CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program in two distinct senses. First, in the sense that the fitness we develop is foundational to all other athletic needs. This is the same sense in which the university course required of a particular major are called “core curriculum”. This is the stuff that everybody needs. Second, we are a “core” strength and conditioning program in the literal sense meaning the center of something. Much of our work focuses on the major functional axis of the human body, the extension and flexion of the hips and torso or trunk.
— Greg Glassman

Fundamentally we are a “core” strength and conditioning program. CrossFit is no longer a fringe movement; however, in spite of CrossFit's ever increasing popularity and presence in mainstream fitness, there is still a degree of mystery behind what it actually is, how it works, why it works and why it is significantly different from any other strength and conditioning program.

Not only does CrossFit have applications to elite level athletics, but far more importantly it also has applications to every day life. Whether you are aware of it or not, your level of fitness correlates to how well you can function in all aspects of day-to-day existence. CrossFit achieves general physical preparedness with scientifically quantifiable results.  

CrossFit is constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.

Constantly varied refers to the idea that in order to achieve maximum gains, increase fitness, and elicit the proper adaptations, your human physiology needs to be exposed to ever changing and randomized conditions. Overall physical fitness cannot not be attained through a predictable routine of isolation exercises and/or aerobics. In CrossFit, we live by “routine is the enemy.”

Functional Movement is a simplified way to describe what we refer to in CrossFit as “universal motor recruitment patterns.” It sounds more complicated than it is, but essentially we are utilizing natural human movement that your body is designed to do. They are “universal” because they can be found everywhere in life. “Motor” simply means movement and motion. In CrossFit, you are “recruiting” energy when you use the functionality of your muscles under a quantifiable work load.

Intensity is another factor that can be quantified and measured in a workout program. For our purposes “intensity” is simply a way to describe how long it takes an individual to move a specific quantity of weight or load a predetermined distance. In other words, time is the prime factor involved with intensity. Simply put, it's your ability to do work under the duress of fatigue. Or increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.

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For our purposes in CrossFit we can look at fitness in the same quantifiable terms as intensity. If you are increasing your work capacity and decreasing the time it takes to accomplish the workout you are becoming more “fit.”

For example, if you move 50 lbs of weight 400 meters in 10 minutes and then test this 30 days later moving 50 lbs 400 meters and it takes you 5 minutes, you are observably fitter.

This is a measurable fact, not an opinion. It's the ability to move large loads long distances quickly. This also leads into an equation that can be formulated (Force times Distance divided by Time = Power). For our purposes, Power equals Intensity. Increasing intensity generates power.

This is universally applicable to any human activity whether you are carting groceries up stairs, carrying a baby, fighting fires or climbing trees. Your life greatly depends on your fitness.