What is Crossfit?
Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program developed by Greg Glassman based on functional movements, combined with high intensity and constantly varied workouts. It is a program designed to improve our quality of life mimicking movements that are more realistic to everyday activities, as opposed movements only found at the gym such as an isolated bicep curl. These “functional” movements always utilise multiple joint and muscles and are sometimes referred to as compound movements.
If I were asked to summarise Crossfit in a few bullet points, this would be it:
I’m sure if you asked different people, you would get a million different responses.
Now the concepts in Crossfit are not new. Olympic lifting and gymnastics have been around for quite some time. The difference, is that Crossfit combines them in a way that is effective and balanced. At my first intro session I was told I would not be a PRO at everything, however I would be good enough to do anything, whenever I wanted. As a believer that all things should be in balance, I was sold. What I loved was the definition of fitness. It's the combination of 10 things.
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Think about it, which sports give you all of the above? Not much. Yoga gives flexibility and strength. Marathon runners have endurance and stamina. I’m not knocking other sports, as I love yoga and the body vs mind aspect. However it’s something to be conscious of. We should all be “students of movement”, where Crossfit is only one form. In my personal opinion, it is one of the better forms to build the foundation so that we can combine it with other forms in our continuous journey to learn how to move optimally. As videos and pictures speak a thousand words, view these.
The success of Crossfit speaks for itself. From a humble beginning of only 40 crossfit affiliates, Crossfit is now sponsored by Reebok with a worldwide number of affiliates of 6000+ (2013). In just 2 years, the Crossfit Open, a 5-week competition (that is open to anyone who registers) has grown from 26,000 to 138,000 participants (2013). More recently it’s even received mainstream media coverage. Check out Bob Harper’s video from Men’s Fitness magazine.
So, why Crossfit you may ask? I’ve personally been exercising half of my life. I’ve tried pilates, reformer, yoga, squash, badminton, cycling and more recently global gyms. I can honesty say that Crossfit is the most effective of them all. It’s effective because of the following reasons:
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A typical WOD
There are no typical WODs (Workout of the Day) as things are constantly varied. You do a different workout each day. However a typical session may look something like this:
On average the main WOD only lasts 10-20mins. Obviously depending on the WOD and your level of fitness, this can vary. Anything over 30min is considered a substantially long WOD. Anything longer than 40min is what I personally call a “mega” WOD. Completing a WOD super fast may not be necessarily a good thing unless you are doing it RX. It can mean that you may need to go up in intensity (eg. increase weights).
A WOD is deliberately programmed to be short. There is always a balance between intensity and volume. As most WODs are super high in intensity, a 10 minute WOD often feels more than enough!
Contrary to common belief, Crossfit is not full of macho blokes. In actual fact, 60% of crossfitters are females. Ordinary people with busy lifestyles like mothers who do not have time.
Some common movements include:
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