Crossfit has revolutionized our view of fitness, and transformed the industry, from body building gyms focused on isolation exercises with countless rows of treadmills and machines, to open spaced functional spaces with rigs and Olympic lifting platforms. From aerobics classes to high intensity training with weights.
Part of the reason for Crossfit’s success is no doubt the community aspect and the unconventional methods, introducing gymnastics, competition and oly lifting to the masses, and simultaneously making the whole package welcoming to beginners and women.
But Really, the Secret Sauce is in the methodology of the training. When you look at the definition of Crossfit its summarized as – ‘constantly varied, function fitness, performed at high intensity, designed for universal scalability’ – within this phrase is the magic words ‘high intensity’
The reality is that even if you ignored the rest of the phrase and just focused on ‘high intensity’ you would see immediate gains in strength, muscle mass, calorie burn and fat loss. but why?
In simple terms, intensity is the result of effort versus time, the more effort in less time, the higher the intensity. The higher the intensity, the more the body needs to adjust to cope, that adjustment comes in the form of muscle growth, heart rate and hormone changes in the body as it responds to the change in environment.
The problem with intensity is adaptation, the body needs time to adjust to the intensity, lift too much as you’re going to compromise your form/technique. run too fast and your form/technique also suffers. This is where Crossfit gets a lot of its negative association with injury, high intensity with out regard for form/technique integrity invariably leads to injury, but this is already changing within the Crossfit community, the introduction of scaling down weight and movements makes Crossfit far safer without overly compromising intensity. Indeed the mark of a competent Crossfit coach is how they keep the intensity managably high without compromising on technique and movement quality, whilst progressively increasing the external resistance (be that weight, time constraint or movement complexity).