What is Crossfit?
CrossFit is a radically different approach to working out. Take everything that you have ever been taught about lifting weights and toss it out the door. CrossFit is the opposite. If you go to a gym anywhere in the world, you will see thousands of people doing the exact same thing, and who despite having a million different reasons for training, will be doing almost the exact same routine. They will be doing the same 15 exercises, broken up into a 2 or 3 day plan, and they will inevitably be doing 3-4 sets, of 8-12 reps. During an average gym workout that lasts an hour, they will spend Less than 15 minutes actually “working out.”
CrossFit forces you to do dynamic exercises that blend power, speed, agility, balance, hand-eye coordination, and body manipulation all at once. Think about it. When you’re on the fireline, what are you doing? You’re moving fast, you’re slamming line with a pulaski, you’re cutting down trees with a chainsaw, dragging swamp into the green, humping a pack over broken ground, hauling hoses around the forest, and a million other tasks. How are 3 sets of 10 reps on the Bench going to improve your ability to do that? It’s not.
Why Does Everyone Bench press?
The Bench Press is arguably the most widely practiced lift – but why? No good reason. It helps isolate and develop your pectoral muscles. It’s assumed its status as the lift to do most likely because it’s helped generations of dudes fill out a shirt better. Nevertheless, thousands of firefighters mindlessly incorporate the bench press into their routine, for no other reason than they’ve been bench pressing since they played high school football. The bench press isn’t the problem. If you want to isolate and develop your chest – it’s a great lift. What CrossFit (and HF) finds fault with is a narrow-minded, one-track approach to fitness. Advocates of CrossFit define “being in shape” as being capable of performing a wide variety of athletic movements at a superior level. They do not consider lifting a ridiculous amount of weight 12 inches off your chest once as a valid measurement of fitness. If that argument rings true with you, you’ll probably love CrossFit.
Why We Recommend CrossFit Training for Firefighters
We hate traditional gyms. We hate the ridiculously steep prices, we hate driving to them, we hate the people at gyms, and we hate the contracts, and the penalties associated with trying to end a contract. Our loathing for traditional gyms is bested only by our collective hatred for cell phone carriers.
We Love the Guerrilla Warfare Approach. It’s primitive, unconventional, and ugly. CrossFit relies on used tires, strange gymnastic contraptions cobbled together with PVC pipe and a ton of glue, half-filled beer kegs, and basketballs filled with sand. There’s nothing shiny about the equipment. You will never see Chuck Norris on TV at 2am selling a set of gymnastic rings that he made in his home kitchen for $19.95. It’s not commercial, it’s not mainstream, but it works.
It’s cheap. You don’t need to buy much to get started. For the cost of 2 or 3 months’ worth of gym fees, you can get yourself set-up with a pretty damn good home-gym. Grab a bar $(50) and some plates ($50) off of Craigslist or Ebay, make a medicine ball ($9), buy a kettlebell ($20), fill a whiffle-ball bat with sand (EDIT-that piece of gear sucks) make some gymnastic rings ($20), and build some parallettes ($20), and you’ll be able to do 95% of the workouts at your house. We’ve put together some tutorials on creating your home gym here.
Performance Driven. Not Mirror Driven. It’s not about what you look like with your shirt off (though we’ll freely admit that’s not a bad benefit.)
It’s fun. Seriously. What’s not to love about taking a sledge hammer and hitting a tire? Or taking a medicine ball and throwing it against a brick wall? Traditional workouts are boring. CrossFit turns working out into a game.
If you want to learn more about CrossFit, check out their main website. Also, if you live in Tempe, Arizona and want to learn how to get started with CrossFit, check out CrossFit Southwest. We interviewed the owner, Ken Urakawa. With a master’s degree from Arizona State University in exercise sciences, Ken has a pretty solid understanding about what it takes to maximize human performance.