Monday, July 19, 2010

The CrossFit Influence

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning fitness methodology that promotes broad and general overall physical fitness. It was created by former gymnast Greg Glassman. The basic idea behind CrossFit is to promote fitness for the whole body - rather than focusing on specific training. 

Why is CrossFit training relevant to me? First of all, I am too old to do the CrossFit exercises. They are just too intense. Secondly, CrossFit requires specific equipment that is not available in the general gyms (such as kettle bells, rings etc.)

But I am a big fan of their basic philosophy for body conditioning and nutrition. Here are some of their key values that I adhere to.

1. Keep the body guessing: The basic principle of CrossFit training is that you never let your body know what you are about to do to it. You get up each morning, log on to the CrossFit Website and find out what is the prescribed exercise for that day. The exercises are listed in cryptic codes such as Fran, Nasty Girls, etc. You need to do your homework to figure out what you actually need to do to complete these exercises. 

How does this benefit our body? Well, when you do random exercises, you never let your body get adjusted and the body needs to keep adjusting (i.e. get fitter) to keep up with these exercises. Imagine if you ran 5 kilometers every day. Initially, you will find excellent results as your body tries to cope with you running such a long distance. But after a while, your body will get conditioned to this run and you will see no further progress in your fitness. So you need to keep changing your routine and keep the body guessing to gain maximum results.

2. Focus on the whole body: CrossFit requires that you get proficient in ten different domains (cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy). This means you don't focus on weight-lifting or running or sprinting or gymnastics. You focus on ALL of them. 

How does this benefit our body? Since we are not focusing on specific type of exercises, we become generally fit in all areas. You will not get the body of Arnold nor will you look like those anemic Olympic runners but you will have a fit & trim body. You will not win any weight-lifting competition but you should be able to do quiet well. Similarly, you will not win any long-distance races, but you will surely be there in the top finishers. You see where this is going? If you objective is not to compete in events, then CrossFit is the best form of exercise for overall fitness.

3. Short Duration but Intense: Some of the CrossFit workouts can be completed in less than 5 minutes while some may require 20-30 minutes. That's all it takes and you are done for the day. While this may seem like a very easy thing to do, it is anything but. Spend 2 minutes watching this amazing clip (The guy is performing the "Fran" workout) to get an idea of how intense these exercises can get. Make sure you turn the volume all the way up!!

How does this benefit our body? The intensity of the exercises raises our metabolic rate through the roof and keeps it there long after our workout is completed. This is similar in principle to the HIIT workout that I wrote about earlier.

4. Nutrition: CrossFit diet recommends a 40:30:30 break-up of the 3 main macro-nutrients (40% Carbohydrates, 30% Proteins, and 30% Fat). These should come from garden vegetables (especially greens), lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch and no sugar. That's about as simple as it gets. You can read more about CrossFit diet plan here.

How does this benefit our body? The recommended diet provides our body with the right balance of each macro-nutrient and ensures that our body has sufficient energy to complete the workouts and sufficient proteins to build back the damaged muscles.

Will I ever become a CrossFitter? Maybe.


  1. This also reminds me of the Tabata Protocol that I read about. Its a 4 minute work that has been proven to increase you VO2 intake. It can be used with any workout you can think of. Its eight sets of 20 seconds fast 10 seconds easy or recovery. I tried it with cycling, punching a punching bag, and squats. After the first two sets, you know that this will not be an easy 4 minutes. Here is an example:

  2. Yeah. The Tabata Procotol is just an extremely intense version of the HIIT system.
    I am too old for that. I will leave it to the young guys like yourself. :)