CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many division 1 sports programs, military units, police academies and Olympic athletes. The methodology is built around constantly varied functional movements done at high intensity, and combines cardiovascular activities, weightlifting, and gymnastics in as many ways as possible. While CrossFit serves many elite training programs, it is designed for universal scalability and is ideal for everyone from grandmothers to professional athletes.
We define fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Capacity is the ability to do real work, which is measurable using the basic terms of physics (force, distance, and time). Life is unpredictable (much more so than sport) so real world fitness must be broad and not specialized, both in terms of duration and type of effort (time and modal domains).
The magic is in the movements. All of CrossFit’s workouts are based on functional movements. These are the core movements of life, found everywhere, and built naturally into our DNA. They move the largest loads the longest distances so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time (intensity).
By employing a constantly varied approach to training, these functional movements at maximum intensity (relative to the physical and psychological tolerances of the participant), lead to dramatic gains in fitness. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work/time. The more work you do in less time, the more intense the effort.
Courtesy of CrossFit, Inc
Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen “the fittest man on earth.” Let’s just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the IronMan Triathlon is the fittest of the fit, then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination?
Perhaps the definition of fitness doesn’t include strength, speed, power, and coordination though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “fitness” and being “fit” as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn’t even attempt a definition.
For CrossFit the specter of championing a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud and farce. The vacuum of guiding authority has therefore necessitated that CrossFit’s directors provide their own definition of fitness. That’s what this issue of CrossFit Journal is about, our “fitness.”
CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.
The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess. CrossFit has proven effective in these arenas.
Aside from the breadth or totality of fitness the CrossFit Program seeks, our program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximizing neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practice with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.
Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways.
We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically while maximizing strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen this sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. And finally we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.