What is CrossFit?
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 fitness. 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.
Well, at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push press, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort our athletes will do five 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.
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
The next goal for a CrossFit program is to make a program designed to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. It is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains: Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. Our program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs. The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. 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.
Aside from the breadth or totality of fitness the CrossFit Program seeks, our program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximizing neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and
practice with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies. Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways.
We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically while maximizing strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen this sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. And finally we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports
as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in the CrossFit Program. Prize- fighters, 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.
Some of the above information is borrowed from CrossFit. The full PDF version of this article is available for free at www.crossfit.com.