What is CrossFit?


This can be a difficult question to answer. The best description of CrossFit is usually a self-realization that hits you when you’re about 6 or 7 minutes into your first workout. Therefore, we recommend that you come out and give us a try. If that’s enough to get you in the gym, great. If not, by all means read on….

In short, CrossFit is the most effective way to improve your fitness and health, and if done consistently, will make you better at whatever activity you enjoy or pursue. The CrossFit approach was founded and developed by Greg and Kathy Glassman from California.

A more in-depth response is: CrossFit is evidence-based fitness. This means that the fitness CrossFit produces is observable, measureable, and repeatable. You see the gains which CrossFit claims it produces because everything is defined and measured. The concept of providing a fitness program without defining what it is you will deliver is deceptive.

The fitness that Crossfit endorses prepares its athletes for the needs and demands of life. Yes, you are an athlete whether you realize it or not. We are all athletes: me, you, the collegiate or professional football player, your doctor, the mailman, and my grandmother. And we train all of our members as such. We train to master essential functional movement, the same movements that are seen and necessary to have a healthy, independent lifestyle, or to excel in sport.
As people, our needs vary by degree, not kind. Meaning, whereas the elite athlete, such as a division-I level football player, needs to be able to squat and clean+press as much weight as he can to maximize his performance on the football field, my grandmother must be able to do those same movements so that she is able to get up out of her chair on her own, or pick up her groceries from the floor and put them on the shelf. They are the same exact movements, just performed at different intensities.
If my grandmother loses the ability to perform those movements, she must either a) have someone else help her, b) have someone else do them FOR her, or c) no longer live alone. This is also known as loss of function and independence. As we age, if we do not practice and master these movements, we will lose the ability to perform them, and lose function. If we do practice them and master them as much as possible, we maximize our function and performance. All of a sudden, we get better at our everyday activities and they become relatively easier: mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, walking, climbing stairs, carrying the mulch, running, or performance in sport.
If you are convinced that these movements are unsafe or extreme, then I would kindly encourage you to never stand up from a couch, chair, or toilet on your own ever again. Also, never pick up or lift anything from the ground. Ever. Ridiculous isn’t it? Of course, there are situations where an injury or medical condition must be taken into account, but that is true with anything, and these activities are safe for the vast majority of people.

Pushing on that leg press machine, or the chest press machine, or putting in countless minutes and hours on that elliptical will provide some benefit, but mostly only for the unfit or untrained. In fact we believe the adaptations produced from using machines are severely lacking and blunted, as they lack many of the essential components of being fit, such as balance, accuracy, coordination, and agility.

CrossFit’s 3 Definitions of Fitness (see below)

CrossFit has three models or definitions of fitness. CrossFit’s first definition of fitness recognizes ten general physical attributes that comprise being fit. These attributes are: Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. We propose that you are only as fit as you are competent in each of these ten physical attributes, and should not pursue one attribute so much that you become incompetent in others. This is what happens to those that specialize (ask a bodybuilder to run 1 mile, or ask a marathon runner what their one rep max squat is). The implication here is that you become competent in all attributes.

CrossFit’s second model proposes that if someone is fit, they have an ability to perform well at virtually any task, even unfamiliar or unknown tasks, or tasks in infinite combinations. Imagine a hopper filled with an infinite number of physical activities or challenges. We will pull any number of random activities from the hopper, and then evaluate an individual’s ability to perform them. This model suggests that fitness can be measured by comparing one’s ability to perform these tasks in relation to others. The fact that the activities are random, just as many everyday challenges are, implies that one would benefit from not investing in any regular set/reps schemes, routines, periodization, etc.

CrossFit’s third definition of fitness recognizes that there are 3 main engines that fuel all human activity (there may actually be a fourth that is being researched currently). These engines are the phosphagen system, glycolytic system, and aerobic system. The phosphagen system fuels high power activities (i.e. a 100m sprint, a one rep max squat or bench press, etc.). The glycolytic system supplies moderate power activities, activities that last up to several minutes (i.e. an 800m run, swimming 300m, doing 100 push-ups, etc.). And the aerobic system supplies low power activities, those lasting long periods of time (i.e. a 5 mile or longer run, walking, etc.). The fitness that CrossFit seeks and delivers requires training and competencey in all 3 of these engines/pathways. We propose you are only as fit as you are competent in each of these 3 engines.

*Above information is courtesy of CrossFit Inc. and CrossFit 717*

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