CrossFit has garnered a loyal cult following that’s been growing exponentially since its founding by Greg Glassman in 2000. Even other workout classes and new at-home workout videos have been gearing their training routines towards a similar structure and ideology. More and more athletes, along with individuals trying to shed pounds, are embracing CrossFit or programs influenced by it. The CrossFit community has grown to over 35,000 trainers along with 5,500 affiliated gyms, or ‘boxes’ in CF terminology. So what is actually behind all this hype? Most importantly, is CrossFit right for you? Here’s some information to help you decide.
First of all, CrossFit “specializes in not specializing.” In other words, the program utilizes constructive movements from myriad sports, completed in rapid succession, in an ever-changing format. Each day features a new WOD or Workout of the Day. According to CrossFit’s website, their workouts are designed “to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.” CrossFit incorporates gymnastics, weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, sprints and cardio exercises like jumping rope and box jumps into a high-intensity workout, done with AMRAP (as many reps as possible), that doesn’t leave room for rest.
Many of the individual exercises are timed and intended to be accomplished at high-intensity repetitions, which directly connects into the motivational communal circle of die-hard CrossFitters. Like an NFL team striving toward the Super Bowl, these CrossFit members encourage each other toward better times and higher weights and repetitions in class and over the internet. This massive community has created a devoted cultural gathering, in the gym and through social media, of like-minded fitness junkies which has only increased CrossFit’s ever-growing following.
Further, CrossFit advocates a paleo or zone diet in which carbohydrates are omitted and lean meat is increased. The diet is intended to fuel the body in way that promotes fat loss along with muscle gain. For true devotees, CrossFit is a lifestyle of diet, camaraderie and workouts of three days on, one day off as opposed to mainstream 3-day-a-week obligatory workouts at the gym or on the treadmill.
The results of CrossFit’s success ability to transform the body are widespread and legitimate. A recent ten-week study at Ohio State University found that the women in their controlled test group lost an average of 3.9 pounds of fat and gained 2.3 pounds of muscle. Further they increased their VO2 (maximum capacity of the body to transport and use oxygen during exercise) by 11.8 percent. The CrossFit testimonials on forum boards are equally impressive. There is no denying that the high-intensity, rigorous workout produces staggering results.
With that said, the downside also must be taken into account. Due to the fast-paced, timed workouts and the camaraderie encouraging CrossFitters to push themselves to (or past) their limit, there is a substantially higher risk of injury. Competition within the community often trumps precautions that should be taken to prevent injury. Further, several fitness experts have been concerned about the minimal qualification requirements for becoming a CrossFit Trainer.
Being cognizant of the risk factors involved in CrossFit is essential before jumping on the increasingly popular craze. Acknowledging individual limitations and gauging physical boundaries when approaching their exercises is crucial to injury prevention. However, for a lean, spectacular body and premium physical fitness this uber hybrid program is undoubtedly one of the most efficient and thorough ways to obtain results in the world of fitness. Nevertheless, it is imperative to proceed with caution and careful consideration of individual limitations.
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