In 2002, Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of CrossFit, provided us with the prescription for fitness:
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train the major lifts: Deadlift, Clean, Squat, Presses, Clean and Jerk, and Snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: Pull-ups, Dips, Rope Climb, Push-ups, Sit-ups, Presses-to-Handstand, Pirouettes, Flips, Splits, and Holds. Bike, Run, Swim, Row, Etc., hard and fast. Five or six days, mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
The prescription is simple, elegant, inclusive, and extremely effective. It addresses virtually all components of health and fitness: nutrition, body composition, flexibility, cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, volume, and intensity. This is the road map to leading a more active, balanced life.
CrossFit affiliates are the mediums through which the prescription is administered. As with any prescription, the dosage must be accurate in order to be effective, and although most CrossFit affiliates administer an adequate dose of constantly varied, functional movements at high intensities, it is ultimately your responsibility to actually take it. In other words, you have commit; you have to show up.
Five or Six Days per Week
According to Coach Glassman, in order to achieve greater fitness across a lifetime (i.e. health) we need to train five or six days per week. Not two, three, or even four; five or six days per week. This recommendation is not for the elite; it is for the 99%; the stay-at-home mom, the nine-to-five desk jockey, the elderly, and everyone in between. Training five or six days per week is what it takes to be better.
In strength and conditioning, there is a phenomenon known as the Overload Principle. The Overload Principle states that in order for adaptation to occur, the stimulus must exceed that which the body is already accustomed. Therefore, the complexity of the movements, weights, repetitions, volume, intensity, or any combination these variables must progressively increase in order to continue to produce results.
In CrossFit, the Workouts of the Day (WODs) are designed to produce specific stimuli, often targeting particular energy systems of the body. CrossFit programming utilizes planned, structured variance with regards to the movements, loading, volume, time, equipment, and formats in order to generate a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. As it states in Fitness in 100 Words, “Routine is the enemy.” Yet, regardless of how well the program is structured, it will only be effective when performed on a consistent basis.
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, But Two Out of Seven Ain’t Gonna Cut It
We need to prioritize our health and fitness. There is a reason most CrossFit affiliates offer unlimited-class memberships; that is what it takes to get better. We need to invest 60 minutes per day, five or six days per week to increase longevity and improve functionality. It really is that simple. Yes, there are other factors in life that impede our ability to exercise; everyone has obligations that take prescience over the gym. However, in most circumstances, perception is not reality. The number one reason most individuals do not engage in exercise is “lack of time.” The majority of people truly believe they do not have the time to invest in their health. Fortunately, most of us have the time, but we do not know how to effectively manage that time.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adults between the ages of 25 and 54 years work an average of 40.3 hours per week (i.e. approximately eight hours per day, five days per week). Furthermore, according to the National Institutes of Health, the average American sleeps less than seven hours per night. For the sake of the argument, we will estimate that six hours per night is the average. Therefore, when accounting for both sleep and working hours, the average American has approximately 10 hours remaining in the 24-hour day. Although there are circumstances and exceptions to this generalization, most individuals are likely able to invest one hour of the remaining 10 hours to health and fitness.
Exercising two or three days per week will not generate the positive adaptations we are seeking. Regardless of the goal: weight loss, muscle gain, sport performance, or improved quality of life, we need to commit more time. Two or three days per week will not counteract a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet; the dose is not strong enough. We need to eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar; and we need to train at moderate-to-high intensities, 60 minutes per day, five or six days per week. This is how we preserve health, maintain independence, delay decrepitude, and lead more active, fulfilling lives. This is how we get fit for life.
“The goal is just to get fit. Make it the best hour of your day. Stay safe, turn up the music, high-five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. Relax. Have fun. Work out.”
– Pat Sherwood