What is Fitness? Part 2: Capability at Random Physical Tasks
Posted by: Eric
In our previous article, we touched on the 3 standards to evaluate fitness, and went deeper into the 1st standard: the 10 General Physical Skills. Here we will explain the 2nd standard in more detail: the capability to perform at random physical tasks.
True fitness is about performing well at each and every physical task imaginable. If we were to put every possible physical task into a hopper, and randomly pick a workout, would you be a little nervous? Would it cause anxiety as to what you may be asked to perform? Maybe it’s a 10k run, or a max effort lift, or a combination of movements you struggle with. Could anything come out of the hopper that would make you fully incapable of doing the workout? Improving your weaknesses is the single best thing you can do for your overall fitness. Progress can actually be accelerated through simply developing your faults.
CrossFit often uses the term “Unknown and Unknowable” to describe what to train for. Prepare for the physical tasks that life will randomly throw your way, and the best way to do this is by fixing your weaknesses. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, right? This Hopper method was actually used in the first ever CrossFit Games in 2007 to choose one of the WODs, and helped determine “The Fittest on Earth.” To this day, the CrossFit Games prides itself in not releasing most of it’s workouts until hours, sometimes minutes, before the competitors actually need to perform them, making it a true test of their fitness.
True fitness demands the ability to perform well at all tasks, regardless if they are familiar or not. These tasks show up in constantly varying circumstances as well as combinations. Glassman puts it perfectly, “Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.” In order to be optimally fit, training must involve a variance in repetitions, movements, loads, distances, times, rest intervals, order of exercises, and days/times of training.
Military personnel and first responders are perfect examples of the need for constant variance in training. CrossFit started deeply rooted in the military, fire, and police academies because of their constant need for physical competence. Solely training long distance runs will not help a firefighter drag a civilian out of a fire, and solely heavy lifting will not help a police officer on a foot chase climbing walls and changing paces.
The most effective fitness program will improve your 10 general physical skills – Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance & Accuracy – thus, improving your ability at random physical tasks.
More information can be found in CrossFit’s flagship article “What is Fitness?” by founder Greg Glassman. Keep an eye out for our post next week about CrossFit’s 3rd standard to evaluate fitness: competency in the 3 Metabolic Pathways.