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How to get a CrossFit Body

Updated on November 3, 2012

CrossFit Ripped

If you're familiar at all with CrossFit, then you've probably envied the bodies of the CrossFit athletes featured on television and in magazines. It's true, these are some of the leanest, most muscular athletes out there. I've recently overheard quite a few people discussing exactly how these athletes get so ripped and some of the opinions I agree with, while others are not quite so sound. I thought this might be a good topic for an article, and below I've listed some thoughts for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to ponder. Also, if you're simply wanting to lose weight or get in better shape, you will definitely find the content here helpful.

First Things First

First things first, it is obvious that these athletes are eating cleanly- or avoiding highly processed foods. The concept of clean eating is quite simple- nothing eaten strays very far at all from its original, harvested form. Carbohydrates come from whole wheat breads and pastas, sweet potato, 100% whole grain rolled oats (oatmeal), brown rice, and fresh fruit. Proteins come from lean sources like protein powders, grilled meats (chicken and fish), eggs, and low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Fats are healthy, being derived from nuts and oils, not to forget omega 3 fatty acids from fish. Vitamins are taken from supplements, but mainly from fresh fruits (mentioned before) and also vegtables. A wide array of veggies ensures proper vitamin consumption and helps fill you up with nutritious foods, minimizing cravings due to feeling hungry.Take notice that most or all of this must be bought and prepared- it's very difficult to eat cleanly when you eat out often. One of the best things you can do (and possibly the single best thing you can do) to get lean is eat cleanly.

Cutting to the Chase

With so many CrossFitters out there getting and staying shredded, we can automatically rule out genetics. Such a large sample of athletes will inevitably sport a wide range of genes and inherited potentials. Do not simply write-off all super CrossFit athletes as genetic marvels; some may be, and it's probably a higher percentage than if you took a sample from the general population.

However, genetics is not the determining factor- eating and training are. My point is this- there are bound to be numerous professional CrossFitters with less than desirable genetics that still have amazing bodies- therefore you shouldn't use genetics as an excuse for not attaining the same results. Unless you are eating and training like them, you can't complain that your genetics are inferior.

I touched on eating earlier, now I'll talk about training. When I see CrossFitters train and compete, I see the opposite of how power lifters train and compete. Power lifters are training for a relatively short, brief moment of performance. They need their muscles to exert a tremendous amount of force for just a few seconds. And even if they make multiple trips up to the bar, they still get minutes of rest in-between attempts. So their training will largely mirror their performance.

Now what happens inside the body when a power lifter trains? Great question- so glad you asked. Because the repetitions are typically few and the sets therefore short (because the weight is usually pretty heavy), the muscle will grow accustomed to short, yet enormous bursts of energy to move and control the weight. However, this doesn't last long. So the muscles use a tremendous amount of energy in just a few seconds, and then get a break. This results in glycogen (energy stored in the muscles) stores retaining some of their substance. This is the exact opposite effect of CrossFit training.

In CrossFit training, a lighter weight is typically used, at least compared to power lifting. This translates into higher rep ranges and ultimately longer sets- much longer sets. Look at the CrossFit games; The athletes are performing rep after rep after rep, nowhere near their 1-rep maximum. This type of training blasts through the muscles' immediate energy stores and depletes much of the remaining glycogen stores. This is a different physiological effect than powerlifting, and it results in using and demanding a lot of energy- energy that will not be stored as fat, since it is being used.

When one trains in this fashion, the metabolism is increased due to the body's need to repair muscle tissue. This requires energy, since building tissue is taking place. The effect is an elevated metabolism to provide the necessary energy. Remember the glycogen that I mentioned earlier? Well those glycogen stores are replenished by consuming energy, primarily carbohydrates.

So, depleting your glycogen stores through exercising with lighter weights and longer sets/more reps, means you need to be replenishing through eating carbs, but not too many carbs and the right kinds of carbs. Getting lean can be accomplished through proper eating and exercising, especially training like CrossFitters and watching your carbs (not to be confused with eliminating carbs, which isn't healthy).


Just some closing thoughts: remember that glycogen is depleted from muscle groups that are being used, so you get the biggest bang for your buck metabolically speaking and glycogen-depletion-wise when you perform compound movements like cleans, squats, dead lifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, dips and rows. Also recall that if you'll be mirroring CrossFitters' training, you've gotta perform a high number of repetitions per set with a lighter weight. Don't forget to reach failure- a lighter weight doesn't mean you can cheat and quit when you get uncomfortable. Push your muscles all the way to failure to blast energy stores and raise metabolism.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      As a devoted Crossfitter, I'd just like to add that you need to stick with it to see results. You won't suffer from boredom because each workout is different. Voting this Up and Useful.