For people who have never tried Crossfit, it can seem pretty daunting. Most people picture strong and muscular men and women who compete in the Crossfit Games and do workouts they could never imagine doing themselves.
Yes, this is a part of what Crossfit is, but it is so much more than that. Crossfit is not only for elite athletes, but for normal people, like you and me, who are looking to do workouts that make them stronger and more fit. Every workout can be scaled to the fitness level of the athlete, so wherever you are on your fitness journey, Crossfit-based training can be your first step.
Crossfit workouts include a variety of styles of training, including Olympic lifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. A main focus for this type of workout is functional movement, or exercises that are based on everyday movements to ensure proper muscle and joint position that extends beyond the gym, according to Crossfit in “Defining CrossFit, Part 1: Functional Movements.”
For example, the lunge can be translated into walking, running, climbing stairs or even picking something up off the floor. Performing functional movements in the gym can protect the body against injury when doing these everyday tasks.
In a 2013 study, “CrossFit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition,” Smith and Sommer, researchers from Ohio State University, examined the benefits of Crossfit-based training. They found that this style of training can improve body composition and VO2 max, which is one of the best ways to measure one’s fitness level.
VO2 measures the metabolism of food into energy. A higher VO2 max would mean a higher level of fitness.
In this study, 43 subjects did a 10-week Crossfit-based training program, and their VO2 max and body composition was measured before and after. The data shows a 3.7% decrease in body fat and a 1.8% increase in VO2 max.
The risks of Crossfit are injury and overtraining, which is similar to various other types of workouts. Dr. Benjamin Weisenthal, an orthopedic surgeon in Tennessee, found in a study that there are “injury rate[s] and patterns among CrossFit athletes.”
CrossFit has about a 20% injury rate, occurring more commonly in males than females and most commonly in the shoulder and lower back.
Weisenthal’s study found that subjects reported that trainer involvement had an impact on injury rate as well. Trainers are able to guide the athlete throughout the workout to ensure proper form.
As with all types of exercise, be sure to focus on your body’s cues. Make sure you are not overtraining and focus on proper nutrition to support these kinds of workouts.
Written by: Sophie Mirth – junior Applied Health Science Major