CrossFit – Optimized fitness
We all want to be more healthy and more fit. Do you need a new challenge or new motivation in your quest for health? CrossFit could be the answer for you..In this article we will explain what CrossFit is, what it could do for you and why you should give it a try. If you aren’t into training right now, start with reading the top 5 positive effects of training before proceeding.
My personal definition of CrossFit is:
“A constantly evolving OPEN-SOURCE fitness program, guaranteed to improve the users movement patterns and overall fitness. The program is validated by measurable observable and repeatable data.”
That’s just my personal CrossFit elevator pitch.. whats is the official definition of CrossFit?
What is CrossFit?
Lets start with you watching this promo video:
CrossFit is many things. It is a physical exercise philosophy a competitive Fitness sport and a Company founded by Greg Glassman in 2000. Glassman defined fitness as:
“increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains”
Which is “jargon” for -> Get faster and stronger as time passes in as many different activities as possible and you are physically fit.
-> do you agree that this is fitness? Wikipedia suggests “physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being”.
And health can be defined
as “a state of complete physical, by mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
CrossFit states that it optimizes fitness
Lets break that down. ..
Constant variation = never adapting, prepared for anything and fun.
There are several reasons to have a constant variance in your fitness program: One according to CF Nashua
is that the body never adapts
if you always change the workouts, meaning that you do not reach the plateaus and stagnate in your mission to constantly get better and improve. Compare this to always doing the same workout, you will get better at it (perhaps exponentially?) in the beginning. But after a while your body will have adapted to the movements and you will stagnate in your development.
Another reason is being prepared for as many different scenarios as possible -> one day you might have to move a sofa for a friend, the next day carry groceries and the next day push a car that is out of gas – the next day surf on the ocean, ski or whatever you like to do.
Your aim in life should be to not SUCK at life and you want to be as prepared as possible for these REAL-LIFE events and use your fitness to your advantage.
A constant variance also makes training fun and exiting – not knowing what to expect before a training session.
High intensity is what gives you results.
Intensity is the act of creating power and it can be defined as how much weight you can move over the longest distance in the shortest amount of time. We can calculate Power (P) as force (F) multiplied by distance (d) and divided by time (t)
As you increase strength (Force
) and/or (Distance
), and/or decrease the duration (Time
) it takes to do this, your overall output (Power
) increases. You can calculate power output and in this example we are doing the CrossFit workout FRAN
(Three rounds, 21-15- and 9 reps, for time of: 95-pound Thruster and Pull-ups) in 5 min, the athlete weighs 95 KG and is 184 CM high. To do the calculations we used a power calculator
Work Performed (5min FRAN)
- 59553.14 joules
- 6072.63 kg-m
- 22633.29 ft-lbs
The power output (5min FRAN)
- 198.11 Watts
- 0.27 Horsepower
- 146.41 ft-lbs/sec
First of all – most people does not know what these measurements mean.. (let me know if you want to know more about them..) Lets presume the athlete rests for a while and then does this workout in 4 minutes (1 minute faster than above).
Work Performed (4min FRAN)
- 49684.81 joules
- 5066.36 kg-m
- 36647.52 ft-lbs
Power Output (4min FRAN)
- 207.02 watts
- 0.28 horsepower
- 152.69 ft-lbs/sec
There is a difference in almost 1000 joules in performed work and an increase in 8 watts for power output but only a 0.01 increase in horsepower. This is surely interesting! BUT! Does this really help us to make us more fit? Is it practically applicable?
Is this kind of calculations really useful?
To answer that, lets step back and ask ourselves -> what are we trying to achieve? We want to improve our fitness. We want to use our fitness in the real world and that require more than just power output.
Real world abilities require power measured through the productive application of force.
It’s simple: maximize your load (weights) and the distance you move that load while minimizing the time it takes you to do so. Russell Berger
argues that Counting your reps, weighing your barbells, and timing your workouts is really all you need. We don’t need more data, we need results. Intensity (power) is the arguably the most important variable when it comes to optimizing the results of a workout.
CrossFit makes you fitter, but you will have to work harder and have to manage the pain of intensity. The greater the intensity, the greater the discomfort. This is same in almost any sport and much of fitness is nothing more than the tolerance of discomfort
Performing constantly varied functional movements at (relatively) high intensity is CrossFit’s prescription for optimizing fitness. We maximize intensity by using something as simple as a stopwatch.
Functional movements is movement that your body is built for, for example picking things up from the ground and squatting.
“Functional movements are movements based on real-world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements which place demand on the body’s core musculature and innervation.” Wikipedia
The skills you learn in Crossfit (constantly varied high-intensity functional movements.. remember?) are meant to be applicable in real life situations and functional movements have a “universal scalability” -> meaning that these movements can be transferred to any sports or any other physical endeavor. Functional movement patterns are patterns performed in “wave” that move from your core to extremity (from the powerful center of the body to the less powerful limbs).
Neuro-endocrine Adaptation (NA)
“a change in the body that affects you either neurologically or hormonally”.
Neurology meaning “the functions of the brain, spinal column and the nervous system (responsible for coordinating body movements). Hormones are chemicals that act like messengers in the body. Your body responds to certain exercises with releasing hormones like:
All of the above play a vital part in muscle breakdown and rebuilding.
that research has found that isolation movements, such as dumbell curls,
hamstring curls, leg extensions, etc. have no effect on the NA response.
Certain exercises can maximize NA and the most effective exercises that stimulate the neuroendocrine system include large groups of muscle.
Use higher volume and moderate to high intensity with shorter rest intervals between sets. This means that using CrossFit programming you are improving the health of your cells, tissues, nerves, hormones . . . essentially building a strong MIND & BODY!
Functional movements examples:
- Olympic Lifting
General fitness – NOT specialized
CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but rather a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten fitness domains. Your aim should be to NOT SUCK AT ANY OF THEM.
The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. From CrossFit Wreckage:
The 10 general physical skills
1. Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance – The ability of the body’s systems to gather, process, and transport oxygen.
2. Stamina – The ability of the body to process, store, deliver, and utilize energy.
3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units to apply force.
4. Flexibility – The ability of maximizing the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time between one movement pattern to another.
9. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
10. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
A fitness program should develop all 10 domains.
Theory behind CrossFit
One of the things that attracts me the most to CrossFit is that is is a fitness program that is “open-source”
meaning that anyone can see and evaluate it anywhere. The methods, results and criticism are transparent. CrossFit is “evidence-based”
– meaning that the program has been tested by a lot of people and for a substantial amount of time and it produces results. CrossFit is supported by data
meaning that facts that are measurable, observable, and repeatable supports the program.
CrossFit is a open source model, INTERNET based, super collaborative, fired on by a spontaneous community where methods results and criticism are available for the world.
The CrossFit methodology depends on full disclosure
of methods, results and criticisms, nothing is secret or “esoteric
” . CrossFit use the Internet as a primary means
to support these values. Which is great for the individual that wants to learn more, there are an endless stream of FREE and Open resources to learn from. I recommend Kelly Starett (MobilityWOD
), Carl Paoli (GymnasticsWOD
) and Diane Fu (FuBarBell
) to start with. And off Course CrossFits .com
(if you are new to CrossFit – simply click their link: “Start Here”)
Why CrossFit? Results.
What I really like is that if you are skeptical to CrossFit simply try it. IT will work. It will not be easy – but it will work.
“And when it all comes down to it – what we want is RESULTS”
Another thing that is great with CrossFit is that the program is OPEN to new things and continuously try new things. IF you have a better system and/or approach to fitness that will get us results faster, safer, more efficient CrossFit will try it. This resonates well with FLAWD and continuous improvement Crossfit is a “minimalist program”
and this is reflected by simplicity of the equipment compared to most commercial gyms.
The CrossFit philosohopy: Fitness in 100 words
World Class fitness in 100 words
“Eat meat and vegtables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train all major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J and snatch. Similarly master the basics of gymnastics: Pull ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups,presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, ect, hard and fast. Five to Six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
This CrossFit Journal article from 2002
describes A theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete.It starts with nutrition, then metabolic conditioning, gymnastic, weightlifting and finally sports.
According to CrossFit – Sport is better, at expressing and testing skills than it is at developing these same skills. Both expression and development are crucial. CrossFit encourage and expect athletes to engage in regular sports efforts in addition to their strength and conditioning work. If you have a deficiency at any level of “the pyramid” the components above will suffer.
For the fitness that we are pursuing, every parameter within your control needs to be modulated to broaden the stimulus as much as possible. Your body will only respond to an unaccustomed stressor; routine is the enemy of progress and broad adaptation. Don’t subscribe to high reps, or low reps, or long rests, or short rests, strive for variance
Crossfit Community – “the Köhler Effect”
We have covered definitions of CrossFit, Fitness, the underlying theory and results. But one great thing that “outsiders” can’t understand, is the community
. Tabata times
mentions that there is science in training in a community setting – it is called the “köhler effect
“phenomenon that occurs when a person works harder as a member of a group than when working alone.” Köhler effect
Not only are you being motivated by others working hard, you are also motivated by your willingness to NOT be the last to finish, you get motivated by the cheering of the group, and you want to give your all. There is a limit: “research has shown that working out with someone who is at your level or much, much better doesn’t really motivate us.The key is to find someone you consider just a little better, so meeting or beating their performance is an achievable goal.”
In addition to the Köhler effect, there is the added benefit of increased levels of endorphins which occur in a group exercise setting. You will also celebrate personal records alongside other athletes.
Fans of CF know that it is not just a struggle to win and be better. It is an internal struggle – a personal struggle to fight against your mind your body during stress.
It is very rare in sports that your opponent will cheer you on. Invoke
suggests that this is a common theme in CrossFit and it is one of the major reasons why people love competing. The person who finishes last is cheered for just as much if not more as the person who finished first. Fans never bue anyone for not being best of for being last. Compare that to your feelings towards European football fans.
209585 reasons to try CrossFit now
The Open is a truly “open” competition. Anyone from anywhere can participate.
- Each year, participation in “the Open” has grown exponentially. In 2011: about 26,000 people signed up for the first-ever Open.
- 2012: 69,370 people signed up.
- 2013, there were 138,619 participants,
- 2014 registration closed with 209,585 people.
Don’t be afraid to TRY – here are some other people sharing their experience with their FIRST CrossFit experience!
CrossFit is for anyone – but NOT FOR EVERYONE.
Have you tried CrossFit? Let us know your experience!
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Finishing of with some resources for you: