CrossFit in 100 words. Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports. Now depending on who you are, parts of that will be intimidating. For me lifting weight is fantastic, presses to handstand, pirouettes?? I’m trying my damn best but it is not pretty.
CrossFit’s tagline is ‘Forging Elite Fitness”. This is partly due to the Military/Law Enforcement nature of its initial audience back in the early 00’s as well as the CrossFit games where the fittest people on the earth compete, basically to the brink of death. To some, this background is incredibly inspiring and motivates them to achieve a level of elite fitness that is unheard of amongst the casual population afflicted by poor diet and sedentary life. The term “firebreather” was coined to reflect the deep levels of intensity that these original (and current) CrossFitters ventured to develop this immense fitness. Clawing your way into this deep hole of pain and misery is at complete odds with the modern world to which we have found ourselves in the West. We deliberately make our lives harder for an hour a day by coming into the gym to replicate what our bodies are designed to do in the outside world. The original Spartan racers were the original fire breathing CrossFitters looking to put their fitness to the test. The model was designed to allow your body to cope and adapt to whatever the physical situation was presented to you. Your fitness should never be an issue.
This type of training is great for Soldiers or Elite law enforcement, but what about your 40 something house wife, or your xbox loving bloke? Does age or current level of fitness or eventual goals even rule you out of CrossFit and put you on the path of Jazzercise or butt blast (gym based) or whatever instead? CrossFit can be not only intimidating but also a little unnecessary potentially if the perspective you have of CrossFit is that sharp end of the Games or a Member of the SAS doing Fran (they have a box on their base btw but hush hush). You are right to feel that way, but you could also have that view point of football or knitting or anything. There are always the elite; that .01% who are at the top of their game who if viewed remotely could put you off anything. The key is as Greg Glassman put it, is to remember that Crossfit is not for everybody, but it is for anybody.
Everyone on this planet needs the same stimulus. We are all human. We all have lungs, hearts, legs, arms, Mitochondria and Ribosome. We are all designed to live in a world that is trying its best to kill us. Fortunately, we are designed to be hard to kill, if we live in the way nature intended. Now does that mean we all have to crush our selves in the gym each day? Nope, we have Netflix, life is easy now. But does a testosterone fuelled 19 year old need anything different to a 90 year old? Not at all. We all need the same thing, just of varying degrees. Scaling is the key to CrossFit working. Scaling allows you to get the same stimulus from doing ring rows, as Rich Froning gets from Strict pull ups. I wrote an article a while ago about scaling to meet the time goal set in our workouts. Click here to read that and it should help you figure out how you can scale a workout you see on a board to meet your needs. You are looking to be the fittest you, not the fittest human. If that fitness means you can carry the shopping from the car to the fridge without sweating, then job done, the workout you did, even if scaled right down to a simple, slow pace, has done its job. This is just as effective for others who have differing, but similar needs.
Don’t be put off by CrossFit. The RX or prescribed workout is a baseline. Some people scale up, others down, others go all over the place. This is 2017, do as you wish. Just remember that you know your body. Pay attention to it, follow your progress on Beyond the Whiteboard and be patient and sensible and you will progress. You go to the doctor when you are sick, not healthy. Go to CrossFit classes to get fit. There will always be someone who looks like they are crushing it, but there will be others who are finding it harder than you. We are in it together and your coaches will help you scale things. Scaling will get you fitter, and this is their job. As humans, our needs vary by degree not kind.
Written by Coach Tom V