How is Crossfit Different from my local “Globo Gym?”
In gyms and health clubs throughout the world the typical workout consists of isolation movements and extended aerobic sessions. The fitness community from trainers to the magazines has the exercising public believing that lateral raises, curls, leg extensions, sit-ups and the like combined with 20-40 minute stints on the stationary bike or treadmill are going to lead to some kind of great fi tness. Well, at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with pushpress, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort our athletes will do fi ve or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods
Is this for me?
Absolutely! Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s differ by degree not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and coordination are each important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we’d assign an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining functional independence and improving fitness. Squatting is just one example of a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough coaching and incremental load assignment CrossFit has been able to teach anyone who can care for themselves to perform safely and with maximum efficacy the same movements typically utilized by professional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Who has benefited from CrossFit?
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in the CrossFit Program. Prizefighters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players,triathletes and others competing at the highest levels are using the CrossFit approach to advance their core strength and conditioning, but that’s not all. CrossFit has tested its methods on the sedentary, overweight, pathological, and elderly and found that these special populations met the same success as our stable of athletes. We call this “bracketing”. If our program works for Olympic Skiers and overweight, sedentary homemakers then it will work for you.
Just what is a “core strength and conditioning” program?
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program in two distinct senses. First, we are a core strength and conditioning program in the sense that the fitness we develop is foundational to all other athletic needs. This is the same sense in which the university courses required of a particular major are called the “core curriculum”. This is the stuff that everyone needs. Second, we are a “core” strength and conditioning program in the literal sense meaning the center of something. Much of our work focuses on the major functional axis of the human body, the extension and flexion, of the hips and extension, flexion, and rotation of the torso or trunk. The primacy of core strength and conditioning in this sense is supported by the simple observation that powerful hip extension alone is necessary and nearly sufficient for elite athletic performance. That is, our experience has been that no one without the capacity for powerful hip extension enjoys great athletic prowess and nearly everyone we’ve met with that capacity was a great athlete. Running, jumping, punching and throwing all originate at the core. At CrossFit we endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which is by the way how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to the extremities.
Can I enjoy optimal health without being an athlete?
No! Athletes experience a protection from the ravages of aging and disease that non-athletes never find. For instance, 80-year-old athletes are stronger than non-athletes in their prime at 25 years old. If you think that strength isn’t important consider that strength loss is what puts people in nursing homes. Athletes have greater bone density, stronger immune systems, less coronary heart disease, reduced cancer risk, fewer strokes, and less depression than non-athletes.
What is an athlete?
According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring strength, agility, or stamina”. The CrossFit definition of an athlete is a bit tighter. The CrossFit definition of an athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in strength, power, balance and agility, flexibility, and endurance”. The CrossFit model holds “fitness”, “health”, and “athleticism” as strongly overlapping constructs. For most purposes they can be seen as equivalents.
What if I don’t want to be an athlete; I just want to be healthy?
You’re in luck. We hear this often, but the truth is that fitness, wellness, and pathology (sickness) are measures of the same entity, your health. There are a multitude of measurable parameters that can be ordered from sick (pathological) to well (normal) to fit (better than normal). These include but are not limited to blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, body fat, muscle mass, flexibility, and strength. It seems as though all of the body functions that can go awry have states that are pathological, normal, and exceptional and that elite athletes typically show these parameters in the exceptional range. The CrossFit view is that fitness and health are the same thing. It is also interesting to notice that the health professional maintains your health with drugs and surgery each with potentially undesirable side effect whereas the CrossFit Coach typically achieves a superior result always with “side benefit” vs. side effect.
What is the CrossFit method?
The CrossFit method is to establish a hierarchy of effort and concern that builds as follows: Diet – lays the molecular foundations for fitness and health. Metabolic Conditioning – builds capacity in each of three metabolic pathways, beginning with aerobic, then lactic acid, and then phosphocreatine pathways. Gymnastics – establishes functional capacity for body control and range of motion. Weightlifting and throwing – develop ability to control external objects and produce power. Sport – applies fitness in competitive atmosphere with more randomized movements and skill mastery.
What are Some Examples of CrossFit exercises?
Biking, running, swimming, and rowing in an endless variety of drills. The clean&jerk, snatch, squat, deadlift, push-press, bench-press, and power-clean. Jumping, medicine ball throws and catches, pull-ups, dips, push-ups, handstands, presses to handstand, pirouettes, kips, cartwheels, muscle-ups, sit-ups, scales, and holds. We make regular use of bikes, the track, rowing shells and ergometers, Olympic weight sets, rings, parallel bars, free exercise mat, horizontal bar, plyometrics boxes, medicine balls, and jump rope. There isn’t a strength and conditioning program anywhere that works with a greater diversity of tools, modalities, and drills.
What if I don’t have time for all of this?
It is a common sentiment to feel that because of the obligations of career and family that you don’t have the time to become as fit as you might like. Here’s the good news: world class, age group strength and conditioning is obtainable through an hour a day six days per week of training. It turns out that the intensity of training that optimizes physical conditioning is not sustainable past forty-five minutes to an hour. Athletes that train for hours a day are developing skill or training for sports that include adaptations inconsistent with elite strength and conditioning. Past one hour, more is not better!