CrossFit is a phenomena which has popped up all around the world to great effect. It’s based on a combination of daily workout routines generically called W0D (workout of the day).
CrossFit is designed to challenge you in many ways, hitting strength and endurance, cardio, and diet as well, alongside a support network based around affiliate coaches. It can be tailored to people of all ages and abilities, which is why it’s so popular.
I want to talk about this in detail to you because it can be quite important to understand. CrossFit may not be for everyone, and it may not be the only exercise you do either. I think it’s important to really get the lowdown on what it involves and what the commitment is, so that you can decide if it’s right for you.
The History Of CrossFit Training
It started out in 1996 in just one box (basically a gym). By 2014 that had reached 10,000 affiliate box gyms around the world, often “pop-up” gyms (basically just things like halls used for the purpose occasionally) and there are currently thought to be around 13,000 boxes in existence in more than 140 countries.
CrossFit was designed by a guy called Greg Glassman. In 2000 it was a registered trademark under the brand name CrossFit Inc, and was co-founded by Lauren Glassman.
The original CrossFit box is in California, in Santa Cruz. It’s still open today. Starting with just a few dozen people, there are now estimated to be around 40 million daily CrossFit trainers.
So devoted do people become to this daily burst of exercise and the community around it, that it has negatively been described as cult-like for some people who advocate it’s benefits.
How CrossFit Works And What The Benefits Are
So let’s take a look at what makes CrossFit so good that people across the world want to do it every single day in large numbers.
The original WOD (workout of the day), publicized from February 10, 2001 was as follows:
- 21 Reps Dumbbell Thrusters
- Run 400 M
- 18 Reps Dumbbell Thrusters
- Run 400 M
- 15 Reps Dumbbell Thrusters
- Run 400 M
As with all future exercise, it was a timed workout to put people under pressure to perform to the best of their abilities under time pressure.
At its heart, CrossFit is high intensity interval training. It focuses on functional movementaround strength and endurance.
So it’s focused on pushing, pulling, things you would use in everyday life, natural movements basically, with the goal of producing level improvement fitness amongst participants.
The aim is for people doing CrossFit to become physically competent in 10 fitness domains around stamina, strength, power, flexibility, coordination, speed, agility, and balance.
I’ve done CrossFit on and off between gym sessions for several years, and I found it really productive and a fantastic exercise regime that you can tailor to push you as much as you want, depending on your other exercise commitments.
I do take SARMs though, which are research chemicals bodybuilders use to raise their endurance, build muscle, and also help to cut fat. If you don’t fancy using those, there are also natural supplements like those from CrazyBulk which can do the job a little less potently. They certainly help with completing high impact workouts like CrossFit to better standards, more quickly.
How CrossFit Coaches Get Their Skills And Competency
If you’re looking for a CrossFit coach locally you need to find one who knows their stuff.
When you start you can communicate about any limitations or worries you have physically. They will have the skills to help you to avoid causing problems, especially if you are in an unusual physical situation.
So after the initial assessment, your qualified coach will be able to help you with movements, how to modify them, volume, warning signs, everything you need to know to complete CrossFit more safely.
What’s interesting for me is the ethos of CrossFit being scalable to any level using the same exercises. Let’s look at what Greg Glassman says about CrossFit, which totally encapsulates why it’s so popular:
“We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.”
So what he’s saying is the same basic movements are required and used, whether you are a grandparent or Olympic athlete, it’s just the intensity of that workout which defines the difference in approaches and results.
Because of that ethos choosing your coach is crucial. A new coach is inexperienced, and may not completely understand your personal physical needs, or may increase your load too quickly.
If you are completely new to CrossFit, I’d really suggest you look for an experienced coach who can help with correct form and load. Facebook can be a great tool for finding local classes where people give great feedback, and you can tap into some of those people to see how their individual fitness needs were addressed by the coach.
The Typical Elements Of A CrossFit Workout Class
Although they will always differ, let’s take a look at how a typical CrossFit workout is structured, to give you an idea.
Typically, you’ll have three or four elements to each daily workout that consists of the following:
- You will get your blood flowing and warm the muscles up thoroughly through doing a warmup. This is pretty standard, and usually means various types of stretching exercises.
- A skill development element, where you can improve previously done exercises. So it could be improving your back squat, or some other element. This is usually the time where you would also work up to your one rep max.
- The third part is the actual workout, the WOB. What that workout is in terms of length, intensity, and structure, will depend on various factors including your own level of mobility and fitness.
- There is usually then a post workout element where you stretch and warm down. Some of the CrossFit affiliate coaches also offer additional services like seminars, or clinics where they will help with elements of CrossFit generally, including diet and specific exercises.
Can Anyone Benefit From CrossFit Training?
The claim is that anyone can benefit from CrossFit training, and because of the way the workout can be tailored to different capabilities, that is partially true.
However, it is important to understand that it isn’t risk free. 20% of people who have done CrossFit have admitted a multi-day injury because of CrossFit that has limited that every day ability to function.
That’s around a million people at the very least who have had an injury that affected daily life because of CrossFit. It could be they are pushing themselves too hard, and not being realistic. But you have to be careful with any exercises.
The main injuries that are reported by physiotherapists around the world are with people who get injured through using poor form. That’s because of athletic fatigue. Basically, unfit people push themselves too hard, they start developing poor form, which creates injuries as the load shifts to areas of the body that it shouldn’t, and which can’t handle the stress.
The key condition is where damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream through damage to skeletal tissue because of this overload. The condition is called Rhabdomyolysis, which can create kidney problems because of the material heading into the kidneys, but it is rare unless you are really crazy with your CrossFit.
If you work within your means though, listen to the coaches, and do things right, then CrossFit is minimal risk though.
Should I Take It Seriously And Try CrossFit
Unfortunately it’s pretty tough for me to answer the question around whether you should actually be serious about trying CrossFit.
I think some of it will depend on your lifestyle. If you are a serious gym rat, and you are confident and happy down the gym, progressing yourself, or working with the coaches there, then you may be more advanced and confident anyway.
However, if you’re a casual gym goer, or you workout at home, or you just want to make friends, or increase your level of fitness beyond the minimal level, then CrossFit can definitely work for you.
Just make sure you look around at the CrossFit boxes in your area, don’t just find the closest, it’s better to find an experienced coach and look for great feedback.
There’s also nothing to stop you trying things in advance. CrossFit publish stuff online, and it’s available widely on places like YouTube, so you can definitely try out yourself gently to save it’s for you over a week or so.
However seriously you do your workouts with CrossFit or anything else, I also have to emphasize hugely that diet and nutrition are crucial. Without energy your body can’t progress.
Also, recovery times are crucial. CrossFit is daily, but if you’re struggling then I’d always advocate a few days off to allow your body to recover and strengthen.
If you want to speed those processes up, then you could also use something like SARMs mildly, or a natural bodybuilding supplement that can help give you more energy, or faster recovery times by generating the hormones that will help you to achieve that.