CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman and is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. which was founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. Promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport, CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport, calisthenics, strongman, and other exercises. It is practiced by members of over 13,000 affiliated gyms, roughly half of which are located in the United States, and by individuals who complete daily workouts (otherwise known as “WODs” or “workouts of the day”).
CrossFit is a program developed to offer a full-body workout that combines elements of cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics, core training and more to prepare the body for the unexpected.
According to the CrossFit website: “CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.”
This high-intensity workout is extremely varied and all about getting the most bang for your workout buck. A CrossFitter will likely never do the same routine twice in one week and each workout will usually last between 45 minutes to an hour.
CrossFit gyms are usually large warehouses (often referred to as the “box”) which offer group classes where an individual may choose to workout anywhere between three to five times a week. CrossFit coaches either develop their own daily workout or follow the “WOD” or Workout of the Day from the CrossFit website.
CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life. They move the largest loads the longest distances, so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work divided by time—or power. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness.
The community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together is a key component of why CrossFit is so effective, and it gave birth to a global network of CrossFit affiliates that number over 11,000. Harnessing the natural camaraderie, competition and fun of sport or game yields an intensity that cannot be matched by other means.
The CrossFit program is driven by data. Using whiteboards as scoreboards, keeping accurate scores and records, running a clock, and precisely defining the rules and standards for performance, we not only motivate unprecedented output but derive both relative and absolute metrics at every workout. This data has important value well beyond motivation.
Overall, the aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness supported by measurable, observable and repeatable results. The program prepares trainees for any physical contingency—not only for the unknown but for the unknowable, too. Our specialty is not specializing.
While CrossFit challenges the world’s fittest, the program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual, regardless of experience. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change the program. The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.
CrossFit gyms use equipment from multiple disciplines, including barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, resistance bands, rowing machines, and various mats. CrossFit is focused on “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement,” drawing on categories and exercises such as these: calisthenics, Olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, Strongman-type events, plyometrics, body weight exercises, indoor rowing, aerobic exercise, running, and swimming.
The tire flip: A movement sometimes seen in CrossFit training
CrossFit programming is decentralized but its general methodology is used by thousands of private affiliated gyms, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and military organizations including the Royal Danish Life Guards, as well as by some U.S. and Canadian high school physical education teachers, high school and college sports teams, and the Miami Marlins.
“CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains,” says founder Greg Glassman in the Foundations document. Those domains are: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.