This is probably my favorite topic to talk or write about. Training like an athlete is something that people do not do enough of and frankly, is what our bodies are designed to do. Training like an athlete or training for functionality is the reason I fell in love with CrossFit, to begin with.
I saw a post by a buddy of mine on Instagram last week, @wilderness_s.c, where he talked about this same subject. Which sparked this post. It is a subject I try to talk about regularly because our program is designed around it and it makes the majority of people nervous because they do not see themselves as athletes. But you do not have to be an ‘athlete’ to train like one, and if you want to get the most out of your workouts, you need to do it.
CrossFit is one of the few exercise programs that has successfully defined fitness and is the basis of our program. Read that definition by Greg Glassman HERE.
One thing that athletes do is train in compound movements. Compound movements are multi-joint movements that involve multiple muscle groups. These movements have a greater effect on hormone response from your body than isolation type exercises do. If your goal is to get fitter, leaner, stronger and lose fat, then you absolutely need this type of response and lots of it.
Compound movements are the way to go.
Compound movements are functional movements but training for functionality is not done by simply adding a squat to your routine. To apply functionality to your workouts you have to add in the factor of time. Determining functionality is found by finding the power output of any movement. Finding the power output can be done by taking the amount of work you did and dividing by the time it took you to complete that work. In simpler terms, moving large loads, long distances and quickly.
Doing some simple math with the equation (work/time) a simple compound movement like the burpee can produce ten times the power output than a common isolation movement like a bicep curl in the same amount of time. Add in the cardiovascular comparison to the movement types and it is a wonder why people still are stuck in the same training methods used in the 1970s.
Any training program can provide you with results but at some point, you are going to plateau using isolation movements, but most people keep on with the same movements because they worked for them before, but unfortunately, they are never going to work for you again.
By applying the simple CrossFit methodology of constantly varied (always different) functional movements (compound exercises) performed at relatively high intensity (moving at your pace but quickly and with a purpose), a person can always produce the bodies proper endocrine response while never hitting a plateau.
Thanks, @wilderness_s.c for the reminder on why we train the way we do!