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.
I was doing a google search for CrossFit and vegan. Yay! I'm a diehard CrossFit fan and I've only been a member for two months. I don't care for the Zone promotion so much, even there is a "Soy Zone" book. I've been eating the usual beans and nuts and getting great results. Thanks for writing this blog, inspiring!
Yeah crossfit forges bodies like this:
HELL YEAH! Ripped up man! lol j/k
Bodybuilding without steroids over Crossfit without steroids, just don't follow the typical BB'ers routine. More days off, high intensity short workouts COMPOUND movements.
Remember crossfit is great for what it is though, all around fitness. But if you want specific goals (mass gain, strength gain) you might want to look elsewhere like 5x5 barbell routines and Starting Strength.
Just remember I am not dissing crossfit, just don't hype it up so people have unrealistic hopes about the program!
I came across Crossfit about the time the movie 300 came out (the workout videos on YouTube) and was very impressed. I've been lifting weights for 6 years (acquiring 19 inch upper arms and 15 inch forearms in the process, absolutely 100% no steroids, but then I was always a strong kid) and I've done some limited Crossfit training and it is VERY intense and manly. So it definitely gets my seal of approval.
However, I'm still sticking with weight lifting because I personally prefer "super strength" over Crossfit's "stamina strength". You're never going to get "super strong" by doing something for 20+ reps non stop like Crossfit advocates. It's going to make you hard as nails and athletic as hell, BUT it's not going to allow me to deadlift 500 pounds, a goal of mine. If you want to lift heavy weights like that you have to get strong by lifting around 90% of your one rep maximum, (which means you'll only be able to lift it for 2-4 reps in a set).
Correction (from Crossfit)
For training for Mass(!)
1. Bodybuilding on steroids
2. CrossFitting on steroids
3. CrossFitting without steroids
4. Bodybuilding without steroids
There is a BIG difference in body building and weight lifting. Pavel Tsatsouline books are great, and he uses compound movements. Check them out.
Body Building focuses typically on single muscles or muscle groups and does low weight, high reps. This blows up the muscles, strength is only secondary.
Weight lifting works with high weight, low reps. This primarily works on strength and the muscles grow as result of this.
Mike - I'm in the class with Tynan. We go to http://adamtraining.com/ which is up near Anderson and Burnet
I'm becoming Vegan right now and looking for ways to bulk up at the same time. Crossfit sounds very interesting and I'll look into it further.
Hey Tynan... where in Austin do you go for the classes? I live in Austin as well and I'm somewhat interested. Getting even more interested the more I read about it.
Fair enough, Tynan. Re-reading it, I see that I originally missed the "more" when you said that traditional weightlifting is only more effective if you're on 'roids. My bad.
I'd be really interested to see that study, if you can find a link to it. My hunch that the study compared Crossfit to a 3x10 weightlifting program based on '50's science. To be fair, that's the kind of stuff most guys in the gym are still doing.
But I don't want to hijack the thread -- great post on a great blog, and I'm glad you're making fitness a part of your daily life!
There are about a billion and one opinions on which workout program is the best. Should you run? Should you lift weights? Should you swing your legs gaily on a Richard Simmons' Gazelle?
There's one answer that will work for pretty much everyone: Crossfit.
Crossfit is designed to be a total workout system. It addresses the 10 areas of fitness (strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, cardiovascular health, balance, and four more that I've forgotten). The end result? You get in such good shape that you can tackle any sport or activity, from basketball to mountain climbing.
As I mentioned earlier this week I’ve been vegan for about a year-and-a-half now. I made the switch when I was fourteen years old and I’m now sixteen. The experience has been mostly positive, but I’d be lying if I failed to tell you about the drawbacks and doubts I’ve had about being vegan as well.