I've been reading a lot about alternatives to conventional bodybuilding programs, both in methodology (Crossfit) and equipment (kettlebells).

Personally, I've been playing with stuff like sandbags for fun, mainly in place of conventional cardio. I like some of the notions of crossfit, such as the use of gymnastics, and strongmen styles, noteably the interesting equipment.

Here are the basic principles of crossfit, from its creator:
"CrossFit is in large part derived from several simple observations garnered through hanging out with athletes for thirty years and willingness, if not eagerness, to experiment coupled with a total disregard for conventional wisdom. Let me share some of the more formative of these observations:
1. Gymnasts learn new sports faster than other athletes.
2. Olympic lifters can apply more useful power to more activities than other athletes.
3. Powerlifters are stronger than other athletes.
4. Sprinters can match the cardiovascular performance of endurance athletes – even at extended efforts.
5. Endurance athletes are woefully lacking in total physical capacity.
6. With high carb diets you either get fat or weak.
7. Bodybuilders can’t punch, jump, run, or throw like athletes can.
8. Segmenting training efforts delivers a segmented capacity.
9. Optimizing physical capacity requires training at unsustainable intensities.
10. The world’s most successful athletes and coaches rely on exercise science the way deer hunters rely on the accordion."

Agree? Disagree? Nothing there is particularly new or surprising to me, at least. But here's the really polemical quote, on gaining muscle:
"Here is a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:
1. Bodybuilding on steroids
2. CrossFitting on steroids
3. CrossFitting without steroids
4. Bodybuilding without steroids
The bodybuilding model is designed around, requires, steroids for significant hypertrophy.
The neuroendocrine response of bodybuilding protocols is so blunted that without "exogenous hormonal therapy" little happens.
The CrossFit protocol is designed to elicit a substantial neuroendocrine whollop and hence packs an anabolic punch that puts on impressive amounts of muscle though that is not our concern. Strength is.
Natural bodybuilders (the natural ones that are not on steroids) never approach the mass that our ahtletes do. They don't come close.
Those athletes who train for function end up with better form than those who value form over function. This is one of the beautiful ironies of training."

What do you think?

Quotes from the CrossFit FAQ.