Circuit Training vs Crossfit

Aaron King (00:00):

Welcome back to the modern old school training podcast. I'm Aaron Cain with coach Bob King and today's topic is CrossFit vs Circuit Training, and how do they compare? So we get this question a lot because CrossFit's very popular and there's, this is not a bash CrossFit episode. So I don't want people to think we're going to start making fun of it.


Coach Bob King (00:20):

We're not doing that.


Aaron King (00:22):

What we're doing is we're talking about where things like this fit in sports training and just the value of it but then also the risk of it.


Coach Bob King (00:32):

Yeah. You have to always account for that in your training, you know, does this, is this going to improve me or set me back? Cause we see it all the time with athletes getting hurt, trying to push it to the next level. Don't do that. Yeah.


Aaron King (00:43):

Yeah. I think that's really kind of the moral of the story is pushing it. Yeah. And that's, that's where we see, probably the biggest problem is just the the methodology behind it. Yeah.


Coach Bob King (00:52):

And we'll talk about as we go on is, is that how much do accomplished athletes need to, to actually do? We see it all the time. We get our college kids in and we work them through the summer and this happens a little slower at the high school level. But what happens is they will come in to work out with us, get our system down, be very successful in the training, go off for nine months to the school are going to play their sport. They come back, we start the workouts over again. And this, this happened just recently in the past summer we had a couple of our guys, some of our guys come back and then the first week I just tore up the workouts that I got to redo this. They knew it so well, they were doing so well so fast that we had to reign them in because we had nine more weeks. And so adaptation is, is the point of training, but then how do you keep them from getting physically and mentally bored? So when we're talking about these kinds of things, CrossFit circuit training, we're going to show you where they fit because it's, they're not an island unto themselves, but they are inter interlock with a lot of other training styles.


Aaron King (01:52):

Where do you even start? Is it a question of where does it fit or I'm going to do CrossFit


Coach Bob King (02:01):

It's where does it fit? Okay. So, you know, a guy always talked about if all you have and if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So let me get to this study, cause this is where I think you and I really do well as we go out and get what's called unbiased, legitimate work that studies the exercises study the workouts and how does it fit and where does it fit a CrossFit versus surrogate trained individuals and what these guys did, they look for the effects of a 10-week training program on muscular strength and endurance. Now I want to go by piece by piece because it's not a lengthy study, but when you talk about a 10-week training program, that should get you everything you need as far as adaptation gains and then leveling off.


Coach Bob King (02:44):

Now on the other side of it, it talks about muscular strength and endurance. And those are key athletic components because endurance if you get tired, your strength goes away. And so you have to have both and I'm going to go back and forth and read excerpts for accuracy of this. But the one thing I noticed is this is what you have to understand. They, they start talking about CrossFit, being a type of high-intensity exercises that use different loads and duration of Olympics, power lifts, kettlebells, and other types of training body weight and that kind of thing. So it doesn't just utilize equipment of one kind obviously, and then people know this by now, but let me just give you some highlights here. They made a comment that to date, and again, I'm going to read for accuracy today. No information is available comparing the effects of a longitudinal CrossFit or surrogate training program on performance and measures the keyword on almost anything you do as long laundry longevity, longitudinal this time means to say they have 15 years of data, even a year of data.


Coach Bob King (03:50):

It's not out there because it's just all that is relatively new in comparison, CHRO CrossFit, I don't know about eight or 10 or 14 years. I don't know for sure. Surrogate training since the beginning of time. Yeah. And so longitudinally. We don't know how it happens over time. We know some of the downsides to CrossFit, but we also know people get stronger and so forth. They want to find out if strength and endurance indicators differ. And when you do that in, in experimenting, you have to say in the beginning, we'll go see if your bench press is stronger or your mile run is strong, faster, or your, you can do a hundred pushups in a minute or what it is. So you have to establish the parameters in the beginning. And so they did CrossFit or circuit training. And everybody knows what I said about CrossFit.


Coach Bob King (04:35):

Surrogate training is most commonly anywhere from eight to 12 exercises, one after another, and then repeating. So that's the circuit aspect of it. And so they decided that three days a week, they're going to test the one-rep bench press one rep back squat, and in muscular endurance was going to be a traditional push-up test. The benefit of a traditional push-up test is it's universal. So if you say you do 400 pushups, you go, everybody knows that's a lot. You did three pushups. Everybody knows you're terrible at counting two, four, six. So anyway, they went through the 10-week program. And if you're reading research, the way I do that is I will take a research article is how I found this one, read the abstract. That's the summary, here's what we did and what we were looking for. If it's any good, I go ahead and go to the end and read the conclusions and what they call sometimes the, you know, suggestions or usefulness the methodologies I usually decipher.


Coach Bob King (05:35):

So we'll get to the conclusion. What they found was that, and this is, this is a Keith point to all training methods. The cross-training group improved significantly more than the CrossFit group in the upper body. One REM well, that's, that's not a knock on anything other than the specificity of training and get that a lot. Well, should I do this? Or I'm doing a very functional, I'm doing a very, some specific training specificity of training means you get good at doing what you do because you do it often enough with increased loads or something of that matter. And so the CrossFit doesn't have bench press circuit training does therefore what? And so it does, it's not a knock on anything. And so that's what you had to be careful of. Well, this proves no, it doesn't prove anything other than that in the world of training, if you bench press you'll get stronger, if you don't, you won't.


Coach Bob King (06:29):

So that was one of the conclusions of it. And I liked this part about it. It says both the CrossFit and circuit training groups improved similarly in the lower body and upper body endurance and a bench press is not a regular moving across for it. It says, and that's what we already knew. And so there's no question that circuit training where you lift and move, lift, and move, lift, and move, and then CrossFit, where it's high-intensity move to another exercise, share the lift and move principle. You're going to get more endurance. You're going to get fitter, whatever you're doing. I was supposed, they didn't test it, but I was supposed, it was circuit training. Ben get very strong in the power claim because CrossFit will do power cleans or hang cleans or something of that Olympic style movement. So the bottom line is you can take any training method and compare it to another.


Coach Bob King (07:18):

And if you do it and I don't, you're going to get better and vice versa. If we all do the same thing, it's going to probably be a matter of individuals, how much they can handle loads and intensity. So when we hear this and I mean, you and me and guys in our profession, people who are just you know, tribal or community or whatever, going, Oh, this is the best way to train. Well, it's the specificity of training. It's the best way to train, to get good at that? Where does it fit in sports? Is it make you stronger? Is it make you a more fitter, but does it make you faster, more agile? Those are things that always have to be considered in program choices. What will it do to help my sport, another aspect, what will it do to hurt my sport? And that means is this type of training injury-prone, well, Olympic movements are highly complex and they can be susceptible to injury powerlifting, definitely because there are such great loads.


Coach Bob King (08:14):

So all of these things are good if they are coached well and modified and regulated and everything, according to what the sport needs we've done other podcasts and things about squatting and speed. If you squat a ton, you're faster to a point and it was the first five yards. And that's it? Yeah. Yeah. So first five you're, you're just fine. You're going to do anybody squatting less, but then after that, it became just really more technique and speed training specifically. So picking a program and we started this CrossFit or that type of thing, even the surrogate training is a tool in the toolbox and in King's program, what we do is we have, we call specials. And so we will be training for a period of weeks and it's like, I see it coming. So I build it in. And so we may, a lot of times we'll use Friday as our special day.


Coach Bob King (09:04):

And it could be who knows what? I mean, it could be some sort of a, what we call a 10 30 tips program where we do a high volume reps, or we do an upper-lower split in the same day. We do complexes that involve everything from lift run and jump in combination. And so we insert these things surrogate training, we use as kind of an active recovery midweek thing. And so it's not our program. It's in our program. We do a thing called a strand. A strand is something we developed in the early nineties that became a kind of a cousin to CrossFit. It's got a different, a different design to it. It's got a very specific twice, twice a year, but it is just intense. It's all good. Well, you've done it and we've both done it. And so these are tools.


Coach Bob King (09:54):

So is it good? Yes. I personally don't want to surrogate train everyday power every day, CrossFit every day, but I want some variety because the word has talked about in the beginning, longevity, longitudinal, how am I going to be for as an athlete? Who's training hard for a career that ends abruptly at the end of high school or halfway through college or at the end of college. Now you're looking at the rest of your life. You need to maintain some level of strength and fitness. In my opinion, strength is functional. So there you have it. Go ahead.


Aaron King (10:25):

Well, and I'm also thinking about the individual there's, there's plenty of athletes that they're getting all those extra reps on the Olympics or squats or whatever, but then some other guys won't even put a bar on their back. It comes down to position, comes down to the individual. Some guys are built alike, and girls are built, Oh yeah, special.


Coach Bob King (10:47):

Oh, and that's, you know, back in the old days. And I don't know if they still do it. They taught us about, you know, everything coming out of Russia and Eastern Europe was sacred. I mean, those guys, they knew everything. And this is where we first learned about the grid, where they would put your body up and they'd put your arms out and look at you on, on a wall with a grid and look at your body segments. And they start identifying, who's got the best segmental de design or build for Olympic lifting. And so their whole approach to how they identified and had, you know, everybody in the club lifting and then the better ones moved into the more elite level. And then it gradually got to where there are Olympic athletes were picked out of just those who perform the best of course. But they started by just looking at her segments because you know, it's we have a kid, we had one, right. Athletes just had long arms. It's like, dude, we're going to have you do hang cleans. Cause you're never going to get it off the ground if you do power cleans. So your, your levers are terrible. So we'll hang clean you.


Aaron King (11:45):

Yeah. And that's where the the individual training is important for the program. Well, what, what's the, I guess the big knock would be kind of what you touched on it a second ago of coaching. It's the technical element. It's one that the novice that's going in there and they're just throwing them into cleans.


Coach Bob King (12:04):

Yeah. That's a real sensitive subject over on my side of the table because we don't do, we don't do snatches. We did them, I did them coming through, but we were well-coached and we learned it and the snatch is highly technical and it's real mistake-prone and that leads to injuries. And so we just say, we got other options we can do a push press we can do is, is neat or cool looking or as effective as a snatch is for a group. No, you'll never get anything done because you'll spend all your time coaching individuals and you can go through. And I don't like saying this totally, but you can be semi sloppy on a hang clean and survive it. But on certain overhead lifts, snatch again, and people want to do a snatch squat. That right there is a load. I mean, it's called axial loading right down the spine. And so just gotta be careful with that. So if I'm in a group setting or say, well, the same thing, but a setting where you have an experienced group and here come a couple of novices, it's like, man, the party stops because you have to put all your focus on the new people. If it's a complex or a multi-joint lifts, that require real good technical skills.


Aaron King (13:18):

Yeah. No, it goes back to your, your training, then, the specificity of training, isn't the movement itself. And that's why, I guess one of the jokes is, not joke, but one of the comments, you're just being really good at working out, you know, like you're training to work out, which is fine. And I, you know, that's, I think the crossover is how applicable is that for sports specific.


Coach Bob King (13:42):

Yeah. And I think we're, we're going to have there are different sports. Well, it's true. I mean, it's like CrossFit became a sports competition. You're not going to see a circuit training competition, but you know, CrossFit became a sport. So if that's your sport, then you train to do those events.


Aaron King (13:59):

There's one thing I will say about CrossFit that they knocked out of the park. It is the community, the tribal thing we talked touched on that is it's the same. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's, it's so well done. Because they've done it across kind of a broad spectrum where each you have these, each gym kind of has like their answer to the almighty, whatever the workout of the day is. So they've done that very well and gotten a lot of people active probably way beyond


Coach Bob King (14:29):

What would be, who would have seen that coming?


Aaron King (14:31):

I, you know, I love pickup basketball, but I'm not going to tribe for pickup


Coach Bob King (14:36):

Basketball. You know, I'm not


Aaron King (14:38):

Losing weight, but if you're CrossFit, you're accountable to your


Coach Bob King (14:41):

Yeah. Well to their credit. I mean, the intensity of it gives the participants a great satisfaction to say what look what I did today. I'll just live with longevity, you know when I was in the pros I knew then that if I could get this guy fit strong and shape and healthy and the offseason and add years to his career and the NBA that's millions of dollars. And so that was a goal there. So not, not to see how, not just how good of a strength coach I am, but just how much I could put on this guy and build this, you know, a statue of a man, when in fact I just need a good basketball player. And so you look at the end or what people like, say, what's the outcome here? Well, I need a very, very good basketball, very good football player, whoever it is, I'm training on the court field or wherever that's what I need if this, this or that style of lifting suits them. And they may grow up with it. I mean, you can, you can adapt, but to get into an only kind of mentality, I think is a mistake.  


Aaron King (15:43):

Well, I mean, how much Olympic lifting even want to do in basketball to begin with? I mean, that's what I was saying. The sports-specific football shoe,


Coach Bob King (15:50):

Or there's been, there's been the thing about Olympic training is that if you're a good coach, knows where the pieces fit. So for example, we would do with the basketball players, you know, we hang jumps, where we take the bar and jump from the knee and hang cleans, was, you know, depending on their arm length, I'd do a hang clean occasionally with a push press. I just didn't have any seven-footers. I just wanted to that bar going 18 feet overhead with those long arms. So you know, the Olympics are good explosive movements, but there are other options we're not stuck. We're not like all or none. And that's where I think, you know, you fall in love with a style of training and then you feel like that's all we can do for this particular what do you call it? Trait, you know, so more speed, more explosion. Well, we can only get it from this. No, we've, we've developed a lot of ways of, you know, it's like going to the, you know, to the gym, you know, everybody comes from everybody everywhere in different routes, but they all ended up the same place. So we can do the same thing and training here, different methods to get to the same end result.


Aaron King (16:53):

Yeah. And, you know, we, we talked a lot about the Olympic and CrossFit stuff here, but circuit training was kind of the baseline. Yeah. I think that the not misnomer misconception on, on, on circuit training is that you're just doing high reps. And, but were you,


Coach Bob King (17:12):

Where the program,


Aaron King (17:14):

It's the short segment, the long segment where you start throwing in the bench, the squat and, and your, your, your core lifts those rep schemes vary. It's a circuit, but the rep schemes is where the most


Coach Bob King (17:27):

We evolved in, in, I think I if I haven't remembered, the first thing that we ever did is a modification of the circuit training was in 1983. Yeah. 1983. And so we broke it into segments because circuit training is not always doable. It's very, it's too long and inefficient a lot of ways. But what we did was we broke it into segments and we just, you know, push pool, nothing tricky about it. So as you know, we'd go bench back, legs, leg, you know, so squat like curl RDL, something like that. And so one body part was arrested while the other one is working and we could lift and move and get more done. And our strength was never compromised. It was never a matter of, well, our bench press is 50-pound weekers, but we got done quicker. No, our bench press never suffered.


Coach Bob King (18:12):

We got all the 300 plus we needed we got all the big squats we needed. We did very well. And, you know, the thing I always said is as a high school coach, my athletes, we're just, we're really lab rats. And so what we discovered is when we competed in powerlifting meets, we did very well. We went to track and field. We did very well and the throwing events, which are powerful and in sprints. And we did well. I mean, you can do what you need to do if you'll learn it. So to say circuit training, I'm not doing three sets of 12 for 10 exercises and not getting any stronger. Nah, no. You know, we do, you know, like a five, three, one, one in a segment. So


Aaron King (18:52):

I went through the program and you know, I think I left high school, 12 reps to 25, something like that. Yeah. Four years in a division one college program, I left there doing it 17 times. So in four years, I added five reps while I went to the combine after a couple of months of training and I did 25 reps. Yeah. So it's like, you know, doing, you know, maybe, maybe it was because I just, you know, that was just the right time.


Coach Bob King (19:19):

And there are a lot of reasons. But the thing that I like to also say in connection with that is it didn't set you back. It didn't hold you back. It didn't interfere with your goals. And so, yeah. And we get that. We still get that, you know, 1983, whatever it is now, a hundred years later, we're still seeing the same if you know a benefit, you know, we just had, you know, a player is gone and second round of the NBA draft here in 2018 and that's what he did. And he'll do well in the pros. I mean, he left, he left Dallas with, you know, good body shape, good body type. Good speed. So we wish him well.


Aaron King (19:58):

Yeah. Well did we miss anything?


Coach Bob King (20:01):

No, there's, there's no, there's no way in. So we, we covered what we started to get into. So I guess if we had questions or people want to respond, they, they can certainly find it


Aaron King (20:11):

Questions or comments, feedback. We'd love it. We try to touch on these topics as much as we can to provide the science behind them. So we all have our opinions going in, but once you start throwing data and science, you start realizing, you know, something different. And so if you have something you'd like to share, let us know. If you're on YouTube, you can just comment below if you can hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @DeepSnap, coach Bob Kings @CoachBobKing on both of those go-to We've got the web app. You get in there, get some workouts, and then we've got webinars coming up. So that'll be a whole nother level of diving, diving into these topics. So let us know. And you got anything else? Good. All right. We'll talk to you next time. See ya.


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