Saturday, August 05, 2006

MJ HEALTH & FITNESS: Best Shape of Your Life in 20 Minutes

Monday, July 31, 2006

Nutrition

Nutrition plays a critical role in your fitness. Proper nutrition can amplify or diminish the effect of your training efforts. Effective nutrition is moderate in protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Forget about the fad high carbohydrate, low fat, and low protein diet. 70% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 10% fat may work for your rabbit, but it won’t do anything for you except increase your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease or leave you weak and sickly. Balanced macronutrient and healthy nutrition looks more like 40% carbohydrate, 30 % protein, and 30% fat. Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet (http://www.drsears.com/) still offers the greatest precision, efficacy, and health benefit of any clearly defined protocol. The Zone diet does an adequate job of jointly managing issues of blood glucose control, proper macronutrient proportion, and caloric restriction the three pillars of sound nutrition whether your concern is athletic performance, disease prevention and longevity, or body composition. We recommend that every one read Dr. Sears book Enter the Zone.

Finally, strive to blur distinctions between “cardio” and strength training. Nature has no regard for this distinction or any other, including our ten physical adaptations. We’ll use weights and plyometrics training to elicit a metabolic response and sprinting to improve strength.

Common Ground

The motivation for the three standards is simply to ensure the broadest and most general fitness possible. Our first model evaluates our efforts against a full range of general physical adaptations, in the second the focus is on breadth and depth of performance, with the third the measure is time, power and consequently energy systems. It should be fairly clear that the fitness that CrossFit advocates and develops is deliberately broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.

100
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Phosphagen
Glycolytic
Oxidative
Time (seconds)
Percent of total energy

Crossfit’s Third Fitness Standard

There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about ten seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.

Here’s an excellent reference for additional information: http://predator.pnb.uconn.edu/beta/virtualtemp/muscle/exercise-folder/muscle.html

Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit.

Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.

Crossfit’s Second Fitness Standard

The essence of this model is the view that fitness is about performing well at any and every task imaginable. Picture a hopper loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform fetes randomly drawn from the hopper. This model suggests that your fitness can be measured by your capacity to perform well at these tasks in relation to other individuals.

The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even unfamiliar tasks, tasks combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice this encourages the athlete to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, periodization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.

Crossfit’s First Fitness Standard

There are ten recognized general physical skills. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. (See “General Physical Skills”, pg. 4, for definitions.) You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these ten skills. Importantly, improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training refers to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body. By contrast improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice. Practice refers to activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system. Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Will I / Can I Get Big Doing CrossFit?

If you train the WODs hard, and eat right and get lots of sleep, you will definitely gain lean mass, lose fat, and yes, you can build muscle mass with the crossfit protocol. More specifically, according to Coach, Here is a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:

  1. Bodybuilding on steroids
  2. CrossFitting on steroids
  3. CrossFitting without steroids
  4. Bodybuilding without steroids

The bodybuilding model is designed around, requires, steroids for significant hypertrophy. The neuroendocrine response of bodybuilding protocols is so blunted that without "exogenous hormonal therapy" little happens. The CrossFit protocol is designed to elicit a substantial neuroendocrine whollop and hence packs an anabolic punch that puts on impressive amounts of muscle though that is not our concern. Strength is. Natural bodybuilders (the natural ones that are not on steroids) never approach the mass that our athletes do. They don't come close. Those athletes who train for function end up with better form than those who value form over function. This is one of the beautiful ironies of training.

World-Class Fitness in 100 Words:

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

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