What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is a gym-based workout, founded by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in 2000. An affiliated CrossFit gym, also known as a ‘Box’ will post a Work-out of the Day (WOD) for athletes of all abilities to follow. Most of these WODs focus on a range of exercises that work on improving endurance, stamina, strength, power, flexibility, speed, coordination and accuracy (all elements we need on a ride). It’s described as general and inclusive by crossfit.com who also say:
Our speciality is not specializing
With a broad focus on fitness and strengthening of all areas of the body, CrossFit could well be a good, general addition to our regime to improve our speed and stamina whilst in the saddle.
How can it help our cycling?
Although hours on the bike will certainly improve your performance and experience as a cyclist, founder of CrossFit Endurance (a spin-off for long-distance athletes including cyclists), Brian Mackenzie, says that the programme can also fine-tune muscles and identify imbalances caused by long hours in the saddle. It comprises a training program that builds strength and conditioning through extremely varied and challenging workouts. Each day the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or conditioning, not specialising in one particular thing, but improving your strength on the whole. In bike terms, it’s reported to help the following:
- Core muscles for better bike posture
- Strengthening your glutes
- Increasing your power to weight ratio for more efficient climbing
Some of the exercises that are reported to help cyclists are those WODs that include squats, pistol squats (a squat with one leg extended out) and deadlifts (a squat with a barbell extended overhead).
Things to be aware of
Of course it’s important to discuss with your objectives with a CrossFit trainer so they can help you understand what works well for cycling performance.
Like all new disciplines, diving in and over-working yourself at the beginning won’t do you any favours and it's advised not to go hell for leather from Day One.
CrossFit has some excellent beginner programmes that can start to work on your strength gradually. Each WOD, whilst available for all abilities, has varied weights and it’s advisable to start off light and build slowly. You can certainly expect some muscle soreness at the start, especially if you are using these muscles for the first time in ages, or indeed ever!
If you’re interested, we recommend joining a CrossFit beginner programme. Beginners tips and a list of UK CrossFit centres can be found here.
Watch this video for more information on the CrossFit concept.