Since the early 2000s, CrossFit has quickly grown to over 12,000 locations around the world. This growth explosion has helped the brand become the largest gym chain in history, according to 60 Minutes’ correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi in a piece about CrossFit’s creator, Greg Glassman, called King of CrossFit. One reason for this global phenomenon is the high-intensity, regularly varied workout routines that practitioners take part in. Workouts are raw, uncompromising, and unpredictable. And this is why professional athletes, actors, law enforcement, military personnel, and average Joes love it!
With the growing number of gyms (aka boxes), certified trainers, and programs being introduced, you may be asking yourself what this CrossFit thing is all about. Continue reading to discover the answer to this question and the benefits that members are achieving with each and every workout they complete.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a way of life. Visit any so-called “box” and you’ll be hard pressed to find any of its members who don’t feel this way.
CrossFit promises to keep you in peak physical condition; in the best shape of your life. As a member you build muscle faster, shed unwanted pounds with ease, and you are surrounded by like-minded people that support your efforts by offering guidance and recommendations about all-things CrossFit.
In a nutshell, CrossFit is a workout that uses a combination of bodyweight and actual weights to strengthen and condition your body.
One of the main differences between a CrossFit fitness center and your local gym is the high-intensity interval training you achieve with each workout as opposed to standard cardio workouts, which one’s body quickly adapts to – slowing fitness achievements. Another advantage that CrossFit has over standard fitness gyms is that the large majority of workouts can be performed without any expensive gym equipment, such as exercise bikes or weightlifting stations.
5 Reasons CrossFit Was First Introduced
According to Glassman, the principles behind CrossFit programs have been derived by observing the tactics that top-performing athletes have implemented over the past 30-plus years. Take a moment to read over some of the key reasons for why CrossFit was developed and why its workouts have been exploding in popularity every since.
CrossFit’s 10 Fitness Domains
Because CrossFit is designed to be a whole-body workout, it has developed its programs from a diverse background of the world’s most highly recognized physically fit people. Glassman reports that the sport covers “10 Fitness Domains,” including the following.
- Cardiovascular & Respiratory
6 Benefits CrossFit Offers
Enough of CrossFit’s background and history. Let’s get to the good stuff!
While there are countless benefits to doing CrossFit workouts, we’ve listed six that we believe to be most beneficial.
1. You Improve Conditioning & Versatility
One of the reasons that CrossFit is so popular is that it is designed to increase your overall conditioning and versatility. It offers one the ability to increase his/her physical performance in a diverse manner. Athletes who conduct CrossFit training focus on functional bodily movements to build muscle, improve joint functions, and strengthen ligaments. A well-rounded workout that requires usage of large muscle groups and a variety of motions leads to improved overall health, flexibility, posture, balance, and, of course, strength.
2. You Gain the Ability to Bust Through Plateaus
Because CrossFit exercises vary and are based on high-intensity, functional movements, your body and your workout routine never plateau. If you conducted the same exercises every time you worked-out, not only would your body plateau, but you’d likely start to become bored and eventually lose interest due to your lack of desired results. With CrossFit, this isn’t a problem, because it’s the complete opposite – you switch up your routine – and by changing the exercises, muscles used, and vigorousness of your daily activity, you keep your body from getting used to the same movements. This is true for all practitioners of CrossFit, whether man or woman; old or young; new or veteran; strong or weak.
3. You Lose Weight Faster
Let’s face it, just about everyone who joins a gym is either looking to lose weight or keep weight off. The good news for those who choose CrossFit over other workout programs is that HIIT does a far superior job of this than jogging, using the elliptical machines, or attending “spin” class. A good example is comparing calisthenics to weightlifting. According to CaloriLab, a 150-pound individual doing calisthenics with vigorous effort will burn approximately 476 calories, while typical weightlifting with vigorous effort burns just 340.
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning discovered that enhancement of the body composition, such as losing weight and gaining muscle, was an important benefit of CrossFit, regardless of the individual’s physical fitness level. The study was conducted to take a closer look at the effects that high-intensity power training (HIPT) has on body composition and aerobic fitness. 23 adult men and 20 adult women deemed to be in good overall health, but spanning all levels of body composition and aerobic fitness conducted a 10-week HIPT program. Exercises included squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, and overhead presses and the participants were asked to complete them as quickly as possible in circuit fashion.
Each participant has his/her body fat percentages measured before and after the program with maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) to track endurance improvements. In just 10 weeks, the results showed that each participant achieved significant improvements of V02max and that they had greatly decreased their body fat percentages.
Dr. Axe reports that “the significant correlations between absolute oxygen consumption and oxygen consumption relative to bodyweight also indicate that CrossFit workouts, known as a WOD or workout of the day, help improve VO2max regardless of someone’s starting body composition, changes in their fat and muscle percentages, gender, or fitness level.”
FREE CrossFit Workout On Saturday
Not sure if CrossFit is right for you? Attend a class and find out!
4. You Spend Less Time, but Achieve Better Results
With so many people under the assumption that they simply “don’t have time” to exercise regularly, it’s no wonder that we’ve seen a surge in overweight and obese people in the United States and around the world over the past several decades. Even for those who do find the time to exercise more than once a week, the chances are they aren’t utilizing their time as effectively as they could be. This isn’t the case when it comes to CrossFit or its group-based high-intensity functional training (HIFT) program, which offers time-efficient aerobic and resistance exercises at self-prescribed intensity levels.
In a study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at Kansas State University in 2013, the effects of HIFT were compared to moderate-intensity aerobic and resistance training (ART) on rates of exercise initiation, adherence, intentions, and enjoyment. Researchers found that participants doing HIFT exercises spent much less time working out per week than those doing ART; however, HIFT practitioners were able to better maintain their enjoyment while exercising and were more likely to continue doing this type of workout.
5. You Are Constantly Motivated & Supported by Peers
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into a CrossFit box for the first time, other than the workout equipment, is the sense of community and comradery that each member has towards one another – something that all too often lacks at a standard gym. There’s no better feeling when you think that you simply can’t do something than to have a friend push and encourage you to go on. That’s an everyday occurrence at CrossFit gyms around the globe and another benefit that crossfitters receive and it’s included in their monthly membership fee to boot.
Group workout sessions have shown to be far more productive than going it alone, as a 2014 The Journal of Strength and Condition study revealed. Researchers collected questionnaires from 88 women and 56 men (144 total) who regularly attended a CrossFit gym. The goal was to assess participant’s perceptions of the CrossFit methodology, including goal structures and how the motivational climate affected them. The results were that trainer and fellow member encouragement helped them to stay with the program and set new fitness-related goals, which progressed the longer they were active in CrossFit.
When you have the support of your peers, it helps you to achieve more difficult goals than you might have accomplished on your own. It also suggests that you’re likely to keep at CrossFit longer and reach higher goals that you set.
6. You are Encouraged to Eat Like an Athlete
Most athletes, other than NFL linebackers, typically eat healthy and their diets often consist of proteins, like lean meats, fish, and eggs plus raw vegetables, seeds, nuts, some starches, and fruits. A lot of CrossFits encourage this type of diet and many practitioners have adopted the Paleo Diet as one in which helps them to get leaner, stronger, and faster. Plus many report that Paleo eating helps them to recover more quickly from muscle aches and pains.
While the Paleo Diet is somewhat controversial, according to some dieticians, and isn’t exactly low-carb, it does help with some key bodily functions. Because Paleo-approved foods often contain high glucose, such as from fruits, natural starches, and veggies, it helps to naturally repair muscle mass faster and due to the higher intake of proteins, your body is able to burn fat much more efficiently.
Dr. Loren Cordain has a useful article about what to eat on the Paleo Diet that’s worth a read, especially if you’re looking to conduct CrossFit.
As mentioned, these are just a few of the countless benefits that you receive from doing CrossFit. To know for sure whether or not the CrossFit training system is right for you is to try it. Fortunately, the large majority of boxes allow new practitioners to try a class for free. They do this intentionally, knowing that much like the first time they tried CrossFit, they instantly fell in love and had to come back for more. So do it! Give your local CrossFit a call and ask if you can check out a class, meet the instructors, and mingle with the members. We have a strong suspicion that you’ll enjoy every minute!