Over the last few weeks we’ve been having more conversations with members about why we lift weights at MBS CrossFit. These conversations go beyond the traditional complaints of “I don’t want to look bulky with all those muscles,” and “I don’t feel like I get a good workout on squat days. Can’t I just do some cardio in the corner?”. We want to make sure that all of our athletes know why we lift, and why getting stronger can be one of the best things you can do for overall health, weight loss, body composition, and getting better at all of the other CrossFit moves!
Look Good Naked
We aren’t going to dip our toes into the debate of Cardio-vs-Strength as the science is always evolving. At its core, any amount of cardio or strength is better than none, and there are varying opinions and studies on how much additional caloric burn is achieved via weight training vs. cardio, with many articles discussing how weight training causes your metabolism to burn at a higher rate, for longer, than cardio. Anecdotal evidence seemingly supports this theory, but every person is different. There are three universal truths that we want to instill in you:
UNIVERSAL TRUTH #1 – The single most important factor to weight loss is your diet! No amount of ‘extra cardio’ makes up for the entire box of cookies, or the Venti S’mores Frappuccino Blended Coffee. Abs are made in the kitchen, NOT the gym. You cannot out-train a bad diet!
UNIVERSAL TRUTH #2 – “The single best predictor of the need to go into a nursing home is how strong your legs are.” – Dr. Walter M. Bortz, geriatrician; professor of medicine, Stanford University. (http://yuno.fit/2sTjj48) Lack of strength puts people in nursing homes, not “just getting old”. Lifting weights keeps your bones strong, your mind sharp, and helps protect your joints. Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.
UNIVERSAL TRUTH #3 – As long as you have proper form, strength days should be extremely tiring. A 5×5 back squat day is exhausting if performed with intensity. If you don’t feel you got enough of a workout on days when we lift, talk to a coach, because you didn’t lift heavy enough.
The CrossFit methodology is summed up as “Constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”. The CrossFit Journal states that Functional Movements “are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly.” Phew, that’s a lot to unpack! But basically, we want you to be able to live your life well! That means something different to everyone, but we’re pretty sure everyone wants to be able to get off the toilet on their own, pick up their children/grandchildren, and carry their own groceries. And the best way to guarantee that you can do that, for as long as possible, is to incorporate strength training into your regular routine. While cardio training is important for lowering your risk of heart disease, resistance and strength training will help you stay strong, active, and mobile as you age. For women, strength training is especially important with age in order to maintain strong bones (National Library of Medicine).
We also incorporate Olympic lifts such as the clean-and-jerk and the snatch to challenge our ability to adapt and learn. These technical lifts are especially frustrating at times for the exact reason that they are important: They require mastery of a complex movement. The new skills feel awkward because we are triggering a growth process in our brains (Science of Learning A New Skill). See, we exercise our brains in CrossFit too!
Everything in Moderation
So, we lift, squat, press, clean, AND we run, row, bike, jump, burpee, etc. in order to have a well rounded strategy for achieving our goal of a lifetime of fitness. Squat days are every bit as important as 30 min chipper days. We encourage you to give the CrossFit methodology a full effort, follow the programming and see where it takes you. If you have questions or concerns, let’s talk about them! Any coach will be happy to chat with you and will be better equipped to help you achieve your goals if they know what they are. We are a community and we work best with understanding and communication. So to paraphrase the Terminator, “Come with me if you want to lift!”
-The Coaches of MBS CrossFit
photo cred: Samantha Conley