Throughout any given day we might find ourselves doing all sorts of different physical activities-each requiring different muscles and diverse combinations of skill sets. Cross-fitness was born out of this idea. It means to train across multiple disciplines that develop different skills such as strength, agility, speed and endurance. While modern cross-fitness was popularized by guys in the military and law enforcement, its roots can probably be traced way back to the days of the Spartans in ancient Greece.
It has even spawned its own “underground” fitness craze known as CrossFit. In 2002, a guy named Greg Glassman in Santa Cruz California built a website that he used to measure the efficiency of his workouts. From there, it just took off. Today CrossFit is used by law enforcement, public safety, and military personnel as well as thousands of competitive athletes, elite athletes, martial arts practitioners and lots more from around the globe.
Why has CrossFit become so popular?
One reason is that people are becoming more knowledgeable about overall fitness, realizing that a one-dimensional approach can be limiting. For example, just because a guy lifts weight and maybe looks really buff, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is really all that strong-big muscles aren’t always powerful muscles. It also doesn’t mean that he’s particularly athletic and could compete in a competition that requires strength, agility or endurance.
Strongman competitions are an excellent illustration of what I’m talking about. These guys are not only big-they’re also strong, agile and have endurance too. A typical competition might require them to toss kegs in the air, carry up to 300 lbs in each hand across a distance as fast as they can or they might even have to drag a semi-truck across a field. Qualifying and winning these competitions requires competitors to focus on developing multiple, diverse skill sets at the same time.
So what exactly does a CrossFit work-out entail? First off, there are a lot of different exercises from which to choose. A typical training session might blend power lifting, gymnastics and sprinting. Exercises are done using free weights, kettlebells, body weight exercises and more. The exercises are done hard and they’re done fast with little or no rest in between sets.
Here is a very basic beginner’s CrossFit routine:
- A 400-meter Jog/run;
- Push-press; and
This is a five-day-a-week routine that can be completed in less than 30 minutes. On day one you jog/run and do deadlifts; the next day it’s just the jog/run; day three is jog/run and push-press; day 4 is jog/run and day 5 is jog/run and squat. You improve your capacity by running faster and gradually increasing your weights each week. As you improve you can move up to more advanced routines that include more difficult and more complex exercises.
CrossFit can be done at the gym, in the park or at home-it doesn’t require fancy high-tech equipment. In fact, the routine above only requires two pieces of equipment: an Olympic bar and some plates. Overall, CrossFit exercises are designed to easy-to-learn and able to be mastered by persons of any skill or competency level. Overall there are ten domains where CrossFit athletes strive for proficiency: stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, coordination, and accuracy.
And that’s why CrossFit has long been a staple among military, law enforcement and public safety personnel. These people need to be prepared for anything. At any given time they might have to scale a wall, chase down, tackle and subdue a suspect or enemy, carry a person to safety, clear debris to rescue a trapped victim or find themselves in any other number of situations requiring a great deal of physical prowess and skill. So in order to do their jobs right, they need to use multi-disciplinary strategies-a one dimensional approach just won’t do.
Nowadays CrossFit trainers can even get certified. Currently, there are two levels of certification: Fundamentals and Virtuosity. The Fundamentals course focuses on methods, concepts and movements. Level II certification-Virtuosity-enables you to teach CrossFit to others. Training seminars are held year-round across the country and around the globe. Each certification costs about $1,000.
So if you’re looking for something different, are interested in developing multiple skill sets, really want to get into all-around good shape and are sure that you’re up to the challenge, you might want to give CrossFit a try.
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