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What is Crossfit?

CrossFit conditioning is aimed at developing core strength through a program of compound movements and short, intense cardiovascular workouts. As a program, it does not target specialized fitness but, instead, designates domains of fitness which include cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and, finally, accuracy. Originally, the program evolved from the need to perform all physical tasks; athletes, the military, police and firefighters were all required to illustrate physical prowess. Now, the program is notable for its focus on increasing neuroendocrine response, developing power as well as teaching successful diet methods. To answer the question, “Is this an effective approach?” let us examine some of the different training methods used in CrossFit and the apparent results.

The basic tenet of CrossFit is training for any possibility; from that position the goal becomes variation or scope because functional and compound movements with high intensity cardio are the most effective way to achieve overall fitness. Consequently, targeting core strength as well as conditioning assumes that anything else is sport specific. Focus is on major pivots in the human body such as the hips and their extension and rotation around the torso. Another group of activities which originate at the core of the body is jogging, leaping, thrusting and hurling; therefore, CrossFit attends to these movements from core to limbs.

Accordingly, CrossFit begins with diet which establishes the molecular groundwork for health and fitness. Next is metabolic conditioning starting with aerobic exercise, production of lactic acid which assures energy production, and finally, phosphocreatine, important when tissues have high, fluctuating energy needs. Gymnastics is another area of concentration under the CrossFit agenda. Here attention is directed to the functional capacity for restraint and area of extension. Another focal point concerns weightlifting and throwing which helps develop an ability to furnish power and restrain objects. The final concentration is in the arena of competitive sports where more random movements are required for skill expertise. Some of the drills supporting these overall goals are jogging, swimming and oaring along with deadlifts, bench-presses, handstands, cartwheels, sit-ups and many more. In addition to these routines, CrossFit uses Olympic weights, free-style trainer rings, gynastics bars for swinging, vaulting and balancing, jumping rope and use of high bars. CrossFit claims that no other conditioning program works through a greater variety of tools, modes or drills.

Balance of aerobic and anaerobic exercise is one aim of CrossFit training. Aerobically generated energy is when oxygen metabolizes derivations of food. Most aerobic activity is longer than ninety seconds and is low to moderate in intensity. For example, aerobic activity includes running and swimming. Energy obtained anaerobically is done without oxygen, and these activities are less than two minutes long but involve moderate to high power intensity. Examples include short sprints, squatting and pull-ups. Aerobic training improves cardiovascular functioning and lowers body fat; although, this is appropriate for many sports, excessive aerobic training decreases muscle mass, strength, power and speed. On the other hand, although anaerobic activity also helps cardiovascular function and diminishes body fat, it improves power, strength, speed and muscle mass. From just this short description, it is easy to understand why balance of these two exercise programs is important.

Several avenues of training used in CrossFit include Olympic lifts which teaches the application of force to muscle groups from the center out; this is vital for all who need to apply force. Gymnastics is another valuable training mode since it uses the body’s own weight for resistance. High value is therefore placed on improvement of strength in relationship to body weight using pull-ups, squats, lunges, push-ups, handstands and jumping. Coordination is thereby improved as is agility and flexibility. Power development is an imperative in CrossFit training; it is defined as “hard and fast,” and is considered one of the four basic themes in CrossFit. There are two additional aspects of this training that should be addressed as a function of this overview.

The first asks the question, “What are functional movements?” Motor patterns from every day constitute what CrossFit specifies as natural movement. It involves the same movement of multiple joints that we use in every activity in our lives. This is important because natural movements are basically sound mechanically and because these movements evoke a strong neuroendocrine response or a positive influence on the activity of the nerves. It is CrossFit’s position that functional movements are so important that exercising without them is useless; therefore, this type of movement is also a dominant theme of the CrossFit presentation.

Diet is the last feature that a prospective CrossFit participant should address. The outline is just a bit daunting. Protein should be lean, varied and consist of about 30% of the total calorie intake. Low-glycemic carbohydrates should account for about 40% on the daily intake. Fat should be monounsaturated and fill the last 30% of daily caloric consumption. One eats garden vegetables of the green variety, seeds, nuts, lean meats, a low level starch intake without any form of sugar. Oh, and by the bye, if you are interested in longevity along with all this athletic stuff, current research shows that calorie restriction is most important, and is, therefore, high on CrossFit’s to do list.