A Beginner's Guide to CrossFit
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is "the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes world wide."
CrossFit aims to build broad all round fitness that will prepare trainees for all sorts of eventualities. It specialises in not specialising. It takes the best from all sports and disciplines and aims to prepare its adherents for the unknown and the unknowable the kinds of demands they will meet in real life emergency or combat situations. Whilst most fitness programmes focus on either strength or endurance CrossFit aims to build all rounders who will be ready to deal with anything.
The CrossFit programme, posted as a Workout of the Day or WOD on their website and followed by thousands of individuals and CrossFit affiliate gyms is deliberately variable so that athletes never quite know what will be thrown at them. It seeks to improve, strength, power, speed, stamina, cardio respiratory endurance, co-ordination, agility, balance, accuracy and flexibility rather than concentrating on any one of these.
How did CrossFit develop?
Developed by Greg Glassman a former high school gymnast and his ex wife Lauren Jenai, CrossFit utilises elements of gymnastics skills and drills, Olympic weight lifting, powerlifting and multi mode sprint work in single workouts. It became clear to Glassman through his work with police officers in Southern California that while athletes and bodybuilders were highly adapted to the demands of their own sports their training regimes weren't up to the demands of control and arrest.
Glassman realised that combining elements of traditional bodybuilding with extensive aerobic effort was less effective than mixing heavy fundamental movements with high intensity cardio work. Glassman's athletes would alternate heavy deadlifts with 400 meter sprints.
The first CrossFit affiliate gym opened in Santa Cruz in 1995 but it really took off with the launch of the CrossFit web site in 2001. Publication of the daily work outs introduced CrossFit to thousands of adherents worldwide. The number of CrossFit affiliated gyms grew from 13 in 2005 to around 3,400 in 2012.
Who can do CrossFit?
While CrossFit developed from Glassman's work with elite athletes of Southern California Glassman claim it has universal scalability, making it appropriate for any committed individual regardless of experience. "The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Our terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders,and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regime."
Will CrossFit help me to lose weight?
CrossFit involves requires you to complete short cardio vascular activities like running 400 meters then go straight into strength training exercises like squats, push ups and deadlifts. Activities are completed one after another and all use the large muscle groups in your body so your heart rate is kept up throughout the workout. So a typical session burns a lot of calories but they will also help you develop lean muscle. Muscle tissue requires calories to maintain function and structure so you will burn more calories while you are at rest; in fact even when you are sleeping. For every pound of lean muscle that you add you will burn approximately 50 more calories a day.
However CrossFit's web site is very clear that diet is equally if not more important to weight loss.
What is CrossFit diet advice?
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not fat.
Is CrossFit safe?
CrossFit is an extreme form of high intensity exercise. It involves pushing yourself to the limits. There have been claims that CrossFit poses an elevated risk of rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which the products of broken down muscle cells are released into the bloodstream damaging the kidneys and potentially causing kidney failure. A person who suffered injuries after performing CrossFit exercises under the supervision of an uncertified trainer successfully sued for $300,000. There is certainly a risk of injury if exercises are not carried out correctly. It is advisable to work with an accredited trainer and consult your doctor before embarking on high intensity training of this nature.
Getting Started with CrossFit
CrossFit requires less equipment than the machine heavy environment of a typical gym. You can potentially work on your own or with a personal trainer following the daily workouts on CrossFit's web site but you are probably better off finding one of 2,500 CrossFit's affiliated gyms. They can be found in the UK and other parts of the world as well as North America. CrossFit affiliate gyms have a one month initiation course in which trainees are taught how to perform the various lifts and exercises associated with CrossFit. CrossFit puts huge emphasis on performing exercises correctly and it is imperative you start with a sound foundation.
An article by Glassman on CrossFit's web site explains in detail how to set up your own garage gym explaining in detail where to buy the equipment and how to adapt the space. The minimum equipment needed to start CrossFit is a set of Olympic weights, some rubber composition plates and a set of pull up bars. Other bits and pieces can be added as you go along. An increasing number of suppliers have begun specialising in cross training equipment.
Amazon Price: $18.95 $5.55 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 31, 2015)