CrossFit 101

By now I hope you're settling in and figuring out what's going on…at least a little bit. I want to take the time to give you an idea of some of our basic principles, that hopefully answer the questions you have, and that your friends keep asking you!

First, What is CrossFit? We define CrossFit as:

constantly varied

functional movements

performed at a high intensity

Makes sense, huh? Let’s start by defining some of these terms…

What is a functional movement?

These are based on real world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements which place demand on the body's core musculature and innervation. In short, they mimic movements that we perform in everyday life. When you drop your keys and bend over to pick them up…. that is a deadlift. When you sit down on a chair, or stool, or throne (you know which one) and get back up…. that is a squat.

When you place an object on a high shelf…that is a press. These are all movements that we do daily and CrossFit is an exercise methodology to allow you to do it better, easier, more quickly and with less injury risk than you did before. There are a variety of other movements that we perform in a workout, the previous are just a few for the sake of example.

What does it mean to be constantly varied?

It means that we are going to vary everything about your workout. From the type of movement (weightlifting, gymnastics, monostructural/cardio), to how many you perform, to the combination that you perform them in, to how long or short the workout is, to how much rest you get between movements and whatever else that we could think of to prepare you for anything in life or sport that you may need.

What is high intensity? (Forgive me, I'm going to get a little nerdy for a minute).

In short, intensity level is directly correlated with power output. The more power you put out, the higher your intensity. Higher power is moving bigger loads, longer distances, and moving them more quickly. Overall, we want as high an intensity that you can muster that is appropriate for YOU! The goal of a workout is to finish it faster or to do more reps IN A SAFE MANNER! THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SACRIFICE FORM FOR SPEED! Move quickly, but move safely.

We do constantly varied functional movements at a high intensity to improve our fitness. We can talk about what fitness is later, but in short, I want you to be a well-rounded athlete (yes, you are an athlete!). I want you to be able to run more than a lifter and lift more than a runner. You will likely not be the best at any one specialty, but will be very good at many things.

Second, How is CrossFit different?

CrossFit is also more varied than other programs. We use varying weights, movements and time domains to achieve your highest fitness levels. Many other programs pick a modality to use (e.g. running) and work on only that one modality (run, then run fast, then run slow, then run long….). There is nothing wrong with running, and if you like running, you should run! But if you are looking for variety, CrossFit is much more suited to you. Even if you like running, CrossFit can make you better at running! I have had several runners work with me that improved their times dramatically with the CrossFit methodology!

CrossFit is also a higher intensity than most other exercise programs. The high intensity is the secret sauce that accounts for the improvements that are seen with this program. It is also the part that is the most uncomfortable. I often tell patients and athletes, “If you want your life to be easier, do something hard every day.” This is hard, but the results are worth it!

CrossFit is very different from most other exercise philosophies out there today. However, when you consider the relative success (think short AND long term outcomes) of many of the other ones, I find it quite refreshing to be able to teach and perform the one that is going to help me to accomplish my goals most fully.

Most are afraid of CrossFit due to the difficulty level of many of the movements and workouts. They are scared to be uncomfortable, but I'm asking you to do the hardest part of the workout up. Show up and let the effort take care of the rest! I know you can do it!