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Get Your Kool Aid Here!

Category : Articles , Opinion

This article takes a somewhat condescending tone towards those that have left the L. Ron Glassman’s Cult for weightlifting. The question is posed, “You put 15 kg on your deadlift this year, but are you a better Crossfitter?” I would rather ask, 1. Why only 15 kg over a year? and 2. What is the use of being a better crossfitter?  Fun fact: the athletes that win the games don’t do Crossfit as a training program. They get stronger and work on their endurance using periods of either discipline trying to improve them. Sure they do metcons but a random series of movements that may repeat twice a year is hardly a program. Crossfit is General Physical Preparation (GPP), not really flashy but there you go. Weightlifting can be trained because it can be quantified and repeated.

Next is the need to compete in The Open. Competing in a sport does drive you to perform better, but the article asks if “does coming 2013rd in one year versus 3209th the next mean you’re worse? Or the competition got better? Or it was a bad year?” When you compete in weightlifting none of these questions are relevant. The relevant question is whether or not you moved more weight.

The argument that weightlifting is “simpler” is valid, and that is why it is attractive. I really can’t believe that weightlifting would be regarded as a 6 week transformation challenge, as opposed to a never ending challenge to move more weight. Crossfit sells challenges like that all of the time. Mastering the muscle up and the other human tricks on the list is cool, but only people that know what that is will be impressed. On the other hand, when I tell someone I can pull 500 pounds off of the floor the fact that it is difficult is universally understood.

Endurance of pain is neither quantifiable nor exclusive to crossfit. I would also submit that there is a difference between pain and discomfort. If you are comfortable while you are training it is likely that you will not advance in that endeavor. Weightlifting, crossfit, BJJ all require you to beyond your comfort level to get better. Heavy deadlifts are uncomfortable, high volume dead hang pull ups are too. Tearing the skin off your palms is an injury, not a status symbol. Continuing to move when injured is only necessary or admirable in certain situations, like a competition or combat. Exercising is not a situation that warrants further injury.

The video is meant to imply that Matt Fraser has improved his snatch due to crossfit. Sweet, let’s look at how the crossfit games website describes his previous training, “The former Olympic hopeful was steady as a rock throughout the weekend.” and “While his Olympic weightlifting proficiency comes from years of specific training—Fraser has been lifting since he was 12 years old—his aptitude for gymnastics and general athleticism may well be attributed to genetics.” ( Being genetically gifted and strong made him good enough to place at the games, not doing crossfit.

To close, crossfit has done a lot to get people training, but it is not the be all and end all as zealots assert. Being strong is the most useful adaptation one can have. If you want to be competitive in crossfit you must be strong and weightlifting gets you there. I don’t care what you do as long as you feel like you are getting something good out of it.


Cheescake and Barbells: Why People Leave Crossfit for Weightlifting

1 Comment


February 8, 2015 at 10:23 am

Hey Adam,

Thanks for taking the time to write out a response to my article on your blog.

Firstly, I apologise if the tone was condescending, as that wasn’t my intent. I need to iterate that I’m all for doing what makes you happy and gets you results, and I was merely trying to convey a reason behind one would move from one activity to another. Sorry for the tone.

As to 15Kg on the deadlift, it was a number I picked out of thin air. Nothing more than that. The question as to “What is the use of being a better crossfitter?” (sic) could be applied to any endeavour. One of the guiding paradigms behind writing this was Dan Pink’s “Drive”. Essentially that one of the key components of motivation is mastery.

He’s a great TED talk here –

My main point, which I missed out on in the initial piece, was that the human brain deems certain activities that are simpler to quantify and understand as easier, and this can often be a factor in someone choosing WL over CF. The perception that something is easier does not make it so, and I should have been clearer. Having coached at a high level in both sports, I do understand the demands required to get 1Kg more on your lift.

If I may digress back to your point on “When you compete in weightlifting none of these questions are relevant. The relevant question is whether or not you moved more weight.” For an individual pursuit, taking out where you place in a WL meet, whether you made 6 from 6, qualified for Nationals, etc, it’s easier to quantify if you got better at WL by looking purely at your number. For an individual engaged in The Open as their mark of improvement in CrossFit, because of the nebulous and changing nature of the sport (if we both accept it’s a sport for the purposes of this discussion) their only indication can be their rank. One of the workouts will be a repeat of a previous Open, but this isn’t enough to say whether they got better at CF or not.

I in no way meant to compare taking up WL as akin to a 6 week challenge. Again it was the appeal a “simpler”, easier to define challenge can be to people. Any worthwhile endeavour goes beyond just a 4, 6 or 12 week challenge, and I for one HATE when they’re presented as a fix, rather than part of a larger fitness journey. I agree completely with your point on it being easier for people to understand that pulling 500lbs is difficult.

At the risk of making my reply longer than you’re article I’ll leave it there. I appreciate you writing and love your discussion on this. If you’d like to discuss it further I’m happy to reply.

Thank you,

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