Why is CrossFit so Effective? Does it Really Work?

Have you noticed some remarkable changes in fitness level, energy and attitude in someone you know who trains using CrossFit?

If so, you may wonder “Why is CrossFit so Effective?

I get this question a lot so I will try and explain why CrossFit works and what, specifically, CrossFit is good for.

But first…

Let’s take a look at what I mean by effectiveness when we are talking about CrossFit.

CrossFit gym

What is Effectiveness, Anyways?

We can sit here all day saying CrossFit is “effective” and that “CrossFit works” but for those words to mean anything we have to know how effectiveness is defined.

When I say “CrossFit is Effective” what I mean is that training using the CrossFit program will improve your overall health and fitness in 10 areas, which CrossFit defines as:

  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Accuracy

When I say “CrossFit Works” What I mean is it increases your physical competence in these 10 areas.

It measurably improves your physical prowess in all 10 areas of fitness.

group of athletes in CrossFit gym

CrossFit is Effective Because it is Measurable

CrossFit is all about the Data. If you train using CrossFit you will measure your one rep max, and PR (Personal Record) for all deadlifts used in CrossFit.

You will record data from each WOD, including reps done, weight lifted, time spent on a task and more.

Every box has a whiteboard to record data, a CrossFit Workout Timer Clock to keep time, and rules or standards that govern each move, keep performance consistent and make comparison easy.

All this data means you always know where you stand, and it is very easy to see where you are progressing or where you need work. You never need to guess, the accountability ability to self-evaluate are built right into the CrossFit program.

CrossFit Works Because it Reduces Boredom

One of the main tenants’ of CrossFit is that it is “Constantly Varied”. In other words, the workout is different each time.

Theoretically, you could go a year without repeating the exact same workout. You can be sure today’s workout will be different from tomorrow.

CrossFit exercises draw on several different disciplines including weight lifting and gymnastics. The program also uses exercises geared toward metabolic conditioning and even some sport-specific exercises.

In addition to including exercise from several different sports, CrossFit uses a wide range of equipment, including an Olympic barbell, weight plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, jump ropes, plyo boxes, medicine balls, gymnastic rings, pull up bars and much more.

CrossFit is hard.

CrossFit is intense.

CrossFit will push you and may make you want to quit.

But…

One thing CrossFit will not do is make you bored!

group of people exercising together in CrossFit gym

CrossFit is Effective Because it Trains You Using Functional Movements

You may have heard this term “Functional Fitness” thrown around.

What is functional fitness and what are these functional movements you hear Cross Fitters talking about?

Practicing Functional movements is one aspect of CrossFit that makes it so effective!

Functional Movement:

A functional movement is useful in everyday life. Functional exercises are moves you might use in the real world.

These exercises use natural movement to work muscles and joints the way you would out in the world.

An example of a functional movement is a squat. You use a squatting movement to pick up and move a heavy object, like helping a friend move the couch.

Another example is the pull up. If you are a police officer or firefighter, you may need to pull yourself up over a wall or fence. Pull ups are a functional exercise that can help you with this critical job related task.

Functional exercise is practical.

A dumbbell curl or dumbbell row might help strengthen and prepare a parent to lift a sleeping child and a bag of groceries at the same time.

Basically, functional training expands your overall fitness making everyday tasks a whole lot easier.

CrossFit is popular with the Military, Security, Police and Firefighters because the varied yet intense training better prepares them for the unexpected events they face on the job.

High Intensity

CrossFit is done with High Intensity making CrossFit effective at burning calories, losing weight and strengthening the cardiovascular and metabolic systems.

The WOD might prescribe you do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of a specific exercise e.g. 100 burpees for time, trying to beat your best time.

The emphasis placed on going as fast as you can really rev up the VO2Max of your workout and burns calories, increases your metabolic conditioning and strengthens your heart.

Metabolic training has been shown to burn calories and raise metabolism long after the workout is over, which is part of what makes CrossFit a useful workout for those looking to shed fat.

Find more Metabolic conditioning high-intensity WODs you can do from home here.

two people start a running in CrossFit gym

CrossFit is Effective Because it Creates Well Rounded Athletes

Remember the 10 areas of fitness we talked about at the start?

CrossFit does not train in one area at the expense of another, and this is why, when people ask me “why is CrossFit so effective” I always go back to the 10 areas of fitness: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, flexibility, strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.

Let me explain using an example.

Let’s say you are a long distance runner. How does that runner typically train? I would be willing to bet they focus on endurance at the expense of strength training. A long distance runner certainly has great cardiovascular endurance, but may still be unbalanced, fitness wise.

The CrossFit athlete trains in all 10 fitness areas, including strength, conditioning, and endurance.

To sum up, CrossFit is so effective because it focuses on all aspects of fitness and cross training using functional movements can benefit just about everyone.

CrossFit is not a fad, the exercises used are not anything new.

What makes CrossFit different from other training programs is that it does NOT focus on one or a few areas, but that it has such a wide scope, focuses heavily on data and intensity, and changes every workout session.

I have talked about why CrossFit is so effective, but another question I get is “Why is CrossFit so popular?” If you want my take on this common question, read this.

Thanks for reading!

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