At Industrial Athletics, we do not believe in specialized training. We believe that the person who is most fit is the person who is capable of performing well at anything that is thrown at him/her. We take this concept and belief from CrossFit, although, it is not new by any means. The concept is referred to as General Physical Preparedness. The idea is that by training everything, you are much better suited for anything. This is not to say that specialists are not “fit.” An Olympic Lifter is certainly “fit” for an Olympic Lifter. The person who wins a power lifting competition is certainly “fit” in power lifting. But, what CrossFit is proving is that training for General Physical Preparedness can make you “fit” at everything. Olympic Lifting numbers put up by athletes like Rich Froning, Jr. rival those who have trained for nothing but Olympic Lifting. That is not to say that specialized training is not important or useful. But, weaknesses should not be ignored.
One of the best ways to test someone’s General Physical Preparedness is to watch him/her compete in a CrossFit Competition. A well designed competition will touch on a lot of different aspects of fitness (cardio, power lifting, olympic lifting, gymnastics, skills, etc.). A well designed competition will favor those who are physically fit over a large number of modalities, and will punish the specialist. This can been seen from elite athletes, down to weekend competitors. It can be a power training tool and mean the difference between finishing on the podium and not finishing at all.
Last summer, there were two examples that stick out in my mind. Two examples where one particular movement spelled disaster. The first was at the CrossFit Games. Josh Bridges is viewed by many to be an elite athlete. He is much smaller than most Games athletes, but still hangs at the top of the leader board. Until the last workout of 2013. One part of the last workout involved a 405lb deadlift. It was a heaviest deadlift ever programmed in a Games workout, and it stopped Bridges in his tracks. The second hits very close to home. And yes, he will hate me for never letting him live it down. Our very own Tony “ToneWod” Didomenico was sitting at the top of the leader board at a competition last summer. He was #1. Until the final WOD. All he had to do was 10 pistols to finish 1st place overall. He finished 2nd overall because he was not prepared for pistols.
Two more examples come from a recent local competition. The competition was set up so that everyone did 3 WODs. Then the top 5 men and top 5 women moved on to a final WOD. Through the first 2 WODs, one man sat in first and second place. He was battling another athlete for that top position and they were in a league of their own. That is, until WOD 3. WOD 3 ended with max effort double unders. This athlete could not do them. He dropped from first place to below fifth in one workout. The same thing happened during the men’s final workout. One athlete was well ahead of his next competitor and sitting in 3rd place. However, he could not complete chest-to-bar pullups before the next athlete finished heavy wallballs and 3 muscle ups. He was kicked out of 3rd and did not finish on the podium.
None of these examples are meant to humiliate the athlete. Like I said, you can walk around any competition, or possibly any daily WOD, and see where General Physical Preparedness is lacking. Recognizing the need for General Physical Preparedness is the goal. CrossFit’s workout of the day should be used as a tool to get better at everything. This also helps to explain the need for daily scaling, but I won’t beat that dead horse again. Afterall, what’s so impressive about doing a 600lb deadlift if you can’t pull your chin over a pullup bar . . . once? In the end, recognize what you are not prepared for and go change it. Look at Tony. After diligent training, he welcomes pistols in any competition.