Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kevin Ogar and CrossFit

The following is an article that attempts to summarize the injury CrossFitter Kevin Ogar suffered during a competition in California, as he attempted a moderately heavy (moderately heavy for him - it's about 50 pounds heavier than anything I've ever snatched) snatch.  The article is not as bad as most of what I read on TNation about CrossFit.  

I don't want to write about Kevin's injury.  It is such a grievous injury to consider, and one that I grew u fearing very much.  However, Kevin's injury has become a part of what folks talk about with regard to CrossFit.  I pen the following with the hope that Kevin's injury can be part of learning more about how to be the fittest one can be within the risk constraints one can tolerate for oneself.


I had never heard the reference to the term "CrossFit stop."  Apparently the author thinks that means there are gyms where they don't mind technique degradation, and encourage folks to push on past the crappy technique and "get it done".  

And there undoubtedly such CrossFit gyms.  But to my knowledge, that not "accepted CrossFit practice".  Rather, that's part and parcel of having an affiliation system vice a command and control style franchise system.  In other words, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman chose to employ an affiliation system that would allow for decentralized learning of how to best run a CrossFit facility.  CrossFit affiliate owners must get a Level I certificate to use CrossFit branding but otherwise have incredible leeway in how they implement CrossFit.  

CrossFit says "mechanics, consistency, then intensity."  In other words, first get the movements down, then be able to do them at speed, then do them in a workout.  

Additionally, most folks cannot complete CrossFit workouts without technique while using heavy (for them) weights.  The idea of using olympic lifts for high reps has always been a lightning rod for controversy.  The workout Grace, for example, is 30 clean and jerks as fast as one can go, with good male CrossFitters cranking out 30 reps in 2-3 minutes using 135 pounds.  What you or any knucklehead off the street can conclude is if someone can do 30 CnJs in 3 minutes, the athlete is using a weight that is "light", as in "light for them."  This brings a finer point to the argument that "high rep olympic lifts are dangerous."  What if Grace were performed with a broom stick?  Still dangerous?  What if it were performed with 90% of the athlete's max CnJ?  Well, then it would be a long, slow WOD of successive heavy clean and jerks performed in 10-30 minutes, and likely done with at least moderately good technique.  No one clean and jerks really heavy weight unless can deliver some technique to the movement.  I trained with a guy who was very strong - reps on the bench press with 300 pounds - but he could not complete 15 clean and jerks with 135 pounds.  Why? He didn't have the ability to express hip extension into a barbell.  He just muscled the bar to his chest and overhead a few times using arms only.  It's only one example, but it was illustrative.

Compared to 2007 when I found it and now, CrossFit has done what Greg Glassman hoped - transformed the industry that is called the "fitness" industry.  There are something like 8000 CrossFit affiliates doing what folks said could not be done, all over the world.  Each one is a lab experiment in how to train folks to get the fitness outcomes they desire.  The one uses versions of the functional human movements that Greg realized can be used to produce the greatest physiological adaptation in the least time, some degree of variance in programming, and some methodology that utilizes intensity to produce desirable adaptation.  These gyms don't spend thousands on clunky cardio machines that allow people to spend hours for very low levels physiological adaptation (cardio is certainly better than nothing, but there's a reason most people don't do it; it doesn't not have a palpable impact on one's life and health).  These gyms, at their best, train humans to execute high skilled humans with high force and the necessary physiological positions.  This skilled force generation transfers to many or all of life's activities - sport, combat, or just plain old good living.  

CrossFit delivers a product that answers all the questions I used to ask about my training - what if I spend my time getting big and strong and need to cover ground quickly, or walk/run all day?  Why is it that I can spend hours in the gym but there's no translation to hitting a baseball or kicking a heavy bag?  What if I spend hours and hours running, and get a little faster, but then need to lift something heavy, or drag a buddy, with no skill in how to stabilize my spine?  

Kevin I wish you a speedy and satisfying recovery.  

Kevin is by all reports a grand fellow and you can donate to his medical fund: 

Another write up in the injury is here:

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