CrossFit has swept the world, having become one of the fastest-growing exercise fads ever.
What does it involve, why should you get into it, and can anyone do CrossFit? (Spoiler: yes, because you control the scale load and intensity of the workout). We list the pros and cons and share a few exercises you can do right from your home.
So what is CrossFit?
A strength and conditioning programme that originated in the United States, CrossFit was originally developed for the police department in Santa Cruz, California. The three main elements of the workouts (WOD) are weight lifting, athletics and gymnastics combined into a single form of exercise.
The philosophy behind this sport is to develop your strength and fitness in as many areas as possible rather than focusing on just one specific component.
Sounds good to me! But is there a competitive element involved?
There certainly is – the purpose of this sport is to keep improving your results. Think of your daily workout of the day (abbreviated as WOD). For many people involved in CrossFit, improving their personal time for a WOD is the ultimate mission. There are also two major competitions worldwide that truly count: Lowlands Throwdown and the CrossFit Games. More than 300,000 people try to qualify for the Games every year – no small potatoes, and not just any competition, in other words.
– CrossFit is an all-encompassing workout, which means you really get to train everything: endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, agility, heart and lungs, coordination and balance.
– Your CrossFit trainer will come up with a new WOD (Workout of the Day) every day, which will keep you from getting stuck in a rut.
– The WOD is a group exercise. By inspiring, supporting and challenging each other, you push yourself that little bit harder, resulting in a tougher, more intense workout than if you were exercising alone.
– A ‘regular’ workout at a gym typically takes between 45 and 60 minutes. CrossFit, by contrast, is so intense that you’ll have whipped yourself into shape after just 20 to 30 minutes.
– You’re encouraged to push yourself to the limit, but you decide just how far you want to go. This also makes CrossFit suitable for those of you who are new to exercise or haven’t yet built up enough stamina.
– During WODs, you’re expected to repeat the same exercises – lifting weights, rowing and squatting – over and over again. For newbies, this could put too much of a strain on your muscles.
– In some ‘boxes’ – CrossFit lingo for exercise spaces – the mood can be highly competitive.
We’re aware that not everyone will feel safe or comfortable in this type of setting.
– The fact that everything is timed will make you eager to keep up the pace. While this might belong in the ‘pro’ column, the flip side is that it could mean you overlook your technique, as you want to do everything as fast as possible.
– Being an all-encompassing workout programme, CrossFit is less suited if you’re focussed on achieving a specific goal, like running a marathon or building muscle mass.
– You can visit the gym any time, but WODs are scheduled at regular times. This may make it difficult to incorporate them into your daily routine.
3 x DIY exercises
1) High-intensity rope workout. If you’d like to double down, try swinging the rope beneath your feet twice during a single jump.
2) Alternate 5 rounds of 15 burpees each (burpees are a squat, plank, push-up and jump in one fluid movement) and 15 sit-ups (lie flat on your back with your knees bent and raise your upper body).
3) Do as many push-ups as you can in one minute. In CrossFit lingo, this is called AMRAP: As Many Reps as Possible (‘reps’ being short for repetition).
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