Time out! We as a community are susceptible to going down a rabbit hole of misunderstanding, and it’s, in my opinion, taking way too much of people’s time and effort. General Physical Preparedness programs are not strength programs. GPP isn’t a gymnastics school, either. GPP is GPP.
CrossFit has a community that is a world leader in genuine passion, if you ask me. With that, however, comes some world-class critique and Hall of Fame level obsession. While both can be great assets, there is a “yin” to every “yang,” right? Maybe I made that up, but follow me here.
CrossFit is arguably the best general physical preparedness program ever practiced. What’s the goal of any GPP program? It’s broad, general, inclusive fitness. Period.
With the success of CrossFit, people are changing their lives. When you have a life-changing experience, you also tend to share that experience. So every time someone exclaims, “Thank God for CrossFit. It’s the best thing ever!” the critics attack. “There’s no linear programing! And it’s exercise, guys. It’s not real training.”
When people like Rich Froning and Sam Briggs get fit with CrossFit, people are genuinely amazed at their capacity and exclaim, “This is elite fitness!” which, of course, brings out the critics, too. “How dare you compare this CrossFit absurdity to real elite athletes in the NFL, NBA, and Olympic games?”
These are apples and oranges, kids.
I trained (embarrassingly) for a total of four hours last week, including tons of Instagram, not much mobilizing, some warming up, and a little bit of actual nitty-gritty training. I did three strongman events, back squatted 375 for five, walked on my hands under the demands of some conditioning, and I practiced some specific skills around the snatch. Furthermore, I know I could train differently to get stronger. News flash: my 40 minutes of snatch work isn’t getting me into the American Open. I get it, a different approach would be required to take on true acrobatic gymnastics, and that I’m kidding myself if think I’ll compete in the Arnold Classic in even the amateur strongman division.
But, that’s not the point. I’m training GPP on purpose. Furthermore, I’m doing so full well knowing the GPP goal.
In my experience, virtually 100 out of a 100 critics attack CrossFit for something that it isn’t, rather than attacking it for what it is. When a coach or an athlete with a powerlifting background pokes jabs at CrossFit for not being a sound strength program, the real conversation shouldn’t be a heated debate but a realization of the GPP goal. And here’s the reality, CrossFit isn’t a strength program. It’s an everything program. In fact, stronger is the extent of the goal, so stop fighting over how to be the strongest in a GPP context. It’s fruitless.
In that way, GPP is shockingly simple. I’d argue that CrossFit coaches and athletes can be guilty of digging their own grave with this. The lure of performance and specificity can pull people into a discounted version of GPP, in my opinion. Sure, it’s fine to be a gym or an athlete with a bias, as long as you have a clear view of that. Conversely, it’s OK to be a GPP athlete and not know what 72.5% of your press is off hand.