There is a lot of talk about using CrossFit as training for mountain climbing. Some people swear that CrossFit is the ultimate training for mountaineering and based on their enthusiasm that is almost fanaticism, I’d have to CrossFit intrigued me.
I am guessing if you’re reading this you know a thing or two about CrossFit. If you haven’t heard about it the ten second run down is you train for functional fitness by doing full body exercises at a no holds barred pace. A typical work out goes something like this:
- 5 box jumps
- 5 dumbbell squats
- 5 burpees
- 5 medicine ball slams repeat for 20 minutes
While that may sound easy, it is most definitely not. The key to CrossFit is going at 100% the entire time and that intensity is what makes it tremendously difficult.
My climbing partner has been doing CrossFit for a while. I was intrigued by the following of the program so I tagged along. I knew what I was getting in to but I didn’t fully comprehend what was about to happen.
Upon arriving at Northwest Crossfit in Seattle I was given the run down of what the workout was going to consist of. Very conveniently the typical workout from above was the demo workout they had planned. The trainer led me through a thorough warm up and then critiqued my form as I learned the basic movements of the workout. He pointed out little things like on a medicine ball slam I should slam it hard enough to bounce and then catch it before it hit the ground again. Or that when I was doing squats for this workout I should use my momentum to push the dumbbells above my head.
So then I started. Everything was going fine for the first three cycles. It was fun, challenging but ultimately uninteresting. Then the fourth cycle happened which corresponded to about the fourth minute of the workout. My pulse started rising, my breathing started getting labored and everything started going to hell. By the seventh cycle I was struggling not to rest between exercises. While I wanted to rest, the trainer would challenge my manhood and prod me along with positive encouragement like, “you’re not a quitter are you? Do you want to be a failure?”
Ultimately I made it 12 or 13 rounds depending on how you count before my body gave out. In total I made it an entire 15 minutes before I succumbed to exhaustion. Kind of pathetic but also kind of the purpose of the demo workout. CrossFit gave me a helluva workout in under 20 minutes.
I recovered a bit and still in an oxygen deprived state of mind I got the hard sell. Even with the broke grad student discount, at $120/month there was no way I could afford to sign up.
What I took away from CrossFit is that it is a helluva a workout in a very short period of time. Is it the ultimate mountain climbing workout? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t doubt that I would get in great shape if I did it… but in my lowly opinion joining a rock gym for $40/month, trail running on hilly terrain and just getting out there on the weekends is a much better use of time and money. I’m not going to learn how to climb smoothly on vertical terrain by jumping on a box or how to move efficiently by doing burpees ’til I collapse. But then again that is just me. I care more about the 6 pack of cheap beer at the end of a climb then trying to get a six pack under my tattered Gore-Tex.