Why Crossfit?

Posted by piphunt on January 27, 2012 in Adventures of Pip, Fitness |

If you’ve been following me over on Twitter, you may have noticed that I wrote a series about Crossfit for Skiers on Ski Magazines site.  The comments section is a continuous debate about the pros and cons of Crossfit, and the ability to use Crossfit to train specifically for skiing. It got me thinking about what Crossfit means to me, and the smaller audience of elite athletes that use sport-specific training.

 

The effectiveness of Crossfit  is often debated; injuries, competitive training, the zone diet, paleo. My very first WOD had me left thinking “that was fun, but is it really as effective as they say?” I even called my old trainer, Nate Green, and asked his opinion.  “Crossfit can be great,” he said, “if you’re smart.” That “if” holds true today, for me as an athlete, as a trainer, as a friend cheering on another gym member. Yes, it can be effective, but you have to be smart.

Crossfit is essentially about cross training. It now has the “Games” and people claim it to be a sport  in itself, but I don’t. One of Glassman’s golden rules was to crossfit and play many other sports or activities to continuously challenge the body and the mind. It may now have a spot in the sporting community, but it is the evolution, not the design of it that made it this way. As cross training, it is the best bang for your buck. Do you have 3 hours to spend at the gym everyday? Me neither.

 

Crossfit is a “constantly varied, high intensity, functional workout across different time and modal domanins” (Glassman). What does that mean? Crossfit workouts consist of different movements which can come from anywhere: olympic lifting, running, rowing, gymnastics, kettlebells, plyometrics, any movement that is not an isolated muscle movement. These different movements are constantly varied, and done at high intensity.

 

“High intensity” is relative to the time domain of the workout. Different time domains stimulate different metabolic pathways. It is essential to train all three if your goal is to be a better all around athlete. Tabata intervals challenge one to work at 100% for 20 seconds, rest for 10, for a total of 8 intervals. Tabata intervals challenge the Phosphagen pathway, which is only challenged during the first few seconds of a workout.  Donkey Kong (21-15-9) may only last 3 minutes, at which point it is a flat out sprint to the finish line. The workout is designed to maximize the Glycolytic pathway. The third pathway, the Oxidative pathway, kicks into gear when a workout lasts longer than 20 minutes. Many Crossfit workouts do use a 20 minute AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) or take longer than 20 minutes; however, the majority of workouts do not as it is more effective for people to spend the majority (note: NOT ALL) their time training in the Oxidative stage.

 

For  general fitness (note, not sport specific athletes), it is more effective to train in the Glycolytic stage the majority of the time because you produce more lactic acid during this stage than in the Oxidative stage. As your body produces more lactic acid, it becomes more efficient at circulating oxygen and recovering from the build-up. As you body becomes more efficient, it enables you to perform better during longer, more moderate work-outs without muscle cramps or fatigue.

 

Ultimately, Crossfit can work, both for general fitness and as a sport specific athlete. The difference is individualization. I use a Crossfit programming template to meet my ski-specific goals. We all have different goals, find a workout regimen that keeps your motivated, then tailor it to get the results you want.

 

 

 

 

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