CFW at Regionals circa 2012

CrossFit Games season is upon us. Regionals were last weekend and will run for the next two weeks as well. For most, it’s the definition of competing CrossFit as a sport.


While I have personally competed in CrossFit as a sport, and enjoy training for it, CrossFit as a sport differs vastly from CrossFit for fitness. Primarily in the volume and duration of work that’s required to succeed. Training for Regionals and the Games is close to a full time job for most elite competitors, so comparing ourselves to them is difficult to do, and attempting to replicate their daily work is nearly impossible.


There are two major differences when training for CrossFit as a sport versus training for fitness.


1. Overall training volume


The amount of work required to be competitive in CrossFit is tremendous. You truly have to be good at everything. That means most training days require some form of Olympic lifting, strength training, accessory work, and conditioning piece.


As you get closer to competition season volume increases even more, adding in 2-a-day and even 3-a-day training is almost a necessity for staying competitive. At the very least, you’ll have one training sessions that is between 2 and 3 hours in order to get all of the work done.


Training volume for the fitness seeker doesn’t need to be nearly as high. Most of us can allot one hour per day at the gym, maybe 90 minutes, after that it’s a bit more than our schedules can handle. We also have many other stressors in our life. It may be lack of sleep, not eating enough, a stressful workplace, the list goes on. Adding in excessive training volume on top of all our lives throw at can cause more harm than good by increasing stress hormones and impairing our ability to recover.


Training for fitness should consist of some strength training, possible corrective accessory work, and a conditioning session with varying intensity. This can be easily accomplished in an hour or less each day.


2. Complex lifting and gymnastic movements


The Sport of CrossFit requires practice and proficiency in Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. Top level events routinely require cycling barbell exercises like the snatch for 20-30 reps, in addition to gymnastics exercises like muscle ups, handstand push ups and handstand walks.


In order to succeed in the sport, one must spend a significant amount of time practicing and improving these skills. Practicing things like snatches, handstands, and muscle ups requires a lot of shoulder work and can put strain on the joint itself. This training must be practiced intentionally and specifically in order to avoid injury and burn out.


The fitness seeker will still find benefits from practicing and training Olympic lifting and gymnastics, but probably not with the intensity of a competitor. The Olympic lifts are great for developing strength, power, coordination, and balance, and should be practiced. Power variations of the lift and fewer reps may be required for a newer lifter to avoid injury and overuse. Gymnastics can be trained the same way. While a handstand walk looks really cool at the CrossFit games and at the gym, it’s not really a functional movement. Fitness seekers would be better off doing shoulder stability exercises like planks and possibly handstands to support their goals.


If your goal is to be competitive in CrossFit, by all means do it! We just want you to have an understanding of what is required to be competitive in the Sport of Fitness that requires a greater level of training commitment and volume.


At CrossFit Wilmington, we are able to train individuals with any fitness goal. We have many clients training for fitness as a Sport, and many who want to improve their day to day lives with functional fitness training. Regardless of your goals, we have programs to meet your needs.


If you’re interested in training for fitness as a sport, or just improving your day to day life, contact us for a FREE No Sweat Introduction and goal setting session.