Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CrossFit & Soccer

By John Spurlock

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that strives for elite fitness. A wide range of people train under the CrossFit methodology, including military personnel, athletes, and grandparents. CrossFit’s training philosophy is based on their 3 fitness standards:

CrossFit Fitness Standard #1: An elite fitness regimen should develop and improve each of the ten general physical skills. These ten skills include cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. CrossFit’s definition of fitness revolves around how competent an individual is at each one of these ten skills.
CrossFit Fitness Standard #2: CrossFit is about specializing in not specializing. Elite fitness is performing well at any and every imaginable task. To achieve this, CrossFit workouts provide a broad training stimulus that is constantly varied day to day.
CrossFit Fitness Standard #3: Elite fitness requires competency and training in each of the three metabolic pathways (phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative). Favoring one or even two of these pathways is one of the most common mistakes in fitness training.

To go along with the 3 fitness standards, CrossFit’s philosophy includes performing functional exercises (movements that correlate to real life activities) at high intensities. The functional exercises used are divided into one of three categories: gymnastics, weightlifting, or mono-structural. In CrossFit, gymnastic movements are considered any exercise performed using only one’s own body weight. A few examples are pushups, pull-ups, muscle-ups, dips, free-standing squats, and rope climbing. Any exercise that requires moving an external object (barbell, kettlebell, stone, keg, etc.) is put into the weightlifting category. Mono-structural movements are considered the traditional cardio exercises (running, biking, swimming, jumproping, etc.).

CrossFit + Soccer = Elite Soccer Fitness

The training stimulus that is elicited by CrossFit is ideal for the fitness demands of soccer. Each one of the ten general physical skills can be directly related to the game, and a lack of developing even one of these skills could cause a major deficiency in an athlete’s performance. The issue with the training mindset of many soccer players is that it is geared in only one direction (endurance/aerobic). The misconception that a soccer-conditioning program should mainly focus on training the oxidative pathway is wrong. A high volume of aerobic exercise does have the benefit of improving cardiovascular function and stamina; however this type of training has an adverse effect on sprinting speed, jumping ability, and strength. The training and development of both the aerobic (oxidative) and anaerobic (phosphagen and glycolytic) metabolic pathways, as discussed in CrossFit Fitness Standard #3, is the correct approach in the attempt to achieve elite soccer fitness.

Life after Soccer
Not only is CrossFit is an excellent strength and conditioning program for soccer players, but this training method and philosophy is a tool athletes can use long after their playing career is over to stay fit and healthy for life. Also, for those athletes that are still interested in competing after they have hung up their boots, CrossFit can become their sport – aka The CrossFit Games. The CrossFit Games are the ultimate tests to find the fittest man and woman on earth. Along with earning the title of “Fittest on Earth,” the winner of the 2011 CrossFit Games will receive $250,000. By training under the CrossFit philosophy while still competing in soccer, these athletes are not only achieving elite soccer fitness, but they are also preparing themselves for a successful career in the sport of CrossFit. In 2012, the prize money for the winner of the CrossFit Games is suspected to be even higher! If you want to achieve elite soccer fitness and set yourself up with a chance to win $250,000+, contact Central Kentucky Weightlifting today!