CrossFit is a highly effective general purpose physical fitness program that achieves results through short, high intensity, infinitely scalable work outs that use a constantly varied mixture of functional movements. It is generally done in small groups of people who encourage and motivate each other to do their best, which results in some really great friendships and an amazing sense of community. Oh, and it is a lot of fun!

Okay, what does that really mean? This is a video from CrossFit HQ that explains.

Constantly Varied

The workouts are programmed to give athletes stimuli that is always changing.  This is done by changing the length of the workouts, the amount of weight used, the types of movements incorporated, and on and on.  This is done to ensure that all elements of the athletes’ physical fitness are being challenged and improved, resulting in a well rounded fitness.  It also prevents athletes from getting bored by the same routine over and over again while preparing the mind and body to overcome any challenges life may throw at us.

man using rowing machine being coached by another trainer
woman doing high intensity pushups

Functional Movement

This means elemental motions that are found in nature.  For example, the squat is simply how the human being stands from the sitting position.  Also, these movements are multi-joint movements rather than isolation exercises.  We use these movements for two reasons:  first, isolation movements generally do not happen in nature and are therefore do not translate to our daily lives as well as functional movements; and second, isolation movements do not allow us to achieve our desired level of intensity.

High Intensity

Intensity is the single independent variable most closely linked with achieving results in fitness.  What is intensity?  We can start with what it is not:  intensity is not how red your face turns when you lift weights, nor how loud you grunt or scream during a workout, nor is it the increase in your heart rate, nor is it how much you sweat, or how much the workout hurts.  Intensity, as defined by CrossFit, is a simple mathematical equation.

Intensity = Power = Work/Time

or Force x Distance/Time

So, it is observable and measurable.  We can take a measuring tape, a scale, and a stopwatch and determine how far you moved how much weight and in what time to determine your power output for that work out.  Then, as we said in the “Highly Effective” paragraph, we can have you perform that same workout a month later (repeatable) and determine by how much you have increased your work capacity.

man doing deadlift being coached by another man