CrossFit is everywhere. If you haven’t tried it yet, someone you know has already done it. Your best friend’s girlfriend heard of CrossFit. Even the boss at work tries to exercise during his lunch break.
Since CrossFit has become megapopular, and many have already achieved impressive results with it, you can understand why others are a little intrigued. (Don’t worry, there are a lot of them. No one will shame you.) If you want to train according to all the laws of CrossFit, go ahead. But if going to the CrossFit gym seems like the third circle of hell, we have an alternative solution.
Just use the CrossFit methodology. You can reach your goals and diversify your workouts, but you don’t have to box-hop, wall-climb, push loaded sleds and do other weird things that WOD stars and CrossFit veterans hold in high esteem. For the uninitiated, WOD is an acronym for Workout of the Day, the core element of CrossFit, a workout complex for one workout.
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1. Change your workouts constantly
According to the principles of CrossFit, training “must be constantly changing.” The idea is not new, Arnold himself talked about the importance of giving the body and muscles new types of stimuli.
The human body is surprisingly easy to adapt and adapt to new requirements. Repeat one workout for a period of time, and your muscles will get used to it. For sports, this is good and bad at the same time.
Good, because with the right approach, your muscles respond to training with increased mass and strength, which is what we strive for. What works in bodybuilding works in athletics: keep running faster and longer and your body will respond by developing speed and endurance.
The problem is that if you do not set unbearable tasks for the body, it will learn to playfully cope with any workouts. Repeat the same exercises with the same weights week after week, and eventually you will stop progressing.
Adaptation is the biological mechanism that CrossFit is trying to overcome. You will not find the same movements, the same weights, the same repetition ranges, or template time intervals here. Your body is constantly faced with new challenges, and this makes it grow.
It is often difficult to apply this principle to training for muscle mass or strength, but there is a possibility. Conceptually, your workouts may be the same, but you can constantly change exercises, equipment, reps and working weights.
For example, you don’t have to churn out 3 sets of 15 repetitions of dumbbell curls every week. Instead, do EZ barbell lifts, regular barbell lifts, or block curls. Vary the number of sets and reps, even body position: do biceps curls while standing, sitting or lying down.
2. Do not strive for a narrow specialization
The second principle stems from the variety of workouts. When you train according to the laws of CrossFit, your main goal is to improve your results across the board. This means that you should try to become better at almost everything, and not at any particular component.
An athlete or CrossFit coach considers the most “prepared” person to run 5 kilometers, compete in powerlifting, swimming and rope climbing competitions, and at each competition is able to enter the top five. He or she does not need to be the first everywhere, but it is necessary to perform with dignity in every form.
In comparison, a running fan can win 5 kilometers, but he will be the last in a powerlifting competition. After all, running training has very different goals and objectives. In general, the training requirements for each sport are very specific, and often they do not overlap in any way.
It is clear that if you want to enter the bodybuilding scene or speak at a weightlifting forum, you simply do not have time to be sprayed on secondary goals. But if you go to the gym to be in good shape and improve your health, universalism does not hurt. In such a situation, a page from the CrossFit alphabet will be very useful.
To apply this principle in your workouts, switch to a new type of activity every day. Run a long distance today. Do some heavy sets of 5 repetitions in the deadlift tomorrow. Do an intense circuit workout the day after tomorrow. The options are endless, and that’s the beauty!
3. Do more multi-joint exercises
Another goal of CrossFit training is to learn how to control your body as a single mechanism. The classical training paradigm teaches us to practice using one or two joints at the same time. The generally accepted division of chest / back / legs / shoulders / arms forces you to work only one part of the body in one workout.
Instead of training one part of the body, learn to use all muscle groups at once. For example, in leg workouts, you can do flexion and extension in the simulator, calf raises and leg presses, or you can add squats or deadlift options to the complex. You can add a push press to your shoulder workout. If you’re ready to raise the stakes, try incorporating strength-raising barbells or overhead squats into your weekly workout routine.
Once you master the correct technique and work your movements to automatism, you will get a lot of benefits. Exercises for the whole body load not only the skeletal muscles, but the entire musculoskeletal system. Even the bones become stronger when they are performed, and the older we get, the more important the strength of the bone tissue is for us.
Multi-joint exercises teach the body and brain to interact in new ways. Teaching your body to do exactly what your brain wants is a real art. This skill will come in handy in everything you do, from training and playing sports to solving everyday problems.
Another plus of multi-joint movements is that they work out almost all muscle groups at a time, and this is useful both when building muscle mass and while losing weight. In fact, you do fewer things, but you do more work.
4. More equipment, less exercise equipment
CrossFit fans perform a lot of exercises with a variety of sports equipment: barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, gymnastic rings, medballs, body weight, Axel bars, sandbags. There are no restrictions and prohibitions. If you find something interesting, go ahead!
This means that simulator enthusiasts should head to the free weights section. Yes, simulators help to maintain trajectory and protect against technical errors, but they also greatly limit you, which is bad if you don’t train your muscles in other ways.
Again, unless you plan to compete in bodybuilding competitions, you should strive for the full and comprehensive development of your body. Any new piece of equipment makes your body and mind work in new ways, and this enhances your functionality. New stimuli, combined with freedom of movement, teach you to coordinate your actions and maintain balance. You learn to choose the right trajectory without the help of a simulator and become stronger in all planes of motion: front, back and side.
5. Pump up the intensity
In CrossFit, watches play an interesting role. Usually training is done on a timed basis, and your task is to do as much work as possible in a given period of time. The timer makes your workouts more intense and challenging, which is beneficial for developing muscle endurance, increasing training volume, burning fat, and even increasing strength.
Coming to a workout is one thing, but making the most of the time allotted for it is a completely different story. Immersion in social networks, endless checking of messages on your phone, monotonous repetition of the same movements week after week – all these are sure signs that your workouts need a shake-up.
There is a solution. I understand that no one wants to train to nausea and loss of heart rate, but even without this, you can evaluate the intensity of your training. Are you breathing fast? Are you sweating? Are you challenging yourself with every workout? If you want to reach your goals, all these questions need to be answered in the affirmative.
To increase the intensity of your training, you can shorten the rest periods – give yourself no more than 60-90 seconds. You can record how many reps you do in one minute, and try to surpass your best result with each workout. Or repeat it using a larger working weight. If the last reps in the set feel the same as the first, use a heavier weight.
6. Open up new horizons
According to one of my favorite CrossFit tenets, “you have to constantly learn new sports.” You can and should train your body to handle any challenge. That being said, do not forget that you will not become a professional in a particular sport. And you have only one body. Just give him the opportunity to develop in new directions.
You don’t have to play the sports that CrossFit does to bring your idea to life. If you’ve never handled a tennis racket, now is the time to fix it! Play beach volleyball with friends, join a city or yard soccer team, or just throw a ball into a basketball hoop. You can train not only in the gym. Sometimes you can also play!