Fundamentals of CrossFit

Here are a few of the fundamentals of CrossFit.
December 15, 2023
Fundamentals of CrossFit

Here are a few of the fundamentals of CrossFit.

Starting with a definition of fitness in 100 words, coined by CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman:

How CrossFit defines Fitness:

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

1. The Hopper Model

The essence of this model is the view that fitness is about performing well at any and every physical task imaginable. Picture a hopper loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges, where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform feats drawn at random. 

“He or she is fittest that statistically performs the best on these things,” Hunter-Marshall says. “Here we’re looking for a balance of skills and drills, and also a way to test who’s fittest.”

Learn more about the hopper model

2. 3 metabolic pathways

These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen (or phosphocreatine) pathway, the glycolytic (or lactate) pathway and the oxidative (or aerobic) pathway. The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about 10 seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.

In CrossFit, we want to train all three engines or pathways without overly emphasizing one at the expense of the others.

Total fitness, the fitness CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” we do in CrossFit workouts.

Learn more about the 3 metabolic pathways

3. CrossFit is scalable

Scaling = customizing. In his article “What Is Fitness?” Coach Glassman defined his terms and clearly explained that loads and intensity can be modified—or scaled—so the same program can improve fitness with Olympians, grandparents and everyone in between. The principles of the program stay the same, but the application is 100 percent individualized.

Learn more about modifications, customization, and scaling

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