Crossfit is increasingly growing in popularity in the fitness world, and it doesn’t seem to be just another trend, but an all around new way of doing things. If you are curious about Crossfit but need to know more about what you’re getting yourself into, here’s what you need to know.
What is Crossfit?
According to their webpage, Crossfit specializes in not specializing, meaning that there is no specific type of workout they focus on. By design their program is broad, general and never doing the same routines over and over. The key aim is to confuse your muscles with an ever-changing variety of exercises and exercise types. It contends that a healthy, fit person requires proficiency in each of ten general physical skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. It defines fitness as increased work capacity across all these domains. They do not have different programs for different fitness levels. They use the same routines for elderly individuals and professional athletes alike, but adapt the scale load and intensity of the program based on your ability. CrossFit adaptations include programs for children, pregnant women, seniors, police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
CrossFit athletes do exercises such as: sprinting, rowing, jump rope, rope climbing, carry large loads quickly over long distances, and use powerlifting, gymnastic, and Olympic weightlifting techniques. CrossFit athletes also use dumbbells, Olympic rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, and many bodyweight exercises.
As a Crossfit-er, you can train at a “box” which is a gym affiliated with CrossFit, or on your own. Those who workout on their own typically follow a “Workout of the Day” or “WOD” which are posted daily on the Crossfit website. Classes at affiliated gyms typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, and a high-intensity workout that lasts around 10-20 minutes. Some affiliates offer additional classes such as Olympic weightlifting classes.
Crossfit Pros & Cons
Though Crossfit is extremely popular it has come under quite a bit of criticism lately. So let’s talk Pros and Cons.
- Very Time Efficient: Don’t think you have the time to workout? Most Crossfit Workouts don’t last longer than 20 minutes.
- High Intensity: More and more research studies are showing that short bursts of high intensity exercise is better for you than the typical hour or more long workouts at moderate intensity. Crossfit is all about this.
- Workout is planned for you: – No need to figure out what you’re going to do. Your workout is just a mouse click away!
- No Expensive Gym Equipment Needed- nuff said.
- Variety: The workouts are always changing, which definitely keeps things interesting.
- Timed Workouts: Most Crossfit workouts are timed, which usually make the exerciser push themselves harder, resulting in faster and better results. Plus, moving quickly in between sets keeps the heart rate elevated and burns more calories.
- Muscle Confusion: The fact that the workouts vary so greatly from day to day means the body is always guessing. It never has the chance to settle into that “workout groove” where it knows what’s coming, which may lead to a workout plateau.
- Comradery: If you are working out at a Crossfit gym you will be paired up with people in some exercises. You are in a class environment, which leaves plenty of room to meet and interact with new people.
- Focuses on Compound Movements: Meaning it works several muscles at a time as oppose to isolating the exercise to focus on one specific muscle. The more major muscles you use in a given movement, the more calories you’ll burn.
- Competition: If you have a competitive spirit and are good enough you can tryout to compete in the Crossfit Games.
- Injury Risk: Because Crossfit can be done on your own; there is no guidance on proper exercise form. Timed workouts add the extra risk because people rush through the exercises without properly positioning themselves.
- Random Programming: Crossfit is often criticized for random exercise programming, which leads to overworking certain muscles and under utilizing others. This may bad posture, unbalanced symmetry and injury.
- The workouts are HARD! Crossfit is a high intensity form of exercises; pushing the limits in speed and strength. If this doesn’t sound like fun to you then maybe Crossfit isn’t your thing.
- Results Posting: It is common for everyone’s times and numbers to be written on the board at the gym. If you are more of a private person, you may not like this.
- Trying for a Specific Goal: CrossFit is so anti-specialization that it will not suit you well if you are training for a specific goal such as a marathon or particular sport.
- Not sure exactly what you’re getting: CrossFit Inc. certifies CrossFit trainers and licenses the CrossFit name to gyms. Affiliates are free to develop their own programming, pricing, and instructional methods.
Crossfit is a great workout for people who are already quite fit and looking to improve their all-around fitness and performance. Those who are looking to train for a specific sport or event should probably look to programs that are more tailored to their goals. And as for beginners, well, Crossfit claims to be very welcoming to those who are just starting out, and if you enjoy high intensity workouts it may be right up your alley. Just make sure to learn proper form and technique before you add more weight or try and beat your time.
Resources: Crossfit.com, changing-bodies.com.