What to expect at CrossFit London

30 Sep

We are rapidly approaching our target opening date of 12 October, and Andrew and I are frantically trying to get everything sorted out in time.

I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know a little more about what we have planned for the box*.

Training Options

On opening day, we plan to offer six (count ’em) training options.

Personal training: The ideal choice if you are getting back to training after a period of time off, or are looking for a session focused on developing your own particular skill set

Absolute Beginners Sessions. Group-based classes aimed at developing the basics of the CrossFit movements and exercises  away from the intensity that crossfit is infamous for. Competance before intensity

General classes: Group-based classes completing the full CrossFit London programming; this programme is for graduates of the iCourse, Foundations and more experienced ‘crossfitters’

Fire breathers. By the end of 2009 we expect to be able to offer fire breather classes for super humans

CrossFit London Women: A Women-only session

Speciality seminars & workshops: These will generally be weekend sessions focused around specific areas of training and nutrition; using our vast array of contacts, we plan to bring many experienced and interesting people to run sessions at the box


CrossFit London will be building its programming on all aspects of  Crossfit Methods, including Gymnastics and Strength Bias


We will be offering a range of membership options that should suit most requirements. There will definitely be a rolling monthly option. Pricing details will be coming very soon.

We are still toying with variations of the ‘carnet’ system for folks who want to combine a bit of CrossFit-style conditioning with their other sport-specific training commitments.

Online scheduling and payment

I am busy hammering our online scheduling and payment system into shape. For the technically minded, we will be using Mind Body Online. Once up and running it will allow you to:

  • Book in for your chosen class/session from the comfort of your front room/office/toilet/etc.
  • Arrange personal training or an individual consultation with your coach of choice
  • Buy/update membership options
  • Purchase CrossFit London ebooks, merchandise and equipment
  • Probably a whole lot of other stuff that I haven’t figured out how to do, yet

I am currently enjoying the experience of having long-distance phone conversations with astonishingly cheerful Californian types. Hopefully we will get over the timezone differences, and their lack of appreciation of British humour, and everything will be sorted by opening day. Hopefully…

That’s enough for now. We look forward to seeing you all very soon.

*Mainly great coaching and challenging work-outs. Occasional kittens.

A little bit of history

26 Sep

Crossfit London UK is one of the original  20 Crossfit affiliates, the first in the UK and started back in 2005. We trained in the streets of Stratford, the adult playground at Primrose Hill, Mile End and at The Andaz Hotel Gym.

Whilst Crossfit London UK has many features that make it unique, it still focuses on authentic Crossfit methods which can be found at CrossFit.com.

Crossfit London Women

23 Sep

Women’s fitness

Crossfit is for everyone, but especially women. Today massive strides have been made in raising the career glass ceiling and pay discriminations that women suffer, but many women are yet to liberate themselves from the nonsense that the fitness industry expects of them. For some reason, cultural expectation dictates that being a woman means you should be a weakling.

We think you need to be tough enough to haul yourself out of trouble, drag your unconscious partner out of a burning building –  and if need be –  pick up your 5 year old and run with them to hospital .

However we appreciate the specific training needs of women, hence we have created Crossfit London Women. This has been successfully tested in Wanstead during 2009.

6.30pm  Monday night will be Crossfit London women night.  The participants will be women, but with male instructors (at the moment).

There will be discounts for the employees of various local businesses, athletes who are  part of a sports club, or first responders (police/fire/paramedic/community police officers).

By design, these will  be a small classes; expect to train with 8 to 10 other women.

Email Andrew or Steven to register your interest.

Time Under Tension

22 Sep

Most of my personal training clients think I’ve been on a month-long jolly, during September. I certainly have not been at the Andaz training them. You can see how they might have got that impression…

I’ve been all over the country learning, as normal. I’m an education geek. If there’s a decent course, I want to go on it.

One of the interesting concepts I picked up in Ireland with Poliquin, was the concept of “time under tension” and the manipulation of intra- and inter-set rest periods.

Obviously I will discuss this in length at the new Bethnal Green Box, but for now consider the following:

  1. The sets and reps you are doing need to be monitored to a specific time under tension; from when you picked up the bar ’till the time you put it down
  2. The inter-set rest periods need to be manipulated within parameters
  3. As does the tempo with which the exercise is carried out

In a squat for example, how slow or fast you go?

Do you/should you pause at the bottom?

For the best results do you raise up from the bottom of the squat slowly or explosively?

(Note: This is not to be confused with the actual CrossFit workouts; get through those as fast as you can!)

I should say that I got to spend three* fantastic days in Dublin with some of Charles Poliquin’s leading guys, including John and Andre. In spite of the “stand off” that exists between Poliquin and Crossfit, they were very nice to me, and made sure I understood the concepts they had to share.

I’ll do my best to pass these ideas  on to Crossfit London UK trainees. We will not only be offering  original authentic Crossfit at Bethnal Green, but the unique opportunity to study it from a variety of perspectives.


*To be honest i should say 2.5 days, because on day 3 I came down will an appalling sore throat…one of those ones where you dare not swallow…ouch!

Too messed up to paint inside…time to paint outside

20 Sep

With work progressing on the new Crossfit London full time centre at 9 Gales gardens, London E2 –  it was time to hit the outside – let’s face it, the inside is chaos as the changing rooms are built, the pull up system installed and the mats laid.

So here we are cutting away all the brick-destroying  branches sticking out of this former snooker club, and painting it white, so now it knows it’s a new place offering great stuff to nice people.9726_155760632268_671637268_3666048_7008828_s

Soon this will be the hotspot for kettlebells, olympic lifting, do-able adult gymnastics and proven strength regimes that will deliver you the results you need.

Is Andrew Stemler a biomechanical coach yet??

17 Sep

coursesWell, if he isn’t at the moment, he will be soon, allowing Crossfit London to deliver high performance, cutting-edge techniques to improve how your body functions during movement.

This summer has been really busy for Andrew as has zoomed from studying the Chek System, training in Scotland with Mike Burgener at the Crossfit Olympic lifting certification, then in Ireland training with Tucker at the Crossfit Gymnastic Certifiction, then off to  the successful completion of Poliquin level 1

Now he’s just finishing his Biomechancal Coaching course having  had an intensive week with Martin Haines.

Physiology may muddle you…….. Biomechanics  never lie

This is why you come to Crossfit London to get a rounded, effective service that gets you into the best shape of your life.

Crossfit London staff get out there and actively (and perhaps a bit too critically) review and study what’s happening in the fitness industry and keep up to date with training developments.

A jolly good scrub

14 Sep

Andrew and Steven set about giving the new Crossfit London UK box in Bethnal Green a “jolly good scrubbing”.

The facility, some 30 seconds from Bethnal Green Tube station was a former snooker club, back in the days when people smoked indoors and coated the ceiling with yellow nicotine.

We’re starting off clean and keeping it that way!


Fight Gone Bad study

14 Sep

What is “Fight Gone Bad”?

Three rounds of:

  • Wall-ball, 20 pound ball, 10 ft target (Reps)
  • Sumo deadlift high-pull, 75 pounds (Reps)
  • Box Jump, 20″ box (Reps)
  • Push-press, 75 pounds (Reps)
  • Row (Calories)

In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute. The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. On call of “rotate”, the athletes must move to next station immediately for best score. One point is given for each rep, except on the rower where each calorie is one point. (Greg Glassman)

Over 2009/10, Crossfit London will be studying FIGHT GONE BAD. Here’s the outline of our first experiment

“The ability of Fight Gone Bad to predict performance in a 500m Shield Run by Male Crossfitters and members of the Metropolitan Polices Territorial Support Group.”

By Andrew Stemler (taken form a submission to The University of East London: scored at 75%)

This paper seeks to ascertain whether the fitness test, and by implication the training methods, proposed by the controversial Crossfit movement (Cooperman, 2005) called Fight Gone Bad (FGB) could be deployed by 1st responders (police, military paramedics, aid workers etc) as a predictor of performance in a high intensity occupational task, a shield run,

A Shield Run is a 500 meter run for time in full Metropolitan Police Riot Gear, including Riot shield armour and helmet: a total load of approximately 11 kilos. It is one of the qualifying tests to enter The Metropolitan Polices Territorial Support Group (Metropolitan Police, 2009) The ability of FGB to predict performance in the shield run will be correlated with the results of two (field) fitness tests, Vertical Height Jump (Sayers, 1999) and the Rockport V02 max tests (Kilne,1987) which are accepted measures of power and aerobic capacity.( Sinett & Berg, 2001)

Military forces throughout the world debate the need for training regimes that focus on high intensity exercise, power production and weight manipulation. Testers struggle to deliver fair but occupationally relevant physical tests (Vanderburgh, 2000). According to Greg Glassman (2002), the founder of the internet Crossfit movement, the general preparation of everyone, but especially 1st responders, should consist of varied but functional movements trained at high intensity. In the context of this system, functional tends to mean compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts and presses. These should be combined with basic gymnastics (dips/pull ups, bodyweight exercises) and short bouts of running and rowing

. The aim of Crossfit has been stated to be to substitute work capacity as the fitness gold standard in favour of correlates such as V02 max, lactate threshold and heart rate. To date no formal study has been undertaken on any of the CrossFit suggestions.

The Crossfit proposed test called Fight Gone Bad (FGB)(Glassman, 2005) consists of 3 rounds of five exercise stations with 1 minute rest between rounds. Each subject spends one minute at each station then moves immediately to the next exercise, which are Wall-ball: a 10kg pound ball medicine ball thrown at a 10 ft target after a deep squat, Sumo Deadlift high-pull: 34kg , Box Jump: 20″ box Push-press: 34kg: Row. Scoring is by counting repetitions, except for the row which is scored in calories. The repetitions achieved on each station are recorded. The results are added for a score.

The fitness training of Military and 1st responders, especially in Basic Training regimes, has been dominated by the long slow distance aerobic model. Santtila (2008) noted that the low intensity of Basic Training only raised the fitness level of the unfit whilst Dyrstad (2006) also found little improvement in V02 max of trainees and detraining in initially fit candidates due to the lack of high intensity aerobic training. However, Sekulic, et al., (2006) argues that the (US) Army Physical fitness test is both excessively demanding and time consuming.

Increasingly research is suggesting that high intensity training can be as, if not more, effective than classical aerobic training (Babraj,et al.,2009). Similarly, the issue of the fitness of first responders in dealing with fatigue is being increasingly considered (Rhyan, 2006). Rhyan (2006), argues for the inclusion of high intensity training in preparing for a fire fighter ability test (PAT) but insists that adequate rest periods are incorporated within training (the average work/rest set being 1:2 occasionally 1:1.)

According to Crossfit, real life crisis rarely offer structured rest periods or consistent repetitions (Glassman, 2002): However, fitness skills are rarely trained in a fatigued environment. Perhaps this is due to the enduring belief that aerobic exercise is superior to anaerobic exercise and that anaerobic exercise, and lactate tolerance training, is harmful to deploy (Christensen, 1962). Folland, et al., (2002) for example indicates that the discomfort of fatiguing, or ischemic training is not critical for strength gain, yet 1st responders often need to apply force in an environment of fatigue.

These old views are being increasingly challenged. Babraj, et al., (2009) established that short duration high intensity training improved the insulin response in sedentary males, countering the idea that only higher calibre athletes tolerate intensive exercise better (Fry, et al.,1994). Babraj, et al., (2009) also suggests that the training volume to intensity relationship is far from agreed. Ross & Leveritt (2001) observed the metabolic adaptations to high intensity/anaerobic exercise increase the activity of enzymes, increase the amount of substrate stored and the ability to combat, and tolerate the accumulation of metabolites associated with, fatigue. Sharpe, et al., (1986) noted that buffer capacity increased with highly intense sprint training, but no such buffer was development by (aerobic) endurance training.

t seems quite possible to have a good VO2 max, developed by the accepted aerobic prescription, but be unable to cope with load or intensity (McGill, 2006).

It could be anticipated that a good FGB score would indicate a good aerobic capacity. Minetti, et al., (2006) attributed the enhanced metabolic power of Himalayan porters to practising balancing loads above the hip. Legg (1992) suggested the relative oxygen cost of back packing was 4% lower than shoulder load carriage, indicating that the higher the load the more metabolically effective it is. However it is equally possible that a good FGB score, could simply mean that the participants leg muscles shorten more slowly as reducing velocity could allow a muscle to produce more force which would counterbalance possible energy expenditure due to increased muscle fibre recruitment (Minetti, et al., 2006, Legg, 1992) Also possible is the external load actively stretching the muscles during the unloading phase (McGowan, et al., 2006). It could be possible to move load without a high VO2 max by a simple change in kinematics involving better co ordination, agility, motivation and ability to deal with fatigue. This could render the use of VO2 max useless in predicting success at complex body weighted moves This puts in doubt the calls to improve the fitness of military recruits by (merely) increasing aerobic training and fitness as promoted by Blacker, et al., (2008) and Gardner (2002). On the other hand the introduction of Strength training must not be allowed to disintegrate into Bench Pressing competitions (Kraemer, 2004)

The need to move operational equipment is a fundamental 1st responder requirement. Vanderburgh (2000) observes the need to lift weight to 152cm (height of a standard military 2 ton truck). Crowder, et al., (2007) discuses various military opinions as to the amount of weight that can be carried into combat which range from 21-69.5kg . Most service people now use personal body armour. It would seem advisable to test the ability of candidates to manipulate weight. The use of absolute weight also establishes occupational relevance (Vanderburgh, 2000) At the same time, test need to be fair. Vanderburgh (2000) stated that heavier candidates are discriminated against in run tests. Vanderburgh (2000) evaluated a backpack run test (BRT), concluding that carrying 20kg eliminated the weight bias of tests, although the possible range was between 20kg to 50kg.. The FGB weight of 34 kilos seems fairly in the middle of this range. The attempt to produce a candidate leveling calculation was continued by Crowder, et al., in 2007. However the study by Bishop, et al., (2008) established that overall fitness, motor fitness, technique and motivation were the influential factors in completing an indoor obstacle test, rather than body weight levels. However, within military populations most body weights tended to be between 77-85kg with SD of 2.5 (Bishop, et al,. 2008).

FGB, according to Vanderburghs (2000) BRT analysis, eliminates any potential body weight penalty, assesses a component of occupational fitness, (carrying a universal load) and could produce a superior test of aerobic power. The exercises in FGB focus on rapid, force generating, hip extension. These are seen as essential power generating moves for athletic performance (Baechle & Earle, 2008) .The use of vertical height jump test, plyometric and Olympic weightlifting drills are frequently deployed in sports training (Chu, 1996). Whilst the power calculation of f x d/t leaves little room for misunderstanding, in sports training terms, it is normally viewed as a single explosion (Garhammer, 1993) Those athletes, for example, who are encouraged to take up the Olympic lifts normally, focus on low Repetition and high weight (in pursuit of thats sports objectives) rather than multiple repetitions as suggested by Garhammer (1993). Hedrick (2008) emphasizes the link between weightlifters and vertical jump performance as single maximal efforts.

Uniquely among fitness tests, FGB requires the repeated hip extension under fatiguing conditions which, arguably, is more occupationally relevant than the best of three maximal jumps. Ultimately testing in the forces must discriminate between those who can or cannot manoeuvre themselves and equipment in challenging situations (Bishop, et al., 2008). Whilst Heywood (1991) and Vanderburgh (2000) suggest the fundamental requirements of standard tests is to collect information to establish baselines and identify strengths and weaknesses. However, their assertions that tests must extract one recognised fitness component at a time, has done much to retard training and testing in the military. Tests that isolate components are effectively useless and misdirecting (McGill, 2006) A fast run time could, for example, be the results of a high V02max, running economy, a high lactate threshold, fibre type and training (Jones, 1998).

Vanderburgh (2000) notes that few tests measure components of work related fitness. Occupational fitness requires ability to be able to generate an absolute level of force, frequently repeatedly. FGB, is scored on each activity, and each round unlike an obstacle course (Knapik, 1989), providing trainers with sufficient information to baseline, diagnose problems and construct future training programmes.

Safety in training is a consistent concern . Gardner (2002) identifies the major cause of exercise related deaths in the US military to be related to atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, and the failure of screening procedures to exclude those suffering from ACAD. The increasing age of the participants was also flagged . Gardner (2002) suggests that vigorous exercise tests need to be conducted where immediate advanced life support measures are available. But Babraj (2009) shows high intensity can be used with medical populations.

FGB test is physically compact an essential aspect for ship board crew (Sekulic, et al., 2006) and 5 people can be tested every 18 minutes. Initially this seems easier to stage than, say the Indoor Obstacle Course test (DPE 2009) using, as it does, standard equipment that should be found in all athletic gyms.Perhaps the major objection is the complexity of the exercises: but , it is the mastery of these movements that identify effective real life performers

What should the content of 1st responder fitness training be. Rhyan (2006) quickly turns to exercises that replicate the test he expects his participants to take (sledge drags, sandbag hauls), but this relies on advance knowledge. Real life rarely issues an agenda. FGB afford the opportunity of assessing the impact of normal exercise on a functional activity.

To what extent, if at all should, the training of 1st responders be based on sporting protocols, that normally seek to equip people to succeed based on genetic superiority (Smith, 2003) Sporting events are scheduled in advance, where in the run up to competition; load, food and training intensities can be planned and manipulated according to the principles of periodisation (Bompa 1999) Soldiers, police and fire fighters, paramedic and crisis workers do not share this environment and frequently have to deal with unplanned events

The Hypothesis for this experiment is that a FGB score will have a positive correlation with performance in a 500m shield run and be a better indicator of performance than the the Vo2max test and a vertical jump test. The nature of the information collected will mean that relationships can be sought between body weight, height, vertical jump and V02 max and FGB

Experimental procedure

This study will use 15 volunteer members of the metropolitan polices Territorial Support Group (TSG) as they have high levels of fitness and motivation ( met police 2009 ) and 15 currently training Crossfitters. The subjects will be male subjects to avoid gender based variability in results (Bishop, et al., 2008) and over 21. Testing will take place at a TSG training facility. The volunteers will supply written consent and be health screened, bearing in mind the recommendations of Gardner (2002) Weight and height measurements will be recorded, along with date of birth Over a period of one month, as determined by facility and volunteer availability, the subjects will take part in the following tests:

1) The Rockport Walk Test, using the experimental procedure detailed by Kilne et al., (1987) The subject will be supplied with a standard commercial heart rate monitor sold for home use.

2) The Sergeant Vertical Jump Test, from the squat jump as discussed by Sayers et al, (1999)

3) The volunteers will undergo a standardized tutorial, with a physical practise about FGB at least one week prior to undertaking FGB. They will then undergo FGB under the supervision of a Crossfit level 2 trainer.

4) The participants will be briefed as to the shield run. They will then carry out the shield run using standard body armour, and shield under the supervision of TSG testers There will be a 1st aider in attendance with access to water. The data collected will be entered in an SPSS programme. Statistical analysis will be carried out on SPSS. Correlations will be sought between the results, using Pearson or Spearmans Rho depending on the nature of the datas distribution (Field 2005). As the experiment allows for two groups the data will also be analysed in terms of those with prior shield run experience and those without, by way of an independent t-test.

Appendix A rockport walk test

vo2 max = 132.853-(0.0769 x weight) -(0.3877 x age) + ( 6.315 x gender) -( 3.2649 x time) – 0.1565 x HR beat PM gender, 1 = male, 0 = female) 1 mile = 1609meters

speed walking, not breaking into jog. Time noted in 10th of minutes ( ie 6.30 = 6.5


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Baechle T, Earle R.(2008) Essentials of strength training and conditioning and 3rd edition human kinetics Champaign Il

Berg.(2003) Endurance training and performance in runners. sports med 2003 33(1) 59-73

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Blacker s, Wilkinson D, Bilzon J, Rayson M (2008) Risk factors for training injuries among British Army Recruits. Military Medicine Mar 2008 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3912/ (accessed on line 11/5/09)

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Chiu, l, Fry A, Schilling, EJ Johnson, Weiss L (2004) neuromuscular fatique and potentiation following two successive high intensity resistance exercise sessions. Euro j applied physiol 2004 92 385- 392

Christensen, E. H. (1962).Ultra short training not lactate tolerance training is the best form of work for high effort training. Ergonomics, 5, 7-13.(abstract accessed)

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Glassman, Greg (2002) What is fitness The Crossfit Journal issue 2 page 1 Oct 2002

Glassman Greg (2005) Oral address introducing Fight Gone bad at Crossfit Certification June 2005. Santa Cruz, USA

Hedrick Allen.(2008) Weightlifting movements do the benefits outweigh the risks?. Strength and conditioning journal vol 30, no 6 26-34 Heywood V (1991) Advanced Fitness Prescription Third Edition Human kinetics Champaign

Hoffman cooper, Wendell and Kang.(2004) Traditional Powerlifting training programs in football players J strength and conditioning 18 129- 135 Jones J (1998) Afive year physiological case study of an Olympic runner. British Journal Of Sports Medicine 32:39-43. accessed on line bjsm.bmj.com 10 october 2008

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Kilne, G(1987)., et al.: Estimation of VO2 max from a one mile track walk, gender, age and body weight. Med Sci. Sports Exerc., 19:253, 1987

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McGill Stuart (2006) Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Backfitpro Waterloo Canada.

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Mkenna M Heigenhauser G McKelvie R, JD MacDougall Jones NL (1997) Sprint training during Intense exercise in men. Journal of Physiology 501.3 687-702

Minetti AE , Formenti F Ardigo L (2006) Himalayan porters specialization:metabolic power, economy efficiency and skill. Published on line at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1635507 Proceedings of the Royal Biological Sciences Nov 7 273(1602) 27691-2797 (accessed 15 04 09)

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Crossfit Metro suggest the following scaled divisions

1. Class A: Standard Men = 75 lb PP and High Pull, 20lb Wall Ball and 20in Box
2. Class B: Modified Men/Standard Women = 55 lb PP and High Pull, 14lb Wall Ball and 20in Box
3. Class C: Intermediate = 35 lb PP and High Pull, 8lb Wall Ball and 20in Box (step ups are okay)
4. Class D: Beginner/Kids = 15lb PP and High Pull, 4lb Wall Ball (can be lowered 2in from standard height) and 10in Box

additional resources

vertical jump test

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