Does CrossFit Work? Data From the Summer Programming at CFGE

One of the unique features of CrossFit is that we measure it. It's something that makes the entire community stand out from most of the fitness world.

It's why we as a gym switched over from a pen-and-paper model of performance tracking to a system that records our data automatically. Or, it's supposed to. 

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We measure power output. We focus on one question: what can you do, and how fast did you do it? (note: those of you who know me will also note that I ask how well you did it also, as we can often improve numbers without improving fitness simply by moving better)

Because of that, we have to test, measure, train, and then re-test. 

The results of this cycle, from July to August, are in.

I'm proud of you guys.

If it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, know that I'm tooting our collective team horn.

All results were calculated via TrainHeroic data exported to some spreadsheets. I tracked the people who recorded scores on both days that the workouts were tested, even if they didn't improve or went backwards. That only happened twice out of 70+ data points. I also eliminated scores where the workout was scaled differently (e.g. 65lbs thrusters vs 55lbs thrusters).


The workout is-

21-15-9 reps for time

Thrusters 95/65



July Average Time- 5:22

September Average Time- 4:50

While we collectively as a gym don't have an average Fran time of 4:50, the people who logged both days were among the faster athletes. 

On average, we PRd by over 30 seconds on a 5-minute workout, with some performances in the 3-minute range.


One of our gym's favorites.

5 Rounds for Time

12 Deadlifts 155/105

9 Hang Power Cleans 155/105

6 Shoulder-to-Overhead 155/105

July Average Time- 10:51

September Average Time- 9:43

We PRd that workout by over a minute as a group: 1:08 to be exact



This isn't an official "Girl" workout like Fran, but it gives us a really good look at the entire shoulder girdle's ability to work smoothly under fatigue. A decent combo of strength and conditioning in the tradition of CrossFit workouts, and it just so happened to fall on the first week of the Team Series where a similar structured workout was posted, so I honestly felt a little validated. 

Then again, it's not that unique of a workout. 

I digress

Martha is: 

21-15-9 reps for time

Overhead Squat 115/75

Bar-Facing Burpee

July Average Time- 8:19

September Average Time- 7:01

The average PR was again over a minute (1:18), which is around an 18% reduction in time. 

Some might call that statistically significant. 

Back Squat 2RM

We tested our 2RM Squat at the beginning of the cycle, and I was honestly a little nervous about predictably increasing those numbers. We lift a lot at this gym, so improving on already good numbers while focusing on conditioning pieces like the Metcons above is a little daunting. 

But you guys are amazing, it turns out, and crushed it. 

July Average 2RM: 213lbs

September Average 2RM: 239lbs

Average PR: 36lbs

We even had someone (admittedly a beginner) increase his PR by 80lbs, but I removed his score from the pool as an outlier.

Conclusion: training, tracking, and improving over time

Are there more metrics that we should be measuring in order to get a perfect picture of health? Of course. Power output is a correlate to health and fitness, but more details about what's happening under the hood of individuals like blood lipids and hormonal profiles would be needed for a blanket bill of health. 

That being said, it's a strong correlate.

CrossFit coaches often refer to their clients as "athletes," because that's how we view the people we help. They aren't training for a sport most of the time. They're training to chase kids around, to earn their desserts, and to keep their spouses interested. 

But the principles of training for life apply the same as they do for a competitive athlete. Nike ran a campaign that said "Stop exercising. Start training." and I agree with that sentiment. Exercise as it's understood in the culture at large is something you have to do to not die. It's a doctor's recommendation after comparing your physical results year after year, "you should exercise more," or it's the hamster wheel of burning calories on a treadmill. 

Training, on the other hand, is inherently purposeful. It begs the question: what are you training for? A marathon? A weightlifting meet? A barbecue volleyball game?

It doesn't have to be something competitive, either. Turns out the best way to not die is by seeking purpose in your training and trying to thrive. By simply measuring, training with a goal in mind, and measuring again, we can mimic the habits of the best athletes, coaches, and competitors in the world. 

Log your scores in TrainHeroic. Show up on Re-Test days. Do the program as it's written, and eat decently well and you will improve. 

You don't have to be the best. Just better than you were yesterday.

On to the Fall Program.