Last week we began to look at the purpose of CrossFit and what factors determine how and why we program our group class workouts the way that we do.
You’ll recall (or you can go back to last week and refresh your memory) that there are 10 general physical fitness skills that our programming is designed to simultaneously improve over a long period of time. We are playing the long game rather than seeking instant gratification.
Today we will dive deeper into the first four of those 10 skills – Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance; Stamina; Strength; and Flexibility. These are known as the “organic” skills, but let’s call them your hardware.
Let’s think of our bodies as computers. All of these skills are the various parts and pieces that work together to keep the whole system running efficiently and capable of accomplishing incredible things. The first four skills – the hardware are like the physical shell of your computer. These are the microchips, the processing cores, the keyboards and monitors of our bodies.
In short, these four skills are the actual physical changes that our bodies undergo due to our training. They are;
Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen. (Think heart and lungs)
Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy. (Muscle Endurance, barbell cycling/big sets of push-ups)
Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or a combination of muscular units, to apply force. (Heavy squats/deadlifts)
Flexibility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint. (Squat below parallel)
Improvements in these four skills happen primarily through training. Now when I say training I am referring to an activity that improves performance through a measurable, organic change in the body. ‘
When the muscles in your legs and back grow thicker from lifting weights and are able to push & pull heavier loads without yielding to it – that is an organic change in the body.
When the amount of capillaries in your body increase and your body can now more efficiently pump oxygen and fresh blood to your working muscles – that is an organic change in the body.
The hardware is what we most often think about when it comes to our training. After all who doesn’t want to look a little better on the beach? We do live in Florida after all.
Who doesn’t want to be able to lift anything you might have to in life? You never know when you’ll need to be able casually lift 50 lbs. Training gives use the confidence that our body’s hardware can handle that load. We accomplish this through progressively heavier weight lifting like squats, deadlifts, presses, and the Olympic lifts.
Who doesn’t want to be able to reach down to the ground without pain & stiffness? Improved flexibility isn’t just for a better looking clean & jerk. We accomplish this through movements with challenging ranges of motion like overhead & front squats, and by varying types of stretches and mobilizations.
Heart and lung health have been at the forefront of societal health concerns my whole life so of course we think about cardio and how much our training affects those vital organs. We accomplish this by running, rowing, biking, jumping, jumping rope, and many other combinations of high intensity movement.
Our desire for stamina has unending utilities. We want to play with our kids, or be able to go for long walks with loved ones, or heck; just make it through the day without feeling burnt out! We accomplish this by doing longer workouts or higher repetition schemes that require our muscles to work to their current exhaustion point.
All of these are incredibly important and crucial to develop in order to maximize our fitness. But they do not create maximized fitness by themselves.
Next week we will look at the last four skills and discover how they connect the gains we make in our biological bodies with the skills we are seeking to obtain, and how that leads to a powerful combination which makes our bodies far more capable than they otherwise would be.
I believe that knowledgeable athletes are the best athletes, so if you have any questions please feel free to ask me anytime! Be warned though – I am a bit of nerd when it comes to the science of fitness.
Be blessed, and get better this week Crew!