Unless you have been living under a rock in the middle of nowhere, you’re bound to have heard of CrossFit®. It’s no secret CrossFit has taken the fitness world by storm with its scalable program that promises results for everyone—and with more than 13,000 locations and growing, it’s not fading anytime soon. That's more than the 12,521 Starbucks locations recorded in the United States in 2017. Whoa!
So even if you’re not into dissing your usual weight room and cardio theater—you probably have some friends or coworkers who do love it and who have bragged about the newest CrossFit “box” (gym) down the street. Or perhaps, you’ve seen the CrossFit “tribe” sporting the latest CrossFit themed Reebok shoes. Or you’ve heard of someone around the gym who has registered for the next CrossFit Games (good luck!) where athletes all over the globe are vying for top-notch rankings and notoriety. Sound familiar?
Despite some hardcore bodybuilders still calling it a fad, the CrossFit “way” has proven time and time again that it’s not going anywhere. Just ask the millions of “crossfitters” around the world.
Why the big CrossFit draw?
According to CrossFit.com—the holy grail for all things CrossFit®—simply put, it’s a unique fitness regimen that involves varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
Greg Glassman, CrossFit's Founder and CEO, is known for being the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way: increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. He then created a program specifically designed to improve health and fitness for all, even kids.
In an interview with CNBC, he says CrossFit isn’t a new phenomenon—it’s just a “natural process” for the body to build, heal and recover. "We are the stewards of something fairly spontaneous." It’s that easy, or is it?
In Glassman’s mind, he's delivering "a profound metabolic truth" about diet and exercise to a fat, sedentary, disease-ridden population. Sound a little harsh? Well, it isn’t, because his mission is obviously working. The 60-year-old former gymnast started training individuals throughout the 1970s, and in 1995, he opened his first gym. Less than two decades later, there are 13,546 active affiliates in 144 different countries operating their own franchise gyms, called "boxes." (CNBC 2017)
Experts guestimate there are around four million athletes that utilize this training discipline. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, CrossFit champions indulge in an intense regimen of physical training combined with a high protein, low carb diet. Lifting monster truck tires overhead and cutting out sugar being the ultimate MO.
How does it work?
As mentioned, CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. The site explains how 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.” So basically, the more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort.
The clincher is that while CrossFit challenges the world's fittest, the program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual, regardless of experience or age. The key is scaling load and intensity, but not the program. For instance, the needs of their Olympic athletes vary compared to their active aging clients or regular gym enthusiasts.
Besides the heart-racing pump, and the opportunity to endure short-burst, results-driven workouts, a big bonus is the CrossFit community. In other words, the spontaneous “tribe” that arises when people do these workouts together. The natural connection that immerses amongst the various Boxes around the globe is one of camaraderie, that’s for sure. Every participant looks forward to their workouts because they’re fun and different (aka not boring). Yet you always garner the best results based on your body type and goals.
Dr. Austin Cohen, a sought-after health, nutrition and fitness expert, and the founder of Corrective Chiropractic, a thriving private chiropractic practice in Atlanta, Georgia, says the program differs by degree, not kind. His clients include a number of elite CrossFit Games athletes, as well as professional basketball, baseball and football players. Cohen is also the author of “Eliteness” a best-selling book that teaches you how to tap into your inner athlete in 9 simple steps based on numerous CrossFit athlete case studies. For more information, check out his website here.
He advocates that CrossFit is hugely successful because the program caters to all abilities. It can also help you build muscle, lose weight and increase strength, depending on what your goals are.
“No one is exempt from getting results.”
CrossFit can build muscle
“I have seen muscle growth in key body parts such as the back, shoulders, legs, and glutes,” says Cohen. “Most of the workouts favor those muscle groups, but CrossFit doesn't focus on only one muscle group during each workout—instead it focusses on the overall body utilizing full-body workouts and exerting all muscles, therefore creating ample muscle growth.”
CrossFit and weight loss
Cohen also says CrossFit helps you lose weight due to the nature of its quick, short-burst workouts. “CrossFit workouts expend your body sugar stores while you burn fat later,” he explains. “Unlike long training workouts where you build cortisol and stress the adrenals, this is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) at its best and has specific movements that are constantly varied, which stimulate your muscles and enhance your metabolism while at rest.”
CrossFit for increased strength
He also says that CrossFit builds strength—due to its dynamic programming which emphasizes regular strength cycles. “CrossFit has got to be the best way to increase overall strength because participants are constantly being pushed at their level to objectify and measure their individual results at the end of the cycle.”
Driven by data
Interestingly, the CrossFit program is also driven by data. Using whiteboards as scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, the CrossFit mission not only “motivates unprecedented output but derives both relative and absolute metrics at every workout”. This data has important value well beyond motivation.
Supplements for CrossFit
CrossFit drives the human body on all major aspects of performance including strength, speed, explosiveness, fat loss amongst other key factors. Supplementation is of course a key to maximizing the results of any CrossFit program. Like almost any athletic of physiques changes, supplementation can be broken down into four major components: 1) general health, 2) training preparation, 3) in-workout performance, and 4) recovery.
Breaking down these general categories for CrossFit, here are the recommendations to help maximize results.
General Health: Incorporate a multi-vitamin daily, with CLA and Omega Fatty acids such as ULTRA CLA + OMEGA. Increase soluble fiber intake to at least 15 grams per day.
Training Preparation: A good, clinically dosed pre-workout can drive your motivation and results. MORPH XTREME has everything you need for an amazing work, including 4 grams of BCAAs to help decrease muscle breakdown during training. MORPH XTREME focuses on energy, focus, pump, strength, recovery, muscle and endurance.
In-Workout Performance: Hydration and electrolyte balance play a key roll during physical exertion. Utilizing an advanced “intra-workout” supplement is a key to peak performance. AMINO-GRO is designed to improve hydration while adding additional branched chain amino acids into the blood stream. It contains coconut water powder and a specific ratio of electrolytes to support optimal muscular contraction and hydration. It is the perfect sugar-free drink mix for the CrossFit community.
Recovery: Protein and bio-active peptides are perfect to accelerate your recovery post exercise. iSatori’s 100% BIO-ACTIVE WHEY provides all the amino acids your body needs to repair its muscle tissue. Adding 2 scoops of BIO-GRO Bio-Active Peptides to your shake will accelerate your body’s rate of recovery so you are better prepared for your next workout.
So, is CrossFit for you?
To reiterate, the aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness regimen supported by measurable, observable and repeatable results. Can’t be all bad then, right?
The program prepares participants for any physical contingency—not only for the experienced, but for the inexperienced, too. In a nutshell, the CrossFit phenom is based on the theory that its specialty is not specializing. Anyone can do it—and everyone can get results.