If you happen to have an interest in working out and are perhaps relatively active online on various health and fitness forums and communities perhaps, then there’s a very strong chance that unless you’ve been hiding away in a cave for the last few years, you will have heard about the latest workout “fad” that is sweeping the globe, known as CrossFit. To be fair, perhaps the word fad is a little unfair because CrossFit has been around for many years now, and truthfully it appears to be going from strength to strength. There are more and more crossfit performance centres opening up all over the world and investors and businesses alike have literally pumped billions upon billions into them in order to kit them out with the latest equipment and make them as popular and effective as they possibly can. But what exactly is crossfit, who is it best suited for, are there any benefits, are there any dangers, and above all else, is it just hype and the latest workout fad or is it indeed the real deal? Well, to help get to the bottom of all of the above, let’s learn more about crossfit, shall we?
What on earth is crossfit?
If you’re familiar with sports and exercise and surround yourself with people who are also passionate about sports, fitness, and exercise on a whole, chances are you will have heard of crossfit, but may struggle to actually describe exactly what it is. If you do know all about crossfit, and know others who also know all about crossfit, you yourself, and others, will almost certainly have an opinion on crossfit one way or the other. It seems with crossfit, people’s opinions of it are split 50/50. Some love it, whilst others hate it. It’s rare you’ll find a person that adopts a neutral standpoint in regards to crossfit as everybody seems to have an opinion on it, whether it be positive or negative. Anyways, getting back on topic, you’re probably still wanting to understand what crossfit is, so here we go. Crossfit is a training principle and philosophy with functionality and health in mind rather than just looking good without a shirt on. Some refer to it as the “sport of fitness” and that is a pretty accurate description if truth be told. It is a form of training that builds strength, conditioning, flexibility, and what they refer to as functional strength. The workouts incorporate functional movements performed at a high intensity with the goal of improving functional strength. Each workout is designed to push you to your limits and workout various parts of functional fitness and health. The overall goal is to prepare your body for anything and everything, not just one particular aspect.
We keep talking about “functional fitness”. What is it?
When talking about Crossfit, the word functional is often banded around at will. Functional fitness is basically fitness that can be incorporated into everyday life and all around well-being. For example, bodybuilders may be able to squat 500lbs, bench 400lbs etc in the gym, yet if you were to ask one to help you to move your wardrobe and other pieces of heavy furniture in your home, they may struggle. With functional fitness in mind, exercises are designed to work and strengthen the core so that actions such as moving heavy furniture come relatively easy and don’t cause people to near keel over, sweat profusely and gasp for breath. Functional fitness works on endurance, strength, core strength, flexibility, agility, conditioning, stamina, and much more besides. Because of this, crossfit is a firm favourite amongst athletes.
Who is best suited for crossfit?
As mentioned, due to the high intensity nature of the exercises and workouts performed, and the fact that it is designed to benefit individuals in numerous ways, athletes and keen sports enthusiasts often incorporate crossfit into their training regimes, with many of them basing their entire training principles off of it. The main selling point of crossfit however, is that it is suitable for anybody and everybody, no matter your age, weight, gender, circumstances, and general health and fitness. Each workout remains the same, but what is adjusted is the training frequency, intensity, and weights. If barbell snatches are a part of Monday’s workout for example, providing they’re able, each individual taking part in the workout will perform barbell snatches, but obviously weaker and slightly less experienced individuals will be using much lighter weights and taking longer breaks in between sets.
Is it safe?
When performed correctly, crossfit is indeed safe and highly beneficial, the problem however, is that the aim of most workouts is to perform as many sets, exercises, and repetions as possible, within an allocated amount of time and so because of that, form can sometimes be compromised, and when dealing with any form of heavy weight, that is very dangerous. If you’re arching your back, jerking your body, wobbling all over the place as you lift a heavy barbell, you run the risk of dropping the weight on yourself, tripping over, pulling muscles, tearing muscles, injuring your back, blowing out your knees, and much more. There are some videos out there of crossfit classes that would make training coaches and other professionals cringe due to the poor form being displayed by those performing the exercises. Form is so important when it comes to exercise because not only does it benefit specific muscle groups, it helps protect us from injury. Others who follow crossfit have been known to push themselves so that that they end up in the hospital because they worked too hard, and that is the polar opposite of what should be happening when working out.
So, is crossfit hype or the real deal?
Exercise and fitness fads and trends have come and gone over the years but there has never been anything like crossfit. As mentioned, the results are impressive, it really does work and can help to build better athletes and healthier individuals, and governments and businesses have invested billions upon billions into it. It is growing in popularity every single year and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon. For that reason, whatever your opinion on crossfit may be, it doesn’t appear to be hype and it looks set to stick around for the foreseeable future.