The secret to Crossfit – Constantly Varied

Read more – The secret to Crossfit – Intensity

Constantly varied crossfit

The Definition of Crossfit is generally put as ‘constantly varied, function fitness, performed at high intensity, designed for universal scalability’, the three components –

  • constantly varied
  • Functional fitness
  • High intensity

are what work together to make Crossfit a highly effective training method. Focusing on ‘constantly varied’ what you’ll notice about Crossfit is how the training does not seem to focus on any specifics. To those that only casually look at Crossfit, this can seem random, unfocused and lacking in purpose. Theres a sense that by training everything, you master nothing… ironically, thats kind of the point.

Crossfit wasn’t designed to create the best weightlifter, or the best running, rather it was designed to create ‘all round’ athleticism, the closes approximation would be to a heptathlete, but even then the heptathlon still doesn’t encompass a full spectrum of the (Crossfit) definition of what fitness consists of.

10 general physical skills

The Crossfit definition of what crossfit consists of covers 10 General Physical Skills (GPS), which combined make up a persons General Physical Preparedness (GPP)

Most sports will cover only a partial spectrum of these skills. For example a marathon runner would cover Cardio vascular endurance, stamina and to some degree Speed. but the would certainly be lacking in strength compared to a weightlifter, or coordination when compared to a gymnast. This isn’t to point fault at the marathon runner or to suggest there’s a hierarchy in athleticism, but it suggest a high degree of specialism, which is what Crossfit strives to avoid.

Consequently the training elements that make up Crossfit also attempt to cover all 10 General Physical Skills (GPS), and so we see elements of strongman, endurance racing, gymnastics, olympic lifting, and calisthenics, complied in a variety of durations, weight loads, rep schemes and combinations.

In essence, this means that ‘good’ crossfit programming should be structured in such a way that the athlete develops the 10 General Physical Skills (GPS) across broad time and modal domains, building up their conditioning, strength and skill through the phosphogenic, glycolytic and metabolic pathways.


The secret to Crossfit – Intensity

be impressed by intensity not volume
Intensity is the secret to progress in Crossfit

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).