In the first of our new Members’ articles, WITC’s very own certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer, and co-owner of R99 Box in Mokotow, Laurent Uhres talks about how he got into CrossFit, what CrossFit actually is and what the benefits are for triathletes.
I’ve been running for quite some time. Unfortunately, over the past few years my pace hasn’t improved significantly. I was able to increase the distance and finish a marathon (the 2011 Warsaw Marathon, which you can read about here), but my pace wasn’t going anywhere. I had incorporated weight training hoping that the additional strength would make the difference. But my pace remained stubborn … to all kinds of treatment.
The key to this stubbornness is understanding that to increase your speed it isn’t enought to improve endurance and strength. There are at least half a dozen other general physical abilities that have an impact on speed, including stamina, flexibility, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. Among the plentitude of training methods available, CrossFit focuses on improving all of these abilities.
What is CrossFit?
The fundamental principle behind CrossFit is constantly varied, high-intensity and functional movement. Lets look at the three elements of this principal:
– First, a variety of exercises, sets, repetitions, and weights is the basis of preparing for any type of physical activity. It provides athletes with the general physical readiness, laying the groundwork for specialised activities such as swimming, running, and biking.
– Second, hard and fast repetitions to achieve high intensity and strengthen the metabolic pathways needed for high levels of endurance and stamina. In a nutshell, the goal is to be able to move large weights over long distances in a short time.
– Third, functional movements are universal motor patterns. These movements encourage multiple joints and muscles to mimic common human movements such as squats, deadlifts, pushes, pulls, and rotational movements. The movements are performed from the core to the extremity, e.g. from the most powerful muscles in the body to the most precise muscles. Consider throwing an object: the movement starts with a powerful hip movement, followed by the shoulder and finishes with the fingers that transfer the energy to the object and will provide the precision required to hit the target. Or closer to our interests, consider swimming: without middle line stability, in other words core strength, a swimmer will struggle to swim in a straight line.
A typical CrossFit workout starts and ends with proper stretching and includes a technical part focusing on the movements performed during the actual workout. Technique is a fundamental aspect of the workout. The workout in itself, called workout of the day (WOD) in CrossFit lingo, changes on a daily basis and incorporates elements of all or some of the three modalities: weightlifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning. Most of the workouts have two or three elements repeated in rounds. For task-priority workouts, these elements are repeated for a pre-defined number of repetitions; whereas for time-priority workouts, these elements are performed during a pre-defined time interval.
At first some athletes may be daunted by the complexity of the movements or weights. The unique approach of CrossFit is its ability to scale a workout, adapt it to the capabilities of an athlete by either reducing the weights, supporting the movements, or replacing the movements with simpler movements using similar muscles patterns.
Besides all of these technical aspects, CrossFit creates a unique experience as the athletes, both beginners, intermediate and more experienced, go through the same workout at the same time in the same place. There is nothing more exhilarating and stimulating than a gang of sweating athletes lying on the floor and gasping for air!
So what are the benefits of CrossFit for triathletes?
CrossFit is a program with no bias, aimed at improving general physical preparedness (GPP). And, as mentioned before, GPP is the foundation for specific physical preparedness, which trains the athlete for running, swimming, biking, or any other specific sport. This foundation creates powerful hip extensions indispensable for strong cycling, increased core strength for faster, more powerful running and the necessary midline stability to maintain a streamlined position in the water as well as the efficiency and efficacy that bring about the stamina and endurance for triathlons.
And never forget – every repetition counts!
So there you have it, an in-depth look at CrossFit. If you have any questions, want to find out more about CrossFit or want to give it a try then please contact Laurent via our facebook page or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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