What cricket can learn from the Crossfit phenomenon
Mention the word Crossfit to 10 different people and you will get 11 opinions, but is this controversial training method something cricketers can benefit from?
Initially popularised by the US military and rescue services, Crossfit has been adopted across the word as a simple, effective way to get fit and strong.
And if miCoach has one aim it's to help people get fitter and stronger for cricket.
It's hard to say exactly why Crossfit has become so popular recently. I think there are several reasons behind the rapid growth of the system:
- It uses well established techniques. The workouts provided use many techniques that fitness experts back as highly effective: Squats, Olympic lift variations, sprints and medicine ball throws for example. All methods cricketers can use to develop cricket specific fitness.
- It's performed in a group setting. Group coaching and workouts have been proven to have better compliance than training alone. You are less likely to drop out because of the social pressure. The environment is supportive and you feel you are not alone.
- It's competitive. Many workouts are designed around time so you can compare your results to the results of others. This ramps up the competitiveness and pushes you harder than if you were just training against yourself. It's a well known effect that men can lift more weight when there is an attractive woman in the room!
- It's simple to follow. The workouts are short and laid out before you so all you have to do is turn up and work out. This is attractive because you don't have to take time thinking and planning before you hit the gym.
- It scales to your fitness level. The workouts can be made harder or easier depending on your skill and fitness level. The instructors are all certified and can coach you in correct technique as well as pushing you without making you go too far. Something you would not get in the average Globo-gym.
Sounds perfect: Turn up three times a week, train hard, go home, get better at cricket.
Why Crossfit is not ideal for cricketers
I want to say at this point that I going to deliberately ignore all the controversy around the Crossfit system. I'm looking at it purely from this point of view:
Does the fitness you develop in Crossfit crossover to the cricket pitch?
I would say it's not the best at that. The main reason is it only really develops one area of fitness: muscular endurance. The workouts are so varied it's difficult to develop areas like strength, speed, power and agility. All of which are critical to fitness for cricket.
That said, if you regularly attend Crossfit the chances are you will come out of the sessions better than you went in. You will have learned correct technique for important core lifts, especially Olympic lifting. You will also have less fat and more muscle and an adaptable body rather than an adapted one.
These benefits, combined with the ease of access make Crossfit very attractive for those with little time to workout or no desire to plan their own training.
If you were to come to me (or many other cricket fitness professionals) you would not get a Crossfit style programme. It's simply not specific enough to follow for more than general fitness purposes.
However, general conditioning in a supportive group is what you want, you can do a lot worse than go to a couple of Crossfit sessions a week.
Perhaps sportsmen and women could adapt the Crossfit, taking the good elements and making it more specific to their sport?