CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program built upon constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity. Who uses this stuff?

  • Military Special Ops units
  • Firefighters
  • Police
  • Professional and Collegiate Athletes
  • Mixed Martial Artists
  • Hopefully you, your kids, and your parents.

This leads into the question of: What is Fitness? In the world of CrossFit we break this down into two fitness models.

Fitness Model 1

Identification and Development of 10 General Physical Skills

Each of these four skills are organic in that they produce changes in muscle tissue that can be seen and measured, and are improved through training.

  • Cardio Vascular and cardio respiratory endurance –gas exchange
  • Stamina –muscular endurance
  • Strength
  • Flexibility

These two are improved through both training and practice. An individual needs both for proper development.

  • Power
  • Speed

The last four are neurological and are improved through practice. The degree to which a training program addresses each of these physical adaptations to training is expressive of its efficacy.

  • Coordination
  • Accuracy
  • Agility
  • Balance

Fitness Model 2

The second model is statistical and is a measure of an athlete performing well at any physical test thrown his or her way.  Load a hopper with athletic tasks and the better athlete is able to do more of them better than the inferior athlete. CrossFit is designed for this type of general physical preparation. Life, on average, punishes the specialist. The more specialized you are, the less cross-adapted you are likely to be in other measures of physical prowess.

Elite endurance athletes are often looked upon as the prototypes of elite fitness, but Models 1 and 2 clearly debunk that prototype. Elite endurance athletes exhibit few of the physical skills of the first model and would fare poorly against the hopper.

"CrossFit is in large part derived from several simple observations garnered through hanging out with athletes for thirty years and willingness, if not eagerness, to experiment coupled with a total disregard for conventional wisdom.

Let me share some of the more formative of these observations:

  • Gymnasts learn new sports faster than other athletes.
  • Olympic lifters can apply more useful power to more activities than other athletes.
  • Powerlifters are stronger than other athletes.
  • Sprinters can match the cardiovascular performance of endurance athletes even at extended efforts.
  • Endurance athletes are woefully lacking in total physical capacity.
  • With high carb diets you either get fat or weak.
  • Bodybuilders can’t punch, jump, run, or throw like athletes can.
  • Segmenting training efforts delivers a segmented capacity.
  • Optimizing physical capacity requires training at unsustainable intensities.
  • The world’s most successful athletes and coaches rely on exercise science the way deer hunters rely on the accordion."  -Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder

How We Do It

  • Functional Movement
  • Common Universal Recruitment Patterns
  • Universally Scalable
  • Constant Variation
  • Routine is the enemy
  • High Intensity
  • Uncomfortable
  • Quantifiable Outputs
  • Horsepower, Watts, etc.  Why isn’t anyone else talking about this?


We can measure intensity because we can measure power.  Power is a function of Force and Distance over Time (M x D / T).  It is undeniable that an increase in power results in an increase in intensity.  To increase power, you can increase mass and/or distance, or decrease time.  Manipulating any one of these factors to increase power must result in an increase in intensity.

Intensity is all about hard and fast.  Power is an issue wherever velocity is important.  Exercise success is based on intensity.  INTENSITY IS WHERE THE RESULTS ARE.  Functional movements move from core to extremity and can tolerate high loads and move them long distances in a short amount of time.

The movements are powerful in that they allow a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time.  In this discussion, power = intensity.  Without power and intensity, the neuro-endocrine response is blunted.  There is a potent neuro-endocrine response to each of the movements that we do in CrossFit.  This hormonal response is systemic and effects the entire body through a cascade of biochemical products that are released as the result of the compound, functional movements executed at high intensity.

Movement Pool

  • Weightlifting/Power Lifting (Dead lifts, clean, squat, presses, jerks, snatch.)
  • Gymnastics (Pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, handstands.)
  • Mono-structural Cardio (Run, bike, row, swim, jump rope.)

Unlike the pec deck, leg extensions, curls, and lateral raises which you never see in the real world, the athletic field, or combat, functional movements are not the exclusive property of the gym.  If the only place you do a particular movement is at the gym, it probably doesn’t have particularly potent transfer to the challenges of sport and life outside the gym. Functional movements are universal motor patterns that you find in every day life.  Putting the heavy dog food bag on the shelf over the washing machine is every bit the clean and jerk as doing the movement with a barbell. Proper muscle recruitment is like a symphony. Training in segmented fashion develops a segmented capacity. You must not try to develop your muscles separately but rather in the fashion in which they are designed to be used. Functional movements are common, universal motor recruitment patterns, the things you see and use all the time. Functional movements are efficient and effective.  They are not single-joint movements but rather multi-joint movements. They are safe, develop very powerful and useful core strength, provide tremendous neuro-endocrine response, and are the best cardio and best rehab training you can do.

World Class Fitness Explained in 100 words. (from Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combination's and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.

iDiablo: an iPhone app for CrossFitters iDiablo is an application that presents an intelligent interface that helps you choose, prepare, execute and track your CrossFit workouts. iDiablo does this by randomly choosing a WOD (Workout of the Day) breaking down the WOD to each exercise and tracking your time and/or reps. Our app also automatically adds your workout results to a log that also allows you to add notes. In the Lite Version, we offer 35 WODs with their own unique features that will allow any CrossFitter (beginner to advanced) to choose a constantly varied workout, become proficient with the exercise movements, and track their workout with the aid of interactive screens and audible cues.

iDiablo Now Available in the App Store for only $0.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Author: Zack Toney, DIAKADI Trainer