WHAT IS CROSSFIT
CrossFit is a fitness program developed by Coach Greg Glassman which was designed to improve general health and athletic performance for anyone at any level.
It is an ideal training regime for anyone who wants to get fitter and stronger. CrossFit training methodology includes weightlifting technique, gymnastics skills, metabolic conditioning as well as strength training. We use functional movements that strengthen the core.
Our gym is equipped with kettlebells, medicine balls, barbells, jump ropes and pull-up bars. We go back to basics and work with functional movements. The exercises that we do are the same movements that you use during your daily life. In other words, movements that are useful to you as a human being.
By offering a constantly varied program, you will never get bored in our classes. We offer a different workout every day, in which we vary in exercises, repetitions, weights and duration. This makes our training program not only super fun but also challenging.
We use workouts with functional movements, constantly varied executed with high intensity, to achieve the results you are looking for. Intensity is a shortcut to results, and every workout can be adjusted to your fitness level. Young or old, everyone works towards the same goal, to become stronger and fitter.
With our program you work on improving the ten physical properties of fitness: cardio respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. With this we prepare you for every physical challenge in life.
World-Class Fitness in 100 words:
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
– Greg Glassman
There is always something new to learn. Training at CrossFit Twente never feels boring. The coaches give suggestions for exercises and weights, so that you get the best results from every session.
Gianni Esposito, Member
DEFINING CROSSFIT, PART 1: FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS
CrossFit, to the uninitiated, can appear to be something of an enigma. The daily regimen or workout prescription changes from day to day, while initiates adopt their own language and set of behaviors that may seem strange at first glance.
Despite this, CrossFit has always been simple in both philosophical approach and definition. CrossFit is composed of three definitive elements: constantly varied functional movements, executed at a high intensity.
Any fitness program can ultimately be characterized by the movements it chooses to prioritize. CrossFit chooses to prioritize functional movements. The problem with the term “functional” is that it has been co-opted so frequently that it no longer holds significant meaning.
There are many characteristics of functional movements that CrossFit athletes and trainers can use to discern functional from non-functional movements. For example, we say functional movements are “natural,” meaning they are not movement patterns used only at the gym. Rather, these movements are found everywhere in human behavior and arise spontaneously as a response to life. For example, getting up out of a chair requires an air squat; picking up groceries from the floor, a deadlift; getting a five-gallon water jug onto a table, a clean; placing items on a high shelf, a shoulder press.
In a similar vein, we also deem functional movements “essential.” These are the movements life demands — whether we practice them or not — which makes them essential to independent living. When we lose the ability to perform functional movements, we also lose the ability to live independently. This is called decrepitude, and by practicing these essential movements, we can stave off that outcome and keep ourselves and our loved ones out of the nursing home. An exhaustive list of the descriptive characteristics of functional movements is covered at the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course.
While these characteristics are useful in helping us identify functional movements, they are ultimately subjective in nature. For CrossFit, the most significant and definitive characteristic of functional movements is they are capable of moving large loads long distances, quickly. Three variables are at play here: force, distance, and time. These variables are used to calculate average power — i.e., force times distance/time. In short, functional movements are those capable of producing high power output relative to their non-functional counterparts. For example, with regard to a simple air squat, if you take the distance an athlete travels (vertical displacement), the load (in this case the body weight of the athlete), and the duration of the effort, this will easily produce greater output than any isolation exercise in the mainstream gym. The significance of power output relative to the other characteristics of movement is that it is measurable. We can put an exact number on the effort and track both the effort itself and real (rather than perceived) improvements, or the lack thereof, over time.
Power also relates to intensity, which we will cover in part 2 of this three-part series.
We are often asked: If CrossFit prioritizes movements that generate high power output, why do we still incorporate other movements? The litmus test for these movements is their transferability to functional capacity. Most often, you will see such transfers with gymnastic movements. For example, the L-sit does not generate high power, but the reliance on your own body control in conjunction with the core strength developed will most certainly support one of the main features of functional movements: the ability to stabilize the trunk.
The key takeaway here is that CrossFit programming should be weighted toward movements that generate high power output while not dogmatically eschewing other movements that comprise the foundational levels of the Theoretical Hierarchy of Development of an Athlete, most notably a variety of gymnastics movements that require and develop tremendous strength and body control.
DEFINING CROSSFIT, PART 2: INTENSITY
In Part 1, we explained the defining characteristic of functional movements is their ability to move large loads long distances, quickly. This definition represents three variables: force, distance and time. These variables are used to calculate power, where average power = force times distance/time. Force times distance is equal to work, so power is also equal to work/time.
For CrossFit, power is exactly equal to intensity. In a manner similar to the term “functional,” the term “intensity” historically has been nebulously defined, often based on perceived efforts or correlates rather than an objective and measurable assessment. Heart rate, VO2max, sweating, vomiting, etc. can all be related to intensity, but they are not necessarily a measure of it. For example, your heart rate could be very high pre-workout due to nervousness, but this does not mean you are getting fit! Similar problems emerge in the consideration of VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during exercise), which is a measure of potential, not outcome or actual work accomplished.
CrossFit’s measure of intensity is power. This is important because now we can establish measurable, observable, and repeatable data from our workouts by calculating intensity.
Force is simply determined by weighing the load lifted (such as a barbell, sandbag, or medicine ball) or the body weight of the athlete during unloaded movements. Distance is measured by how far the load is displaced vertically (against gravity) during the movement. Every repetition completed adds to the total distance of the workout. The total work completed in the workout is a product of the force and distance. The duration of effort, or time, acts as the denominator in the equation. Therefore, the faster the work is completed, the more intense the effort.
Generally speaking, increasing the loads you lift will develop strength. Increase the repetitions you can complete to raise stamina and endurance. Strive to complete a predetermined amount of work faster than a previous effort to see a systemic increase across several capacities at once. By recording and improving these metrics, we begin to develop an objective measurement of fitness based on quantifiable data, not speculation.
This matters because intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return on favorable adaptation to exercise — i.e., training with high intensity will produce more of the results we seek more quickly. The larger systemic effect experienced with intensity transcends any muscle fatigue directly involved with the movement(s) at hand. If you want to increase muscle mass, decrease body fat, increase bone density, or insulin sensitivity — if you want to look better, feel better, work better, sleep better, play better — intensity will get you there.
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As important as intensity is, it is even more important to understand the application of it. The level of intensity at which a person works needs to be appropriate relative to their physical and psychological tolerances. That is, the intensity at which someone should work is always and only relative to that individual. As long as someone is working near the limits of their capacity, they will find the same increased benefits from the program whether they are an elite athlete or simply trying to maintain functional capacity for independent living. The important metric to track is not the absolute output of the athlete but rather their output today relative to what they were capable of last week, last month, or last year. If the relative intensity is rising over time and across many different workouts, it follows that the athlete is becoming fitter.
To learn more about human movement and the CrossFit methodology, visit CrossFit Training.
DEFINING CROSSFIT, PART 3: VARIANCE
The goal of CrossFit is to create a broad, general, and inclusive fitness: fitness with a general physical capacity that lends itself well to any and all contingencies; the likely and unlikely; the known, unknown, and unknowable. It is not enough to develop one capacity at the expense of any or all others. We do not just want you to be good in the gym or at one physical task; we want you to be good at life, sport, combat, and everywhere, at any time, for any duration, and in any environment. Achieving that requires variance.
We fail at the margins of our experience. This means that what, where, and how you train regularly determines your strengths but also develops the blueprint for your weaknesses. For example, if you only train low reps and heavy on certain days and cardio on others, you will find yourself at a distinct disadvantage when you pick up something heavy and run with it at the same time. Or, if you only ever stay in the 8- to 12-rep range, you will be at a disadvantage at anything outside that range. Or perhaps more relevant to CrossFitters, if you only ever train with a barbell, you will likely find any workout using dumbbells to be well outside your wheelhouse.
Since we are training for the unknown and unknowable (also known as life), we train in accordance with nature. Nature has no regard for the superficial distinctions we place on the physical tasks within a gym environment. Life outside the gym does not occur in expected set rep ranges or prescribed combinations of movements. If we do not train to vary as many factors as possible as often as possible, we will find ourselves woefully inadequate in the face of life’s challenges. Whether these challenges are excelling at sport, picking up a grandchild quickly to avoid danger, foisting a suitcase into the overhead bin, quickly getting up and over a fence because you’re being chased by an angry dog, or sprinting or buddy carrying to get help in an emergency, variance is the optimal strategy.
The primary factors of training that should vary regularly are those that influence intensity (force, distance, and time). This equates to load, duration of effort, distance/repetitions, and movements (including equipment). Varying these factors consistently will get you the greatest bang for your buck with regard to creating a solid foundation of general physical preparedness for whatever physical demands life puts before you, inside or outside the gym.
Environmental factors are another aspect we can vary: elements such as time of day, temperature, amount of sleep, altitude, etc. It is important to note, however, that varying these factors can be lower priority for most people unless they are components of one’s job, life goals, or sport — i.e., first responders, mental toughness enthusiasts, or adventure athletes.
In application, we creatively mix functional movements to create short, medium, and long workouts that can be executed at high intensity relative to the physical and psychological tolerances of an individual.
The trade-off for this breadth of fitness is the CrossFit athlete’s acceptance that they may never reach a level of capacity in a single domain that is reserved for the specialist. However, all physical pursuits require trade-off; the domain of the specialist is necessarily balanced on a precipice at the expense of capacity in other domains. The specialist’s strengths tower, but the drop-off to physical inadequacy is only a few steps in any direction.
For example, if we know an athlete is the best deadlifter on Earth, it’s no surprise that endurance and cardiovascular capacity have been sacrificed to make way for this incredible development of strength. Ask this athlete to enter a 5K “fun run” and their physical deficiency in this domain will be obvious. Conversely, the fastest marathon runner will sacrifice strength and flexibility in the pursuit of incredible stamina and endurance. Entering this athlete in an amateur weightlifting competition will highlight several clearly underdeveloped capacities.
In both of these examples, variety in training stimuli is consciously narrowed to produce a very specific adaptation. We recognize that true fitness is a compromise; excessive capacity in one area will blunt capacity elsewhere. Thus, to create a ready state that allows one to use capacity across a wide range of activities, CrossFit athletes choose a hybrid approach: specializing in having no specialty. Variance is a critical tool for the development of this breadth of physical capability.
We aim to ever expand our capacity and push out the margins of our experience by critically assessing the areas of least development and manipulating variables to challenge our weaknesses. We thus create greater, more well-rounded capacity. By repeating this process regularly, a broad, general, and inclusive fitness will be the reward.
For many, the rewards of a broad, general, and inclusive fitness are an increased quality of life: becoming a parent more capable of keeping up with your children, an adventurous athlete better suited to take on unfamiliar physical challenges, an aged person gaining confidence during the tasks of everyday life.
For some, the rewards of this fitness are experienced through increased competency in a profession or sport: the first responder entering a demanding situation with less physical trepidation or the athlete capable of displaying more skills late in the match. These athletes enjoy a ready state that lends them a distinct advantage over those who train exclusively for a singular, specific purpose.