CrossFit has a massive following. For those unfamiliar with what it is - CrossFit isn't just a kind of all-round fitness (or cross-section if you like) which gets you fit by targeting the whole body i.e. all the muscles; it's a serious brand of structured exercise and also a competition!
Background to CrossFit
It was invented as a mix between a physical training programme and competitive sport by a US guy called Greg Glassman. CrossFit is actually a registered trademark that many gyms (or 'boxes' as they are called) sign up to in order to run classes and train people for local, regional and national CrossFit competitions. We may be over-simplifying it, but in general terms, it's a sort of sport created from gym-going! Rather than train aimlessly, Greg saw that collectively people could work towards the goal of competing on how many pull-ups, deadlifts or box jumps they could do in a limited time period. We all love a bit of a challenge, hey!
So what does CrossFit actually cover?
Well, there are 10 areas of fitness discipline which have been set out for improvement These are:
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory
- Endurance & Stamina
Each area above is worked on by a mixture of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), olympic weightlifting, plyometrics (jumping), powerlifting, gymnastics, kettle-bell training, calisthenics (bodyweight) and strongman type exercises.
The way that official CrossFit classes tend to be structured is through an hour-long session with a warm-up exercise, skill development element, the high-intensity section and then finish with group stretching. Normally the high-intensity part is the designated 'workout of the day' or 'WOD' as it's come to be known.
We believe in balance and because CrossFit aims for all-round fitness across every area of aerobic fitness, strength and conditioning, it cannot be a bad thing. We are certainly not against it because it is a well-rounded way to get fit and have some fun along the way. The only drawback we'd say is that in terms of trying to do as many pull-ups etc as you can in a set time period of 1 minute for example; 1) it's not ideal for everyone and 2) it reduces form.
Good for functional fitness?
We believe in healthy competition and pushing towards goals yes, but not in going past a sensible set of repetitions which you cannot control safely. It takes a lot of practice before you can confidently and competently perform certain more difficult exercises. As per our previous blog about the number and speed of reps for strength training, for us it's about form over numbers performed. A lot of athletes agree with this approach as being quick at certain exercises doesn't necessarily make you functionally fit for specific disciplines. Being quick at an exercise doesn't = quick on the field or off the mark. If you are training for a specific sport, it's far better to put together a more focussed plan with specific and measurable goals. CrossFit is more broad brush. However, as CrossFit has become a sport in itself, it relies upon competition. So, if you're good at pull-ups, you may as well be the fastest at performing them!
So if we were running a CrossFit class today, what would our WOD be?! We always find that a good old box jump is super high intensity over 30-40 seconds plus a great explosive move for speed and power. It would fall into the category of plyometrics on the CrossFit spectrum. Here's how you do it (and the technique to go with it):
LEGS SERIES : GLUTEUS MAXIMUS (and works the quadriceps and hamstrings too)
EXERCISE : BURPEE INTO BOX JUMPS
1) Set up a steady surface like a gym box or bench in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and kneel down in front of the box with your head up and hands touching the floor either side of your knees (1)
2) Go onto the balls of your feet and in one explosive move, jump up onto the box swinging your arms out in front of you for momentum and balance! (2)
3) Land safely on the box and bend your knees for balance. Pause a second and then step down to the start position.
4)Repeat for the desired number of repetitions/sets.
NB : Take your time making sure you are safe and in control at all times. Keep your knees in line with your toes with a slight bend at the knee throughout. Cushion your landing by bending your knees. Do not attempt unless you are confident you can jump higher than the box height. *Always consult a medical professional before starting an exercise programme.
As always, make sure to keep an eye on your form. It's important to be careful, especially when performing jumps. Performed well, you will always make better progress than doing things with half the impetus. Plus, doing things badly can always lead to injury. For more exercises - we post daily on instagram and there are hundreds of great workouts to follow!
We hope we've shed some light on official CrossFit vs. just getting fit through gym exercise. It's got a massive following for a reason and we are big fans. If you have something to say about CrossFit or any other health & fitness related topic, drop us a line below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day fitfam and keep your WHEY AHEAD®, CLEAN | STRONG | ORGANIC.