What is CrossFit?
“CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life. They move the largest loads the longest distances, so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work divided by time—or power. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness.” (Crossfit.com)
Functional movements include climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, carrying heavy objects, and bodyweight or gymnastic exercises; equipment used includes barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and boxes. These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form prescribed “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs”. We typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity WOD, and a period of individual or group stretching during each class. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD.
As CrossFit is driven by data, athlete’s performance on each WOD is often scored and ranked to encourage friendly competition and to track an individual’s progress. “Keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprecedented output but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout.” (Crossfit.com)
What is a WOD?
The “WOD” is the “workout of the day.” We post our WODs each week on Zenplanner, and each workout is part of a complete program designed to improve strength and conditioning. The WOD can be scaled or adjusted to provide a suitable challenge for athletes at any level.
Some thoughts on sets and reps:
- The WOD descriptions are very literal; don’t read into them. If it says “squats” it means bodyweight (aka “air squats”) – no added weight, unless it says back squats or front squats.
- A “rep” or repetition is one iteration of a movement. One bench press, one squat. A “set” is a group of reps: 10 reps =10 bench presses, 10 squats. 3 sets is do a group of repetitions, rest, repeat, rest, repeat. So, 3 sets of 10 (reps) is 10/rest/10/rest/10. The rest interval is up to your recovery time, and the goal of the WOD. Obviously, if it’s a timed WOD, you want to rest less.
- Also, rest and reps are frequently inverse. Sometimes a WOD says deadlift 3-2-2-1-1-1. This means a set of 3 reps, a set of 2 reps, another set of 2, a “set of one” aka a “single.” This few reps indicates maximal load, and indicates longer rest times.
- Back to literal: if the WOD says 21-15-9 reps of bench and pullups in “rounds” (or any two or three exercises as given) you do 21 reps of exercise 1, followed by 21 reps of exercise 2, and 21 reps of exercise 3 if there is a third one. Now do 15 of the first, 15 of the second…9 of the first, 9 of the second.
- Most likely you will be breaking the 21’s and 15’s (and maybe the 9’s) into subsets, aka “breakdowns.” This is based on your strength and conditioning. Remember if you need to adjust the weight downward, do so, since these are timed WODs.
Can I get big doing CrossFit?
According to crossfit.com
If you train the WODs hard, and eat right and get lots of sleep, you will definitely gain lean mass, lose fat, and yes, you can build muscle mass with the CrossFit protocol. More specifically, according to Coach, here is a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:
- Bodybuilding on steroids
- CrossFitting on steroids
- CrossFitting without steroids
- Bodybuilding without steroids
The bodybuilding model is designed around, requires, steroids for significant hypertrophy. The neuroendocrine response of bodybuilding protocols is so blunted that without “exogenous hormonal therapy” little happens. The CrossFit protocol is designed to elicit a substantial neuroendocrine whollop and hence packs an anabolic punch that puts on impressive amounts of muscle though that is not our concern. Strength is.
Natural bodybuilders (the natural ones that are not on steroids) never approach the mass that our ahtletes do. They don’t come close.
Those athletes who train for function end up with better form than those who value form over function. This is one of the beautiful ironies of training.