March 2017 Fitness and sport
CrossFit is a traversal training programme that aims to strengthen all physical components, such as strength, resistance, cardiorespiratory ability and balance, through the use of different types of exercises, both aerobic and anaerobic.
The origins of this discipline date back to the 1970s when the creator of it, Greg Glassman, developed a special training method in a small gym in Santa Cruz, California, but it only became successful 20 years later in the 1990s. Today, Crossfit is a consolidated training method and there are approximately 4000 gyms in 71 countries worldwide that are certified in this discipline.
Crossfit is suitable for everyone because training programmes are completely scalable and modifiable depending on the individual’s fitness level and the goals he/she wants to reach. On an international level, The Crossfit Games is a true competition in which athletes demonstrate how well they can perform the exercises proposed, the combination of which, according to the philosophy of this method, is always different.
One of the strong points of Crossfit is the variety of movements which are based on natural body movements, and these are continually changed and combined in different ways; the Crossfit instructor can choose and combine over 100 different exercises into ever changing routines and this means that participants’ levels of attention and involvement are always very high.
In the words of Greg Glassman, the inventor of Crossfit:
“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, 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.”
The last part of Crossfit is to master the 10 fundamental points of fitness:
1. Cardiorespiratory resistance: the body’s systems’ ability to regroup, elaborate and provide oxygen. This is worked on mainly through aerobic movement – all athletic movements are carried out aerobically.Muscles work for a long time (more than 4 minutes) and use two main combustors: carbohydrates and lipids in the presence of oxygen, which is the combusting agent.
2. Muscular resistance: the body’s systems’ abilities to elaborate, provide, store and use energy. It is carried out by combining aerobic movements with anaerobic movements.
3. Strength: the ability of a muscle or combination of muscles to apply strength. This is carried out through anaerobic work with the use of free movements such as pull-ups, tricep dips and weight lifting with the use of barbells and kettle bells. The duration of the movements varies from 10 seconds to a few minutes (less than 4), and the energy systems used are the anaerobic alactacid system (for short exertions) and the anaerobic lactacid system (for longer exertions). On a muscular level, oxygen does not intervene in these two energy systems, however the energy needed for muscles is produced through the creatine phosphate cycle which produces ATP. The main difference between the two systems is that, following exertion, the first does not produce lactic acid, whilst the second does. When the body uses these two energy systems, it is able to produce more muscle strength, but for relatively short times.
4. Flexibility: the ability to maximise the range of movement of a joint. Each movement is carried out in the full range of the joint, exploiting the full potential of the athletic movement. In Crossfit, no movements are incomplete or partial. Carrying out incomplete movements would mean making the exercise easier and this goes against the spirit of the training method. If this happens, a movement is considered to be wrong and incomplete and the participant must repeat the exercise.
5. Power: the ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to apply maximum power for one minute. It is related to the philosophy of anaerobic movements. Power movements allows us to apply maximum muscle strength for a short time. This type of movement is mainly carried out during weight lifting.
6. Speed: the ability to reduce the time it takes to repeat a repeated movement. Once the participant has mastered the movement, the exercise must be carried out X times (the number of times is assigned by the instructor, or jury if competing in a competition) in as short a time as possible and correctly. In this case though, doing the exercise quickly does not mean doing it incompletely or doing it incorrectly, rather doing it properly means truly working on the participant’s athletic abilities.
7. Coordination: the ability to combine a series of distinct movements into one single movement. Crossfit circuits make participants work on the perfect execution of more than 100 movements – various exercises of a physiological and biomechanical nature are usually combined in one single movement and this forces the participant to truly stimulate his/her neuromuscular coordination ability.
8. Agility: the ability to reduce the transition time between one movement and another. It can be improved through Crossfit because it combines a series of different movements in rapid succession, for example rowing and pushups.
9. Balance: the ability to control the position of one’s centre of gravity in relation to one’s support base. All movements carried out in Crossfit are functional; they are free weight exercises carried out with the help of gymnastic equipment (bars, parallel bars) or weight lifting equipment (barbells or kettlebells), but which make the body continually adjust its equilibrium through activation of a series of muscles called stabilizers, which have this function. These muscles are directly involved in the main athletic movement, for example, during pull ups at the bar, the muscles that are directly involved and that carry out the most work are the dorsal and bicep muscles. Other muscles however, called accessories (in this case abdominals, spinal erector and lumbar muscles), have a secondary, but no less important, function of stabilising the rest of the body during the movement so the lower body does not move.
10. Precision: Precision: the ability to control a movement carried out in one direction or at a specific intensity.