Power, Speed and The Sport of Fitness

This is a follow-up discussion to my CF Games Review article. One of the critiques of that article was that I was incorrect in my statement..."True power and speed are not rewarded in The Sport of Fitness, strength, muscular endurance and aerobic capacity are. Train accordingly". Therefore, this article will again be my (Michael FitzGerald) opinion and attempt to clarify what I meant. Once again, I will only CF competitors as examples to explain my position. This is not meant to be negative towards any athlete.

Part 1 - Defining terms and providing context
First things first, what do I mean by true power and speed? The late/great Dr. Mel Siff states in his famous book "SUPERTRAINING" that power is the rate of doing work at any instant (P = W/t). The "instant" to which I am referring is within a short time interval (i.e. < 10 seconds). Let's go ahead and make another statement that people will hopefully not use out of context and be offended by. In reality, the best performers in the Sport of Fitness are NOT powerful. Relatively, they may be when compared to others at their level of competition and definitely so when compared to many lower level competitors. But, when compared to athletes that are TRUELY powerful then it becomes blatently obvious that they are not on that level. This statement should not come as a surprise to anyone interested in CF for the last 9 years (which I have been, have you?). Back when CF was in it's infancy, Coach Glassman was clear in that if you where too developed in one area of your fitness (i.e. 800lb back squat was the example I believe) then he knew you were deficient in other areas of your fitness (i.e. 1 mile run). This is as true a statement that you will ever read and is VERY easy to prove. But, typically you only get to be World Class in one area by being deficient in other areas. Do you think Usain Bolt cares if someone says he is not a world class endurance athlete? Hell no. Why would he? He is the fastest man on the planet. Staying on this theme, if you have a collegue or training partner that can run the 100m in under 12 seconds you probably think this guy is REALLY fast compared to your 15 second 100m run. He is fast/powerful when compared to you, how about when compared to those that are actually fast, like Usain Bolt's 9.58 sec 100m sprint? is your friend "fast/powerful" in that modality now? Hell no. There are individuals able to run at a 15 sec per 100m pace for many minutes at a time.

Part 2 - Examples
Example 1 - Clean and Jerk

The Clean and Jerk is a great display of total body strength, power and RFD.
Video Example - World Record Holder, Ilya Ilin (94kg), Clean and Jerking 170kg in warm-up. His max in training is 240kg, I think. Drugs or no drugs, that is ridiculous. Just notice how the lift looks when he does it versus Rich. 
Video Example - CF Games 3x Champion, Rich Froning (90-95kg), Clean and Jerking 170kg for a PR at that time.

Video Example - London 2012, Women's 63 kg Clean and Jerk finals. Best lift was 136 kg (I think). The World Record for women in that weight class is 143kg. 
Video Example - 2013 CF Games Champion, Samantha Briggs (60-62kg), Clean and Jerking 90kg. I am not positive this is her PR, but I assume it is close. I know Lindey Valenzuela finished 2nd this year and can C&J closer 105kg-110kg, but she would also be in the 69 kg or 75 kg Women's class, where the C&J records are 158kg and 163kg respectively. 

Side note - I know I am comparing them to specialists, but seriously, do you think that even with 100% focused training towards Weightlifting Rich or Samantha could catch those numbers? I think not. But, that is what makes them so great in The Sport of Fitness.

Example 2 - Broad Jump
The broad jump is a great example of lower body strength, power and RFD. It is also a pretty simple test, all things considered.
Video Example - from the 2013 NFL Combine, Jamie Collins. This is not a World Record, by the way. Jamie is 6'3", and weighed 250lbs at that time. He broad jumped 139 inches. He also did a 41" vertical jumps at the 2013 NFL combine. Let's do an experiment, perform a vertical jump to the best of your ability. See how it compares to Jamie Collins. But, remember, he also weighs 250lbs and moved his mass that distance. Think of the RFD and impluse/power required to do this. Why not have this event at the 2014 CF Games?
Video Example - from the 2012 CF Games. Nate Shrader won that event. Nate is listed at 6'1", and 212lbs. Not sure if this was what he weighed in 2012. He broad jumped 117 inches (22 inches less than Collins). 3x CF Games winner, Rich Froning, broad jumped 104 inches in 2012 (35 inches less than Collins).  2013 CF Games 2nd place, Jason Khalipa broad jumped 98.5 inches in 2012 (40.5 inches less than Collins). 

Example 3 - Agility/Sprint
This is a great example of agility, RFD and sprinting ability.
Video Example - I would wager that these guys are not the best possible example of the fastest guys at this position in the NFL. There may be better examples from other positions. I would like to see them run the Zig Zag Event from the 2013 CF Games. Who thinks they would finish 1st by a wide margin? Sure they have an advantage because they run routes like the zig zag on a more frequent basis, but I ask again, give sufficient practice on the zig zag course, do you think the males from the CF games would beat them? 
Video Example - from the 2013 CF Games. Very cool event. The individuals that were known to be the most powerful in this sport ended up finishing 1st (Marcus Hendren) and 2nd (Dan Bailey) in this event. 3x Champion Rich Froning finished tied for 18th in this event and 2nd place Jason Khalipa finished tied for 43rd.

Example 4 - Multiple Event Competency 
The Decathalon is a great example of a broad spectrum of athletic prowess, skill, power, speed, agility, stamina and short term endurance. This is not a "specialists" event for those thinking that. Meaning there are Track and Field athletes that perform better than Ashton at every single one of these events (i.e specialist vs. decathlete).
Video Example - from 2012 US Olympic Trials, Ashton Eaton. There is nobody in the CF Games that can touch any of these abilities. For arguments sake, let's stick with the less skillful events (IMO) for comparison only (100m Sprint and Long Jump). How would the top CF competitors perform in these 2 events, given sufficient time to practice? Again, this is NOT a knock against any CF competitors. On the other side, Ashton Eaton would lose badly to the top CF competitors in nearly every event at the CF Games, even with sufficient training and practice. Reason being, different abilities are rewarded/tested.

Part 3 - Physiology to the rescue 
All of the examples used to explain my position are examples of the ATP-CP energy system (minus 2 events from the Decathalon - 400m and 1500m). In order to display greatness in this energy system (i.e. it's absolute potential) you must possess the right muscle fibers (i.e. fast twitch muscle fibers and large motor neurons) AND you must train those fibers in a certain way in order to improve their ability/potential. Persistant muscular endurance training and aerobic conditioning (i.e. a large part of CF training) is NOT going to make Usain Bolt run the 100m faster, is not going to make Ilya Ilin C&J more and is not going to make Jamie Collins broad jump farther, for the reason stated. But, persistant muscular endurance training and aerobic conditioning WILL improve their performance in CF like events.

When most people analyze CF events and measured someone's power output for the entire event (ranging from 2 minutes to 30 minutes or more) that is a measure of average power, what I am talking about in this article is peak power. Even more specifically, World Class examples of peak power to give a point of reference when comparing athletes. If average power is obtained over an event that lasts longer than a few minutes this is a performance marker of the aerobic energy system as that would likely be the main energy system (but not always) being used in an event of this duration. But, like I said eariler, all the things I considered as good examples come from the ATP-CP energy system, and so they should as that is when a human's potential for peak power occurs.

Part 4 - Closing thoughts
The 2 most imporant energys systems in The Sport of Fitness (IMO) are ATP-CP battery (i.e. the ability to quickly recovery ATP and CP stores and perform at a relatively high neuromuscular effort repeatedly) and aerobic power (i.e. the ability to move continuously through a multitude of modalities/scenarios carried out for a long duration more easily/effieciently/sustainably than the next competitor). Neither of these systems are very important to the success of the above listed comparison athletes, with the exception of Ashton Eaton in the 400m and 1500m.

Other issues with my CF Games Review again stem from taking what I wrote out of context. I did not state that power and speed/RFD are not tested, I stated that people possessing the highest levels of that ability are not likely to win in The Sport of Fitness. But, out of 12 events at the 2013 Games, only 2 of them would reward the powerful individual (16% of total events).