Does 70’s Big hate CrossFit?

I was talking to a friend online the other day, and he sent me this video of a guy snatching. The guy was a lighter lifter yet was snatching over 100kg and up to 122kg decently well. I didn’t know who he was, and I thought, “Oh, nice.” Then I saw that my friend had said, “I know you hate CrossFit, but we have some good lifters.”

I was shocked, and not because the lifter (who I later learned was Ben Smith) was a CrossFitter, but because my friend, who I’m pretty close with, thought I hated CrossFit (CF). So I wanted to clear this up. And by the way, Ben, that was some good lifting.

This website started when I was running the CF program when I was at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club. Before I moved there I had done CF for about a year, ran a CF group at my university, started an affiliate, and earned the Level II Certification (which is not easy to obtain). I enjoyed how I could compete against other people compared with my “bodybuilding structured” workouts (I posted on the main site for a few months — one time Gillian Mounsey and Chris Spealler were the few people to beat me). But I also loved lifting and wanted to do more of it. When I got to Texas, I considered keeping some conditioning work in my program, but opted to do a linear progression for real since it would help me coach other people.

An old picture of me doing a workout at CF Atlanta in 2008


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In the time at Texas I slowly shifted into Olympic weightlifting and was decent. I qualified for nationals at my third meet despite an injury two months prior. Meanwhile I traveled and worked for Rippetoe in the Barbell Certification Seminars, part of the specialty seminars that CrossFit HQ has available. Since then I have started doing my own 70’s Big workshops and they mostly occur in CF facilities.

I point all this boring shit out because I would say that I had a negative view of CF for most of the time I was in Texas despite running an affiliate. However, I’ve been involved with CF for four years and have traveled to many affiliate gyms around the world, and no longer look at CF negatively.

I’ve said this before many times on this site, but CF has fantastic people involved in it. Most of the friends I have nowadays are a indirectly a result of CF or our interaction with it. When I attended the Level I in 2008, I was impressed with the lecture ability of Pat Sherwood and the military guys. They were willing to help, and Pat answered some of my e-mails months after the certification. I’m continually impressed with the kindness and willingness to not only help, but learn in the community. The desire to learn and get better is my favorite part of CF. CF has managed to foster an environment of people who rabidly want to know more, and are willing to pay money to do it. That’s a special thing, because spending money to do something represents full commitment into doing it (i.e. sacrificing to gain).

I also alluded to how I’ve met various people who are or have been involved in HQ like Chris Spealler, Todd Widman, and Adrian Bozman. I used the last two guys as coaching models early on and consider them the epitome of “good people” in CF. I’ve also met other “higher ups” in HQ like Nicole Carroll, Tony Budding, and Greg Glassman. I don’t know them very well but enjoyed the time I spent with them. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything they do or say, but I don’t even agree with everything my friends do. It may be entirely possible that these people, as well as others within HQ, think I’m an asshole or something. But I would suspect that while I have disagreements over some things they do, we still would have a jovial relationship if we were in the same room.

And besides, disliking somebody for different training methodology is bush league. Who am I to put down a guy who wants to “WOD his ass off”? I may disagree with the implementation of it (with respect to his goals or injury potential), but that doesn’t mean that guy is a bad person. Every training methodology has a group that looks at other groups unfavorably. I used to do this, but nowadays I just don’t give a shit. If someone wants my objective analysis of what they do with respect to their goals, then I’ll gladly give it to them (I’ve always aimed to help people). If someone wants to train for the CF games, I’m the first one to say, “Then do CF, (just make sure you’re strong).”

Skeptics of my stance might say I’m trying to suck the cock of CF with this post, but that’s not true. It’s easy to make fun of CF or the people that do it. There are silly or dumb aspects, but, again, there are silly things that my friends do. There are stupid weightlifters and stupid strength trainees. There are stupid Americans and Europeans. Every social group is going to have mock-able things going on, and that’s true of CF. I allow light jesting of CF on this website, but I’ve also defended it and put an end to overt criticism and mockery.

I just can’t hate something that has done so much for the realm of strength and conditioning, even if CF only consisted of assholes (it doesn’t). Glenn Pendlay wrote this the other day explaining how much CF has had an effect on the sport of Olympic weightlifting. CF is a catalyst for many athletes to “try and compete in new sports” which was one of the rules in early CF lore. And it’s worked. Powerlifting, weightlifting, adventure racing, and mud runs all benefit because of CF. There are legitimate places to train all over the world because of CF (some of them don’t allow you to do whatever you want, but many of them do — just ask). Not to mention that CF has allowed specialty experts like Kelly Starrett to improve the quality of training for all athletic activities (and this alone would be reason enough to like CF).

So I write as a beneficiary of CF in that it has exposed me to truly wonderful people, excellent gyms, plenty of opportunity, and improved my ability to coach and train. Sure, there may be a person doing something goofy every now and then, but that same person is willing to go out of there way to help you nearly 100% of the time. That’s why I don’t hate CrossFit.

74 thoughts on “Does 70’s Big hate CrossFit?

  1. Justin, have you even DONE CF???

    Seriously though, if readers of this site don’t understand 70s Big’s stance on CF, they must be as stupid as a CrossFitter.

  2. jords

    I think gymnasts are absolute beasts but lack of significant objective scoring makes it hard for me to call it a sport as there can always be doubt who won. Whoever wins boils down to subjective scoring with judges. A soccer team scores 2 goals and another scores 0 there is no doubt who won.

  3. So Crossfit is not an sport and the competitors like Froning and Spealler are not athletes. Would you consider Major League Baseball a sport? If so, is CC Sabathia an athlete? I mean, he has some amazing skill. Fuck no he is not! He’s a fat piece of shit that has one talent. There are some pretty skilled carpenters and plumbers out there. Skill alone does not make you an athlete.

  4. @patsloan $200 for the barbell- good condition, good knurling in the center and in the bench/ powerclean hand area. Snatch grip area is worn down because the last owner of it used it in a power rack. let me know if you are interested or want to negotiate a price or look at pictures.

  5. @Chris2004 I think we agree on the rich kid thing…just time and 1 on 1 training isn’t going to make you a pro football, basketball, hockey, etc. player.

    Someone mentioned Froning and Spealler…I didn’t say that they were not athletes, I’m saying that just the act of competing in Crossfit does not make someone an athlete. There are PLENTY of athletes who are doing Crossfit. Speal was an all american wrester or something in college wasn’t he?

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  7. Sorry about being off topic, but I dreamed up a program last night.

    It would consist of cleans, power cleans, and presses, done with mostly heavy singles while increasing the number of workout days per week. The point is to recreate the Bulgarian method with just the two lifts to build speed, power, and handsomeness.

    Will this shit work?

  8. @reidj

    I used to lift there with my weightlifting club, but then bricks started falling out of the wall to the sidewalk below from dropping weights, so we had to move on. Have been considering re-joining, but I can’t make it there during the week so its a matter of “is it worth it”. Great place though

    I think the 70’s Big e-celebrity known as “Brisket” may train there too

  9. Just saw the Kstar video on facebook. It’d be cool if you went into the toes in/out thing more. It seems like he’s really thinking about making people used to toes straight for catching olympic lifts. But what about those who don’t do that and just do low bar squatting? SS3rd edition has new illustrations showing toes out so I’m a little confused. Maybe it depends on antropometry as much as anything?

  10. @wmsyd

    I totally disagree with the idea that athletes don’t play one sport to get better at another. I have plenty of kids that I coach who play soccer, rugby, football to be better lacrosse players. Hell, I did it myself in high school. Granted, I enjoyed playing football but I really only stuck with it because I knew it would make me a better lacrosse player.

  11. When it comes down to it, everyone should own their own shit. If you like to run, run. If Crossfit gets you going, do it. Weight lifting? Absolutely.

    I have a problem with anyone in any realm of physical training who criticizes people for doing something different then what they’ve chosen for themselves. Especially when they’re novices in their activity – with possibly less experience outside of it – and their criticism is largely negative and condescending. I think that’s where most people have a problem with crossfit because there is A LOT of that with newer crossfitters who are getting into it as their first serious training program. I love crossfit when properly implemented. I turned my wife onto it and she’s hooked. Many of my good friends crossfit AND are fucking strong! (OUTLAW!!!)

    I’ve found that most experienced crossfitters are cool people who are open-minded about other methods of training and respect people at the top of their game in sports outside of crossfit. That’s good shit and I don’t know that you could say the same of other training communities.

  12. @andrewdjoy and @bard: you are idiots.

    That’s right andrew, you could have been a champion at one of those silly non-sports if you worked hard enough, you just chose not to be…keep telling yourself that.

    Objective scoring? Are you kidding me? There are referees in those ‘sports’ too fools, the same ones we get pissed at for making bad calls. The same reason a huge technology industry has sprouted up to try to prevent incorrect play-calling…but can I let you in on a little secret? bad, game-changing calls are still made all of the time.

    And wtf is a “natural” movement? Where can I pluck a barbell from the earth?

    Your arguments are fail.

  13. theonidas

    Surely you can see the difference between a referee who makes sure the game is played within a set of rules and holding both teams accountable to these rules and a judge who scores the sporting event and determines a winner based off their score?

    Also, just because I feel a sport should meet certain requirements doesn’t mean I don’t respect or envy those who are involved in various things. I took a knock on Tony Stewart for being on Wheaties because the guy isn’t an athlete in mind and what he is doing isn’t what I would call a sport. But its competitive and takes a mammoth set of balls to do. It also has millions of fans and he makes more in one year then I will make in my life. If he read my comment he would laugh and call me an idiot. But its still my opinion and I think it makes logical sense.

  14. Snatched and B Squatted heavy this morning in between co-coaching Strength and Conditioning classes at a Crossfit Gym 40 min away from my house. Drove home, soaked in an ice cold stream, took a nap, feasted, then went and coached at Another Crossfit Gym…then did a shit-ton of pullups and kettlebell bench pressing. Ended with Airdyne races w/ some friends.

    MY POINT: Crossfit is like Kleenex…a very good brand, but not the ultimate end all be all solution, whether you want to wipe you nose, or be “fitter,” and especially if you want to specialize. Even though both our gyms are Crossfit affiliates, ultimately we run a “strength and conditioning” program which pulls a lot of info from a LOT of qualified sources and applies it to our trainees personally.

    We’ve even debated dropping the Crossfit name from one gym…but it’s hard when it’s such gawdammed good marketing. Anyway, we have rubber mats and racks and bumpers and believe that work QUALITY is paramount…

    for some gym owners, Crossfit is just a good way to facilitate opening a quality gym

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