We all know the look I'm talking about—lean, muscular, athletic, powerful. Male or female, this tends to be the ideal physique. Not too muscular, not too skinny, but light and athletic. It's the CrossFit look, where it's cool to be healthy, not just jacked and tanned, and where the emphasis is on a strong and functional physique rather than bodybuilder bulk—which is great.
To achieve the CrossFit body, there's been a giant surge in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and gymnastics, but not enough emphasis on performing the exercises properly. Depending on the quality of the coaching and the intensity/volume in a given workout, form can range from impeccable to snap city.
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Combine that with CrossFit's extremely restrictive "paleo diet" (which has been debunked by an archaeologist) and unnecessarily difficult "metcons" (metabolic conditioning circuits lasting up to 20 minutes), and you have a dangerous way of thinking:
"It didn't hurt, because I wasn't doing it right."
"I felt like I was actually going to die."
"You're going to have physical and mental breakdowns."
These are direct quotes from CrossFitters on a "First time at CrossFit" video. Why make it harder than it needs to be? Here's a better way to approach CrossFit: Do the minimal effective dose.
- Is strength training good? Yup.
- Metabolic conditioning? Yup.
- Calisthenics? Yup.
- Loaded carries? Yup.
But, not too much. Picking the right exercises can be like using garlic in a meal—just enough can make your friends think you're the world's best chef.
Here's the recipe:
1. Lift weights no fewer than three times per week. Make sure to take advantage of every movement:
- Push: Overhead Press, Bench Press, Push-Ups
- Pull: Chin-Ups, Rows, TRX Rows
- Squat: Back Squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squat
- Hinge: Deadlift, Kettlebell Swings
- Loaded Carry: Suitcase Carry, Farmer's Walk
- Full Body: Turkish Get Up, Turkish Get Up progressions/regressions
2. Do no more than two two days of conditioning per week, and vary the intensity
3. Perform a strength circuit or complex once per week.
4. Sprint once per week.
5. Hit your macros.
Note: Do not reduce your diet by more than 500 calories at a time. This can lead to metabolic damage.
I'd like to finish off by asking this question: If you could achieve the physique you want without feeling like you were about to die, why wouldn't you?
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