Founded back in 2000, CrossFit is a exercise technique that combine gymnastics with strength, circuit and endurance training. It’s definitely no joke and it’s extremely grueling – but there are no shortage of CrossFit fans called CrossFitters. In just 13 years, CrossFit now has 7,000 gyms and more than 10 million participants.
So how effective is the technique? Is it just another fitness fad and marketing gimmick? Or does it live up to the hype? A recent study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise enlisted the help of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse to answer those questions.
For the study, 16 healthy male and female individuals ages 20 – 47 were recruited. Baseline fitness levels for established for each participant – and then each participant went through two separate CrossFit workouts. Throughout and/or after the workout, researchers recorded the participants’ heart rate, Vo2, ratings of perceived exertion and blood lactate concentration.
Though it took participants varying amounts of time to complete the workouts, times averaged roughly between 6 and 9 minutes. In that amount of time, participants burned between 64 and 117 calories. Heart rates were elevated to 90% of maximum heart rate – the higher end of industry recommendations. Similarly, VO2 levels were at the higher end of guidelines at 80% of VO2max. Blood lactate levels were 3 – 4x normal threshold levels.
So what’s the bottom line?
Researchers concluded, “CrossFit works.” It’s a great exercise, especially for its short duration. And like any high intensity interval training workout – like Davey Wavey’s Get Ripped Workout – you’ll see much greater increases in aerobic capacity versus traditional training.
Of course, this doesn’t mean CrossFit is for everyone. Beginners, older populations or individuals with medical complications may not be well-suited for CrossFit. Moreover, as many CrossFitters can attest, the injury risk is very high.
But for the healthy and brave, CrossFit can be a great option to kick their workout into high gear.