Men’s Fitness recently ran a feature on the IMG Academy’s Ignite program. As you can see in the excerpt below, the article claims that CrossFit “assigns its Workout of the Day mostly at random.”
This is not true. It’s not clear where Men’s Fitness got this claim from. CrossFit is not random. CrossFit Director of Training Dave Castro explains how CrossFit is not random in the following video from a CrossFit Coach’s Prep Course:
“Random” programming would almost certainly fail to produce the greatest work capacity, as true randomness contains clusters and groupings that might cause athletes to miss certain stimuli for long periods of time. For example, 30 randomly picked workouts might only include 1 heavy day and multiple long-distance runs, simply because it’s random. On the contrary, CrossFit programming requires intentionally tracking the variables of training and purposely modulating them to attain the broadest possible training stimulus.
The “randomness” charge switches the debate from measuring performance, to ascertaining intent. Instead of evaluating CrossFit through the empirical results achieved by its athletes, this line accuses CrossFit’s programmers of randomly assigning workouts. So instead of acknowledging the fitness level achieved at the CrossFit Games and CrossFit affiliates worldwide, they’re focusing on the murkier subject of what goes on in the minds of CrossFit programmers. When you can’t win a debate, change the subject.
After I read this article, I contacted Men’s Fitness and asked them to correct this inaccuracy. They did not respond, correct the article, or even to defend the claim. By the way, this is not uncommon in media. At CrossFit HQ when we let reporters know that they’ve written false information, they frequently refuse to correct their statements.
So if CrossFit’s Director of Training, and CrossFit’s L1 Seminar both teach that CrossFit is not random, where did Men’s Fitness get its idea from? The main source left seems to be the IMG Academy (which happens to be home to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s “first satellite laboratory.”)
If so, the IMG Academy should know better. On September 22, 2010, they published “CrossFit athletes dominate C360 testing” on their own website. IMG’s Combine 360 test is an overall test of athleticism that over 1000 athletes haven taken, including pro football, baseball, lacrosse, and track and field athletes. CrossFit sent some of its top performers to take the test: Lindsey Smith, Karianne Dickson, Miranda Oldroyd, Emily Beers, Heather Bergeron, Caity Henniger, Tanya Wagner, Kristan Clever, Patrick Burke, Spencer Hendel, David Millar, Pat Barber, Rob Orlando, Chris Spealler, Tommy Hackenbruck, Jared Davis, and Jason Khalipa.
The test includes Broad jump, Seated med-ball throw, Vertical jump, 5-10-5 drill,10-yard sprint, 20-yard sprint, Grip test, 300-yard shuttle, Sit and reach, and the 40-yard dash. IMG’s test also includes the evaluation of movement quality, mentality, sports specific skills, and nutrition.
The CrossFit athletes excelled at the Combine 360 test, as individuals and as a group. Jared Davis tied a D1 football player for the highest individual score ever, and Tommy Hackenbruck finished one point behind. So two of the three highest Combine 360 scorers ever were CrossFitters.
In his write-up of the test, Dave Castro noted that “The CrossFit group as a whole finished in the top 10 percent of all athletes tested.” You can watch a video of the testing in the CrossFit Journal here.
The CrossFit athletes achieved these results without preparing specifically for this test. But no, they did not train randomly. Their results indicate as much.