A Cross Section of CrossFit
CrossFit; not quite as much of a fad as avo on toast, but the almost cult-like craze has really taken off over the past few years. You’ve probably heard the word thrown around a fair bit amongst some gym keenos, but perhaps may not know entirely what it entails. It’s one of the fastest growing strength and conditioning programs, and has the mantra of ‘preparing the body not only for the known, but also the unknown…’ sounds rather daunting hey?
So, what does it actually involve? Well, CrossFit combines explosive plyometrics (jump training), with strength training, speed training, power-style weight lifting, kettle bells, body weight exercises, gymnastics, and endurance exercise. Okay, that still might sound a bit daunting, and no, it’s not for those who have never really exercised before. But it is indeed a fantastic way to target all the major components of physical fitness: cardiorespiratory fitness, stamina, muscular strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility and balance. CrossFit programs advocate training 3 to 5 days a week, with high intensity sessions lasting around an hour.
Variety. There are so many different workout routines. You can change them up from day to day and week to week, and so it helps to increase excitement (perhaps excitement isn’t the right word for all!) and decreases the risk of boredom. The workouts are dynamic and multi-dimensional, so it’s not like you’re just heading to the gym to sit on a bench and lift repeated sets of weights for an hour. And even better, you don’t have to go anywhere near a treadmill…phew. The point of CrossFit is not specialising, i.e. it’s constantly changing, which as we said, decreases the risk of boredom, not only for your mind, but your body as well and so ensures there is no ‘plateau’ effect that many gym goers may have encountered.
Not only this, but most of these workouts require fairly minimal, inexpensive equipment, so can even be done at home. And, whilst the exercises can be undoubtedly tough, there are so many videos available online that can ensure you keep good form, and can help you modify your movements to suit your current level of fitness. However, one huge bonus of actually joining a CrossFit gym is the camaraderie it brings. Yes, it might sound cliché, but it’s true, and it seems truer for CrossFit than for most other sports. We mentioned this ‘cult-like’ attitude of loyal CrossFitters…well, have no fear, there’s no vows to be sworn or rings to be worn when it comes to CrossFit. There’s just belief and support from those around you, pushing you to give your all in each workout, doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Unfortunately, the risk of injury increases with any high-intense fitness regimes, especially if you have previous injuries or are new to plyometric workouts and Olympic-style weight lifting. It’s crucial to perform the exercises with proper form, and this of course gets more difficult as your body becomes fatigued throughout workouts. So, if you are new to CrossFit, it might be best to head to a gym where the trainers can really help you get your form right to start off with.
One danger is a condition called rhabdomyolysis. It’s generally very rare, but can occur when muscle fibers are pushed to the point that they break down and enter the bloodstream, which can cause serious kidney damage. Yes, that sounds horrific, and it is, but again, it’s rare. However, that is why it’s recommended that you don’t go from zero to a million in one go; if you’ve never really exercised before, don’t start things off with a high intensity CrossFit class that would tire out even the fittest of us!
So, there it is, CrossFit briefly explained, along with its advantages and disadvantages. It may indeed sound daunting, but our bodies can do amazing things, and will get into the swing of it in no time! But if you don’t fancy it, well, we don’t blame you too much!