Unless you have been living under a rock or haven’t stepped foot in a gym in the past few years, I am sure you have heard of CrossFit. CrossFit has skyrocketed to a nationwide fitness epidemic. This is due to its original, yet very intense, approach to getting in shape. So what is CrossFit and and who is it for?
“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. Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist. The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.” (CrossFit.com)
So in simple terms, CrossFit is for anybody and everybody. It is designed to get you into shape quick and provide you with a fitness level that you can utilize in everyday life. So regardless of sex, occupation, build, or even age, CrossFit can benefit you when in it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.
So you know in general what CrossFit is, but why the craze? It is more of what the CrossFit lifestyle involves that makes it addictive to all different kinds of people. Everything from the names of the workout of the day or “W.O.D”, name of the exercises, to the style of dress. You do not step into a CrossFit gym, you step into a CrossFit “box”.
Do not expect to dress flashy and leave with little sweat stains, you dress in light, loose clothing and look forward to a sweat shower and maybe even get visited by Pukey the Clown. (A figurative character created by CrossFitters due to the high possibility of throwing up because of the intense workouts) And even though you are battling the clock and not weight, you are not necessarily competing against your fellow CrossFitters.
There is more support in the box than there is competition. With each day brings a different workout, a different challenge. CrossFitters can go to the CrossFit website (www.CrossFit.com) and view the days W.O.D. for themselves. And do not feel dumb if you do not know an exercise of even of heard of it, you can view demonstrations of how each exercise is performed in the exercise archive.
CrossFit W.O.D. Examples
Below are some examples of a CrossFit W.O.D.:
The Murph: Run 1 mile, perform 100 kip pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 bodyweight squats, run one more mile. You do this for time. (This was actually my first ever CrossFit W.O.D. and I did it in the “Body Armor” mode in which I wore a 20lb vest. It took me 59 minutes to do. I am in great shape but this hit me on a different level of fitness. I left knowing I can do better. That is how you get hooked!)
The Fran: Three rounds of 95lb thrusters and kip pull ups for time. Round one: 21 thrusters, 21 kips. Round two: 15 thrusters, 15 kips. Round three: 9 thrusters, 9 kips.
G.I. Jane: 100 burpee pull ups for time (see why you might throw up?)
So the workouts are very intense as you can see, but what about the other key factors in living a healthier lifestyle and reaching your fitness goals? Where does supplementation and diet fit into the CrossFit life style?
For the average CrossFitter, a high protein, high carb, low fat diet is suffice. But for the serious CrossFitter who is looking to take their lifestyle to the next level, the Paleo diet is the diet of choice.
A Paleo diet, also known as paleolithic diet or caveman diet, is all about natural foods to help achieve great health and a perfect physique. The human body evolved for more than 2 million years with the food found in nature: game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts. The human race was thriving on this diet high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates, but things changed when we introduced unnatural foods to our bodies.
This diet has been seen as controversial by some experts due to people trying to consume only certain foods while our bodies have evolved, which in return requires to consume other foods as well. People have known to become sick or malnourished while on the diet. Some people see it as a way for CrossFit to hold on to that reputation of intensity and originality by having such a strict diet plan.
Sample Paleo Diet Plan
Below is a sample Paleo Diet Meal plan:
- Breakfast: Omelet with spinach and mushroom.
There are many different kinds of omelets, but this one gets rid of anything fatty or high in cholesterol. Hence, only the egg white is used. For stuffing, there are only two ingredients recommended: mushroom and spinach.
Alternative: Try Otie’s apple breakfast. Grab one large apple of any type. Cut it in very small pieces. Combine with a grated medium-sized carrot and raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon. The recipe is a good way to perk the morning up.
- Morning Snacks: Banana pear ambrosia.
Take a bite on the certified food for the gods. There are many different kinds of ambrosia, but in the Paleolithic diet, the one recommended is a combination of banana, pear, and avocado. Add some lemon or pineapple juice. Mix them all together in a blender until they transform into a very smooth sherbet.
Alternative: If there is no time for a nice-and-slow snack, just choose the fruits in season and mix them all together in one bowl. Make sure there is no mayonnaise or cream added.
- Lunch: Stir fried beef with veggies.
Stir-fry 12-ounces of sirloin steak (beef with the least amount of fat) in canola oil. Even if beef contains fat, one does not introduce more cholesterol in the body, and stir frying does not make use of too much cooking oil.
To achieve exquisite taste and add more texture, use a clove of pressed garlic, burgundy wine, yellow onion, red pepper, celery stalks, mushrooms, carrots, and lemon juice. Serve in chinaware for a complete Oriental feel.
Alternative: Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake by having grilled salmon for lunch.
- Afternoon Snacks: Colorado spinach salad.
There is a good reason why Popeye loves spinach so much. It is packed with plenty of mega-nutrients. Rather than eating plain spinach, spice the dish up by making a salad out of it. Drizzle the salad with a special dressing composed of lemon juice, honey, ground pepper, tarragon, and olive and flax seed oil.
Alternative: There is no spinach? Opt for a mixture of raw carrots and celery. Chop them in smaller pieces and eat.
- Dinner: Grilled chicken and steamed broccoli.
The grilled chicken is an excellent dish for a little barbecue party in the backyard. Choose those with no bones and skin to make sure there is no consumption of bad fats. Pair the grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.
From what I have researched and learned from CrossFitters I spoke with at my gym, keeping things as simple and natural as possible is preferred, but supplements are a part of the CrossFit lifestyle.
BCAAs and EAAs, the backbone of all muscular performance growth. The science behind BCAAs and EAAs has been well established for decades. In short, you should be consuming them both before, during and in some form after.
- Research evidence suggests that orally consuming BCAAs reduces muscle breakdown (catabolism) during exercise while simultaneously increasing protein synthesis! That’s good new for everyone but especially for extreme athletes such as CrossFitters.
- BCAAs have been shown to regulate blood sugar levels, aid in fat loss and have been studied for their potential role in delaying central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, especially in athletes.
- Clinically, it is not just people who are healthy and exercise who benefit on BCAAs. Branched Chain Amino Acids have been used to treat depression, diabetes, anorexia, irritability headaches and other physical issues that stem from a bodies deficiency in protein. The point is simple, every athlete needs BCAAs.
- BCAAs combined with glutamine have been shown to increase lean muscle mass and reduce muscle wasting while promoting recovery.
Betancourt Nutrition’s BCAAs help promote growth, protein synthesis, performance, and strength. Betancourt Nutrition’s Englutarade Reinforcer:
- Anaplerotic drink mix (helps maintain and stabilize ATP levels in muscles-ATP is the ultimate energy currency in every cell in your body, especially muscle cells).
- Contains essential electrolytes that help reduce muscle fatigue.
- Sugar free and great for recovery after a prolonged and exhausting workout.
Since hearing about and even experiencing CrossFit, I would have to say the intensity, environment, and overall experience a person gets from it is addicting. A lot of things have come and gone in the fitness world, but it seems CrossFit is here to stay, at least for a while.
They have their own games dubbed “The CrossFit Games” where the elite CrossFit athletes perform in front of a personal and now televised crowd. And now Reebok and Crossfit have formed a relationship where you can now buy your favorite CrossFit gear! Everything from shirts, pants, shorts, and even the now popular, striped, knee-high socks.
I love bodybuilding. I love weights. That is my thing. But the fact that CrossFit has gotten a lot of people off their butts and into a gym says a lot to anyone who loves health and fitness.