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This guest-post was written by the lovely Graeme from the blog Fitness, Food and Travel – to read more about him scroll below.
Crossfit: Just what is it all about?
Today I want to talk about a training methodology that has kicked up a fuss in the fitness world. It’s the training method that I, and millions worldwide, use to keep fit. Unfortunately,this particular way of training has also caused divide. I’m talking about Crossfit and I want to strip back the clutter to provide you with an understanding of just what it’s all about…
Crossfit is too difficult for me, I just want to get fit, isn’t it just for top athletes?
Crossfit was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000 with the original CrossFit gym being in Santa Cruz, California. Today there are more than 13,000 Crossfit gyms worldwide.
Crossfit was designed to challenge the traditional fitness norm and provide a meaningful and measurable way of getting fit. Glassman, a former gymnast, realised that there was no uniform definition of fitness. So, he looked to define it:
“Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains”
Basically, work more efficiently. Up the amount of work you can do over as many different scenarios as possible – Long, short, heavy, light and so on. Glassman then created a way to achieve this goal. In a nutshell, Crossfit is being a jack of all trades not a master of one.
CrossFit… constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity
Okay, but I’m not trying to run a marathon or get really strong, so how does it work for me?
Our needs differ by degree not kind, we all need to be able to bend down to pick something up, whether this be a piece of paper or world record deadlift. Crossfit uses its core components to achieve this.
Constant variance ensures your body doesn’t get complacent – routine is the enemy. It has to constantly adapt and improve. A marathon runner may be aerobically fit, but can’t pick something heavy up whereas weightlifter’s may be strong but aerobically unfit. Crossfit challenges this and uses variance to increase all areas of fitness simultaneously.
The programme is also based on functional movements. These reflect basic movements of life – running, jumping picking things up etc. They allow us to get the most out of our training for what we put in.
Intensity provides a measure, did you do the work faster, or put out more power? If so, this means that the intensity went up (You’ll feel this in how hard the workout felt). Crossfit uses a variety of workout styles to achieve this;
- For time – Complete an amount of work as fast as you can
- Amrap – As many reps as possible in a time period
- Chipper – Working down a rep scheme for a group of exercises i.e. 50-40-30-20-10
- EMOM – Perform exercises for reps every minute on the minute over a time period
- Tabata – 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest of a movement for 8 intervals
- Hero workout – A workout named after service men/women lost in combat
- Girl workout – A workout named after girls – traditionally the benchmark Crossfit workouts
So, by combining all of the above, you guessed it… you get fitter.
So, if Crossfit is unlike traditional gyms what equipment is used in Crossfit to get you fitter?
Well, machines – except for cardiovascular ones – are minimal. Barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight and gymnastic equipment (rings) form the basis of your training.
This is designed to get the most out of your body, you rely on the support of your body and not the design of a machine to move. You have to fight for that position in the squat rather than a leg press doing it for you. If you don’t stabilise the bar overhead you won’t get the rep, there’s no smith machine to support you. This, over time, builds fitness and strength across your entire body, not just muscles in isolation, with proper coaching you become the machine.
But what about injury, there’s so many horror stories out there?
There is, just as there are injury stories from football, rugby, basketball or swimming. Sure it could be dangerous if done incorrectly, but so can making a sandwich. Studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning initially stated Crossfit had a high injury rate but this was later proven to be fabricated in parts.
Crossfit is designed to be infinitely scaleable. Weight, movements and intensity are all scaled so literally ANYONE, regardless of age or experience can participate safely. The program remains the same, it’s just scaled to the needs of the individual.
Okay, so does access to this equipment and personalised daily programmes come at a higher cost?
Many people think Crossfit is expensive and on the face of it Crossfit is expensive. In the UK the cheapest gym you will find is around £50 a month. £50 I hear you say!!! A regular gym only costs £15-£20 a month.
Touché, however at normal gym’s you pay your membership to simply access the gym. Should you want any additional coaching you pay a personal trainer for a programme or to teach you movements. This can then be £30 upwards on top of your membership, do that twice a month and the bill soon racks up.
Now, I’m not saying personal trainers are bad. On the contrary, with Crossfit you get the benefits of a personal trainer included within your membership. Every Time you step in the gym you get coaching, a programme, classes, technical ques and more. £60 a month is far less than £20 + £30 + £30 a month. All of a sudden that big up front monthly payment doesn’t seem so expensive does it?
I’ll be honest, it all sounds a little bit daunting, how am I supposed to get involved?
Community, this is perhaps the most attractive aspect of Crossfit, even if you don’t immediately realise it – as I didn’t.
Every day CrossFit.com publishes a workout of the day – “WOD” – which can be done at home, in a commercial gym or in a CrossFit gym, however, I’d encourage you to visit a Crossfit gym. You see, there’s no headphones or purposely segmented areas, Crossfit gyms are open spaces (think a playground for adults) and are often referred to as a “box”.
Everyone supports you, cheers you on and gets behind you in workouts. It gives you that added push to help you achieve your goals. In addition, every year you can enter the Crossfit Open, a global competition ran by Crossfit with one workout a week for 5 weeks. You complete them at your home gym with the rest of the members, it really brings out the best in everyone.
Crossfit will allow you to make genuine friends whilst improving your fitness. You will end up socialising outside of the gym as well as inside it. You can even adapt workouts to be “partner WOD’s” allowing you to work through them with a friend sharing the rep schemes – they’re really fun!
To summarise, Crossfit offers general physical preparedness (aka being a bad-ass), allowing you to cope with whatever life throws at you.
By following the trainer’s guidelines you’ll do so safely. Crossfit aims to develop all encompassing fitness that allows you to track results and progress – hello motivation. All of this whilst making valuable friendships and reaching fitness levels you previously only ever dreamed of… why not give it a go?
Hey everyone, I’m Graeme and I run the blog Fitness, Food and Travel (any guesses about what my passions are!?). I started my blog some time ago but never took it seriously. However, early in 2016 I sustained an injury which gave me A LOT of time to think and a new perspective on my lifestyle, fitness, nutrition.
The result? I realised I lacked balance and that many also see the three biggest interests in my life as conflicting. I decided to dive into my blog to show how you can live a healthy, adventurous lifestyle whilst also indulging in the things you enjoy – Hellooo peanut butter shortbread!
Together with my girlfriend Han, I look to keep competitively fit, eat good food and travel the world.