Coach Glassman had a number of really great quotes over the years, but one of my favorites that I’ve never discussed is about the dominant philosophy of strength and conditioning at the university level. This philosophy has also permeated high school strength and conditioning and created the periodization training we know today. High school and college athletes spend a certain number of weeks just lifting. There’s some conditioning sessions as well but they’re NEVER mixed with lifting. Then, after the weeks go by, the lifts are retested and the process begins again until the season starts. Once in season, the lifting takes a backseat and the conditioning gets ramped up. The problem with this is explained in Coach Glassman’s quote. “Blur the distinction between strength training and conditioning for the simple reason that nature’s challenges are typically blind to that distinction.”
CrossFit changed fitness. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. The real shiny trophy of change, however, was the university strength and conditioning field. They haven’t come around quite as quickly as the general public. The reason why it’s important to mix modalities is because as Coach Glassman’s quote states, you never know when you’re going to need to call on your capacity for each discipline. A football player needs strength AND conditioning on the field. The same goes for a basketball player or any other sport. A police officer or fireman would likely need to be able to run AND carry something heavy in the same 10 to 20 minute span.
The point of having a strength and conditioning program is to prepare you for moments when you’ll need both strength and conditioning. How can you truly be prepared if you’ve only done workouts with just lifting? The same goes vice versa. How can you be prepared to call on your strength after you’ve run 100m as fast as you can? Sport, nature, life will not call a timeout for you to catch your breath so you can be ready to apply all your strength. Let’s get ready.
The goal of the program was to be prepared for the unknown and unknowable. Sure, athletes know when gameday is, so would it be a good idea to do “Murph” the day before a big game? Probably not. Does that mean you should only perform workouts in which you know exactly what to expect? No. You may know when the game is going to happen but there are variables in the game that you cannot be prepared for. Therefore, you must be prepared for anything.