Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What is CrossFit?
Greg Glassman and Lauren Glassman invented CrossFit in 2000 in Santa Cruz, California. CrossFit is present in 142 countries around the world with more than 100,000 affiliates. CrossFit is a high intensity functional training mode that draws its inspiration from the movements of sportsmen in various sporting events such as calisthenics, weight lifting, rowing etc. It is highly regarded by fitness trainers and hugely popular in the fitness community.
It consists of several key exercises such as:
- Plyometric jumping (literally “jump training”, a kind of exercise)
- Explosive body movements
- Kettleballs (or kettlebells)
- Olympic weightlifting
CrossFit versus a regular gym
CrossFit is different from a regular gym you go to in some other ways too. Consider the activity of weightlifting. In your regular gym, you would be lifting weights according to your capability and repeating it a few times.
In CrossFit, you will be doing the same thing but also taking into account the number of times you can lift a particular weight in a particular period. When you can lift a set of weights comfortably in a given time and repeat it too the prescribed number of times, then your fitness instructor might recommend a heavier set of weights. This continues until you achieve the desired muscle gain and strength.
In your regular gym, the exercises recommended are of a slower nature, with higher recovery time. The high-intensity functional movements that are a part of CrossFit do not give you as much time to recover between exercises.
A regular gym often only uses traditional exercise elements. CrossFit, on the other hand, assimilates some aspects of sports such as gymnastics, running, rowing etc. to prescribe exercises that are more effective in lesser time.
In CrossFit, as opposed to a regular gym, there is a spirit of discovery. You are trying something so fresh, and it seems to come with its own set of rules. Because of this, and the community that you find with CrossFit, there is a general excitement in the air when you start CrossFit.
There is definitely a trainer to help you, but those around you lifting weights and ripping their bodies could be just as helpful. Whether you manage to keep this momentum going is finally up to you.
The 10 Domains of CrossFit Training
The main domains in CrossFit training are:
It is defined as the ability of the systems in your body to gather, process, and deliver oxygen during a given period of activity. This is the most important aspect of a CrossFit fitness programs. The activities you can do to build your aerobic fitness are not essentially developed in CrossFit, but are vital to its utility.
To build on your cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, the activities prescribed are walking, running, swimming etc. When you are confident that your cardiovascular/respiratory endurance has improved, you are ready for CrossFit.
This is gauged by the force that can be exerted by a muscle or a combination of muscles in your body. Muscular strength can be increased by lifting weights, and by lifting more weights in the same amount of time, you may be able to increase your muscle strength further. Olympic weightlifting is also a part of CrossFit.
Simple exercises prepare you for the Olympic weightlifting routines of the snatch and clean and jerk, which have been described later. You could do a front squat (squat with a barbell on the front of your shoulders) or do a back squat (squat with a barbell on your back). The front squat focuses on building strength in your quads and the upper back, while the back squat on the hips, glutes and lower back.
The range of motion that is available to a joint in the body is referred to as flexibility. CrossFit actually recommends dynamic stretches over static stretches to promote greater flexibility. A static stretch is one where the muscles are stretched and the position is held for 10 to 15 seconds, or sometimes even longer (up to 60 seconds).
On the other hand, in a dynamic stretch, the limbs are moved beyond their range of motion in ways that you would generally do in a sport. A dynamic stretch involves continuous movement and you do not hold a position until you reach the end of your range of motion. In CrossFit, flexibility training involves the movement of upper joints (wrist, elbow, neck, shoulders etc.) and lower joints (hips, knees, etc.) separately.
The ability of the body to gather, process, and deliver energy is referred to as stamina. Of course, stamina can be increased the old-fashioned way—by running a marathon. However, how often would you be able to do it?
CrossFit suggests another way out. Stamina can be increased by adding the ‘rowing’ workouts in CrossFit. In this workout, you imitate exactly how a person would row a boat, but with increased resistance each time. Burpees and wall-balls also help increase stamina. The wall-ball has been described later. There should be periods of rest in between the movements.
Power is a measure of the force exerted by your muscles in a specified period. Here, your strength is important and the time is also considered. The snatch and clean routine that is performed in weightlifting could be used to increase your power. The snatch is defined as the lifting of the weights from the ground to above your head in one single motion.
The weights can also be lifted by using a clean and a jerk. When you lift the weights from the ground as you squat and raise it to just above your shoulders, it is called a clean. A jerk involves lifting the weights from this position to higher above your head. CrossFit also recommends separate jumping movements in addition to the snatch and clean routines for developing power.
Your speed is measured by the rate at which you are able to repeat an exercise or activity. CrossFit makes use of sprint drills, which involve short, timed sprints. In a workout, such sprints will help improve your work to rest ratio, making you faster over time.
It generally involves a 400-meter run followed by a series of jumps, finally ending in a wall-ball routine. The wall-ball routine, as discussed later, also helps improve your accuracy.
Coordination involves the ability to combine several distinct movements to achieve one distinct movement. An example of this could be navigating a maze without hitting the walls. The general practice of CrossFit, particularly the workout of the day in CrossFit, also trains your nerves, which play an important role in coordination.
One of the ways of improving your coordination is Olympic weightlifting or an improvised, more accessible version of the same that does not involve as much stress. Discuss with your trainer to know more.
Balance is the ability of the body to have an even distribution of weight on both legs so that the body remains upright and steady. When you do exercises that require you to put all your weight temporarily on one leg, that is where balance clearly comes into the picture. It is also important for Olympic weightlifting when you do the snatch and clean and jerk etc.
CrossFit believes that a strong core (the part that connects the upper body with the lower body) helps solve the problem of balance, with better midline stabilization. Midline stability refers to the ability of the spine to remain straight under loads through the range of motion. The exercises to strengthen your core are weightlifting, sit-ups, and push-ups. You will also develop better abs as a result of this workout.
Agility is the speed with which the body shifts from one movement pattern to another. Agility can be improved by following the speed and agility ladder routine in CrossFit.
A speed and agility ladder is a ladder that can be laid flat and skipping across which one can increase one’s agility and speed. The ladder is used as part of CrossFit routines in many venues across the world. The speed and agility ladder improves your coordination also.
Accuracy is the extent of control over movement in a given direction at a given speed. Accuracy, which you would develop as a part of CrossFit training is very useful if you are a sportsman, especially if you are a footballer or a basketball player.
A common technique used in CrossFit is the wall-ball, where you have to hit the same spot on the wall with a ball. You have to do this while rising and falling back into a squat. You could repeat this several times to gain better accuracy.
What is the workout of the day?
CrossFit, as part of its fitness program, prescribes what is called a workout of the day.. The workout of the day (WOD) is a workout that helps with gaining the baseline benefits that one ought to gain from CrossFit.The workout of the day changes every day, and each day’s workout is named after a person who served in the United States Armed Forces. The WOD can be challenging. Beginners, therefore, may need to reduce the volume of WOD to see results. CrossFit recommends balancing rest and exercise times to reap maximum benefits from WOD.
Can CrossFit help you?
Studies have proven that CrossFit is indeed beneficial, particularly in its ability to significantly boost testosterone levels in males into the second week of the program. Some of the other benefits of CrossFit are:
Increases core strength
CrossFit makes your muscles stronger and increases your stamina. The high-intensity fitness training and multijoint movements that you undergo in CrossFit make you stronger and increase your endurance levels. If you would like to build more muscle mass and gain more strength, then you could try adding some more weights to your routine. The extra stress will help build more muscle.
Improves a person’s lung capacity
CrossFit increases the maximum amount of oxygen that you can utilize during exercise. In other words, it improves your respiratory endurance. A recent study showed that participation in CrossFit not only increased the maximum oxygen uptake but also increased the metabolic capacity. These improvements were noted among subjects of both sexes and it was consistent across all fitness levels.
Makes you more agile and flexible
The exercises prescribed by CrossFit help improve a person’s agility, balance, and flexibility. As discussed earlier, the speed and agility ladder is of great use in developing agility. The wall ball, also described earlier, in addition to developing accuracy, also helps to develop balance. In addition, many of the WODs that involve shifting the weight from one leg to another is definitely a test of strength but also a test of balance.
Fun way to lose weight
CrossFit workouts definitely help you burn calories. Most routines in CrossFit help you burn at least 5-8 calories more in a minute than you would burn in a traditional gym. Over 60 minutes, this is as much as 300 to 500 calories more than a regular gym. This translates to a 1-2 pounds of added weight loss every week in comparison with a regular gym. A healthy diet is recommended daily so that the person loses weight while doing CrossFit.
Is CrossFit safe for you?
People have reported injuries while doing CrossFit. Injuries were caused mostly when they have been doing high-intensity movements they were not trained for or lifting heavier weights than they should be lifting. The injuries were most common to:
- Tendons around theshoulder joint
- Lower back
- Legs (particularly the Achilles tendon)
- Elbows (led to a condition called tennis elbow)
Most of these injuries could have been avoided if the people were provided step-by-step instructions by a fitness instructor trained in CrossFit. Beginners must start with lesser weights, follow the instructions, take the necessary precautions, and take their time if they need to.
CrossFit is not safe for everyone. If you are pregnant, and you are new to CrossFit, it is recommended that you stop immediately and practice other less strenuous exercise routines instead. If you are pregnant and have done CrossFit before, then you could continue, provided you have the permission of a doctor. People over the age of 65, particularly with heart health issues, are advised not to do CrossFit.
Should you try CrossFit?
CrossFit is a high-intensity exercise routine that can be adapted to your conditions and might work wonders for you, provided you are ready to invest the dedication and time. You need the dedication and time to understand what is it that you must do to achieve your desired objective. It could be anything— you may want to build muscle, you may want to lose weight, or you may just want to build attention and focus.
Whatever it may be, there could be a CrossFit routine out there that might work for you. Yet, it might not be safe for everyone, especially pregnant women and older people. Your doctor is the best judge of whether the extra stress on your body is worth it, given your health conditions. If it is, then you must give CrossFit a try. It is the fastest way to sculpting the body that you have always wanted.
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