CrossFit is the new rage in fitness

The ultimate exercise routine for fitness

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Gulf News

According to CrossFit trainers the goal has always been to be best prepared for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable. And that could include any contingency or physical situation that you can think of – be it lifting weights, sprinting, jumping, climbing, swinging and much more!

The exercises were put together based on activities and physical skills that would most lend themselves to performance advantage. Initial research led to the conclusion that the only way one could aim for and achieve fitness across all levels would be by culling exercises and adapting from all kinds of activities – primarily sports. In short – CrossFit’s specialty is that it is not a specialised fitness program.

The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness in a communal atmosphere. Developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades, CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimises fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit also refers to the community that naturally arises when people do these workouts together. And this community is made up of an eclectic bunch of fitness fans, ranging from teens to grandmothers. There is a CrossFit program even for kids.

How does CrossFit make sense to someone who works at a 9-5 job and is not planning to take part in the next Iron Man or even the local marathon? Simple. CrossFit aims to make one fit enough to handle the challenges in life. But this is not like a walk in the park. It is best approached with the guidance of a trainer, and involves understanding how to move safely and effectively and a thorough study of how to incorporate fit practices into all aspects of your life. CrossFit trainers are trained by a central body, which basically means a CrossFit trainer certified in Dubai will have the same skill sets and knowledge as one trained in the United States.

CrossFit is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of fitness and this, naturally, has led to many questions and fears, the biggest of which is, ‘CrossFit sounds tough and appears to be suited only for those who are already fit’. The fear is baseless. Unfamiliarity with exercises, lack of equipment, and the intensive demands of the WOD may seem like obstacles to a beginner, but these are issues that can be easily dealt with.

CrossFit is based on functional movements. Even though learning to snatch, clean, overhead squat, jerk, and muscle-up may sound daunting, they are movements that mimic natural movements like standing, throwing, lifting, pulling, climbing, running, and punching. What a beginner can do is to reduce the intensity of the WOD (workout of the Day) – for instance, where the hip and legs are too weak to squat, hanging on to a rope or racked bar with the arms for assistance will provide the same (if less intense) stimulus as the squat.

Any weightlifting exercise can be done with a broomstick or PVC pipe. The thinking behind CrossFit is that if due to strength (lack of it) or injury, if a particular exercise is not immediately possible, then one can find a method to reduce the load to insignificant levels while preserving the line of action or substitute movements of similar lines of action and over a period of time, improve the body’s capacity.

CrossFit is the strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity. The WOD is designed to tax the capacities and improve one’s performance but it has been designed keeping highly trained athletes in mind. In the beginning, you may find yourself not being able to complete a WOD. This does not mean you can’t do CrossFit. Taking a WOD and reducing the load, cutting the reps, dropping a set and taking longer rests is still doing CrossFit, but at a turned down intensity.

Once you have the movements and basic fitness down pat, it is the intensity of the CrossFit exercises that will most impact the rate of progress for any individual. Strength and conditioning gains come fastest for athletes who hold the highest average intensity over sustained periods. But intensity should only be raised after a certain degree of consistency is established at each level. Otherwise, you risk burnout.

One reason why CrossFit is best performed with a qualified trainer at a gym is the availability of equipment (though one can make-do with basic combo of a pair of 15-pound dumbbells, nine feet of rope, and a pull-up bar too), space and most importantly a supportive community.