A: Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen (triathlon components: swimming, cycling, and running - a multisport race with three continuous and sequential endurance races) “the fittest man on Earth.” Let’s just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the Ironman Triathlon is the fittest of the fit; then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman (decathlon: a 10-event athletic contest that consists of the 100-meter, 400-meter, and 1500-meter runs, the 110-meter high hurdles, the javelin and discus throws, shot put, pole vault, high jump, and long jump) who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination? Perhaps the definition of fitness does not include strength, speed, power, and coordination - though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “fitness” and being “fit” as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the NSCA, one of the most respected publishers in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, does not even attempt a definition.
The idea of promoting a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud falsehood. The lack of guiding authority on what is the precise “definition of fitness” has therefore necessitated that CrossFit provide its own definition of fitness. That is what this article is about: our “fitness.”
Pondering, studying, debating about, and finally defining fitness have played a formative role in CrossFit’s methodology and success. The keys to understanding the methods and achievements of being “CrossFit” are perfectly embedded in our view of fitness and basic exercise science.
It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view of fitness is a contrary opinion to both the general public and media. They hold that “endurance” athletes as pinnacles of fitness. We do not. Our disbelief on learning of Outside’s awarding a triathlete the title of “fittest man on Earth” becomes apparent considering CrossFit’s models for assessing and defining fitness.
CrossFit makes use of three different standards or models for evaluating and guiding fitness. Collectively, these three standards define the CrossFit view of fitness. The first is based on the 10 general physical skills widely recognized by exercise physiologists. The second standard, or model, is based on the performance of athletic tasks, while the third is based on the energy systems that drive all human action. We will discuss the first in this article.
CrossFit’s First Fitness Standard
There are 10 recognized general physical skills. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. You are as fit as you are competent in each of these 10 skills. A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these 10 skills.
Importantly, improvements in endurance, stamina, strength and flexibility come about through training. Training refers to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body. By contrast, improvements in coordination, agility, balance and accuracy come about through practice. Practice refers to activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system. Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.
How will I get fitter with CrossFit?
CrossFit improves general physical preparedness (GPP). We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. CrossFit was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. People who do CrossFit are prepared for all challenges, whether they come in the gym, on a playing field or as part of daily life.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. Rabbi Fitness LLC is not a doctor. The contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any health problem– nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and/or engagement in physical activity, especially if you (or your family) have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or if you have ever experienced chest pain when exercising or have experienced chest pain in the past month when not engaged in physical activity, smoke, have high cholesterol, are obese, or have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in physical activity.