CrossFit

CrossFit 101 – Tabata, Girl WOD’s, Hero WOD’s, “Rx”, Wall Balls, & the “Pood” Explained

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This article answers some of the most common questions regarding the CrossFit culture.

Say what you will about CrossFit, but it has done so much good for the fitness community and sports.  People who normally wouldn’t exercise, now do because they are in a community environment.  Professional athletes from all walks have changed their training, nutrition, and recovery because CrossFit decided to question the old methods.

With the rapid rise of CrossFit and it’s fans, I have noticed something.  There is a clear distinction between those “old school” CrossFit cult followers and the new school Crossfitters.  I like to call this divide Before Reebok (BR) and After Reebok (AR).  Once Reebok got a hold of CrossFit, it blew up.  I also noticed that the After Reebok crowd hadn’t quite received the CrossFit lesson that old schoolers got.

I believe the After Reebok crowd will benefit from it the most, hopefully answering some things that were never discussed in their on-ramp class.  Here are a list of some common CrossFit questions and their answers. 

THE HISTORY OF “TABATA”

Tabata training as we know it today is 8 rounds of 20 seconds hard effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  One Tabata interval lasts 4 minutes.  Anyone who has ever done Tabata with any type of exercise knows that it gets spicy QUICK! But where did it come from?

Tabata is a type of training method pioneered by Irisawa Koichi, the Head Coach of the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating team in 1990’s.  Koichi began implementing short, hard efforts followed by an even shorter rest period.  Koichi noticed an increase in short distance explosive strength, as well as, long distance endurance in his athletes.

So why isn’t it called Koichi training?  Because Koichi told his assistant coach, Izumu Tabata, to analyze the effects of this type of training.  Turns out, Tabata was also a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition.  Now days, Tabata training is so popular it has it’s own website!

HOW DID “FIGHT GONE BAD” GET IT’S NAME?

Legend has it that mixed martial arts champion BJ Penn (a UFC legend) sought out CrossFit founder Greg Glassman for a workout specifically designed to help prepare him for a fight consisting of three, five minute rounds with one minute of rest in between.  Glassman did what Glassman did best back then, devise a nasty little number for Penn to get after.

After Penn did the workout, he fell to the floor gasping for air.  Glassman walked over and asked if the workout felt similar to a fight.  Penn’s response was, “Yea it was like a fight gone bad!”  It’s been referred to as that ever since.

HOW TO PERFORM “MURPH” RX’D

Ahhhhh we all love Murph.  It’s a brutal workout that was designed to essentially beat you into the ground.  Although Lt. Michael Murphy was rumored to do this workout fairly frequently with a best time of 28 minutes.  Damn!  Definitely a stud and the USA will forever be grateful for his duty.

Many who have performed this workout have a very frequent misunderstanding of how it is performed as prescribed.  This misunderstanding can be seen mainly from the “After Reebok” folks, who believe that the only way to Rx this workout is to not break up the pull ups, push ups, and squats.  

Many believe that you must do all 100 pull ups before moving on to the push ups, then all 200 push ups before moving on to the 300 squats.  The reason for the misunderstand is that this way was seen in the 2015 CrossFit Games in order to challenge the elite athletes performing the workout.

This is not the true Rx version of this workout.  The original workout posted on August 18, 2005, specifically wrote “Partition the pull ups, push ups, and squats as needed.  Start and finish with a mile run.”  So yes, you could do all pull ups, then all push ups, then all squats if that’s how you wanted to roll.  But breaking them up would not mean you scaled the workout.

WHY IS IT CALLED “RX’D”?

Speaking of Rx’d and scaled, why do CrossFitters call it that?  It’s because exercise is medicine, and we should treat it as such.  Our body needs and craves exercise.  It is our medicine!  Rx stands for prescription.  So go get your medicine!

WHY ARE SOME WORKOUTS NAMED AFTER GIRLS?

Fran, Barbara, Nancy, all the girls names are awesome workouts!  They were designed as awesome workouts, but also as benchmark workouts.  You should test and re-test some of these workouts frequently, maybe 2-3 times per year.  Not only as a great workout, but as a test of your fitness and to ensure you are progressing.  If you aren’t progressing in these benchmark workouts, re analyze your training ASAP!

When Greg Glassman prescribed these workouts in the early days, his athletes would notice that they were a little bit nastier than the rest.  Since it felt like a hurricane hit them during the workout, they began to name them like hurricanes are named.  So they started naming them female names (these names are random), to honor how difficult they were.  It was also an easy way to remember which benchmark workout they were about to re-test.  Hit these workouts hard and you will feel what I’m talking about!

WALL BALL OR MEDICINE BALL?

I don’t have many pet peeves, I am a pretty easy going individual.  Don’t ask why, but one of the pet peeves is when someone refers to a medicine ball as a wall ball!  Here’s the difference.

A medicine ball is a weighted ball used for a multitude of exercise purposes.  Rumor has it that Hippocrates used stuffed animal skins for his patients during treatment.  Hippocrates had patients toss the animal skins back and forth for “medicinal” purposes and began calling them medicine balls.

A wall ball (technically a wall ball shot) is a movement seen in CrossFit.  A wall ball shot begins while holding a medicine ball at your shoulders in front of your body.  While holding it at your shoulders you pass through a full squat, then throw the ball at a designated target above you (usually 10′ or 9′).

THE “POOD” MEASUREMENT FOR KETTLEBELLS

If you don’t like kettlebells I don’t like you.  Just kidding, kind of.  Kettle bells are awesome.  But what is the deal with the pood?

This is another old school (Before Reebok) term used to identify which kettle bells were which.  For those who don’t know, 1 pood is equal to 36 pounds.  So here’s the breakdown.

1 pood16 kilograms – 36 pounds

1.5 pood24 kilograms – 53 pounds

2 pood32 kilograms – 70 pounds

The pood was an old unit of measurement for mass by the Russians.  Back in the day, they used to weigh some of their agricultural products in pood.  The last known product to be measured in pood was salt, which was a major export operation for the Russians.  Sadly, the poor pood was discontinued by the government in 1924.  Bring back the pood!  How many pood do you weigh?

PROPERLY REFERRING TO OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING MOVEMENTS

“Hey coach, are these squat snatches?”  If you’re an olympic weightlifter you are cringing right about now!  Don’t blame the CrossFitter, they are not specialists.  They don’t know what they don’t know.  Let me keep this one short and sweet.

The following rules apply when talking about snatches and cleans.  In CrossFit, if the workout simply says “snatch” or “clean”, it implies that you can choose either a full squat or power variation.  If the workout specifically says “squat clean” or “squat snatch”, it means that you must pass through a full squat in order for that rep to count.  If the workout specifically says “power clean” or “power snatch”, it means that you must stay above parallel in the catch position in order for that rep to count. Don’t be a weightlifting noob, please remember this!

CONCLUSION

So there you have it, CrossFit History 101.  Class is now dismissed, please study your material.  You will be tested next week!

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