An Overview of CrossFit
V. Arguments Supporting CrossFit Training Methods
CrossFit is a hybrid of the all the gains of each of these specialized training methods, with few of the associated negatives or drawbacks. The power, accuracy and speed of Olympic lifters, the strength, balance, and coordination of gymnasts, the cardiovascular endurance and stamina of distance runners; all combined into an optimum synergy of improved performance. With CrossFit training one experiences a degree of the gains of each of the multiple disciplines without the drawbacks that come from too much time spent training a single area.
Due to the use of functional movements, CrossFit is scalable to fit any participant, old or young, weak or strong, man or woman, fat or skinny. A CrossFit athlete could participate in a workout with a weight or rep scheme less than the prescribed . Doing the workout exactly as prescribed is not required to reap benefits. According to Glassman; “Not being able to complete a WOD [Workout Of the Day] doesn’t mean that you can’t do CrossFit. Taking a WOD and reducing the load, cutting the reps, dropping a set, taking longer rests, and sitting down three times during the workout is still doing CrossFit. In making these modifications the athlete is merely turning down the intensity” (Beginners Guide 3). Any exercise can be substituted for a different one if lack of strength, injury, or inexperience prevents the athlete from doing the workout as prescribed. Examples of this could be bar dips substituted for ring dips, light dumbbell shoulder press for handstand pushups, or jumping or rubber strap assisted pull-ups for strict pull-ups. These exercises are substitutes for other similar exercises. A jumping pull-up preserves much of the same training stimulus of a normal pull-up. It is a stepping stone towards building the muscle memory and strength needed for a normal pull-up at a later date. If an athlete cannot do a normal pull-up, an assisted pull-up is still going to be challenging. Workouts should not be scaled to make them easy. Instead workouts are scaled to make them possible but challenging; thus encouraging the participant to work out with as much intensity as that athlete can handle.
This scalability and flexibility is simply not present in other more specialized programs. Bodybuilding can’t scale the weight down for each exercise or lift because then most of the gains associated with bodybuilding disappear. Long distance running, a 5k or 10k, is not scalable either. An athlete can compete the distance, or they can’t, there is no scalability there. Of course an athlete can build up their speed, endurance, distance, etc., they are only working up to the real training program, which is long distance running. If an athlete runs a shorter distance at the same pace he or she would run a long distance, the training stimulus and the benefits of long distance running are greatly lessened or even lost. Also true balanced fitness demands maximum range of competency. For example, if an athlete only runs between five and seven miles as a workout, that athlete will test weak in any distance less than five or greater than seven (Foundations 7). A long distance runner is specialized to his or her distance in an already specialized training regimen. Problems and drawbacks can be seen without even stepping outside the long distance runner’s specialty.