Ok, hold up! I may have just upset you a little if you have any negative opinions on the CrossFit methodology. That's ok, I understand the CrossFit methodology is not everyone's cup of tea but you can still gain a great understanding of why it has such a powerful impact on overall fitness. When reading further please do so with an open mind, I understand you or someone you may know may have had a bad experience with CrossFit BUT that is not the methodology's fault. The fault should be placed on the gym or person delivering it. You don't blame faulty medicine for misdiagnosis when you have a dodgy doctor, do you? Alright, let's dive into this and talk about why CrossFit will make you the fittest you have ever been.
What is fitness?
Elite athletes most likely come to mind when you think about the fittest people in the world. Those who are the very best at their chosen sports. So does being great at a sport mean you are fit? Not necessarily. Elite athletes are an incredibly small percentage of the population and undertake tremendous training volume to be great at one specific sport. It's just like an academic with a Ph.D., they know a lot about one very tiny piece of information. Elite training programs are not the type of fitness programs that should be applied to the general public.
CrossFit defines fitness as "increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains". The methodology makes use of three different standards for evaluating and guiding fitness.
CrossFit's First Fitness Standard
Above you see the 10 recognized general physical skills. Your fitness is dependant on each of these 10 skills, therefore a program that aims to develop fitness should improve upon all of these. Does yours? Have you ever been shown and tested how much you can truly lift? Have you tried to master body control through gymnastics training? When was the last time you did a workout that went over 20 minutes with no set rest?
CrossFit's Second Fitness Standard
This comes from the view that fitness involves being able to perform well at any task that may be required of you. Nature frequently provides challenges you were not expecting. For example, you need to walk a long way to get to a destination whilst on holiday or you have to lift a heavy object you just purchased. If you always train in a way that covers all bases these challenges are much less daunting. This is also how you develop mental resilience, you are able to keep doing things you never would of if you stuck to doing the same things over and over again.
CrossFit's Third Fitness Standard
This standard goes deep into the three metabolic pathways that give you energy for all human action. It refers to the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway. Most fitness training falls short in one or two of these because of favouring a certain energy pathway to the exclusion of the others. To read more about this standard and how it is implemented click here.
How do all these standards make you the fittest you have ever been?
The first standard evaluates performances against the full range of general physical adaptations. Put simply you need to be able to do everything. If you can lift a lot but can't run 1km without stopping you have a major weakness in your fitness. The opposite is also true, if you can smash out triathlons but can't deadlift with good mechanics and a decent relative weight you have a major weakness. The second standard ensures that you can apply efforts to a wide breadth and depth. Finally the third standard creates a measurement to test if you are regularly training all three energy systems.
Where other programs fail at overall fitness
The problem with common gym programs or classes is that they claim to improve all 10 general physical skills but they do not. Science should back up a claim that a program improves fitness and without measurable, observable, repeatable data there is no science.
"Physical output can be measured in terms of foot-pounds/min. We move our own bodies and we move external objects. We can measure how heavy those bodies and objects are, how far they travel, and in what time period. Your ability to move large loads, long distances, quickly, in the broadest variety of domains is fitness. And the ability to sustain that fitness throughout your life is a defining measure of health."- CrossFit.
Let me show you some examples from the software we use at Ariston Fitness (Beyond the Whiteboard) to measure and track physical output.
As you can see in the columns on the right of each image a measure of work output is given and a change is also indicated if the person has completed the workout in the same way before. You can see that each of the above workouts are extremely different tasks too.
Why people HATE CrossFit
Some people feel really strongly about CrossFit and not in a good way. They say it's too hard for most people or that it will get you hurt. The thing is, anything in your life is what you make it. If you choose to attend a gym where the training is not professional and you are not cared for, there is a good chance you will get hurt and not be shown how to use this extremely potent fitness methodology properly. If you choose to push yourself too hard, in anything, that's on you. If a coach or another person is making you do something you don't feel comfortable doing, don't work with them anymore. CrossFit gyms are not franchises, each one is extremely different and the owners have different values and approaches. Look around for what works best for you.
DO WHAT YOU ENJOY
If CrossFit ain't for you, don't do it. Just because it has enormous potential to make you the fittest you have ever been does not mean you will also enjoy it. Your mental health is just as important as physical, do what you enjoy that keeps you active. I do suggest at least trying CrossFit to truly see if it is for you before saying no.
If you are interested in going from no fitness to the fittest you have ever been or building your fitness to an even greater level book a free chat with one of our professional coaches below: