What is CrossFit

CrossFit is Functional

Functional movements in the gym are those that replicate movement in real life or sport. For example, nearly every day in life, you bend over and pick something up.  We ‘practice’ that with a movement like the deadlift. Now think for a moment – when’s the last time you did a bicep curl during your normal day?  Can’t remember?  Neither can we. That, in our definition is NOT function – neither are flys, lateral raises, tricep kick backs, or any other isolated joint movement for the purpose of making one muscle bigger or stronger.  Are those movements bad?  No.  But in terms of the functionality of your body, don’t really have a place in training (unless you’re rehabbing an injury).

CrossFit is Intensity

How much work can you do in a given period of time? The more you can do, the fitter you are, and the higher the intensity of your training. To get this intensity, we we push it right to the edge of “the cliff”… and practice staying there. This ‘red zone’ is extremely risky. One false move, and you’re off the edge… pukie, injury, extreme soreness.  But when you’re not close enough, it usually means your results are compromised.  CrossFit will challenge you to train in that zone.  It’s neither easy nor simple, and is something that takes desire, commitment, and practice. One thing to remember, intensity is determined by your ability to hold good form – we never recommend speed at the expense of form.

CrossFit is Variety

In CrossFit’s definition of fitness, being functionally capable across a broad array of fitness related skills is of primary importance.  These skills include strength, flexibility, endurance, stamina, speed, power, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy.  If you want to be good in ALL of these areas, variety is a must. To get this variety, we use movements and training techniques and skills from the sports of weightlifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning.  We also sprinkle in the use of kettle bells, plyometrics, medicine balls, calisthenics, and sprinting.  CrossFit specializes in NOT-specializing.  Any athlete from any sport can use CrossFit as a training method, and return to their sport better, faster, stronger, more capable.

I’m not that fit. Is CrossFit for me?

The only difference between the training needs of an elite athlete and an ‘average joe’ is weight, volume, and speed.  What does that mean?  Essentially it means that all the movements we do in CrossFit are universal in their ability to improve performance. Making an adjustment in a workout for a beginner (something we call ‘scaling’ a workout) means reducing the total reps or rounds, reducing the distance, eliminating the clock, reducing the weight, and/or reducing the complexity of a movement. This is something we do all the time and we’re really good at at CFLA.

 

Is CrossFit a workout or a sport? 

Great question!  CrossFit has been called ‘The Sport of Fitness’.  Why?  Because even though it’s done in a gym with movements that look like fitness movements, doing CrossFit involves risk – similar to the risks that you incur when you play soccer, basketball, or run a triathlon or marathon.  The comparisons don’t end there.  Take a look at the table below.  As you can see, CrossFit looks a lot more like a sport than just a workout.                           

TYPICAL GYM WORKOUT

SPORT

CROSSFIT

Risk

x

x

Dynamic Envirnmnt

x

x

Skill Based

x

x

Competitive

x

x

Proper Form

sometimes

n/a

x

High Intensity

x

x

Timed

x

x

Measurable Results

sometimes

x

x

Pushing Past Limits

x

x

Setting Personal Records

x

x

Aesthetics Based

x

 

A Letter from Andy Petranek, Founder of CFLA

CrossFit is remarkably simple, general strength and conditioning program that will transform the way you think about health and fitness. Yes, it’s THAT effective!  It will do this by exposing you to functional movements at appropriately high intensity, with a ton of variety. The result is long-lasting, evidence-based improvements in your health and fitness. This means that the results you will see for yourself – the evidence – will prove to you that you’re on the right track.  And you will probably be making the greatest improvements of your life.  How do I know this?  Because it happened to me, and still is!

I’ve been CrossFitting since 2004.  When I began, I was a professionally sponsored Adventure Racer.  Each week, I was running 35+ miles, cycling 50, and paddling at least 60 minutes.  I stumbled upon CrossFit.com and decided to try a workout.  It kicked my a**!  This was something that I wasn’t quite prepared for… but not one to back away from a challenge, I decided to give it a try.  I temporarily stopped all endurance training, in favor of CrossFit workouts as ‘prescribed’ by the website.  I also decided that my ‘litmus test’ would be a 5k run… so I went out and set my baseline time.

Even though workouts were short, they included movements that were completely new to me.  So I spent a lot of time in workouts with a lighter load, learning new skills and meant a reduction in intensity in favor of form/practice. This made it all the more intriguing and fun!  It was a huge shift for me. I reduced my training time each week by more than 60%, I was doing more functional strength training than ever, and adding in new gymnastic and weightlifting movements.  By the end of three months I definitely felt stronger, but would I be as fast in a 5k (as the website touted)?  I set out to test it out, and when I crossed the finish line of my 5k, I nearly fell over… 2 1/2 minutes faster! I was hooked! I never thought training in the gym could be this challenging, fun and effective for building everything, even stamina and endurance.  And as I found out later, results like these are common, with people that train consistently. And believe it or not, the results for me continue to this day.  I’m constantly improving my skill, efficiency and increasing my work capacity – 7 years later.

Below is my take on CrossFit – what it is, why we do it, and who it’s for.  Check it out.  If you still want more info specifically about CrossFit, you can click on any of the links at the bottom of the page to get to CrossFit.com main site.

When you’re ready, hope to see you here, with us, as part of our awesome CrossFit LA community!

Andy Petranek, Head Coach / Founder,
CrossFit Los Angeles