By Ali Johnson
CrossFit trains participants for strength, power, and speed- the same 3 things people need to be successful athletes. It’s no wonder that many professional athletes use CrossFit as a way to prepare them for their sport; not only is it a great, total-body workout, the WODs can be completed fairly quickly so they’re easy to fit in with a traditional training schedule. CrossFit also promotes healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits, another 2 things that people who play sports tend to focus on. So if you’re someone who’s looking to advance in a particular athletic pastime, consider giving CrossFit a try! The following are 3 ways CrossFit can improve sports performance.
1. The Workout of the Day (WOD) is high intensity yet short.
You’ll never find yourself running for hours on a treadmill if you participate in CrossFit. WODs typically take around 20 minutes to complete, which is perfect for athletes with a vigorous training schedule. You can fit one in in the morning, on your lunch hour, on an off day from training or even before or after your regularly scheduled sports practice. Just be sure to pick a workout that works well with your other training program so you don’t overdo it. Both your CrossFit coach and athletic coach should be able to work with you to design a training program that optimizes your time and skillset.
Swiss Olympic Rower Simon Schürch started doing CrossFit 3 days a week in addition to the time he spends at his traditional training center, and he recently improved his 2000m row time by 2 seconds, from 6:14 to 6:12. While rowing is an aspect of CrossFit that occurs frequently in WODs, Simon also contributes his success to olympic lifts like cleans and snatches to help him increase his strength and produce the force he needs when rowing. Additionally, body weight movements like pistol squats helped him to improve his balance which also translated into the sport of rowing because the boats the athletes use are extremely thin and require a lot of balance when entering and exiting.
2. CrossFit promotes healthy recovery.
Did you see our previous post on the importance of recovery? Whether you’re a CrossFitter, a basketball player or a ballet dancer, you need to make time for your body to recover. Most CrossFit Wods will have some type of recovery programed, whether it be an extensive warm up or cool down session, or time spent doing ROMWOD, the yoga-version of CrossFit. Recovery is essential to allow your body to adjust to the physical changes it goes through when you’re training; if you don’t recover properly, you’ll never advance in the box or on the field.
Simon originally picked up CrossFit during a break from rowing, and so he was able to focus solely on lifting for a few weeks following the Olympics. He made sure to incorporate rest days into his training schedule, and once he started rowing again he divided his schedule up into CrossFit, traditional training, and 2 rest days per week. He understands the importance of warm ups, cool downs, and recovery days in order to give his body the recuperation time that it needs.
3. CrossFit works out the whole body, not just an isolated area.
Over time, athletes may start to notice that the muscle groups they use the most in their sport get a regular workout, while the rest of their body is all but ignored. Gymnasts tend to have incredible upper body strength, soccer players have improved endurance and leg strength, baseball players have high endurance capabilities, etc. And while CrossFit will certainly help these areas of strength continue to improve, their whole-body workouts will ensure that the rest of the body is toned and developed as well. Very rarely will you see a WOD that focuses on one specific area like legs; WODs are designed to improve your overall fitness level, strength, balance, endurance, agility, and flexibility- all qualities that will also help you become a better athlete.
When Simon was only rowing, he had great endurance capabilities and he was pretty proficient at bodyweight movements, because those are the skills he perfected in his previous rowing practices. He started to struggle when it came down to lifting heavy weights, BUT with practice and a lot of strength WODs, he was able to translate his explosive rowing strength into his olympic lifts, and his ability to lift heavy weights improved dramatically. Couple that with increased endurance, mobility, and balance and he had all the right tools to become an (even more) impressive rower.
CrossFit contains a lot of similar movements to traditional sports, and so it’s no wonder that the 2 work so well together. It’s important to work with both your coach at the box and your coach in your sport to design a training program that’s tailored to your capabilities, because as it is with any sport, it’s easy to injure yourself in CrossFit if you don’t listen to your body or aren’t supervised properly. But as long as you’re smart about it, CrossFit can be an asset to any sport.
Do you play a sport and do CrossFit? Have you noticed any added benefits? Comment in the section below!
image 1: hillaryclarkephotography.com
image 2: simonschurch.ch
image 3: breakingmuscle.com
image 4: breakingmuscle.com
image 5: hillaryclarkephotography.com