Elements of Crossfit

In developing my training program I have drawn on a number of different sources. In particular I looked beyond the usual triathlon or distance running bank of information. Areas I searched out included

  • olympic weightlifting
  • powerlifting
  • sprinting
  • parkour
  • méthode naturelle
  • middle distance running
  • military training
  • various team sports
  • gymnastics

As a result I have developed a large amount of enthusiasm to try different methods. Furthermore I now have a few ideas on how to improve various fitness elements within limited time constraints. The problem now is how do I incorporate such a wide variety of ideas into my training program?

In my search for ideas I ventured across a program called Crossfit. While I do not agree with a number of concepts or positions promoted by this company, I do find they are a good source of ideas. In fact I have drawn heavily from the following two articles in developing my own program:

  1. What is Fitness?
  2. A Theoretical Template for Crossfit's Programming

I won't attempt to summarise the program itself. Those promoting it can do that. Instead I'll explain what I have used and adapted for myself.

There are ten recognized general physical skills. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills

Who can fault the idea that fitness is reflected in the competency of all the physical skills described above?

Fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even unfamiliar tasks, tasks combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice this encourages the athlete to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, periodization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.

Being able to not only respond, by excel in a wide variety of tasks and different situations is appealing. A broad and variable training stimulus may also keep away boredom and maybe certain complications of overtraining.

... strive to blur distinctions between “cardio” and strength training. Nature has no regard for this distinction or any other,including our ten physical adaptations.

Using strength training exercises to elicit an aerobic response is interesting. Is it really possible to increase strength, power, flexibility and endurance within one training session? The advocates of Crossfit believe it is.

The above concepts I aim to incorporate into my training plan. Blindly following the workouts of the day posted on the websites doesn't appeal to me. I also don't believe it would be optimal training. It needs to be adapted to what I want out of it. The information is a good source of ideas, but I do believe the program neglects endurance that is suited to the events I enjoy competing in. In fact I find the people running Crossfit are scathing against endurance athletes. I am sure simply following the program as offered will improve a wide range of fitness elements, I do not believe it leads to the so-called elite fitness promoted. Of course it comes down to personal opinions in defining fitness.

The theoretical template provides a good starting point to lay out a blueprint. Instead of just being limited to the Crossfit categories of:

  • M - monostructural metabolic conditioning
  • G - gymnastics, bodyweight exercises
  • W - weightlifting, powerlifting, olympic lifts

I have also included:

  • PK - parkour, méthode naturelle
  • Specific - race/sport specific work

After much consideration I have incorporated the above categories into kind of a 6 day cycle. I have taken the order of Crossfit foci from the 5 days on, 2 days off template, but have interspersed PK and Specific training in between. Exactly how this all fits together while considering recovery, racing, time constraints and the rest of life I'll save for a later post.


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