CrossFit-What it is, CrossFit Mother City – What it is?
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
The CrossFit program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Its specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. CrossFit uses the same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.
The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regimen.
A lot gets lost in translation when people Google and/or see videos or people doing CrossFit. Often peoples immediate reactions are, “That’s too much for me”, or “That’s so dangerous”.
So is professional boxing, but when starting to learn how to box you don’t spar full contact in the beginning let alone with a professional. It is an art, a sport, and something that must be learnt and more importantly taught by a teacher / COACH that knows what he or she is teaching.
The same goes for CrossFit. You don’t start Olympic lifts on day one. To be honest with you, you shouldn’t be thrown too far in the deep end in the beginning. Everything in CrossFit has a time and place. Any “Trainer” can make you hurt and sweat, and make you feel like you’ve had a Calorie burning atomic bomb of a session that inhibits you to walk properly for five days and makes you need a shower buddy to wash your back as the feeling in your arms has been lost. Even my 11-year-old niece can read a workout off the board and yell exercises across the room.
A good Coach / Trainer has a good program that allows all workouts everyday to piece together with the days before and after almost like a puzzle. The point is to get the athletes/members to train often while being able to recover well enough to get the most out of the next session. The constant variance we speak about in CrossFit is not about thumb sucking random workouts and putting them down on a board to see how members handle the workouts of the day (WOD), but instead refers to the time frame of the workouts (5mins, 9mins, 12mins, 18mins and 40mins etc. Each time frame utilizes a different metabolic pathway and therefore has a different purpose and effect), the environment the workout is done in (outside, inside, outside of a perfectly air conditioned room etc.), the intensity level the workout is completed in (100% max effort, 80% Max Effort etc.), and of course the Workouts themselves. Not every day is going to be heavy. These elements need to evenly and constantly varied throughout the week/month to ensure the prescription is as it should be.
Each day the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or conditioning, not specializing in one particular thing, but rather with the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.
One day will be heavy, light, long, short, Intense, technique based, and an active recovery day.
A good program has the end goal in mind, is safe and efficient, and has the power to produce the desired effects the program is intended for.
Going back to where I mentioned that everything in CrossFit has a time and place, I would like to express the Importance of this point. I want to use the age-old pull-up debate we hear of so often. On one side we have the Callisthenic and Body building world hating on the pull-ups we see and do in CrossFit, while on the other we have CrossFitters never doing strict pull-ups in their training. The problem here is the people commenting negatively on this do not take the time to understand.
Now we cant change the mind of people, but educate them we must!
I could go on forever, but I wont.
The Kipping pull-up comes from gymnastics and is used to create a flow of energy through the body creating momentum and enabling CrossFitters to get more work done in less time. This is very much necessary when doing a Benchmark or Traditional CrossFit WOD.
This does not mean we don’t do strict pull-ups.
Constantly Varied Remember?
One way to measure intensity and average power is to measure how much work can be done in a certain amount of time. Force x Distance divided by Time, (F x D ÷ T).
This measure of intensity is a matter of physics and NOT a matter of opinion. This is one way CrossFit Coaches are able to Measure, Observe, and Repeat Data (Data that is learned and documented every time you train).
Strict Pull-ups are needed to develop raw upper body strength. The kind of raw strength needed to achieve kipping pull-ups. What does this mean? This means that kipping pull-ups have their place. In my opinion no athlete should perform kipping pull-ups until they can achieve at least 5 Strict Pull-ups unassisted. They also should only Kip if the mobility in the shoulder, pectoral minor and thoracic spine allow it.
Everything has a place and time in a program. Specifically in a program that prides itself in not specializing.
The first step is good nutrition. We should eat to aid and support energy levels, NOT body fat. Second is the element of Gymnastics. Gymnastics in short is the mastery of our bodyweight.
A good CrossFit Box and any gym for that matter, does not allow athletes to attempt Olympic lifts if the athlete cannot perform it with their bodyweight yet. This goes for all movements.
After this, is the learning and mastering of Olympic lifting. The loads used for these lifts are all relative to the lifter. We don’t differ the training by kind but by degree. In this case that would be the weight used.
In my mind Lifts can be broken up into 3 categories:
1) Olympic Lifts – There are 2 lifting techniques, which are used in competitive weight lifting, these are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. These 2 lifts develop coordination, flexibility, speed and strength. They also teach the nerves to ‘fire’ quicker which makes the muscles move faster.
2) Static Lifts – These refer to exercises done slowly and controlled such as Squats, bench press, shoulder press etc. The exercises work on the major muscles groups (glutes, chest, shoulders) and allow the exercise to be done in a slow and controlled way, allowing the athlete to learn parts of the Olympic Lifting.
3) Ballistic Lifts – These exercises can be done at high speeds such as, Weighted vest drills / jumps, medicine ball movements. These Help develop elastic / explosive strength.
After all of this we not only do we have a much Happier Athlete that is more comfortable in there own body, more confident in everyday life, lower fat mass, increased muscle mass (relative to a male and/or female), but also a person / athlete that moves better in everyday life. Inside and outside the gym / CrossFit Box.
CrossFit does not sacrifice Function for Aesthetics. CrossFit Believes that Aesthetics is a byproduct of function. In my opinion this is the only way!
Before Choosing the correct gym or CrossFit Box there are few things that should be considered.
Here is what is important to me:
1) Is there an Intro Program that teaches you about the facility, the movements that are needed to be learnt, and a personal assessment in your own ability to move as well as what mobility needs to be addressed and learnt / taught. Do they bother to find out what your goals are, what you are wanting from your training and do they test for Blood Pressure, body Fat % as well as health screen you before putting you on a training program.
The “just come jump into a generic class and we will give you the workout of your life” may work for bootcampers and other Quantity orientated gyms, but not City Bowl Fitness / CrossFit Mother City.
2) Do you receive actual coaching? Do you have access to the coaches outside of class? How much time do they spend on skill work? Are they able to coach beginners as well as advanced students? Do they seem to have good communication and class management skills? Do they write blogs that are interesting and edifying? Is there nutrition and lifestyle coaching included in the curriculum?
A good sign is if there is attention to the basics. Has your workout been scaled ad is it tailored to YOU as an individual.
Different people have different goals. Most people aren’t training to be CrossFit Games or regionals athletes. But everyone wants to be a bit better than yesterday. In my experience, programming that has a bit of strengthening or technique work every day is usually a good sign of a coach who knows what they are doing. Some people will do just the CrossFit “Main site” workouts that come up and that is ok too if you want a general program – personally for me, you would have to add your own accessory exercises to get your strength up, especially if you are a beginner. Usually, if the box you are at is doing the CrossFit “Main site” workout, they will do technique or strength in addition to the workout.
Check out different boxes and their websites for a history of their programming. If you see lots “Hero WODs” which are brutal, LONG workouts, I would be wondering if they have a systematic approach to strength and conditioning.
4) The members are friendly.
Part of the beauty of CrossFit is the community. In fact, it forms a large part of the experience. You only have to look at social media to see how competitors are friends. If you land in a box, which isn’t friendly, that would be rare. Believe me, when you are suffering through a workout, it is nice to have a friend who is there suffering with you…even a breathless “c’mon” (which may be all that they can manage) is helpful.
Happy, friendly members are a good sign of a healthy CrossFit box.
5) “Extras” put on by the box.
The little things that a box does usually shows their commitment to their members. It could be a challenge or seminars or little talks. It could be putting on special sessions for extra technique work. It could be getting some outside help in or having supplemental Pilates and yoga for the members. It is the gym owners going to support their members at a local comp… Sometimes that is hard to do because we run a business but It’s a must.
6) Owners/coaching staff.
The leadership drives the culture of the box. Some are competitors. Some are young. Some are older, ex competitors, some are ex personal trainers, some are mid-life career changers. To be honest, it doesn’t matter…they have to be a good fit for you.
What does matter is their commitment to their members and to safety. A focus on technique is obviously desirable. CrossFit preaches “mechanics, consistency, intensity” which means you get the technique right, you do it consistently and then, and only then, do you try to go a bit harder or a bit faster or a bit heavier. A good coach will hold you back a bit if you don’t have the technique right. It can be infuriatingly frustrating but it is the right thing to do.
The best coaches will no-rep you, they won’t let you shave reps and they will encourage you. There is a fine balance between absolutely safe vs. safe enough. In the end, you can only work on one thing at a time so be patient 🙂
Try a few different boxes before deciding where you want to train. Find the nicest coach who is particular about technique, has a focus on strengthening you and an obvious love and commitment to their members. Look at their programming and learn what it all means. Ask questions.
In the end, you have to love where you workout.
At City Bowl Fitness / CrossFit Mother City we are a Fitness Family and act like it. We all have the goal of fitness and self-improvement in mind and with the end result being an abundance of increased Health-Wealth J
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This article is all my own and all my own opinion. It is the way I run CrossFit Mother City and firmly believe in our product. Thanks for Reading.