Below are some of the most common questions asked to use about CrossFit with our answers:
Well, with CrossFit, we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push-press, the bicep curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort, you will do five or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practiced in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. (Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.)
If the program works for Olympic Skiers and overweight, sedentary homemakers then it will work for you.
A dynamic warmup, that may include running and rowing, stretching, plyometrics or mobility. The clean & jerk, snatch, squat, deadlift, push-press, bench-press, and power-clean. Jumping, medicine ball throws and catches, pull-ups, dips, push-ups, handstands, presses to handstand, kips, cartwheels, muscle-ups, sit-ups, scales, and holds in an endless variety of drills. We make regular use of the track, rowing shells and ergometers, Olympic weight sets, rings, parallel bars, free exercise mat, horizontal bar, plyometrics boxes, medicine balls, and jump ropes.
All of these placed into high intensity workouts in random combinations that typically last no longer than 25 minutes, and in some cases, may only last 10 minutes (not counting warm-up and instruction, of course).
Do you want to? Weight loss/gain depends solely on diet; the quality of the diet, training, training history, recovery (sleep, low stress, etc.), and genetics help determine what amount of that gain/loss is muscle or fat. If you don’t want to get big (eg. a woman), you must eat only at or slightly below your maintenance level of calories. Now on the other hand, if you train the WODs hard, and eat right (and slightly above maintenance calories) in combination with lots of sleep, you will definitely lose fat and build muscle mass with the CrossFit protocol.
For all you guys doing workouts you found in the fitness magazines (i.e. bodybuilding workouts)… consider this… According to Coach Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, the bodybuilding model is designed around, and 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.
If this is your goal… you’ll need to push a lot of weight, and a lot of syringe plungers. This is a professional bodybuilder who trains with mostly heavy isolation exercises and has most likely taken a pretty hefty amount of steroids.
Now if this is your goal, this is far more attainable, and what a healthy, fit human body can look like.
Boy do we hear this one a lot, especially from women. Let me start off by highlighting a point that Mark Rippetoe made in the Crossfit Journal :
”The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance. In both architecture and human beauty, form follows function. Always and everywhere, the human body has a certain appearance when it performs at a high level, and depending on the nature of that high-level performance, this appearance is usually regarded as aesthetically pleasing, for reasons that are DNA-level deep. The training through which high-level performance is obtained is the only reliable way to obtain these aesthetics, and the only exceptions to this method of obtaining them are the occasional genetically-gifted freaks—people who look like they train when they were just born lucky. As a general rule, if you want to look like a lean athlete—the standard that most open people strive to emulate—you have to train like an athlete, and most people lack the “sand” for that.”
“Appearance can’t change unless performance does, and the performance changes are what we quantify and what we program. We know how to improve that, but the industry is based on the fiction that appropriate training proceeds from an assessment of aesthetics. Your appearance when fit is almost entirely a function of your genetics, which are expressed at their best only when your training is at its highest level, and this level is only obtainable from a program based on an improvement in your performance in the gym.”
So in other words… You want to get lean? Work on reducing your “Helen” time. You want that defined v-shape in your back? Work on increasing your pull-ups. You want your thighs to looks better? Eat Paleo and increase your squat and deadlift weight. Remember what Mark Rippetoe (and 99% of legitimate exercise science) says:
Your muscles cannot get “longer” without some
rather radical orthopedic surgery.
Muscles don’t get leaner—you do.
There is no such thing as “firming and toning.” There is only stronger and weaker.
The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from barbell training. If it were that easy, I would have them.
Women who do look like men have taken some rather drastic steps in that direction that have little to do with their exercise program.
Women who claim to be afraid to train hard because they “always bulk up too much” are often already pretty bulky, or “skinny fat” (thin but weak and de-conditioned) and have found another excuse to continue life sitting on their butts.
Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.
You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to seek reasons to avoid hard physical exertion.
If you have an acute injury (for example, a sprain or a pulled muscle), chances are you will need to take some time off to rest, recover and regroup. That’s perfectly acceptable. But you don’t want to lose fitness from not exercising (also called detraining or de-conditioning). You should still strive to maintain a base of fitness. There are ways to work out while recovering from most injuries. However, 90% of injuries I see in new clients are chronic injuries. In other words meaning injuries that have bothered them for years. Often times, these injuries are due to biomechanical imbalances (certain muscles are too tight, and others are too weak), poor posture, and a multitude of other reasons. And likewise, 9/10 times, pain from these injuries can be severely reduced if not eliminated with functional weight training and exercise that emphasizes proper biomechanics and core recruitment patterns. Does your back constantly ache? Then you should be doing deadlifts (albeit starting with light weight) to strengthen it. Do you have a lot of shoulder pain? Then chances are the muscles in your back are too weak to hold your shoulder girdle in the proper position. The prescription in this case, would be variations of pull-ups and rows. The injury usually has an easily identifiable cause, and is also very correctable.
Abs (“the core”) work to stabilize and support the body with most CrossFit movements: squats, deadlifts, the O-lifts, burpees, pushups, pullups (especially the kipping variety), etc. These movement patterns place greater emphasis on the abs working in concert with the rest of the body and will result in stronger muscles than the isolation of crunches. Now again, whether these new strong abs are going to be visible or not, depends largely on your diet.
While barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight exercises, sandbags, kettlebells, medicine balls and certain other equipment is on the approved list; machines are almost always on the bad or in moderation list. This is because any strength gained from machines does not effectively carry over to real world strength. You can leg press a ton but that doesn’t mean you will be strong enough to pick up your friend’s washing machine since you only worked your legs in ‘pseudo isolation’ before; but now you must use all of the muscles in your body in unison. Your muscles have to know how to work together and with the assistance of stabilizer muscles. You don’t get full access to stabilizer muscles with machines. Another draw back is that overuse injuries such as tendonitis are more common with machines since the path of the movement has no variation as it would if you were to press a ‘free’ weight. Using machines often puts ‘more stress’ on your lower back than picking up a weight off of the floor (when done properly)! While the definition ‘machine’ could be any number of different pieces of equipment, there are with few exceptions no machines worth even glancing at.
Banish the word “routine” from your mind. Life’s physical challenges are unknown and unknowable, and we can’t prepare for them by doing the same six exercises Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Keeping the workouts varied keeps your body guessing, ensuring that every workout challenges a new aspect of your fitness. Keeping the workouts varied also ensures you’ll never get bored, which is one of the top reasons that people get apathetic about working out (after “lack of results”).
No worries! The CrossFit model has been used and proven to help recruits not only pass the PT tests, but completely dominate them! Upon implementing CrossFit into the Florida Police Corps in Jacksonville Florida, a net improvement of 80% on cadet physical testing scores were observed. The Orance County Fire Department followed suit and observed similar improvements in their cadets. From the CrossFit Journal : ”The results were amazing! The recruits showed a 14% improvement in their fitness level from week 2 to week 13 of the academy, indicating an increase in muscular strength and endurance. In addition, 55% of the recruits reduced their body fat percentages. The results of the 30-minute endurance workout showed a 67% increase in the average number of repetitions the recruits were able to perform. Heart rate data gathered during the workouts also indicated that the physical training program was adequately preparing recruits to work at the exertion level that is required on the job (165 to 190 beats a minute).” Keep in mind that discounts will be given to anyone in Public Safety. There’s no question that training with CrossFit will help you pass your PT tests and be far more competent with the high physical demands of your job.
I’d be happy to let the CrossFit Journal do it for me:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.
Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.
Regularly learn and play new sports. (Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.)
Www.CrossFit.com is of course is the best place to start. Check out the CrossFit Journal link on their website. The CrossFit Journal has a plethora of information and related articles. Or, you can just come in, give it a try, and ask us!!!