CrossFit 101

CrossFit 101

Understanding what CrossFit is, isn’t as easy as one would think. Looking at a CrossFit gym, it’s pretty spacious. There are barbells, kettlebells, rigs for pull-ups, ropes, rowing machines, boxes, and lines on the floor and walls. So, how hard is this to understand? Well, it’s not hard to grasp, but to truly understand it takes years and years of practice. It’s always changing and evolving. In fact, there is so much to learn and master that we’re still learning and mastering new/better methods and techniques ourselves. At the core, this is what makes CrossFit fun, engaging and never boring.

A Basic Understanding

CrossFit is a health and fitness program that achieves a very broad, general fitness that is applicable to everyday life. CrossFit is a blend of nutrition, metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, Olympic and power weightlifting, and throwing.

CrossFit is a method ‒ a way to do things. Like the workouts, the methods it utilizes continuously change, evolve and adapt toward best practices. At its foundation, the CrossFit prescription is to perform constantly varied, functional movements, done at a relatively high intensity. But what does that mean? Well, let’s break it down.

Constantly Varied

Have you ever noticed that when you join a Globo Gym, you make amazing leaps and bounds at first but then seem to plateau and not improve? Most people are taught to work out the exact same way week in and week out. With the traditional Globo Gym training program, your body becomes accustomed to this routine and stops progressing. The other, and probably bigger, problem with this type of training program, is that training begins to become mundane. It’s the same thing over and over and over and … you get the picture.

With CrossFit, it’s rare that you will repeat the same workout twice. This means your body won’t ever become accustomed to a routine and the workouts will be fun and different. There are only a handful of “benchmark” workouts that are used as a yardstick to measure progress. These workouts even create a bit of friendly competition with yourself and others in your gym, or even others around the world. You’ll often hear people talk about “PRing on Fran” or some other benchmark workout.

Functional Movements

Functional movements are movements you do each day, or they’re a core element to a common everyday movement. Every exercise and movement in CrossFit must meet the following seven criteria:

It must be natural. It’s how we move in real life. In a Globo Gym, the majority of equipment is designed to isolate a specific muscle group. Take the leg extension machine for instance. It’s designed to target the quadriceps, but where in real life do you need to only use your quads? You don’t! It’s not a natural movement.

Universal motor recruitment patterns. This simply means to use all your muscles to move in symphony efficiently, effectively and quickly from one place to another. Everything from the large main muscles used in a specific movement to all the small supporting muscles that stabilize the movement. With machines that isolate, supporting muscles sit idle. They don’t get stronger, which can cause muscle imbalance, aches and pains, and even serious injuries.

Core to extremity. The movement starts from your core and works its way out. At a Globo Gym, “the core” is considered to be the abs, but this isn’t true. “The core” is a functional group of muscles that acts on the spine and pelvis. This includes the abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, muscles of the lower back, etc. The stronger this group of muscles is, and the more coordinated they are, the faster an athlete can go and/or the heavier the object can be.

Essential movement. The movement must be essential to an athlete’s quality of life. Go to a Globo Gym and ask people their thoughts on the squat or deadlift. You’ll find that the majority of people there consider these to be dangerous movements, but in reality these are essential movements we all depend on to live. A squat is simply sitting down and standing up efficiently. A deadlift is nothing more than picking something up off the ground, like a bag of groceries or your child.

Safe, when compared to non-functional movements. All movements must be safe when utilizing proper form and technique.

Compound, yet irreducible. You can’t break the movement down to smaller exercises or functional movements.

Ability to move large loads (weight) over long distances, quickly. Combined, these three elements (load, distance, speed) uniquely qualify functional movements for the production of work and high power. That means we don’t try to slowly move weight, etc. This can dangerously tear and destroy muscles. It also greatly decreases the work and power output of the athlete. However, we believe that speed and power can only come after first learning proper technique and showing consistency with that technique. Reckless movement is just as dangerous as slow movements.

Technique + Consistency -> Intensity

Performed at a High Intensity

Intensity is what brings it all together and this gets the results. Intensity is relative to the person, but at the same time we measure intensity based on power output (read the next section to learn how we scientifically measure performance through work and power output).

All you really need to know about high intensity is: Intensity = Results. So push yourself and watch as you lose weight, get stronger and reach your goals quickly.

Heart Rate, Work and Power

In CrossFit, we don’t rely on heart rate to determine our fitness level or set our pace. The heart rate is as dependable as a digital clock without a battery. It is an interesting metric, but since there are so many variables, in CrossFit we base our results on work and power output. Many things can affect your heart rate, such as:

  • Did you drink coffee before you came to the gym?

  • How did you sleep last night?

  • When did you last work out?

  • How healthy is your diet and what did you eat last?

  • What’s the weather like? Is it hot out? Is it cold? Is it humid? Is it dry?

  • Are you at sea level or in the mountains?

  • Do you have good genes?

  • Are you on any medication?

  • Are you in a good mood? Push yourself and watch as you lose weight, get stronger, and reach your goals quickly.

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