With the vegan diet in full swing for six months now, something occurred to me. It doesn't make since to be eating a perfect diet (according to my understanding of food) if I'm not physically active.
In fact - if I'm going to be physically active, I should be doing the best exercise, right?
And so the Tynan research machine's gears started turning. Soon I realized that there was really only one option that fit into my idea of how to do things.
Crossfit is used by housewives, old ladies, teenagers... and oh yeah - the Navy Seals, UFC fighters, and the dudes who acted in the movie, 300. Why? Because it is THE way to get your body into optimal condition.
Most workouts specialize. Weight lifters are focusing on strength. Martial artists focus on agility. Runners focus on endurance. That isn't to say that a runner won't build agility or that a martial artist won't gain strength - it's just that those areas lag behind the focus.
Crossfit, on the other hand, focuses on everything. Their list of focuses are : cardio-respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance.
The stated goal of Crossfit is to get you 90% trained for ANY discipline. That means that once you've acheived some level of competence with the program, you're ready to do distance running, boxing, or ballet (side note: I'm starting ballet classes next week to get awesome posture. And to look reallly gay.)
What about gaining size? From what I've read traditional weightlifting is more effective ONLY if you're doing steroids. However, if you're not doing steroids, Crossfit results in bigger gains.
I started out Crossfit almost a month ago at around 128lb. When I started crossfit I began to eat a lot more (all vegan and mostly macrobiotic and organic). I now weigh about 139-142, depending on when during the day I weigh myself. That's about a 12lb gain in a month. Not too shabby.
I've previously done some intense weight and machine training as well as distance running. I even had a personal trainer for a while. Crossfit definitely yielded much better results than either.
So what IS a Crossfit workout anyway?
They focus on large compound movements, rather than isolation. An example is a snatch where you squat down and pick a kettle bell from the ground, straighten your legs and punch up into the air with it.
These exercises work out several muscles at once, including supporting muscles that often get overlooked in a workout. We do a lot of bodyweight exercises like pullups, pushups, crunches, squats, lunges, burpees, etc. Most days we have to run at least 1200m.
The workout is usually only 30 minutes long, but is VERY intense. I usually feel like I'm going to throw up / have a heart attack / pass out. The particular class I take also has a 15 minute warmup (yoga or agility stuff usually) and a 15 minute cooldown (stretching and yoga).
The "Workout Of the Day" is different every day and available for free at Crossfit.com. This is critically important. My previous workouts got extremel boring. I'd typically do the same thing every monday, the same thing every wednesday, etc. With Crossfit I never know what to expect, which keeps things interesting.
My personal results as well as the results of my friends has been very encouraging. I've gained a very noticeable amount of weight and muscle. I can lift marginally more weight thatn before, but my cardio endurance is MUCH better. The first day I had to quit after 15 minutes. Now I can push through the whole 30 minutes every day.
My friends have all noticed more muscle and less fat. As a benchmark, all four friends who are doing it with me are signing up for another 3 months.
You can do it on your own if you have the right equipment, but I would HIGHLY recommend taking a group class with some friends (or alone, if you can't convince anyone). The motivation of seeing a 60 year old woman push more iron than I can is priceless. Form is very important in exercises, and with compound movements that Crossfit favors it helps to have someone to make sure you're doing it right.
Again - I can't really recommend Crossfit highly enough. I think that THE way to have the highest level of fitness is to eat vegan and do crossfit.