Compliments to CrossFit
A few days ago I was asked an interesting question; what types of activities can I participate in, outside of CrossFit, that might benefit me? It’s a really good question actually, since a big part of CrossFit is being prepared for the unknown and unknowable (or in other terms, any form of fitness you so choose). Below, we will look at a few different types of fitness that are great to participate in for various reasons, in no particular order. These reasons might include a great cardiovascular workout, an excellent addition to mobility training, or just an outright good time.
Lets begin, shall we?
I’m putting this form of fitness at number one for a number of different reasons. To start off, it’s an excellent stress reliever both physically and mentally. Yoga’s big goal, no matter which yoga style you chose, centers around spiritual development and training your body to be self aware of what is going on. Often found in seren and relaxing studios, it provides a great opportunity to clear your mind and focus on reducing mental stress.
The second reason this is my top choice, is because of it’s inherent ability to increase ones mobility and core strength. Have you ever met someone that has been going to yoga for a decent amount of time, and admired at just how flexible their bodies are? That’s because the static poses, and different difficulties of practice, allow us to really stretch our bodies out. Mobility is a major key to staying healthy while living an active lifestyle. Do you know what else is important? Core strength!
This other important aspecting of yoga is its focus on overall core strength and stability. No matter what we are doing, whether it be squatting, deadlifting, olympic lifting or even handstands our general core strength keeps us healthy and able to move more weight. The stronger my midline is (your core), the better my body will handle weight loads when performing activity while simultaneously supporting our spine. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but your spine is pretty important and so is its health.
Swimming comes in at number two for good reason, it is one of the best cardiovascular activities you can do that simultaneously works almost every major and minor muscle group in your entire body. Take a look at professional swimmers; they burn through calories like machines and have lean athletic bodies. An interesting aspect about swimming is that pool activities are often found in rehabilitation techniques for sports injuries.
Schools like the University of Oregon (GO DUCKS!) use underwater treadmills for athletes recovering from leg injuries. I’ve personally used it while recovering from a shoulder injury in the past due to its low impact, and safe affect it has on your muscular structure. It also has the ability to increase ligament stability due to waters natural resistance to your bodies movement.
In simple terms, if you want to give your entire body a healthy and safe workout while burning some calories and increasing your cardio then hit up a lap pool!
#3: Strength Training
This may sound crazy, because one of CrossFit’s core principals is strength work. However, I’m not talking about the occasional few lifts you perform before your daily WOD (workout of the day). I’m talking about taking up a full strength program. You know, the kind with almost no cardio and a lot of barbell or dumbbell work. This is for a few interesting reasons;
Muscle, or lean tissue, is consistently starving for energy (calories). What does this mean for you? The higher my body is in lean tissue, the more calories I burn at any given time including when my body is at rest. This is why athletes have to eat so much to perform!
The stronger I am, the easier lighter loads are to move, and therefore my ability to perform lighter loads quickly in WODs becomes easier. Look at this way, if my deadlift max is 225lbs and the workout requires me to lift 135lbs for reps, I will generally move slower than someone who’s deadlift max is 305lbs. So if you want to become a beast at barbell work for a WOD, then work on your strength!
Put simply, being strong feels freaking good. Few things are as satisfying as moving a bunch of weight that you didn’t know you could move. It feels amazing! That, and it’s a great time to ventilate anger and frustration on a barbell.
Simply put, gymnastics is the focus of ultimate body control. You’re required to focus on your mobility, establish a foundation for some incredible core strength, and control your bodies movement in order to perform routines. It requires agility, strength, coordination, explosive power, and that’s just to name a few. That, and it’s out right fun! Our local gymnastics center hosts “Adult Gymnastics” from time to time, and I highly encourage anyone to check it out once or twice.
If you look at anything we do, its foundations are often found in the world of gymnastics. Take pull-ups for example; those “flopping like a fish out of water” pull-ups CrossFit is so known for, are also known as a gymnastics kip. This kip is designed to assist gymnasts in getting up and over the bar while keeping momentum. Another example would be the handstand. It’s commonly seen in gymnastic facilities around the world thanks to its ability to establish midline and upper body core strength.
#5: Recreational Sports
Last but not least, there’s recreational sports. This on the list for a few reasons, but the big two are their ability to be an outright blast to participate in and because they’re one of the best ways to show your increased level of fitness. I’m talking flag football, a pickup basketball game at a local court, ultimate frisbee, golf, and many more. You might find that your new found core strength helps in your golf swing, or the explosive work we do has translated to you jumping just a little higher for that layup on the court.
For me, it means that even though I don’t always get time to go play basketball or football I know that when I do I’ll have the endurance to do well at it. For others, it could mean being able to play soccer with your kids just a little longer. It’s these little things that make recreational sports that much more fun.
At the end of the day, this is just a short list of things you can do outside of CrossFit that will be both beneficial and fun. I always encourage everyone to do anything that gets them moving, CrossFit or other. It pays homage to the idea of a “a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.” Though at times, working out may be cumbersome and tiring, it helps us feel more energized and focused than we likely would have felt otherwise.
So go, get your yoga on or pick up a sport for fun. After all, what’s the point of having all of this fitness if we don’t take full advantage of it.