CrossFit appeared during the mid-nineties as a proposal by the personal trainer and university ex-gymnast Greg Glassman as a model of all inclusive fitness. Its objective was simple: improve the 10 physical attributes we posses and which are:
1. Cardiovascular / Respiratory Resistance
It achieves this by means of workouts that are varied, short, intense and use functional movements, which use a large number of muscles. This way your body is forced, with each work out, to adapt to the different stimuli by getting stronger, more agile, coordinated, faster, etc.
CrossFit is not a new invention, similar methodologies have been used for a long time in specific work outs for all types of sports. What CrossFit has done is include them all under the same roof whilst giving the necessary importance to forgotten – or badly executed – movements such as the Squat and the Deadlift.
The intention of using the CrossFit methodology is to make a person capable of carrying out any task presented to them, both in their day to day and professional life. Contrary to what it might seem upon first glance, CrossFit is not only for those who are already fit, but also – and especially – for people of any age and physical condition who want or need to improve one or all of their physical qualities, and has been found to be very effective in helping people with mobility problems to recover lost strength and to do things they thought they would never be able to do again. It also has a lot of success amongst children, by teaching them natural and functional movements that help them in their physical development.
The combination of exercises used by CrossFit, and the programming it employs, is designed to make us experiment the largest amount of stimuli possible to be prepared for them in the future. Its work outs can be short – between 2 and 10 minutes – of average length – between 10 and 20 minutes – or long – between 20 minutes and an hour – and can include exercises from gymnastics, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, running, plyometric jumps and more.
If an exercise or movement is too complicated or advanced for a person, or the prescribed weight is too high, they can be modified so the person can execute them in an effective and safe manner. This is done so the CrossFit workouts can be carried out with the intended intensity to reap all the benefits and, above all, be done safely.
Mostly the work outs tend to be short and without rest, but there are days dedicated exclusively to strength work, where large loads are used and the rep scheme is between 1 and 5, other days where the goal is to practise and perfect different abilities, be them from Olympic Weightlifting or Gymnastics, and days dedicated to what we commonly consider as “cardio” and which can consist in a 5Km run, rowing sets of 500m or running a number of sets of 400m or 800m.
The “secret” behind the results obtained with CrossFit lies in the variety of the exercises, that these be functional, and that intensity be high. The body should not be allowed to adapt, all the elements must be varied, the exercises used, the loads, the reps and the time taken to complete the work out, amongst other factors. And all this with correct form to avoid injury and to fully take advantage of the work out.
Something you must understand is that doing CrossFit is not a goal to reach, it is a road to travel to achieve all your desired physical improvements. If you truly seek to improve your physical capacity and appearance, with the variety and efficiency of CrossFit you can be certain to make the right decision. And if what you are looking for is a more specific program for a certain sport or discipline, with small programming modifications you can also achieve the desired results.