What is CrossFit?

This is another post in the CrossFit Challenge Series

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Up until recently I had no idea what this thing called CrossFit was. Through the CrossFit Challenge, I finally had a chance to see for myself what all the hoopla is about.

CrossFit is a workout framework devised by Greg Glassman in 2000. There are over 4400 affiliate gyms around the world that run the CrossFit banner and train athletes in the CrossFit lifestyle. Daily workouts posted on CrossFit.com. They also have the CrossFit Journal where they publish articles and videos about CrossFit methods and exercises.

Give your all in the WODs

WOD stands for Workout of the Day. WODs are the core of CrossFit workouts. They change every day. After you arrive at the gym, you warm-up, do a Buy-In, which is a light skill-based workout and then get into the WOD. Every WOD is timed so you can compare your results to past WODs. Some standard WODs are named. There are some example WODs below.

Constantly Varied

Life isn’t the same every day and neither should your workout be. CrossFit workout changes every single day. This prevents your body from getting used to certain workouts and adapting to them. When you adapt, you plateau and growth and improvement slow down.

High Intensity

Workouts made up of short, high intensity bursts are getting more and more attention in the media and research these days. Many people are starting to see that it’s one of the most efficient ways to workout your entire body; muscle-building and cardio. Not to mention saving you some time. Think about going from warmup to workout to cooldown in an hour compared to a 4 hour long distance run with warmup and cooldown on either end. I opt for the short version.

Functional Movement

Going to the gym for big biceps might be good if you are in a bodybuilding competition where looking the best is the ultimate goal. That’s not what CrossFit is about. Originally designed for military, fire and police training, CrossFit is all about the unknown. Who knows what you and your body are going to be doing every day in work and play. Your workouts should reflect that.Can you effectively lift heavy boxes if you are helping a friend move houses? Can you jump a fence to get a way from a rabid dog chasing you? Are you strong enough to help yourself or others out of a wrecked vehicle? There are huge advantages in life to those that are strong and fit enough to do all these things without help, not to mention the health benefits that come along with exercising often.

Scalable

Every single person in the world could do CrossFit. There is no one level you need to be at to do CrossFit. It includes everyone. But you have to be fit enough to do a pull-up or an overhead squat, right? Nope. Every exercise has scaling options that allow anybody, even the most new beginner, start somewhere and do the WODs (workout of the day). When you are able to do the easier versions of the exercises, you move up to the harder ones. There is no top-end that you can hit while doing CrossFit. There is always work to be done perfecting form, adding weight and moving faster. It’s a lifelong workout system.

Results. Period.

One of the main tenants behind CrossFit is that it works. If some exercise or method doesn’t work, it’s modified or tossed. What’s left is the best of the best in terms of high-intensity, constantly varied, functional workouts.

Example Workouts

It’s hard to imagine what exactly CrossFit is without seeing some of the workouts. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different combinations that the CrossFit founders and affiliate gyms have come up with. Some of the main benchmark routines have names of women or military heroes.

Barbara

Five rounds of (3 minute rest between rounds) 20 pull-ups 30 push-ups 40 sit-ups 50 body weight squats

Angie (These don’t all have to be in a row)

100 pull-ups 100 push-ups 100 sit-ups 100 body-weight squats

Murph

timed 1 mile run 100 pull-ups 200 push-ups 300 body weight squats 1 mile run

Jackie

1000 metre row 50 thrusters 30 pullups

 CrossFit Games

The epitomy of CrossFit now is the CrossFit games. Competition is fierce but anyone is allowed to try out for them. The process has three stages: Open, Regionals and Games.

The CrossFit Open is available for anyone to go for it. Starting each March (2013 starts on March 7th), 5 WODs are released once per week. Anyone can complete the WODs at an affiliate gym with a certified coach watching. Results are submitted online and you get to see how you stack up against the rest of the CrossFit World.

The top athletes from each region ( there are 12 in North America and 5 in Europe) are selected and compete in the CrossFit Regionals. The winners of these compete at the CrossFit Games. The final male, female and team winners are crowned at the games and awarded their prize money, often more than $200,000.

How can you start?

Check out CrossFit.com and try out some of the exercises at home. I highly recommend trying out a CrossFit box (gym) for a few months to see what it’s like and learn all the movements. Knowing good form for all of the exercises will get you stronger and prevent injuries.

So, when are you going to try CrossFit?

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