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Health & Fitness: The CrossFit Craze

By Kim Duke

neta & afaa Certified Trainer

There is a fitness trend crushing the fitness industry at the present, even though it was created in 2000.  CrossFit, a trademark of CrossFit Inc., is a strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving, among other things, muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, and flexibility. It advocates a perpetually changing mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weightlifting.

CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains,” with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity “workout of the day” (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching.

CrossFit is known for some of its more unique movements. The following is a list of some of the better-known movements/exercises common in CrossFit workouts, with brief descriptions.

Body Weight Exercises

Air Squat: Athlete moves from the standing position to a squatting position with the hips below the knees, and back to standing. One-legged air squats are referred to as pistols.

Box Jumps: From a standing position on the floor, the athlete jumps and lands with both feet on top of a box, and fully extends before returning to the floor. Typical box heights in inches are 15”, 20”, 24”, and 30”.

Burpee: Beginning in a standing position, the athlete drops to the floor with the feet extending backward, contacts the floor with the chest, and then pulls the legs forward, landing in a squatting position before standing up, ending the movement with a small jump.

Handstand Push-up: Beginning in a handstand, with the arms straight and (usually) the heels gently resting against a wall, the athlete bends the arms until the head touches the ground, and then pushes back up into a handstand position.

Jump Rope: The most common variation in CrossFit is the “double under” in which the jump rope makes two revolutions for each jump.

L-Sit:  With the body supported on gymnastics rings or paralettes, the athlete holds the feet at or above the level of the hips with the legs straight.

Lunge: Athlete takes a large step forward, bends the forward knee until the back knee makes contact with the ground, and rises.

Muscle-Up: Hanging from gymnastics rings or a bar, the athlete pulls up and over the rings or bar, ending with the arms straight and the hands below the hips.

Ring-Dip: Starting with the body supported on the rings with straight vertical arms, the athlete bends the arms, lowering the body until the shoulder drops below the elbow, and then straightens the arms.

Pull-up: Starting from a hanging position with straight arms, the athlete pulls up until the chin is over the bar. Variations include: strict, in which no swinging is allowed; kipping, in which momentum is used to help complete the movement; weighted, in which extra weight is hung from the athlete; chest-to-bar, in which the ending point of the movement is higher, and the chest makes contact with the bar; jumping, in which the legs are used to help propel the athlete upwards; and assisted, in which an elastic band allows the movement to be completed with less than full body weight.

Push-up: Starting in a plank position with the arms straight, the athlete lowers until the chest makes contact with the ground, keeping the body straight throughout, and making sure the elbows track straight back instead of out, then pushes back up into the plank position. Variations include weighted push-ups and ring push-ups, in which the hands are supported just above the ground by gymnastics rings.

Sit-up: Athlete moves from a supine position, with the shoulders on the ground, to a sitting position with the shoulders over the hips. The feet are sometimes anchored. An “ab-mat” is sometimes placed under the lower back.

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