The Ten Components Of FitnessEdit
- Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance
CrossFit is difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand. If you've ever visited their website (http://www.crossfit.com) you'll be inundated with a list of random exercises followed by pictures of people exercising... often with a large group of people watching them. It's all so random that you've gotta wonder where you send off for the secret decoder ring and how many Wheaties UPC symbols you need to get it. I don't blame you for being totally baffled. I was too at first.
Well, if you've ever wondered what the Crossfit is, you probably have asked these questions:
I have zero idea what CrossFit is... What does it look like? Can you give me a general impression?Edit
First read this exceptional article by T-Nations own Chris Shugart. It's a good intro and covers some of the more polarizing aspects of the program.
Then check out some of these videos to get a sense of what a CrossFit type workout looks like.
'Annie Are you Okay?'
'Fight Gone Bad'
Okay... looks strange, but what exactly is CrossFit? Who does it? Why?Edit
I still don't get it... what exercises do you do? and to what end? Does it jibe with my fitness goals?Edit
Interesting. So how does CrossFit define fitness? Who is fit?Edit
Wild stuff! So how did they come up with CrossFit? How is it all put together? How do they know it works?Edit
Are there any studies done on CrossFit?Edit
Okay. Maybe this is for me. How would I go about starting?Edit
Now I'm ready to jump in... but I still don't understand half this craziness. What's a WOD? How much is a pood? Who is Tabata? How do I do a Thruster? Why are all the workouts named after chicks? Why don't they do real pull-ups? Where do I get a wall-ball? What if I can't do a muscle up? When will I meet pukie? Has anyone died doing CrossFit? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!Edit
Okay, all that reading made me hungry. What do I eat?Edit
I still have questions. Who can I ask?Edit
WODs and AffiliatesEdit
The WOD or Workout of the Day, is a daily posted workout. There are an array of variations found across the internet.
The Crossfit WOD, aka The Headquarters WoD. The Gold Standard. An even blend of strength, gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting and metcon.
Brand X WOD. The Xfit WoD scaled to 4-5 levels of ability, ranging from "Buttercup" (Beginner) to "Porch" (Advanced) to "as RX'd" (Elite).
The Drills and Skills WOD. Defers toward bodyweight exercises and gymnastics.
Navy SEALS WOD. Combination of Xfit WoD's and Navy SEALS training. Longer workouts similar to Gym Jones.
Catalyst Athletics WOD. Defers to Olympic weightlifting with a lesser emphasis on Met-con.
Crossfit St. Pete WOD. Defers toward strength with a healthy dose of metcon. Heavily influenced by Joe DeFranco and Westside Barbell style training.
Mike's Gym WOD. Purely Olympic weightlifting. No met-con.
Eva T's WOD. Bodyweight only. New workout posted every 8-10 days.
Primal Fitness WOD. Emphasis on Parkour.
CrossFit Philly WOD. Emphasis on dumbbells and kettlebells.
CrossFit 1776 WOD. Emphasis on...CrossFit and real world martial arts training.
CrossFit Rise Above. Emphasis on Strength and Olympic Lifting.
and there are countless others.
To find another Affiliate's WOD, or to find an Affiliate in your neck of the woods, look here:
http://www.crossfit.com/cf-affiliates/ (Listing on the left side)
Here are some of the monsters of Crossfit in action:Edit
Annie, Eva and Nicole do 'The Nasty Girls'
YouTube Link to 'The Nasty Girls'
Brendan does 'Lynne'
OPT does 'Helen'
Greg does 'Fat Fran'
Eva does 'Nate'
Josh does 'Grace'
Anthony raw deadlifts 565lbs
Annie does 'JT'
Nicole and Zach do 'The Crossfit Total' (Nicole is the true monster here, if you couldn't tell)
A Note on the Kipping Pull-upEdit
This is bound to come up and trust me, it has been argued to death. Bottom line is that it's a totally different exercise than the strict pull-ups and with a different purpose. I could probably rattle off 15 different variations of the pull-up... and that's what they are; variations on a theme. The theme is simply to pull yourself up from a hanging position and can be accomplished in a multitude of ways.
Kipping chin-ups/pull-ups are a derivative of the jumping version. The movement is performed using the momentum of a slight swing preceding the pull, when the swing is converted into an upward roll of the hips, translating the swing energy into upward movement. The kip distributes the movement over more muscle mass, using the abs, hip flexors, and lower back in addition to the lats and arms, so that more muscle mass is used in the exercise and more reps can be done. The strict versions concentrate the effort on less muscle mass and work it harder.
The strict pull-up is to the strict standing press what the kipping pull-up is to the push-press. Both the strict press and the push-press will get the weight overhead, but the latter way would get it there faster, just as would the kipping pull-up. Think of it from a functional perspective; if you needed to get up on top of a wall as fast as possible would you do a strict pull-up or would you use your entire body to heave yourself up on top of the wall as fast as possible? (and if dogs were chasing you would you even have to consider this?)
Mainly it depends on your goals. I think it's worthwhile for many of us to train as many grips/variations as possible, like thickbar pull-ups, rotating bar pull-ups, ring pull-ups, towel pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, L-sit pull-ups, prone/supine/neutral grip pull-ups, one arm pull-ups, wide, narrow, etc! I don't believe there is any one "best way" to pull our bodies up from a hanging position given the variety of physical obstacles that could fit the bill. These range from tree climbing, to wall climbing, to rope climbing, to sport climbing, to anything climbable. I relate this to the variety of ways that an object can be picked up off of the ground. Sure it would be nice to always lift things up with a straight back, but that isn't always practical, so it makes sense to train with a rounded back too. Ultimately it needs to meet your goals though. So if you just want big strong biceps, do chins, but if you want to climb a tree or use gymnastic rings, better train them all. And if you never have any ambition of competing in Ninja Warrior or scaling the Eiffel Tower there's nothing wrong with that either.
That's really all I have to say about it... I've seen arguments over the legitimacy of kipping go on forever and that's not what this article is about. Look over at crossfit.com and you'll see this already hashed out. It's a personal decision in the end; if you don't like kipping and you prefer to isolate the pulling muscles, do strict pull-ups. It's no big deal.
Hope that clear it up at least a little bit.
A Note on Crossfit, Strength and BodybuildingEdit
That's an important distinction. Crossfit is not concerned with specificity whether it's bodybuilding, distance running, or even power lifting or weightlifting. Crossfit will make you great at all of these things collectively, but it will not make you the best at any one of them individually. Crossfit is a jack-of-all-trades program and that's a big part of their philosophy. If your goal is to be elite in one specific activity then Crossfit is not ideal, because to be elite you must train your chosen activity to the exclusion of everything else. Competitive powerlifters shouldn't train distance running, because it will undermine their strength, competitive distance runners shouldn't powerlift because it will undermine their endurance, competitive gymnasts shouldn't bodybuild because it will undermine their bodyweight-to-strength ratio. You can't be in the top 99.9th percentile of your sport and train outside of your domain. But you can be in the top 95th percentile and train for most everything simultaneously, and this is what Crossfit seeks to do.
I like this quote by Coach Glassman on Xfitters:
"We do your stuff almost as well as you, you can't do our stuff at all and we do stuff neither of us do way better than you can."
Basically saying an advanced Xfitter is almost as good as the elite specialist in their sport, the elite specialist can't even do most of what the advanced Xfitter can do, and if both the elite specialist and the advanced Xfitter went head-to-head in a physical activity neither had ever done before, the Xfitter would outperform the specialist.
And this is once again a big pile of bullshit from Glassman who is notorious for hyped up claims. As an example, read this thread: http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=28368
"Glenn Pendlay brought Donny Shankle over to our facility after the USAW Nationals today. Donny won! Two hours later he was at our facility and Glenn was asking about that workout where you do the clean and jerk with 135LBs. So with little convincing Donny decided to give this CrossFit thing a try.
"Grace" 135LB Clean and Jerk 30 Reps for Time Wearing a pair of jeans and work boots he did it in 1:47. I am not sure but I think that is one of the best times."
High levels of strength and power will always carry over into endurance. It's much easier for a guy who can clean & jerk 460lb like Donny Shankle to do 30 reps with 135lb, than for the guys whose max clean & jerk is only 225lb. Just like 50 x 135lb Squats are easier for a guy with a 400lb Squat than for a guy with a 225lb max Squat. Strength and power always carries over to endurance, always. And this is why Crossfit fails, it's way too endurance-focused than strength-focused.
This claim, of course, is not backed up by the link I just posted (since reading the entire post would show you the later comment that Donny was completely destroyed by the workout for 4 hours afterwards) In addition to the fact that Donny had a slower time than elite crossfitters (we do things that both of us do about as well as you do) and that watching the video of Donny's attempt would show you that he used improper form. But hey, it's not like comparing a natural athlete at the top of his form with Olympic ability to people that do this stuff in their spare time was a fair competition, anyway, so I wonder why I posted this.
This a good time to mention that there is one claim that the Crossfit FAQ makes that I and most everyone disagree with:
From the Crossfit FAQ :
1.6. Will I/can I get big doing CrossFit?
If you train the WODs hard, and eat right and get lots of sleep, you will definitely gain lean mass, lose fat, and yes, you can build muscle mass with the crossfit protocol. More specifically, according to Coach,
Here is a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:
1. Bodybuilding on steroids
2. CrossFitting on steroids
3. CrossFitting without steroids
4. Bodybuilding without steroids
The bodybuilding model is designed around, requires, steroids for significant hypertrophy.
The neuroendocrine response of bodybuilding protocols is so blunted that without "exogenous hormonal therapy" little happens.
The CrossFit protocol is designed to elicit a substantial neuroendocrine whollop and hence packs an anabolic punch that puts on impressive amounts of muscle though that is not our concern. Strength is.
Natural bodybuilders (the natural ones that are not on steroids) never approach the mass that our athletes do. They don't come close.
Those athletes who train for function end up with better form than those who value form over function. This is one of the beautiful ironies of training.
There is truth in this, but it makes one crucial mistake. It presumes to lump all "bodybuilders" together into one category, ie. the isolation exercise, one bodypart per day 7-day split, performed on machines. Yes, crossfitting will get you bigger and stronger than that. But will it get you bigger and stronger than Rippetoe's, 5x5, Westside, and many of the other compound, fullbody routines? No. In fact I recommend getting strong on one of those programs before even attempting Crossfit. Not only will those programs get you bigger and stronger faster than Xfit, but the added strength and mass will make you a better Xfitter.
Mark Rippetoe agrees:
It has been my experience that the people who make the best progress on CF come from a strength training background. It will be very hard to get your deadlift up to 500 on a straight CrossFit program. It will be quite doable to get a 16 round "Cindy" if you already have a 500 lb. deadlift. Strength is a good base for everything else. GPP is important, if the lack of it is a problem. My point is that if you're a 25-year-old male with a max squat of 150 lbs., max deadlift of 200, and max press of 100 at a bodyweight of 150, then GPP should not be your first concern. Your CF workouts should be designed around, and should defer to, your strength program until such time as your strength and lean body mass are up high enough to make you a more efficient athlete. In my opinion.
These are all important considerations to make.
And that is Crossfit. Strange but true.