Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why do CrossFitters look so good?

I was working out at the gym the other day when I ran into someone that I hadn't seen in a while.  I had just finished my workout and was all sweaty and swole(...kind of).  She looked at me and asked, "Have you been doing CrossFit?"  I simply replied, "No", and we continued on with small talk.  But after I left the gym I started to wonder why she asked me that question in the first place.  Was it the fact that I look like I am in good shape or was it my appearance after my workout (drenched in sweat)?

  I first learned about CrossFit around 2005 when I was in the military.  At the time it was a training program that was almost exclusive to military and law enforcement personnel.  But CrossFit has gained immense popularity in the recent years and is now common among special military operators and house wives alike.  The simple definition of CrossFit is constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.  For more info just google it.  
  So back to my original question, why would someone assume that I do CrossFit because I am in good shape or because I work hard in the gym?  Is CrossFit the only way to look good/athletic/muscular? Are CrossFit workouts the only ones that are considered high intensity?  To answer these questions you have to think about what CrossFit is and what it isn't.

  First off, there is nothing special or exclusive about CF exercises. CrossFit isn't a secret society with foreign and magical exercises.  They use staples of any good strength and conditioning program.  They use compound, functional movements and taxing exercises.  They concentrate on coordinated, whole body movements that improve multiple areas of fitness and health.  But you will also see these same exercises used by olympians, professional athletes, bodybuilders, and educated coaches and trainers.  They are not "CrossFit' exercises, they are just EFFECTIVE exercises. 

                                    Ineffective                                              Effective

  Next question, why do so many CrossFitters look good?  Is CrossFit the only way to look like that? The simple answer is no.  It is ONE way, but certainly not the only way.  There are so many programs out there that can help you achieve the body/fitness level you are looking for.  What it mainly comes down to is doing the right exercises with the appropriate amount of intensity.  Those two things will get you most of the way there (excluding very specific goals or sporting events). So if any program can get you good results, why do most CrossFitters look so good?  And why does the average gym goer look not-so-good?  On the surface these questions are valid but the data is misleading due to percentages.  For example, every single person that does CF (100%) does effective exercises and utilizes high intensity so of course there will be a large percentage of people that get good results.  I have no data to back this up but I would estimate that only about a quarter (25%) of the average gym goers do effective exercises and use high intensity.  So, of course, there is going to be a lower percentage of people getting good results.  I believe if you looked at only those 25% doing the right stuff in the gym they would be on par with most CrossFitters. 

                                       CrossFitter                                 Bodybuilder/Model

 Lastly, are CF workouts the only ones considered high intensity?  That is a completely relative question.  Intensity can be measured many different ways depending on the energy system being utilized.  Deadlifting your max weight is very intense, but so is running a mile as fast as you can.  Intensity is all about pushing yourself to your limits.  Bodybuilders train at a very intense level, and so do swimmers, runners, powerlifters, cyclists, rock climbers, etc.

                                                                 Both are Intense.

So with all that being said, I am not putting a negative light on CrossFit.  CF is great for individuals who require proper coaching, enjoy group training, and need accountability.  I simply want to point out misconceptions that I have noticed. Until next time.

 Stay Fit,

 Amerson Fitness