In last week’s article we introduced the basis for my approach to health & fitness based on CrossFit methodology, namely that there are 10 recognized general physical skills: 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. In the next couple of weeks, we are going to dive deeper into the yesodos (fundamentals) of this platform and hope to give a greater understanding of why I favor certain methods while purposely neglecting others. Much of this information is taken from the CrossFit Journal.
CrossFit’s Second Fitness Standard
The essence of this model is the view that fitness is about performing well at any and every task imaginable. Picture a hopper loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges, where no selective mechanism is operative, and being asked to perform feats randomly drawn from the hopper. For instance, what are your strengths? Long distance running, and flexibility? Great! What is your weakness? Gymnastics movements and weightlifting? This indicates you need to improve in your weak spots. The same applies to any of the 10 skills discussed in last week’s article. You want to be “good” at any given random activity or challenge which may be demanded from you - stamina strength, speed, etc. This model suggests that your fitness can be measured by your capacity to perform well at these tasks in relation to other individuals.
The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks, even unfamiliar tasks and tasks combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice, this encourages the athlete to disinvest in any set notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, periodization, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.
CrossFit’s Third Fitness Standard
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen (or phosphocreatine) pathway, the glycolytic (or lactate) pathway and the oxidative (or aerobic) pathway. The first, the phosphagen (anaerobic), dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about 10 seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic (anaerobic), dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative (aerobic), dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.
Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit.
Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training. More on that later.
The motivation for the three standards is simply to ensure the broadest and most general fitness possible. Our first model evaluates our efforts against a full range of general physical adaptations. In the second, the focus is on breadth and depth of performance. With the third, the measure is time, power and consequently energy systems. It should be clear that the fitness CrossFit advocates and develops is deliberately broad, general, and inclusive. The specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
Next week we will discuss the fourth and final yesod of the CrossFit platform, as well as how to integrate and implement them.
As always, Man Up & Lift your 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.