CrossFit Training - What Is It?

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CrossFit Training - What Is It?

Postby Bill Glasheen » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:48 am

Glenn wrote:On a slightly different subject Bill, what are your thoughts on the CrossFit fad that is gaining popularity and a bit of notoriety?

It would take a long time to talk about this. But if you want a Bill Glasheen "skinny" on it, I'll give you one.

  • As with many such fads, it has a commercial ($$) enterprise behind it (CrossFit, Inc.) which innovates the exercises and certifies the instructors.
  • It just so happens that the workouts or WODs (Workout Of the Day) fit nicely into hour-long slots that include warmup and warmdown/stretching. Not a bad gig! Gyms can certify their fitness instructors, and charge members for the classes.
  • It may use any combination of weight equipment and/or toys for its exercises. (There are a few done without equipment.) Much creativity can be involved. Sometimes it's using dumbbells indoors, and sometimes it's flipping big tires outside. What-ever...
  • The movements tend to be whole-body and functional.
  • The individual generally does whatever resistance it takes to get up to 100 *intense* repetitions of an exercise in under 5 minutes. The goal is usually to stay in the anaerobic band and out of the aerobic band of energy metabolism. In particular one is engaging and attempting to expand the glycolytic energy pathway. This is identical to what one is trying to accomplish in interval training. I did that in track over 40 years ago, and have done it on gymnasium elliptical trainers over a decade ago.
  • The general goal is to develop overall fitness and coordination. It is somewhere in-between building muscle with weights and burning calories with aerobics. In that regard it's neither fish nor foul.

To a long-time athlete such as yours truly, I see it as pretty good stuff. There's nothing earth-shattering or revolutionary here. It's just putting a lot of decent ideas together, packaging it, and marketing it.

If you're a young buck like my older son who wants to look buff for the girls, this isn't what you want. If you're trying to train yourself into better overall fitness because you're out of shape or you want a cross training program that compliments martial arts, then maybe it's a pretty good thing. This will leave you lean and mean, reasonably coordinated with your body, and in great shape. But it won't make you big.

Like all programs that emphasize whole-body exercises, technique is key. If your posture and/or technique suks, you're going to hurt yourself or waste a lot of time. But that's true about martial arts as well. It's also possible to overtrain with Crossfit or not have a balanced set of exercises, and that can lead to muscle imbalance (sometimes leading to injury) and in extreme cases muscle wasting. You either need to be a smart athlete or work with a good teacher.

- Bill
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