So What Is CrossFit?
CrossFit is advertised in four words, as “the sport of fitness.”
With constantly varied, high-intensity functional movements, CrossFit is a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness in a hardcore yet accepting and encouraging environment.
CrossFit is a training program that builds strength and conditioning through extremely varied and challenging workouts. Each day the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or condition, not specialising in one particular thing, but rather with the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.
CrossFit is extremely different from a commercial gym…and not just because you won’t find any cross-trainers, weight machines, or Zumba classes.
World Class Fitness In 100 Words
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.
CrossFit's Fitness Standards
What is Fitness and Who is Fit?
Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen “the ﬁttest man on earth.” Let’s just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the IronMan Triathlon is the ﬁttest of the ﬁt, then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination?
Perhaps the deﬁnition of ﬁtness doesn’t include strength, speed, power, and coordination though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary deﬁnes “ﬁtness” and being “ﬁt” as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable deﬁnition of ﬁtness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a deﬁnition.
To us fitness would be defined by an athlete being capable of performing any and every task required, and not by performing one task so well that he or she sacrifices others.
Crossfit’s First Fitness Standard
There are ten recognized general physical skills (listed below). You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A CrossFit regime develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these ten skills. To us these skills are life skills.
Identification and development of the 10 general physical skills:
Each of these four skills are organic, produce changes in muscle tissue (that can be seen and measured) and are improved through training. We can think of these as improvements in hardware.
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – the ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen
2. Stamina – the ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units to apply force.
4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
These middle two are improved through both training and practice and need both for proper development.
5. Power – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed – the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
The last 4 are neurological, they are improved through practice and can be considered software. The degree to which a training program addresses each of these physical adaptations to training is expressive of its efficacy.
7. Coordination – the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movements.
8. Agility – the ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance – the ability to control the placement of the body’s centre of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy – the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
Crossfit’s Second Fitness Standard
The essence of this model is the view that fitness is about performing well at any and every task imaginable. Picture a lottery draw and every number represented a different movement, lift or task. The lottery draw would be loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform fetes randomly drawn from the lottery draw. This model suggests that your fitness can be measured by your capacity to perform well at these tasks in relation to other individuals.
The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even unfamiliar tasks, tasks combined with infinitely varying combinations. In practice this encourages the athlete (you!) to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, personalization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges, train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.
Crossfit’s Third Fitness Standard
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.
The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about ten seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.
Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit.
Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognising the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.
The motivation for the three standards is simply to ensure the broadest and most general fitness possible. Our first model evaluates our efforts against a full range of general physical adaptations, in the second the focus is on breadth and depth of performance. The third the measure is time, power and consequently energy systems. It should be fairly clear that the fitness that CrossFit advocates and develops is deliberately broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
WHat Is Fitness?
A documentary about creating the ultimate test of fitness, the CrossFit Games.
Nearly 12 years ago, CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman defined fitness. In 2007, the first test to find the fittest man and woman on Earth was born: the CrossFit Games.
"It's as easy as this: if fitness can be defined and measured, then it can be tested, and we can, in turn, find the fittest," Glassman wrote in 2013 of the CrossFit Games, which started as a small competition between friends and grew into a global battle.
Glassman's definition of fitness: work capacity across broad time and modal domains—something measurable, observable and repeatable.
"We claim to title the Fittest on Earth, and we can do that because we as a fitness methodology have defined fitness," says Dave Castro, Director of the Games.
He continues: "No one else is testing fitness, and at this point, no one can make a claim."