What is CrossFit?
CrossFit begins with a belief in fitness. The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency—not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable. After looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing
CrossFit is an evidence-based fitness program. We believe that meaningful statements about safety, efficacy, and efficiency, the three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program, can be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable facts, i.e., data. The CrossFit methodology depends on full disclosure of methods, results, and criticisms, and we’ve employed the Internet as our primary means to support these values. Our charter is open source, making co-developers out of participating coaches, athletes, and trainers through a spontaneous and collaborative online community. CrossFit is empirically driven, clinically tested, and community developed.
We define fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Capacity is the ability to do real work, which is measurable using the basic terms of physics (mass, distance, and time). Life is unpredictable (much more so than sport) so real world fitness must be broad and not specialized, both in terms of duration and type of effort (time and modal domains)
The magic is in the movements. All of CrossFit’s workouts are based on functional movements. These are the core movements of life, found everywhere, and built naturally into our DNA. They move the largest loads the longest distances so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time (intensity).
By employing a constantly varied approach to training, these functional movements at maximum intensity (relative to the physical and psychological tolerances of the participant), lead to dramatic gains in fitness. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work/time. The more work you do in less time, the more intense the effort.
In implementation, CrossFit is, quite simply, the “sport of fitness.” We’ve learned that harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition, and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means. The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that “the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.” It is our observation that men will die for points. Using whiteboards as scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprecedented output but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout. This data has important value well beyond motivation.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.
To best understand CrossFit, read what Coach Greg Glassman wrote in the April 07’ CrossFit Journal:
'The aims, prescription, methodology, implementation, and adaptations of CrossFit are collectively and individually unique, defining of CrossFit, and instrumental in our program’s successes in diverse applications'.
From the beginning, the aim of CrossFit has been to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. We sought to build a program that would best prepare trainees for any physical contingency—prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. Looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing. The second issue (“What is Fitness?”) of the CrossFit Journal details this perspective.
The CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns; they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they are compound movements—i.e., they are multi-joint. They are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly. Collectively, these three attributes (load, distance, and speed) uniquely qualify functional movements for the production of high power. Intensity is defined exactly as power, and intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise. Recognizing that the breadth and depth of a program’s stimulus will determine the breadth and depth of the adaptation it elicits, our prescription of functionality and intensity is constantly varied. We believe that preparation for random physical challenges—i.e., unknown and unknowable events—is at odds with fixed, predictable, and routine regimens.
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess. CrossFit has proven effective in these arenas.
Aside from the breadth or totality of fitness the CrossFit Program seeks, our program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximizing neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practice with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.
Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways. We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically while maximizing strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen this sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. And finally we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.
An Effective Approach
In gyms and health clubs throughout the world the typical workout consists of isolation movements and extended aerobic sessions. The fitness community from trainers to the magazines has the exercising public believing that lateral raises, curls, leg extensions, sit-ups and the like combined with 20-40 minute stints on the stationary bike or treadmill are going to lead to some kind of great fitness. Well, at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push-press, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort our athletes will do five or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavors to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods.
Is This For Me?
Absolutely! Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s differ by degree not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and coordination are each important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly. Of course, we can’t load your grandmother with the same squatting weight that we’d assign an Olympic skier, but they both need to squat. In fact, squatting is essential to maintaining functional independence and improving fitness. Squatting is just one example of a movement that is universally valuable and essential yet rarely taught to any but the most advanced of athletes. This is a tragedy. Through painstakingly thorough coaching and incremental load assignment CrossFit has been able to teach anyone who can care for themselves to perform safely and with maximum efficacy the same movements typically utilized by professional coaches in elite and certainly exclusive environments.
Who has benefited from CrossFit?
Many professional and elite athletes are participating in the CrossFit Program. Prize- fighters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players, triathletes and others competing at the highest levels are using the CrossFit approach to advance their core strength and conditioning, but that’s not all. CrossFit has tested its methods on the sedentary, overweight, pathological, and elderly and found that these special populations met the same success as our stable of athletes. We call this “bracketing”. If our program works for Olympic Skiers and overweight, sedentary homemakers then it will work for you.
Your current regimen
If your current routine looks somewhat like what we’ve described as typical of the fitness magazines and gyms don’t despair. Any exercise is better than none, and you’ve not wasted your time. In fact, the aerobic exercise that you’ve been doing is an essential foundation to fitness and the isolation movements have given you some degree of strength. You are in good company; we have found that some of the world’s best athletes were sorely lacking in their core strength and conditioning. It’s hard to believe but many elite athletes have achieved international success and are still far from their potential because they have not had the benefit of state-of-the-art coaching methods.
10 General Physical Skills
If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered :
- Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
- Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
- Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
- Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
- Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
- Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
- Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
- Balance - The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
- Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
- Nutrition - Nutrition plays an enormous role as the foundation for success in all that we do. Read more on the importance of proper nutrition.