A CrossFit workout is nothing like your stereotypical gym routine: no one spends an hour working the chest on Monday bench day, and you can’t learn about CrossFit from a DVD or an eBook. Instead, there are currently over 4000 affiliated CrossFit gyms worldwide, and over 2000 commercial gyms who employ CrossFit-style workouts within their training systems.
If the aforementioned workout is a light cup of coffee that slowly wakes you up, CrossFit is a shot of five-hour energy. –Dave Golokhov
More and more people who are looking to get in the best shape of their lives are looking to the help of CrossFit gyms to turn their fitness dreams into reality. The reason? The incredible host of benefits that CrossFit delivers are measurable, attainable, and most importantly: they work.
Benefit #1: CrossFit Delivers Results
CrossFit is multidimensional, and it’s scientifically proven to work the body in a way that not only improves overall health and functionality, but it develops strength, improves endurance, increases flexibility, and builds agility. CrossFit isn’t stair climbing or weight lifting, it’s a scientifically designed program that mixes several types of exercises to push and pull the body in order to deliver maximum results.
The goal of CrossFit is to produce functionally fit individuals: CrossFit athletes are healthy, strong and in shape and are ready to perform when life throws a challenge. CrossFit’s specialty is not specializing. It’s developers have put together Olympic weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastics, plyometrics, sprints, and more, so that the routine is constantly changing. You won’t get bored and your body won’t plateau from repetition. Many of the exercises involve running, rowing, jumping or climbing rope, hefting and moving large objects–sometimes over long distances–performing power-lifting maneuvers, and developing or improving weightlifting techniques. Part of the workouts involve the use of free weights, gymnastic rings, pull-up bars and a large variety of other body-weight resistance. Athletes become life-ready and build bodies that are well-balanced and able to perform most any task.
Those who choose CrossFit for their method of training are consistently improving what crossfitters refer to as the 10 most important fitness domains:
- Respiratory/cardio endurance
Besides improving these domains, CrossFit exercises are effective for burning a high number of calories in a short period of time. The result is not only a fitter-looking body, but the improvement of aerobic fitness is incomparable. The promotion of anabolic hormones–those responsible for muscle growth–can actually produce an anti-aging effect when sticking to a CrossFit routine. It’s a well-rounded and very efficient way to achieve a higher level of fitness, and it’s a great way for experienced athletes to add intensity and diversity to his or her program. CrossFit is a program that does not need a whole lot of fancy equipment, but does offer a nice variety to keep the interest level up and provide the challenge needed to keep the exercise fun. What better way to achieve excellence in fitness?
Benefit #2: CrossFit is Quick
When reaching fitness goals and improving health, CrossFit is faster, and it’s more effective.
CrossFit workouts are short, intense sessions that push the physical limits of the body far beyond the point of “average.” This explosive conditioning training provides the most results in the shortest amount of time without requiring that you spend several hours of your day in the gym. One of the many benefits of CrossFit training is that you can literally be done with your workout within a matter of minutes. In a span of just 15 or 20 minutes, because of the aforementioned intensity and effort, you’ll have burned more calories than you would have through a regular workout.
For those who can only commit a couple of hours a week to the gym, 20 minute workouts multiple days of the week provide a more consistent program than just going to the gym once or twice a week. The variety of exercises performed each day keeps the workout interesting, and the workouts provide different routines that may challenge you with new exercises that work the entire body. Instead of going to a gym or home workout area and doing the same sets of exercises every day, CrossFit challenges all fitness levels and strengthens all the major muscle groups. This equals better fitness and stronger muscles–and in a more reasonable amount of time.
Many CrossFit classes include a generalized warm-up session, skill development sessions, and then a high-intensity workout that usually lasts from 10-to-20 minutes. All workouts are geared toward targeting specific body muscle groups or promoting a certain area of fitness within the body.
Benefit #3 : CrossFit Offers Personal Training, Motivation, and Community
Success, challenge, and fun are just some of the benefits of CrossFit.
- Personal Training: One of the greatest benefits of CrossFit is having a certified personal trainer by your side throughout every workout. When you join a CrossFit gym, you’re signing up for top of the line training along side a community of athletes of all levels. CrossFit instructors are trained not only to teach and motivate, but also to guide you through the workouts and help modify them around your needs. Many programs start with an entry course that teaches you how to do basic movements like the squat, deadlift, press, and Olympic lifts. These technical movements teach athletes how to move better and improve shoulder, hip, and knee mechanics. Trainers work with clients to ensure proper technique, increase performance, and decrease chance of injury. You receive constant motivational support, and you become surrounded by a community of athletes who love doing what they do.
- Motivation: One of the most fun parts of CrossFit is the competitive edge that other gyms or workout routines fail to offer. Trainers use scoring and rank systems to motivate those in class. You get to be your biggest competitor. You keep track of your success–your times, your reps, your weight lifted–and suddenly what used to be a workout is now “your sport.” Trainers work with you to help you produce your best results, and sooner than later, you’re no longer working out because you have to–you’re working out because you love to.
- Community: When joining a CrossFit gym, you’re joining a community. It’s not a bunch of random people doing random exercises. Everyone has the same goal: to get in the best shape possible. And everyone is on the same team working for the same goals. You get encourage other members to work hard, and in return, they’ll push you further than you thought you could go. Even those who finish last get a round of high-fives for working as hard as they can. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing what you started by being encouraged and supported by those who understand your fitness goals. The feeling is indescribable: the camaraderie in CrossFit is what makes the experience like none other.
Benefit #4: CrossFit Fixes Your Weaknesses and Builds Your Strengths
Since there are so many different challenging facets to CrossFit, you won’t be able to hide your weaknesses. If you’re a bodybuilder who solely focuses on the muscles, your endurance, cardio and conditioning will be tested. If you’re a runner, the lack of proper lifting technique will be exposed. CrossFit wants the body prepared for any and all fitness activities. It strengthens the core and all major muscle groups, and never from the same task or routine. If you’re strong, you’ll become fast; and if you’re weak, you’ll become strong. A knowledgeable coach can watch the movements you perform and use them as a screening tools to assess your strength, muscle flexibility and joint mobility. CrossFit builds and develops true functional strength.
Athletes learn to incorporate strength and gymnastic skills into their workouts. They jump, sprint and develop power that they previously thought impossible. Athletes build greater strength, power, agility, and speed. Functional strength focuses on building general physical capacity with multi-joint movements that you already do day to day. With an improved ability to pull, push, squat, dead lift, jump and even throw, you will acquire greater levels of strength, power, body awareness and confidence.
Benefit #5: CrossFit is for EVERYONE!
Anyone can use the CrossFit program. CrossFit is continually used by professionals in the civil services such as police, fire, EMS and military personnel; but it has recently gained a lot of momentum among the rest of society. This is because CrossFit can be adapted to any skill and any fitness level. While it’s especially appealing to individuals who like to push the limits of fitness and strength with such a challenging workout, the program can also be scaled to the abilities of beginners, those getting back into fitness, or even those with chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes. Every “workout of the day” is designed for the well-conditioned, elite athletes, and then scaled by professional trainers so that the workout can be done by every individual–no matter the age, skill, ability, or disability.
Moreover, many athletes from specialty areas come to love CrossFit because it helps them become a more well-rounded athlete. Power-lifters enjoy the Olympic lifting components and competitions that CrossFit has to offer. Runners and swimmers learn how to vary their fitness routines, and those who have never exercised before get to find out exactly what they are capable of doing. Many people who are used to weight training are able to gradually increase their weights, frequency, and intensity of their workouts, and even continue to stack lean muscle. CrossFit truly is for everyone.
We want to know: If you’ve never tried a CrossFit workout, what’s the one thing holding you back? If you have tried CrossFit–what’s the reason that keeps you going back for more? Weigh in below with your thoughts!
- Alex Stewart, “Is CrossFit FRIEND or FAD.” http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/crossfit-friend-or-fad.htm
- Dave Glokhov, “The Benefits of CrossFit.” http://www.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding/benefits-of-crossfit.html#izz2HE2AtZ6v
- PureHealthMD, “CrossFit.” http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/information/crossfit.htm
- Nathan Helming, “How CrossFit Can Benefit Triathletes.” http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/How-CrossFit-Can-Benefit-Triathletes
- Pete McCall, MS. “What is CrossFit Training and Is It Appropriate for the Average Person?” http://www.acefitness.org/blog/648/what-is-crossfit-training-and-is-it-appropriate
Pictures by Bumeister, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and Anthony Topper.