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What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a web based company founded in 2000, which is well known for its “CrossFit” exercise program. The program focuses on general strength and fitness, promoting the development of all-round skills and ensuring that at no point, individuals start to specialise. In essence, CrossFit aims to produce elite “Jack of all trades” athletes. To do this, CrossFit incorporates exercises from various disciplines, involving both strength and cardio, and draws inspiration from running, cycling, rowing, gymnastics, weight lifting, and more.

CrossFit can be practiced in licenced gyms, or routines can even be found on the internet for use at home.

Check Out Our Crossfit Workout Video With Bikini Model Ashleigh Schwab

Types of CrossFit Exercises

Prescribed CrossFit routines are known as “workouts of the day (or WOD)”. As the name suggests, these routines vary from day to day to ensure that things are kept fresh. Typically these involve body weight exercises, endurance exercises, as well weight lifting. Work outs are intense, with little to no rest in between, are against the clock, and generally last for around 20 minutes (time varies with your level of fitness and exercise intensity).

Some examples of CrossFit routines include:

Warm up - 2000 m run
Workout - 20 rounds of (4 pull ups, 6 pushups, 8 situps, 10 squats)
Cool down - 4 minutes total plank hold

Warm up - 1500 meter row, 50 v-situps, 50 overhead squats
Workout: 51 mountain climbers, 51 deadlifts, 3 minute plank hold, 51 mountain climbers, 51 jumping goblet squats, 3 minute plank hold, 51 mountain climbers
Cool down: 2 minute total handstand hold

Benefits of CrossFit

The founders of CrossFit have a philosophy in which life and many sports require people to be well rounded, and not become too specialised in only one skill set. It is easy to see the benefits of an exercise program incorporating whole body high intensity training with cardio. From this training method, improvements are expected in regards to cardiovascular fitness, as well as promoting gains in strength/muscle development, and helping to loss fat. Additionally, to successfully employ elements of CrossFit into your workout ritual, you only need basic equipment, or you can adapt workouts to what is available to you. For this reason, home application is common.

Negatives of CrossFit

When practiced properly, there is no doubt that CrossFit can help you meet your strength, fitness, and/or weight loss goals. However, CrossFit has received some negative press and has been criticised for its lack of structure and seemingly random routines. There have also been reported cases of rhabdomyolosis (breakdown of muscle tissue, causing the release of muscle cell components into the blood and potentially causing kidney damage) as a result of intensive CrossFit training (Hadeed et al, 2011).

Is CrossFit Suitable for Me?

CrossFit is both effective and popular, and it has been taken up by law enforcement departments, the military, athletes, MMA fighters, and even incorporated into physical education classes in schools. Advocates of CrossFit stress that programs are flexible enough to be made to work for any one from Olympic athletes to the elderly. All that is required is to adjust the load and intensity of the workout.

In this writer’s opinion, CrossFit is a great way to get fit, build lean mass, and lose fat. Your baseline level of strength and fitness do not matter, and the program can be tailored to your level. However, unlike the founders of CrossFit, I do not believe it is beneficial for "absolutely everyone". The creators believe that most sports penalise specialising. However, there are a wealth of sports out there that do require high degrees of specialisation. For example a competative power lifter who does not require aerobic fitness or a marathon runner who would be at disadvantage by developing upper body mass (and adding weight to their lean frame). For the general population though CrossFit would be a most beneficial form of training.

Before You Start

Keeping in mind the potential for muscle damage or injury due to the intensity of CrossFit training, it is highly recommended to practice CrossFit core movements with a qualified CrossFit instructor to ensure correct form and technique are developed, prior to advancing to high levels of intensity or resistance. In the case where CrossFit is done unsupervised by beginner level trainers, it is important to take note of any warning signs and not push your body beyond what you know is possible. Because you may not get a chance to drink during a CrossFit workout, it is important to ensure you are well hydrated before you commence a workout or pre-fuel with an intra-workout supplement. Please consult an exercise scientist or health care professional if you have any doubts.

Hadeed et al (2011) Exertional Rhabdomyolysis After Crossfit Exercise Program: 1210: June 3 9:40 AM - 10:00 AM. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 43: 224-225

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