in the MMA spotlight since his UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) debut in 1997. An accomplished wrestler and Olympic wrestling team member, Henderson went on to win MMA tournaments on multiple continents and most recently became the Pride Welterweight Champion. Henderson, with fellow Olympian Heath Sims, runs an MMA fitness center in Temecula, California, called Team Quest MMA.

Dr. Ryan Parsons is a chiropractor and peak performance coach who has helped some of the worlds most recognized athletes and celebrities achieve professional and personal success through physical and mental preparation. Parsons has worked with Dan Henderson since the beginning of his MMA career. They met as teammates and became close friends while wrestling at Arizona State University.

Becca Borawski teaches and trains at Petranek Fitness/CrossFit Los Angeles in Santa Monica. She has a masters degree in film from the University of Southern California and a background in martial arts training. She has blended these skills together to produce DVDs and build websites for professional fighters. Her main job is as the music editor on the TV show Scrubs and she currently trains jiu-jitsu under Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in Hollywood.

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December 2006

Bike Control Basics


Part 3: Dropping Off Obstacles
Scott Hagnas

Online Video
Last month, we looked at ways to get up onto some objects that you might find in your path. Now, its time to come back down.We will be using some of the same techniques that we used to ascend the obstacles, and some more of the static skills from part 1 will come in to play as well. Just as with getting onto objects, be sure to master these techniques from very low obstacles to start. A curb works well. You want to make sure that you have the skills down pat before attempting higher drops. Also, keep in mind that landing on hard surfaces is less forgiving than landing on softer ones. As you take these skills to higher or more unpredictable objects, you will crash now and then. Prepare yourself accordingly. Learn to bail when things go awry. Dont go down with a sinking ship! Youll usually know that you are in trouble the moment you drop. Try not to ride over your head. If you are not feeling comfortable with a line or drop, it is best to wait until later when you have the skill or confidence. Freezing or panicking in the middle of a line is a sure recipe for disaster Online Video Crash (see video). Stay as relaxed as http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/Crash.wmv possible. Lets check out a few ways to drop off of low things.

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/Drops.wmv

Drops

With all the drops, the landing mechanics are very similar.You want to land back wheel first to progressively absorb the shock of the landing.This is very important.Your wrists will take a beating if you land flat, even from very low drops. Keep the front wheel up and extend your legs while you are in the air. Lock your back brake as you drop. As you land on the back wheel, absorb the impact by shifting your weight back and controlling the landing of your front wheel. Absorb the impact with both arms and legs, exhaling as you do. With practice, you will see how body and bike combine as one structure to dampen the landing forces. In fact, you can drop from a higher object on a bike than you can on foot because the larger structure of combined bike and rider can absorb more force. This is why bailing and landing safely on foot from a big drop still hurts worse than if you had landed the drop properly. This is assuming, of course, that nothing on the bike breaks on landing, however. Always be absolutely sure that your bike is in great condition. Make sure that your brakes, cranks, and pedals are safe. Inspect your frame and forks periodically, and finally, look at your chain. If it breaks while you are setting up for a drop, youll be going over the bars shortly thereafter! Be sure that your tires are inflated enough to avoid bottoming out the rimswhich will give you either a pinch flat or a flat spot in your rim.

Rolldowns
This is the simplest way down from small drops or larger rounded obstacles. Check your chainring clearance beforehand, as catching your sprocket on the object once your front wheel drops will either damage your bike or send you over the barsor both at the same time. Approach slowly, feathering the front brake as your front wheel rolls off. Extend your arms, keeping your weight way back over the rear wheel. Use the front brake to control the drop of the back wheel, extend your legs to land the back wheel smoothly. This is a very useful technique for off road riding. Be careful not to get your front wheel off line or in a rut.

Side drops
This one is a bike trialstype move, but it is useful on ledges and uneven natural terrain. Prior mastery of the hopping trackstand from part 1 of this series is a must (see issue 49). Ride up close to the edge of the drop, and then apply both brakes to come to a stop. Hop the bike evenly on both wheels to the edge.When you are ready to make the drop, compress both arms and legs, and shift your weight off of the obstacle. Explode up and off, pulling the bike with you.You will want to shift your weight to the rear as you do so that you can make a good back-wheel-first landing. Align yourself in the air, and stay relaxed. Stay centered over the bike, or youll eject right after landing. As you gain proficiency, you can play with turning yourself in the air or with making precision landings. Concentrate on where you want to land.
...continued
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December 2006

Dropping Off Obstacles


...continued

Side drops ...continued


Check your ground before takeoff. Catching a wheel as you start your drop is big trouble. Another pitfall is loose ground that gives out as you try to jump off. A memorable crash that I experienced while competing happened as I was side hopping off of an old log. It was rotten and gave out as I tried the hop, sending me flailing sideways and impaling myself on a nearby stick. Watch out.

Wheelie drops
This is the standard, straight-forward ride-off.You will do this one when you dont have much speed to work with, or when you need to stop right after landing. It is easiest done with a low gear ratio. Roll up slowly, with pedals level and your power pedal forward. One full crank length before the edge, begin to pedal forward, leaning back and pulling up on your front wheel. By the time your back wheel reaches the edge, your pedals should be level again, with your power pedal forward.With a larger gear ratio, a half crank may suffice. Extend your legs as you drop, apply the back brake, and land back wheel first. Keeping the back brake on as you land will keep you from looping out when you contact the ground (flipping straight onto your back or butt). As you master drops, you can begin to do brakeless landings cautiously. The landing mechanics are the same, but nailing them is even more important. If you dont keep your weight back enough as you set up for the drop, your front wheel will dive off of the obstacle and youll head for the ground like a lawn dart.You will quickly learn to avoid this. With practice, you can learn to handle some pretty large drops with this technique.

Endo drops
The endo drop is similar to the side drop, and it also employs elements of the hopping trackstand. Approach the drop point and apply the brakes. Hop to the edge as in the side drop. Shift your weight forward and push on the bars, and as you do, kick the back wheel out over the drop. Lean out over the drop as you do this, then pull your front wheel off of the obstacle. Stay loose, extend your legs in the air, and land back wheel first. Again, stay centered, or youll eject. Once you get the hang of this, skip the hopping setup part. Roll slowly into the endo drop, applying your front brake and shifting your weight off of the obstacle in one fluid movement.

Speed drops
The speed drop is very similar to the wheelie drop, but you coast into this one. This can be done at any speed, and you can clear objects or gaps while in the air. There is little room for error on this one, and bigger drops and gaps require full commitment. Approach the drop with your pedals level, power pedal forward. Judging the speed that you need will come with practice. Shift your weight back, and pull up on the bars to lift the front wheel into a coasting wheelie. Keep your center of mass low. As you drop off of the ledge, extend your legs. Keep your front wheel up, back brakes on, and land back wheel first. Landing into a slope will allow you to do bigger or faster drops. Flat or uphill landings will be harsher. Strive to stay smooth and relaxed! An advanced technique to absorb drops is to compress before you drop, so that your center of mass is lower. You simply then extend your legs as you drop. This is just like squatting down before jumping off of a ledge on foot; the impact is much less than if you had jumped off from a full stand. Wait until you have the standard drop versions down before trying this.

Scott Hagnas is owner of CrossFit Portland. He is certified as a CrossFit trainer and Circular Strength Training (clubbell training) instructor. He has been riding BMX flatland for 26 years and counting and has filmed/ produced/edited several series of BMX videos. He formerly competed in bicycle trials, placing second in amateur in the World Championships in 1990. When not training or riding, Scott can usually be found in the kitchen cooking up Paleo-style meals. He writes a monthly recipe column for The Performance Menu magazine.
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Photo: Caren Hauser

December 2006

The Front Handspring


Roger Harrell A front handspring is a common gymnastics skill that is often demonstrated outside competitive gymnastics as well. There is an appeal to being able to run forward, kick through a handstand and spring back to your feet. It has also found application in the upper levels of other sports such as a handspring throw-in on the soccer field. While less intimidating and safer to learn than a back handspring, a front handspring is far more difficult to perform correctly. Performing a correct front handspring requires you to override several natural reactions during the course of the skill. It also requires a strong kick accompanied by a strong push with the opposite leg. Good shoulder flexibility is necessary to optimize push off the floor and allow for efficient positioning. There are two prerequisites to a front handspring. You must be able to do both a decent hurdle and a solid kick to handstand.The kick to handstand should go straight to the handstand with proper shoulder extension. foot leaves the ground block through your shoulders and bounce into a handstand. Snap your feet together aggressively as quickly as possible after the kick and try to push your shoulders open for the block. As your block becomes more dynamic, increase the difficulty by setting up a single panel of a 1-inch mat to block up onto. Continue to increase the height as you are capable.

Online Video

Block Drill

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/blockdrill.mpg

Preliminary drills
The first stage in learning a front handspring is to learn how to override your natural inclination to tuck forward when rotating forward. Since a handspring is led by the heels, virtually everyone who tries a front handspring will want to tuck forward.

Online Video

This drill for this stage requires substantial matting. A minimum http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/treefall.mpg of a good 8-inch training mat is needed. Start by kicking to handstand on one side of the mat. From the handstand, fall flat onto your back on the mat. Ensure proper body alignment during this drill: your shoulders should be completely pressed open and you will be in a slight arch. Squeeze your heels together and keep your butt tight.Watch your hands the whole time. Your entire body should contact the mat simultaneously. Allowing your heels to contact the mat slightly ahead of the rest of your body is acceptable. If any other part of your body contacts the mat first it is an indication that you rounded your back, piked, or broke your shoulder angle, all of which are severely detrimental to a good handspring. Finish the drill lying on the mat with your arms still by your ears and your head tilted slightly back looking at your hands.

Treefall

Bridges are another key factor in a good front handspring, and youll need to practice them regularly. In a supine position, raise your elbows toward the ceiling, place your hands on the floor by your ears, bend your legs, and then push your hips toward the ceiling and arch back. Ideally a bridge should have straight legs and shoulders pushed out over the hands. When you do bridges, push out over your hands so the stretch occurs in your shoulders. An increase in shoulder flexibility will make significant differences in your handsprings. A front handspring is a relatively easy skill to spot. The gymnast should begin about three large steps away from the spotter, to the spotters left. The spotter kneels on the floor. The gymnast takes one step and hurdles into a front handspring. The gymnast should place his hands on the floor about one foot before the spotters position. As the gymnast kicks into the handspring the spotter places his right hand on the gymnasts mid-back while simultaneously grasping the gymnasts right wrist with his left hand. The wrist grab must be done with the left hand supinated.

Concurrent with the handstand fall drills, you should practice blocking drills. The propulsion off the floor in a handspring comes from an aggressive block through your shoulders, not a push with your arms. Start in a lunge and kick to handstand, reaching forward as you kick up.Your shoulder angle must remain open throughout; do not reach down to the floor with your hands. Bring your hands to the floor by kicking your rear leg up. The line from your wrists to your rear leg should remain straight. Just after your second
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December 2006

The Front Handspring


...continued

Online Video

Front handspring spot

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/fhsspot.mpg

The spotter should take care to keep close to the gymnast so that he can use his body to assist in the spot. The spotters right arm should remain fully bent with his hand very close to his right shoulder and elbow down. The spotter should ensure that the gymnast remain arched throughout the handspring, with shoulders completely open. For now, the gymnast should land looking at the ceiling.

Step-by-step mechanics
Be sure to work through the progressions.You will progress much further by insuring proper technique and practicing the drills than just trying to throw the skill. Keep in mind that a handspring is a lead-in skill, so it not only needs to complete, but should actually build momentum for subsequent skills.

you get enough block and maintain proper positions you will feel a spring forward as you land, almost forcing you to run, jump or fall forward. This forward momentum will later be used for another handspring, front tuck or other front tumbling skill. Your head will be neutral, but your shoulders will remain completely open. You should be as stretched as possible through your upper back and shoulders. Remember that your head and hands will be the last things to reach vertical.

Approach
The approach to a handspring is a good hurdle. (The hurdle is covered in detail in issue 51 of the CrossFit Journal.) You need to do a low, long, stretched hurdle and focus on reaching forward into the handspring, taking care not to dive into it.Your shoulder angle should not break, but your hands must touch the ground before your second foot leaves the ground. Stretch into an aggressive kick toward the ceiling, as if into a tall extended handstand.

Common mistakes and corrections


1) Sitting up is by far the most common mistake in a front handspring. Virtually everyone will have this problem at first. Even when proper progressions are followed, staying open must be emphasized constantly, and in some cases additional drills are required. To help develop a feel for the proper position coming out of a front handspring, stand about 2 to 3 feet from a wall with your back toward the wall. Reach straight up and look up at your hands, then arch back and place both hands on the wall. Now push back on the wall while squeezing your butt and pushing your hips forward. Make sure you press your shoulders open and let your hips pull you forward. Under no circumstance are you to pike, or sit forward to pull away from the wall. Doing this drill properly this will help reinforce the proper position of the handspring.This same drill can be done with a coach standing in and substituting for the wall.The coach just stands behind the gymnast and catches his hands as he reaches back. Hand spotting the skill can also help to reinforce proper positioning. A spotter can place pressure on the upper
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Block
As you practice handsprings, focus on pushing your arms up and back as you block off the floor. This is another counterintuitive aspect of the handspring and requires conscious effort to accomplish. Block off the floor aggressively and rapidly. Push completely through your fingertips as you leave the floor. Do not lift your hands off the floor, push the floor away from your hands. From the kick and through the block, drive your heels aggressively through the handstand.

Landing
After the block, continue to drive your heels to pull them back underneath you. Your handspring should land on the balls of your feet with your feet behind you, and your body in a slight arch. If

December 2006

The Front Handspring


...continued

back and anchor one hand back so that the gymnast cannot sit up immediately out of the handspring. The earlier this habit is broken the better. If allowed for too long this can have a negative impact on front tumbling for a very long time. 2) Another very common mistake is to reach down to the ground when kicking into the handspring. By reaching for the ground the shoulder angle is broken. This causes the shoulders to proceed in front of the hands and severely compromises the block. Stretch forward in the lunge to prevent this from occurring.Your hands are brought to the floor by your rear leg kick, not by reaching down to the floor. Really focus on a completely open, stretched body, kicking to a tall handstand for the handspring. 3) The converse of reaching to the floor is diving into the handspring, which you need to avoid. This occurs when your second leg leaves the floor before your hands contact the floor. A significant loss of power will be experienced as a result of diving into the handspring. Ensure that your hands contact the floor just before your second foot leaves the ground. 4) Many gymnasts will bend their legs as they kick into the handspring.This is the result of an effort to get through the skill quickly.While the kick needs to be fast and aggressive, the kick also needs to be extended.Thinking about kicking through the tallest handstand you can manage will help to ensure a straight leg kick.

land leaning a bit back and youll have to push hard into the second handspring. This is due to insufficient block and turnover. As your handsprings get stronger, this transition will become effortless. Good block and turnover are essential for a strong handspring flyspring. If the first handspring does not turn over sufficiently, the punch will go up instead of forward. You must land your first handspring with your feet well behind you in order to perform a powerful handspring flyspring. A very common mistake is to let the first handspring degrade by reaching forward and piking to try and initiate the second handspring. This is counterproductive. Be sure to focus on performing the first handspring well. If the first handspring is solid, it will be much easier to make the flyspring. It is recommended to develop a strong handspring flyspring before working handspring-front tucks, as working the handspring-front tuck will encourage too much flight after the first handspring and it is difficult to turn over sufficiently once this habit has been developed. Keep a focus on technique and proper body positions and your handsprings can progress rapidly. Resist the temptation to short cut the drills and rush the front handspring . Proper mechanics will make a handspring effortless, while improper mechanics will result in a squatted dead-end handspring regardless of the power put into it.

Connecting handsprings
Once you are consistently making handsprings with proper positioning, you can start working on connecting two handsprings together. This can be done two ways: a handspring step-out to another handspring or a handspring-flyspring. A flyspring, or bounder, is a handspring that takes off from two feet. Start working on handspringstep-outhandspring. Be sure not to rush into the second handspring. Instead, focus on performing your first handspring well. If the first handspring is strong, adding a second handspring is not difficult. For a handspring step- out just keep driving your kicking leg through the handspring and do not bring your legs together. You will land on one leg with your other leg extended in front of you. Ideally you should land with your rear leg well behind you so that the landing drives right into the lunge for the second handspring. Initially you will find that you Roger Harrell is a former competitive gymnast with twenty years of experience. He has continued to train in the sport well beyond his competitive years. He has run several competitive gymnastics training programs and currently focuses on coaching adults and bringing the benefits of gymnastics to those outside the usual community. He is the developer, designer, and webmaster of DrillsAndSkills.com.

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December 2006

The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription


A Facultative Anaerobe Sucks the Air Out of VO2max
Lon Kilgore Have you ever thought about what it is exactly that drives improvement in aerobic work capacity? If you are like most people you probably havent really felt compelled to ponder this. Even though I am trained pretty extensively in cardiovascular physiology and training theory, I am an anaerobe and a musclehead. What makes muscle work, become stronger, bigger, or more powerful is my interest. That means that I hadnt, until recently, considered the question either. In fact, if I had been asked that question two years ago, I probably would have pulled an answer out of some old aerobic dogma buried in my brain somewhere, obtained from reading texts and research journals or from sitting in a lecture hall somewhere. I accepted fairly unquestioningly (albeit with a few exceptions in programming issues) the conventional wisdom of aerobic training physiology. I was a happy camper. I didnt know I actually cared about a higher level of understanding pertaining to aerobic fitness. When Mark Rippetoe and I decided to develop and publish a rational approach to strength training, it was in response to the vast amount of ill-conceived and poorly designed training models presented as authoritative. We both knew that many people were lifting and programming incorrectly. We really didnt understand why what was obvious to a couple decent ex-competitors and reasonably successful practitioners was not obvious to the rest of the weight-training world. When we starting researching our books and digging into theory and authoritative documents, we were both surprised to discover a tremendous lack of real and meaningful experimental data. It was virtually impossible to find well-designed and well-controlled experiments actually asking even simple research questions that are relevant to the practicing fitness professional or to any trainee. It was also eye-opening to find so many people of all ilks defending the poorly founded conventional wisdom of resistance training. Of course they didnt know that it is not a well-founded doctrine. Recently through Marks professional practice,I have been fascinated by the CrossFit model of training. Seeing the improvements in endurance in the local CrossFitters has posed a new puzzle. Why do they get aerobically fit when they do not train in a manner that would be considered aerobic? Their amazing success doesnt fit into the convenient box of aerobic training dogma (rhythmic and continuous exercise done for long durations at low to moderate intensity). I asked other exercise physiology faculty with aerobic interests about what could be driving this fitness improvement but gained very little satisfaction. And as a professor who feels compelled to explain things to people, not being able to explain this phenomenon really bugged me. This kind of stuff can wake a person up at 3:00 a.m. and compel him to search the National Library of Medicine online until dawn to find an answer to a piece
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of the puzzle that subconsciously emerged in sleep. So began a broader search for explanation, a search that demonstrated that the state of endurance training theory has uncanny parallels to the state of understanding in the strength arena. The answers to simple questions were hard to find and most of the literature didnt seem to stand up to scrutiny with respect to utility. Instead of asking what drives adaptation in VO2max, most researchers in exercise academic circles seem to have been interested in what limits VO2max. Understanding human limitations is a noble effort but fairly futile if you do not understand the process of inducing the physiological adaptations that move the body toward those limitations. In 1936, Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye proposed the General Adaptation Syndrome theory, an explanation of how the body responds to injurious and non-injurious stress. Selye proposed that the organism goes through a programmed series of physiologic responses and adaptations to ensure survival when the organism is exposed to the same or similar stress later in the life cycle. In the exercise and fitness sciences, this theory is well accepted but frequently misunderstood and misapplied. The crux of correctly applying Selyes theory is understanding that a disruption of homeostasis must occur in a physiological system in order for adaptation and fitness improvement to occur in that same system. One of the most apparent examples of the misuseor, more precisely, ignorance of the appropriate useof Selyes theory can be found on the holy ground of aerobic fitness. The fitness boon was born in the late 60s under the guidance of Jim Fixx and Kenneth Cooper. The idea was, and still is, simple: run a lot and you will be fit and healthy. Over the decades, the mythology of running has firmly entrenched into conventional wisdom the idea that developing aerobic fitness (endurance) requires you to runrun long and run slow. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 20 to 60 minutes of continuous low-to-moderate intensity aerobic activity in order to develop aerobic fitness. A problem immediately presents itself with this training concept. With low- to moderate-intensity running, the ultimate marker of aerobic fitness, VO2maxthe maximum amount of oxygen the body can consume at maximal effortis not challenged. In the conventional 20- to 60-minute prescription for improving aerobic fitness, the demand for oxygen at the working muscle is met by supply. The name itself says it all: aerobic means in the presence of oxygen. This means that, by definition, this type of training does notand cannotprovide a disruption of oxygen homeostasis. With no homeostatic disruption, there can be no adaptation, and no fitness gain.

December 2006

The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription


...continued

But tell any fitness trainer,exercise scientist, allied health professional, or physician that they are approaching the development of VO2max incorrectly and they will claim heresy on your part and question your sanity, your IQ, and your familial heritage. Just by writing these words for publication, I am painting a target on my academic standing. It is an invitation to open season on the aerobic heretic. But I will stick to my guns and heres why. Open discussion and objective examination of fact form the cornerstone of science and academia. It is my profession to pontificate. Even if I am wrongly assessing how the body responds to exercise (though I dont think I am), every exercise professional, clinician, and scientist is welcome to dissect and examine my thoughts and supporting data in an open forum. Thats what science is: exploration and explanation of the world around and within usthe search for truth. If we do not freely think and pose radically different ideas from convention when convention may be in error, then we are merely lemmings. So I posit here that everyone including the ACSM is approaching training for improving VO2max in a theoretically incorrect manner. If I know that it is being done wrong, then, I must know how to do it right. Right? Of course I door at the least I have a very good explanation of what is actually being trained with conventional training methods. The discussion above considers the standard exercise prescription for the untrained and non-competitive subject. Lets turn our attention from the laboratory and clinic to the competitive field. Coaches do not use ACSM recommendations to improve VO2max and performance in their athletes. They do not and would not have a trainee run at 70% of VO2max for an hour in every training session. They know that performance is unaffected by this and what does not work in the field is abandoned in the field. Practical experience from more than a century past has demonstrated that this is an ineffective means of increasing VO2max and performance. The only time 70% runs are prescribed is on a training day designated for recovery. A 70% workload cannot disrupt oxygen homeostasis. It is used for recovery training as it is easy enough on the body to allow for physiologic recovery from more rigorous training methods without losing neuromuscular condition. To more fully examine the methods used in the field, lets divide training for aerobic fitness into two basic types: long-slow-distance and interval training. There are many variations of both of these types, but in large part the variants are fairly similar (see table 1 for a more extended comparison). Long-slow-distance work is intended by convention to improve cardiovascular efficiency andVO2max, and interval training is intended to improve lactate tolerance/clearance and VO2max. Both have been demonstrated to improve endurance performance and to improveVO2max, and this is where it gets tricky. Two different training methods, two different sets of metabolic demands, and they both yield the same result. How can this be?
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Part of the answer can be found by considering the population on which the majority of research has been done, usually individuals of low to average fitness just starting a training program. In other words, beginners. Beginners are far from their genetic potential for performance and therefore a very low-level and non-specific stress can induce positive adaptations.We can have beginners walk, jog, sprint, jump, twist, flex, wiggle, dance, swing, hang, roll, bounce, or do virtually any activity, and their endurance will improve. This is so because any advancement of metabolic and oxygen demand beyond their sedentary lifestyle is a novel and disruptive stress and will induce an improvement in endurance and VO2max. This concept of beginners responding to a non-specific stress is not unique to aerobic exercise. In the realm of strength development, you can have beginners ride bikes and their squats will improve (but not so for intermediate, advanced, or elite trainees, who require specificity to make further improvements). Considering data from beginner populations to be relevant to trainees at every level of training advancement is a gross and progress-retarding mistake. If much of the data we have is flawed or uninformative, how are we supposed to know how to train people? Well, lets consider what specifically each of these two methods of traininglong slow distance and intervalsdo to the body. Weve already established that long-slow-distance training cannot, by definition, stress oxygen delivery and utilization systems to the point of homeostatic disruption. But we also know that endurance can be enhanced by this type of training. Why the incongruity? Its not really incongruent; its just confusing because of lax and complex terminology academics and clinicians have devised over the years. Endurance isnt just VO2 max; there are more facets to it than that. But lets keep it simple here and examine the two major facets of endurance: energy and oxygen. Long-slow-distance training is energy substrate depleting in nature. It has been shown many times over that glycogen stores can be totally depleted with this type of training, and depletion of an energy substrate should be considered a fairly significant disruption of metabolic homeostasis. It would not be prudent to consider only complete depletion as a disruptive stress; partial depletions should be considered disruptive as well, but if and only if the depletion is greater than that previously experienced by the trainee. Long-slow-distance training can also exceed the bodys ability to metabolize fat for energy. Driving a metabolic system beyond its normal range of operation or to failure is definitely a disruption of homeostasis. Combined, the stress of depleting glycogen stores and simultaneously exceeding fat metabolic capacity drives an improvement in storing and utilizing these two energetic substrates and results in improved endurance. So, endurance has improved, but VO2max has not. This is a specific

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adaptation to a specific stress in a previously trained subject. This seems obvious, but most people fail to see this connection between aerobic exercise, metabolism, and performance and instead automatically, and incorrectly, attribute the improvement in endurance to an improvement in VO2max. The second common type of training done for aerobic fitness is interval training, shorter and more intense segments of effort with short rest periods between repeats. It has been observed that lactic acid accumulates during this type of training and thus it is commonly posited that intervals push the body to adapt to the presence of lactate by enabling it to tolerate higher concentrations. Alternatively, it is suggested that interval training may enable a quicker removal of lactate from the tissues and blood. This seems nice and logical, but it is off base. Although we are inundated with the (mis)information that lactic acid is bad, actually it is an essential hydrogen ion acceptor in glycolytic metabolism. Sure the exercise conditions that are associated with its accumulation are a bit uncomfortable, but correlation is not causation. So do we really care that lactate has accumulated? We really shouldnt, since lactate isnt even part of aerobic metabolism and VO2max but is simply an inevitable consequence of the really important things happening here.With interval training, producing lactate is not the important effect; exceeding oxygen consumption capacity is. Intervals are done in the realm of glycolytic metabolism, whereas long-slowdistance is primarily oxidative. Running fast enough to require the body to use primarily glycogen to fuel the activity (specifically anaerobic glycolysis) means that the working muscle cannot take up and use oxygen fast enough to meet exercise-driven demand. If anything, significant lactic acid accumulation occurs coincident with disruption of oxygen homeostasis. The level of exertion that produces lots of lactate is the level of exertion needed to drive improvements in VO2max. Its the level of exertion where the athlete exceeds oxygen consumption capacity. The body adapts to this stress by augmenting its ability to take up oxygen and to use it in the muscle. At least, it does if this type of training is repeated chronically and progressively. It has been traditionally suggested that interval training should account for about 5% of a runners total mileage; this is a gross underuse of this training method. Lots of aerobic athletes use intervals. Many use them for the wrong reason and/or at the wrong intensities. Regardless of their reasons for including interval training, most athletes should likely do more, lots more. Most runners who do them use interval intensities of between 85% and 105% of VO2max (usually calculated as a speed just slightly faster than race pace). Intervals need to be short and intense. Trained runners can run many miles at 85% of VO2 max, so the low end of the common interval prescription is not useful. At the upper end, 105% is just barely enough intensity to drive any

type of positive oxygen-handling adaptation. Productive intervals will have intensities in the range of 150% to 250% of VO2max. To maximize gains, trainees should run faster, a lot faster. Ive stated that it is the uptake and utilization of oxygen at the muscle that is the driving force of VO2max gain. And guess what? It really doesnt involve a great deal of cardiovascular adaptation. Rather, the adaptation must, by physiological necessity, be at and in the muscle. Changes in metabolic enzyme concentrations, membrane glucose transporters, myoglobin concentrations, and other phenomena localized to the working muscle enable more efficient extraction of oxygen from the blood and utilization in the cell. All these enable the muscle to consume more oxygen. Remember that VO2max, the absolute marker of aerobic fitness, has as the centerpiece of its definition ability to consume oxygen. It is not defined by the ability of the heart, lungs, and vasculature to deliver oxygen. Here lies my heresy. Consumption does not relate strongly to delivery. To state that to develop VO2max one does not need to significantly develop the heart and lungs through traditional aerobic training is not intuitive. So lets clarify with one important piece of data to make sure this is correctly understood. When the body is at rest, only a small amount of available oxygen in the blood is extracted for use at the cell. The remainder of hemoglobin-bound oxygen stays associated with the red blood cells even after it has been exposed to the muscle at the capillary. Blood oxygen saturation is routinely 98% or better at rest. With long-slow-distance exercise, blood oxygen saturations are not significantly different from those at rest. It is rare to have a significant reduction in saturation with this type of training. Further, it has been proposed that the only way to induce a significant desaturation with long-slow-distance training is to do it at altitude (where theres less oxygen present to start with). Heres the rub though. In a previously untrained individual, longslow-distance training induces enough of an oxygen homeostatic disruption to drive improvement in VO2max for a short time. Statistically insignificant drops in blood oxygen saturation are an adequate adaptive stimulus in the beginner. But once the trainee has been training consistently for 3 to 9 months, longslow-distance is no longer sufficiently specific a stress to drive oxygen-handling adaptation. A beginner is adapted to no work, so any type of work above sedentary life will drive a spectrum of fitness-related changes in structure and in function. Intermediate, advanced, and elite trainees cannot benefit similarly from such a non-specific training stress. In the intermediate trainee and beyond, it is the depression of oxygen saturation as a result of interval training that forces the muscle to adapt to improve its ability to extract and consume oxygen to power exercise. Oxygen saturation is a marker of

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The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription


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Training method (Common name) Recovery

Description

Intended Result or disturbed variable

Degree of VO2

Actual disturbed variable

End results in trained individuals

20 to 60 minutes at Warm-up, cool-down, None approximately 70% recovery day of VO2 max Note 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity is not a warm-up or a cool-down; it is a workout (but not a very effective one) 60 to 120 minutes at Improve cardiovascular approximately 70% efficiency of VO2 max None

None

Recovery of previous levels of performance; no improvement induced

Long Slow Distance

Oxidative metabolism (carbohydrate and fat)

Improvement in stores of oxidative energy substrates and associated enzymes; athlete can run longer but not faster Improvement in stores of aerobic glycolytic energy substrates and associated enzymes; delay of switch to anaerobic metabolism; athlete can run a little longer a little faster Improvement in stores of aerobic glycolytic energy substrates and associated enzymes; delay of switch to anaerobic metabolism; improvement in anaerobic enzyme stores and function; athlete can run a little longer a little faster (but does not significantly improve VO2) Improvement in anaerobic glycolytic storage and function; increased efficiency in O2 consumption at the working muscle (i.e., increased VO2 max)

20 minutes at Tempo (interval type) approximately 85% of VO2 max

Improve lactate kinetics

None

Aerobic glycolytic metabolism (carbohydrate)

Interval

Up to 5 minutes at Improve VO2 max; improve 95-100% of VO2 max lactate kinetics

Small

Primary: aerobic glycolytic metabolism Secondary: anaerobic glycolytic metabolism

30 to 90 seconds at Improve speed and Reps (interval type) slightly greater than economy VO2 max

Large

Anaerobic glycolytic metabolism and VO2

Table 1 Conventional types of training for aerobic fitness

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the specific driving force of VO2max gain. If a beginner does longslow-distance work and blood oxygen saturations drop 1% or less to 97%, this is enough to drive adaptation. But intermediate, advanced, and elite trainees need more. They need a drop in oxygen saturation to as low as 91%, maybe even lower for an elite athlete. So here is where we stand today. In the in the 1930s the Swedes developed a system of intervals intended to improve fitness (the roots of Fartlek training). The godfather of exercise physiology, Per Astrand, investigated and proposed inclusion of intervals in aerobic fitness training as early as the 1960s. Continuing scientific data supports the concept of high-intensity intervals driving VO2max gain, especially in trained individuals. But the vast majority of the fitness industry and average exercisers continue to think that long-slow-distance exercise is the path to aerobic superiority. The chasm between science and practice is large here. The conventional wisdom is so entrenched in the public psyche that even the scientists who specialize in aerobic exercise and produce the data tend to blink the facts or fail to report them in deference to convention. What is needed to rectify this problem, and to make exercise physiology relevant, is for the major professional organizations to discard convention that is not supported by fact, either experimental or experiential. What is needed is a large-scale experimental examination of physical fitness that asks appropriate questions about performance enhancement. We accept without question that being more fit makes us healthier and less likely to die. We will spend millions of research dollars trying to figure out the mechanism of that reduced mortality, but we will not spend a penny on quality research on how to train to improve fitness and actually deliver that reduced mortality efficiently to the public.The failure of the government and granting agencies to fund performance research relegates this vital area of national health to small-scale experiments that are limited in design quality and real-world utility. I propose that the power of exercise training to improve aerobic fitness and reduce mortality is likely found toward the anaerobic end of the metabolic spectrum. Experimentation and clinical data are needed to prove this. More importantly, without a valid

pool of evidence to drive changes in the conventional wisdom, practitioners must independently adopt a non-conventional point of view and training methodology to improve individual aerobic fitness and then national health.

Lon Kilgore, Ph.D., is an associate professor of kinesiology at Midwestern State University, where he teaches exercise physiology and anatomy. He has held faculty appointments in exercise science at Warnborough University (UK) and in kinesiology at Kansas State University. A nationally ranked weightlifter from age 13, he has extensive practical experience as an NCAA strength coach and as coach of internationalcaliber competitive weightlifters. He is a coaching certification instructor for all levels of USA Weightliftings coaching development system and has been a member or Chair of the USAW Sports Science Committee for 9 years. He was also a primary proposal author and researcher on the USOC Weightlifting Performance Enhancement Team project and is a member of the Board of Certification for the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. In addition to numerous articles in both academic and popular publications, he is coauthor of the book Starting Strength: A Simple and Practical Guide for Coaching Beginners and the forthcoming Practical Programming for Strength Training.

Increasing VO2max really doesnt involve a great deal of cardiovascular adaptation. Rather, the adaptation must, by physiological necessity, be at and in the muscle.

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December 2006

VO2 max: Not the gold standard?


Tony Leyland In my article on exercise science in last months CFJ, I highlighted the difficulty of scientifically determining optimal training methods. Most often, it is coaches working hands-on using a trial-and-error methodology that actually push the science ahead. Eventually, scientists notice that most coaches are doing a particular thing with success and then design a study to determine why it is effective. However, coaches practical, field-tested insights and clinical experience dont necessarily translate into the realm of scientific testing and study design. I was recently contacted by a coach working with the Canadian National wrestling team. One of the wrestlers was competing in the 62 kg class, but the coaches thought that if he could drop down a weight class he would be able to medal at the Olympics. They wanted him to drop from 62 to 55 kg, but realized that he was, understandably, concerned about how he would perform after dropping over 11 percent of his body weight. So they wanted him to get a few weight-cutting practice trials in before he actually had to do it in competition. He was to act like it was a wrestling meet and cut down for weigh-in at 6 p.m., rehydrate overnight, and then go through some physiological fitness tests in the morning. They wanted to see how his body handled the cut-down and hopefully give him confidence that he could maintain fitness and perform normally while dropping that much weight. That is where I come in: they wanted me to conduct the morning fitness tests at my university. The tests they wanted to use were a VO2 max test (aerobic capacity measured while working to exhaustion on a treadmill or stationary bike) and a Wingate test (a bike test designed to assess both anaerobic pathways). Not a good idea in my book, as those tests do not mirror the performance required by the wrester in his sport.They would not very effectively test the wrestlers ability to perform at the tasks required for his eventwhich was the whole point of the experiment. So why did they suggest tests that are clearly not the best to assess the athletes performance? I think it is because we all have a tendency to work with standards that are universally accepted. (Maybe this is why CrossFit is viewed with suspicion by some: it doesnt put much stock in the standard tests for evaluating fitness. How can people compare CrossFits methods and results with others? How can they evaluate and quantify the fitness it produces? Nobody else uses tests called Fran, Linda, etc., to measure progress. The unfamiliar is always suspect.) The VO2 max test on a treadmill or stationary bike measuring gas exchange is considered the gold standard of laboratory tests to assess VO2 max (the conventional measure of aerobic fitness), which is why the wrestling coaches wanted to use it for
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their athlete. But does it transfer to a wrestling match? Olympic freestyle wrestling bouts consist of three rounds of two minutes each.Wrestling is an exceptionally demanding sport using multiple lines of action (pushes, pulls, and static grips with both the arms and legs) and demanding both cardiovascular endurance and muscular stamina, so why not asses all these abilities in one test? You could do three two-minute rounds of one minute of thrusters and then one minute of pull-ups (like a Fran), or maybe three sets of two minutes of clean and jerks (like a Grace). This would tax the cardiovascular system as well as muscular strength, power, and endurance, and the athletes scores for each would measure changes in his fitness. You could also develop a continuous sixminute test similar to Fight Gone Bad that would cover many of these aspects and be indicative of the wrestlers VO2 max. To break the testing into a VO2 max test (which would quantify how well he pumps blood to his leg muscles and the stamina of those muscles) and a Wingate test (which is a 30-second maximal-output bike test to assess phosphagen and glycolytic energy pathways) doesnt adequately test the demands of the sport. If you wanted to assess other energy systems separately, you could test the phosphagen system with a maximal sprint (say, 60 meters) or, if you wanted a very short-duration power test, you could use a vertical jump or clean and jerk. As for the glycolytic systemwell, I think any self-respecting CrossFitter could think of something extremely intense using multiple muscle groups that you could sustain for only 90 seconds before collapsing in a heap on the floor. When I discussed these issues with the wrestling coach, I got a very positive response. It made a lot of sense to him (as did the thought that he wouldnt have to pay for expensive tests). Also he now has complete control on the timing of the test and he can repeat it more frequently than relying on my university to conduct the test. Athletes are competitive by nature and love to challenge themselves, so I frequently get calls asking me to measure VO2 max and body fat percentages. As with the wrestling coach, I usually tell people to save their money. There is no need for expensive tests to measure these variables and there is good science to prove you shouldnt. Ill talk about percent body fat at another time but this month I want to focus on VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of your bodys ability to take up and utilize oxygen. VO2 max is measured by determining the amount of oxygen in the inspired air and the expired air. The difference is the amount of oxygen used by the body. This is usually done by analyzing inspired and expired gases while having the subject run on a treadmill with ever-increasing speed and/or incline until

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exhaustion. At sea level, the most important physiological factors that determine VO2 max in a given person are: 1. the ability of the heart to pump blood 2. the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood (hemoglobin content) 3. the ability of the working muscles to accept a large blood supply (amount of capillarization within a muscle) 4. the ability of the muscle cells to extract oxygen from the capillary blood and use it to produce energy (number of mitochondria and aerobic enzymes) Delivery of oxygen to the blood via the lungs is important, but at sea level it is not a limiting factor. Most people can get adequate amounts of air into the lungs. The last two points in the list above are really why I thought that a running or biking VO2 max test for the wrestler wasnt a good idea. A runner may have a large stroke volume (amount of blood pumped by the heart per beat, #1 above) but if you put him on a bike, his VO2 max measurement will come out lower than when he is tested on a treadmill. Similarly, a cyclist will not do as well on a treadmill. This is because of the difference between systemic adaptations to the training impulse and peripheral adaptations. Both runner and cyclist have large stroke volumes but the runners quads cannot accept as large a volume of blood and extract oxygen as efficiently as the cyclists quads. Likewise, the hamstrings and especially the ankle extensors (gastrocnemius and soleus) of the runner are able to receive larger amounts of blood and extract oxygen more effectively than those of the cyclist. So VO2 max is specific to what you are doing. In truth, there is no single, movement-agnostic VO2 max. There is a running VO2 max, a cycling VO2 max, a thruster VO2 max, etc. The highest VO2 maximums recorded are for cross-country skiers, as they utilize the most muscle tissue in their event. I wonder what the VO2 max of an elite CrossFit athlete would be while doing thrusters. You could have a series of barbells set up with different weights and increase the weight being thrusted every three minutes until the athlete couldnt sustain that power output (similar to increasing the speed and/or inclination of the treadmill). Not an easy test to administer, but it is interesting to consider.The VO2 max recorded would undoubtedly be a very high value. Another important point to keep in mind about measuring athletic performance is that there is daily variation in our physiological parameters. If you measure your heart rate upon waking each morning, it will vary from day to day. So will the maximum heart rate you can achieve on any given day. It has been reported that there can be up to an 8% variation in the VO2 max due to this natural daily variation (we are not robots responding to stimuli exactly the same way every time). So why pay for one VO2 max test when you are trying to determine change? You need at least two measures. But even two tests arent ideal, as the difference is likely to be affected by daily variation and other factors such as hydration, nutrition, and environmental temperature, rather than
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changed VO2 max per se. So the best thing is to have simple tests such as a 5k run that you can easily repeat six or seven or more times a year. If your time improves consistently, you know your running VO2 max has improved. Over the year and multiple tests, variation due to factors other than improved running VO2 will cancel out. This is why it is so easy to test yourself while following CrossFit: the benchmark workouts become the standardized tests. You might not hit a PR every time, but you will see which direction you are heading in and how steep the trend curve is. If you actually want a specific numeric measure of your VO2 max (in ml of oxygen utilized per kg of body weight per minute), you can run a 1.5-mile test (6 laps of a standard 400-meter track) or run for as far as you can on the track in 12 minutes. The links below will take you to calculators that will estimate your VO2 max based on your results: http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/OneAndHalf.html http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/MinuteRun.html

Sure, there are errors in these predictions compared to a test that actually measures the O2 content in your inspired and expired breath (the gold standard of testing, remember) but they are free and repeatable whenever you can find a 400-meter track and a stopwatch. Not a runner? Test yourself at 150 wall-ball shots for time. If over the year your time decreases, your VO2 max for wall ball has improved. And that is good to know. However, you must be able to sustain any movement you want to use to test VO2 max continuously for about 6 minutes or more. If wall ball with a 20pound ball overloads your arms so that you have to break sets and rest, it wouldnt be the best choice for evaluating VO2 max. Using a lighter ball (and maybe even adding to the number of shots) so that you can work continuously for 6 minutes or more would make it work as a test of your wall-ball VO2 max. So for anyone thinking of getting an expensive fitness test done, dont bother. Spend your money on useful things, like the CrossFit Journal or another medicine ball or another set of rings so your friends can join you in actually improving your fitness rather than worrying about how to quantify it.

In truth, there is no single, movement-agnostic VO2 max


Tony Leyland is Senior Lecturer at the School of Kinesiology in Vancouver, Canada. He has taught at the university level for 24 years and has been heavily involved in competitive sports such as soccer, tennis, squash, and rugby as both an athlete and a coach for over 40 years.He is a professional member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Canadian National B-licensed soccer coach, and a level-1 CrossFit trainer.

December 2006

Kettlebell Basics
Improving Your Swing, Part 2
Jeff Martone
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. William Arthur Ward

The July 2006 CrossFit Training Seminar, hosted at CrossFit San Diego, can be summed up in one word: inspiring. I found it inspiring for two reasons. First, it was an opportunity to get personal instruction from a diverse group of truly great teachers. Second, I was struck by observing the pervasiveness of a common thread of movement mechanicsspecifically hip flexion to extensionthat weaves through the disciplines that make up CrossFit. During his presentation, Tony Blauer made the statement good information doesnt displace other good information. The seminar was practical evidence of that assertion, as it seemed that the more different coaches offered information, the more it all came together and the more they reinforced each others points and methods. Look at Mark Rippetoes detailed analysis of the deadlift. The mechanics of the deadlift and the importance of achieving and maintaining lumbar and thoracic back extension

during the deadlift are also essential when performing Olympic lifts or kettlebell swings, cleans, and snatches. The same holds true for Coach Burgeners definition of the Olympic lifts as a vicious extension of the ankles, knees, and hips that creates momentum and elevation on the barbell. This same vicious extension also takes place in the jumping movements of gymnastics and parkour. One movement, many applicationsnow, thats inspiring. Last month I covered three drills to improve your body mechanics, range of motion, power, and efficiency of movement as applied to the two-handed Russian kettlebell swing. Adding the wall squat, hip flexor recruitment drill, and hip flexor stretch that I describes into your daily warm-up should lead to a noticeable increase in your jumping performance. The kettlebell should feel lighter and move faster with less perceived effort. This month I will discuss a few additional kettlebell swing errors and their remedial drills, and then move on to the power swing and American swing.

Kettlebell swing troubleshooting


Problem: Rounded shoulders; shoulder blades sticking out Solutions: 1. Look straight ahead, not down. 2. Force your chest open and pinch your shoulder blades together. 3. Perform wall squats with a rubber band or towel overhead. Concentrate on pinching your shoulder blades together. 4. Place your hand on the trainees back, with thumb and fore fingers touching the protruding shoulder blades, and pinch them together.

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December 2006

Kettlebell Basics
...continued

Kettlebell swing troubleshooting

...continued

Problem: Lumbar spine flexion (i.e., tailbone tucks under) at the bottom of the swing. Solutions: 1. Activate your hip flexors upon descending into the swing. Use the hip flexor recruitment drill I described last month to help learn to do this effectively. 2. Tight hamstrings can be contributing factor. Practice the good morning stretch: a. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and bend forward, maintaining lumbar extension and keeping your chest open and head up. b. Once you feel a little tightness in your hamstrings, hold that position and isometrically contract all the muscles of your lower body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then exhale and relax. c. When you relax, let your hamstrings lengthen, increasing your ROM. Repeat the drill 3 times. Problem: Technique is good, but youre still not generating enough power. Solutions: 1. Synchronize your breathing; inhale through your nose and exhale through clenched teeth, similar to a fighter exhaling upon contact. Glutes and abs should quickly contract at the top of the swing. 2. Perform sets of standing vertical jumps between each set of swings. Remember, its a vicious extension of your hips, knees, and ankles.

Power swing
The power swing increases the tempo and power output of the Russian swing. In addition, it will pressure test your form. This is truly a self-correcting exercise. 1. Perform a Russian swing (i.e., to eye level). 2. When the kettlebell reaches the highest point, immediately reverse the direction, pushing it back between your legs as hard as you can. Timing is everything. Its the simultaneous contraction of your abs, lats, and chest that is the key to quickly reversing the direction. 3. Never look down. Keep your head up and eyes focused on the horizon.

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December 2006

Kettlebell Basics
...continued

Power swing

...continued

4. When the kettlebell reaches its lowest point, explode out of the hole. You will notice a lot more kinetic energy built up at the bottom of your swing and more power through out your extension. Try to move faster with every rep. 5. Be aware that your grip will be heavily taxed during this exercise. Be sure there is a clear impact zone in front and in back of you.

American swing
This is CrossFits swing of choice. The kettlebell moves through its extreme range of motion. The swing culminates at top with the kettlebell directly overhead, and then the bell strafes the ground as it passes between the legs at the bottom. This makes for a very demanding exercise, which is why CrossFit prefers it. (Refer to issues 20 and 25 of the CrossFit Journal for more details). If you have taken the time to practice each exercise (in order) as I prescribed in last months article, then you should posses more than enough power to make a safe and effective transition to the American swing. Perform one to three Russian swings, and then take it overhead. Keep your back arched. Look straight a head. Keep your arms straight throughout the move. Keep your chest high throughout the swing, especially in the bottom position. Drive your hips up and forward. When taking the kettlebell overhead, most people have a tendency to overcompensate by using their deltoids to get the kettlebell from waist or chest level to overhead. This is common in beginners who are unfamiliar with how to use their hips properly. Experienced kettlebellers can also fall prey to this error, especially toward the end of a tough routine. Overcompensating with the deltoids is less than desirable for two reasons. First, it places unnecessary strain on the deltoids. Second, the momentum it creates can be difficult to control and can place undue stress on your shoulders and lower back. This especially true if you wait until the last second to put on the brakes. If you have a history of shoulder injuries, it is safer to activate the brakes a little earlier. End the top of the swing just in slightly in front of your head. Be sure to powerfully contract your abs and armpit muscles at the top of the swing. Your shoulders will thank you for it later.
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You have now built for yourself a very solid foundation for future kettlebell exercises. Always remember: repetition establishes habit. Vince Lombardi said its not practice that makes perfect, but rather its perfect practice that makes perfect. Perfect practice is the key; accept no less. Strive for perfection and you will achieve excellence.

Jeff Martone, owner of Tactical Athlete Training Systems, was one of the first certified senior kettlebell instructors in the United States. He is best known as the creator of hand- 2-hand kettlebell juggling, SHOT training, and the T.A.P.S. pull-up system. He is also the author of six training DVDs. He was the first to implement kettlebell training in a federal law enforcement agency and now offers instructor-level certifications. He has over 15 years of experience as a fulltime defensive tactics, firearms, and specialresponse-team instructor.

December 2006

The Yin and Yang of the Back


Michael Rutherford but not hammer locked back at full extension. This is important. The scapulas should squeeze together and you should have a nice arch in your back. From here, reach down toward the middle of the shin with the bells, keeping them pulled in close to your legs. The eyes remain focused forward as the chin is pressed toward the forward target and your butt pushed toward the back wall.A correct movement is easy to feel in the static contraction of the back and the dynamic contraction in the glutes and hamstrings. If the athlete is unable to feel the movement in these areas then a couple of things are likely involved.Check to make sure the lower back has remained arched and has not rounded. Second, make certain that the knee has a soft lock, not a hammer lock. Placing the majority of the balance point in the heels can also assist in finding the sweet spot in these movements. I also like this movement done Online Video Single leg as a single-leg support using both http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/SingleLegRDL.mov unilateral and contralateral reach. The same technique applies, except that in this case you balance on a single leg while the extending at the hip with the opposite leg.This places a premium on the stabilizing muscles and balance. Athletes will report almost instantly that they are weaker on the non-dominant side or the side with an injury history. This particular modification is so effective I use it as part of the workout preparation phase without any load assigned.

If you believe the data, over 50 percent of the U.S. adult population are dealing with back problems.Having a personal history of lower back issues and frequently working with athletes in the same boat, I have been motivated to find effective movements to keep the back strong and functional. In this installment of my dumbbell series, I present two movements that I have found to be effective in my training practice. The two movements I speak of are the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and Tommy Konos back-loosening deadlift. I refer to these two movements as the yin and yang of the back; together, they complement one another to work the back through both extension and flexion, in both fixed and dynamic positions, and both in isolation and in concert with the rest of the posterior chain of muscles.

Online Video

Dumbbell Romainain deadlift

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/RDL.mov

Yin: The Romanian deadlift

Yang: Konos loosening deadlift

Online Video

Loosening Deadlift

http://media.crossfit....TheLooseningDeadlift.mov

The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is essentially the same as a straightleg deadlift, except that it starts and ends at the top position instead of at the floor. To execute the RDL, select one or two dumbbells.These need not be more than 20 percent of your body weight, especially at first.With your feet placed at hip width, hold the bells in front of your thighs.Face forward with a big chest and the knees in a soft lock.The soft lock indicates that the knee joint is straight

While the benefits of a fixed back position, or what I refer to as an athletic back, are numerous, constant and exclusive use of this position may lead to problems. In my view, a back that is always arched and fixed is unnatural. The spinal column should also flex and rotate as well as extend. This is where the loosening movement comes into play. For the loosening deadlift, the starting position is the same as for the RDL, with one or two dumbbells held in front of the body with straight arms, felt flat on the floor, and knees in a soft lock, but that is where the similarities end. From here, tuck the chin and roll the spine forward one vertebra at a time as the load is moved toward the shoelaces, rounding the back as you go. First, roll down the upper back, then middle, then the lumbar spine, keeping the dumbbell in close and reaching toward the floor. Once a comfortable bottom position has been achieved, reverse the process, lifting first the lowest lumbar vertebra and then the one above it, all the way up through the thoracic spine and neck. Think of the spine as a newspaper you are rolling out.You roll down and then you roll up. Youve probably been taught never to lift anything with your back in this position, and as a general rule, its true that your lumber spine is best protected against heavy loads when it is in held firmly
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The CrossFit Journal is an electronically distributed magazine chronicling a proven method of achieving elite fitness. Subscription information and back issues are available at the CrossFit Store at http://store.crossfit.com If you have any questions or comments, send them to feedback@crossfit.com in extension and the dynamic lifting power comes primarily from the hips and legs. However, the spinal column is designed to flex. Its okay to flex in this fashion. In fact, flexing this way with light loads is healthy. Im not suggesting you perform this movement with maximum loads. Using high repetitions in with this movement is therapeutic. Blood is worked into the vertebral openings, and the backwell, it loosens Your input will be greatly appreciated and every effort will be made to answer emails. Editors Greg Glassman Lauren Glassman Carrie Klumpar Advisor Brian Mulvaney Design/Layout Otto Lejeune

Practice
Now, in my practice I primarily use both of these as supplemental, prehabilitation, or rehabilitation movements. I see them as important, but they are minor players in my functional movement pool. The RDL is a great movement near the end of a strength-focused WOD. I particularly like the single-leg version following a deadlift, squat, or power movement focus. After a squatcentered session, it seems to release the tension from the fixed position of squatting. This is also a great way to heat up the back side of the body on the kind of winter morning we greet so often here in the Midwest. As with anything new, take time to learn the correct movements before increasing the load. These two are effective even with light to moderate weight.

Michael Rutherford (a.k.a. Coach Rut) is the owner of CrossFit Kansas City/Boot Camp Fitness. He has over a quarter-century of fitness coaching experience with athletes of all ages. He has also worked in hospital wellness environments and rehabilitation clinics. Rut holds academic degrees in biology, physical education, and exercise physiology and sports biomechanics. He is a USAW-certified Club Coach and is a CrossFit level-3 trainer. He is also the current national Masters Champion in weightlifting at 94 kg. You can learn more dumbbell moves from his recent DVD Dumbbell Moves,Vol. 1.
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The Grinder
CFHQ Santa Cruz, CA USA 01 Dec 06

December 2006

CrossFit FRAGO #5, PATRICIA


The Grinder: CrossFit FRAGO #5, PATRICIA

OPS 06 FRAGO 05 To OPOrd 01 OP GRINDER Ref: A. OPORD 01 01 Jul 06 Task Organization: Annex A 1. 2. SITUATION. No Change. MISSION PATRICIA: Total per 8-person squad 1.5 km run (per soldier), 200 burpee pull-ups, 400 jumping ring dips, 40 rope climbs, and 1 min L-sit (per soldier). EXECUTION Concept of Operations. (1) Intent. Complete all the exercises as quickly as possible in a safe manner. This is an eight-person-squad task-specific workout. The squads time ends when the last member of the squad completes the workout. The purpose of this workout is to develop cohesion and combat fitness under fatigue conditions through shared hardship, challenges, and competition. (2) Scheme of Maneuver. The platoon will be divided into as many teams of eight as possible. Each squad will require pullup bars, a 15-foot climbing rope, rings (austere or regular), and P-bars (parallel bars, dip station, or parallettes). All squads will start at the same time. Each squad has to complete the total number of reps per exercise. The only exercises that each soldier in the squad must complete as an individual are the 1.5-km run and the one-minute L-sit. The other exercises can be divided up among the squad as they desire. There is no order that the exercises must be completed in and there is no requirement to conduct the exercises all together, as a formed squad. For example, each soldier in the squad can do 25 burpee pull-ups to obtain 200 reps, or one soldier can do all 200. Two soldiers can do 20 rope ascents each, or every member of the squad can do 5 ascents. The requirement is for the squad to complete the total number of reps designated per exercise. The one-minute L-sit is a cumulative time. Each soldier can utilize as many L-sits as required to obtain his one minute of total time. For example, each soldier could do two 30-second
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...continued

sets or six 10-second sets, however he wants. The L-sits can be conducted on P-bars, rings, or as an L- hang from pull-up bars. Spotting is not permitted at any time. (3) Main Effort. The safety of all personnel and the development of unit cohesion and combat fitness through shared challenge and hardship. (4) End State. The safe and successful completion of all exercises.

b.

Coordinating Instructions. (1) Team Organization. Squad leaders can organize their soldiers however they wish. It is a leadership decision on how best to deploy each soldier to accomplish the mission. (2) Scaling. The workout can be conducted in PT gear or full battle gear to include vests with plates, depending on the fitness levels of your soldiers. The austere rings and p-bars described in this document are for austere conditions. Conventional rings and P-bars may be used if available. The number of reps can be increased or decreased based on the skill level of your troops. (3) Scoring. The finish time for each squad is recorded. The squad that has the fastest time comes in first. (4) Burpee Pull-Up. The soldier starts the exercise standing under the pull-up bar, executes a burpee, and finishes by jumping up to the bar and completing a jumping pull-up. One repetition of the exercise is complete when the soldier has descended from the pull-up bar and is ready to commence the next burpee (Annex C). (5) Jumping Ring Dip. The rings should be set between chest and shoulder height. The soldier jumps from the ground to a support position above the rings, with straight elbows. One repetition is competed when the soldier is back on the ground from the support position (Annex C). (6) Rope Climb. Soldiers can utilize any method they wish to climb the rope. (7) L-Sit. The L-Sit can be executed on the rings, P-bars, or pullup bars. For scaling purposes, a tuck sit can be substituted for the L-sit for soldiers who cannot do an L-sit (Annex C). (8) Safety. Ensure that all equipment is checked and serviceable before conducting the workout and that all soldiers are proficient in the required exercises. To avoid rope burn, it is recommended that all soldiers wear boots and BDU pants, as a minimum. Safety is every members responsibility.

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(9) Follow-on Tasks. The next workout will require a 150-meter running route, two 25-mm ammo cans and two pull-up bars per four-person team. 3. SERVICE SUPPORT a. Equipment and Weights Quantity / Size NA Type / NSN Weight Contents

Nomenclature

Nylon webbing, plain weave, tubular (for austere rings) Snap Link, Mountain Piton (for austere rings) PVC pipe, 1 inch (for austere rings) b.

8305-21-111-5411

NA

NA

12mm

8465-21-896-8280

NA

Claw snap and screwgate

8 inch x 2 per rings

Standard

NA

NA

Equipment Requirements. Each eight-person squad will require as a minimum: one pull-up bar, one set of rings, one climbing rope, and one set of P-bars (rings or a pull-up bar can be substituted for P-bars for the L-sits). The preferred equipment issue is two pull-up bars, two sets of rings, one climbing rope, and one set of P-bars per squad. Time and Repetition Recording. One stopwatch to record each teams time and a method of recording completed reps at the dip, pull-up, and rope climb stations.

c.

4.

COMMAND AND SIGNAL a. Timer/Score Recorder. Only one timekeeper is required for all squads. All eight-person teams begin the workout at the same time. When a squad completes all the exercises, they inform the timekeeper, who records all times. It is recommended that at least one person per team start his stopwatch to act as a backup in case the primary timekeepers stopwatch fails. Instructor/Coach. To ensure proper conduct of the workout, use of correct exercise form, and safety of execution, a designated member of the platoon can fill this billet.

b.

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Annexes: Annex A Annex B Annex C Annex A Workout diagram (AOO) Equipment Exercises Workout diagram (AOO)

...continued

Annex B

Equipment

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Annex C Exercises

...continued

Burpee pull-up

Jumping Dip

L-sit variation

L-sit variation

L-sit variation

Rope Climb

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Annex C

Exercises

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