Everything you needed to know about this elite fitness regimen for those who want to see if they can beast in the box.
Mike Tromello [IG: @mtromello] is a strength and conditioning coach and writer at breakingmuscle.com
Your CrossFit questions answered
CrossFit’s standing in the fitness world is now firmly entrenched.
Like any other strength sport, it has its connoisseurs and its critics.
Many swear by the principles, while others wouldn’t dare to be seen near a box (CrossFit gym).
These are the most popular questions asked about CrossFit, so we called in some expert opinion to shed some light…
Q: What’s a good standard of fitness for an accomplished CrossFit athlete?
A: “The good thing about CrossFit is that it’s scalable – with athletes who compete at the very highest level, to people who want to lift locally.
That said, an advanced lifter needs to be able to reach standards such as 20 consecutive chin-ups, a back squat of 1.5 times their bodyweight, while being able to clean and snatch their equivalent bodyweight.”
Take-home tip: Becoming competent at bodyweight exercises will help prime your body prior to lifting heavy.
Your grasp of movement patterns will improve and this prep can also shed some fat.
Q: A common criticism is that CrossFit causes injury, but studies show it’s no more dangerous than any other form of weightlifting. How can you stay injury-free?
A: “If you’re a beginner, the weight you lift doesn’t matter. Technique should be paramount over anything else. You need to mobilize properly before and after a workout.
For example, with pressing lifts, perform YTW raises with small weight plates. This mobilizes the shoulder and rotator cuff before lifting heavy.
We also follow many of Kelly Starrett’s hip routines from his book, The Supple Leopard. If you’re competing, getting body work (sports massage) done once a week can also keep you fit.”
Take-home tip: In addition to Mike’s advice, try drinking three-four liters of water a day with a sprinkle of Himalayan Rock or Celtic sea salt.
This can help prevent cramping, which in turn reduces injury risk.
Q: Are there any sectors of the population that shouldn’t give CrossFit a go?
A: “CrossFit brings together old and young, men and women. There aren’t any sectors of the population who should completely avoid CrossFit, but you should listen to your body.
My mother is 61 and does a CrossFit workout three times a week. My dad is 67 and lacks the flexibility, but he enjoys skiing, so his WODs are geared towards boosting ski performance.”
Take-home tip: CrossFit isn’t a “one size fits all” training program. Scale training to your particular goal and fitness level.
If you want to build a bigger back, prioritize hang cleans and chin-up variations. If you lack the flexibility needed to perform the conventional deadlift, use rack/box pulls.
Adapt the moves for your unique body shape and abilities.
Q: Can you tailor a CrossFit program to meet any individual goal?
A: “People come to use the system for a variety of reasons – whether it’s for a local weightlifting meet or the CrossFit Games.
At my gym, we have two distinct programs – CrossFit for performance and CrossFit for fitness. The latter involves MetCon (metabolic conditioning) – longer duration workouts geared towards calorie burning.”
Take-home tip: The same principles apply as in any other form of exercise. If muscle mass is your goal, your CrossFit assistance lifts should fall in the 8-12 rep range.
If fat burning is more of a concern, you can increase the amount of conditioning work you do.
Q: Does CrossFit deserve to be labelled a cult?
A: “No, CrossFit simply has a locker room vibe that makes people want to stay. It becomes like a family. If you’ve played sports at any time in your life then it’s a similar thing.
When you stop playing team sports, you miss that locker room togetherness, and CrossFit is unique in being able to bring that back together.”
Take-home tip: Work out what you want from this discipline. If you want to lift independently, join a commercial gym.
If it’s a family feel you’re after, joining CrossFit is a wise move because research says you will perform better with more people to spur you on.
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