In 2004-05 we were influenced quite heavily by the modern manifestation of circuit training


By: Gym Jones

I've noticed that you pulled your videos saying they don't represent what you do anymore. Might we see an essay in the "Knowledge" section explaining this?


In 2004-05, when many of those videos were made we were influenced quite heavily by the modern manifestation of circuit training and used it to build a solid foundation for many of our guys. We thought that by including more, other work we could develop high levels of fitness across the board, which is the Crossfit philosophy. Ultimately, to a man (and woman), our athletes hit a ceiling because the "random" nature of the training methods we used was not at all random when observed over a long enough time-line. Because we tended to floor it during every workout the intensity and/or energy system also tended to be the same and important aspects of fitness suffered. The lack of genuine endurance was the most obvious and first to appear, but since it affected mostly me I just changed my methods while leaving the others to continue on our established path. Then explosive power started dropping off, and strength-endurance (local area muscular endurance) too, which is no good for wrestlers or jiu-jitsu players. We had everyone doing the same thing more or less and the lack of specificity became apparent, i.e. specificity of movement speed, contraction time, body positioning, duration of effort and whether it was cyclic or acyclic all came into play.

Eventually I went back to the methods I used in the past, I mined data from 20 years of training logs and notes and changed our curriculum based on what I had seen that worked in the long run - not just short term. These days we tailor training to individual and group objectives - not everyone does the same thing (how could they and why would they?) and the plateaus are surpassed when they show up. As well as reviewing my journals I went back to the teachings of those who influenced me in the past as well as discovering some more current ideas. The biggest influences during this period of change, and still today, were Ben Tabachnik, who trained my coach in the mid-90s, and Michael Yessis. More recently Pat O'Shea's book (Quantum Strength and Fitness) pushed us in a new direction. I began working with Massimo Testa on endurance-related issues about 18 months ago. Of course, Dan John has been a constant influence and I marvel at how he still learns after 30-plus years of experience as an athlete and coach.

The main emphasis on what we are doing now is in training design specific to individuals or groups who share similar goals. The rock climbers who need an extreme power-to-weight ratio are doing something different from the jiu-jitsu guys who also need power-to-weight ratio but express it in a different way. Some of the endurance athletes benefit from being very light (run, bike). Others need more muscle because the sports, while lasting a long time, also require significant strength and sustained power-endurance at points along the way (alpine climbers). The football players must be explosive, big, and able to recover quickly over and over and over, which is a capacity founded on cardiovascular endurance. One size only fits all when all need to build a foundation of fitness. Beyond that, specificity, while narrow, is the gateway to the higher reaches of one's potential.

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