What is it?
Let’s start immediately with the clarification of the CrossFit, because perhaps many haves heard about it in recent years, but maybe – having never seen or tried it – they do not know what we’re talking about.
Created by Greg Glassman in the United States in the ’70s, CrossFit became popular in the ’90s, when the first Gymbox was born in ’95 in Santa Cruz (California), until it reached the definitive explosion after 2008.
Today, there are over eight thousand (in 2012 were about half) gyms and fitness centres on the world where you practise CrossFit, thanks to professional coaches and with a specific preparation.
CrossFit is a physical strengthening and conditioning program designed to help people achieve complete and general well-being.
This program focuses on a series of functional movements that constantly change, performed at high intensity to achieve total physical prowess, and make people ready for any kind of physical challenge.
Glassman says: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a few starches and no sugar, keep the caloric intake at a level that encourages training but not the accumulation of fat.
Train with the main lifts: Deadlift, clean, squats, presses, C & J and snatch.In the same way, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dip, rope climbing, push-ups, sit-ups, standing presses, pirouettes, flips, splits and sockets, ride bikes, run, swim, do rowing, etc., strong and fast five or six days a week mix these elements in all combinations and paths that your creativity suggests to you.
It is your enemy; It continues to do short and intensely training; It learns and regularly practices new sports. ”
How a CrossFit lesson is structured
It starts with warm-up and mobility, heating and joint mobility; in this phase a series of free body exercises are performed (often the jump rope is used) to activate the various muscle groups and movements of articular mobility are carried out, perhaps for the bodily districts that will be used in the workout; useful is the use of small tools for myofascial tensioning (grid, foam-roller, tennis balls, golf, rubber bands, back balls).
This initial phase is used to prepare the body for training, to reduce the risk of injuries and to make movements easier, unlocking and releasing the muscle band; typically the duration of this phase is about 1015 minutes.
In this phase are explained and practiced the various exercises that will compose the workout, or to improve the technique of performing a specific exercise.
Strength, that is force: where the movement is well acquired and mastered by the subject-class, with the advancing of the weeks we practise that fundamental motor-exercise scheme working with Force programming protocols.
The Coach shows the correct execution of the movements and their natural didactic progression and puts the accent on the errors that must be avoided; afterwards, the athletes try the exercises themselves while the Coach checks them one by one, correcting where necessary; usually, this phase lasts about 20/30 minutes, and serves to merge a motor scheme and / or gain strength.
WOD (Workout Of the Day)
It is the heart of the lesson, the actual training phase.
At the end of the phase dedicated to the skills, the Trainer introduces the Workout of the Day, explaining the exercises and the work expected, ensures that all participants have understood and listened to any doubts, after which we start!
At this stage there is no time to refine their technical skills or to ask questions, nor time for rest: following the principle of high intensity, athletes are called to give their best in the set time.
During the Workout, the Coach constantly and closely checks the CrossFiters, to ensure that they perform all movements correctly and especially in correct posture and in total safety, correcting quickly if necessary; at the same time, it encourages the practitioners to push themselves beyond their limits.
Typically, this phase has a variable duration, which can range from about 5 to 30 minutes. It is the metabolic part of the workout, often called Metcon.
It is the phase dedicated to recovery, muscle stretching and relaxation; under the guide of the Trainer a series of stretching and relaxing exercises are performed, very important to lengthen the muscles and decompress the joints after intense work.
In this phase the Coach asks for feedback on training for athletes and stimulates discussion on the workout just done, collecting sensations and clarifying any doubts.
It would be good and right to create compensation exercises based on the kinetic chains and muscles most stressed during the workout, generally lasting about 10 minutes.
There is no precise and fixed list of exercises to be performed during a CrossFit lesson.
During training sessions alternate contaminations from different disciplines and exercises of various kinds, with different functions and characteristics.
In particular, CrossFit can combine different sports disciplines and movements. You can move from weight lifting to free-body exercises, from cardiovascular training to running up to climbing.
Various tools are used: barbells, medicine balls, gymnastic rings, but also ropes and weights, kettlebells, box jump, rowers, etc.
After talking about the exercises and how to structure a lesson, we can move on to examine which are the PRO and the CONS of this activity:
PRO: Benefits of CrossFit
Hyperproduction of EPOC, an acronym of Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption and translatable into Italian as excess post-workout oxygen consumption.
The EPOC is the measurement index of the increase in oxygen consumption because of physical activity, designed to meet the body?s ?oxygen debt?.
In fact, at the end of physical exercise, metabolic activity and caloric expenditure do not immediately return to rest levels, but remain high for a more or less long time depending on the intensity and duration of the activity performed.
Therefore, at the end of the effort, the body continues to require oxygen at a higher rate than basal values.
The EPOC is closely linked to intensity, so the high intensity of CrossFit increases this parameter very much.
Stimulate and train resilience, which can be considered as the 4th conditional capacity (the 5th can be “considered” joint mobility).
Substantially, resilience is the ability of the central nervous system to withstand the fatigue in time, and is therefore closely linked to the development of self-efficacy. Enclosing the concept with a quote “What does not kill me makes me stronger” F. Nietzsche
It has evaluable performance parameters, such as “girls” (coded WOD benchmarks, with which the user’s fitness status can be parametrised); for example, asking a CrossFitter what he has on the Fran is like asking a sprinter how much he does on the 100 meters.
The continuous variation of the workouts (every day is always different from the previous one), does not create habituation and stimulates the user, a parameter not to be underestimated; as well as getting the subject to learn more possible motor schemes.
The WOD is a stimulating challenge for the user; obviously the challenge is not against others, but against oneself.
Standardisation of movements: every rep, to be valid, must go from point A to point B; for example, in the squat the buttocks must go down under the parallel, in the pullup the chin must arrive above the bar, etc.
Improvement of the anaerobic threshold, which means greater ability to dispose of the lactate produced.
Stimulate functional hypertrophy, the hypertrophy of the sarcomere and myofibrils, which produces a great neuro-endocrine adaptation.
Power: it is defined as the speed with which a job is performed. In CrossFit, power is everything. Power is both strength and speed.
Emphasise hip-dominant movements, such as elite exercises for power (see the 9 fundamental movements of the CF).
Give a new sprinkle to a noble sport like Olympic Weightlifting through the use of Olympic lifts.
CONS: Limits of CrossFit
Lack of work on the transversal plane (since the CrossFit is listed in the functional family of the activity, and that “functional” means the use of the body in 3D, or in all three planes of movement: sagittal, frontal and transverse; the almost total lack of a plan is a factor to be taken into account in the planning).
Most of the works are strongly lactic; many argue that lactic acid work in women with circulatory problems (e.g. cellulitis) could worsen the situation (in reality there are no studies that confirm or deny this thesis).
The WOD can be a pro, as above, but also a cons: being basically a small race, against themselves, others or time, the performance factor can undermine the technique.
It happens to see that when the fatigue is felt, consequently making intra and intermuscular coordination less, the executive technique is affected and not a little, thus increasing the risk of injuries.
A valid rep is not always synonymous with good execution, for example, a squat is valid if “I break the parallel”, but I could do it also going into the valgus with the knees, and as we know overload a motor scheme in “fixed” dysfunction still plus dysfunction (Cook, Burton).
In CrossFit we also find explosive and plyometric exercises: if we have a dysfunctional column, then maybe we have lost the neutral of the pelvis and we have deactivated some deep stabilisers, our gesture could be potentially risky, especially if not compensated with a work of stabilisation (Comerford, Mottram).
Diversifying the work is a pro, depending on the discovery of new motor patterns, but it can also be a counter, given that continuously varying the gesture limits the economy of movement and the consolidation of the motor scheme in the sensory-motor area.
As a sport that hopes to improve all athletic abilities and all three metabolic pathways, there is little emphasis on breathing and using the diaphragm workout.
The diaphragm, as the main inspiratory muscle, should perform at least 2/3 of the respiratory work with the remaining 1/3 performed by the other respiratory muscles; if the diaphragm is ?blocked? or limited in the physiological ascent and descent of the phrenic center (which varies from 12 cm in normal breathing up to 10 cm in the forced one, braked by the pericardial suspension system, as well as by visceral pressure) lung capacity and the use of more “petrol” possible; the diaphragm has a fundamental postural role.
It often feels that the intensity of a WOD can lead to vomit (nicely depicted with the Pukie the Clown) and it is a prerogative that can also happen in other sports with high intensity; but arriving at this “unpleasant moment” can be a symptom of poor management of modulation between external load and internal load.
Always training and maybe without modulating the schedule with high intensity days and days of discharge, without respecting the “rest day”, can decrease the basal concentrations of Testosterone and IGF-1, increase cortisol levels and inhibit the production of some hormones thyroid.
CrossFit has pros and cons, like all activities; it is not the panacea for all the ills: if for example you want to become “big“, then the Body Building is the one for you.
The purpose of CrossFit is not as aesthetic as in Culturism, but as a performance; the CF aims to improve your athletic skills and to make you more performing, the improvement of body composition is a pleasant consequence, not the end.
If you have to win the marathon at the Olympics, even in this case the CrossFit is suitable for you, because the cross-country race is a “species-specific” sport.
One of the characteristics of CrossFit is the non-specificity: if you want a discipline that unites and mixes so many together, because maybe you are tired of the classic isotonic work, if you need the group that motivates you and the effort does not mind, then the CrossFit it could do for you.
The contraindications are in principle those that occur for any other high-affected activity: severe heart disease, arthritis, trauma and or joint or skeletal disorders.
With the expedients of the case, and in the absence of the aforementioned pathologies, anyone can try the CrossFit; not only men strictly without a shirt, with tattoos in full view and beard to the chest, I assure you it is not just for those who close a Fran under 3 minutes??