CrossFit inc. was founded in 2000, and has since grown into a mainstay in the fitness realm. By blending elements of gymnastics, weightlifting and monostructural activities coupled with a simple prescription for nutrition, CrossFit set itself apart from the crowd.
As a training methodology, CrossFit is the brainchild of Greg Glassman, who at the time wanted to do conditioning work to improve his Competitive Gymnastics. The potency of blending weighted movements, bodyweight movements and cardiovascular efforts was clear to see, after testing it on himself and his friends.
Over time Glassman established his own personal training gym, which by necessity became a small group training gym, similar to CrossFit boxes you see today. His clients were a mix of doctors, lawyers, retirees and law enforcement. Clients followed the same protocol of ‘constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity’, with scalings to enable everyone to work out together as a community.
‘The needs of the olympic athletes and our Grandparents differ by degree not by kind’ Greg Glassman
The inaugural CrossFit Games was held in 2007, in Aromas, CA at the family home of Dave Castro (Director of the CrossFit Games). The competition was 2 days, with workouts drawn from a hopper. Anyone could compete, just show up and throw down.
The evolution of the games has been meteoric, fast forward to 2019. To qualify for the Games you must place in the top 20 in the world wide CrossFit Open (over 300,000 participants), be crowned fittest in your country, or win 1 of 15 ‘sanctional events’. The Games itself was 4 days, consisting of 12 workouts with the aim of crowning ‘The Fittest on Earth’.
Below we will look at the key aspects of CrossFit, as a training methodology, and CrossFit Competition.
CrossFit Programming was developed to improve General Physical Preparedness through ‘constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity’. Basically, improving our ability to do anything and everything inside and out of the gym, by training movements that can transfer to everyday life. CrossFit Training also prescribes a simple prescription for nutrition; 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. By following both the exercise and nutrition protocols athletes move any health marker you can name, towards a desirable, and sometimes superhuman level. The overarching goal is to live as well, and be as fit and independent as possible throughout your life. As a bi-product of these prescriptions, you will become one of the fittest people you know, of that there is no doubt.
Competing in CrossFit can be fun and a great training motivator for some people. It is important to understand the difference between training for GPP and health, and training to compete at a high level in the ‘Sport of Crossfit’, it is a different animal.
In the early days of CrossFit, Greg Glassman had his best athlete at the time, Greg Armundsen, complete Fran, and if anyone could beat his time (just under 5 mins, still a very respectable time) he would send you a barbell. Today, the world record for Fran sits just under 2 minutes, with thousands of people able to best the original time… In short, people are fitter, but the level of competition has gone up.
As with anything where the aim is to be the best, it requires sacrifice and effort far beyond what most people would think. Top level athletes compete and train full time to prepare for events, their daily routine involves multiple training sessions, pre prepared food (lots of it), numerous recovery protocols and 8-10 hours of sleep. This is akin to professional athletes in most top level sports.
Competing at local level competitions is a great way to scratch your competitive itch, without having to sacrifice so much. There are many competitions that cater for first time and scaled competitors, and many that cater for more experienced athletes. It is a great time to be a CrossFitter!!!
What I want people to understand is you can develop an incredible level of fitness by following normal CrossFit Programming, 4-6 single sessions a week, coupled with healthy nutrition and recovery habits. Many people I have worked with have achieved incredible things by following class programming.These include running marathons, winning local competitions and even qualifying for ‘Sancional Events’. If you have specific goals, added accessory work is an option, however it is not a requirement to achieve a high level of fitness.
With more options than ever with programming and classes you need to be smart with your choices, ask your coach the question ‘will adding this accessory/session move me towards my goal’. Be confident in the fact that ‘more is not better, better is better’.
I may be biased, but I love everything about CrossFit, I love training and I enjoy competition. The aim of the above article is not to dissuade people from doing extra training, it is to empower you to ask questions and make informed choices about your fitness and how to meet your goals.
If you enjoy training high volume that is fine, and you should train to enjoy it, along with the understanding that ‘more’ training does not always equal ‘more results’.