CrossFit is a Strength and Conditioning program. It is Constantly Varied, and uses Functional Movements performed at High Intensity. These are movements that are relevent to everyday life, and help develop the 10 attributes of fitness:
CrossFit defines Fitness as (in 100 words):
‘Eat meat and vegetables, 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, etc, 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.’
Courtesy of CrossFit, Inc
CrossFit workouts are designed to prepare you for anything life can throw at you. The program aims to improve the ten fundamental attributes of Fitness:
Strength, Power, and Speed. Stamina, Endurance, and Agility. Flexibility, Accuracy, Balance and Co-ordination.
Each of which are developed using a blend of Metabolic Conditioning (Cardio), Weightlifting, and Gymnastics.
Weightlifting includes the standard two Olympic Weightlifting movements, the Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch, along with their supporting exercises. For example, Front Squat, Overhead Squat, and the Back Squat. The Overhead Press, the Jerk, and the Push Press. The Deadlift, the Sumo Deadlift with high pull, and the Clean. In fact, these are the nine foundational movements involved in CrossFit. However, there are many more to become proficient at.
The Gymnastics movements used in CrossFit are generally considered basic in the Gymnastics world. However, the mastery of these movements will enable you to have full control of your own movement. Callisthenics movements such as the Push-up, the Pull-up and the Sit-up. Also, the Muscle Up, Handstand push-ups, and Handstand walks. As well cartwheels, Handstands, forward/backward rolls, and jumping etc.
Metabolic conditioning may include a ‘circuit’ of any number of the Gymnastic and Weightlifting movements performed over an extended period of time. However, more traditionally known ‘Cardio’ movements are included, such as Running, Cycling and Rowing.
The main workout in a class is known as ‘WOD’ – Workout Of the Day. Whilst there are many ‘Baseline WODs’, the content of each class may be totally unique. It’s therefore unlikely that you will ever get bored or stale, and you will develop a readiness for any physical task presented! The systematic and periodic inclusion of Baseline WODs, will enable the participant to measure gains and improvements over time.
There are movements that mimic patterns that are used in everyday life. For example:
Squatting is standing from a seated position, and deadlifting is picking any object off the ground. Should Press is putting an object on a shelf, and a pull-up is pulling yourself up and over an object.
Functional movements involve multiple joints, and are therefore considered ‘compound movements’. Whereas non functional movements are generally single jointed isolation movements, which always have no equivalent movement in nature. Movements such as the ‘biceps curl’, ‘leg extension’, and the infamous ‘Pec Dec’ are non functional movements. Non functional movements can create imbalances, and should only be prescribed for recovery from specific injuries. You will NOT find these exercises used in CrossFit.
Functional movements are perfectly in balance with your body’s mechanics,and are therefore safe. Functional movements also produce a high neuroendocrine response. This means that the body is able to positively adapt to the exercise.
Each class will contain at least four components. A warm-up, a skill or strength element, a Workout Of the Day (WOD), and a warm-down.
The WODs are performed at HIGH INTENSITY, as per CrossFit prescription. This means that you will either be prescribed:
a. A specific amount work to complete, using specific movements, as quickly as possible, or
b. An amount of time to perform as much work, using specific movements, as possible.
The time component effectively creates the ‘Intensity’ of the WOD, which is important to elicit the desired adaptation on the body. i.e. improve. Whilst every participant generally performs the same WOD, the amount of work each individual actually performs may be scaled according to capability. It’s important to stay safe!
You will therefore learn to quickly create a strategy for performing WODs. Pace is important, but the strategy should involve appropriately scaling the weights, distances, and number of reps used in the WODs.
Videos Courtesy of CrossFit inc.