I’ve been around CrossFit for quite a while now, and have learned a lot about it. Through CrossFit Certifications, reading Journal Articles, and years of learning from those around me, it seems like common knowledge for how and why we train the way we do. I’ve realized that for most members none of concepts of CrossFit are that known. I personally like knowing information in general, but especially about stuff that is involved in my, often daily, life. That’s why I decided to create a little bit of a series to help educate those interested in learning more about the philosophy behind CrossFit programming.
To begin I want to start by breaking down the more or less “definition” of what CrossFit is: “Constantly Varied Functional Movement performed at High Intensity across Broad Time and Modal Domains”. There are a lot of key words through that concept, so I’m going to start with the first four.
Constantly Varied. This part can get greatly misunderstood because it isn’t a very big leap to think of it as simply random. The distinction is important because although both can seem random the prior implies thoughtful intent. When I program for Innerdrive it is rare that we repeat workouts, outside of our designed benchmarks, simply because it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when I’m writing them, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a focus. If we’re on a squat cycle, like we happen to be at the moment, I’ll see where I can add in work to strengthen those positions and mechanics further without affecting abilities to complete intended percentages. Looking back on past weeks I’ll see if there are tendencies to have pressed often, either in general or in specific directions, and let those movement patterns recover in the week coming.
It’s nice to know there’s thought and reasoning behind what you’re doing, but why the constant switch in movements and workouts? The first reason I’d say is pretty simple; people often get bored with routine. Most people have pretty consistent week through work, and look forward to the weekend. I really think this is because they get to do something different when the weekend comes rather than their work if it consists of generally the same thing each day. The other reason is a bit more science that has to do with Hans Selye’s GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome) Theory. That’s a large topic in and of itself so I’ll recap it briefly in that it is the idea that the body will adapt to priorly unknown stress. In relation to why we keep things ‘Constantly Varied’, if we were to repeat the same week in and week out it no longer becomes an unknown stress, and is thus less necessary for our body to adapt to.
Moving onto ‘Functional Movements’ we have our first guideline for things to do since always trying to do different things can be very broad. I look at these as movements that either transfer to things we do in daily life, or produce high power output via moving a large load a long distance. For both of these it isn’t common isometric movements like bicep curls and skull crushers that are effective. My go to for explaining functional movement is how we teach the push up. Most people coming in perform push ups with elbows out and stopping at ninety degrees, but we keep the elbows tight to us all the way to the floor, why? Think of how you open and close doors. We pull our elbows next to us and in shutting a door we push with our arm close to us because it’s what feels natural in how we move. There are countless other specific examples like sumo deadlifts as a replication of picking up literally anything you would straddle over.