What is CrossFit?
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CrossFit is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) that combines strength and conditioning. CrossFit base their workouts almost entirely around functional movement patterns, performed under load, at a high intensity level. CrossFit in Dubai is growing, so you won't find it difficult finding a gym that provides it.
‘Functional movements’ are generally those that a practitioner would use in their day-to-day life, such as squats, pushes, pulls, jumps, climbs and so forth.
Explosive power is often highlighted in CrossFit, mixed in with strength and conditioning. Workouts will generally feature some form of squat, push up and/or weightlifting/barbell movements, utilising sets that are usually performed for a predetermined time period (rather than the more traditional method of going by rep ranges). Emphasis will be placed on load, distance and speed: CrossFit adherents credit this with making their workouts so effective.
There is a workout of the day (WOD- more on this below), every day, with CrossFit (similar to Orange Theory). CrossFit themselves put the WOD on their website each day, including all details needed to perform it.
CrossFit adherents are also usually quite unequivocal in their inclusivity- CrossFit is for everyone, they claim. Many believe that CrossFit is hugely beneficial for a full spectrum of ages and athletic capabilities, starting with adolescents and going up to all ages, with athletes in their 60s being common enough. In fact, CrossFit even host CrossFit Kids classes, which are great for developing balance, coordination, proper motor skills and perseverance in children.
The spirit of sports and competition is also core to CrossFit culture. Many CrossFit boxes (their word for a gym) use strategic actions, like keeping a score board and posting winners to social media, for motivation. These scores are often tallied on a national level, and CrossFit Games, in which competitors come together to complete a range of physical challenges, represent one of the fastest growing sports in the world. CrossFit in Dubai is growing, with CrossFit Dubai games occurring regularly here: Cross Fitness could be yours if you fancy it.
There are some common factors that you will want to see cropping up time and time again, largely surrounding timings and implementation. Common terms and specific programming tricks inherent to CrossFit include:
AMRAPs (As Many Reps as Possible)
Pick a time and an exercise. Do as many reps of that exercise as possible in that time. For instance, for your chest, pick dips or man-makers and see how many you can do in 10 minutes. Alternatively, pick a push up variation, give yourself one set, and see how many reps you can do without stopping.
EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute)
Choose and exercise and a rep range (usually quite low.) Perform this exercise at the start of every minute for a set period, using the rest of the minute to rest. For instance, pick the bench press or plyometric push ups. Do five reps at the top of every minute for ten minutes.
Hero WODs (Workout Of The Day) and Chippers
This is a no-brainer in CrossFit. They are long, hard and intense: CrossFit’s hardest challenges have become famous. Pick one that includes push ups, muscle ups, or any other chest exercise and see how you do.
Super- and giant- sets
For a super-set, pick a heavy compound exercise like the dumbbell chest press or weighted dips. Hit 5 reps or so. Then go straight into an accessory or antagonistic exercise (like dumbbell flyes or bent over rows, respectively). For a giant-set, thread together three or more exercises in a similar fashion. You will be able to get a lot of work done very quickly, whilst enjoying the conditioning aspect so beloved in CrossFit.
Ladders are a series of exercises put together in a set during which you increase the number of reps by one each time they are performed. For the chest, try going for one jump push up, then two, then three, and see how high you can get.
CrossFit: the risks
CrossFit is high intensity and doesn’t always come with the most oversight. For this reason, it can be risky. In fact, CrossFit can be particularly bad for risk of injury, above and beyond what may be expected from most other forms of high intensity training.
There is a culture of seeking the greatest fatigue possible, which has a direct relationship with break down in form, and thus in increased risk of injury. CrossFit are also known for allowing sub-par coaches to open boxes; poor instruction will always put athletes at risk. In addition, the types of explosive, multi-plane compound movements typically performed, with minimal instruction, can quite easily lead to injury.
It’s thought that as many a fifth of all CrossFit participants hurt themselves badly at some point.
There are, however, some things you can do to mitigate these risks.
Pick your coach well
A supportive training space and a coach who knows what they’re doing, and how to keep an eye out for people’s safety will make all the difference. You will also want a coach who doesn’t push you so hard that you hurt yourself. Ask around and check things out before you dive in.
Keep your form in check
Poor form will get you hurt. Don’t train so hard that your form breaks down. Whilst a good coach will help here, the buck stops with you: do everything you can to keep your form in check. This will include not ego lifting, taking plenty of breaks as and when needed, and not training through too much fatigue.
Pay attention to your body
If something hurts, rest. Consult a physio. Don’t work through it. If a muscle feels sore or weak, or if a movement doesn’t feel right, pull back from it and check it out. Quite often, this kind of discomfort will be a precursor to injury: nip it in the bud early on.