When you’ve been around as long as old Scratch had, it does seem like every day there’s some new-fangled, fad workout. The one I’ve been hearing about recently is a new exercise program called CrossFit. It is not a traditional, specialized training program where you might only focus on certain muscles or on cardio. “Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing,” says CrossFit founder Greg Glassma. It’s also a very tough workout, so Rockheads if you’re not active right now, you should take it slowly and learn how to the exercises correctly before a workout.
CrossFit takes strength training, explosive plyometrics, speed training, Olympic- and power-style weight lifting, kettle bells, body weight exercises, gymnastics, and endurance exercise and combines all of these to target what it calls “the major components of physical fitness”: cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.
If you follow the CrossFit program 100%, you’ll to work out 3 to 5 days per week. The workouts are highly intense and short, taking about 5 to 15 minutes to complete. These workouts usually combine explosive exercises done in a circuit format: One exercise follows right after the next, with very little rest in between.
There are hundreds of CrossFit exercises. Here are a few examples:
• Power Cleans: Pulling a weighted bar from the floor and bringing it up to and in front of your shoulders in a quick and forceful manner.
• Burpees: This is a body-weight-only exercise that involves beginning in a standing position, quickly dropping to the floor and doing a push-up, then coming up to a squatting position and explosively jumping straight-up.
• The Snatch: A weighted bar is rapidly pulled from the floor to directly over your head with the arms held straight.
Other examples are variations of push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. CrossFit also often uses kettle bells (a weighted bell with a handle on top), medicine balls, climbing ropes, jump ropes, and rowing machines.
If you decide to start the CrossFit program, it can be performed in two ways: on your own or at a CrossFit affiliate.
Going at it on your own requires a base level of good physical fitness, as well as knowing how to safely perform each movement. The CrossFit web site will be a great resource; it has a large video library that shows the proper technique for all of the exercises.
If you don’t want to workout on your own, then you can join a CrossFit affiliate; there are about 2,500 locations worldwide. I would recommend a newbie try a couple lessons at an affiliate. They are coaches there who can show you one-on-one the correct technique.
As with many of these workout programs, CrossFit also has a diet you’re supposed to follow. The CrossFit diet consists of a daily eating plan of about 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. This can be accomplished by consuming “meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar,” as recommended by CrossFit.
Now, please note that the CrossFit Nutrition plan was not developed by a registered dietitian. Most importantly, it will not follow the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It offers less carbohydrates and a more protein than what is recommended for active people by the American Dietetic Association, which is the leading organization for nutritional-based research. Those carbs are important sources of fiber and nutrients; many of our grains are fortified. Also protein is good, bit too many protein can sometimes mean too much fat.
- The workouts are really intense
- The workouts don’t take a long time. You can get a great workout even if you you’re busy
- The workouts can be done at home
- There are a lot of videos on the CrossFit site that can help you
- It can offer some fun variety to your normal workout routine
- The risk of injury is increased risk especially if you have a previous injury or are new to this kind of workout.
- Affiliate coaches may not have an education in sports conditioning. Ask about credentials and references for any coach or personal.
CrossFit: Bottom Line
Like most other exercise routines, CrossFit has pluses and minuses. The workouts are fast-paced, challenging, and constantly varied. If you’re healthy and fit, then go ahead and give it a try.
If you’re out of shape or recovering from an injury, please join a CrossFit affiliate to receive the appropriate personalized attention. And as with any exercise program, check with your doctor before starting any new fitness plan.