Do you want a workout that can help you become bigger, faster, stronger, and boost your endurance? How about one that also enables you to train in groups for extra camaraderie and support? If so, CrossFit may be just what you’re looking for.
CrossFit training has become one of the most popular workout systems in the country. Started in 2000 in Santa Cruz, California, by Greg Glassman in a single personal training studio, it’s now performed in thousands of gyms and studios around the world. It’s become so popular there’s now a CrossFit Olympics where people compete in various events to determine who – based on their criteria – is the fittest person in the world. They’ve even partnered with Reebok, which has opened its own CrossFit gyms.
It’s also become popular among professional athletes, law enforcement officers, members of the military, and others who love how it helps get them into better all around shape than what traditional bodybuilding and cardiovascular workouts give. Cast members for the movie 300 even performed CrossFit style workouts. These workouts were designed and led by Mark Twight, who was at one time a trainer affiliated with CrossFit.
To say this style of training worked for them is an understatement. The cast members’ progress was incredible—with some losing 40 lbs. in 8 weeks and quadrupling their maximum in the deadlift and pull-ups. It could take 4-6 months to make this happen through traditional aerobic and bodybuilding-style training.
Unlike most other workout regimes, CrossFit improves a wide variety of fitness. The CrossFit foundations document refers to 10 specific areas of fitness CrossFit training develops. They are: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
The of goal of CrossFit isn’t to be the greatest in any one of these categories but to become competent in them all. This means you may not be able to win a marathon or a gold medal in Olympic lifting, but you will be able to finish near the top of a 5k race and able to perform an above-average number of push ups or pull-ups at any time. This is different from sports like power lifting, Olympic lifting, or distance running where you train to be great in one particular area.
Every CrossFit workout you do, whether it’s at one of the certified facilities or from their website, is different. But one thing they all emphasize is working out as intensely as possible. This is why the workouts only last between 10 and 30 minutes, not including a warm-up and cool-down.
The workouts are often timed and done as a circuit. This means you perform one exercise after the other without rest. You then repeat the circuit for a predetermined number of sets or for a given time. And because CrossFit workouts are competitive, you record your results after every training session.
One of the greatest benefits you’re likely to see from CrossFit training is that your overall fitness and work capacity will improve. You’ll be able to train harder and longer and put more into your job, both mentally and physically. A study commissioned by the U.S. Army found that after eight weeks of CrossFit training, subjects increased their work capacity on average by 20 percent. This means they were able to workout more in less time: do more push-ups, more pull ups, and lift more weight in less time than during a comparable, more-traditional workout.
Howard Jackson, a CrossFit member from Texas, reported to me that he lost about 20 lbs. after just six weeks of CrossFit training. He also tells me that his cholesterol levels and general health have markedly improved, too.
When you walk into a CrossFit gym, or ‘box’ as they’re called, you won’t find a lot of fancy exercise machines. You’ll instead find the basics: barbells, bumper plates, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, kettlebells, pull up bars, and rowing machines. Bodyweight exercises (burpees, push ups, etc.) are popular too.
There are no mirrors in the Crossfit box, either. All you have to worry about is training hard and making it through your workout. Which isn’t always that easy.
Every workout you do, whether at your local CrossFit box or downloaded from their website, is different. They refer to them as WOD’s, or workouts of the day, and each focuses on one or two areas of fitness. Workouts are done five or six times a week with three days on, and one day off.
Below are five workouts done in the CrossFit style. They are preceded by a warm-up period and followed by a cool down. The workouts should last about 15-20 minutes, not including a warm-up and cool-down. Great ways to warm up and cool down before a CrossFit workout are to perform about 10 or so minutes of Farmer’s walks, jumping rope, or kettlebell swings.
Depending on your fitness level, you can tailor the circuits to your individual fitness level. The amounts I’ve listed below for each workout represent good starting points.
15 Kettlebell Swings
10 Kettbell Squats
10 Push Ups
Do each exercise one after the other. Complete 5 circuits in as little time as possible. Rest only between circuits.
400 meter run
Repeat this circuit 3 times aiming for the fastest time possible.
10 Barbell or Dumbbell Push Presses
5 Box Jumps
10 Bent Over Row
20 Push Ups
Jump Rope 45 seconds
Repeat 4 times in as little time possible.
10 Pull Ups
Repeat 5 times in as little time possible.
The ‘300 Workout,’ Done By Cast And Crew Members Of The Movie 300:
25x Pull-up +
50x Deadlift @ 135# +
50x Push-up +
50x Box Jump @ 24″ box +
50x Floor Wiper @ 135# (one-count) +
50x KB Clean and Press @ 36# (KB must touch floor between reps) +
Upon completing this workout you’ll have done 300 total repetitions, hence the name of the workout. According to Mark Twight, the strength coach for the movie 300, 50 percent of the cast and crew he trained were able to complete this workout by the end of their training camp.
As you can see from these workouts, each focuses on building bigger, stronger, and more powerful muscles, while also working to improve your cardiovascular fitness and overall athletic ability.
While there isn’t an official CrossFit diet, one that many trainees and trainers follow is referred to as the Paleo style of eating. The word Paleo is used to define this style of eating since the foods you’re encouraged to eat are similar to those that our Paleolithic ancestors ate.
In a nutshell, the Paleo diet eliminates grains (bread, pasta, rice), processed sugars, and dairy. And you eat a lot of protein through the Paleo diet (eggs, fish, meat), a lot of fats (fish, coconut, and olive oil), nuts, and vegetables. Organic and free-range foods are encouraged. To learn more about the Paleo diet, I recommend you check out Paleo expert and author Robb Wolf’s website.
The best way to get started is to find a CrossFit box in your area. Since there are thousands of certified locations around the world—and over 58 on military bases alone—this shouldn’t be a problem. Using this map, you can find a CrossFit box nearly anywhere in the world.
If you don’t have a CrossFit box in your neighborhood you can go to the CrossFit website and download a workout that you can do on your own. Be sure to watch the videos before doing any of their workouts this way to ensure you are doing them properly and safely.
When you begin, certified instructors will teach you how to properly perform the basics of their workouts. From there, you’ll progress to doing the actual Crossfit workouts.
CrossFit is a great way to work out if you’re interested in pushing yourself to your limit and want to be as fit as possible in several areas. It’s also a great way to train in groups and compete against yourself and other people. The variety you get from these workouts is a plus too as it makes doing them more fun. CrossFit is great for law enforcement and military personnel since the workouts you do are similar to many of the physical demands of these jobs.
One of the few downsides to Crossfit is it lacks the ability to really to specialize in one area of fitness like strength or aerobic endurance. If you want specialize in these or other areas of fitness for a specific sport a more specialized form of training is probably more suitable.
About The Author
Curt Pedersen is the founder of Stayfitcentral.com, a website that helps men and women build their best bodies with cutting edge nutrition, fitness, and supplement information. Check out StayFitCentral.com for free workouts, product reviews, expert interviews and more.