Millions of people around the world will have scrolled through Facebook and seen a photo of a friend looking half dead and banging on about CrossFit.
So what is CrossFit, and why are millions of people around the world addicted to this fitness regime?
And it is a regime, as it has to be done daily really. Some people get so absorbed by it, becoming such passionate advocates, that it’s constant part in people’s lives has led some to some describing people subscribing to its ideals and community as being part of a cult.
So what’s the truth? How good is CrossFit, how does it actually happen, and is it good for everyone to do? I’ve done a bit of CrossFit and as part of my ongoing experiments into gym work, and developing my body through nutrition and supplements, so I wanted to post here to give you all the facts you need to know in the next five minutes.
All The Key Facts You Need To Know About CrossFit
CrossFit is a high intensity interval training format workout that is done daily. It’s mostly about strength and conditioning, using functional movement (natural movement) to improve core strength.
So this is improving things you would do in daily life, things like pulling, pushing, squatting. It’s designed to do it over time, incrementally, so you are always pushed but not overloaded, with an infinite variety of ways to get to an expert level of fitness.
It’s done in groups of exercises within a time limit, to create pressure and intensity. There are different levels to the workout, which I will talk about in a moment.
CrossFit first began in 1996 when a guy called Greg Glassman developed it. The first box (basically a pop-up gym) opened in Santa Cruz California and is still actually functioning today.
Nowadays there are at least 14,000 affiliated pop-up gym boxes, and permanent CrossFit locations, in at least 130 countries.
More impressive than that, it’s thought that around 4 million people subscribe to the daily exercise regime called WOD (workout of the day). When you add in the casual users numbering millions more, you can see why it’s so well known.
Who Will Benefit From CrossFit Training?
The beauty of CrossFit training is that anyone can benefit from it. It literally doesn’t matter what your athletic prowess is, how strong you are, what your physical limitations are, CrossFit is made to fit everyone. It can also be used by children from relatively early childhood through to people in their old age.
This is because it’s about the intensity, not the movements. The movements in the exercises are natural as we’ve already talked about, functional movements. The only thing that changes depending on your capability is the intensity and duration of the workout.
So a 70-year-old granny can do the same CrossFit WOD as an Olympic athlete, it’s just the intensity and duration of that session that is different.
That’s part of the reason why it so accessible and so embraced by millions. Add to that the fact that there are tens of thousands of licensed affiliate CrossFit coaches around the world, making finding a class easy no matter where you are, and it’s easy to see why CrossFit is a great fit for many average Joe’s and Josephine’s.
What Does An Average CrossFit Session Consist Of?
There are infinite varieties of CrossFit WOD, let’s show you what the first one from February 10 2001 looked like, after the formation properly of the CrossFit company took place:
- (Fast And Heavy Timed Workout)
- Dumbbell Thruster 21 Reps
- Run Quarter Of A Mile
- Dumbbell Thruster 18 Reps
- Run Quarter A Mile
- Dumbbell Thruster 15 Reps
- Run Quarter Of A Mile
Now there are infinite variations on this, and lots of people design the CrossFit workouts, including a level V senior international Olympic weightlifting coach, and a noted American powerlifting strength coach, amongst others.
The regime is basically strength and conditioning, high intensity training, and time. Put together, it’s based around the principles of interval training, with weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, kettle bells, gymnastics, plyometrics, and calisthenic exercises built into it.
The official word on CrossFit structure and ethos is “the CrossFit prescription is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement workouts”.
It’s key aim is to gain competence in 10 key fitness areas, including cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, strength, power, coordination, balance, and others.
When I did CrossFit, I did find it good. I stuck at it for six months, but I didn’t actually do every day. It was actually a couple of days per week when I didn’t want to do a full workout at the gym, sometimes because I didn’t have time, other times because I was in recovery, but not enough to not want to do something.
I will say that I was taking SARMs at the time, these are supplement which help to boost your strength, endurance, muscle development, and recovery times (well the stack I put together did all that anyway), so my performance may not be typical and might overload others.
How Important Is Choosing The Correct CrossFit Affiliate Coach?
One of the vital things that a lot of people don’t understand is that choosing the CrossFit coach is absolutely crucial to not only how well you progress, but minimizing your injuries.
Even if you think you might do CrossFit at home on your own in the end, always get a coach in the beginning so you can see how things work in detail. They will really help you to understand load, how to cope with it, learn to spot danger signs, and they will tailor your workouts to your abilities.
Just watch out for new coaches. They can be inexperienced and try and do all the cool stuff, and push people too hard, and you don’t want that. In fact, it’s recorded that 20% of people who have done CrossFit through the official affiliate Coach programs around the world have had a multi-day personal injury.
These injuries are almost always about load causing problems. What happens is that people overload themselves so that they don’t keep proper form, which has the end result of forcing weight around the body in ways it shouldn’t, known as form fatigue. This can have significant effects that can last for a long time if you’re not careful.
If you can find a really good coach locally, and checking social media to see who’s experienced is a great way of doing this, then they will be very good at balancing load, distance, speed, and at which speed participants can tailor the workout to develop at maximum speed without pushing them too far.
I’m not saying a new coach is always a bad thing, if they are really experience at CrossFit, or they have extensive gym coach experience, or a sports degree, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But my gut feeling will always be to look for experience first, especially as it’s a business and they want to get people through the door and push them on quickly so that they become long term advocates.
Is CrossFit The Best Fit For You?
Doing CrossFit for me was an interesting experiment. I don’t do it all the time, but I do it sometimes and it’s in my armory when I want to build core strength and burn some calories on days I don’t want to do a full warmup, gym routine, then warm down, do cardio, whatever.
So it can be brilliant for building in between your main routine.
Or you can focus on it specifically at the beginning to build core strength and endurance, or you can focus on entirely because it’s capable of developing you incredibly in the long term as well.
Just make sure you understand the risks of a high intensity workout, and make sure you get some experience to help you. If they aren’t interested in doing a detailed personal assessment, and really helping you in a way that demonstrates expertise, go elsewhere.
After that, you can steal some of it yourself and apply it to work out you develop yourself once you are more experienced, so it can be great for adding to your knowledge as well. Anything which gives you knowledge of functional movement exercises and allows you to develop that will help to underpin any other style of exercise you want to build around, for example stuff like:
- Functional Movement
- Race Against The Clock Practice
- Every Minute And The Minute Timing
- Increasing Your Stamina And Rep Performance
The other thing I will mention is that you can use supplements to develop things faster, and recover better. As I said, I’ve used SARMs, but I’ve also used the natural body building supplements from CrazyBulk. These help you to just do a little bit more, recover a bit quicker, and develop tone and strength more rapidly than you can naturally.
But my advice is basically give CrossFit ago. You can just do some YouTube videos if you want start off with, and see how you go after a few days. Remember that you can up the load and intensity just by changing up the distance and reps, or swapping to a slightly more difficult variation of one of the core exercises in group.