CrossFit is a type of training created by Greg Glassman in 2000 and seeks to find the fittest man and woman on earth. But what is it? How does it work?
What is Crossfit?
CrossFit is a combination of many different training principals including gymnastics, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, kettlebells, athletics, swimming, plyometrics and advanced conditioning. It's a notoriously tough workout and is certainly not for the faint-hearted! CrossFit sessions are divided into WODs which stands for Workout of the Day. A workout can be made up of any number of different exercises and a WOD will be posted online each week for CrossFitters around the world to follow. People will then post their results online and compare with each other.
CrossFit Terms Explained
AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible
ATG: Ass To Grass (used to describe the depth hit in a squat)
CFWU: Crossfit Warm Up
EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute
GTG: Greasing The Groove (doing multiple sets of an exercise throughout the day, but not to failure)
HSPU: Handstand Push-Up
MetCon: A metabolic conditioning workout. Usually with lighter weights at a higher intensity and speed.
Pood: A weight measurement used by the Russians for kettlebells. 1 pood =16 kg/35 lbs; 1.5 pood = 24 kg/53 lbs; 2 pood = 32 kg/71 lbs etc.
PR: Personal Record
Rx’d: As prescribed; as written. Used to describe a WOD completed without any adjustments and with the set weights.
T2B: Toes to bar.
CrossFit Hero Workouts
There is a set of WODs in CrossFit which are named after members of the US armed forces who died during combat. These are notoriously tough workouts and are completed by US CrossFitters on Memorial Weekend.
Michael Patrick "Murph" Murphy was a United States Navy Seal officer who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
1 mile Run
1 mile Run
Named after Timothy Davis of the US Air Force who died in combat in 2009.
9 hang power cleans
6 push jerks
The CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games is the biggest event on a CrossFitter's calendar and promises to find the “fittest on the earth”. There are several qualifying stages for this event.
CrossFit Open is the first qualifying event, whereby each week a new WOD is released and competitors will post their scores online. There is the choice of Rx'd workouts or scaled workouts which are made slightly easier in order to be more accessible.
The best athletes in the Open will qualify for Regionals which is a live, three-day competition held over three weekends in May each year. The top athletes from the Regionals then qualify for the games in July or August.
Throughout the games, athletes don't know which WODs are going to be announced, so they must train hard in every discipline and make sure that their weakest exercise is just as good as their strongest.
The CrossFit Games is a huge spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators each year. They are sponsored by Reebok and the prize money for the winning man and woman is $750,000! CrossFit is a huge sport in the US but is slowly spreading around the world, with 3 of the most elite female athletes being from Iceland. There are many CrossFit gyms (or 'boxes' as they are called) popping up throughout the UK.
Last weekend, personal trainer and presenter Laura Sheriff took part in one of the toughest 10ks out there, the Total Warrior 10k. We found out how she got on.
How are you feeling after completing the race?
Like a warrior! Ready for the next challenge!
What type of training did you do to prepare for this event?
I actually did very little training because I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery. It was all a little last minute involving HIIT workouts, a few runs, and circuits at the gym.
What was the atmosphere like on race day?
Brilliant! Everyone was game for a great time and there was a real sense of community. Most people who do these races get hooked and do them time and time again.
What was the hardest obstacle you faced?
The ice bucket. You have to drop into a tank filled with ice and put your head under to come out of the other side. It literally takes your breath away!
Laura posing with her other half Craig Phillips, right, who is a well-loved TV personality.
Who was better, you or Craig?
I’d love to say me, but I’d actually say that Craig needed a medal. He had to hoist me over some of the larger obstacles to make sure I didn’t overuse my shoulder. Having said that I would agree that I won hands down in the style stakes.
How did you find racing in the Sundried tights?
At first, I was a little worried how they would fair in the muddy, soaking wet environment. Were they going to stretch and go baggy? But actually, they pretty much kept as perfect a fit as they did when I first put them on! Fashion and performance, what more could a girl want?
Anything you would change if you were to do it all over again?
I’d obviously like my shoulder to be stronger but I’d also like to go for a time.
James Griffiths is a gym owner and is as passionate about improving his own fitness as he is for his members. He talks to Sundried about training as a Strongman and his road to becoming Britain's strongest man under 80kg.
How did you first get into Strongman training and competitions?
I bought a gym that had a decent range of Strongman equipment. At the time I took the gym on I was training for the highest altitude workout ever recorded at the top of Kilimanjaro. After I did that I gave myself 2 months to train for my first Strongman competition. I came second which wasn’t bad considering I weighed 80kg and it was an open event against some 140kg+ guys.
What does it take to be a Strongman competitor?
The training is tough. Mentally, you are lifting numbers that you don’t see in the gym. Pick up over 3 times your body weight on your back and run with it. The risk of injury is huge, so good conditioning and balancing your programming is really important. You’ve got to want it a lot. I want to be Britain's strongest man under 80kg, and to do that I will need to cut back a lot of my more diverse training like Aerials, Callisthenics, and martial arts. The Strongman training just has too big a stress on the nervous system.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I eat every 3 hours, eat foods of every colour every day, have loads of variety, get the quantities right, and always go for quality.
Talk us through your Strongman training regime.
I have just found out the events for the British Natural Strongman Federation final competition:
- Max Log - 90kg... 10kg increments until the last few. Then 5kg increments.
- Deadlift Ladder - 3@170kg, 2@200kg, 1@230kg
- Truck Pull - rope and harness 20 meters
- Sandbag - TBC but I'd guess 110kg
- Farmers Walks - 30m with 120kg in each hand
- Atlas Stones - 120kg over 130cm/ 51 inch yoke/bar
Below is my plan for winning it. This will be a 2 month phase:
- Monday - Farmers walks and Log Press
- Tuesday - Wild Man legs and volume deadlift (ladder)
- Wednesday - Sled drag/ sack carry
- Thursday - Farmers walks and Log press
- Friday - Sack carry and Atlas Stones
- Saturday - Truck pull and Deadlift heavy
- Sunday - Aerials, clubs
What is your favourite event in Strongman and why?
Anything where I’m moving. Super Yoke, Farmers Walks, Truck Pull, Sled drags. I don’t know why but I seem to be very good at them. I’ve moved a super yoke at 320kg which is 4 times my body weight.
What is the toughest part of Strongman training and competing?
For me, it’s missing out on the other activities I like in my training. To compete at the top level you have to dedicate your time to one thing. Strongman. It hurts. It’s hard to maintain mobility. I can’t eat all the food in the world as I have to stay under 80kg. It really does hurt.... but I want that title.
What are your three top tips for surviving Strongman?
Build your strength from the inside out. My background in a diverse range of training styles has meant my strongest link is my middle. Having the core and stability to maintain form and limit risk of injury has been a big advantage for me. Don’t ignore mobility. It’s hard to maintain, but not impossible. I am now training an up-and-coming pro Strongman called Sam Duthie. Watch for him next year in England's Strongest man.
What are your goals for 2018?
To be Britain’s Strongest Man under 80kg.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I take inspiration from everything I see and do. I’ve never been short on motivation so I don’t look to people to help drive me. My training and programming is my own. I just like meeting people with good energy. In the world of Strongman I’ve met and trained with Laurence Shahlaei and Terry Hollands. Both top guys.
What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the world of Strongman for the first time?
Strongman training will always feature in my training. It’s the best strength training on the planet because it’s focused on raw movement. For me that is what makes it more applicable than powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit etc. The numbers you lift are crazy but the difference the training has made to my other training and sports is obvious. At 90% of your max it’s the best thing in the world. At 100% training for competitions it’s incredibly exciting to see what your body can do. The Strongman community is friendly and encouraging and I’ve yet to meet a bad ego. There are no egos when you are carrying serious weight as everyone knows how much training goes in to being able to even attempt most of the events in competition. Just a lot of respect and fun.
Jim Doughty entered the sporting world at a relatively late age but this hasn't stopped him from achieving some incredible feats. From sprint triathlons to Iron Man events, he has excelled at the sport and tells us a little more about his passion.
Have you always been into sport?I made it back into sport when I was 40 years old, but have always been very active: between the ages of 18 and 22 I cycled for a team in the north-west of England but work and family life took over and I stopped participating in professional races.
What made you decide to enter a triathlon?I was participating in a charity cycle event with work in December 2010 and a work colleague was impressed with my speed and endurance and challenged me to enter a sprint distance triathlon. I took up the challenge, and four months later I was racing my first Triathlon in over 20 years. From then on I was hooked.
What’s been your best race to date?It was probably “A Day In The Lakes” Middle Distance Triathlon in 2016. The race takes place towards the end of June in the Lake District; the swim is 1.9km in Ullswater and the conditions were near perfect, I had a good solid swim and headed into T1 and onto the bike, the bike course is a fast 2 lap loop crisscrossing the M6 motorway on both laps. I made it back into T2 with a really fast split, so fast in fact that my family were really surprised to see me so soon. I headed out of T2 onto a fairly unique Half Marathon run course which took in two mountains to ascend and descend. I crossed the finish line with a massive smile on my face to my waiting family.
And your proudest achievement?It has to be Ironman UK which was in 2015. I and one of my training partners spent the best part of a year training specifically for the event, out in all weathers throughout the Scottish winter and spring cycling and running and training in the pool until the weather warmed up enough for us to hit open water.
Ironman UK starts with a 3.8km swim in Pennington Flash reservoir, then onto a 180km bike which winds through Greater Manchester & Lancashire for two laps ending inside the Macron Stadium just outside Bolton. From here I ran the full marathon which was a three lap run into Bolton City Centre.
I finished the Ironman 1 hour and 35 seconds faster than my training partner.
Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?
Yes, I’ve had a few disasters, I raced at a Sprint Distance Duathlon a few years ago and punctured out on the course. As it was only a sprint distance, by the time I had replaced the tube and made it back to T2 I was last on the final run.
As for my toughest race yet, all of the races I have done are my toughest yet, every race I do I get stronger and wiser and am constantly learning to race faster and smarter.
However I think this coming year (2018) I will face my toughest challenges in the form of an Ironman including a sea swim as this is my worst fear.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I never give up, no matter what I am faced with; I overcome every hurdle I come across as they only make you stronger. I am constantly learning and I use every setback as a learning curve. If I make a mistake I try never to make the same mistake again.
What is the best piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?Train with the same equipment and nutrition that you intend to race with, for me this is the most important piece of advice that can be given to everyone competing as you will know how your equipment is going to feel and react to you.
What are your goals for 2017?I have a couple of major goals for the coming year, the first one is at the end of May and is the Edinburgh Marathon, I have never run a marathon as a standalone event; I’ve run ultra marathons and I’ve run the marathon distance as part of the Ironman so am intrigued to see how I perform over the distance.
My second goal for 2017 is The Long Course Weekend in Wales. This is an Iron Distance Triathlon but over 3 days; you complete the 3.9km swim on the Friday evening, the 180km bike on the Saturday and the marathon run on the Sunday. This event is as much about the recovery between the events as it is about the distances to be covered.
Who do you take your inspiration from?I am inspired to perform by so many different people from some of the best cyclists in the world such as Chris Froome, Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond, to some amazing triathletes such as Scott Tinley and Mirinda Carfrae. All of whom are truly inspirational and owners of their own destination, in every race they have ever participated in they all have one common goal…..They all want to WIN.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?I love the fact that Sundried care; they care about the environment, they care about the people who wear the brand, and they care about being an ethical choice. I love the fact that they turn coffee grounds into fabric, I always knew that caffeine could improve my performance but pair that with Sundried's branding and you have the best Men’s Pro Tri Suit money can buy. From the comfort afforded by the Dolomiti pad right through to the hydrophobic coating to help in the drying process when you exit the swim, for me this is the must-have piece of kit for every event.
Signing up for races can become pretty addictive, but these days you don't need to travel far to earn your bling. Virtual races are walking, running, or cycling races in which you track your activity and send proof to the organisers via email who then send you your medal in the post.
Virtual races tend to be a lot cheaper than traditional races and usually cost around £12. There are hundreds of different virtual races on offer in the UK and often they are accumulative, which means you do a certain number of miles over a specific time period in order to achieve your medal. Virtual racing can be a great way to stay motivated and is also a way to get more people involved in walking, running, and cycling. Many of the virtual racing organisations also donate some profits to charity so you know you're doing your part too!
Virtual Races With Medals
There are lots of different types of races on offer and you can go at your own pace to earn your medal. Some races are more challenging than others, but they are all a great way to stay motivated all year and can help to encourage more to people to get active. Some races involved running a certain distance in a month and some encourage you to just walk or run as far as you can in a specified time frame.
If you think you might be interested in joining a virtual race, there are two big players in the UK: