THE CROSSFIT CRAZE
Today’s blog looks at CrossFit: a relatively new programme of exercise that more and more personal trainers – and their clients – are becoming familiar with.
CrossFit is a series of strength and conditioning activities aimed at people wanting to develop their general all-round fitness. The constantly varied functional movements are performed at high intensity and include:
- Aerobic exercises
- Body weight exercises/gymnastics
- Olympic weight lifting
It doesn’t fit with the traditional style of training for strength, as a personal trainer or fitness instructor may know it. Rather than following the one to five rep max model of strength training, CrossFit training requires a high number of reps, completed in the shortest time possible.
THE ORIGINS OF CROSSFIT
Greg Glassman founded the fitness company CrossFit Inc in 2000 and the first affiliated gym was in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Since then, CrossFit gyms have popped up all over the US – and now in the UK and beyond. Indeed it is become recognised as a sport in its own right: the CrossFit Games, which have been held in the US since 2007, have established a name as a challenging and gruelling global competition to find the best in the world.
A TYPICAL CROSSFIT WORKOUT
CrossFit has a particular structure that is best followed under the guidance of a personal trainer. A typical CrossFit workout involves a large number of high intensity exercises that result in physical exertion, completed over a short period of time.
The exercises are combined to make up WODs (Workouts of the Day), which can be followed in affiliated gyms and are often set up as mini competitions with progress measured and encouraged.
Workouts are divided into three categories:
Body weight exercises – strength exercises using the body’s weight. Examples: box jumps, burpees, lunges, push ups and sit ups.
Weight training – strength training using weights. Examples: deadlifts, snatch, cleans, press.
Monostructrual Movements – cardio-based aerobic exercises. Examples: running, rowing and skipping.
THE PROS AND CONS OF CROSSFIT
As it’s a fairly new phenomenon, there hasn’t yet been much research into the benefits and drawbacks of CrossFit. However, it’s essential for any fitness professional giving CrossFit training classes to carefully follow all the usual recommended precautions when working with their clients.
The positive sides to CrossFit activities include:
- Promotes all round fitness – good for muscle endurance, aerobic and anaerobic fitness
- Promotes weight loss through combining resistance exercise with strength training
- The variety of the activity can prevent boredom through repetition
- The high intensity and competitive elements can help those wanting to progress their training
- Timed challenges make it easier to monitor progress and encourage participants to take responsibility for their physical fitness
- Many of the activities bring training back to basics, with exercises no longer seen in a gym setting
The downside to CrossFit training includes:
- High repetition on some heavy lifts can mean exercising while fatigued, risking injury
- The punishing, all-out training can lead inexperienced gym-goers to push themselves dangerously hard
- Some Crossfit trainers set up in business without personal trainer or gym instruction qualifications and may not be familiar with the safest techniques
- An emphasis on completing exercises at speed can mean that there is too little focus on technique
Ultimately, to reduce the chance of injury, individuals are advised to work with a personal trainer on any CrossFit training activities, rather than simply follow the Exercise of the Day listed on an internet site.