Challenging workouts that don’t allow your body to settle into a routine
There is a common notion that endurance is directly equated to fitness. I often go to the gym and see repeat offenders sweating away on cardio machines for their entire workout, ignoring (or avoiding) any sort of strength training. If you find that you go cardio-crazy when at the gym but still don’t see results, the issue may lie in your workout routine.
There is a fairly new training regime coming into the spotlight as of late that squashes the speculation of cardio as the be-all and end-all of fitness. CrossFit is an exercise protocol used in training for a variety of sports, and even certain careers such as firefighting which require physical aptitudes.
“CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program built on constantly varied, if not randomized, functional movements executed at high intensity,” says Greg Glassman, founder of the program.
While the common belief is that endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, are the ultimate examples of fitness, CrossFit disagrees. To be “fit” as defined by this program, it is necessary that the athlete be more well-rounded (figuratively speaking, of course) in terms of capabilities. Strength, power, speed and coordination, in conjunction with endurance, are all skills that CrossFit hones in order to achieve what is believed to be a more accurate notion of fitness.
Officially established in 2001 via an online forum, CrossFit uses a combination of three main elements: Olympic weightlifting, gymnastic skills, and sprint work.
Part of their manifesto states, “routine is the enemy.” Your body plateaus and you stop seeing results once it is no longer challenged. This program promises never to bore your body, but also warns that commitment is a must if you want to reach a level of true fitness. As Glassman has stated in the past, “No, it doesn’t ever get any easier. You wouldn’t want it to either.”
While every workout is different, the same general program is applied to military hopefuls and the elderly alike. The difference is found in the intensity of the workouts. Regardless of your fitness level or age, CrossFit is based on the belief that all bodies benefit from the same target training. While the program never changes, it does scale depending on one’s level of experience
The goal of CrossFit is to get your body to that level of accurate fitness, rather than simply marathon training. To achieve this, you want to optimize the 10 general physical skills: cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy.
You won’t find any use of machines in a CrossFit studio—all workouts use basic equipment such as barbells and plates.
“There really isn’t a ‘typical’ class when it comes to CrossFit” says Kristin McCallion, a fourth-year Wilfrid Laurier student and member of CrossFit Pickering. “Every day it is a different workout and no workout is repeated within the same month. [They] may be similar moves but always different combinations to constantly keep your body moving and never settling down for a routine.”
As with any training regime, nutrition is key. Your body can only perform as well as the fuel you provide it. CrossFit sets out a general hierarchy of important factors in reaching your goal, and at the base of this pyramid is nutrition. If you have deficiencies in this crucial element, then the rest of the pyramid will falter.
Diets don’t fit into the training regime that CrossFit has to offer. If you are on a high-carb, low-fat diet your body won’t be able to perform at its full potential. Instead you want to incorporate an even balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat while limiting your sugar intake. By doing this you provide your body with the proper energy it needs to work hard for that desired lean figure.
McCallian highly recommends this regime to anyone interested in challenging themselves. “It’s a mental and physical game each workout and I love it.”
Whether you are training for the police academy or simply a York student looking to get into shape, CrossFit is designed to be a fitness program for all. And with short but intense workouts, you won’t be sacrificing too much study time. With a little determination and a lot of sweat, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a well-rounded foundation for fitness.