The Sport of Life
By Guest Blogger Paula Jager, CSCS
If you have been following the hierarchy of the CrossFit methodology on this blog, you began with a solid nutritional foundation (molecular) and we’ve built from there with metabolic conditioning (cardiovascular sufficiency), gymnastics (body control) and weightlifting (external object control). At the summit or top of the triangle would be the mastery and applicability to sport and life.
Sport plays a wonderful role in fitness. It’s the application of our fitness in an atmosphere of competition. While our training routine is somewhat predictable repetitive movements of the top ten general physical skills it leaves limited room for the application of these skills which is our motivation for the development of them. Sports and games like football, baseball, tennis and basketball in contrast to our workouts have more varied and less predictable movements. Sport is better at expression and testing of skills than it is at developing these skills. Both development and expression are crucial elements to our success in sport. Sport, in many respects more closely mimics the demands of life than does our training. Engaging in regular sports efforts in addition to strength and conditioning work will also make us better able to meet the demands of life.
Every training routine contains within its structure a blueprint for deficiency. If you only lift heavy weights for low reps you will gain strength but not endurance. If you only lift light weights for high reps you won’t build the same strength or power you would at low reps. There are advantages and disadvantages to working out slowly, quickly, high weight, low weight, “cardio” before, “cardio” after, etc.
For the overall fitness that CrossFit pursues every aspect within your training needs to be modulated to widen the stimulus as much as possible. Your body will only respond to a stressor to which it is unaccustomed; routine is the enemy of progress. Don’t subscribe to high reps, low reps, long rest or short rest but strive for variance. Training to become a better weightlifter, a stronger gymnast and faster runner, rower or cyclist is the answer. There are many different routines that will deliver the results.
One of our favorite workout patterns at CF Jaguar is to warm up thoroughly and then perform 3 to 5 sets of a basic movement at a moderately heavy weight and a moderately comfortable pace followed by a 5 to 15 minute blistering circuit of gymnastics elements, lighter weights, metabolic conditioning intervals or a combo thereof. Nothing is carved in granite; the magic is in the movements not the routine. Creativity is key.
Another favorite is to blend gymnastics and weightlifting in a couplet for a thorough metabolic challenge, or weightlifting and metabolic conditioning. On a different day we’ll take 5 or 6 elements balanced between weightlifting, metabolic conditioning and gymnastics in a single circuit and blow through it 3 times without a break. No day is ever the same; additionally we have a penchant for jumping, odd object lifting and obstacle course work. The recurring theme is functionality and variety. Finally, the distinction between “cardio” and strength training is a blur. Life has no regards for this distinction and neither do most sports.
Rest must also be a factor to be considered. Anymore than three consecutive days of workouts with maximum intensities will not allow you maximum recovery which is necessary for sustainability. While you may be thinking this is great for athletes and very fit people–what about older and “deconditioned” people? There is no difference between the needs an Olympic athlete and my 83 year old mother. One is looking for functional dominance the other for functional competence. They both manifest through the same physiological mechanisms.
We’ve used the same routines for an older individual with heart disease as we have for an athlete one month out from competition. We merely scale the load and the intensity; we don’t change the program. While many athletes do have needs specific to their sport, the bulk of sport specific training has been quite ineffective. The need for specificity is nearly always met with regular practice and training within the sport not in the strength and conditioning environment. Life is no different; our military personnel, firefighters, mountain bikers and business people have found their best fitness from this same regimen.
If you want to excel in the athletic arena, become more functional in your daily activities, ward off age related degenerative diseases or just improve your life in general make CrossFit your lifestyle. Test your limits; discover what you are made of physically and mentally and prepare for the game of life–while life itself becomes a sport.
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results
The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.