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A Prescription for Life Long CrossFit

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Why do you do CrossFit?  Why do you show up at least three times a week and pay for someone to tell you to work hard, adjust your form, hang on the bar longer, row faster, and add 5lbs to the barbell?  We all come to the box for different reasons.  Ask 100 CrossFit athletes why they do it and you will get 100 different answers.  You will hear,  “So I can go home and eat whatever I want,” “I want to lose weight,” “The community pushes me to be better.”  However, if we dig deep into the underlying answers, almost all of them reduce to one major motivating factor, “I want to be healthy, get stronger, be more active, and be a better version of myself.”  When we talk about timelines with our clients, most people don’t talk about short term improvements.  Most people, who really want to improve their lives, don’t show up on day 1 planning to stay for a short time.  Most plan to make healthy changes to their lives for the rest of their lives.  

CrossFit was originally created to make real life easier.  CrossFit trains Functional movement.  A few of the characteristics of functional movement include natural to the way the human body is designed to move, safe, multi-joint, core to extremity, and it is movement that has a direct relationship to something we do in real life.  Functional movements like running, deadlifts, and squats make picking up laundry, moving furniture, or chasing after your kids easier and more enjoyable.

Contrary to popular belief, CrossFit was not created to be a lifting program.  During the Level 1 CrossFit training seminar, new coaches are taught the hierarchy of fitness as prescribed by CrossFit.  It is designed like a triangle.  

What is interesting is that Nutrition is the most important factor to increasing your work capacity across broad times and modal domains.  This is followed by Metabolic Conditioning (commonly known as “MetCons”), then Gymnastics, and only then should an emphasis be placed on weightlifting.  The logic behind this hierarchy assumes that you want to CrossFit for a long time.  If that is true, then this hierarchy makes sense.  If you look at sports like power lifting, you see examples of how an emphasis on heavy weightlifting can break down our bodies over time.  You will see power lifters retiring in their 30’s because of bad knees, bad hips, and bad backs.  While in the short term it’s sexy to say you can back squat X amount of weight or bench press X amount, 10 years from now, those numbers aren’t going to matter.  What will matter is what kind of quality of life you have.  

Everyday CrossFitters should be training with long term 5-8 year goals along with short term measurable goals.  Some say 10 year goals.  However, what has happened in CrossFit is a flipping of the triangle.  CrossFit Affiliates latched onto strength biased programming in an effort to sell a product.  Strength biased programming is simply functional fitness programming that gives preferential treatment to strength development over metabolic conditioning.  It is really easy to sell someone on adding 10 lbs to a squat clean.  It is much harder to sell someone on adding 10 reps to unassisted pullups or shedding 10 seconds off of a WOD.  Unfortunately, while CrossFit HQ has known the dangers of strength biased programming for a long time.  Affiliates who truly care about their members are only recently starting to see and accept the long term effects.  Thankfully, there is a shift developing in Affiliate programming back to a more traditional CrossFit class:  Warm up, review proper movement, hit a WOD hard, and practice/mobility.  The emphasis is placed more on the metabolic conditioning and less on the number on the bar.  If CrossFit is going to continue to separate itself from the growing functional fitness market, we think this is a very important step.  

At the end of the day, chances are you started CrossFit to improve your fitness for the rest of your life.  So, we as Affiliates need to make sure we are . . . Forging Elite Fitness For Life.

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