CrossFit has always had a lot of flack over the years. The sport of fitness and its strap-lines annoy many people in the industry.
So are elite CrossFitters really the fittest on earth?
CrossFit LLC defines the winner of The CrossFit Games as being “the fittest on Earth” using parameters set out by the brand itself. These cover the so-called 10 domains of fitness, and the aim is to test each of these domains over various time periods, at different degrees of intensity, using an extensive catalogue of movements to ascertain who comes out on top. Accordingly, it is a fair assertion from Crossfit LLC that the elite athletes competing at The CrossFit Games are the “fittest on Earth”. This article explains how so.
CrossFit Games – The Fittest On Earth
Whilst the name and title make some toes curl, it’s easy to see why those in the anti-CrossFit movement hate it.
Equally, the definition (which is self-proclaimed by CrossFit LLC) is understandable when utilising these parameters of their own definition.
Although based on a self-established premise, this does not automatically mean the assertion is incorrect.
In other words, they have defined a concept, underpinned by empirical data (observable, testable and repeatable), using randomised and spontaneous testing.
This testing is carried out each year in a number of ways to establish who’s the best overall. Namely, the fittest.
Disagreeing with the assertion
To deny this assertion would be akin to saying the ATP does not have the right to objectify and rank tennis players according to performance.
Or that the WBC, IBF, WBO and WBA are disallowed from ranking the best Boxers in the world.
We do not preclude those bodies from creating parameters and testing them with competition, though.
“…the ATP introduced its ranking system intended to objectify tournament entry criteria, which up to that point were controlled by national federations and tournament directors“
So having the standards set and objectified is useful. These standards make their way into other international, national and local competitions, too, within the sport.
The catalogue of movements and the quantum of other sports utilised within Crossfit is not seen in any other sport.
This catalogue also increases yearly as those programming high-level Crossfit events look to add equipment and movements to the lineup.
Keeping it fresh
In part, this is to increase engagement with the viewers. It is also used to ensure athletes are being physically tested in continuously new and different ways.
This also helps solidify the assertion that they are the fittest on earth.
Athletes are doing exercises that are sometimes unknown to them – thus they’ve had no prior training – to see how they fare with no specific training.
This article here helps highlight exactly what sports CrossFit uses in its training methodology, philosophy and competition.
The ideation posits elite CrossFit athletes should be able to lay down respectable scores, weights and times in more sports than other athletes training in other sports.
It’s these disruptors, mavericks and sometimes nut-jobs that help humankind improve and grow, paving the way for new uncharted territories.
For instance, an example could be a gold medallist in say a Heptathlon.
But even they would not be able to lift 150kg in the men’s Clean and Jerk, then Row a marathon under 3.5 hours.
Put a CrossFitter into a heptathlon, they would likely score better in all 7 events than say a world-class boxer or world-ranking tennis player, because the training they’ve been doing makes them more rounded.
Put succinctly by Glassman himself, the founder of CrossFit:
After looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing.CrossFit Inc, 2011
This Best Gym Hacks article will help you understand the 10 domains of fitness, as laid out and practiced by CrossFit.
Below is a summary for the purpose of this article.
There are 10 fitness domains which CrossFit seeks to develop and improve:
1. Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance
These are the areas for physiological development. Improvement of all of these is often carried out by using high intensity and constantly varied movements, with many workouts covering broad time domains by the nature of the exercise and the manner it is deployed.
Rounded human beings
The theory, then, is that by improving one’s ability in each one of these 10 subcategories of fitness, the person training across all 10 becomes fitter overall.
If the person has levelled-up in each of the 10, or in at least some of them, then crossovers can be observed in other sports.
For example, by training CrossFit, they are likely to become a better Runner and Power Lifter as a by-product.
Or by doing CrossFit, their ability to throw a javelin, have better stamina in a squash game, or ride a bike over long distances would likely see improvement.
An even simpler aim of the CrossFit philosophy is that by using functional movements, you would be better-able to play with your grandkids, or carry that heavy grocery shop.
CrossFit is known for its randomness across broad time domains.
The programming, therefore, is often exactly that – random and across various time domains.
Simply put, short, medium and long workout times.
Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways.Greg Glassman – The CrossFit Journal, 2002
A short WOD would be something from 1 minute to 8 minutes.
A typical example would be Fran or Diane 21-15-9.
You can read more about that rep scheme here in this article.
A medium WOD would be between 8 and 20 minutes. Something along the lines of ‘Mary‘ is a the longest end of medium-length.
A long WOD would be 20min+. An example might be Hero workout ‘The Seven‘.
Per Glassman’s view on time domains and metabolic pathways, it is expected that those who train this way should be competent in all 3.
Having intentionally randomised workouts, along with broad time domains, also helps keep members interested and prevents boredom.
The Data Speaks
When surveying our members at our 2 affiliates, many of them had feedback on the workout lengths
Our existing programming already had short, medium and long workouts, with partner WODs too.
One location also offers a Hero WOD every week too, which invariably is a long WOD.
This gave those long-WOD craving members that added option to get their fix.
A broad spread
The point worth noting here is nearly 73% of the members enjoyed the mix of all 3-time domains.
Most of them know nothing about CrossFit science and methodology; they simply just enjoy working out.
This useful metric is a testament to how everyday CrossFitting is effective, partly because of its variety and randomness.
All of us have some form of aptitude, whether this rests more on better naturally gifted, or totally uncoordinated.
Given that the philosophy of Crossfit allows one’s body to be controlled dynamically and statically, and maximising strength to weight ratio with flexibility, the crossover to all the sports can be seen because the individual training this way becomes fitter in the round.
By becoming better in all, or some, of the 10 domains of fitness, the proposition is, then, that you’ll do better in life and other sports.
This is not so preposterous as many naysayers might want you to believe.
On the contrary, logic would dictate that doing what Glassman originally taught, you should get better overall.
People don’t like the disruptors in any industry.
But it’s these disruptors, mavericks and sometimes nut-jobs that help humankind improve and grow, paving the way for new uncharted territories.
Are CrossFitters The Fittest Then?
In summary, it is indeed fair to say the elite CrossFit athletes have a measurable level of output which enables them to be declared the fittest on earth.