What Is A CrossFit Exercise? -The Basics Worth Knowing

The early 2000s saw the birth of a fitness regime, originally crafted for the police and military forces, become popularly accepted as a unique and rigorous fitness regime for all and sundry. This fitness regime welcomed participants of different ages and fitness levels. The clue as to which fitness regime I am talking about here is in the title, CrossFit. What then is a Crossfit exercise?

There are numerous ideologies behind what a CrossFit exercise is. Some call it a lifestyle made up of effective, rigorous exercises, others call it a competitive fitness sport, whiles it is also known by others as a physical exercise philosophy. All these ideologies are not untrue. The combination of these ideologies result in keeping our bodies fit and well looked after.

CrossFit Workout


Why Do CrossFit?

CrossFit is basically a strength and conditioning program which safely but rigorously combines high interval training, olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics (body weight exercises), indoor rowing, running, swimming and other exercises, just to mention a few. This program guarantees a full body workout that entails different functional movements executed at a high intensity within a set period.

Over the years, this program has proven to work for everyone. Whether you are a starter or a seasoned pro, whichever level of fitness you currently are, there is an exercise designed and suited to your specific needs and goals. The training, without doubt, is hardcore, but it seeks to teach people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness.

CrossFit rightly argues that a person is as fit as they are proficient in each of the following 10 general fitness domains:

  • Agility
  • Accuracy
  • Balance
  • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibilty
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Strength

Do I Need Equipments For This Exercise Regime?

The functional exercises carried out usually require little or no equipment since the movements executed in the exercises copy real-life human movements. These functional exercises include push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and pull-ups (chin-ups). The equipment used in a CrossFit box (gym) are from multiple disciplines. These equipment include:

  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Barbells
  • Pull-Up Bars
  • Gymnastics Rings
  • Medicine Balls
  • Jump Ropes
  • Resistance Bands
  • Rowing Machines
  • Various Exercise Mats



What The Critics Say Vs What We Say

If I am asked whether CrossFit exercises are dangerous, my answer will undoubtedly be a ‘Yes’. My answer should not be a surprise to anyone since the same could literally be said of any exercise or sport discipline. All sport disciplines or exercises are dangerous if safety measures are not adhered to.

Since the beginning of CrossFit’s popularity in the early 2000s, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the risk of injury surrounding the perceived dangerous movements and the levels of intensity involved. Due to the requirement to complete endurance exercises as fast as possible or within a specified amount of time, the high possibility of sacrificing form for finishing workouts quicker poses a risk to injury.

Due to the competitive nature of this fitness regime and the desire to achieve set targets/goals, participants normally push themselves above and beyond the body’s limitations thereby increasing the risk of picking up an avoidable injury.

The risk of getting a medical condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis from CrossFit exercises has also attracted some controversy. Medical professionals have argued that the CrossFit methodology, the competitive nature and the environment created by CrossFit trainers exposes athletes to the risk of developing rhabdomyolysis.

Exertional rhabdomyolysis is simply the breakdown of muscle from extreme physical exertion. Muscle fibers breakdown when people push themselves too hard and too fast, way beyond the body’s limitations. This results in the broken down muscle fibers being released into the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys.

These criticisms are justified in their own right, but one thing we all need to bear in mind is that, even with poor technique, CrossFit can still be relatively safe. It is even more effective and safer when executed with good techniques. Risk of injuries are vastly reduced when workouts are modified and accurately scaled to suit the fitness levels and abilities of participants. Modification and scaling of workouts is done dependent on fitness levels of individual participants.

Acronyms To Memorise…..

CrossFitters are perceived to speak a different language due to the various acronyms used within a CrossFit box (gym). This perception is just a myth, all you have to do is master the acronyms below:

  • AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible. Usually the clock is set to a time limit and all you have to do is work hard to complete as many rounds as possible within the set time.
  • ATG = Ass To Grass. This refers to a full-depth squat.
  • EMOM = Every Minute On The Minute. This refers to where an exercise or a series of exercises are performed for a set number of reps per minute. The remainder of your time after the reps are completed is your rest period. Basically, the faster you finish your reps, the more rest time you get. The workout starts again once the minute is up.
  • RX = As Prescribed. Each workout comes with a prescribed weight to use. This prescribed weight can be scaled down as and when required.
  • WOD = Workout Of The Day. As the name suggests, this is simply the workout you will be performing when you turn up for a CrossFit class. The WOD varies from day to day.

CrossFit Is Worth The Hustle

The hustle and bustle associated with CrossFit comes with greater rewards to your physical well-being. It is rigorous and intense as it aims to maximise the amount of work done in the shortest amount of time. A CrossFitter will hardly do the same routine twice in a week and each session usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour.

Despite the discomfort your body goes through whiles working out, the health benefit you gain at the end of the day is worth the hustle. CrossFit’s high intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition.

A CrossFit exercise improves physical performance in different ways, ranging from effectively and efficiently performing everyday tasks to training and preparing your body for tough competitions. CrossFit is for all, irrespective of your age, gender or body type.

The speed of weight loss associated with CrossFit’s high intensity burst workouts is absolutely worth the hustle. At the end of the day, the benefit your body derives from this fitness regime will be there for all to see.

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  1. Thank you for such a detailed breakdown of what’s involved in cross fit. I’ve always been keen on keeping myself fit, but never considered this type of training. I like the idea that you don’t necessarily need to attend a gym as much of the equipment can be used at home. I’ve used resistance bands and dumbells but will certainly think of doing more now:)

    • Thanks Kathy. Am glad you’ve decided to do more CrossFit now, you surely won’t regret it!

  2. Wow this sounds full on but can also be very beneficial. Thanks for explaining the acronyms too, which would be helpful for a newbie. As with most forms of exercise, common sense prevails when it comes to safety. I imagine this program is best conducted under close supervision or it could end up being quite dangerous. Thank you for a great article.

    • Am glad you took the time to read my article, Helen. Let’s see if we can commit the acronyms to memory….AMRAP, ATG, EMOM, RX and WOD!

      • As you rightly said, Helen, close supervision is vital for the kind of exercise regime, especially for newbies. Thank you!!

  3. Awesome article Daniel! You know I’ve always kind of wanted to try Crossfit, but I’ve never really even understood what it was all about. So thank you for bringing some of this to my attention!

    There so much detail you’ve included in this post. It makes me excited to see what else you have to offer!

    • Sharing such good info is my goal and am very happy you found my blogpost very informative. Thanks for taking the time to read the article, I have a lot more to offer!!

  4. Hey Daniel. Great post about CrossFit training. That stuff is intense! I have done it for years now. Not only does it help you lose weight, but it also helps you build more muscle than you could flex a bicep at! This stuff, when done properly and consistently, will literally make you ripped. It will give you a flat stomach, bulky biceps, round shoulders, and a tight chest, all of which are important in keeping a healthy lifestyle. The main thing for safety in any rigorous workout is that you properly warm up before you go all in. Also, protein for your muscles does not hurt when you are doing something this intense. I love it!

    • It is nice to see another strong fan of CrossFit. Thanks for your comment, David. You added some more weight to my argument on why CrossFit is good for the body.
      Thanks for mentioning the importance of a proper warm up prior to any vigorous exercise.

      Once again, thank you!!!

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