I was recently asked by one of my clients to write about CrossFit and describe what it is that we actually do at CrossFit Cavaliers to a couple of Hong Kong University professors who haven't got a single clue of what CrossFit is. As I pondered and did a little research by asking around, I noticed that non-CrossFitters often correlate CrossFit to what is known as High Intensity Interval Training (HiiT). Well then, here's some insight to all Non-CrossFitters and CrossFit beginners, to better understand what CrossFit is all about.
Titled: Is CrossFit just kind of like HiiT?
To really understand the differences between CrossFit and HiiT, let's first look at the latter.
What exactly is HiiT?
HiiT is a highly customisable training strategy/ program that includes high intensity anaerobic training blocks followed by less intense rest periods.
By drifting your body from an anaerobic (high) zone of workload to an aerobic (low) zone of workload, HiiT is effective when it comes to improving glucose metabolism and building athletic efficacy within a short period of time.
#In short, these regimes have been hugely popular because of the fat burning and athletic performance improvements it provides.#
Some of the more notable HiiT programs in recent years include Tabata, Insanity and P90X. All of which follow the frame work as presented above with different variables such as movements, work time and rest time.
Now how is CrossFit different from HiiT?
Let's start with the obvious argument:
Olympic Lifts & Strength training
For those of you who haven't done CrossFit before or very little, Olympic lifts and other strength training movements are big segments in CrossFit. Movements such as the clean & jerk and snatch are seldom seen in HiiT programs. More importantly, the obvious focus of strength training is to get stronger by lifting heavier weights, which has a completely different focus compared to HiiT programming.
Now what about MetCons?
For those of you who don't know what MetCon is: MetCon stands for Metabolic Conditioning.
According to Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, ultimately the CrossFit position on metabolic conditioning, or “cardio”, is summed up in two points. First, anaerobic training can match endurance training for aerobic benefit. Additionally, metabolic training with varying and mixed exercise modalities avoids specificity of adaptation, allowing for additional first wave - cardiovascular/respiratory adaptations, and increased functional strength.
Too Many words? Heres the short version:
1) High intensity training also works for endurance capabilities.
2) In CrossFit, we do different movements in order to keep our bodies from adapting to certain movements for better results.
CrossFit MetCons are usually the reason why CrossFit is commonly viewed as similar to HiiT and I will tell you why they are very different:
Take what we did at CrossFit Cavaliers last Wednesday for example:
To strategise for Karen, Coach Cam wrote down tips for us to complete these Wallballs as fast as possible according to each individual's capacity.
Here's one of them:
Complete 25 per minute and try to rest 15s within that minute x repeat 6 times
This particular strategy is actually a good example of HiiT - high intensity working blocks and rest in between.
However, since the goal of this workout is for time (as fast as possible), everyone can divide the workload in anyway they want. For elite CrossFit athletes, they can even do these without stopping - all 150 of them!
The argument here is that at a higher level of CrossFit, this workout is no longer consistent with the framework of HiiT since there's no mandatory scheduled rest time, only strategic ones.
Furthermore, CrossFit Metcon's variability and its broad modal & time domains make it very different from HiiT programming.
If you look up the official definition of CrossFit you will find the following statement:
"Constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains"
HiiT programming is simply far too narrow to fit all that is CrossFit into its definition. In other words, HiiT can be a part of what we do in CrossFit but CrossFit is definitely not just another form of HiiT.
CrossFitters strive for building athletic efficacy through all physical domains. In CrossFit we dip our toes in a vast amount of fitness categories such as gymnastics, metabolic conditioning, Olympic lifting and strength training.
Being constantly varied in programming, CrossFit is ever changing.
Universal scalability means CrossFit is always evolving to each individual's training age.
CrossFit is a holistic prescription for health and fitness, and it would be unfair to consider it "just like HiiT." It doesn’t mean we avoid it and it doesn’t mean that it’s not beneficial. CrossFit is simply much more profound than just high-intensity intervals.
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