What The Hell Is CrossFit Anyway?
You’ve probably seen commercials for CrossFit or noticed CrossFit gyms filled with the extremely fit. Some people call it a cult. But is it?
By Christopher Reilly
First adopted by policeman, firemen, military personnel, martial artists, and high-level athletes, CrossFit training is now marketed to everyone from exercise noobs to those with Phelpsian amounts of athleticism. A typical training session uses “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement” during the workout … which is the polite way of saying that it’s like exercise torture.
But as big as CrossFit has gotten — the CrossFit Games offers a $250,000 prize to the winner — we still weren’t sure what it was all about. So we asked spoke with Mel Martin, founder of CrossFit-CWE in St. Louis, for the lowdown.
CROSSFIT ISN’T CHEAP
A gym membership will run you approximately $35-50 per month on average. CrossFit dues can range between $100-$220 month, depending on your location (classes in New York and Los Angeles will cost more than, say, Topeka, Kansas). Discounts for longterm memberships, signing up with friend or family may apply, but anticipate dropping a c-note at the very least.
CROSSFIT ISN’T THE SAME AS A PERSONAL TRAINER
Building muscle mass requires you to lift heavier weights, have longer rest periods between sets, and use more isolation movements than CrossFit allows. In other words, if your goal is to get guns like Hulk Hogan or traps like Mr. Olympia, get a personal trainer. CrossFit uses everything from Olympic and power lifts like the deadlift and squat to bodyweight exercises like push-ups, lunges, and pull-ups. Every exercise is done in rapid succession, which will leave you gassed and potentially on the floor in the fetal position.
CROSSFIT WORKOUTS CONSIST OF THREE THINGS
According to Martin, each session consists of a warm up, a skill set that focuses on form, and a balls-to-the-wall workout of the day (WOD).
• Warm-Up: Stretches, hip/leg and trunk/hip extensions, push and pull movements like side bending and hip stretches, sit-ups, pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and rope climbs. These aren’t performed with high intensity.
• Skill Set: Expect things like overhead squats, power snatch, push presses, and back squats, among others. Again, the focus is on form, not speed.
• WOD: Here comes the pain. WODs can last 10 to 20 minutes and are performed at full throttle. Workouts can vary by instructor, but might include something like 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 bodyweight squats as quickly for 10 or 20 minutes without rest. Here’s a CrossFit WOD called “The Wittman.”
|THE WITTMAN — 7 ROUNDS*||REPS|
|Kettlebell swings||15 reps|
|Power clean (65 or 95 lbs.)||15 reps|
|Box jump (20 or 24-inch box)||15 reps|
*If you do this, adjust the weights or box height if necessary. No need to be a hero.