Most of us spend flu days staring at the TV, eating snacks, and taking medicines to lessen our symptoms. Unfortunately, this is not a good recipe for getting well again. Yes, it’s great to get the day off, but if you are really sick with the flu and feeling awful, all you want is to feel better. And fast.
Last month I came down with the worst flu I’ve had in 10 years. Chills, fever, mind fog, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint aches, headache…the works. Yes, it was December and I could have blamed it on the ‘flu season’ and felt sorry for myself. But I know better than that.
I know that the only time that we get colds and flu is when our immune system is depressed and can’t fight off the usual bugs that are always around us. And there are plenty of factors that depress the immune system in the ‘flu seasons’: over-scheduling; over-planning; family stress; party anxieties; holiday junk food; alcohol; decreased sleep, minimal rest and extreme temperatures.
If and when you do get sick, understand that it was your choices and your current lifestyle that caused it. Don’t be hard on yourself, just take responsibility and recognise that your health is in your own hands. Then you will also realise that YOU are the one who can get yourself well again.
Yes, it takes a little more effort than staring at the TV, but it’s not hard. Getting well is mostly quite enjoyable, actually. And you’ll be feeling back to your healthy self tomorrow. Here are 11 natural ways to get rid of a flu in 24 hours or less.
These first few are easy because you don’t actually have to do anything. Your body already knows what to do; you just have to let it!
Run a Fever
A fever is your body’s natural response for fighting an infection (whether bacterial or viral). The fever is actually a good sign, as it shows that your immune system is doing its job of warding off the illness to get you well again.
Therefore, taking medications to decrease your fever is actually working against your own body! This is often what prolongs illness and makes it so hard to get well quickly. So put down those pills and let the fever run its course. A fever might be uncomfortable and hot, with intermittent chills, but it’s crucial to fighting your flu, so let it do it’s thing.
Once again, your body knows what it needs to get well. That’s why you feel so tired when you have the flu, because your body wants you to go to sleep! Sleep time is when our body grows, repairs and heals. If you have the flu, you need lots of healing and repairing, hence you need lots of sleep.
If you stare at the TV or computer all day, you will thwart your body’s efforts to drift into restorative sleep. So get away from screens as much as possible, keep the lights low, stay in bed and provide a restful sleep environment throughout the day and night. What an enjoyable way to get well!
In between sleeping, do as little as possible. I know it’s really hard for most of us to do “nothing”, but that’s often one of the reasons we get sick in the first place! Both your mind and your body must rest, rest, rest.
Watching television doesn’t allow your mind much rest, so again, don’t lie in front of the TV all day. Space out, daydream, watch your family from a distance, give yourself a face massage or arm tickle. Lie down outside and stare at the trees and clouds.
Even if you’re lying down all day, if your mind is still running amuck, your body can’t fully relax. One way to help with this is meditation, which is not only relaxing, but also extremely healing.
No, not the sort of drinking you did last weekend that contributed to your flu. I’m talking about drinking that liquid gold stuff that you maybe didn’t have enough of lately. Water! Drink it like it’s the best thing you ever tasted and you can’t get enough of it.
Keep a giant jug (pitcher) of water and a glass beside you and drink more water than you thought you could handle. Think of it as your medicine, because it is.
Your other main medicine is food. I mean real, whole, organic, nutritious food. I know you have the flu and you’re tired, but when you eventually reach for something to eat, make it incredibly nutritious.
Avoid packaged snacks, processed foods and sugar like they are the plague.They will only depress your immune system further and make your flu worse.
Fresh fruit and raw vegetables require the least preparation and plenty of nourishment. When you get enough energy, make yourself some eggs or quickly pan-fry some chicken or fish. Better yet, get someone to cook a nourishing meal for you.
Eat Less, Then More
I hear ya. Sometimes when the flu is really bad, the last thing you want to do is eat. And that’s your wise body again, telling you that it needs a rest from digesting, which is hard work. So listen to your body and eat less or not much for awhile.
Then, when you start to feel better, you may want to eat more than usual, to replenish your body with vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients that will keep that flu from hanging around.
In addition to your nourishing foods, a healthy dose of good bacteria will really power up the leader of your immune system – your gut. When you have plenty of good bugs in your system, they stand strong against the bad bugs taking over. Like that nasty flu you’ve got.
You can drink kombucha or kefir, or eat unpasteurised fermented foods. But if you haven’t made these or know where to buy them, a good quality probiotic supplement will do. We use and highly recommend InLiven, but if you need something right away, ask for a recommendation at your local health food shop. (affiliate link for InLiven helps keep Primal Health running)
Yes, you heard me right. Once you are well enough to get out of bed, go sit or lie in the sun for about 30 minutes (depending on your skin colour). If it’s warm enough, let your skin be exposed to the sun as much as possible, and don’t wear sunglasses or sunscreen. This is so you can get as much Vitamin D as possible, from the best source of it, the sun.
Vitamin D is responsible for an amazing number of functions in our body. The lack of it we have today from living and working indoors, and other diet and lifestyle factors, is one key factor in our huge rates of illness. If you want to get rid of your flu fast, this is an important part of the formula.
When I had the flu, I took a blanket and pillow outside and laid in a sunny spot on the grass, feeling the wind and the sun’s warmth and looking up at the clouds and trees. It was healing in so many ways.
No, I don’t mean suntan oil while you are getting your sun. I’m referring to essential oils, an often overlooked yet very effective healing modality. When our daughter Kaiya is sick, essential oils get her feeling better quick, and they are easy and pleasant for all of us to use.
Essential oils will help with your flu symptoms and also act as anti-virals and anti-microbials to fight the illness. Put three drops of eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint or lavender oil into one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil, then rub the oil mixture onto your chest, neck and/or bottom of your feet every 4-6 hours or so.
Laughter & Love
I’m serious about this. Stop being so serious! Whoever said laughter was the best medicine was onto something. Thoughts are #1 of the Primal 6 to optimal health, so if you want to get over the flu, get your mind feeling relaxed, loved and happy.
Once you’ve gotten plenty of rest and sleep, watch one short funny show or movie. Read a funny book. Tell jokes or make funny faces with your family. Call the people you love and tell them you love them. And get lots of hugs and touching from those you are closest to.
Different tools for different flus
Every single body is different, and every illness is different, so there is no one magic formula for getting over the flu. But there are plenty of primal tools that we can use to assist our body is eliminating the flu and gaining strong immunity again, and these 11 things are what worked for me when I had a terrible flu last month.
I also gargled with very warm salt water several times a day, as my throat was so inflamed, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades. My intense flu symptoms started the afternoon of Christmas Day, and by early evening the next day, I was feeling very well again, had no sore throat, and was ready to go to work (at my relaxing bookstore job) the following day. That’s because I spent those 24 hours taking care of myself with these 11 natural remedies.
I hope you feel better soon!
Did you get rid of your flu quickly? Which of these remedies did you use?
To get a real insiders view on CrossFit, I interviewed elite CrossFitter Jarrod Smith, who lives and breathes CrossFit and is training for the upcoming CrossFit Games in the USA – a competition looking for the ‘fittest on earth’. Jarrod is a work colleague of mine at CrossFit Athletic, Brookvale (Sydney, Australia).
1/ How long have you been exercising with purpose and when and why did you start CrossFit exclusively?
I started training and playing sport at age 5 in the local soccer comp. Since then I have always played sport and trained with purpose. Dabbling in Rugby Union and League, BMX Vert riding, Surfing, Surf Life Saving, Boxing, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Cage Fighting, Marathon Running, Triathlon, Cycling, Natural Bodybuilding, Ultra-Distance Running, Surfing and now CrossFit.
I was struck down with ‘Rhabdo’ (rhabdomyolosis) two times. The 1st was after completing an Ironman Triathlon and the 2nd after running the 100km North Face Race through the Blue Mountains (Sydney, Australia). I suffered from stage 3 adrenal fatigue and glandular fever too. It was fair to say my body had had enough! I completely lost my motivation for long course aerobic sports. I would go for a run, get 5km into it then call a cab and go home. All motivation had gone and I was not in a good place. Having always measured myself by my athletic ability I felt a little useless.
After searching YouTube in November 2010 for different ways to train I came across some CrossFit videos. I searched for a CrossFit gym close by and went in for the first session soon after. The W.O.D. (Workout Of the Day) was fairly brutal (definitely not for a beginner), but I immediately fell in love with the sport! It ticked all the boxes for me: competitive, different, hard, fun. I stayed at this gym for some time before moving to my new home, CrossFit Athletic Brookvale.
An example of typical exercises / movements to expect within a CrossFit box
2/ Do you make time for sports other than CrossFit?
Initially I still had such a strong love for cycling that I kept it up. As time went on and I started to compete in CrossFit I found my cycling was just tiring my legs out so I slowly gave it up. I still cycle to and from work daily but it’s a very short ride.
Surfing has been a big part of my life since I was quite young and it always will be. Surfing is very relaxing and meditative for me and a really good way to balance out my CrossFit and heavy lifting. I have found that CrossFit has made me very strong and fast in the water and given me more power in my turns.
3/ Are you training for anything in particular outside general health and fitness by using CrossFit?
The level that I train at is quite competitive. I often perform double training days 2-3 days a week with only 1 rest day which often turns out to be an “active recovery day” with some rowing or low impact aerobic movement for 20-30 minutes. This does not leave a lot of time for much else. My current goal is to compete in a team at the World CrossFit Games. Once this goal is achieved I aim to balance out my training a little, with more focus on longevity and health rather than performance.
4/ What’s a typical day and week involve for you? How much do you rest too?
The typical week for me looks like this
Monday: Squat, Gymnastics skills and conditioning
(AM) Strength in the morning. Basic movements like lower body push and pull, upper body Press and some accessory work.
(PM)- Olympic Lifting and conditioning
Wednesday: Olympic Lifting followed by 2 conditioning components. 1 involving gymnastics and another longer aerobic work.
Thursday: rest / active recovery. Depending on how I am feeling I will take the entire day off or do some rowing
(AM) Strength work. Squat & press
(PM)- heavy conditioning with a mixture of gymnastics and ply lifting
Saturday: comp day. This is usually a pretty big volume day. All the top athletes at the gym get together and we have a big session.
Sunday: I usually come to the gym with my wife and son and do some gymnastic skills work and a short MetCon (Metabolic Conditioning workout)
As you can see there is not a lot of “rest” programmed in there. I personally find that if I take too much time off my body tightens up and I feel worse.
5/ What’s a typical day’s worth of eating for you? Do you use supplements?
I am very in-tune with my body and I eat an anti-inflammatory diet, get 8 hours sleep a night + 2 “naps” a week. I do not drink alcohol and would easily get through 3-5 litres of water a day. I follow a Primal based lifestyle with a bit of extra starch and carbohydrates. I am a big guy and my output is pretty high so I consume a lot. It has taken me some time to fine-tune my nutrition but I feel like I have nailed it.
Breakfast: Chicken breast, sweet potato & white rice.
Morning tea: same as breakfast.
Lunch: Pork cutlet & veggies.
Afternoon snack: I usually time this around my training and it may just be a banana.
Dinner: Pork, Chicken or red meat and a veggie smoothie ( raw broccoli, zucchini, capsicum, spinach and blueberries blended with water).
I have a fair amount of variety in my diet and mix things up often. Supplement-wise I take fish oil, HCL when I consume red meat, magnesium, Tribulus and Protandim (to help me sleep, recover and reduce oxidative stress).
6/ Have you injured yourself doing CrossFit?
Yes. After the 2012 CrossFit Regionals, I was doing some bar muscle ups and tore my pectoralis major off my humorous. It was a full grade 3 tear which required surgery to re-attach it. Luckily they managed to stitch the tendon straight back into the bone so no metal was required. Other than that I am in pretty good shape. Most of my injuries were sustained playing rugby, cycling or running.
7/ As a new father, have you found this to affect your performance and recovery times?
My son is 8 weeks old so sleep has been an issue. I am an 8 hours guy! Like most people I am very busy so sleep has always been my main source of recovery. In the first few weeks I really noticed a difference in my recovery time. The good thing is it made me focus even more on my supplementation and nutrition to make sure I was doing everything possible to recover with broken sleep. Luckily my boy is a great sleeper so I am back getting some solid rest.
8/ Is there a particular CrossFit workout that comes to mind that you can remember as being the toughest you’ve ever done?
In my early days of CrossFit I found a workout called ‘The Seven’ really tough. I remember doing it twice and it broke me both times. I have since hit this one and performed really well. The 1st Workout for the 2012 CrossFit Open was 7 minutes of burpees. That was definitely a tough one. Simple but brutal. Having come from an endurance background I find I can switch off during most WOD’s and just “get it done”. CrossFit is tough mentally but doesn’t come close to running 100km through the blue mountains solo. I definitely learnt a lot about my body from my early days as an endurance athlete.
9/ What are your favourite Crossfit movements / exercises?
I am a big fan of the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, Squatting and I love gymnastics (Handstand Push Ups, Muscle Ups, Pull Ups). Its a lot of fun swinging around like a kid. As a bigger guy gymnastics is definitely not my specialty but I really enjoy it.
Jarrod in action lifting heavy things and going fast 🙂
10/ Are we going to see you on the dias at the CrossFit Games?
We have a really great team leading into this season. We have all been training hard through the off-season with one goal in mind. Between the 8 of us there are not really any holes in our game. The talent in Australia is growing every year. Individuals and teams are getting stronger and faster so it will definitely be an exciting time. The goal is to qualify for the CrossFit Games in California later this year. A big goal but confidence is high!
Putting the words ice cream together with probiotic, essential fatty acid and superfood sounds like a fake food marketed in a psuedo health food store. But never fear, these things have come together organically and spontaneously in my kitchen. The result was such a wonderful breakfast surprise (yes we ate ice cream for breakfast), that I had to share it with you!
I was whipping up a breakfast shake for the three of us, with the little groceries I had left.
Fortunately, I always keep the freezer stocked with frozen fruits and veggies to have on hand for shakes. Not only for the times when we are low on groceries (about 4-5 days after the farmer’s market), but also because shakes are so much better with frozen ingredients! Cold and slushy…yum.
In addition to fruit and veg, I also had two other superfoods – eggs and kefir. Remember, superfoods are not just foreign expensive berries and powders. Here’s a list of the only superfoods you’ll ever need.
Into the food processor/blender went:
The Superfood Ice Cream Ingredients
– 5 egg yolks
– 2 1/2 frozen bananas
– Handful frozen strawberries (or other fruit)
– Splash of vanilla extract
– Generous splash of coconut kefir
Brad tested high for an intolerance to egg whites, and through eliminating and re-introducing them, has discovered he only shows symptoms when eating the egg whites raw.
We also know that raw egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors, which are destroyed through cooking, so for our shakes, we have been using mostly just the yolks. The majority of an egg’s nutrients is in the yolks anyway, including plenty of essential fatty acids (as long as your eggs are from pastured chickens!).
Frozen Fruit –
Freeze ripe fruit regularly and you will always have the makings of great shakes and homemade ice creams on hand! Bananas, especially are a great base, as their sweetness means you usually won’t need to add any other sweetener. Peel the bananas first before freezing.
Frozen bananas and a couple other ingredients are all you need to make endless varieties of 5-minute ice creams like this one.
Vanilla Extract –
Make sure you only use good quality extracts. Spend a little extra money to get the good stuff, then use extracts to add wonderful flavour to shakes, ice creams and other healthy treats. Peppermint and orange extracts add great flavour too.
Coconut Kefir –
Kefir is a fermented drink which is full of beneficial bacteria from the fermenting process. Hence it is a probiotic – it replenishes the gut with good bacteria. Kefir is traditionally made with milk, and can also be made with water.
Brad has made our own at home with raw milk and also with coconut milk, and he will post an article soon teaching you how. It’s so easy! In the meantime, you may also find kefir at your local health food shop or farmer’s market.
With more frozen fruit than liquid, and the thickness of the yolks with no whites, our shake came out thick enough to eat with a spoon – so it’s ice cream! 🙂
After serving up Brad & Kaiya’s ice cream, I added some of the egg white into the food processor, along with a handful of frozen kale to blend up for my ice cream. Just thought I’d add in that extra bit of protein, nutrients and antioxidants. The result was more a more liquidy ice cream texture, but still soooo delicious!
You could also add other ‘superfoods’, such as cacao for a chocolatey ice cream, or blueberries or beetroot for an antioxidant punch. Use the basic 5-minute ice creams recipes, and add whatever superfoods suit!
By the way, writing this the same day after having this ice cream for breakfast, it’s been four hours and I am just now starting to get hungry for lunch. The fat and nutrients in the egg yolks and kefir really satisfied my body for while, and I’ve had no cravings all morning. Now that’s the kind of ice cream I want in my life!
What did you put in your superfood ice cream? How was it?!
If you are interested in fitness and human performance of any sort, you must have now heard of CrossFit. If you haven’t heard of CrossFit or barely know what it’s about, then read on and I’ll explain. It’s had a huge influence over the last several years on the fitness industry at large and is now an industry within itself worldwide, especially within the United States from where it originated around 10 years ago. It’s an extremely intense, demanding form of fitness, which is now a sport in it’s own right. Here’s an in depth analysis of my experience of it, so buckle up and get ready for the ride :-). It’s definitely the longest blog I’ve written!
My industry experience and what I know about CrossFit
– I’ve been working in Fitness Industry since 1996 as a Personal Trainer and a CHEK Practitioner since 2006.
– My first knowledge of CrossFit was due to an ‘affiliate’ or ‘box’ (what a CrossFit gym is called) that was directly below my former CHEK Studio I owned. I had several ‘fit’ walk-in clients that came from this CrossFit looking for rehab, as they’d hurt their shoulders, back and other body parts, due to what they were being prescribed/forced to do during each days W.O.D. (workout of the day). So my first association with it was not good. Nothing seemed to be scaled down to meet the levels of beginner participants.
– I’ve been working as a CHEK Practitioner within a Crossfit facility called CrossFit Athletic Brookvale, since September 2013. I heard a lot better reports about this place from a former client that joined them, so decided to contact the owner when my former Personal Training facility closed down, and luckily enough he was looking for people like me to come and subcontract out of the place, so after checking it out and making a deal, I moved my clientele over and have now been working here ever since.
– I’ve been CrossFitting myself at least twice a week since then.
The CrossFit equation: CVFM @ HI + Communal Environment = Health
(A regimen of constantly varied (CV), functional movements (FM) performed at high intensity (@HI) in a communal environment leads to health and fitness) (2).
To the untrained eye, CrossFit is an enigma. Most people, including myself initially, can’t understand why and how the exercises are being done the way they are! It looks like ‘cardio gymnastics’ or ‘cardio Olympic lifting’. Large volume, explosive movements with substandard technique, less adherant to typical strict technique taught for conventional strength movements in conventional gyms. From my experience now, I define CrossFit as:
“A method of exercise programming using a large variety of different exercise methods to achieve ultimate fitness that can be used functionally within many areas of life and sport”
Some quotes from the level 1 manual (1):
– “The Crossfit prescription is: constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”.
– “It’s specialty is to not specialise”.
– “In CrossFit there is no ideal routine. The CrossFit ideal is to train for any contingency”.
– “CrossFit doesn’t subscribe to high reps, low reps, long rests, or short rests, but strives for variance”.
– “CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program designed to develop fitness that is foundational to all other athletic needs. It is a deliberate attempt to optimise physical competence in 10 recognised fitness domains. The 10 recognised fitness domains of CrossFit: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy”.
A unique part of CrossFit is the open source charter on the Internet, where WOD’s are posted for the world to tackle and participants can posts their PB’s (Personal Best) / PR (Personal Record) for the prescribed workout and therefore create a unique community in which to challenge people worldwide. As observed by marine Jeff Cooper: “The fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death” (1). CrossFit has definitely created a very competitive way to work out.
Crossfit is now a sport within itself. Since 2007 it has become a mini-olympics of sorts with an open, regional and world games taking place each year. Anyone can participate.
What is a fit person?
At this point, I think it makes sense to actually discuss what makes someone fit in the first place.
“a person who is trained or skilled in strength, power, balance and agility, flexibility and endurance”. Fringe athletes: examples include sumo wrestling, triathlon, marathon running, powerlifting”.
I like it.This certainly lends itself to the Primal philosophies about movement we encourage people to uphold. In other words, I feel any person that has the ability to be able to manage whatever form of movement is thrown at them, is truly ‘fit’. Typically, the common person defines ‘fit’ as someone that has high cardiovascular fitness like a marathon runner or a triathlete. How about a decathlete? Wouldn’t you think someone that has the ability to excel at 10 events would be considered fitter than a triathlete? A decathlete would rarely even get a mention in a conversation from my experience. The bottom line is that fitness is relative to everyone. Your own personal needs will influence your own definition of fitness. I think CrossFit is certainly recreating the stereotype of what a ‘fit’ person entails. Especially now from I can see in the ‘CrossFit World Games’, they are now adding in things like swimming, which takes it to another level once again. Check out this video showing what world CrossFit champ Rich Froning is capable of.
A day/week in the life of Rich Froning, 3 x World Champ
A typical CrossFit workout
There is no real typical CrossFit workout. That’s the entire idea. There are however, typical movement patterns and methods of conditioning that are used a lot of the time (at least at my ‘box’).
Program A: 3 to 10 sets of 3 to 5 reps of a fundamental lift at a moderately comfortable place Program B: 10 minutes circuit of gymnastics elements at the blistering pace Program C: 2 to 10 minutes of high-intensity metabolic conditioning
As a clearer example, here’s what I did today in around 50-60min. Breaks do exist between each program!
Program A: 2 x TNG (Touch and Go) Power Snatch every 45 sec x 10 rounds (Note: moderate weight with good technique) Program B: 6 rounds with no break. Done for time.
– 5 Bar Muscle Up
– 10 Pistol Squats (5 each leg) Program C: 15 Min AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)
– 50 Wall Ball
– 3 Rope Climbs
– 500m Run
Typical CrossFit movements: Olympic lifts (snatch, clean and jerk), squat, deadlift, barbell and dumbell presses of all sorts. Gymnastics movements like: pullups, rope climb, push-ups, situps, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Typical cardio choices are: Airdyne (type of bike), run, swim, rowing and skipping (in particular ‘double-unders’). Interval training is the preferred CrossFit method used to develop aerobic conditioning using anaerobic efforts.
Pros and Cons of CrossFit
Lets start with the cons I feel CrossFit has. This is definitely not an exhaustive or exclusive list either. Just my initial thoughts:
– Huge volumes of work leading to injury and exhaustion
If you are a beginner, you are prone to injure yourself doing CrossFit, unless you find a place that does a good job of scaling back the exercise complexity and intensity for you. If you are just starting a new journey into health, the importance of learning how to create balance in your Primal 6 should take precedence over slaughtering yourself with CrossFit. CrossFit has the propensity to create Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, constant pain and strain, and long term chronic injuries faster than other sports (my opinion). Listen to your body, don’t be a hero, and take your time to progress. This is not the latest ‘bootcamp’ method to get in shape! It’s intense serious stuff that can cause more harm than good if you don’t listen to it. The good thing that can come from this though, is that it forces you to put your nutritional habits higher up your total pole of importance!
– 2 day CrossFit course graduates / Inferior CrossFit affiliates People are definitely getting injured because of this and in the process, giving the sport of CrossFit a terrible reputation to boot. This video below is simply the worst example I’ve ever seen. Admittedly the female lifters are actually trying to do a proper lifting movement, i.e. an axle grip barbell clean. This movement though is just simply is way beyond their skill level! This problem can certainly exist with coaching in any sport though.
This is not what CrossFit is all about!
– CrossFit being touted as the best solution to improve performance for every sport
CrossFit movement patterns tend to be very dominant in the sagittal plane (forward-backward movements e.g. chinups, pushups, Olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, box jumps, rows etc). Crossfit’s reasoning: “powerful hip extension alone is necessary and nearly sufficient for elite athletic performance. No one without powerful extension enjoys great athletic prowess” (1). As a bodyboarder and stand-up surfer, the main movement planes I tend to use are the transverse and frontal planes when doing 360’s and rolls on my bodyboard and transverse plane when doing turns on a surfboard. In other words, CrossFit does not have a very high functional carry over for me with the main movement patterns of my chosen sports, based on the typical movement patterns prescribed in a WOD.
– One WOD fits all approach
The idea here being that guys are prescribed one things, and girls another without acknowledgement of their skill level. This is what I knew CrossFit to be a year or so ago, and what i see on a lot of sites on the web. This is NOT the case where I work at CrossFit Athletic (CFA), and from what I can now see in research for writing this article, a trend taking off with lots of different affiliates. This a great thing to make CrossFit more accessible to people by allowing more comfortable weights and descended movement patterns for people as they progress. CFA in particular have an ‘on-ramp’ beginners program, ladies program, then 3 scaled version of each days WOD called base, climb and peak which I think is excellent.
– One diet fits all approach Unless things have changed since the CrossFit level one manual was published, CrossFit recommends a one size fits all approach to nutrition. 40% carbohydrate 30% protein and 30% fat. More akin to Dr Barry Sears Zone diet. Across online CrossFit groups, Paleo is now more the more the focus. By now you would know our Primal stance. We are more about understanding how your DNA and genetics have been influenced through thousands of years of your own individual ancestry. We’re big fan’s of Dr. Weston A Price’s work. We just can’t argue with his research. A Fijian and an Eskimo doing CrossFit should be eating completely different diets that work best for their own unique selves. Whether you choose to eat foods that are fau paux to the masses these days like soy, gluten containing grains, dairy etc, eat them prepared as Primal / raw / traditionally prepared / organic as possible then work out your own best ratios throughout the seasons.
– Overall effectiveness to improve function in life and sport
“Compound or functional movements and high-intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective and eliciting nearly any desired fitness result” (1). Even after mentioning how CrossFit is not effectively functional for me as a surfer, the heart and lung conditioning I’ve gained from it has definitely improved my surfing paddle ability and lung capacity. From training people for so many years myself, compound / functional movements I feel are better fun, more challenging and more relevant to life. You won’t see bicep curls and tricep push downs at CrossFit.
– Cardiovascular conditioning like no other
CrossFit has a heavy reliance on interval training whether you’re using your legs, a dumbbell, a ball, bar or box. They have based on their methods on the work of Dr Stephen Seiler. In particular an article called ‘The time course of training adaptations’. Their interpretation of his material prompted them to advocate “regular high intensity training in as many training modalities as possible through largely anaerobic efforts and intervals while deliberately and specifically avoiding the efficiency that accompanies mastery of a single modality” (1). Based on Dr Seilers work they also push home the power of interval training to improve total cardiovascular benefit without the loss of strength speed and power. In other words more interval training will improve your pure aerobic work. I can definitely vouch for this. As I’ve mentioned, my surfing endurance has improved immensely since starting CrossFit. I agree with the way that they use the term cardio. I’ve been a big advocate over the years of getting people to look at anything and everything they do as being a cardio workout. After all, when you lift weights, your heart doesn’t stop working! Essentially when something is over three minutes consistently in duration it can be technically called an aerobic program or cardio exercise. Instead of just going for a long run, use different movements using your own body weight, weights to lift, water to swim in etc to create a more funny enjoyable cardio work out that’s less repetitive on your joints and body.
– Competitive, community, addictive There is no denying that CrossFit has brought people at gyms back into Tribes. Primal tribes that grunt, sweat, swear and scream together. It brings people back to our roots, with a super competitive element to boot! I can totally see why so many people are addicted to it. I’m slowly getting there. It certainly puts you in your place and makes you want to come back as soon as possible to improve on what you did the last time. Butterfly kipping chin-ups, kipping handstand pushups, handstand walks, Olympic lifts and muscle ups for example, are all movements that were fairly new to me from being in the conventional gym environment for so long. These exercises have challenged me to no end and got me hooked to master them with ease, so I can then combine them in a WOD and power through faster than before.
– The importance of nutrition
See CrossFit’s ‘theoretical hierarchy of development’ pyramid above. If you have a deficiency at any level of the pyramid the components above suffer. Even though I mentioned in the cons, that CrossFit has a one size fits all approach to diet, I like that they have NUTRITION as the foundation in this pyramid and therefore acknowledge that it’s the most important part of a CrossFitters success before any type of MOVEMENT.
– CrossFit causes rhabdomyolosis OR ‘muscle meltdown’
This is a medical condition that may arise when muscle tissue breaks down and the contents of the muscle cells are released into the bloodstream. One molecule in particular, myoglobin, is toxic to the kidneys and cause kidney failure, and most severe cases, death. Based on the intensity of CrossFit, this is proported to be a common problem with CrossFit. The truth is from my experience and what I’ve researched, it’s a potential risk with any sport. My fellow workmate at CFA and elite Crossfitter Jarrod Smith (see Part 2 of this article), has had ‘rhabdo’ twice! NOT from CrossFit though. From triathlon!! He used to be an ironman triathlete before adrenal fatigue and digestive issues set in, and before he became addicted to CrossFit.
– CrossFit is encouraging weird and terrible technique This is certainly the case if you talk to traditional strength training advocates. What you have to understand about CrossFit though, is that it’s a SPORT that is time driven. Programs are created then the challenge is to perform it against the clock and against your competitors in your group. This is NOT bodybuilding where exercises are done with strict technique in only one plane of motion for the goal of creating an increase in muscle size and/or strength improvement in a particular plane of motion. The CrossFit goal is usually to perform movements as fast as possible (in methods deemed OK by CrossFit according to competitive games rules). Hence momentum is used exclusively. Of course it already is used in things like Olympic lifting and gymnastics, but for example, ‘normal’ chin-ups are rarely done in CrossFit. In order to increase speed, gymnastic ‘kipping chin-ups’ are the norm. They have now morphed into a faster way of getting the chin above the bar again called a ‘butterfly kipping chin-up’. The goal with Crossfit is NOT perfect technique. It’s performing to a clock! Check out the CrossFit workout named ‘Fran’ below and you’ll see what I mean.
Fran in 2:38. Fast!
I applaud CrossFit creator, Coach Greg Glassman, for bringing such awesome sports and movements all into one method/arena. The days of movements in a gym like Romanian Deadlifts being considered contraindicated or dangerous are long gone. They were first challenged by Paul Chek with the introduction of ‘functional movement’ paradigm, encouraging people to get off machines they were sitting on and use their body as the machine. CrossFit has now taken this to the next level.
I have to be completely honest and say that CrossFit has re-inspired my excitement for training again, just as ‘functional training’ did for me after years training and teaching machine based bodybuilding methods. I’m definitely feeling the pinch though, with extended days of soreness, tiredness and sometimes injury, hence why I thought I’d better write something like this to educate people more about it.
I believe CrossFit is awesome for people like me. People that have years of varied gym training under their belt, good movement patterns, and know how to look after their body with proper recovery. I think it has the ability to cause lots of problems with people that have little experience and that don’t have the sensibility to know when to stop or schedule their training each week properly.
Since I’ve been Cross Fitting, my body has been happy with a max of three times per week. There are some people I work with and members at my affiliate that train six days a week. My body would feel shattered if I did that currently. It certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t do it, or that anyone else is capable of successfully doing it. For example, the world champ, Rich Froning trains several times a day, every day! Many other people are taking levels to extremes in other sports too. Not just CrossFit. Check out this video and article about two 60yr + Australians that just ran around Australia! 365 marathons in 365 days! In Vibram five fingers too! Watch video here.
I look forward to seeing where CrossFit evolves to and will be looking forward to watch the World Games coming up in 2014!