[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4HGvnsomP4]When I first heard about CrossFit and that the workouts could be as short as 12 minutes, I laughed all the way to the gym and smugly hopped on the elliptical for my 45 minutes of cardio (with ipod and magazines in hand so I would not get bored – yup, I was so not pushing myself!).

Then I actually did one of those 12 minute workouts and was put to shame.  The first week I did CrossFit, my hair was dirty – the reason why is because I was so sore, I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair.

But could these short CrossFit workouts replace my normal workout routine (45 minutes of cardio followed by 45 minutes of weightlifting 4x/week).  12 minutes vs 90 minutes?  Really?

I bring this up because so many of our members tell us they did boot camp in the morning and come do the WOD in the evening.  Or they went and ran to get their “cardio” in because the WOD just had weightlifting in it.   Why?Because we have been told that we need 60-90 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.

I urge you to take 10-15 minutes and read the mother of all articles What is Fitness? Included in this is information on:

  • The general public both in opinion and in media holds endurance athletes as exemplars of fitness.  CrossFit does not.  Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines.  Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit.  Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.
  • Why the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk? Because these movements elicit a profound neurodendocrine response. That is, they alter you hormonally and neurologically. The changes that occur through these movements are essential to athletic development. Most of the development that occurs as a result of exercise is systemic and a direct result of hormonal and neurological changes.
  • A theoretical hierarchy exists for the development of an athlete. It starts with nutrition (80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet!) and moves to metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and finally sport.

You can also check out another great article, What About Cardio.

  • Conventional wisdom holds that extended bouts of monostructural training (run, bike, swim, row, etc.), commonly referred to as “cardio”, confer distinct and powerful advantage to athletic conditioning. This month we explore the proposition that traditional “cardio” may be neither as distinct nor as powerful contribution to general conditioning as widely believed. In fact, we assert that CrossFit-like programming provides a more effective stimulus for improving cardiorespiratory endurance than running, rowing,  cycling, or other traditional monostructural protocols.

Finally, check out Mark Sisson’s  Case against Cardio: Hate to say it, but we weren’t meant to aerobicize at the chronic and sustained high intensities that so many people choose to do these days. The results are almost always unimpressive. Ever wonder why years of “Spin” classes, endless treadmill sessions and interminable hours on the “elliptical” have done nothing much to shed those extra pounds and really tone the butt?