What is CrossFit? You have probably heard some information about CrossFit, but maybe you aren’t completely clear what it is. By its very founding principles, CrossFit is an open source technology that leverages the Internet to spread methods and information. So what is CrossFit?
CrossFit started as an underground movement against the conventional wisdoms of fitness in the 1980’s. At the time, corporations and government agencies (who were shaped by the corporation lobbyists) were the primary sources of what fitness means. They defined what you should do to be fit. As a result of CrossFit being a grassroots, internet driven movement, there is a lot of fragmented information floating around the web. Some if it is good and some bad… just like almost any industry or movement since the advent of the Internet.
I’m going to put some of the pieces together for those of you starting your journey into the exploration of what is CrossFit. Paradoxically, it is a theory that is the complete inverse to everything you have learned at your local gym from a national chain. Are you ready?
The Short Definition of CrossFit
Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity.
The three components that make up this definition will be examined later in this page. First let’s try to understand how CrossFit came to its definition.
The Concept of CrossFit
CrossFit is the result of a compilation of research into achieving the most optimal and well balanced level of fitness possible. To do this, CrossFit became the first fitness organization to define the word “fitness”. They needed a definition of fitness before they could measure how to best achieve it.
Open Source Fitness
CrossFit is open source. None of CrossFit’s ideas are under protection. All of the concepts are freely distributed via crossfit.com, as well as any affiliate, and any person who questions and discusses the accepted norms. Every movement CrossFit does is available to everyone, via video, images or articles at crossfit.com.
Constantly Evolving Fitness
CrossFit is adaptable. CrossFitters tend to look at fitness the same way a Nascar team looks at racing. If a Nascar driver all of a sudden shaves 1 second off his average lap time, every other Nascar team will find out what that team changed. Then they will test it in their own environment, and if it works, adopt it.
CrossFit is NOT married to any one concept or idea. We do what we currently validate as the optimal process to achieve fitness. If someone can prove that a method they have devised works better, it will immediately be scrutinized by hundreds (if not thousands) or CrossFitters for validity. If results prove that validity, then the new method works its way into the CrossFit curriculum.
Our bodies adapt very quickly to the stimulus placed on it. If you only do 30-minute, low intensity runs 5 days a week, your body will not be prepared should you need to do a 800m max effort run or lift something heavy. Since the only stimulus you trained your body for is a 30 minute jog, your body has adapted only to the stresses it encounters there. As a result, it will begin to give you diminishing returns on your 30 minute investment. Hence, once it’s achieved a semi comfortable balance, it has no need to adjust at a rapid rate.
By constantly varying our workouts, we never let our bodies get comfortable with any set time, movement, intensity level, metabolic pathway, elevation, etc. We programmatically attempt to change as many environmental and exercise related variables as possible. This is to keep our body working hard to achieve homeostasis.
Humans are anatomically engineered to perform certain movements at high efficiency. Remarkably enough, these movements are the ones we have used to survive since the beginning of mankind. Lifting things from the ground, getting them to our chest, and then overhead, squatting, jumping, rowing, lunging are all “functional movements”. These basic movements allowed man to survive the perils of nature and procreate.
These multi-joint, full body movements are called functional movements. They are the crux of our fitness program. We never call for an isolated body movement, as it’s simply not natural nor efficient.
Going back to the argument for why we constantly vary. If you are not pushing yourself to your peak capacity on a daily basis, you will never provide your body with the environment needed to achieve maximum growth in minimum time. We set the stage for the body to perform well under those conditions by performing for as long as and intense as we can.
Once we have slowly adapted to perform well at that duration and intensity, guess what? It’s no longer relatively intense for you. Naturally you’ll begin to operate at an even higher level of intensity. The old “high intensity” becomes more and more normal work to you.
By pushing the envelope of intensity, you give yourself the environment to achieve the biggest gains. And that’s what CrossFit is about.
CrossFit strives to achieve physical competency across the board. We feel that in the overall game of life, someone who specializes too much creates weaknesses too great to overlook. Therefore these weaknesses actually lower the overall fitness level of that person.
By focusing on staying unfocused, you are able to hone all of your skills and become a better all around athlete; one who can be physically up to par with substantially more activities (known or unknown) than any specialist can.
Further, the following statement is also true:
A generally prepared athlete will usually lose overall fitness by adding specialization to his training regimen. However, a specialist who adds a constantly varied, functional movement training program at high intensity to his specialized training will generally GAIN fitness ability.
Hence, once you have achieved a proficient broad based level of fitness, you allow periphery skills and abilities to deteriorate by adding too much specialized training.
On the other hand, if you have a mastery level at one or two movements or events, add CrossFit. Why? Adding a CrossFit training program will result in an overall rise in fitness (as measured by any your overall fitness ability, results in hopper activities, or your ability to perform in any of the metabolic pathways).
If you are still asking yourself “What is CrossFit” or would like more information, please feel free to contact us.