The definition of CrossFit is “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” Over the next three blog posts we will be discussing what this definition means, and how it applies to our everyday lives as CrossFitters.
Part one: Constantly Varied
CrossFit includes elements from all types of sports and athletics, from gymnastics to powerlifting, endurance sports to yoga, strongman events to martial arts. It is highly recommended that we learn and play new sports regularly, and here at DCF we encourage members to “opt outside” the box for a variety of activities. We do not specialize in any one type of training, but try to get a broad and general knowledge of all of them.
I remember being blown away at my CrossFit Level One training when our flowmaster told us that each of us was fitter than the person with the heaviest deadlift or the person with the fastest mile time in the world. It’s crazy to think about, but it’s true! Because CrossFitters train multiple movements and disciplines, we are generally more fit than athletes who specialize in one thing. One of my favorite CrossFit quotes says, “Outrun a lifter, outlift a runner.” CrossFit athletes may not be the best in any one event, but we are Jacks- and Jills-of-all-trades.
One of the cornerstones of CrossFit is the “WOD”, or Workout of the Day. Every single day you walk into a CrossFit box you will see a new workout on the board, and this is no accident; it is planned and purposeful. CrossFit is a General Physical Preparedness (GPP) program, meaning that we train for the known, the unknown, the likely, and the unlikely events that might happen in life. You can’t be ready for anything if you are doing the same workouts over and over.
So what does this constant variance look like in our workouts? Well, there are many factors that differ in each workout we do. Some of these are external factors, such as the elevation or humidity, how smoky the air is, how much sleep we’ve gotten, or what music is playing. These factors can all have an effect on us, but are largely out of our hands. Focusing on the things we can control, CrossFit coaches program variance in four major categories: time, reps, load, and movements.
Time: We have workouts spanning from two minutes to over an hour, and encourage our athletes to take their fitness outside of the box for even longer events that might take several hours. This constant variance of time forces our bodies to use different metabolic pathways, and to not get locked into using only one fuel source.
Reps: We vary the reps and distance in our WODs. We might program a 1-rep-max squat, or have 300 squats in a workout. We might row 100 meters or 10,000 meters. This approach is incredibly different than the typical “globo-gym” programming of 3 rounds of 8-12 reps in a handful of movements.
Load: Some CrossFit workouts are long and light, some are long and heavy. Some workouts are short and light, some are short and heavy. We are constantly switching up load! A typical gym-rat might be able to lift a heavy load, but how does that ability change when their heart rate is already high from the rest of a WOD? It’s also important to note that “heavy” doesn’t necessarily mean “harder”; I have been equally destroyed in workouts using a 100-pound barbell and a PVC pipe.
Movements: In the last 7 days alone (at the time of writing), 24 separate movements have been programmed in DCF’s workouts. I can easily think of dozens more that we use on a regular basis. This constant variance engages our entire body and mind, and keeps us continually learning and improving. We have gymnastics movements (moving our bodies through space), weight lifting movements (moving an external load), and monostructural, cyclical movements like running, rowing, biking, etc., and we combine all of these movements into thousands of different WODs.
Our WODs might seem random to the untrained eye, but your coaches (namely, Shane) are purposeful in programming them. We use constant variance to give you the highest fitness level possible. We train our athletes for all types of physical demands, because we can’t predict what life will throw at us. Will you need to sprint up a hill to get to the scene of an accident, or carry someone to safety? Will your grandchildren want to play tag with you in the park? Do you want to try a new sport? Well, CrossFit’s constant variance will keep you ready for these things, and so much more.
Thanks for reading! On the next blog post we’ll be focusing on Functional Movements: What are they, and why do they work?