Like most 50-year-old bodies, mine was not pretty. Sure, it had bulges but in all the wrong places. And those mounds did not consist of hard muscle but soft fat. All that bulk made me overweight, which not only looked terrible but was unhealthy.
It was time to do something about it. So I turned to Crossfit.
My research indicated that it consisted of more than the impossible exercises performed by the extremely fit athletes at the Crossfit Games. That pinnacle resembled the Olympics, which was out of reach for me.
I was more like the other 4 million people who do the Workouts of the Day (WODs) in 15,000 gyms, or boxes, in 120 countries around the world. Most of us are doing it to get healthy and not to compete.
And it worked. In about four months of workouts three times a week, I lost 30 lbs. and my waist size shrunk about three inches.
As you’ll read below, Crossfit has many benefits for weight loss.
I’ve tried to exercise for weight loss before. I’d join a nearby chain gym and get on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day, and maybe throw in a bit of exercise cycling.
- I’d manage this every day for about a week before the boredom numbed my mind, even with earphones to amuse me with music or news.
- Then I’d go three times a week and later, a few times a month.
- And then finally I’d stop going because I got tired of the monotony. And the fat never left.
The variety of Crossfit WODs never gives me a chance of losing interest. At our box, we typically have two workouts per session.
- The first focuses on strength-building with weights and gymnastics. For example, every 90 seconds for a total of 10 times, do two power cleans starting at 40 percent of your maximum. Increase the weight by 10 percent after every two sets.
- The second focuses on cardiovascular endurance. For example, start with a 400-meter run. Then do 50 situps followed by 50 wall balls. And end with another 400-meter run.
And that’s not even counting the warm-up, which many say resembles workouts at other gyms. That might consist of a two-minute row, two-minute exercise bike, and two-minute ski machine, followed by three sets of five power cleans, five snatches, and five Romanian deadlifts with an empty bar.
Each WOD is always different, depending on the creativity of the coach. This creative assortment has kept me coming to our box three times a week for over 10 years.
When you begin an exercise regimen, you typically see immediate results. Perhaps you’ll lose a few pounds in the first week or two. This success spurs you to continue.
But if you continue doing the same movement over time, such as running or rowing, your weight loss may slow down and eventually stop. This can discourage you from continuing and you eventually quit.
The reason for this lack of progress is the lack of variety. Your body gets used to the movements, so it no longer adjusts and changes to respond to what you’re doing.
You won’t experience any plateau with Crossfit because every WOD is different. One day may see you doing deadlifts and jumping on boxes. Then the next day may have you running a mile and swinging a kettlebell between your legs. Your body never gets used to what’s happening because it never knows what’s coming next.
Crossfit encourages good nutrition, a key component of weight loss. Part of the key to my success was paleo, which many Crossfitters follow. I consider it an eating plan more than a diet because it’s permanently changed the way I eat.
It aims to emulate the way early humans ate during the Paleolithic era, which lasted from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
That diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and lean meats. It eliminates grains, beans, dairy products, potatoes, refined sugar, and other foods that are heavy on carbohydrates and processing.
The Mayo Clinic says that random clinical trials have found the diet to be effective for weight loss, although longer trials are needed.
One of the reasons Crossfit is effective in burning fat is its high intensity. Such workouts encourage you to do many reps or heavy weights to beat the clock or meet a prescribed number of reps. Only then can you take a short break before continuing on to the next movement.
The training increases your metabolism and uses up stored fat. And that process can continue after you’ve finished your workout.
In short, you continue burning calories for hours after you leave your box.
That lean tissue helps you manage your weight by increasing your calorie use.
The more lean muscle you have, then the more calories you use up while you’re at rest.
Your first line of support comes from your Crossfit coaches.
- They’re not some college kid who’s doing the job part-time because they applied. Most, if not all, are seasoned Crossfitters who decide that they want to offer their expertise after having spent years at their boxes and, perhaps, also at competitions.
- They require official Crossfit certification before they’re allowed to coach.
- They watch you during every WOD and become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses. They cheer you on when you complete a workout or surpass a personal record. And they tell you to do better if you’re not putting out total effort.
Your next line of support comes from your fellow Crossfitters.
- You can’t do Crossfit solo, so you’re always surrounded by others at different stages of fitness. The experts inspire you to improve just as you help the newbies stick to it.
- The shared effort and pain bond participants into camaraderie. Because you personally experience what everybody is going through, you know the importance of applauding everyone’s efforts.
- This support happens even during the televised Crossfit Games. It’s typical for a person who wins his heat to go back to those who are still struggling and encourage them to finish.
- We often socialize before and after the WOD. We also do activities outside of the gym. This sharing holds us accountable to each other and supports our weight-loss efforts. If we know something is trying to swear off carbs and we’re at a restaurant, we suggest paleo alternatives to the pasta dish they want to try.
All this emotional backing helps you to continue with Crossfit and stick with your weight-loss plans.
If you do Crossfit for weight loss, you’ll experience other improvements as well.
- You’ll become stronger and be able to lift things that you couldn’t before, such as heavy carry-ons at the airport or DIY supplies for your home projects.
- Your endurance will go up, so you can spend more time on the dance floor or keep up with your kids who decide to go running around the mall.
- Your joint mobility and flexibility will improve, minimizing the risk that you’ll get hurt doing everyday tasks and weekend sports.
All these pluses contribute to your overall health and help you maintain your weight loss.