It’s clear that Poliquin doesn’t understand CrossFit’s goals or methods. CrossFit’s ultimate goal is not “optimal technique” or to “activate high-threshold motor units”- it is to develop work capacity across broad time and modal domains. We do this by moving large loads, long distances, quickly, in a variety of different ways. Since life often demands it, CrossFitters train explosive movement while both fresh and fatigued, and with every possible load and rep scheme.
What happens if an athlete only trains explosive movements (power cleans) while fresh, and never after strength and/or conditioning work? How will he do this in real life if he never does it in the gym? The ability to move explosively when fatigued is necessary in both life and sport.
As a trainer with so much experience training sport specific athletes, don’t Poliquin’s fighters, football players, soccer players, etc. need to be able to make big plays late in the game or fight? The development of this capacity, to move explosively while fatigued, is something that fighters, football players, hockey players, and other sport-specific CrossFit athletes always mention as a primary benefit of CrossFit.
This is a tough thing for many who come from more traditional S&C background to understand. They've spent their careers trying to do specific things - develop discrete strength and power objectives - so when they see someone who's not trying to do that, they criticize "they are not like us! They don't value what we value!" Right. Because we want a different outcome than you want. My friend Russell explains the difference nicely.
If you think in terms of "deadlifts fatigue the lower back" and "cleans are for development of explosive power" and "optimal development of capacity is developed when making maximal lifts" - all of which may be true in the context they are used by traditional S&C folks and for CrossFitters too - but isn't true in the context of a metabolic conditioning WOD (aka METCON). For a METCON, we want to find ways to work hard, and mix them in many ways, just as life, sport and combat demands. In other words, the clean can be many tools, not just a way to develop maximally explosive hip extension.
At some point, all the critics will "get it." "Oh, I see what they are going for", and 1000s of pages of criticism will immediately go up in smoke.