April 29, 2010
CrossFit is an intense exercise program featuring dynamic exercises like plyometric jumps, and Olympic lifts while using non-traditional weightlifting equipment such as kettlbells, sand-bags, suspension systems or water-filled implements. The program is structured in such a way that participants are challenged to do a certain number of repetitions in a workout in a specific time frame; the more advanced CrossFit participants will actually compete against each other to see how fast they can complete the daily workout and post their results on the CrossFit website.
Due to the intensity and explosive muscle action of the exercises in a CrossFit workout, there are many benefits for the average exercise enthusiast; however, the intensity of the exercises which deliver the benefits could also increase the risk of injury if not done correctly. Before beginning a CrossFit program, work with a personal trainer to learn how to perform the movements required for the workout. An individual should first develop necessary joint mobility (especially at the ankles, hips and shoulders) as well as joint stability (particularly in the core region) to learn how to effectively perform hip hinge, squat, pushing, pulling and rotating movements. The explosive and plyometric exercises in a CrossFit workout require rapid lengthening and shortening of muscles so if a participant does not take the time to develop the necessary flexibility and movement skills first, the joints might not allow a full range-of-motion which could affect muscle tissue and cause an injury.
The many benefits of CrossFit training are due to the intensity of the exercises. High intensity, power-based exercises are effective for burning a high number of calories in a short period of time while simultaneously improving aerobic fitness and promoting the anabolic hormones such as testosterone, HGH and IGF-1 which are responsible for muscular growth and can actually have an anti-aging effect. CrossFit is an excellent workout program and is a great way for the experienced exercise enthusiast to add much-needed intensity and diversity to his or her program; however, it is not a recommended program for people just starting to exercise or returning after a long hiatus. It is highly recommended to work with a personal trainer and develop the necessary mobility, stability and movement skills before progressing to a challenging CrossFit workout.
Pete McCall Contributor
Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner's World and Self. He holds a master's degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.More Blogs by Pete McCall »