Thanks for all the feedback on yesterday’s email about
It was about as I expected – the feedback ranged all the
way from “Yeah CrossFit SUCKS!” to “If you’ve never
trained CF you don’t know what you’re talking about”
and everything in between.
I did get a very interesting question from Scott about it –
Here it is:
“How does GPP, the “what the hell effect”, Original Strength,
and the non-specific aspect of kettlebell training (with
respect to sport-specific movements) stand in contrast to
the Crossfit philosophy of training as a generalist? I see
those two ideas as having more in common than not. That was
a surprise to me that you had that opinion, and so I thought
I needed to understand your position better as we were
completely aligned about everything else.”
Man! Scott’s on the ball!
In a word, Scott, it’s: STRENGTH.
Originally, RKC and now SFG, and even Original Strength
are all based on Strength – gaining/regaining strength.
Let’s unpack your question one piece at at time:
GPP is a buzzword in the strength & conditioning and
fitness world right now.
I think was best described as “many-sided well-roundedness”
by – can’t remember who – Ozolin maybe? – but is a foundation
for other things, in regard to sport.
And it’s contextual in regard to a particular sport.
For example, the Deadlift may be GPP for a sprinter.
But it’s definitely not for a powerlifter – it’s one of
the main events.
So the two parties would most likely program it very
differently in their training.
To say something is GPP must be followed by the phrase –
“for…” then whatever it is.
Without the context to anchor it, GPP becomes randomized
So GPP is the platform upon which you build toward
achieving your sporting goal.
I think CrossFit could be thought of as pure GPP training
for it’s own sake, but without any sort of direction
to anchor it. Like the sprinter example. They’re not
training for any one thing, so there is no rallying point
around which to focus their training, their GPP.
I think that’s fine as long as we/they recognize that
and take it for what it’s worth.
2. The “What-The-Hell” Effect
It’s something that comes from training for strength
and using SFG training principles.
It’s where we see carryover from, say, using high tension
techniques in the press, to being able to do one-arm
chins, without specifically practicing one-arm chins.
Or from doing heavy, high volume, high frequency swings
to being able to run 5K, 10K or even more without
training for them.
(We also see these sorts of things from Original
Strength, but more on that in a minute.)
So, WTH Effects aren’t trained for, they’re pleasant
surprises that are results of our training systems
and their focuses. (Yes, yes, I know, it’s really “foci”…)
3. Original Strength
The point of original strength is just that – to
restore and even refine your original strength – which is
defined as “reflexive strength” – which is the automatic
and subconscious strength your body develops to anticipate
and produce effortless and graceful movement – without
you getting injured.
For example – ever slip on ice or mud and catch yourself
That’s reflexive strength.
Ever slip on ice or mud and catch yourself but strain an
adductor in the process? (Ahem… cough, cough…)
That’s a lack of reflexive strength.
The loss or lack of it is why we see so much movement
dysfunction these days and why we see so much corrective
And it is what you can think of as your foundational
The more reflexive strength you have, the more variety
you can do – the more things you can do well. And
the stronger your “specific strength” potential will
be when you decide to focus on a specific area.
When performing the resets in OS, the goal is to
restore reflexive strength and stability so you can
do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
Again, like GPP, it is directed and focused – on strength.
(We are also seeing/experiencing people using OS
being able to do things they haven’t been able to do before
from doing the resets – like one guy who texted me last
night – he ran a 4.87s 40 yard dash – his best time ever
– without squatting or plyos or anything specific…)
4. Non-specific aspect of KB training (with regard to
In SFG, (and what used to be the RKC) we focus on gaining
strength and respect it as the “master quality.” We
agree with esteemed Russian Sports Scientist L. Matveyev.
From there, everything else flows.
We speak of “incidental conditioning,” which is an aspect
of the “What-the-Heck Effect” – how you can train for
strength and see noticeable and measurable improvements in
endurance or speed for example.
So I would say in SFG, we are not training to be “generalists,”
but rather to be strong, in whatever way we choose to
measure it – be it Beast Tamer Challenge on one end or
SFG 5 minute Snatch Test on the other. Hence the name
We don’t hop on the erg and do 1000m repeats, combined with
400m runs, and Wall-Ball Thrusters.
Our ability to do many things well – including some endurance
activities – is a result of focusing on our strength gains –
not on training specifically and for them – hence the sport-
Strength is always the number one goal – therefore I think
it’d be fair to say that we are “strength specialists” not
generalists, like CF.
So ALL that probably brings up another question -
What is the *BEST* way to train for the “average” person?
Here’s what I’ve concluded after training “average”
people (with some non-average people in the mix also)
for 20 years:
Pick a sport that you have an affinity for and train
for that as if you were going to compete. In fact, I
agree with Dan John – even compete. It gives you
focus and allows you to measure progress. Plus it adds
some fun into your life and gives you a reason to move,
get into, and stay “in shape.”
If you’re not going to do that, then I suggest you
train as a wrestler.
Wrestling requires many different forms of strength
and specialized endurance, all of which give you what
most people want –
An aesthetically pleasing body (without the cauliflower
ears of course) that they can not only be proud of but
works very well.
How would you go about doing that?
1. Regain your Original Strength and devote a portion
of your training to that. (It can be like actually
wrestling without the close physical contact and the
other guy’s sweat.)
2. Learn and practice the single KB lifts through
“Enter the Kettlebell” and / or “Kettlebell Burn.”
3. Then spend your time focusing on learning the
double kettlebell lifts and practicing them as
found in “Kettlebell STRONG!”.
Not only will you get and stay really, really strong,
but you’ll experience the WTH Effect and build a really
strong base of GPP without resorting to poor programming –
Like 30 barbell thrusters with 95 pounds or some such
P.S. I’ve always found the “rumor” that certain Spetsnaz
(Russian Special Forces units) used strictly high rep
Clean + Jerks as their chosen means of physical preparation
Apparently, they’d perform multiple sets of 20-30 reps
with a pair of 24kg KBs.
If you’ve never tried this type of training before – you’re
in for a rude awakening – it’s a lot tougher than it sounds.
And there’s no doubt about it – it will get you extremely
strong and extremely well conditioned without having to do
a lot of other extraneous stuff.
training is to study and apply the information inside
“Kettlebell STRONG!” – it’s everything you need to know