We’ve all heard of HIIT, Crossfit, Grit. These types of workout are becoming more and more popular by the day. Men and women of all ages are sweating it out at the gym or Box (as known by Crossfitters); lifting weights, jumping, bear climbing, running up and down stairs, burpees and doing pull ups. These high intensity training methods are “functional” exercise that train the whole body: inside and out! Physically, they help to build muscle, tone and decrease overall body fat percentages. Internally dramatic changes to the cardiovascular, respiratory and neuroendocrine systems can be observed and measured.
These types of training methods don’t target one specific body part or area; it’s all about “functional’ fitness”. One of Crossfits’ philosophies is to train for the unexpected – to be physiologically capable and ready for anything. This means training to be cardiovascular fit, strong, flexible and adaptable.
But how safe are these high intensity workouts for regular people who seek to be ‘fit’ or sports weekend warriors? Can it be dangerous, and most importantly how can you prevent yourself from possible injuries? We addressed these questions to osteopath Lee Muddle, who practises in Canberra. Lee is also a director on the Osteopathy Australia board.
Can Crossfit and other high intensity interval training methods be dangerous?
Like participation in any sport, Yes there is an element of risk of injury. For example, Crossfit may be considered dangerous in a couple of ways. If participants aren’t coached by a qualified instructor, who is educated and skilled in using proper techniques; especially for Olympic lifts and gymnastic skills, then there is a chance for potential injury. Poor technique and/or haste in increasing weight or complexity of skills before suitably capable can be hazardous.
What are the typical HIIT/Crossfit injuries?
Crossfit (and the HIIT method) don’t have ‘typical’ injuries per se. They utilise ‘the whole body’ when exercising and no one body part is targeted more specifically or more often than another. However, the causes of injuries from these types of training are ‘typical’. These include overuse, poor technique, lifting heavier weights than capable and attempting skills beyond skill level.
Who should avoid any kind HIIT?
High-intensity interval training is often introduced to participants who have been exercising regularly for a while. This is not a common form of ‘beginner or introduction’ type exercise. Although it can be effective and time efficient in regards to fat loss, it is also very demanding both physically and mentally. It’s not for the faint-hearted or beginner who may already have a dislike for physical exertion. The decision to utilise HIIT methods is not influenced by the age of the participants, but rather their sensibility and maturity to train within their physical limitations and to not push themselves senselessly beyond them. Similarly, the same guidelines apply to Crossfit participation, regardless of age, gender or even being pregnant; everything can be scaled as required.
How to minimise the risk of injuries, and can an osteopath treat the injury?
The best way to avoid injuries is to train under a qualified coach. Training sessions should be programmed to have incremental increases in skills, weight, flexibility and mobility as experience is gained. Warm ups should be specific to the ensuing activity, cool downs may include stretching. Adequate hydration is also important, throughout and post, training sessions.
- Should you injure yourself during a workout, cease the painful activity promptly and notify the coach.
- Apply a compression bandage (if available) to assist with any swelling, and use ice if pain management is required.
- Elevation (raising the injured area to improve drainage) may be tempting, but gentle movement of the injured area (within your pain tolerance) is likely to improve your recovery time and overall outcomes more
Osteopaths are fully qualified to treat and manage musculoskeletal complaints including those commonly experienced from participating in Crossfit and training methods utilising HIIT. Osteopathic treatment involves safe, gentle and effective manual techniques, including soft tissue stretching, mobilisation, inhibition and manipulation. These techniques assist in improving elasticity, strength, endurance, mobility and performance.
You’ve probably heard all about CrossFit and how it is transforming the way people choose to workout. CrossFit first originated as a conditioning program found in many police academies and military special operations throughout the world. Rather than providing the same cookie-cut workout every week, the program is broad and delivers a number of fitness solutions which work the entire body.
What does CrossFit involve?
CrossFit combines a number of workouts which help the strengthen the entire body and work the core muscles. Although this workout was originally about combat and survival, many people have used CrossFit as an effective way to work every muscle in their body.
You don’t have to be in spectacular shape to take part in CrossFit – that is half of the fun! There are many beginners classes which teach the foundation of CrossFit to a broader audience. Mostly, these classes work at a lower intensity and set the tone of what is later expected if people progress. Rather than having different workouts for different people, there is only one workout per-day which is given based on your skill. As your body gets stronger, the higher you will move up in the classes.
Rather than working out on your own, CrossFit provides a supportive network of people who love nothing more than to encourage each other along the way. If you find it difficult to commit to a set workout routine, CrossFit would be just the right fit for you. Members truly act as an extended family, and workouts aren’t merely confined to just the gym.
Is previous weight training essential?
No. CrossFit incorporates a number of different workout techniques, one of which includes basic weight training. The qualified instructors take you along step-by-step even if you have never lifted in your life! There really are no prerequisites about CrossFit since everything is basically re-taught on site.
Everyone loves a bit of healthy competition, right? CrossFit generally praises people who finish their set workouts in a short amount of time. So you can expect to understand the type of environment CrossFit creates for both it’s instructors and students. The beyond motivating atmosphere will generally be a good thing if you ever need an extra push whilst working out.
What is a CrossFit class like?
Beginner classes usually start off with a general overview of the workout, which is then followed by basic weight training. Then they are taught about the nine foundational movements of CrossFit, and how to get the most out of your future workout.
The cost of CrossFit classes can vary depending on where you go, but they are typically valued between $10-$20 for each session.
Would you ever try a CrossFit class?
Image via CrossFit West Essex
Rather than spending money on personal trainers and gym memberships, try out burpees for giving the body an entire workout. A great cardiovascular and strengthening exercise, burpees are found in almost every workout routine you can think of, including military training. Although if you are a beginner, how easy are burpees, and how can this help to strengthen all the muscles in your body?
What are burpees?
Burpees are made up of one singular motion comprising of many different movements which require you to stand, bend, plank and jump. They are great for a full body workout because they really target all parts of the body. Rather than doing sit ups or jumping rope, burpees combine all of these motions into one. Although they can be difficult to master at first, the positive is that they can be done almost anywhere you can think of, and at your own pace.
Burpees offer a full body workout if you get the technique right from the start. Try practising each individual position if you are just starting out, since this should help to get the most out of the exercise. Start from the standing position, drop down and squat with your hands firmly on the floor, extend your feet back resting on your toes in a push-up, come back into the squat, and finally stand upright again. Working on this motion slowly will help you to become a professional in no time.
Depending on your fitness level, start off with 5-10 burpees and work at your own pace. You might feel comfortable to move faster after multiple sessions, and at that point can increase the amount of burpees per workout. A set of 20 burpees helps to burn fat, and builds muscle in a number of problem areas including arms, thighs, and abs amongst others. The best part about burpees is you will quickly notice if the technique is working since you will feel a burn running throughout your body.
Many people seem to have a love/hate relationship with burpees, since they are physically exerting but can help to achieve instant results. Have you tried incorporating burpees into your workout?
Image via CrossFit Revenge
By Felicia Sapountzis