During our photo shoot with Brendan Ziegler, a CrossFit trainer at Atlas Performance, we asked him to do “whatever looks the coolest.” He delivered with the move above: a muscle-up. The picture shows how it started, with Brendan dead-arm hanging from from the rings, swinging his legs. Suddenly, mid-swing, he hoisted himself up until he was vertical, arms at his sides. If that sounds impossible, don’t worry—it took him months to master. For CrossFit newbies, though, it’s not just techniques like these that are intimidating. The very language of CrossFit can sound strange if you’ve never heard been to a box before. When he was done muscle-up-ing, we asked Brendan to break down some CrossFit terms, starting with “CrossFit” itself. General Terms CrossFit (noun) CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. Core as in core curriculum—“it’s basic, foundational movements that everyone needs to do”—and core as in the trunk of your body. Brendan said that strength radiates from the core to the limbs, so when CrossFit works your core, it’s also building arm strength, leg strength, and everything-else strength. The result is what many CrossFit coaches call “functional fitness.” That is, fitness that allows you to confidently perform real-life tasks, from running to lifting a heavy box. Box (noun) A CrossFit gym. At Atlas Performance, climbing ropes and rings hang from the ceiling, and the equipment is mostly dumbbells, barbells, and stacks of boxes. It’s all very pared down and lacks the machinery you might be used to seeing in a typical gym. Power (noun) CrossFit involves power in the physics-class sense of the word. The workouts improve students’ ability to move a heavy load over a long distance, quickly. This corresponds with the equation for power: force times distance over time. This makes CrossFit a “quantifiable training methodology,” Brendan said. In other words, you can track your progress in numbers: the heaviest weight you can handle, how many reps you can do, and how fast you can go. Scalable (adjective) This means that every CrossFit movement can be scaled to the individual student’s strength and abilities. “I can make it lighter, [have] less range of motion, [or] change the movement entirely,” Brendan said. “There’s no prerequisite to do CrossFit.” For example, he might scale a pull-up by working in resistance bands or by changing the action altogether. A less experienced student could do a dead-arm hang, which brings you closer to achieving a pull-up by working your forearms and hands. WOD (noun) WOD stands for workout of the day. When CrossFit started, it was just a different WOD video posted daily on CrossFit.com. Now, CrossFitters run through these WODs in gyms—although to fill out hourlong classes, trainers often embellish the WOD. These workouts typically consist of two or three repeated moves. The most fun part? They often have human names, like Murph or … Fran (noun) This universally dreaded WOD has two elements: pull-ups and thrusters, the latter of which Brendan is demonstrating above. A thruster is a full squat, with your barbell on your shoulders. To perform the move, you squat so that your hip crease is below your knees, then stand up and lift the bar overhead. The Fran consists of 21 thrusters and 21 pull-ups, then 15 thrusters and 15 pullups, then 9 and 9. That’s 45 of each, total. For the best CrossFitters in the world, Brendan said that this takes a mere 90 seconds. Bonus Acronyms AMRAP (phrase) As many rounds as possible. This term is usually used for circuit workouts. EMOM (phrase) Every minute on the minute. For example, a WOD might involve five squats with 80% of your maximum squat weight, EMOM. Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon Take a look at other less traditional ways to get fit: Five Things You Might Not Know About Trampolining (But Should) Five Apps That Make Exercise Feel Like a Video Game
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