Your Body, The Race Car – Beginner’s Intro To Why CrossFit Works
When describing CrossFit to someone (whether it’s a newbie or someone who is unfamiliar with the sport), I often use the analogy of the human body being similar to a car to make it clear in what we are trying to accomplish. This includes losing body fat and gains of increased strength, speed and stamina.
Here it is…
You have two cars. You are driving 500 miles. Option A is a Prius and Option B is tricked-out Chevrolet SS (or whatever exotic or muscle car you prefer). Which do you choose? Keep in mind, we’re talking about efficiency here.
Aside from the obvious advantage a tricked-out NASCAR ride might have (plus the fun factor), no one in their right mind would want to pay for the estimated 2 to 4mpg it gets. At least not more than once.
This is where the anecdotes start flooding in and the science is unsupported. So if you are a physio/exercise-science/endocrinologist guy/gal…just deal with it.
Your body is an adaptive organism and you want it to encourage it to be a hungry, fuel-hogging (read: calories) performance machine. Translation: you want to “keep your body on its toes.”
If you spend all day on an elliptical machine, guess what? You will become damn good at moving your body around in a resistance free environment and not much else. You must provide the correct adaptive responses in order to become a racecar. You want to be fuel hungry and speed dominant.
Ask anyone who has risen to the more elite levels of anything the following question…
Did you just repeat the same drills over and over until you got good?
The answer will be an emphatic NO.
The people who excel at anything have continuously and repeatedly pushed the boundaries of their limits. This goes for everything from chess to water polo. Taking on new challenges, attempting “impossible” feats until they become routine, refusing to let stagnation become the norm, and embracing the pain of failure.
If you want to transform from a Prius (i.e. soft, wobbly, stiff-necked, office worker) to NASCAR (i.e. fuel guzzling, power oozing athlete) then you have to push that envelope.
CrossFit is an excellent catalyst for this effort. The reason being is that CrossFit doesn’t “work” simply because it’s magic. It’s because CrossFit puts to work what is required to achieve true physical fitness. It works because it is work. The second you realize this and truly internalize and commit to this idea, you can transform. The race car in you wants to break free!
But first, you have to teach it to run. You have to slowly replace your engine with a new one. You have to feed it new fuel, take it to a new track and teach it how to consume and consume some more (calories that is). It should be noted that most CrossFit’ers eat a Paleo diet.
Where Do We Start?
This starts with range of motion (ROM). Stop cutting your reps short. We want to make the muscles work more. We squat below parallel because it’s harder. We throw the ball above the line because it’s harder, we clap and jump at the end of the burpee because it’s harder, we release our hands at the end of pushups precisely because it is harder. We’re making the muscles work more. Achieving stability and comfort at the end points of the ROM of any given movement is a crucial first step.
Next, make every second/rep count. I mean EVERY single one. Stop counting 9 reps for 10 – do an extra rep if you are unsure. When there are 10 seconds left, that is not time for you to throw in the towel, that is time for you get one last rep (or two…or three!). Why do we do this? Why do we masochistically dole out this militant adherence to standards? Because, without it, you cannot transform.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “but I hardly eat anything and I still gain weight!” I certainly have, and there is a simple reason. The tiniest amount of fuel can sustain a Prius for miles. For people, that fuel is food and that food doesn’t sit idly in the “tank” just waiting for consumption. Well, technically it does… but humans aren’t machines – they get fat instead.
Many CrossFit veterans will tell you they have trouble eating ENOUGH food. They are ALWAYS hungry. They are race cars. This is because their body is naturally burning through the calories they consume.
Fair Warning Before You Begin…
The answer is not to show up tomorrow with a handful of ammonia poppers and just go bat-sh*t crazy trying to deadlift 115% of your current max or perform weight vested everything. Patience grasshopper, you must master the basics.
If you are wobbly or immature in the base of your squat, or have trouble comfortably walking seamlessly from lunge to lunge, or cannot perform a handful of strict pull-ups, or cannot easily bang out 8 hand release pushups with a perfectly tight core… then you are in a transition period.
Your body is still learning to control itself.
All of the neuromuscular development is incomplete. Your NASCAR 2.0 patch has not finished its download and is far from ready for installation. Ask your coach where they think you are at, in regards to the basic body weight movements. Ask them for the hard truth and why you want it. Tell them that you want to become a race car, show them this post and they’ll understand.
If you have trouble understanding this analogy, here is your homework.
Borrow a friend’s Prius, then go to a high-speed go-kart track and have a few races. The karts are not capable of the top speed of the car. But they are finely tuned for their environment and 45mph will NEVER feel as fast as it does 6 inches from the ground in an open vehicle, around a hairpin turn.
Then, hop in your Prius and try to make some sharp turns at 25 mph. You will feel like you are driving a bucket of mayonnaise. Are you an “efficient” bucket of mayonnaise of a finely tuned piece of high-powered machinery?
Share this article with your friends or co-workers who have been thinking about CrossFit as well.
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